"Look Past the Manifestations..."
By: K. B. Napier
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IN THE 'BLESSING'
We cannot do what the psychologist (in Part 1) did - simply accept whatever comes as being of God. The idea should not enter our minds. God does not expect us to do so and He warns us to test everything. Not to test everything is to be open to deception.
Note: The 'fruit' spoken of include:
See later section for a commentary.
But should we be expected to simply accept the fruit as being genuine, when even the leaders acknowledge the existence of the Satanic and the human in the manifestations? The answer is obvious - no we cannot. We cannot quench the Spirit by doing so, when that same Spirit warns us to test the spirits! We have already shown, albeit briefly, that what we assume to be of God can easily be reproduced by Satan or by human beings.
What we are really saying, then, is that the leaders must beware of being misled. If they are not bothering to check the 'fruit' against everything else that is happening, then they are being misled. They claim that the alleged 'fruit' can be separated in our minds from the many manifestations that they admit are not of God! Some even say that we must also ignore the preaching! Thus, they wish us to dismiss one part and yet accept another, without question, because it resembles what they perceive to be of God. Perhaps what they perceive is right - but perhaps it is not.
So - can we legitimately ignore one aspect of the 'Blessing' in favour of another aspect of the same movement? Does the existence of what appears to be a legitimate part of the movement prove that the movement itself is of God? Can leaders legitimately put up with Satanic involvement merely in order to obtain the desired 'fruit'? I tender a strong 'NO' to these questions. (Bearing in mind that one leader said the manifestations are the 'major feature' of the 'Blessing').
We must look at the 'Blessing' as a whole. In this text we are warned that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Not just a part of it, but all of it. The rotten apple corrupts all the other apples in the barrel, not overnight, but over time. This is why I reject the notion of 'wait and see'. By the time we wait and see if the 'Blessing' is of God, or not, Satan can have demolished entire churches! Many already experience splits because of this supposed 'movement of the Holy Spirit'. No, God does not tell us to wait and see, He tells us to test the spirits. Using this very principle, He has thus told me, along with others, that the movement is false.
Yes, we must certainly "bring forth fruit unto God" (note the varying meanings of 'fruit' in scripture and see Article 'Fruit of the Spirit'). I agree with charismatic Brethren that we must see the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The fruit must also be seen to be active. Yet, there is the 'down side' to be considered, for there are also 'fruit unto death' (Romans 7:5).
A 'fruit' is not, then, necessarily good or pure. Such a position is the result of our own ability to misinterpret. We are weak and yield ourselves to sin (Romans 6:19). And, as we have already shown, the root produces a specific fruit...the tree is known by its fruit (as in Luke 6). Furthermore, all the fruit of the Spirit grow in a person, perhaps at varying stages of development - they do not appear one at a time without effort.
"Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.
And He said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more."
All Amos could see was a 'basket of summer fruit' - that which seemed to be good. But God said otherwise - what He saw was judgement against Israel. Appearances can be deceptive.
We have seen that charismatics typically misinterpret scripture, not out of malice, but out of zeal. This has nothing to do with intelligence or even salvation. It is just the result of deception, which has crept insidiously into the charismatic camp...
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord."
Evidently, the present movement or 'Blessing' has stripped its adherents of Truth. Before this 'Blessing' ever began, there was a famine in the churches, where (apart from rare exceptions) true doctrine has been at a premium. The 'Blessing' therefore capitalises on this lack of spiritual strength and builds further on false theology.
"Shall horses run upon the rock? Will (one) plow (there) with oxen? For ye have turned judgement into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock.
Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?"
Leaders of the 'Blessing' are playing a strange and dangerous game. They are taking others into a field full of dangers, giving them poison and causing them to stumble. They are rejoicing in a 'thing of nought' because they ignore what is happening in the whole movement, thus basing their interpretation of events on their own desires.
"Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity: ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men."
I do not care who the 'mighty men' of this movement are. A lie is a lie. Trusting in that lie has produced iniquity, not true fruit. They have 'eaten the fruit of lies.' How can the leaders say that the 'fruit' are 'proof' of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the 'Blessing', when whatever surrounds the fruit are not of God? As we see in Hosea, there are fruit of lies, as well as fruit of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, in chapter 10 verse 1, Hosea tells us that "Israel (is) an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself..." . This fits the warning to 'test the spirits' for the 'spirits' can be of God, of Satan, or of men. If we plant seed of our own making, then we will reap the same.
Here we read of a tree bearing much fruit, but God cut it down and had it destroyed, leaving only the root. The judgement came because of sin and what appeared to be good fruit was actually rotten. As I have intimated before, if the churches continue in a lie, they will be decimated. It does not mean there will be no witness, but it means that it will take a long time before God blesses them again with His Presence.
Good fruit is the result of righteousness - it is not a sudden handout from God, to those who have previously not bothered to live in His will or who have shown no real interest in His word and Truth. Rather, many have been content to live as laws unto themselves, with scant regard for what the Lord commands. Even after hearing the Truth, they say of their falsehood - "but I believe it anyway"!
