The Interceders Encourager No. 25
Lakeland (2) What Lies Behind It
1. Before we take a further look at Lakeland and its effects, we need to need to see what the Bible says concerning the end times. In Matthew 24 Jesus spoke to His disciples in answer to their query as to what would be the signs for His return and the end of the age (vs. 3). The first thing Jesus says is "See to it that no one leads you astray" (vs. 4). It’s interesting that Jesus began a discussion about the last days with that admonition. He then goes on to say "many false prophets will arise and will mislead many" (Matt. 24:11). Later, He adds to this and says, "False prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect" (Mt. 24:24). So Jesus tells us that one of the primary marks of the last days will be deception.
The apostles also speak about deception when referring to the end times. "Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet Him, we beg you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed either by spirit or by word or by letter supposed to have come from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first." ("2 Thess.2:1-3) Note that Paul said "apostasy" which is a falling away due to lack of faith in the truth. Paul goes on to say that the coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the working of Satan, displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders; and in every sort of evil, deceiving those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth. (2Thess.2:9-10) Paul, therefore, agrees with Jesus on what we should be looking for in these Last Days. He also tells us in I Timothy chapter 4, "The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons."
Peter echoes this same thing when he states that "false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed" (2 Pet. 2:1-2).
All this is in compliance with I John 4:1, an extremely important Scripture for our discussion. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." Paul tells us that, "the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but, to suit their own desires, they will accumulate for themselves teachers who will tickle their ears, and will turn away from the truth and turn to myths." (2 Tim.4:3-4) "That time," says Tony Pearce of Moriel Ministries, "has certainly come. People today are looking for preachers who will tell them what they want to hear; that they can have power, wealth and health without having to bother with repentance, faith and walking humbly with God. As a result, they are being blown about like leaves before the storm, and turned aside to fables." Remember that one of the nine gifts of the Spirit mentioned in I Corinthians 12 is the discerning of spirits. There are three basic sources where information or teaching can come from: the Spirit of God, the spirit of man, and demonic spirits. We must understand that just because a person claims to be a Christian and claims to be operating under the anointing of God, it doesn’t mean he or she really is. They could be operating in their own fleshly spirit, or worse yet, they could be operating under seducing spirits posing as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:14). We must know the Word of God, and know it well, in order to be discerning Christians who can rightly divide the Word of Truth and not be led astray. It could well be that many of the people that attend the meetings at Lakeland and other connected places do so because they are somewhat desperate for more of God. But we must never put discernment and the Word of God on the backburner because we feel spiritually dry. In fact, it’s often during those times when we are thirsty that we need to be extra careful about what source we drink from. A desperate man, lost in the desert, may drink from the first pool of water that he comes to, but it may be poison. So let us be careful to diligently seek God when it comes to purported moves of the Spirit in certain churches or services."
2. We also need to realize the historical context of these meetings. Bentley claims succession to noted false prophets, in particular, William Branham, Paul Cain and Bob Jones. William Branham was a Pentecostal preacher who made a name for himself in the 1940s and 1950s with claims of sensational miracles. He was denounced as a heretic by the Assemblies of God on account of his false teaching. Branham denied the doctrine of the Trinity, claiming that it came from hell, (thereby giving away where his doctrine came from). He taught that the Zodiac and the Egyptian Pyramids are on a par with the authority of Scripture, and that Cain was the product of the sexual coupling between Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden! He taught, like the Gnostics at the time of the Early Church, that hidden knowledge of the spiritual realm is given to a spiritual elite; and these revelations are more important than the Bible. He claimed to be the prophet Elijah returned, and that he was the angel of Rev.3:14 and 10:7. He believed that Jesus was a created "god," and that he, Branham, could decree things just like God. He prophesied that the world would end in 1977, and that in the last days a new breed of believers would attain to immortality, ruling the nations with a rod of iron. He rejected the idea of an eternal hell. Branham claimed that he would go into visions, and an angel would come to him, to enable him to read people’s minds and to perform acts of healing. He would do nothing until the angel arrived. He even stipulated that his tombstone was to be in the shape of a pyramid! Yet Bentley constantly repeats statements supporting the teachings and ministry of William Branham, and claims that he has the same angel as Branham had!
Those who followed Branham, and who had his hands laid on them, were called the Latter Rain Movement, teaching different heresies down through the decades. In the 1980s a group of these, including Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner and John Paul Jackson, formed an alliance, and became known as the Kansas City Prophets. Two of them, Paul Cain and Bob Jones have been found guilty of serious sexual sin while "ministering" as prophets, and Bentley, who claims them as his mentors, has had both of them shown on the stage at Lakeland as heroes!
