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an online resource for Reformed Charismatics, Pentecostal Calvinists, & Empowered Evangelicals

Be the revival, don’t go to one (on revivals in Florida & elsewhere)…

I do hate to be the skeptic. Sometimes I think having discernment is more a curse than a gift. It might be fun to be able to jump on every bandwagon that comes down the Spiritual pike. It may not be spiritually healthy, but it might be fun.

Yet, I’ve done enough digging to know that my internal sense of uneasiness towards this ‘revival’ in Florida is not something I can support unquestionably with a clean conscious. I think the prophetically gifted Andrew Strom – who I disagree with on a few things as well – sums up most of my concerns quite well both here and here as does another blogger here(& though we don’t get along very well, I think Dan Philips makes a few good points himself). Don’t get me wrong – I hope & pray that the healings are genuine, even if the doctrine behind them is askew, for the sake of both those looking for healing and for the Glory of God. And that’s really what it comes down to: is this really about God?

That’s what I loved about the First Great Awakening, and Jonathan Edwards: from all accounts, Edwards was far from flashy – He preached the Word, God moved, people’s hearts were changed, and they came to God by the thousands. And it didn’t happen only in one church, but many, and for almost ten years! That’s what I call a revival, and that’s the sort of move of God that I’ve been praying for: that God will be the center – that Christ will be lifted up and made much of – that the Holy Spirit will move (which Scripturally means He will draw eyes AWAY from himself, and TO Jesus).

As I wrote a good friend this morning, I’m not going on the rampage battling against this – in fact, that would be silly. Ultimately if it’s not the real deal that will become readily clear (it always does), even if it takes some time. In fact, it’s probably a mix of divinely revealed truth, and human error, which I’ve dealt with before on this blog. However, I’d hate to see believers whom I love go the route that emphasizes flash & bang over (and ultimately against, since it’s a distraction from the real deal) what Christ did on the Cross, and the heart of the Gospel.

Don’t get me wrong – walking in the Kingdom of God results in miracles, but the picture of how the apostles worked miracles – the part miracles played in their ministry – and how many modern-day revival preachers use them look so different that I have a hard time even comparing the two. We’re so thirsty for signs & wonders that we forget what it means to actually follow God day-to-day, and instead we run to where-ever we hear that something exciting is happening.

Think about this: the only time I recall Paul going to where the signs & wonders were happening was to rebuke them for doing it incorrectly.

The real core of the issue is this: why even bother going to where someone else may or may not be experiencing ‘revival’? If it’s real, and God wants to do it, pray for it where you are! Then, when God sovereignly brings revival, you’ll be in the midst of it – you’ll already know the hearts and motives of those involved – you’ll see the real change in your own heart, and know your deeper affection towards God, and recognize it in those you’ve known all along when you see lasting change in them. Ultimately, that’s how one recognizes true revival – not only by it’s immediate external expressions, but it’s fruit many years after the ‘buzz’ has left the building.

I’m just another voice that wants to see God’s will done on earth as it is in Heaven – it just so happens that this voice isn’t yet convinced that many of the modern day revivals are working to bring that about. I say, “Be the real revival – don’t go to one.”

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Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, , , , , , , , , , , ,

20 Responses

  1. A. says:

    Thank you for this post. It was quite refreshing with all the confusing on-goings lately.

    Also, I noticed you mention Michael Fletcher on the right side of your blog. I’m assuming you mean the pastor of Manna Church & organizer of Grace Churches International? If so, do you recommend any other similar teachers/preachers out there? I’ve been to Manna a few times, & listen to their podcast some as well & the messages are so often inspiring but challenging. 🙂

  2. heatlight says:

    Oh yes, I love Michael’s preaching, as well as Kendrick Vinar, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Josh Harris, Bill Kitrell, Sam Storms, Peter Greasley & Matt Chandler, to name only a few. All have great audio & written resources available online! Let me also suggest, though we aren’t necessarily a ‘reformed charismatic’ church, our own pastor, David Yarborough – his messages are solid. It’s been a real blessing for me to be at this church.