1 Thessalonians 5:19 - 22
"Quench not the Spirit, despise not prophesyings, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearances of evil."
It is impossible to 'look past the manifestations' with such a text before us. Note that we cannot stop the Spirit, but we can 'quench' or stifle Him. To 'prove all things' means to examine and scrutinise every part of the whole. We cannot just ignore bits of it! The purpose of examining the whole is to see if it is genuine or not. Imagine Hitler being brought before a jury after the war. His defence counsel demands that we ignore everything that Hitler did that was wrong, and to look only at those bits that put him in a good light. Especially, we are to look at the 'fruit' of his reign - a strong, united and financially viable Germany.
Yes, the 'fruit' were certainly desirable, but what of the means Hitler used to obtain those fruit? Yes, Hitler made sure that photographers saw him kissing children - but what of his slaughter of six million Jews (not to mention many others)? Can we ignore these things, these 'manifestations' of his power, and accept the 'fruit', when they came in fact from the same source? No, we can never accept what seems to be 'good' when it has been based on what is evil. Such an act corrupts, for in future we will again accept evil just in order to obtain what we think is 'good'. The more we do it, the more corrupt we become.
When we have examined THE WHOLE, we keep what is good. That is, what is acceptable, pure, honest, excellent (in nature and characteristics), eminent, etc. How can we apply any of these meanings to what happens in the 'Blessing'. And if the leaders do not authenticate the whole (including the 'fruit'), using the same yardstick as a measure, how can they know what to reject or accept? We must abstain from the very appearance of evil - so how can leaders allow what is obviously demonic or human to hold sway, when the original leaders say that these are the 'main features' of the 'Blessing'?
The 'evil' spoken of in the text is poneros or 'perils'. It refers to a time full of peril to faith and to steadfastness. Derived from ponos, meaning 'great trouble', it also means 'great desire'. And ponos is based on penes, meaning 'poor' (as in financial poverty). To me, this describes the 'Blessing' well - it is a peril affecting the very root of our faith, causing us to waver. Thus it is a time of great trouble, but it is founded (as has already been acknowledged) on the great desire of people to have 'more of God'. Sadly, that desire has found itself in a sinful situation which results in poverty of soul.
Another point to bring out concerning this 'evil' is that it refers to 'outward or external manifestations'! So, far from ignoring or 'looking past' the various manifestations or phenomena, we must examine them and cast them aside, avoiding them in future. Leaders must accept my reasonable suspicions if they do not do so.
It is a fact that many leaders, especially those at the heart of the movement, actually encourage all the manifestations and see them as of God. The extra fact that others, far away from the original source, are a little more cautious, is irrelevant when the manifestations occur anyway! Not only do some allow the manifestations to continue occurring, though they are known to be Satanic, etc., but they also teach additional errors and experiment 'creatively' (see above: blowing on people, etc)!
Whatever one thinks, this text tells us to examine the outward manifestations. They cannot be separated from the whole, because they are a part of that whole. The excuse for keeping the manifestations is that we "do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water". The excuse is not good enough, nor is it scriptural. What is evil must be thrown out. Period! Jesuits, on order from Rome, arranged the murder of President Lincoln. The 'good' was the Romanising of America. The means (equal to the manifestations) were totally evil. So, was the 'good' actually 'good'?
The retort could be "Why should God allow us to be deceived in such a way, when we have been seeking to honour Him?" My answer is "For many years, the churches have fallen under the spell of charismaticism; that is, errors of interpretation. The reasons were good - to understand the gifts of God and to show Believers that these are available throughout all ages. Now, if our understanding has been led into error, continuously, for many decades, by false interpretations - God will not just 'allow' deception - but it will be allowed as a judgement." Is this too strong? I do not think so.
2 Thessalonians 1: 7 - 11
If, as many say, we are in the Last Days, or at least close to them, then this text should be a spur to deeper thought than has been apparent up until now.
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (will) let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming; (Even him) whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.
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...."
Should I, then, use "enticing words of man's wisdom" just in order to gain a friendly ear? I cannot do this, for I must speak openly and honestly. I cannot entice with fair words when so much evil is being preached as 'Truth'.
The Fruit - a Commentary
Christian leaders who refer us to the 'fruit' as proof of the Spirit's movement behind the 'Blessing', ask "What is actually happening?" They say that "The reactions (i.e. with reference to the manifestations) are...our spiritual, emotional and physical response to the power of the Spirit." That is, they say "Our human frame reacts" and so "We need have no fear of what comes from the Lord."
The simple question is "Who says so?" I can personally testify to the fact that God's Presence can indeed move one and affect the body. On the day I was saved the following occurred:
I was a long-haired, unsaved rebel and enjoyed sitting in the Bible class, in order to ask all sorts of devastating questions! The Bible teacher put up with this quite amiably. But, one Sunday, I sat down at the beginning of the class. As the teacher began to speak, I knew that God was Present and I was fully aware. Seemingly seconds later, the brightness of His Presence receded and I saw the whole class looking at me - I had sat like that for the entire period of the class - about three quarters of an hour!