The story of the Kansas City Prophets is a very sad one, apart from the scandals mentioned above. A church was established, called The Metro Christian Vineyard church, where a prophecy was said to be given that if they would preach and practice a) Holiness of heart, b) Steadfastness of faith, c) Extravagant giving to the poor, and d) Faithfulness in prayer, praying day and night; that God would restore the Church in Kansas City, and send revival, which would spread all over the world. But very soon, they stopped keeping to these four emphases, other spirits came in and the movement went into divination and witchcraft.
There are interconnecting direct lines from these Latter rain "prophets" through Rodney Howard Browne, Randy Clark, John Arnott and John Kilpatrick to Todd Bentley; and Bentley prides himself on the connection, claiming that Toronto was the first wave, Pensacola was the second wave and now Lakeland is the third wave. It is not surprising, therefore that the meetings at Lakeland have all the common "characteristics" of Toronto
and Pensacola: falling to the floor, roaring, groaning, shaking, jerking, drunken behaviour and uncontrollable laughter. In addition, people report severe burning sensations in the body, in the head and the stomach, feeling as if their eyes are rolling in the backs of their heads, and women gyrating and pulsating as though they are being ravaged by some unseen force.
Such effects cannot possibly be the work of a holy God, and to suggest so, is blasphemous.
3. Mention must also be made of two other streams that are converging in the Lakeland meetings.
a) The first of these is Mesmerism. Anton Mesmer, the father of hypnotism or mesmerism, as it was also known, was an occultic faith healer, who operated at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. One of Mesmer's famous healing sessions is described in a book on the occult: 'Mesmer marched about majestically in a pale lilac robe, passing his hands over the patients' bodies or touching them with a long iron wand. The results varied. Some patients felt nothing at all, some felt as if insects were crawling over them, others were seized with hysterical laughter, convulsions or fits of hiccups. Some went into raving delirium, which was called 'The Crisis' and was considered extremely healthful.' The Academy of Science and the Royal Society of Medicine, examined Mesmer's claims and concluded 'That man can act upon man at any time, and almost at will, by striking his imagination; that the simplest gestures and signs can have the most powerful effects; and that the action of man upon the imagination may be reduced to an art, and conducted with method, upon subjects who have faith.'
"Sadly, the same things that were happening in Mesmer’s meetings over two centuries ago are happening today in Bentley’s meetings," reports Alan Morrison of Diakrisis Publications. "Fainting, laughing, convulsing, and the like are the norm at these meetings. More information about these emotional manifestations, almost always accompanied by music, can be found in a book, "The Watchman", which can be purchased by writing to A.B.P. at the address given on the website, www.biblical-pentecostals.org.
The influence of music in this connection cannot be over emphasized. "Music is a powerful tool that can be used to draw us closer to God", wrote Gary Osborne, " but it can also put people in a position to be led away from the Lord. We must not fail to put music in its proper place, and be discerning in this area. Everything in the meetings at Lakeland, (and too many other places), is driven by the music." Osborne, who said he had been used to quite loud music at meetings and festivals, reported that "the music at Lakeland was the loudest he had ever experienced. When the music is going strong and loud, the people are literally mesmerized. I use that word because it so aptly describes what happens to the masses of people in these services. The music helps to put them in a state where they are susceptible to unbiblical manifestations like being ‘slain in the Spirit.’ In Larry Thomas’s book, "The Watchman", he has a chapter entitled "Slain in the Spirit" where he talks about the phenomenon at length and how it ties into hypnotism and high emotionalism."
Morrison concludes, "Just as the Western psychologists are proffering ancient shamanistic practices in a guise which is more palatable to the uninitiated Westerners, so the professing Christian churches which peddle 'religious fainting' have simply made the Possession-Trance state of shamanism more readily acceptable to the undiscerning sheep who attend their heated meetings. These are the true origins of the strange phenomena which are being so widely reported today and which are bringing the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ into so much disrepute." This conclusion should be blazoned over every Charismatic and Pentecostal Church.
b) The other influence at Lakeland is that of The Serpent Power of Kundalini.
The following are among the common manifestations of the risen Kundalini:
Muscle twitches, cramps or spasms.
