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The Interceders Encourager No. 24

Lakeland, Florida, U.S.A.

"We are in the midst of a desperate hour," says Josef Urban. "Many of you will have heard of the so called `revival` that has broken out in Lakeland, Florida, under a man called Todd Bentley. This is a revival, but not a revival of holiness and righteousness and the fear of God, but a revival of Babylonian arts and counterfeit signs and wonders, sent to deceive those who will not receive the truth."

"I am issuing a public alarm and warning in no uncertain terms," continues Urban, "against this counterfeit revival." The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, warned us that "the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many, but the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Mt.7:13-14) Therefore when a preacher makes the way to salvation wide, and gives the impression that it is easy to enter, and when he refuses to preach obedience to the commands of Jesus, but his message confirms people in their worldly lifestyles, we may be certain that it is not of God. Such a one is Todd Bentley.

Firstly, let us look at his life and conduct. What would the life of a true revivalist and man of God look like? As Interceders, we know what the life of a revival preacher should be like. It should be characterised by habitual righteousness, by separation from the entertainments of the world, so that it is a model for those under his leadership to follow. But Mr Bentley is a fan of professional wrestling and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, shows that promote sexual perversion, idolatry, profanity and extreme violence. He regularly watches films that promote witchcraft, violence and perversion, and likes listening to the most depraved and rebellious kind of music. He openly displays Satanic tattoos on his arms and legs. This does not square with Godís instruction to not love the world, that is, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

We can also look at his doctrine. His teaching is not clear Biblical exegesis, rightly dividing the word of truth. He doesnít preach what Jesus preached; repentance, self denial, forsaking all to follow Him, giving to the poor and needy. He has refused to preach on these things. He preaches a prosperity gospel. He claims to have had communication with dead people. "The `gospel` he preaches is a gospel of seeking after signs and wonders. Seeking after miracles and not after the face and heart and burden of God is a deadly delusion that will lead one straight into accepting another gospel and another spirit. We are told in 1 John 4 not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits, to see if they are of God. Without an emphasis on the Cross, on repentance and costly discipleship, it is easy to appeal to peopleís selfishness, which is what Bentley does. As the word of God says in 1 John. 4:5, "False spirits are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them." We can easily discern, therefore, a false spirit, because it will give people what they want, not what they need. It will offer instant answers, and will not challenge people to discipleship and the Cross. "In that day, many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in your name?` And then I will declare to them, ` I never knew you, depart from me, you evildoers.`" (Mt.7:22-23)

One observer of the Lakeland meetings wrote; "Todd Bentley constantly manifests his "anointing" by shaking his head back and forth, and by his body physically shaking. He waves his arms over the audience, shouting "Fire! Fire! Fire!" and then people in the audience will respond. Some appear to be convulsing and some as if they are being thrashed by a spirit."

A man from Clearwater, Florida reported that a number of people from his fellowship have attended the meetings, and brought back the "anointing" with them. Here is what he personally saw:

"These are the effects that I have witnessed on people who have attended this movement and either have had hands laid on them or claim to have been imparted with "the spirit": They come back with this kind of childlike drunken stupor, with descriptions of a burning sensation either in their veins, heads or stomachs; descriptions of being washed back and forth like the waves in the ocean; dancing about as though they were drunk; inappropriate yelling and screaming as though they're at a football game; young men whistling over and over and holding their heads and claiming that they "feel the Holy Spirit about to split them in two"; one young man's back two teeth turned completely to some metallic finish; people with their eyes rolled in the back of their heads and weaving around as though they're lost; women just gyrating and pulsating as though they're being ravaged from behind by some unseen force; drunken, uncontrollable laughter in the middle of a solemn prayer time; people just falling down and being unable to move , as though something is holding them down..."

Another eyewitness from the USA writes: "A friend of mine invited me to a church where the ministry team brought back "Fire" from the Lakeland revivalÖ The pastor's wife was moderating, but she could not complete her sentences because she was overcome by a spirit.' She imitated animal noises.  I saw people breaking out into uncontrollable laughter. I came with my Bible to receive a word. There was no teaching or preaching, just testimonies. They talked about their experience in Lakeland...  Where was the word?  I did not find any.  I also heard the word bam, and then I saw someone lying on the floor"

"Many have said that they believe that Florida is a 'mixture'. Personally," writes Andrew Strom , "I do not believe 'mixture' is involved. I believe these deceiving spirits have hi-jacked Todd's ministryÖ Either the healings are of God or they are not. Which is it? People can be healed in spiritualist churches. I have witnessed, close-up, first hand, people being instantly healed by mediums and faith healers. I have also seen people healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. To begin with there is no discernible difference. However the counterfeit healings soon begin to either go wrong or something far worse comes upon the person. When God heals someone - He adds 'no sorrow.'