They were all smiling and the teacher asked "God was speaking to you, wasn't He?" I immediately responded "Yes". We all stood and the teacher took my hand as if to shake it as usual - but he kept holding my hand. At that moment, I felt a tingle, like a pleasant electric shock, travelling up the arm of the hand being held. It travelled down one side of my body and up the other until my whole body felt the sensation. And yes, my body felt weak, as though I would fall down if the teacher had not held my hand. I felt no weight in my body whatever, yet I was still standing. I knew I was able to resist if I wished. Then, the sensation left me and the teacher asked "Shall we pray, right now, for salvation?" My carnal mind quickly snapped back into its usual rebellious and unsaved state and I mumbled "I'll think about it!" He smiled and I left.
As I walked out through the church gates, a fellow youngster said "Why didn't you pray about your salvation in there?" I said "Because I am not ready". He said "But if you wait to be ready, you'll never be saved!" I went on my way.
As I walked home, I knew that my time had come! I had to respond. When I got home, I immediately went upstairs to my bedroom, kneeled on the floor and repented, asking the Lord to save me. That night, I went to the evening meeting, which was not my usual way and asked the pastor if he would baptise me the following week, much to the surprise of the congregation! Before that day, I had been greatly exercised by the burden of my sin and the real fear of death and the awesomeness of God, for about six months.
It could be said that I am relating only some of the things that happen in the 'Blessing'. But I am not! There are significant differences. It should be obvious to readers that I am not opposed to the ways of God, nor am I a stranger to His supernatural dealings in my life. So, critics cannot say that I am insensitive to them, or that I do not know what I am talking about. How, then, do I know my experience was different?
Well, note that God had begun His work of repentance and awe in me six months beforehand. He began His work by instilling a constant fear for my soul against a backdrop of death. At night, I would awake sweating with that fear, thinking only of the greatness of God and my own smallness and sinfulness. Night and day I could think of nothing else, such was the fear within me. I did not know where to turn or what to do.
Then, on that Sunday, the Holy Spirit dealt with me. I did not fall backward. Nor did I go into a meaningless trance. I was in His Presence! I was given a sublime measure of Himself and He talked with me, even though I did not know what He had said!
Paul had a similar experience when Christ Himself taught him everything necessary to enter his new work of faith, so I have no problem with that. The 'proof' that this was genuine was not vague or ethereal, but concrete and urgent - the experience was followed by a recognition by others that God had been talking to me. This was followed by the physical sensation, as if to underline that this was no mere psychological trickery. Then followed the definite command of the Lord to be saved and the emphasis placed upon it by others.
Within the hour this led me to go on my knees in repentance and to the surety of salvation. Then, an hour after that, to my attending a meeting I never usually attended with a request to be baptised! Some bemoan the fact that their own salvation was not spectacular or 'different'. I can tell you that some have had really spectacular dealings with God! I believe that salvation is tailored by God to one's situation and character. In my own case, I needed a bit of a jolt!
Salvation, from death to life, is instant. But the life of faith continues throughout one's earthly existence. When we 'work out' our 'own salvation', we are putting into practice what God teaches us in His word. The Lord shows us what is wrong and we are expected to put it right, in His strength. That is, we must be obedient when He shows us something. When we are obedient and continue in the way of righteousness, THEN we see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is no different from natural fruit - it grows from a 'good' root and it grows over time. I know of no natural fruit that springs into being instantly!
Similarly, God does not suddenly give us spiritual fruit, in one moment and unrelated to a life of faith. Yet, leaders of the 'Blessing' claim that people are having spiritual fruit instantly. That is absurd and unbiblical! It defames God and His word and brings to nought the whole life of faith. Just attend a 'Blessing' meeting - lo and behold! Ping! Here comes a fruit of the Spirit! Irreverent? No - it is the claim to receiving instant holiness that is irreverent!
Leaders think that we can 'receive' individual fruit, such as 'joy' etc. They simply do not understand that the fruit spoken of in the New Testament are not individually-grown, but are all together...different aspects of a single fruit. They should all be seen to grow as one, in the life of faith. it is therefore silly beyond words to say that one has received the 'fruit of joy' and another the 'fruit of love' etc. The fruit are not petrol station coupons - collect enough and you will get another free gift!
I see none of this 'process' in the 'Blessing'...I hear only of 'instant' spiritual cures! This has been emphasised by the same charismatic speaker who made the claims regarding the fruit, who said "Some have asked - where's the repentance in the (fruit)? The fruit of repentance is...a change of attitude to God." This seems to be a legitimate reply. But it is open to many queries.
He is confusing the 'fruit' experienced by the Christian and the 'fruit' of repentance, which is salvation. As with so many words in scripture, the 'fruit' can mean one of several things. So, which meaning is being spoken of here? It is not made clear. There is certainly a change of attitude toward God when we repent - but is the speaker referring to the repentance of a Christian, after doing wrong, or the repentance of one who is being saved?
The real question to ask is not "Where is the repentance in the fruit?" but "Where are the signs of repentance?" He answers the first question in a conundrum-way, by stating that the people must have repented, because of the existence of the fruit! My own query, therefore, has not been answered - "Where is repentance?" Indeed, where is the prior agony of soul? Where is the sign of being driven to God in dread and wonder? Where is the agonising call for forgiveness?