Energy rushes or immense electricity circulating the body
Itching, vibrating, prickling, tingling, stinging or crawling sensations
Involuntary bodily movements: jerking, tremors, shaking; feeling an inner force
pushing one into postures or moving one's body in unusual ways
Headaches, pressures within the skull
Intense heat or cold
Spontaneous vocalizations, including laughing and weeping, as unintentional and
uncontrollable as hiccups
Mental confusion; difficulty in concentrating
Altered states of consciousness: heightened awareness; spontaneous trance states;
mystical experiences (if the individual's prior belief system is too threatened by these,
they can lead to bouts of psychosis or self-grandiosity)
Psychic experiences: extrasensory perception; out-of-body experiences; past life
memories; astral travel; direct awareness of auras and chakras; contact with spirit guides
through inner voices, dreams or visions; healing powers
Intensified understanding and sensitivity: awareness of one's environment (including
"vibes" from others)
(The Kundalini manifestations are taken directly from a Kundalini web site)
Now we look at the "manifestations" at Toronto, Pensacola, Lakeland and their offshoots:
"Muscle twitches, cramps or spasms"
"Energy rushes, or immense electricity entering the body" (an incredibly accurate description)
"Spontaneous vocalizations, including laughing"~ Uncontrollable laughter
"Involuntary body movements ~jerking, tremors, shaking; feeling an inner force pushing one into postures, or moving one’s body in unusual ways"
"Headaches, pressures within the skull"
Feeling great heat
Spontaneous trance states, the so called being ‘slain in the spirit,’ "out of body experiences"
"Astral travel, contact with spirit guides through inner voices, dreams or visions."
Making animal noises, such as roaring
"Mental confusion, difficulty in concentrating"
Jumping "po-go-ing" ~ Vibrating, tingling sensations
Supernatural smelling of scents ~ Out-of-body experiences
Experiencing the smell of flowers, incense
"Awareness of one’s environment, including vibes from others"
"Healing powers" !!
It is obvious that these "manifestations" match almost exactly.
El Collie said that he had a video of a woman in Pensacola standing trying to give her testimony with a panicked look on her face calling out to her husband, "Honey, where are we from." Her mind was so blown and confused that she did not know her own name and did not know where she lived! Yet some people claim that this is from God! Our God is not the Author of confusion, nor does He confuse His people. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit gives clarity of mind. Yet mental confusion and lack of concentration are two of the signs of one’s "serpent power" being released along with all the other similarities we have noticed.
It is also interesting to see how one receives the spirit or demon. At Toronto, Pensacola, Lakeland and associated places, it is received:
THROUGH THE LAYING-ON-OF HANDS CALLED AN IMPARTATION
How one receives a Kundalini Awakening
THROUGH THE LAYING-ON-OF-HANDS DURING "SHAKTI-PAT" INITIATION
Who can administer the "impartation"
ANYONE WHO HAS RECEIVED IT FROM A PERSON ALREADY AFFECTED
Who can give Shakti-pat?
ANYONE WHO HAS RECEIVED THE ABILITY FROM THE GURU OR ONE OF HIS DISCIPLES.
Again, the similarities are very noticeable. "Usually the awakening of Kundalini was a process which only occurred after years of spiritual practice and meditation," states El Collie, "yet increasingly, Kundalini experience is being reported among people who are not undertaking spiritual practices. What used to take years, now is being "granted" immediately to those not even following the yogic path. These occult folks view this as indicative of a larger purpose at work. What and/or whose purpose?
The only answer is the larger purpose of Satan and his hosts of seducing and deceiving spirits. Their purpose is to dupe well-meaning Christians via demonic manifestations masquerading as ‘the work of the Spirit.’ My brothers and sisters, there is a global demonic deception being perpetrated on thousands, if not millions, of Christians."
A former mystic, who became a Christian, wrote this year, "It has been many years since I sat before an altar with a picture of Muktananda Paramahansa and a statue of a coiled cobra snake, eating prassad (food blessed by the presence of the guru). I am saddened to see multitudes of sincere believers practicing Kundalini yoga, receiving impartation from their own local/national/international gurus, whether they be called Pastor Arnott, Benny Hinn, Rodney Browne, Todd Bentley etc. The fruit is the same. The manifestations are the same. It comes via a human being (not sovereignly by God). It comes after much singing repetitious choruses, which brings one into an alpha state of consciousness (I know these states well, I used to spend hours in a sensory deprivation tank), and thus shutting down the rational mind. Thus the chela/student/disciple/believer is open to receiving the impartation from the guru/pastor/prophet/apostle. . .and lo and behold, they do.
