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)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6: 12 (ESV)
Charismata is a fancy word for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts divinely given by God to His people. Gifts given to further the business of the kingdom. Gifts given to bring glory to God. Gifts that are most certainly in operation today. I say this as a backdrop to a conversation I had online yesterday in responding to an article on Charisma News, where a false prophetess was claiming God showed her the destruction of what she referred to as "America's holiest city", Nashville. Putting aside her apparent ignorance about the word holy and about the nature of Nashville, or any American city for that matter, her argument was lost when she revealed who she looked up to in her sphere of "Christianity." She cited the collective work of three renowned heretics and false prophets - James Goll, General Cindy Jacobs, and Chuck Pierce. Goll espouses contemplative spirituality and claims angels regularly visit him. Jacobs prophesied at the beginning of this year that because seven is the number of completion that 2014 would be the year of double blessing for everyone who happened to be listening to her. Pierce has claimed his prayers led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up.
What was interesting was the response I received when pointing out the falseness. It was from another reader who assumed I must be a non-charismatic cessationist. Cessationists believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not in operation today. I thought it was amusing the assumptions were so wrong since I actually am a Pentecostal Charismatic. It was amusing to think that for many people, if you correctly point out falseness today, you must not believe in the gifts of the Spirit! That if you stand for biblical truth, you must be a cessationist! That was when it hit me that the Charismaniacs have stolen the Charismata from the people of God. They have made it so ridiculously fringe to believe in the gifts of the Spirit that it even drove otherwise sound biblical teachers like John MacArthur into cessationism. Unfortunately for MacArthur, the bible simply does not support the notion that the gifts ceased after the Apostolic Age ended with the death of John. The majority of the writings on the gifts occurred mere decades before John's death and the Bible would not be formed until centuries later. The math simply flies in the face of an all knowing, omnipresent God. No beloved, the gifts are still in operation; they are just abused to the point many wish they were not. Because Goll, Jacobs and Pierce are not outliers. They are mainstream within the false signs and lying wonders movement that has stolen the Charismata from mainstream Christianity.
Like Goll, they all usually claim some form of divine impartation and/or visitation. They hear from the Lord so much they apparently are on His speed dial. Todd Bentley claims many visitations from an angel he calls "Emma." This is the same Bentley who routinely kicks and punches congregants in need of healing, claiming the Holy Spirit told him to do so. Bill Johnson claims he is so close to heaven that angel feathers randomly start falling from the sky when he is out at a diner eating. Jesus Culture's Kim Walker-Smith claims two waking visitations from Jesus, during one of which she was whisked away to the Throne Room, where she claims to have met the Father face to face, despite the fact that the Bible says she would die if that were actually so. Johnson's Bethel Church claims the random appearance of "glory clouds" filled with gold dust and has claimed angels have left gemstones in the sanctuary for no apparent reason. Mike Bickle of IHOP claims angel visitations led him to start his ministry. Beloved the list just goes on and on and on. Locally I saw this year a false prophet randomly sputtering out sentence fragments as he was clearly practicing clairvoyance over people's lives and they were completely unaware. Are all of these people lying? Well, considering the monetary gain for most of them that remains a distinct possibility but let us assume for the moment they all believe what they are saying. That still leaves a frightening alternative for us to consider:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. - 2Corinthians 11: 13-15 (ESV)
The Bible says in the end times things will go from bad to worse with those who deceive others and those who are deceived themselves. The first key verse today reminds us that we are to test the spirits beloved! We do not accept and believe every spirit! We have to see what is true and from God and who are disguised as angels of light. How do we test? With our feelings? With our fleshly goose bumps and liver shivers? No. The human heart is wickedly deceptive. That is why we submit everything to the Word of God. Since we see no angel named Emma in Scripture, we can safely conclude this is not from God. Especially when you examine the surrounding fruit. The Holy Spirit would not direct a minister to kick someone in the face or punch someone suffering from pancreatic cancer in the stomach. Since God specifically says that no man can see Him and live, we can safely conclude that Kim Walker-Smith cannot tell the difference between what is of God and a demonic visitation. Since the Bible makes no mention of any spirit manifestations such as glory clouds, gem stones or gold dust, we can safely dismiss these as the false workings of the enemy. But preacher! I saw them perform great signs and wonders! So what?
