But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. - Mark 13: 23 (ESV)
"What if we said collectively as the church, OK God, no more boxes. No more limits. No more we have to control everything. Just give God total control. Yeah, it's scary but I think that's the way we were meant to live." - Meredith Andrews
Christian recording artist Meredith Andrews offers up this quote towards the end of the new movie, Holy Ghost, and within it we see the fatal flaw behind the rationale of those in the false signs and lying wonders movement. That flaw is the dismissal of doctrine. To the makers of this film and those involved, the box they are complaining about is theology. The limits they feel the need to break free from is the very Gospel they proclaim to love. The controls imposed are not imposed by people within the church but by the Chief Cornerstone of the church itself, Jesus Christ. Paul implores Timothy to guard only two things; his life and his doctrine, because the very salvation of his listeners is at stake. Jesus Himself warned that there would arise false messiahs and prophets that will perform false signs and wonders to lead astray if possible even the elect. Right after He says this comes our key verse today. We are to be vigilant beloved. We are to be on guard against the very things that present themselves as Christian but are not, lest we be led astray. We will not be able to stand before Christ and say we were not warned. As the key verse cryptically reminds us - Jesus told us all things beforehand.
What does that mean for us today? That means we have all of the answers we need. God has revealed to us already all revelation. Prophets should now prophesy regarding the revealed will of God, not some voodoo clairvoyance designed to give us goose bumps. It means that we should be very wary of anyone claiming "God told me" if it does not align perfectly with Scripture. Divine revelation is one of the constants in false teaching circles. The truth we need to grasp today is that God already told all of us, all things, beforehand. Thus we need to be on guard.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. - 2Thessalonians 2: 9-12 (ESV)
The false signs and lying wonders movement is infecting the body of Christ. It is the primary reason why otherwise sane theologians have turned cessationist, as with John MacArthur. You can only watch people blaspheming the Holy Spirit for so long before you want to throw the baby out with the Charismatic bathwater. Make no mistake about it beloved. The delusion is strong. The deception is wicked. We need to be on guard.
I admit I was concerned before I watched Holy Ghost because of the content of the people associated with and appearing in the movie. Bill Johnson is featured heavily and is one of the most renowned heretics on the planet. Johnson has claimed the entire gamut of false signs and lying wonders at his church in Redding California. He has claimed gemstones falling from heaven. Gold dust manifestations. Glory clouds, suspiciously coming from the ventilation systems. Angel feathers falling from the heavens. He operates a school for the supernatural where he teaches the gifts of the Spirit, despite the Bible clearly saying they are apportioned as the Spirit sees fit. I have watched alleged prayer services where he allows anyone to come up and randomly "prophesy" over the audience. His students have even visited the gravesites of deceased Charismatics, so they could "suck the residual anointing" from the graves. Besides Johnson, there is Kim Walker-Smith from Jesus Culture, who are taught and led by Johnson. Walker-Smith already has testified that she essentially cannot tell the difference between a demonic visitation and the presence of God. She has claimed to have visited the throne room and met the Father face to face, despite the Bible clearly saying she would be dead if that were so. Besides these two, there is the author of the heretical book, The Shack; false prophetess Heidi Baker and others.
These associations are not surprising when you consider that this is their genre. This is their false christianity they have created. Instead of being Bible based and assured of doctrine it is entirely subjective and experiential. It is always chasing the next big "spiritual" experience. The problem is the spirit they experience is not the Holy Spirit at all. Any who dare oppose it are branded as legalists who need a revelation of who God is. Nonsense. I have a revelation of who God is. It is called the Bible. I do not need Bill Johnson, or director Darren Wilson to sell me a new one. This experiential christianity is always big on "risk taking" and trying new things. It is what brought us the infamous holy laughter debacle and the false revivals in Brownsville and Lakeland. It is what has led to the heretical New Apostolic Reformation; which is neither new, apostolic or a reformation. It is where the Kansas City Prophets and IHOP come from. The list can go on and on but the main thrust is a christianity based upon a smattering of verses taken out of context to justify that God is doing something new. There is always a "shift" somewhere and everyone always has a fresh word for you. None of it however is from God. It is all a strong delusion. It is all a wicked deception.