Are these ‘moves’ from God? No they are not. From all I have read, seen, experienced as a former mystic, I can say on the basis of Scripture that what is occurring is a clever counterfeit, something mimicking the genuine so as to deceive those who would normally accept the genuine. I pray for the deliverance of those leaders who are ignorantly leading God's people astray and I pray for the multitudes of hungry believers who for some reason or another find simple faith in the Scriptures not enough to satisfy their souls."
"Awakening Kundalini energy," wrote Tony Pearce, "is so dangerous that many yoga gurus refuse to fully release it in their disciples, but Todd Bentley and many others have no such qualms, and people get hurt."
Abraham, an ex Satanist, thanks God that some Christians have true insight regarding what
is going on. He writes: "I recognize the spirits behind the Toronto Experience as being the same
spirits we unleashed on the church, (to deceive it), when I was against Christianity. These are
counterfeiting spirits, and they are being so blatant about it that I am amazed that people can’t
see what is going on. The problem is that the power of these spirits lies in deception. (They are
primarily religious deceiving spirits) I appeal to those who are concerned enough to spend their
time reaching out to those who are potential victims of the Toronto/Pensacola/Lakeland
Experience, before they are ‘had.’ For others who have the light, please don’t keep quiet. If you
saw a house on fire, wouldn’t you try to warn the inhabitants? If you saw some one about to fall
over a cliff, would you keep quiet?
Dr Morphew, a propagator of the Toronto Experience says in his publication, Renewal Apologetics
page 15; ‘The phenomena of the Holy Spirit attract loons..’ But where is the criteria for determining
lunacy? The world within these churches is no different from the world within the asylum. If you
don’t believe me, visit a mental hospital and see for yourself. In fact, sanity is relative, and it is
subjective to qualify who is sane or who isn’t, (I speak from Toronto Experience perspective). So
why distinguish between loons and non loons? With the Toronto Experience, the distinctions are so
blurred that it is a case of the insane diagnosing the insane. If a madman were to break out of his
asylum cell and find himself in a Toronto/Lakeland experience hall, he’d surely think he was still
in the madhouse…I have friends who have ended up in an asylum for life. They yielded their minds
and bodies once too often (to the same spirits active in the Toronto Experience) while in the occult.
They let go and gave over control just once too often, and are in that position permanently now. Some
of them have been controlled for years, and have never resumed control over their own faculties.
Satan does not play games with his victims; it is just a matter of time. I challenge people to do some investigation
into what goes on in the maximum security wards of mental hospitals. Jerking head
movements is old hat there, because something else is in control of the central nervous system. When
demons control people through the central nervous system, the movements are very robotic. I’ve
seen it countless times in the occult. People in madhouses (who have been put there by demons and
not by physical brain damage or true psychological causes per se), also scratch like cats, hiss and bark,
shake uncontrollably, and laugh continuously and uncontrollably. And I just wonder (with deep regret)
how many people who are still in the honeymoon phases of surrendering themselves to these spirits,
will later land up in these hospitals. I’m sure many of my friends who have "gone over the top" had no
idea in the initial stages of their experience, where it was going to take them.
In my years of worshipping Satan and his demons, I discovered that forces of darkness thrive on symbolic irony, with the purpose of mocking God. It is as if they have searched the scriptures for every abomination in God’s sight, and then sought to coax believers to accommodate those abominations while bearing the name of Christ.
Isaiah 28 and 29 clearly depicts the abhorrence of God for drunken leaders of his people. He warns Israel against drunken prophets – Isaiah 28:1-5: "The kingdom of Israel is doomed! Its glory is like the fading crowns of flowers on the heads of its leaders. Their proud heads are well perfumed, but there they lie, dead drunk. The pride of those drunken leaders will be trampled under foot." Then Isaiah 19:9 says; "Go ahead and be stupid! Go ahead and be blind. Get drunk without any wine. Stagger without drinking a drop. The Lord has made you drowsy, ready to fall into a deep sleep. The prophets should be the eyes of the people, but God has blinded them."
Would God, (who is ever the same) warn about drunken prophets, who are drunk without wine, and
use this same symbolism (drunkenness) to prove a revival by His Spirit? God is not like a man, who is
prone to contradiction, nor is he like Satan who puts ‘good for evil’ and ‘evil for good.’ Does the same
God who abhors drunkenness, suddenly use drunkenness as a symbol of His Holy Spirit? We can be
sure that Satan, the author of opposites, is behind such contradictory symbolism – behaviour. Satan is
having a good laugh at God’s people who, in a drunken stupor, the so called "drunk in the spirit", think
they are praising God."
