Two weeks ago The Lord instructed me to begin reading the sermons of John Wesley, so I pulled out the two double volumes and began with volume one, sermon one. Since that time there have been two high profile leaders renounce their faith and a international revivalist accused of some very dark stuff. I believe these events and as much as I hate to say it, others like them that will continue in the coming months, is part of the reason I am reading Wesley right now.
I have no desire to discuss these three situations. The truth is I didn’t follow their ministries or any of the ministries around them. In the charismatic/pentecostal part of the body I have grown up in there has always been lots of talk about a great end time revival. What we are seeing now is the beginning of a great end time apostasy.
My heart grieves for the Church right now, for victims, for those questioning their faith and I am praying for those involved. I am praying for people to have grace to repent and for leaders to have the courage to speak up and enact discipline.
HOW DID ALL THIS START
Granted I don’t and most of us don’t know specifics on things but speaking to the charismatic body of Christ I honestly believe these type of things have begun to take hold because we don’t have a strong theology. Pentecostal and charismatic believer’s are known for emphasizing revival, miracles and signs and wonders and that is our problem. Those things are supposed to be the result not the focus.
Hebrews 12:1-4 NIV ” Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. “
We all say that Jesus is the focus but if we are honest, much of the pentecostal/charismatic church quit focusing on Jesus a long time ago and started focusing on revival, crowd size and signs and wonders.
THE RESULT OF A SHIFTED FOCUS
Because there has been such an over emphasis on signs and wonders we have valued gifting over character and the spectacular over the steady. Do I believe in healing and miracles? Yes. Do I believe in restoration? Yes. Restoration to God, first and foremost.
My heart breaks right now because many members and leaders are taking the restore passage in Galatians six while totally dismissing the qualifications set for ministry in Timothy. This out of balance emphasis makes it seem like as long as your flowing in the gifts God winks at your sin. We have mistaken the mercy of God to give time to repent for his approval because signs and wonders are happening.
Hebrews 12:4-13 “4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
WHAT DOES GOD VALUE
First and foremost, God values sons and daughters over their ministry. This is why Paul said I have turned such a one over to satan for the destruction of their flesh that they may be saved on the day of judgment. There are gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is more important. A tree is known by its fruit. Many have mistaken that to mean the fruit of ministry is signs and wonders. How can that be when Jesus said, many will come to me saying I prophesied in your name, I cast demons out in your name, yet I will say, depart from me I never knew you. Hebrews says without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Considering none of the qualifications of ministry list anything spectacular, I think if we are honest we would say as a whole the charismatic emphasis has missed the boat.
WHAT DO WE DO
The most important thing we can do is guard and examine our own hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in our own lives that are not pleasing to Him. In holding to standards of righteousness we must remember to do so in love and pray for those who have walked away or fallen to be restored to their relationship with Jesus.
As I have been praying for several days and reading different things, one thing seems to be clear concerning exposure of unrepented sin, this is just the beginning. Judgment begins in the house of God and we need to be ready for that. As believer’s we need to make sure our focus is on Jesus and not our favorite preacher, author, or singer.
As I said at the beginning, I have been reading John Wesley. He was known for preaching holiness and for teaching something called the middle road. Basically meaning, stay out of ditches. The pentecostal/charismatic world has fallen into a revival ditch full of signs and wonders. We need to quit looking for revival and look to the reviver. Our theological roots of holiness need to be revived. We need to put character over gifting and emphasize sanctification over supernatural manifestation. On Sunday we enter the Hebrew month of Elul which includes thirty days of Teshuvah, meaning to return. With all that is going on, I believe The Lord is calling us to return to holiness, to return to what He holds dear.
I am praying for the Church as things continue to unfold. I am praying for our faith to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. I am praying each individuals faith will be able to stand the test that is coming as the idolatry of celebrity preachers, unbalanced teachings and more are exposed in the coming months. I encourage all of us to take this next month as an appointed time of heart searching and consecration. Ask for a heart of holiness to be given to you, ask to be sanctified and taught what it is to live like Jesus.
I think it would be helpful for those who have grown up in or are part of pentecostal and charismatic churches to read Donald W. Dayton’s book, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism. Even though most of the doctrinal statements emphasize sanctification and holiness many of us don’t know what that looks like to live it and this book will help.
I also want to take this time to say I am spending 2020 in the New Testament. I have studied faith this year and the path I was lead on looked nothing like I thought it would. At the beginning of August the Holy Spirit told me New Testament 2020. What that looks like is beginning to take shape and I know I will see a major holiness emphasis next year.
As things continue to be exposed in leadership and in your own life, make the determination now that Scripture is your standard. Unfortunately we have already begun to see people walk away from faith and this will continue. If ministries you support or your church puts someone’s gifting over their character, make the decision now that you will walk away. If you have to choose between holiness or healing at your church or in a ministry, choose holiness. I believe there are some emotional days ahead for many; keep your eyes on Jesus, meditate on the Scriptures, pray, walk in love and worship Jesus and you will make it through the house cleaning that has begun.