  3. A. says:

    Thanks so much! I’ll have to check these out soon!

  4. Hannah says:

    This is really helpful and balanced and I appreciate your honesty.

  5. […] On Revival… Since the current ‘revival’ in Florida is such a topic of discussion these days, I thought I’d direct those interested towards my recent blog about revival at Heat & Light. […]

  6. Don says:

    I understand your call to “be the revival,” but please don’t forget that the transference of anointings and giftings by the laying-on of hands is very scriptural (the Hebrews writer even called laying-on hand a foundational doctrine, not worth discussing again!). Many people, myself included, have been immensely blessed by visiting a place of revival, and discovering after being prayed for that God has wrought an amazing spiritual change within.

    Also, regarding caution and suspicion about revival ministers and practices: Edwards was certainly scrupulous about how he conducted himself during the revival of his time, but even Edwards was relentlessly vilified by the “old light” pastors who couldn’t abide anything that smacked of “enthusiasm” — even if it did lead to salvations or rededications to Christ.

    Responding to these critics, however, Edwards said that the ministers waiting for revival “without difficulties” might have a long wait. Here is a rather lengthy quote from his writings, which will help you to understand his priorities:

    “It is probable that many of those who are thus waiting [for a revival without difficulties/offenses], know not for what they are waiting. If they wait to see a work of God without difficulties and stumbling-blocks, it will be like the fool’s waiting at the river side to have the water all run by. A work of God without stumbling-blocks is never to be expected. ‘It must needs be that offenses come.’ There never yet was any great manifestation that God made of himself to the world, without many difficulties attending it….Christ and his work always was, and always will be a stone of stumbling, and rock of offense, a gin and a snare to many.”

    “It is probable that the stumbling-blocks that now attend this work will in some respects be increased, and not diminished….Those who are now waiting to see the issue of this work, think they shall be better able to determine by and by; but probably many of them are mistaken. The Jews that saw Christ’s miracles, waited to see better evidences of his being the Messiah; they wanted a sign from heaven; but they waited in vain; their stumbling-blocks did not diminish, but increase. They found no end to them, and so were more and more hardened in unbelief. Many [in Edwards’ day] have been praying for that glorious reformation spoken of in Scripture who knew not what they have been praying for (as it was with the Jews when they prayed for the coming of Christ), and who, if it should come, would not acknowledge or receive it.

    “This pretended prudence…will probably in the end prove the greatest imprudence. Hereby they will fail of any share of so great a blessing, and will miss the most precious opportunity of obtaining divine light, grace and comfort, heavenly and eternal benefits that God ever gave in New England. While the glorious fountain is set open in so rich a manner, and multitudes flock to it and receive a rich supply for the wants of their souls, they stand at a distance, doubting, wondering, and receiving nothing, and are like to continue thus till the precious season is past.”

    Notice that Edwards said many were flocking to the revival, and receiving rich blessings. Then, Edwards calls on the doubters to go and see for themselves:

    “It is indeed to be wondered at that those who have doubted of the work, which has been attended with such uncommon external appearances [i.e., physical manifestations], should be easy in their doubts, without taking thorough pains to inform themselves, by going where such things have been to be seen, narrowly observing and diligently inquiring into them; not contenting themselves with observing two or three instances, nor resting till they were fully informed by their own observation. I do not doubt that if this course had been taken it would have convinced all whose minds are not shut up against conviction.”

    –Jonathan Edwards On Revival (section titled Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God), Banner of Truth Trust 1965, pp. 133-4.

  7. heatlight says:

    Don, a good point, but one I’ll have to explore later. That mention in Hebrews makes it possible for ‘laying on of hands’ – at least it’s significance and meaning – to potentially be quite a bit different than how it is understood today. And don’t get me started on the word “anointing” – that simply means to have been chosen for a certain task. And ‘anointing’ means that you have been ‘anointed’ to do something specific. I haven’t yet found any scriptural evidence that I can pass my calling onto another – only that I can pray for someone else to express certain gifts of the Spirit by laying on of hands. I could be wrong, but in my studies I have not been convinced of the common charismatic use of those terms.