4. Another aspect of Lakeland that we should look at are the ‘Third Heaven ‘ experiences that
Todd Bentley claims.
Terry Somerville, a Christian Preacher, who was involved in the occult before he was truly born again, testified: "We sang Christian songs, had teaching about Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and experienced the supernatural. But the gospel was missing, we believed in reincarnation, and thought we were speaking to the spirits of the dead. If I had known what the scriptures said about what I was doing I would have stopped immediately. The "third heaven" teaching today has many similarities to occult practices and many differences from the biblical experience described by Paul. We should use extreme caution. We have been warned about this ahead of time.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 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 Cor. 11:14,15)
We can have all kinds of experiences, even of an angel of light. But the word of God is ALWAYS the first line of inquiry, not experience. It provides doctrine, correction and instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) The word of God flows with life and separates what is of human origination from what is truly of the spirit of the Lord. The word reveals the intent of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) How does "visiting the third heaven" teaching and practice fit in with the word of God? Not very well. Lets look at some issues.
a. Visiting the third heaven by faith is not a Biblical Practice.
Heaven is defined as "the sky" and "the abode of God". Paul did sovereignly experience the third heaven, and so did others like Daniel. In every case in the Bible these visitations were initiated by the Lord and they were rare. But the modern practice of visiting the third heaven by faith is unknown in the scriptures. Silence does not authenticate a practice. It most likely indicates the practice was unknown. In no place are we told to seek it.
Instead we are told to seek the Kingdom of God, the gifts of the Spirit and to pray in the Spirit. The Spirit of Glory is already living in us!
b. Man never initiates third heaven experiences.
Proponents of the current third heaven experience say they initiate it "by faith". In the Bible there are a number of times when prophets are caught up to heaven, or "the third heaven". But Paul’s choice of words tells us this is quite a different experience from the modern one.
- The word "revelation" in Greek In 2 Cor. 12:1 Paul calls the third heaven experience a "vision and revelation". The word revelation in Greek is "optanomai" - to gaze at an apparition with eyes wide open. It is not the Greek word "blepo" that would be used if it were voluntary. Jesus made it clear the Holy Spirit will lead us, speak to us and show us things to come. (John 16:13) We can ask for wisdom and expect revelations. But we are not told we can voluntarily "go and get" such a revelation.
- The word "caught up" in Greek. In 2 Cor. 12:2 Paul was clear that he was "caught up" into the heavenlies. It was so abrupt and overwhelming he couldn't tell if it was "in the body or out of the body". In other words he couldn't tell if he was physically being snatched away. "Caught up" is the greek word harpazo, which means to seize (in various applications):--catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force). Clearly Paul was not initiating this, and neither was Daniel, Ezekiel, or John when he/they had their visions. It was a sudden, intense, even a violent experience.
c. Even for the Apostle Paul, the experience was very rare. Given the modern third heaven teaching, you would think a man as spiritual as Paul would have experienced this very often. Instead, he says 'more than fourteen years ago. (v. 2) In other words, it was sovereign and rare. Modern third heaven teachers would have us believe we can experience this daily. So what exactly are they experiencing?
d. Elements missing from modern experiences.
In Biblical instances of "third heaven" encounters there are clear consequences to the person, even Christians.
- Daniel and other prophets were sick. "And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up" (Daniel 8:27)
- The Apostles were overcome, as dead. "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead "( Rev 1:17 )
- Paul sent a "thorn in the flesh" And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh,a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure( 2 Cor. 12:7)
- Missing Unspeakable Things Paul was not allowed to speak of what he saw in the third heaven. Daniel and others said things were hidden until the time of the end.
- Missing Awe and Reverence The Bible experiences of the third heaven are overwhelming, reverent and awe inspiring. The third heaven descriptions we are hearing today sound like a travelogue. These are very similar to the descriptions given by New Age channellers.
- Missing Fear Of God In the Bible, some of the prophets are protected by God. Isaiah feared his unclean lips would doom him but was cleansed at the altar. Today conferences full of people, including sinners, believe they can enter the third heaven without consequence, and enjoy the ride.