I know Todd started off well. I was there in his early meetings. In September 2000 I stood in front of Todd and gave him the warning that God gave me for him. `Beware, the leaven of the Pharisees, lest an angelic leaven enters your ministry.` One month later, according to Todd's own account, at a meeting in Grants Pass, Oregon, Cal Pierce walked in with Branham's 'Healing Revival' angel in tow, Todd saw and accepted this spirit without reservation. His 'angels' have been with him ever since. I have written to Todd on numerous occasions and reminded him of God's warning, alas to no avail.

When Todd Bentley conducted a healing meeting in a large charismatic church here in England in 2005, he laid hands on many people who were apparently healed. I know of at least one instance where a pastor's wife with cancer was prayed for by Todd. Soon afterwards she heard voices in her head telling her to 'drown herself just like her father did'. The poor woman ended up in a mental hospital, I believe she still has the cancer.

No-one is following up or keeping records of what happens to people who have hands laid on them by Todd or others like him. I have kept records as far as I can, concerning this particular church. Over a relatively short period, there has been a dramatic increase in premature deaths, cancers, marriage break-ups, sickness and disease amongst the congregation where the leadership have allowed this type of ministry into their church. Many people have left the church in fear. These are the consequences of following this type of 'ministry' which no one is either aware of, or wants to address. I know, I have visited the people in hospital and attended one of the funeralsÖ

Meanwhile we find a number of prominent leaders beginning to declare that this will be one of the greatest revival movements in history. Some even see it as the beginning of a `new awakening`. Bob Jones declared that `This move will be a global move, travelling with signs and wonders all over the world! The third wave is here!`

However, as this 'anointing' spreads worldwide, I believe there are some serious questions that we need to ask ourselves: Isn't it possible, with all the dubious 'anointings' and angels and manifestations associated with Bentley's ministry, that what we are really seeing is a giant 'counterfeit' revival? Isn't it possible that if it continues to grow at the present rate, that it may literally become one of the great `delusions` of the Last Days, a great deception that has the power to actually deceive, if possible, the very elect? These are very serious questions - but I believe they must be asked, because this 'anointing' is already beginning to circle the globe."

Josef Urban has spoken of the serious effects of watching videos of the meetings in Lakeland. "I just want to share a warning with you all about watching the videos of this thing on the internet and of watching the videos of those things related to it. Also of listening to the worship music from people associated with this that are of the same spirit. I know a brother who was having serious spiritual attacks the day after he watched a video of the revival and spoke against this, and they persisted, until he prayed and broke the demonic curses and they left instantly. Also, last night a dark presence came upon my house after watching a video. As soon as we prayed, it went away. And then I knew there was truly something there. A brother here also had the same thing happen to him last night after watching these videos. He said a dark presence and a wicked spirit entered his house and he and his wife both discerned it and commanded it out and it left and that he too has been warned not to watch these things any more.

Saints, be careful of these videos. I have personally had my severe warning from the Lord not to watch them anymore, and these other two brothers have also. There is more than just words in conflict here, this is a conflict of spirits. So be warned, and be covered with the blood of Jesus! If you must watch them for the purpose of discernment, and for speaking against it specifically as is profitable for the souls of men, then be covering yourself in prayer for protection as you do, and when you're done, break all curses over you and command any evil spirit to depart from your midst!

For those of you who have been watching it, and have embraced it and are accepting everything that comes from this move and from Todd Bentley, I believe you are potentially in serious trouble and you really need to seek the Lord to open your eyes and renounce everything that is not directly from the Spirit of God."

Another person called Matt also wrote in and said,

"I agree with you wholeheartedly. I only watched about 6 minutes of one video and had to turn it off. I felt the Holy Spirit warn me not to ever watch again, His words to me were, "Don't allow this into your home." After some prayer I know this is truly a word from the Lord."

These are dangerous times. People are receiving "the fire" just through calls on mobile phones and by touching their television sets when the programmes are on.

Two years ago Patrick Ersig(a person for whom I have the highest regard), received a vision of true and false revival. We can see now that this was an amazing warning of what is now taking place.