  8. Don says:

    If my mention of “anointing” has distracted you from Edwards’ wisdom, then I repent of having done so.

    *Please* read carefully what Edwards wrote, and especially note what he said about the blessing available by traveling to where revival is active: “While the glorious fountain is set open in so rich a manner, and multitudes flock to it and receive a rich supply for the wants of their souls….”

    The sad truth is that most Christians subsist at such a low ebb in their faith and relationship with God, they are simply unable to “be the revival” that you ask them to be. A quick way to set oneself on the path to becoming such a firestarter is to travel to a revival spot, and receive the blessing of the “glorious fountain” God has gushing-out there.

    The people who traveled to the shabby building on Azusa Street in 1905-6, and lingered there in the powerful presence of God (while a one-eyed black man preached in the Shekinah glory with his head inside a box) went on to change the world. They knew they had nothing to give before that time, but by the time they left Azusa Street they had been transformed and empowered by the “glorious fountain” God established in that place.

    I believe the very same is possible through a visit to Lakeland. If you’re desperately hungry for God to move, but waiting — in Edwards’ words — for a revival “without difficulties and stumbling-blocks,” then you too will likely “stand at a distance, doubting, wondering, and receiving nothing…till the precious season is past.”

  9. heatlight says:

    Very sorry to let that derail me from really digging into the rest. I can see J.E.’s point, but what keeps me from visiting these so-called revivals is not the experience, primarily, but the heretical teaching. Having read a good deal of Edwards, I think he’d steer clear of them for that reason as well. There’s a significant different between those in attendance – the lay-persons – acting out of order because of the flesh, and those in the pulpit teaching gross Biblical distortions. The first I could live with, but I don’t think anyone should sit under the latter, no matter how much ‘anointing’ one thinks is flowing there.

  10. Don says:

    Thanks for your reply. Have you watched the Lakeland meetings online? I had concerns when first watching several weeks ago, but since then I’ve been pleased by the greatly increased focus on Jesus, and the increased focus on giving the gospel-call to salvation as well as healings.

    Regarding anointing vs doctrinal purity: if the minister confesses orthodox Christianity (that would include Roman Catholics, BTW), and God chooses to loose the Spirit of Christ in order to heal the sick and thereby glorify Jesus (who came “to destroy the devil’s work”), I wonder what place we have to wrinkle our noses while God’s working? We don’t have to approve of the minister 100% in order to praise God for revealing Jesus in power and mercy.

    Watching on God.tv as the crippled walk out of their wheelchairs the other night, people testified to their Lakeland healings with doctors’ records in hand last night, and blind/deaf healed nearly every night this past week — healed in the name of Jesus and to his continued praise — I’ve had to admit that perhaps God is more willing to use imperfect ministers than I think he should.

    If God allows Todd Bentley to freely use His power and authority to heal the sick and lead many to a saving faith in Christ, what does that tell us about the relative importance God places on doctrinal purity, versus *obeying* Jesus’ command to share the essential gospel: “…preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (Matt 10)?

    I’m just asking questions here, based on what I’ve now witnessed. What I’ve learned by watching Todd Bentley is that God actually cares more about people hearing and *experiencing* the gospel of salvation through Todd, than he does about Todd Bentley having a perfect understanding of biblical doctrine.

    I look at Todd and think: how offensive was stinky, unknown John the Baptist to the correct-doctrine folks of his day? I think it likely I would have rejected John, and refused to go to the Jordan to hear and be baptized by him, due to his obvious “misunderstanding” of what the Law required of proper Jews to please God. Yet — the Son of God gave His seal of approval to John’s ministry.

  11. heatlight says:

    I understand your point Don, but there are 2 significant differences between John the Baptist’s day and our own:
    1.) We have the completed revelation which came in Jesus Christ (i.e. – many of the things that were unclear in his day are no longer)…
    2.) We have now had 2000 years of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit guiding the church into ‘all truth’, which he did in an extra special way in the 12 Apostles, giving us the New Testament.
    There are issues we should be careful coming down ‘strong’ on doctrinally, but most of those are the same sorts of ‘types’ of things that needed to be left wide open in John’s day: “the end times”, and other things that were still left to prophecy – things that are ‘future’, and possibly hard to grasp. But there are so many things that the Bible is clear on… absolutely clear on, that when folks begin to get those wrong I really wonder.