My Own Encounter With Jesus
A number of years ago I had the experience of Jesus appearing while I was preaching. He was at the back of the church, perhaps 60 feet away. I lost my strength and fell against the pulpit. I could barely speak. People said I turned white as a sheet. After ten seconds or so he turned and walked away and disappeared. I was shaken for a long time afterwards, but also repentance and the power of God sovereignly fell upon the meeting.
e. Consulting the dead. An Abomination to the Lord. There are a few places in the Bible where God's people encounter the dead, but these meetings are very different from the modern 'third heaven" encounters we hear about. The Apostles witnessed Moses and Elijah with Jesus. But as soon as the apostles tried to engage them, the Father rebuked the apostles saying "This is my beloved Son: hear him." John saw the dead under the altar in his vision. He did not engage them. King Saul sought out dead Samuel through the woman with a familiar spirit and was condemned for it (1 Samuel 28).
Consulting with the dead is NEVER a good thing in scripture. Why do we think it is a good thing in the context of third heaven encounters? It is being spiritualized with Christian ideas, but is far from the truth. Personally, I accepted this deception before I was a Christian. But the Lord graciously drew me to Him. Here is the Bible verse that brought me to repentance." Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist, or who consults the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord. (Deut. 18:10,12)
Israel was commanded to put anyone who did this to death, (Lev 20:27) The instruction in Scripture is definite. We should not consult with any spirit. but seek God instead.
And when they tell you, to consult mediums and spiritists that chirp, and mutter: should not a people seek their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Isaiah 8:19-20)
f. Similarity to The Occult; third heaven experiences have many similarities to the occult. It should give us great alarm. The third heaven experiences seem to be the same as astral travel, but in a Christian setting. Here are some similarities drawn from my own experience before I was a Christian.
In witchcraft ASTRAL TRAVEL
According to T.B.
Sincerity is faith
Receiving anointing is by faith
Sin is irrelevant
Sin is hardly mentioned
Impartation of a spirit from leaders
Impartation of anointings from leader
Presence of spiritual realm is felt
Spiritual presence of God is claimed
Focus on "light" and break through to spirit realm
Focus on light and break through to 3rd heaven
Soul travels- leaving body into spirit realm and other locations
Third Heaven journey - leaving body into spirit realm and other locations
Channelling- communication with good spirits for help
Communication with angels
Communication with the dead
Communication with the dead
A Spirit Guide - a spirit who stays with you to guide you
Angels and anointing to guide ministry
Recently there has been a great increase in what I can only call sensationalism. All kinds of signs are reported. Gold dust, oil, glory, angels, feathers, jewels, miracle water, anointed objects , etc. God may do any of these things, but it sounds like a new age of "icons" has entered the church. We must focus on Jesus! It seems that the "third heaven" experience is another one of these sensational experiences, and many are enthralled. Paul, Daniel and the others in scripture seemed to keep their third heaven experiences to themselves most of the time.
We need Jesus! It is faith in Him alone! He is the very centre, and we are to look to him not an experience. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen(.Romans 11:36) The word of God says that we have completeness in Christ, and doesn't say anything about needing third heaven experiences. In fact, we have been given supernatural reality in Christ on earth, NOW! That is His plan. Look at these wonderful scriptures:
We have His presence in us. 1 Cor.3:16, 6:19 We have His Glory John 17:22 We Have The Ultimate Spirit Guide, The Holy Spirit John 16:13-15 We Partake of Heaven now Ephesians 2:6, Hebrews 12:22-24 Jesus Himself Intercedes For Us Hebrews 7:25.
We can have a full, powerful, anointed, spiritual life now. Most Christians are looking for something else and not living in what they have. The ultimate purpose for us is not going up to heaven through third heaven experiences, but His Holy life coming through us here on earth! "
Paul Gowdy, a former Toronto Vineyard Pastor, writing many years after the happenings in his city, said that he used to call what happened a mixed blessing, but now he would call it a mixed curse, concluding that any individual good that came from it, had been far outweighed by all the harm and Satanic deception of it.
"I am honestly convinced," he writes, "that the leaders in the Vineyard churches … have fallen into deception….They have failed to obey the Scriptures, and have been led astray by the longing for something bigger, brighter, more exciting and more dynamic. I am genuinely repentant, and ..would ask you, the bride and body of Christ, to forgive me…. I watched people pretend to be animals,..perpetually act as if drunk, and sing silly songs. How I thought any of this was from the Holy Spirit of God amazes me today. It was loud, irreverent and blasphemous to the Holy God of the Bible…..We opened ourselves up to lying spirits. May God have mercy on us!