To say that the proof of repentance is in the fruit, is to jump the steps of holy logic. The very reason the man asked the question in the way he did, was that repentance is not being made manifest - plenty of manifestations, but not that of repentance! Instead of addressing the question, this leader of the 'Blessing' ignores it and relies only on the presence of what he thinks are the 'fruit'. But ARE they the 'fruit' of the Spirit? And if they are - do they prove that the Holy Spirit is behind the present movement? Not necessarily.
The man's statement on 'hidden' repentance is placed under the observation that in the 'Blessing' there is an 'accelerated growth in sanctification/holiness'. I sincerely pray that this is so - but queries still arise. If repentance is conspicuous by its very absence, then how can anyone be sure that people are gaining holiness at a fast rate? What is meant by an 'accelerated growth'? It does not explain itself! If the movement is still very much in its first flush, how can the statement be made in the first place? There has been no time to examine the claims.
Yes, God can push us ahead of our usual lethargy, but he does not dispense with the usual steps of repentance. Scripture speaks of us working hard at repentance and sanctification, but even these are activities of the Spirit. The Spirit expects us to do whatever is necessary - we are not just given lifetime changes on a plate! That is easy-consumerism; instant satisfaction without effort or even declared repentance. God's promises are never free of conditions!
In my own life I have often known similar 'jumps' in my faith - but they have never come on their own. They have been preceded by some time of burden in my heart and followed by the same, although the sudden light of realisation has come. This can be observed in countless other believers. That is why I query what has been claimed. I see no precedence for saying that God gives 'instant holiness' to people, who may not have bothered with the sanctified life prior to the 'Blessing'.
The same speaker says that there is an accelerated growth in spiritual gifts. Again, what does he mean by this? Does he mean that God gives extra gifts, or that God causes those already received to grow? I find this an odd statement, for it does not appear to be supported by scripture. Look at, say, 1 Corinthians 12. There we find that God determines who will have certain gifts; we all receive gifts and cannot request particular ones. We may use the gifts, but only as 'conduits'. That is, the power of God works through us - we do not actually possess them for our own use or to use as we wish. As with any gift, the Holy Spirit gives them once and that is that.
From my understanding of scripture, God gives such gifts at the time of salvation and we then have to use them whenever called to do so by God. So, what is meant by a sudden 'growth' in gifts? Basically, it is a meaningless statement. Whilst the sudden growth in gifts is supposed to be proof of the 'fruit' - the same writer earlier states that "What is most important is what the Lord is doing inside us, not the outward."
We must also bear in mind that many cults and the occult give sudden gifts. How do the leaders of the movement know if the gifts they observe are false or of God? Are they tested? The speaker is right in part when he says "the long term fruit is the best test". He is only partly right, because Satan's false fruit can last a lifetime, too!
The speaker thinks God is preparing people for a great work and asks "How many of you have prayed for the Lord to send His Spirit?" Scripture tells us that the Spirit indwells each and every person on salvation - so where do we get the idea that we can somehow 'call Him down'? He is already here!
I must, at the risk of being boring, repeat that the 'fruit' here spoken of, are not themselves final proofs that the 'Blessing' is of God. I have heard the most flowing and gracious of Biblical theology flowing from the lips of a man in a psychiatric hospital, whose life was dedicated to the seduction of little boys and to the enacting of vile perversions.
I have seen 'gifts' in the life of mediums and those affected by demons. I have witnessed what appears to be 'fruit', in the lives of many who live a godless existence. So, how can the leaders assure us that what they see are genuine 'fruit', when what remains of the 'Blessing' are highly suspect? As I have already said, I sincerely pray that the 'fruit' are genuine. If they are not, the effect on the Christians who claim them will be horrendous.
On the 'lighter' side, I have also seen the 'fruit' being enacted genuinely, but only for a short season. Then they fail miserably. This is because they are not fruit of the Spirit at all, but are imitations created by the emotional zeal of the moment. This is, by far, the most common observation in my own life and in the lives of many I know. It has happened to me!
There is some limited sense, then, in waiting to see the long-term effects, although even that is not a final arbiter. Those who experienced the 'real thing' in 1904 testify to the fact that even in the long term, zeal for the actual fruit of God can wane!
What I am saying, therefore, is that to 'wait', allowing falsity to run riot in the churches, is folly. If men have been called of God to 'lead', then they will be shown by God what is true and what is false. Satan can do extensive damage to Believers if nothing is done.
Joining With Error
Readers, including those who believe the 'Blessing' is of God, may wonder why I am still not convinced of its authenticity. I have already given many reasons. Now I come to yet another one! It concerns the ecumenical aspect of the movement as a whole. 'Ecumenical' can mean the joining of all Protestant churches. That alone is a mistake, for only true Believers may join together in worship. All denominations contain large numbers of unbelievers. The same applies to larger local churches. In local churches, very few Christians are genuinely interested in the truth of God. Also, there are wide variances between churches in the matter of doctrine and practices - where error has taken the place of Truth. Ecumenical involvement in these circumstances is thus wrong.