In the second part of the vision, which was of the false revival, Patrick wrote, "Now I saw what looked like a dimly lit movie or a video shot with poor lighting. I saw clips of people dancing and shaking. I saw people falling down, shouting, jumping, and singing. There were huge multitudes rather then the few, and many, many were coming in large groups that filled large auditoriums and stadiums instead of small groups of individuals being drawn together. Even some of the lights that were in the first part of the vision were drawn to this part of the vision. I saw dancing and clapping, shaking, shouting, strong and powerful emotionalism and sensationalism.  Soulish and fleshy spirits claimed to be the Holy Spirit. Great miracles abounded - signs and wonders. People proclaimed, "This is the revival we have been waiting and praying for!! -This is the revival we have heard prophesied!!! - This is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a great move of God!" But the Lord spoke and said, "Patrick this is not from me - this is from Satan - it is a counterfeit!! And many will be fooled and tricked by this clever deception from the enemy!"

In the first part of the vision, Patrick saw "everything was black, and I saw one person walking at a semi-brisk pace. Not fast walking, but a slight cadence above normal pace, walking with purpose. This person was walking straight and sure, upright and strong, solemn and serious, like a revolutionary, a warrior, a light to darkness. I then saw two more people and then others in the distance and they were bright and shining against the blackness that was all around. They all walked the same way, being solemn and serious: then the Lord spoke and said, "These are my remnant who are walking in holiness, righteousness, obedience, brokenness and utter submission to MY WILL. Watch what I am doing Patrick."

Then I saw the individuals begin to unite in small groups of two to three at first and then more came and the groups grew to five and even ten and the light intensified greatly. It was beautiful like a sunset over the mountains or a sunrise on the ocean, a rose in full bloom. What I saw next made me burst into tears and sobs to the point that I couldn't continue to describe what I was seeing. My wife kept saying "What is it? What do you see?!" After a few  minutes I was able to control the weeping to explain what I saw happening. As the Lord was drawing together His remnant into these small groups, the power of God came down, just as in the book of Acts, the lame were walking, the blind were seeing, the deaf were hearing, (literally and figuratively), and persecution fuelled the fire! This end time holy and righteous remnant of serious and solemn warriors and revolutionaries walked in the deep darkness of the land and her backslidden, lukewarm churches with apostolic glory and power not seen since the book of Acts: to proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, repentance and holiness and freedom from sin!

The Lord spoke and said, "This is the revival that I am bringing about and it starts with the individuals who have been called out to personal revival and are walking straight and sure, upright and strong, solemn and serious, like revolutionaries, warriors, lights to darkness. My remnant is walking in holiness, righteousness, obedience, brokenness and utter submission to my will, and I am drawing them together."

"Then", said Patrick, the vision switched again. I saw both visions side by side, like a split screen. They both grew in intensity at an equal rate - as the true would grow in power, the false would grow in numbers and as the true would grow in numbers, the false would grow in false signs and wonders. The Lord spoke and said, "This is not a vision of the future, but this has already begun and will grow as the days pass. I am doing this now and the enemy is coming against it at this very moment."

Patrick concluded by saying, "The Lord is bringing about an end times revival, the like of which we have never seen, and it begins with you. The Lord is calling you to be separate; to holiness and righteousness unto the Lord, and to walk in obedience and utter submission to His will. Be free from sin, be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect, be dead to flesh and alive in Christ. Walk soberly, solemnly and seriously before the Lord with a reverent and holy fear of God. If you are looking and waiting for some big corporate outpouring of emotionalism and signs and wonders you are going to miss the coming revival. The revival starts with you! Seek the Lord and press into Him closer everyday. Allow the Blood and Grace of Jesus to break the bonds of your flesh and produce holy and righteous living in your life. Ask the Lord to show you what it is in your life that is keeping you from that which is perfect, no matter how small or how painful; ask the Lord to expose everything that is keeping you from being closer to Him and bring Glory to Him and His kingdom, and deeply renounce all that He shows you.

Live your life as a living sacrifice, a living drink offering poured out before the Lord for His glory and honour. There are many things that are cultural, societal and religious that keep us separated from God and walking in His Spirit. Pray for God to bring these things to light and put them to death no matter how hard it may be. If you don't realize that the revival the Lord is doing begins with you individually, then you are going to miss it! The Lord is calling you today, repent for your lukewarmness and your lackadaisical attitude toward sin in your own life and those who are perishing and plunging into hell all around you everyday! The Lord is calling you today to allow the Blood of Jesus and the grace of God to produce holiness and rivers of righteousness in your life that you may be salt to a decaying world and light to the darkness that prevails. What will you do? The Lord is calling you right now to make up your mind to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, take up your cross, die to self and follow Him, forsaking all, and seeking after Him with all that you are and have. Come out and be separate in holy, righteous obedience unto God!

