Have you ever wondered what’s happening in the world today? Why is there so much senseless violence and unbridled evil? It seems like everywhere one turns there are “wars and commotions,” famines, plagues, earthquakes and persecutions, going on in diverse places (Luke 21:9). What is the meaning of all this trouble? What does God’s word have to say about it?

In Matthew chapter 24, Christ clearly teaches that we should not be troubled by these things, as they are only the beginning of sorrows and the initial birth pangs that shall increase in magnitude as the day of our redemption draws near (Matthew 24:1-14; Romans 8:21-27). He also said in verse 15 that the one sure sign of the nearness of His return would be the arrival of the “abomination of desolation” who would desecrate the temple’s holiest place (also see Daniel 9:27 and 2Thessalonians 2:1-12) and would cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. From that point on, the countdown begins that will inevitably usher in His glorious second coming.

God is getting ready to poor out his holy wrath upon the earth’s inhabitants: “Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (Joel 1:15). On that great and terrible day, the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the mighty men, every bondman, and every free man shall hide in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains. They will cry out to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:15-16)

But before that day comes, Satan will pour out his own wrath upon the church of Jesus Christ and the saints of the Lord: “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7) He is already accomplishing that purpose by inciting hatred against true believers through various means. One of his favorite tools is spiritual deception: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1Timothy 4:1-3)

In light of these Bible truths, it becomes imperative that we discern the infinite difference between the fakery of ambitious men and the genuine activity of God’s Spirit within the body of Christ. We don’t want to get sucked up in the vortex of a counterfeit revival that will not only drain us emotionally, but will also cause the precious holy name of our Lord to be slandered in the eyes of the unbelieving world. But how do we go about testing the spirits to see if they are of God (1John 4:1)? After more than thirty years of evangelistic ministry, I have concluded that there are at least five basic questions that need to be asked regarding any ministry that claims to be a manifestation or movement of the Holy Spirit:

  • Is Jesus Christ being lifted up and glorified as Lord? In other words, is this a Christ-centered ministry? “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” – John 16:14
  • Is there any evidence of a profound sense of conviction of personal sin, resulting in genuine repentance and conversion? And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” – John 16:8
  • Is this ministry leading people back to the authority of the written word of God? “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – John 16:13
  • Is there an emphasis on true inner holiness? “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” Mat 12:35
  • Is there a strong emphasis on taking the Biblical gospel to all the nations? “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Rom 10:15

There are other tests that need to be applied as well, but I have discovered that these five are enough to keep most God-fearing believers out of a heap of trouble. But what is the practical application of these principles?

1. A true move of the Spirit will always put the spotlight on the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and not on the Holy Spirit or on man.

2. Next, the gospel of the cross of Christ will offend most, there is no way around that acid test of faith. Jesus said, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:27 We must be willing to suffer the rejection of this world in order to become a true lover of God. The problem with most of evangelical Christianity in the West today is that it’s seeking the same things that the world is pursuing: self-love, health, wealth, and the accolades of men.

3. The Holy Spirit will invariably bring truth-seekers back under the raw authority of the Holy Spirit-inspired scriptures. There is no such thing as the “New Thing” that the Spirit is even remotely associated with. If someone is pushing some strange new doctrine that doesn’t line up with the plain reading of God’s written word, then it must be avoided like the plague.

4. The obedience to the word of God will invariably lead a believer to live righteously before God and before men.

5. The passion to save the lost can only be found in the hearts of those who are appropriately aligned with the will of God.

The next question that we need to ask ourselves is this: Where is the Spirit of God on the move today? Well, we can be sure that He is not moving among the Latter Rain, Third Wave, or the Signs-and-Wonders movements, with the exception of those who are being led to leave the “revival.” The latest glaring example of this has been the Todd Bentley circus in Lakeland, Florida.

A 32-year-old former drug addict from Canada’s west coast, and the hottest act in the worldwide signs-and-wonders “prophetic revival,” recently resigned from his Fresh Fire Ministries (Abbotsford, B. C.), after it became known that he was involved in “an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff.”

Only a couple of months ago, Mr. Bentley had been ordained by a stellar line-up of so-called apostles and prophets. C. Peter Wagner, the eccentric self-styled “apostle of apostles”, former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission, founder of Global Harvest Ministries, and current president of International Coalition of Apostles, had these words for Mr. Bentley during the ordination ceremony:

“This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase.”

“I also decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry. A new life force will penetrate this move of God. Government will be established to set things in their proper order. God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error. New relationships will surface to open the gates to the future.”

Other participants in the commissioning ceremony included Ché Ahn, pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif.; John Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Canada; Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif.; and Rick Joyner, founder of Morning Star Ministries in Charlotte, N.C.

What a travesty! These declarations by Wagner turned out to be false, but they are also ironic in view of the ensuing developments. Wagner and the other participants are now trying save their apostolic hides by engaging in major damage control. Wagner is desperately trying to distance himself from Bentley. But thanks to modern technology (e.g. YouTube) this will not be an easy thing for him to do. Bill Johnson, on the other hand, is portraying himself as a restorer of he fellow collegue, thus insinuating an eventual return of Todd Bentley to the spotlight.

What is most disturbing to Bible-believing Christians like myself is that it wasn’t Bentley’s lifestyle, extra-Biblical revelations, controversial teachings, strange practices, occultic visions, or outrageous claims of raising the dead that has scandalized his fellow comrades in arms; that would cast a shadow of doubt over their own “ministries.” It wasn’t even his past and present moral failures that caused them to run for cover. Many other high-profile leaders of the Latter-Rain variety had fallen in the past. Rather, I suspect that the video broadcast of the ceremony to over 200 countries, they were suddenly exposed for the false prophets that they truly are! They had been caught red-handed and they knew it. Under the Old Covenant, they would have been stoned to death, literally!

In a round-about way, it’s like God was playing a joke on them. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”(2 Thessalonians 2:10-12) The sad part is that unbelievers are going to have a heyday with this one, and many of Bentley’s followers are going to enter into a serious crisis of conscience.

Can you see how Satan sets people up for deception, disillusionment and unbelief? Beloved, God instructed Moses saying “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deu 18:22) So why do so many people fear these men and blindly follow them? Maybe there is a supernatural phenomenon taking place after all, but it is not the Holy Spirit that is moving among them. The reader can arrive at his or her own conclusions.

But before we become too self-righteous in our own wisdom or understanding, let us remember that the principles listed above must be applied to our own Christian experience as well. I believe it was A.W. Tozer who said: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” I wonder sometimes, if the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from many of our own Christian churches/ churches of Christ, would anyone notice the difference?

My greatest fear is not of the signs-and-wonders movement, for their teachers will be exposed by God sooner or later (Matthew 7:15-23). My greatest fear is that, having received the promise of entering into his rest, that I should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1) The Psalmist put it this way, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (Psalms 51:10-12) The only way to know for sure that he Holy Spirit is working in our lives is by the manifestation of spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22).


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