Now if the 'blanket' joining of these Protestant churches is wrong, what of the joining of Protestant churches with Roman Catholicism? There is no way that Believers can join hands with Roman Catholics in normal situations, let alone in these days of claimed Holy Spirit fervour. Roman Catholicism is a cult of the highest order and has been called 'Satan's Masterpiece'.
The sole reason why charismatics have accepted Roman Catholics into the same fold is that many of them claim to have the same experience of the Holy Spirit. If leaders of the present movement cannot tell the difference between truth and lies, they will readily accept Roman Catholics as being 'equal' in the matter of the 'Blessing'.
And if this is true (which it is), then once again, I question their claim to discernment. If they are wrong in virtually every other part of this complex activity, it is reasonable to assume that they can be wrong in the matter of 'fruit'. As proof of the validity of my objection, let me give examples of these errors in the perceptions of three major figures in charismatic circles: David Du Plessis, Michael Harper and the writer/speaker Jack Deere.
David du Plessis
This man has a place of honour amongst charismatics. Yet, his spiritual discernment is false. This is revealed in many ways, but we will restrict ourselves to the time he laid hands on a Roman Catholic priest, so that he could 'receive the Spirit'.
Father Jos Biesbrouck of Belgium is a charismatic and yet he is a true Catholic. He 'received the baptism of the Holy Spirit' in early 1967, before the beginnings of the 'Catholic Renewal' in the USA.
He attended a Full Gospel Business Men's meeting. At that meeting David du Plessis told listeners that he had 'repented' of his 'wrong attitude' toward the Roman Catholic church. Then he laid hands on the priest, together with a Dutch Pentecostal pastor, and Father Jos "returned to Belgium full of joy". Now, the point is this - nowhere in the account of this supposed reception of the Spirit, is there the remotest mention of repentance on the Catholic priest's part. Nor is there mention, even in the loosest of terms, of his salvation. Yet, he is said to have returned to his home 'full of joy'.
Today, fans of the 'Blessing' ALSO claim to be 'full of the joy of the Lord'! There is a disparity here. The same joy has been claimed by a Roman Catholic priest, but it is impossible for him to have that joy, or to be baptised in the Spirit, for he is unsaved. If he were saved, he would not be a priest or a Catholic for long (instead, he has developed a deeper commitment to Catholicism and to Mary, etc. This is typical of Catholic charismatics)!
Now, if that man and millions of Catholics claim to have the same 'joy' by the same 'method' - what value can I, as a Believer, put on the present claims to 'joy' and on those leaders who claim to have that 'joy'? Again, this is more than a reasonable objection, since 'Blessing' folk claim that we must look past the manifestations and concentrate on the 'fruit'! Well, here I am doing just that and I find confusion and folly.
After he himself 'received the Spirit' (it could not have been God's Spirit), he prayed for the "outpouring of the Spirit in the Catholic church. He also prayed in tongues every day." See - exactly the same experiences! I deal with the subject of tongues and gifts in other Articles, but I will say here that the charismatic definition and use of tongues is totally unbiblical. Therefore, the priest's use of 'tongue' is false.
Further interesting facts emerge, which make the present claims even more dubious. If the priest is still a devout Catholic (and charismatic Catholics ALL claim to become 'better Catholics' after 'receiving the Holy Spirit'), how can he make the following claims - which are ALSO made by Christians who accept the 'Blessing'? His claims include:
I challenge all 'Blessing' leaders to sort that one out! Here is a man accepted in charismatic circles as being the 'same'. He is a devout Catholic and like all other charismatic Catholics, he has become even more devout in his Catholicism. He makes exactly the same claims as do Protestants/Christians. Yet, he is not a Believer, saved by Grace! Which one is the lie? Which one is false? If both claim exactly the same things, and both have the same source, is it not therefore likely that they are both false?
Only someone devoid of sense can fight the logic. It is IMPOSSIBLE for these millions of Catholics to at once become more devout in their Catholicism and be 'filled with the Spirit', with its attendant 'fruit'. If their 'spirit' is not of God, then neither is their 'fruit'. And if this is true of them, it is likely to be true of those who follow exactly the same path.
This man amazes me. He willingly attended the Italian Charismatic Conference at Rimini in April 1994. There were over 90,000 Roman Catholic charismatics there! as Harper said "It was unashamedly Catholic". The 'shame' is not on the Catholics, but on Harper.
He says "The platform was dominated by a huge crucifix on one side and a demure Madonna on the other..." and "St Joseph (and he was a saint indeed), is no longer in the background (in the main icon of the holy family)". St Joseph?? A saint indeed?? Crucifix? Madonna?
"Catholics in Italy know that the chips are down; they must get help from God or disappear." The disappearance of Catholicism in Italy would be great news! But, as in all of Catholic life, there is superstition. So, armed with crucifixes, Madonnas and holy family icons, they 'claim' the 'Spirit' like some lottery prize and make their demands known.