Another thing was the relegating of the whole truth of the Bible. In all my time there, I heard only one message on repentance given by a visiting speaker from Hong Kong named Jackie Pullinger. It went over like a lead balloon. We were not there to repent, we were there to party to the Lord. After a year, I spoke out at a pastors meeting, declaring…’ we have no revival, no salvation, no fruit and no increased evangelism.’ But I was soundly rebuked. After three years of being in the thick of it, our church just about self destructed. We devoured one another with gossip, backstabbing and division. We became the most carnal, immature and deceived Christians that I know.
To those still in the river, I would say, ‘Swim out. There are things living in the water that will bite you.’ We have much to answer for, and may the Lord open our eyes sooner rather than later….We are like the church in Laodicea. We think we are rich, have prospered and need nothing. We do not realize that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We must take the counsel of Jesus, and buy gold refined in the fire, which is His suffering, not a false spirit; white garments to clothe our shameful nakedness, and salve for our eyes that we might see again. Jesus is calling us to repentance, and thank the Lord that He is, for it will lead us to true restoration with the Father. If God has forgiven me and opened my eyes, then He can do it for all those caught in deception too." (End of Quote)
5. How do these evil influences come into the churches? How did Gowdy and others "open themselves up to lying spirits?"
a) Gowdy, himself gives part of the answer. They "were led astray by the longing for something bigger, brighter, more exciting and dynamic." Now it is right to long for God to do great things, as William Carey did, but we have to be willing to go about it God’s way, according to His instructions, or we will be led astray, as they were in Toronto. We are told to love God with all our minds, which includes taking care that we are not deceived.
"Much of the Church today is looking for gimmicks to bring people into the churches, comments Tony Pearce. "They try one thing after another, but ignore the Master’s instructions, and some even boast that they don’t do doctrine. But when the church abandons doctrinal teaching, as Bentley and his followers are doing, it is inevitably on the way to error and collapse. Isaiah 29 shows what happens when the word of God is no longer taught, and the true prophets of God ignored. The Bible becomes a closed book, and religion becomes disconnected from God. Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples…teaching them "to observe all that I have commanded you." Evangelism involves teaching doctrine and obedience"
b) John Green, writing of ‘The Disarming Of The Church,’ says, "The New Testament is replete with warnings of false teachers and teachings, of lying signs and wonders, and of corrupt men who would seek to draw followers after themselves. God has not left His people defenseless. He has indwelt us with His Spirit of Truth, provided us with the example of Christ, His teachings, the teachings of the apostles, and all the other writings found in the Bible. There is a gift of the discerning of spirits given to some, but more importantly, there is the ability to test all things and to be discerning, which is the responsibility of all believers. If the believer is to be armed against the deceptions of the enemy, and to remain free from his oppressive regime, then he must exercise discernment with continual vigilance. If this defensive weapon is seized and taken from you, then you are easy prey for any who would desire to take you captive.
Because of these things, it is very disturbing to me to observe a trend in the Body of Christ today. This trend is to scorn and belittle those who would exercise their God-given self-defense weapon of discernment. Those who would obey scripture and "test all things" are mocked and ridiculed and labelled ‘Pharisees.’ It seems that the Church has fallen prey to the pluralistic, non-judgmental mindset of our present age. The one unpardonable sin is to question someone’s belief, or dare to say that it might be wrong. These new leaders demand that you climb on their bandwagon, and if you cannot agree, then you must remain silent at all costs. They call for us to experience now, and evaluate later. Adam and Eve had no experiential knowledge of good and evil. The Serpent called their attention to the attractiveness and desirability of the fruit, and enticed them to experience for themselves. In their later evaluation, they knew that they had been wrong to ignore what God had said on the matter, but by then the damage had been done.
Those who would remove the defensive weapon of discernment are binding the hands of the Church. They are preparing God’s people for the slaughter. Why are they doing this? Why would they want to expose millions to the myriad deceptions of the enemy with no protection. Why do they take away what the Father has given? The Church is becoming a slaughterhouse slick with the spilled blood of saints who have been seduced by false teachers. The faithful plod forward to the killing floor, their trusting eyes fixed on their leaders. Error and deception runs rampant. Pseudo-knowledge is dispersed around the world, speeding through electrical synapses. Make no mistake. It is a battle, and much is at stake.
c) Let us examine the logic (or lack of it) behind what some of these leaders are saying:
"You have to experience it yourself before you judge it." This is pure nonsense. It is the method the Mormons use to get people hooked in. You don’t have to experience suicide to know that it is bad for you. Christians are never commanded to authenticate a questionable spiritual experience by submitting themselves to it.