WARNING: Do not be fooled by these sensual, emotional counterfeits that are and will be popping up, that these people and churches call "revival". It is a trick from the enemy! When you hear that "revival" has broken out in the next town or the next state or even in your own city - please remember this warning. There will be much singing and dancing and shouting and many things will sound as though they are true. There will be great surges of emotion that will cause people to fall down and jump and shout, cry and weep but this is not from God. Many will be crying out in joy, "Peace, peace".   But God's Servants will have discernment above and beyond any gift, and a willingness to die than lie, despite the increase of signs and wonders from all of the counterfeit moves around them in the 'churches'. If the "revival" you are in is not serious and reverent, holy and righteous, and love and reverent fear toward God are not the only things you see, then run for your life and warn everyone you know. These spirits are strong and extremely powerful - get out of the building and don't be fooled by the signs and wonders. Please, I am begging you to remember this, for I know that there will be many who are fooled and even (if possible) drawn away from the real to the counterfeit, but I also know that there will be some who read this warning and remember it and are spared. The true revival army will look like small bands of revolutionaries or Special Forces with an end times mission to complete and Satan's counterfeit will resemble a band of wild Indians or tribal warriors dancing and shouting battle cries.

The true revival army will attack the enemy at its stronghold, sin. Their mission will be the souls of men through the power of the Holy Spirit. They will be concerned with setting people free from the bondage of sin through the message of the cross and will watch strongholds of sin topple. Satan's counterfeit will go after places and methods of sin. They will try to legislate morality and get laws changed, which results in forced morality and no salvations. God's army will seek to save that which is lost in the streets and alleys. Satan's army will try to change the laws to prevent sin but result in the salvation of no one. "Whosoever loves his life shall lose it. Whosoever loses his life for MY sake, shall find it."

Make sure you are on the Lordís side, the side of purity and obedience, even if others do not believe you.

Chris Anderson makes some very perceptive comments on todayís church, encouraging present day Elijahs who feel they have been rejected and banished, to remain faithful until their Carmel opportunity comes. "In the meantime," says Anderson, "the prophets of Baal, serving a false, culture intoxicated Jesus, will still keep rain dancing in the theatre churches, singing meaningless songs about revival that they donít really understand, and donít really want," for real revival will involve great conviction of sin and brokenness before a thrice holy God.

We need to be absolutely clear in our minds as to what genuine revival is. If a revival is a genuine work of the Spirit :

a) It will have been preceded by brokenness, fasting, repentance and calling out for mercy, but this occurrence at Lakeland was not preceded by any of these.

b) The whole atmosphere in the area will change. There will be an awesome awareness of the presence of a holy God, a reverence and a fear of Him, bringing deep conviction of sin, but Lakeland does not have this at all.

c) The teaching given will emphasise: the holiness of God; the seriousness of sin; the centrality of the Cross; the efficacy of the blood of Jesus; the necessity of holiness, but Lakeland does not emphasise any of these.

What is going on at Lakeland, therefore, is certainly not revival. It is a sign of the last days. It is part of the fulfilment of 2Thess.2:9-10, where it is said that "the coming of the lawless one, by the activity of Satan, will be displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth, and so be saved."

As Josef Urban says, "We are surely living in the end times. It has been prophesied by the apostles of the Lord that in the last days, a great apostasy would occur, a falling away from the faith. This has never been more evident than right now.These are days of great deception, of false prophets, of signs and wonders, of angels of light and deceitful workers. Let the remnant of God be much in exhorting one another and praying for one another as we see the Day approaching.

I want to encourage all the saints to be much in the Scriptures as well, diligently acquiring knowledge and wisdom through the word of truth with a holy hunger. To study afresh the last days and the prophecies thereof in the Scriptures, to know what to expect and be watching in the last days. Be watching, and be on your guard! Behold He comes quickly! Be much in the Scriptures and much in watching!

And I do truly want to say to all that this is no hour to be compromising in. This is no time to be playing the harlot with the things of this world, of living a lukewarm life or of dabbling in to things with an unholy mixture. We are nearing the end of the age of grace, and this is the time to find deep and true repentance and to live by pure and simple faith.