Harper says that the response to one of the speakers was "spectacular" and there were "people walking to the platform holding their crutches high, and words of knowledge flowing in a steady stream...". Forgive me if I do not shout with joy at that. For centuries, Catholic priests have manipulated people with false miracles. They do it because, to them, any means may be used to add numbers to the 'church'. Even if these are 'miracles' they are not of God.
Harper says that the front of the hall was "reserved for hundreds of priests. At a given signal they streamed forward to hear the confessions of the people both before the signs and wonders and the eucharists". He adds "Some may question the theology of the confessional, but here were people who took personal sin seriously; they have not been deceived into thinking that personal blessing is free from the struggle for righteousness."
Not been deceived? Of course they have been deceived - along with Michael Harper and du Plessis! And all those charismatics who follow in their footsteps. The description by Harper is proof enough of serious error in charismatic thinking and in their perception of what is of God.
Today, many claim to have been given 'fruit' of the Spirit, even though they have previously not bothered to consider the way of holiness, or have not 'run the race'. Even those who did consider it must be questioned, for their subsequent claims are dubious, if not spurious.
This man is a famous charismatic author, teacher and speaker on the Holy Spirit (how these leaders love to 'specialise' in the Holy Spirit! This is a sign of theological imbalance, not of balance). Whilst he is a leading charismatic, he nevertheless speaks a lot of sense. He says that "The test of any ministry...is whether it agrees with...Holy scripture...and not our own particular interpretation of scripture." (Quotes from 'Surprised by the Power of the Spirit', publ. Kingsway).
Then he goes slightly off-course in his assessment of the Jonathan Edwards case. After receiving warnings about the 'manifestations' surrounding his ministry, Edwards wrote a book. In it he said that scripture gives no rule about it, so the manifestations should not determine any judgement on the ministry as a whole.
Is this where modern 'Blessing' adherents get their statement from? If it is, then they are wrong, just as Edwards was wrong. We have already quoted the Thessalonian warning that we must examine the whole of any matter. Although Deere agrees with Edwards, he says "Testing the fruit of a ministry is essential". At last I can find a point of agreement with this charismatic!
So - where is the testing of the claimed 'fruit' today? Are they of God, or of Satan, or of self? no-one knows because they do not test the fruit. And even if they 'tested' them - how do they test them? Indeed, given the many layers of error in the 'Blessing', how can they apply tests of any significance and Truth anyway? If they are in error all along the line - how can they ever be sure that just one aspect can be dealt with properly?
Deere gives an example of a 'manifestation', but as it is nothing at all like the gross manifestations of the 'Blessing', it is not admissible as evidence in this case.
The example was this: "Suppose...an alcoholic, a wife-beater and a God-hater, shrieking at the top of his voice, and then falling down motionless...if (he) arose to...love his wife and love God and His word (is that of the Holy Spirit)?" Quite likely, it is - providing that he has been saved. This is not typical of what is now happening in the 'Blessing', where manifestations are purposeless and gross.
Deere says that "when God is pleased to give physical manifestations...we should accept them." He is quite right. But again, there must be a proviso. Here Deere is contradicting himself to a degree, for he has also said that we must test the fruit...the same applies to the manifestations. Yes, we must accept what God gives - but we cannot and must not do so without testing that they really are of God. This is what God Himself tells us to do!
He then makes eminent sense when he says "When we assign (the manifestations) great prominence...we will invariably lead people into false beliefs and a wrong emphasis." This is precisely what I have been saying! Local leaders say that the manifestations have no prominence - but that contradicts what 'higher' leaders say and what happens in 'Blessing' meetings!
It also is contradicted by the perceptions of the people who attend 'Blessing' meetings, who attend because of the manifestations. They see the manifestations as a seal or proof of the Holy Spirit in the meeting. Because the manifestations are their main concern, any 'fruit' are automatically accepted as being genuine. As Deere correctly asserts - this leads people into error.
He says "If we attach great significance to the manifestations, people will equate (them) with the work of the Spirit and...(will) view them as a badge of spirituality...insecure people often imitate these manifestations to draw attention to themselves and to appear 'spiritual' ". Precisely! Yet, the same man then says "Another...mistake would be to try to suppress the manifestations." No - the mistake is to allow gross manifestations to continue. We could not suppress manifestations of God even if we tried!
Yet, many charismatics assume that we can do so. This is error, for if we could suppress or stop an 'act of God' then it could not be of God! Deere says that "the genuine will always be counterfeited". Perfectly true. The problem we have in the 'Blessing' however, is that there is no way of knowing (in charismatic minds, that is) if the counterfeit is mixed with the real - or if, as I and others suspect, it is ALL counterfeit!
There is also the question of "Why should God bless people whose previous/current activities and beliefs oppose Him and His word?". For example, in certain of the churches which have folk who attend 'Blessing' meetings, there are gross sins, sufficient to label those churches as being deviant. In one, there are so many schisms that the ex-pastor dared not speak of it.
In the same church there are still countless internal wrangles and power struggles and beliefs ranging from reincarnation and spiritualism to Arminianism and a few weak Gospel beliefs. In another, which is reportedly growing at a rapid rate, a number of its members are too afraid to oppose what they say is authoritarianism.
