“But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.” (1 John 4:6).
Notice the supernatural aspects of truth and error. We cannot help but see that the phrase is not “the teaching of truth and the teaching of deception” and if it was worded that way it would seem correct. But it is not worded that way here. It is, “the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.” It shows the source of truth and the source of error. Satan and his demons have teachings (1 Tim. 4:1) and there is also the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9). As Pentecostals we should be more sensitive to this and that is why God has given us the all the charismata or gifts of the spirit especially the “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor 12:10) which is the gifting or ability to discern a true miracle (Acts 3:12-16) from lying signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9). While I was still pastoring my previous church in the 90’s, the so called Toronto Blessing and Brownsville Revival movements were having a major influence on various Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. Falling down, writhing like snakes, barking like dogs, clucking like chickens with people sprawled all over the floor was the norm.
I mean seriously? This has NOTHING to do with the Holy Spirit. It is NOT true Pentecost.
As I remember on a July 4th weekend I was asked to come and minister in a church in Maine. When we came we found the church at that time was into this Counterfeit Revival movement. At one time, I knew the Pastor to be a level headed man but when the service began it was wild and out of control. The church was dominated by cacophonous laughter and people lying all over the floor. The “worship” service went two hours with all kinds of craziness. I was not happy at all-and was wondering why I was there and why he invited me to preach.
The pastor knew I did not agree (probably because of my sour expression and how I just sat there motionless) and as God would have it, he had me come up to to the pulpit to preach anyway. By the grace of God I am not a ecclesiastical politician nor a coward when it comes to confronting such extra-biblical practices. I just wonder why it always has to be me. I reprimanded them sharply-just like the Bible says to do (Titus 1:13). After I spoke, the pastor was miffed. I left the meeting and went back to the hotel room thinking I was done and I should start packing for my trip back home. I was disappointed and wondered what was wrong with them? What was ironic is that I felt to preach on the biblical view of the anointing of the Holy Spirit for that weekend. I intensely studied on this subject for months and now I was second guessing myself.
They had morning seminars and then we went to lunch. You could see the pastor was still brewing over my preaching the night before. So we talked about it and I actually asked him, “When the Holy Spirit is moving in a service could you preach from any portion of the Bible?”
He said, “I suppose so…yes.”
Then I asked, “What about 1 Corinthians 14 and its regulations and teachings concerning spiritual gifts?”
He said, “I suppose not.”
I said, “That is ridiculous. It makes no sense.”
His reasoning was so flawed- yet that night the pastor still had me preach and it was powerful. I focused on the teaching of scripture about the Holy Spirit and many told me they saw more answers to prayer than they did under what the pastor was promoting. I could teach about the biblical perspective of the Holy Spirit and God took over from there. It was like a high pressure system pushing a low pressure system out. It turned about to be a great series of meetings. I learned then that the truth is stronger than lies, that the inspiration of the scripture far outweighs the false practices and teachings of man. I could only hope God would deal with them after that time.
God during this time began to bring my attention to the New Jersey area. It was a slow start when we came and one day I felt compelled to leave Pennsylvania and go to New Jersey. I found a job and lived with my Mom for a time. Sarah found a job almost immediately and things came together-we had a small Bible study. I received a call from with two families in Maine who wanted to come down and help me start a church. So those things were good.
When Sarah moved up finally we went to live with my father in law for a time and would visit churches on Staten Island. Once again a preacher who I thought was a balanced man was allowing the Brownsville influence in his church. In fact, he and others were making pilgrimages to that place. His church was jammed. He was my friend so we visited his church for a few services and he let me preach. I had fellowship again. This church was at first not as wild but after attending a few services the weirdness was growing to fever pitch.
People were yelling, making weird noises, tongue talking during the preaching. I do not mean to be crass but every freakacostal and charismaniac was in attendance. I remember the day I came I was happy for my friend. The church had grown to two services and though I did not agree with those practices I was hopeful things would turn around. After all, this was the church where I was saved. Maybe it just being welcomed anywhere after my recent hurtful experience at the Warehouse of Praise so there was a sense of relief. I also believed that if he was a man of God he would correct these practices eventually.
But these happy thoughts would not last very long-not even one day longer. My pastor friend came in and he looked angry and sour. He had a bad spirit and you could tell. I was wondering what was wrong with him. I had pastored before so I know how things happen before church and when you preach so I cut him some slack and excused it in my mind.
That same Sunday morning God gave me a word or prophecy. It was a hard word and I had never given one like this before. But I felt the power of God to say it. I don’t remember all of it but it was a harsh rebuke for what was going on-God was exposing the wrong practices and spiritual adultery of these people. I said some other words and as I began to speak of God offering blessing for their repentance- the pastor stopped me midway from prophesying. This was a first. Before this time, I prophesied many times in that church and I was well received. I was known of the brethren and I am careful when I speak forth prophetically. His actions were unnecessary and he was wrong. My mother was next to me and she was indignant at what happened. All of us knew what this pastor was allowing in his church was wrong and God was telling him to repent.
We went back to my mothers house and I was hurt and confused. My twin brother was there and at first he said, “I told you not to go there!” But then he comforted me. People talk about how wonderful it is to be an Elijah or Jeremiah or any such thing. It is not-it is a life of rejection but obedience does not seek applause. The sad part was that not but a year later the same church fell apart. If only they would have listened!
I do believe in ministering under the pastoral direction I always attempt to exercise protocol and find out how to operate within the church culture. But this does not mean compromising scripture or scriptural practices. I wonder sometimes why God always seems to put me in the place of being the bad guy as it were. I have began referring to it as being an antihero. Yet I realize that a man cannot love Christ and the evil world system at the same time. Why can’t some pastors just do their job instead of allowing these things to happen to the congregation which has been entrusted to their care? Why do I have to sit in a pew and listen to their watered down message or insane ideas? Why do they have to run their churches by books and ideas written by religious marketers instead of God’s Holy Word? Is not Jesus enough? I always thought he was.
© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due