Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. - 1John 4:1 (ESV)
Eight days ago, something strange happened at a local bible college service in Kentucky. The service ended and yet the students did not want to leave. Now in fairness, it is a big deal that Christians do not rush off to the diner after service but when discussing the events at Asbury College let us never lose sight that this is a bible college, deep in the bosom of the bible belt. Because reports were anecdotal, the initial reaction was very cautionary as the last thing anyone would want to do is speak against a genuine move of God. That said, with the passage of time and more on-site reporting, we begin to see more and more cracks in the revival claims.
Let us start with the fact that the apostate church is constantly seeking revival. It has become a buzzword. The great white whale of the NAR dominionist. The truth is the apostate church system worships this country. It idolizes this country. It does not seek the Lord or His return but rather a restoration to a fabled time of Shang-Ri-La. An Evangelical Utopia where they have conquered the seven cultural mountains, all laws passed represent the bible at some nebulous level, and they hold all the seats of importance in the world. It is pure nonsense of course. The actual result is the powers of carnality in this political world have co-opted their intents to secure their own power and even though the bible promises the great end times apostasy they are leading, they keep seeking the revival that is not promised scripturally.
The next important point deals with sincerity and intent. From everything I have seen, the students and even most faculty at Asbury seem very genuine. I do not question their intent. I do not doubt their sincerity. That said, their intent is irrelevant, and their sincerity does not matter. The only question at hand is what do we have here in Asbury? What started out innocently was reported out as revival. That drew the attention of some prominent wolves within churchianity. Todd Bentley was reportedly heading there with his congregation. Greg Locke hopped in the Locke bus and was driving there with his flock. Both men are serial adulterers and false teachers. Bentley's followers are heavy into the false signs and lying wonders theology and Locke is a hard core dominionist who says anyone who votes democratic is hell-bound and irretrievable. It is bad enough that men like this are now possibly on the ground in Kentucky, spreading their heresy but then we also have people like Isaiah Saldivar making absurd videos like the one linked above. Let us deal with the problematic aspects of his teaching, which is probably going to be adopted by many.
The first problem is Saldivar's repeated admonition against anyone who urges caution. Why be cautious? Just jump right in! Yet the key verse today reminds us to test every spirit first. Saldivar's main message seems to be to not worry about the word of God because this is a move of the spirit. The problem of course is that is contrary to what the bible says. The spirit will lead us into all truth contained in the word of God. That is how we know if the revival we are experiencing is spiritual or emotional. That brings us to sunny point number two regarding the video from Saldivar. He provides two clips of testimony from the services, from two different young adults. The first one is the male and he apparently drove to the revival from a neighboring town. He is certainly excited but ask yourself is he biblical? He is exhorting people to forget everything for Jesus. Forget the job, forget the girl, etc. While the comparison used was the apostles, to portray them as leaving everything for Jesus is probably not accurate. Peter was definitely married, and most scholars agree that the majority of the apostles were probably married as well. While it is true that some left their profession as fishermen or tax collectors, not everyone did. Paul remained a tent maker so as to not charge people for his speaking. When the clip ended Isaiah Saldivar stated that this was the definition of revival - to not care about anything. Is that the gospel message? Come to Christ so you can not care about anything? The second clip was possibly more disturbing. Now, in fairness the girl appears very young but they still handed her the microphone. Still, her prayer was this bizarre mishmash of churchianity buzzwords and phrases. Fill me with your power, fill me with your love. The guardrails for church service were placed into the bible by God for a reason. Again, if we strictly are assessing sincerity then these two testimonies pass the smell test but what is behind it all? Those in Toronto looked the part. Those in Pensacola talked the part. Where are they today?
The worst part of the Saldivar clip however is his constant smearing of religion. He constantly is saying to not let religious people ruin this move. This is a typical reference from false teachers who do not like to be ruled by scripture. It is a constant false teaching from Bethel. Saldivar speaks down to scripture and doctrine, both huge warning signs of his own heretical stance and reveals concerns about Asbury. One self-report I read today indicated that while the kids are genuine, there is no preaching of the gospel at this alleged revival. The speakers offer up the same type of unserious pablum you'd expect from NAR churches. They wrote down some of the catch phrases being repeated:
"We know your life has been full of pain but we are here to tell you Jesus loves you."
"Your story is full of pain and Jesus receives you as you are."
"Jesus is speaking healing to the broken, bleeding, wounded hearts here."
Well now, whose life has not been full of pain in a local church service? Who better to make an emotional pitch to then teens and young adults? More importantly, these trite, albeit nice sayings, will save NOBODY. There is no discussion about sin and our need for a Savior. Now, to Saldivar that might be "crusty religion" but to the lost it is the words of life. Maybe Saldivar wants the revival contained within the church house. The same self-report however indicates worship is frequented by heretical songs from Hillsong, Bethel and Elevation. Two of the reported instructions from the worship leader leaves even more concern:
"Settle into grace."
"Splash in the love of Jesus."
Reminds me of an old church of mine when they had an itinerant worship leader who just kept repeating for fifteen minutes, "jump in the river if you want a hug from Jesus." Yeah, no. I understand that some may read this and think I am nitpicking. I get that, I really do. I suggest you read Matthew 7 and see what the people saying Lord, Lord, had done with their lives and still did not know Him. My concern is that young adults are especially impressionable. You can have a mini-revival, seek God, worship for days on end yet still be doctrinally accurate. They have been there over eight days. Why hasn't a spontaneous bible study broken out? Why hasn't a speaker exegeted a passage or chapter? You know, hear from God directly! Where are the real miracles? Where are the documented healings? Why hasn't someone lowered a crippled friend on a mat, so to speak? I keep thinking of the two testimonies. One day this gathering will end. There will be a return to some sense of normal, coordinated activity. The boy will have to return home but not to the job he left. The girl may try to explain to someone what happened and all she will be able to say is Jesus loves you and sees you're bleeding? God forbid they run into Todd Bentley's crew or Greg Locke's crazies. Remember, God's people do not perish for lack of worship music or fellowship. They perish for a lack of knowledge, specifically the knowledge found in the word of God. This is brilliantly displayed by Bethel's newest grifter, Sean Feucht, who tweeted this:
"Don't dunk on Asbury revival just because it doesn't fit your definition of revival."
It's not me Sean. It is God's definition of revival. It is not staying in chapel for a month singing horrifically bad "worship songs", spouting out sentence fragments about the love of Jesus, while bad mouthing scripture. Pretty sure that's not revival. The adults in charge at Asbury need to wind this down, get rid of the spongers and demonic teachers, and have a revival of scripture. See if they will stay eight days to finish exegeting the Gospel of Matthew. Stop singing loathsome songs. Start teaching the need to tie revival to living biblically. Start teaching the healing of Jesus tied to the need for repentance. Maybe some might not label it revival because it doesn't fit their unbiblical narrative. Too bad. Maybe Todd Bentley and Greg Locke stay home. That's better for you anyway. It is better that you turn to God and His word rather than this carnal definition of revival. Perhaps you never settle in grace again or splash in Jesus but after all, wouldn't that be better?
Reverend Anthony Wade - February 16, 2023