The Spirit of God keeps His saints from error and deception, and from apostasy. Let us abide in Christ, who is the one and only True Vine, and dwell in the presence of His Holy Spirit, and walk in the true anointing, which indeed, is the only thing that keeps us from deception:

Remember what Isaiah said: "They tell the seers, ĎStop seeing visions!í They tell the prophets, ĎDonít tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ĎHoly One of Israel" (Isaiah 30:10-11 NLT). They do not want to hear of holiness, righteousness and justice. They do not want to hear of a narrow path that only few find. They do not want to hear the truth that cuts and pierces to the heart. And the result is that God has sent strong delusion, closed their eyes and their hearts, and has given them a spirit of slumber. "They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand" (Isaiah 44:18)Ö

Donít get sucked into Satanís slick counterfeits. Separate yourself from the workers of Satan who seek to deceive you. "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Come out from among the deceived and separate yourself unto the Lord in holiness and righteousness, walking according to the commands of Jesus and working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Itís time to walk solemnly and seriously before your God in holy fear and holiness of heart and life."

Let us not bemoan this situation, but see it as a test of the Church and a wake up call to the Church to get back to the pure gospel, and to seeking Him in repentance. Donít give in to the temptation that all will be solved by a quick fix, even though God is able to do everything much quicker than we think possible. But it will not be at the expense of His standards and His righteousness.

Vern Kuenzi has recently written of the danger of trying to go the easy way, and avoid the implications of the Cross:

"The danger of having our vision slightly off-target could cause us to align with the wrong side. The antichrist is not going to come in a red suit with horns. He is going to come as a deceiver and a counterfeit. The nature of the counterfeit is to be as much like the real thing as possible, but still not be the real thing. He's going to come with an agenda of "good" things, but they will be things that have done away with the cross.

The agenda of the devil is very simple. If he can get us to skew our vision just a little bit off centre by doing away with the centrality of the cross, he will have won the victory. We will not then be in position to demonstrate the wisdom and power of the cross through our lives. We will be fighting against the cross rather than embracing it.

The great dividing issue at the end of this age will be the issue of the cross of Jesus Christ. Those who embrace it as the Holy Spirit leads them, will overcome. Those who do not, and rely on the understanding and abilities of natural man, will fall away. If our sin and our shortcomings do not bring us to the place of total realization that not one good thing resides in us in the flesh, then we have missed what it is that the Lord wants to work in us. Paul came to the place where he realized that he was the chief of sinners, and that no good thing was in him, and that he could glory in nothing but in the cross of Jesus Christ. His words were not spoken in wisdom, but in meekness, fear, and trembling, and he recognized that only by the grace and mercy of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit could he ever offer anything of significance to a dying world around him.

The things that are coming upon the earth in these days are designed to purify the church, and are likened to birth pains. It is out of great tribulation that a great multitude emerges who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. We must understand that this process is an outworking of God's love, not His wrath. His wrath will follow great tribulation, and will be directed only toward those who choose not to repent.

I once heard a man preaching on TV and saying, "God would never do that to His bride." (He was referring to the question of her going through the great tribulation) He did not understand the work of the cross in the perfecting of the  saints. His doctrine had done away with the cross.

Saints, let's not make that mistake. Let's embrace the cross rather than doing away with it. Let us constantly abide in the embrace of the Father's fervent love so that our love does not grow cold."

Let us, therefore, use this time as an opportunity:

1) To study Godís word and grow stronger in Him, so that we are not deceived by the wiles of the devil.

2) To make sure we are walking in holiness and obedience, with a reverent and holy fear of God, seeking the Lord, and allowing His blood and grace to break the bonds of our flesh, and produce righteous living.

3) To live our lives as living sacrifices, living drink offerings poured out to the Lord, for His honour and glory.

4) To ask for wisdom from above and the spirit of discernment that we need.

5) To warn others about what is going on, and tell them to have nothing to do with it. (It has already come to at least four places in Britain.)

6) To take the offensive for God, and tell people what real revival is, and how they can be involved in bringing it about.

7) To pray that the devil will be defeated in all he is trying to do in all this, and that it will all turn out for the furtherance of the gospel, and that Jesus and His Cross will be uplifted higher, and people drawn to Him.

8) To pray that through this, the Church in Britain will come to its senses, and get back to walking in the wisdom and the power of the Cross.

9) To bring about the kind of revival that God wants by praying together in small groups, even if it is only two or three people to begin with, as Patrick Ersig saw in his vision.

And may the Lord use us to fulfil His purposes.