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And the Lord said to me: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, not did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. -- Jeremiah 14: 14 (ESV)
We need to wake up beloved. As a church we need to awaken. We need to start seeing the truth for the truth and exposing the false for what it is. A cancer eroding the bride of Christ. Do we think God is pleased? Do we think He does not know that we openly embrace false teachings that consign millions to eternal hell because we "like" the teacher? That he makes us feel better about ourselves? Do we think that matters to God at all? Yesterday I read a report from someone who analyzed an entire year's worth of tweets from Joel Osteen. That is over 900 tweets and he mentioned Jesus Christ three times. Three times beloved. Are we serious about God or not? But preacher! He mentioned God over 300 times! So what? First of all that would mean that the pastor with the largest flock mentions God only a third of the time! Not only that but it allows people who confuse the one true God with the god they have created for themselves. Over 90% of America believe in some concept of God but see what happens when you mention the name of Jesus Christ. That name divides people. His Gospel separates the sheep from the goats. Three times out of 900 tweets and we wink and nod and purchase the next ministry bundle Osteen offers or show up for his next book signing. He just admitted in an interview this month that he does not think he is hurting anyone by never mentioning hell! But I digress.
This is not even about Osteen. He is the poster child for false teachers but today we turn our attention to false prophets, which are also tearing the body of Christ apart. There are hucksters around every corner claiming direct revelation from the Lord. Claiming they can be wrong up to 35% of the time and still be considered a great prophet. Claiming auditory words from God, visiting heaven, great and profound visions. All things we must take at their word of course. Magical signs and wonders such as gold dust, gem stones, angel feathers and glory clouds follow them around. We must remember that they are trafficking in the demonic realm. The spirit they are divining is not the Holy Spirit but rather the principalities in heavenly realms the Bible warns us about. They travel the country and world laying hands on people and imparting these demonic forces unto them claiming that God has something to do with it. He does not. The terms for prophets have not changed. Wrong once and you are a false prophet. God does not lie and He does not stutter. All prophecy must relate directly back to Scripture, which is the final revealed will of God. The Lord did not pen the Bible and then realize in 2016 He forgot something so he is telling Ryan LeStrange about it.
Ryan LeStrange is, according to his own Facebook page, a "revivalist, apostle and prophetic voice to the nations." Wow. That is quite an impressive list of delusions he is working under. Yet he still manages to have almost 50,000 people following him on Facebook. That is 50,000 people who think he actually is a revivalist, apostle and prophetic voice to the nations. Ryan is part of the false signs and lying wonders network that speaks often about shiftings in the atmosphere, unbiblical concepts such as prophetic worship, and a strong desire to not be held accountable by the Word of God. Yesterday he wrote about "Three Components of Revival & Transformation in a Region." In it we see the blueprint for how this band of hucksters hawks their wares. How they prey on the naïve and gullible.
Component Number One -- Hunger. According to LeStrange the more hungry the people of a region are for God then the more likely it is for that region to experience revival. This vague concept of revival is often what is sold by these false prophets. What is revival? What does it look like? How can we measure it? How do we know when we achieved it? These are questions without tangible answers beloved. Ryan actually says that if hearts are not hungry and crying for more then the work of revival shuts down. Of course. You find the doctrine of Revival Shutdown in Chapter Seven of the Book of Second Palpitations. Seriously, this is step one of the blueprint. Establish fault in the people instead of the alleged prophet. Do you see it? This way Ryan and his cohorts can "prophesy" all day long about fanciful tales of revival and when it does not come to pass, they can simply blame the false prophesy on the lack of hunger in the land.
Component Number Two -- Structure. Specifically, accepting a new structure. Ryan refers to this as "embrace of a new wineskin." In his own words:
"Without a different structure the outpouring of new wine will be ineffective. The body of Christ in a region must be willing to shed a religious wineskin." -- Ryan LeStrange
Ah yes, shedding of the religious wineskin. This is not so subtle for the discerning Christian. Let us examine it. Ryan LeStrange is a false prophet and one of the first things a false prophet must eliminate is biblical discernment. Why? Because correct adherence to Scripture will always prove that they are false. For example, Bill Johnson at Bethel Church claims that God delivered a "glory cloud" filled with gold dust flakes during a prayer service. He even put a YouTube video up of it. This is how he makes money beloved. Selling false signs. He has built a mega church around it. He has built a false school of the supernatural around it. He has written books and does speaking tours around it. But he has a big problem and that is the Bible reveals he is a liar. There are no glory clouds filled with gold dust. It is made up in the wickedly deceptive heart of Bill Johnson; just as these three components of revival came from the wickedly deceptive heart of Ryan LeStrange. Just like there are no angel feathers, magical gem stones, prophetic worship or any of the other nonsense they are peddling. There is simply no way around this sticky point so their answer always consists of some mix of the following:
But God is doing a new thing!
You can't put God in a box!
It's new wine (or fresh manna)
You have a spirit of religion (or something that turns religion into the bad guy)
If this sounds familiar then you have probably already heard it used as a defense. The goal is simple. To remove any criticism based upon the Bible. Once the Bible is no longer the arbiter of absolute truth then it is left to our experience and feelings. That is exactly the goal. Because you cannot question personal experience. I have had debates with people as to why what they believe is wrong and the answer is invariably that I am wrong because they "know it" because they have "experienced it." Well no offense, but I will take God's Word over your experience, or mine for that matter, every single time. We should be offended when someone tries to denigrate religion. A couple years back there was a "spoken word" video that went viral about the difference between Jesus and religion. That is absurd! Jesus is religion! Man did not invent the word religion - God did! It is used through the Bible and it even spells out what is useless religion versus good religion. The "box" these charlatans want to avoid so desperately is the Bible! The Bible restrains the deceit of our hearts. It provides us with absolute truth so we do not have to rely upon our flesh or this world. We do not have to know "the heart" of a false teacher or prophet. We just have to hold the Bible up to what they teach or preach. It will reveal the intentions of their hearts. Experience based Christianity only works if you discard the Word of God. Turn it into the bad guy. Make it sound crusty. Old wine. While we are at it, let us take a look at the actual Scriptures LeStrange is referencing:
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. -- Matthew 9: 17 (ESV)
This is the culmination of a very specific question asked of Jesus by the Pharisees. They wanted to know why his followers did not fast, whereas they did. Remember, the Pharisees were all about following the letter of the law, or at least appearing to, while missing the bigger picture. Jesus answers them straightforwardly that people will fast and mourn after the bridegroom leaves them and not while He walks among them. Then He gives them two illustrative parables to show how the new covenant of God's grace does not mix with the Old Covenant of God's law. The first illustration is that you do not patch an old garment with fabric from new material. The second is that you do not pour new wine into old wineskins. Is this some secretly hidden message from God? Is this some gnostic spiritual code that we need to read into? No beloved. These are just two examples of how incompatible the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and the law are with the covenant Jesus was bringing. Jesus is the new wine. Jesus is the new garment. He does not patch the Old Covenant of the law nor does He merely occupy the wineskin of the old ways of doing things. While He completes them, He is a new covenant altogether.