Does that mean there are not moments in Holy Ghost that are redeemable? Of course not. The enemy rarely uses only falsehood. It is always a clever mix of truth and deception. That is why it is so wicked. I thought the testimony of salvation from the members of the heavy metal band Korn were poignant and showed how far down God will go to save us. Remember, this is not an issue of intent or personality. I cannot pretend to know what is in the heart of Darren Wilson or anyone in this movie. I can only hold up my Bible to it and see what God says. In the end, this movie does not only deviate from the Gospel - it abandons it. It sells a Jesus that barely cares about sin at all. A Jesus who is just all about love and puppies and rainbows. It also engages in what can only be described as mystic evangelism; where those evangelizing seek out people who need healing so they can perform magic on them, then give the credit to Jesus, and then try and lead them into a sinner's prayer. So the shtick is to perform a miracle as a sign that they need to take this Jesus guy seriously. But Jesus already spoke about seeking a sign first.
But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. - Matthew 12: 39-40 (ESV)
The sign of Jonah is the Gospel beloved. That Christ rose on the third day, defeating death and Satan on our behalf. THAT is what is supposed to be preached; not let me heal your back pain so I can then lead you in a prayer that has zero power to actually save you. The sign of Jonah is the ultimate sign and wonder. THAT is what should be preached.
The other main theme throughout the movie is that the church, or religion, sucks. Sorry for the straightforward nature of that statement but that is exactly the impression this movie worked really hard to convey. That you can't trust those guys in the steepled buildings but this little film crew? Yeah, we are here on the business of the Holy Ghost. As such it came across as relatively arrogant and very self-promoting. The first journey takes the crew to Utah; the home of Mormonism. They interview a kid who claims to be haunted by spirits ever since he slept in a graveyard. One of the crew tells the kid that God has given him a special power that can take that away from him if he wants. The kid extends his hands as directed and the "evangelist" places his hands above them as if he is going to impart some form of power into him. He then prays for God to send the power of the Holy Spirit up the arm of this unsaved Mormon, as a "sign of Your love." He then prays - "double it Lord"; apparently asking for more power. Immediately the two "evangelists" bombard the young man with experiential questions - how do you feel! The young Mormon exclaims - "my nipples got hard." Hallelujah? Are you kidding me?
Darren Wilson narrates over the end of this and says that he understands that this may look like a parlor trick. That we are reducing the Holy Spirit to some experiential oddity. But that he can assure us that the heart of these two men is to give people a chance to experience the power and presence of God so that they might enter into a relationship with Him. Think about the staggering ignorance of that statement. Do the hearts of these two men matter at all? No! The Bible says our hearts are wickedly deceptive above all else. The fact is they are reducing the Holy Spirit down to a mystic, experiential parlor trick. It does not matter if you do not intend to. Within this statement we see one of the biggest flaws in their approach used throughout the entire movie. You do not do a magic trick and then ask people if they liked the trick enough to marry the magician. That is the Gospel in reverse.
The movie continues with the crew happening upon an older man and his wife who apparently evangelize the Mormons as well, but do so in a more "fire and brimstone" manner. The purpose of this portion appeared to be to mock their approach to glorify their own. The next victim is a young man and the healer starts out by clairvoyantly predicting things about him. "I see there is fibromyalgia in your life. I see there is a neck issue you share with your mother. I see there is metal in your wrist." All of these things of course are true to which they gleefully ask the kid to confirm - "and we never met you before this right!" Just like any good psychic would. They then pray for God to "melt the metal" in his wrist and make him show how flexible it is now. Wilson narrates over the ending here by selectively quoting 1Corinthians 2:4; "and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." The intent here is obvious. To make it seem as if Scripture agrees with this nonsense. See it says "a demonstration of the Spirit and of power!" Yes, but what is the entire context?
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. - 1Corinthians 2: 1-5 (ESV)