That same church, sadly, also sports a wife-swapping ring, probably (I hope) unknown to the pastor. In another, parts of the Bible have been declared superfluous and there is no real faith in scripture. Now - is God going to 'bless' such folk? Can these situations happily coincide with the Holy Spirit? We all sin, but when certain sins become commonplace within churches and mark them out, there is serious cause for concern.
Paul Johnson, an historian (who authored 'A History of Christianity'), wrote a centre-page article on the 'Blessing' in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper (3rd Sept. 1994). In it, he makes some valid points but also some that can be rejected.
Certain statements are worth repeating:
"The record shows repeatedly that charismatic religion surges up when the established churches are falling down on their job. G. K. Chesterton famously observed that 'when people cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing - they believe in anything.' "
Mr Johnson has not quite got the idea here. It is true that 'established' churches have 'fallen down on their job', but the real problem is with individual Christians, not with whole denominations. It is also true that a strong Church with real beliefs is not a good ground in which to grow charismatic seed. And Johnson is quite right by quoting Chesterton, for charismatics are now believing in virtually anything.
"He (Chesterton) might have added that when people lose confidence in the regular churches, they are liable to turn to any spiritual huckster, any purveyor of religious snake-oil, who has a loud, persuasive voice and a neat repertoire of congregational antics."
Here he has put his finger on another fact - that Christians mistakenly place their faith NOT in Christ, but in 'the church'. This is why they turn to manifestations and wonders. If their faith was truly grounded in God Himself, then they would not be prey to emotional hype or to Satan's deceptions.
"...most people (some time) in their lives...have a...yearning for spiritual life....today, that yearning is coloured, and made more dangerous, by sheer ignorance."
Again, he is almost right. He is right to say that everyone has a yearning for spiritual life. But to equate that with a yearning for Christ is false. However, he is perfectly correct to say that most people today are ignorant of spiritual truths. Vast numbers of Christians are ignorant of the very precepts they are meant to live by. Thus they fall foul when some new thing emerges.
"Above all, half the population - perhaps more - have reached so-called maturity without...any real concept of what God is...they are theologically illiterate."
True! That goes for many Christians, too.
"The modern world is full of lost, irrational people, longing to believe, hungry for spiritual food, and snatching at anything on offer."
Well, he is almost right on that one! Hunger for spiritual food is not the same as hunger for Truth. But, people are snatching at anything. The 'Blessing' is proof of that.
"What remains today of the largest British revivalist movement...except empty, redundant chapels...?"
This only goes to prove what I have said before - that a denomination or church is only as Christian as its living congregation. No church can live off the backs of its ancestors. An holy congregation yesterday does not necessarily produce an holy congregation today.
Johnson is thus wrong to think that a decline in today's churches is proof that yesterday's revivals were false or of no import. But he is right when he suggests that the present charismatic movement will get worse, as will its manifestations.
There is so much that could be said! However, let us sum up at this point. Further articles can be provided at a later date.
What happened to the 1987 'revival' that moved exclusively in the New Covenant churches? It must have been terrific, but I never knew it had happened! It must have been a remarkable revival from God! It died a death, because it was Satan inspired and human-led. Exactly the same things happened then, as are happening now...and once again, the current movement is almost exclusively charismatic. Hm...very strange, eh? Readers must come to their own conclusions on that one!
The current leaders of the 'Blessing' tell me that they are 'respectable' in our City. They should think back a few years for then they were regarded as being on the fringe of the Church! But, like dripping water, charismaticism has moved the boundaries of what is acceptable. God has not changed His word, but men have changed theirs.
The founding pastor of the first New Covenant church in a certain area was a practising witch. In a letter addressed to myself and my brother, and published in a local newspaper, he rejected the Bible as the source of Truth and rejected God's way of salvation. He said that he had cast aside Biblical faith and had been converted to witchcraft. Before he started the church, he was a member of the same church my brother and I attended. In that church, he threatened to kill both my brother and myself because we claimed scripture to be inspired and our only measure!
I have no reason to doubt that many of today's leaders are genuine Believers. But, their theology is drastically wrong, as is their interpretation of current events. Is this surprising when founder pastors are not Believers, but are witches? This is said to prove a point, not to prove that all New Covenant church leaders are witches!
In the past, out of respect for 'respectable' men, I have left charismatic theology alone and said nothing. The 'Toronto Blessing', however, has now altered this state of laxity on my part and I can no longer ignore the danger that is charismaticism. God has ensured that I do this, by sending me an ex-charismatic leader, whose knowledge and experience within charismaticism is authentic. He has opened my eyes to the reality behind what is a cross-church problem.
When I think of charismaticism I see a tangential theology. A tangent touches a circle at only one point but never intersects it. It is almost like a 'visiting' line - no sooner has it touched the circle than it immediately flies off on a different course, never to touch the circle again. Charismaticism is just like that. It touches Biblical Truth only briefly, and then it goes off on its own path, which is not the old path. The original 20th century pentecostal leaders wanted to get back to authentic Christianity and insisted that the gifts were still with us. In this they were correct. But, a new spirit quickly took over this desire and before too long, charismaticism became its own life form.