But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called Great." And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. - Acts 9: 9-11 (ESV)
Now, Simon the Sorcerer would eventually become saved and join Philip only to be discovered as still wanting greedily in his heart but look how the Bible describes his earlier work. The signs and wonders (magic) he was able to perform convinced an entire region that he was from God! Why? Because they were amazed. Sound familiar? That is what Charismania has done to the gifts. They have transformed them into an amazing magic trick. Don't believe me? Watch the first segment of the new movie "Holy Ghost." This is an absolutely heretical movie through and through but the opening portion shows those shooting the movie going through the streets of Utah performing a combination of magic and psychic gamesmanship while pretending it is the Holy Spirit of God. The message sent throughout this documentary is the false narrative designed by those who have fallen for this new age mysticism promulgated through the selling of false signs and lying wonders. That false narrative is that "religion" is a bad word. It is a "box" we place God in and if we can ever let this poor helpless God out of our box, then we would have a deeper experience of Christ. It is a conscious choice of experiential Christianity over biblical Christianity. I say that because the "box" they so despise is not religion but the Word of God. It is the Bible that points out where they are wrong. It is the Bible that points out where they are heretical. If you want a deeper experience of God - go deeper into His Word! The Apostle Paul understood this:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimonyof 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)
Ironically, many in this false movement, including the makers of "Holy Ghost" try to use these passages to support their position because it says "demonstration of the spirit and of power" but that really seems to miss the point. Paul was saying here that the only thing that matters at the end of the day is the Gospel. It is all about Jesus Christ and Him crucified! I could wow you with lofty speech and superior wisdom but I instead will defer to Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I could amaze you as Simon the Sorcerer once did but instead I will point you to the amazing work of Calvary! I could dazzle you with gemstones, astonish you with gold dust, overwhelm you with clouds of glory but instead I will focus you on the only thing that matters - Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That is the sad reality that Charismaniacs fail to see. They usurp the glory of God and then blame it on the Holy Spirit. Ouch.
It is time to recognize the war we are in. it is time as the people of God to stand up and take back the Charismata that God meant for His church to use to build the kingdom. It is time to stop the silliness and the showiness. To once again return to Christ and Him crucified. We cannot get there however if we keep turning as blind eye to the real battle we are in. our second key verse today reminds us of several truths to consider. First of all, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood. This is above all things a spiritual struggle. We want to lash out with our flesh but that will not serve any good either. The remainder of the second key verse spells out who we are fighting against.
First of all we are fighting against rulers. That means they are in charge. This is the truly heartbreaking facet of all of these deceived preachers and teachers. They do not even see how the enemy uses them. They are not in control. Rulers do one thing beloved - they rule. Remember when you insist on dancing with the devil he will always insist on leading. Not only are they rulers but they are authorities. The dictionary defines authorities as those that have the right of control. These false teachers are willing victims beloved, as are those that insist on following them. They have subjected themselves to this demonic control and seek to bring others under it as well. Whether they are aware of it or not is irrelevant.
If the thought of warring against rulers and authorities were not daunting enough the next characterization should scare us. We fight against the cosmic powers over this present darkness. Wow. Beloved, can we grasp this one sentence with our finite minds? There is a present darkness over this world. It blinds those in it. It is leading those in it to hell. This darkness is so thick and pervasive yet those surrounded by it cannot discern it as such. This present darkness has resulted in massive famines across the globe even though God provided ample resources for all of us. It has resulted in wars and rumors of wars throughout this world as man sheds blood for nearly any reason. This present darkness is behind the continual degradation of morality in the culture, the world, and in the church. Who is in charge of this present darkness? To say Satan is almost too easy. The powers are cosmic. They transcend our little world. That is how enormous the scope of this attack is. Charlatans like we have discussed today have no idea the powers they play with. Likewise for the deceived as well. Bill Johnson at Bethel runs a "School for the Supernatural" where he teaches kids the gifts of the Spirit, which is completely contradictory to Scripture"
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. - 1Corinthians 12: 11 (ESV)