"If you don’t jump in the River, then you may miss out on the move of God." If you don’t exercise your duty to test everything and hold on to what is good, then you may be deceived. But God is not in a hurry. If you are walking with Him, seeking to please Him, then He will guide you into all He desires for you. Just because someone proclaims something is a move of God, doesn’t make it so. Beware of the salesman who pushes you to make a decision on the spot. He may have something to hide.
"God offends the mind to reveal the heart." The Kansas City prophets spoke about ‘suspending the mind to accept things in your spirit.’ This teaching has been reiterated by Bentley but it is not Scriptural. It is just their deceiving way of taking advantage of gullible people. It is true that God’s ways may be offensive to human wisdom. Often though, this quote is used to say that if you are offended by something going on in the Church, then your heart isn’t right. The real issue is, are you offended because what is going on is unscriptural? If so, then stand fast.
"Don’t oppose what is going on, in case it turns out to be a move of God." This is the argument used by Gamaliel in Acts chapter 5. Although this argument worked in favour of the apostles, it must be pointed out that Gamaliel was a Pharisee making a pragmatic argument. His was not a directive from the Lord on how believers should conduct their discernment. If something is not from God, ultimately, it is true that it will not succeed. In the time that it takes for a false movement to runs its course, however, many lives will be damaged, and many souls deceived and damned. Look at the phenomenal growth and apparent success of Mormonism and Islam. Christians rightly oppose Mormonism and Islam on the basis that they twist and deviate from Scripture. Things which occur within Christianity should receive no less scrutiny. Or consider the works of Satan. We know that he will not succeed, in the long run, but we certainly do not sit back and allow him to do his work unhindered, and say, ’Lets see what he does! ‘ When souls are at stake, we cannot afford to sit back and do nothing.
"Don’t you want more of God in your life?" We really need to be on our guard against this. Of course, any sincere Christian realizes that they need to grow closer to God, and they desire to do so. But this should not lead us to embrace everything that is presented to us.. Part of growing closer to God includes obeying His commands to test and be discerning. The desperation of some Christians reminds me of King Saul turning to the witch of Endor. He wanted an answer at any price. The price he ended up paying was his own destruction.
"The healthy soul, like the healthy blood system, has its proper proportion of white and red blood cells. The red corpuscles are like faith: they carry the life giving oxygen to every part of the body. The white cells are like discernment: they pounce upon dead and toxic matter and carry it out to the drain. In the healthy heart there must be provision for keeping dead and poisonous matter out of the life stream." (A.W. Tozer.)
d) As well as not using the gift of discernment, evil and demonic influences come in when we open ourselves without restriction to spiritual forces, which Todd Bentley tells people to do constantly. Nearly 100 years ago, Evan Roberts taught that "deliberate passivity of mind and body in any religious activity is treacherous and open to abuse."
Listen to the wisdom of someone with more discernment than anyone alive today. "The more anyone desires anything spiritual," wrote Jessie Penn-Lewis, "the more open he is to spirits, evil or good. If any believer will seek an experience without the Cross, Satan will give him the desired thing." Would that this statement could be given to everyone going to Lakeland or its offshoots. "Then the evidence of a false leading shows up," she continued, "a kind of self exaltation because they have this feeling that God is going to do great things through them, because they have been called to it. This is deception."
"The counterfeit of the presence of God," Penn-Lewis explains, "is mainly felt upon the body in conscious fire, thrills, etc. The counterfeit of the presence of God in the atmosphere is felt by the senses of the body as breath or wind, etc, while the mind is passive or inactive. The person affected by this counterfeit will be moved almost automatically to actions he would not perform of his own will, even with all his faculties in operation. He may not even remember what he has done under the power of this presence"
Our spiritual perception needs to be sharpened by the Holy Spirit, as "counterfeits of today", said Penn-Lewis, "are generally wrought upon the soulish or sense life of those who have not learnt to distinguish between soul and spirit."
"What was the antidote to this deception?" she concluded. "Only those who placed themselves entirely under the power of the Cross could be sure of victory, but by the blood of Jesus on the Cross, victory is always a certainty." That truth still remains the standard after all the intervening years.
Even after writing all I have written, there is much more that I could say about further comparisons between the teaching of the Bible and what is going on at Lakeland; answers to other questions that people have asked; the testing of the Church in all this; and the matter of the laying on of hands and falling down under the Spirit. The Lord willing, I will seek to deal with these things later.
In the meantime, please continue to pray for all those who have been deceived by what is going on at Lakeland and its offshoots, that the Lord will open their eyes to the truth. There is more at stake here than most people realize.