Today, as the 'Toronto Blessing' indicates, the tangent has flown off wildly on its own, with hardly a trace of having touched the Truth at all. I must repeat that the 'respectability' of charismatic leaders is not the issue here - the issue is that what they claim to be Truth is a lie. Therefore, they are deceived and those they encourage to share in their desires are enticed into deception. As men, many of the leaders are 'good', but that goodness is not God-engendered. It is a goodness based on charismatic theology, which is tangential.
When it touched the circle of God's Truth, charismaticism displayed a small distinctive. As a tangent moves away from a circle, it never again touches it and the angle between itself and the circle increases massively and continuously. Charismatic churches and those that want to follow the same path, are thus heading outward from God, toward something else. And scripture tells us that this 'something else' can only be Satanic.
Is this alarmist? If the definition of this is the raising of an alarm at a sign of impending danger, then I am an alarmist. Charismaticism has gone so far down the road of 'distinctives' that it has its own terminology and theological perspective, which are not based on the Bible. This will be shown in later Articles. Meanwhile I urge all leaders of the 'Blessing' to beware. God will not tolerate the present self-indulgent activities to continue without penalty.
Many are typically 'glaze-eyed' and are trying desperately to convince themselves that God is behind this sorry spectacle. But no amount of throwing up the arms, shouting 'praise God' and mass meetings will hide the facts. By all means hire larger halls and bring in the 'big guns' of the 'Blessing'. By all means set them into the very church where the 1904 Revival was centred. But it is all meaningless and sad. They 'feel' they are right - but I KNOW they are wrong. None of it will put right what is so drastically and obviously an error.
Many local leaders knew, or knew of, the late Rev. Arthur Harries. He was so respected that his funeral was attended by thousands; his respectability was bestowed upon him - it was not claimed by himself! A good man, honest and open. A lover of the Lord and His Truth. That is why he left the Pentecostal pastorate and movement after over 30 years!
He told me that he had had enough of its lies and false 'gifts' and so renounced them. He spoke in tongues, but came to reject them, because they were 'gobbledygook'! He confirmed my suspicions concerning charismaticism, as does the new fellow sent to me by God. I can no longer ignore the falsity of charismaticism.
The 'Toronto Blessing' is not a lone phenomenon. It is the result and a sign of spiritual disaster. It bears all the hallmarks of the occult. Its members are desperate in their hearts. They hold large rally-type meetings in which they relate to each other the various examples of 'Blessing' benefits. But their zeal falters and crumbles when faced with Truth and when they are removed from their heady environment. Unfortunately a niece of mine freely attended a 'Blessing' meeting - but happily, she was very uncomfortable. She visited the toilet...and a woman followed her to tell her, in the toilet block, that "God told me that you needed to receive the Spirit"! She wanted my niece to kneel there and then to have hands placed on her, but she refused. Others tell of men following them like birds of prey, in order to lay hands on them. Are the leaders expecting me to believe that all this is genuine and of God? A charismatic man travelled to Toronto. He returned and entered his church's hall. A very big man merely asked where he had been. The man said one word - "Toronto". The big man was immediately thrown backwards through the air and landed with a thump on the floor! At mention of a certain word associated with the 'Blessing' another man begins to twitch, as if suffering a disease of the nervous system. I could give other examples that show, every time, the occult source of the 'Blessing'. But how much more evidence is needed?
All Believers are called to listen to spiritual sanity. Leave the toys given to us by Satan. Instead, repent of involvement in the 'Blessing' and flee to the arms of the real Holy Spirit. Do not waste your time praying for me to change my mind, for I will not! Rather, pray for the deliverance of your soul from deception, before you are dragged to depths of despair and folly. God help us all in this task of discerning evil from good, that we may all grow in grace and in Truth.
This Article is merely a general comment. More detailed information, with theological notes, is given in the following BTM Articles:
'Charismaticism' (A-00034). This looks at charismaticism as a whole. It is written in conjunction with an ex-charismatic leader and contains authentic insights into this highly structured phenomenon. It is vital to understand what this growing movement actually is and how far removed it is from God's word. This Article will be updated at intervals, or will be presented as separate but linked Articles, such is the importance of the matter.
Spiritual Gifts (A-00033A & B). The spiritual gifts - what are they? Are they for today? Are today's 'gifts' genuine or false? The Biblical definitions are compared with modern day gifts. This is a basic and foundational theological statement, based on scripture, not on the interpretations of men. Christians ignore it at their peril, but they cannot escape its Truth. As a modern saying aptly puts it "You can run but you can't hide!"
Tongues (A-00032). Because tongues are supposedly a key element in charismaticism, we examine this phenomenon in depth, to show that the interpretation of charismatic theology is totally in error. The charismatic definition of tongues is actually rooted in a word invented by charismatic teachers - a word that cannot be found in scripture. Some of this Article also appears in 'Spiritual Gifts' (A-00033)
Fruit of the Spirit (A-00035). This Article refutes the claims of charismatic leaders, that God gives 'fruit' as an instant gift. The scriptural evidence is examined and presented.
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