    I will watch again – I have been praying for this revival and would love to see things come into line with Scripture, no doubt. I honestly would. See my blog on miracles, however, for further thoughts on what this would mean.

  12. Ben Harrell says:

    Before I start, I need to address this statement:

    “1.) We have the completed revelation which came in Jesus Christ (i.e. – many of the things that were unclear in his day are no longer)…”

    -Actually, we know in part and we see in part. Christ was the perfect representation of the nature and character of God, yes, but he hardly offered complete revelation of all knowledge. That revelation is accessable through the Holy Spirit which searches the mind of God, yes, but the bible is also clear that until “perfection comes,” we will have need of spiritual gifts (namely prophecy [as specified by the Apostle Paul] and its counterpart discernment [so that everything may be confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses]) in order to walk in “completed revelation.”

    I just wanted to start there, because I think to say that we have complete revelation of how things are supposed to be is totally wrong. If Jesus gave us complete revelation, then there would be no need for the Holy Spirit.

    The second thing I want to say is that the call of whether or not this particular revival is “of God” or not is technically the responsibility of those in APOSTOLIC authority over the church, or at least the apostolic authority that Todd Bentley submits to. If he doesn’t submit to any particular apostolic authority, then I distrust him to begin with on principle, but it’s way too easy to make pat statements and snap judgements whenever we lack both the biblical, five-fold authority to declare those judgements and the relationship with the person we are judging to speak into their lives.

    Basically, what I’m trying to say (with all due respect) is that we can walk in discernment, yes, but it is the responsibility of those in bible-ordained places of authority to deal with these things. If you feel called to apostolic ministry, then I invite you to call Todd Bentley and tell him that God has clearly spoken to you that what he is doing is false and not of God.

    If not, then I recommend the advice of Gamaliel, the man who educated the apostle Paul:

    “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

    Much Love,
    El Ben

  13. heatlight says:

    Man Ben… I absolutely HATE to give you the smack-down, especially since you don’t comment very often on my blog, AND I’m absolutely stoked that you’re here. Anyway, I’ll try to be nice…
    😉

    1 Corinthians 13:9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part” …look over the overall context of the verse. It’s specifically about prophecy, not about ‘Scripture’ – it’s doesn’t even seem to be about prophecy as we see it shaping the canon – as in the Biblical Old Testament ‘prophets’ (which are comparable to the New Testament Apostles in that they spoke directly for God), but in the sense of the New Testament gift which is, by the infilling of the Holy Spirit, available to all believers, potentially. This is merely a further explanation of how when we practice the prophetic we ‘see through a glass dimly’, and in it’s broader context points to WHY the miraculous Spiritual gifts are far less important than the spiritual fruit of love. That’s just to say, if I were to use this verse as it is used in context, it would apply far better to modern prophets (the revivalists in question?) – in showing that the words he thinks he hears from God is not likely Biblical truth, or at least not to be elevated to the level of the Bible in importance, than it is in saying that the Scriptures aren’t ‘enough’ – are insufficient for understanding the basic truths about God.

    Secondly, I can not find any convincing Biblical reason to believe in modern day ‘apostolic’ ministry – at least not the sort with the authority most charismatics who talk of modern ‘apostles’ do. Big ‘a’ ‘Apostles’ have seen Jesus in the flesh, and have been sent by Jesus – in the flesh. Yes, the Bible occasionally speaks of a small ‘a’ type of apostle, but these seem to be little more than Church Planters/Missionaries – not someone speaking with the authority of Christ. That’s not to say I’m not ‘apostolic’ – anyone who follows the Apostle’s teaching, ie – the New Testament – is Apostolic. The Holy Spirit, likewise, doesn’t reveal new ‘truth’ in the Scripture sense – He applies it personally to us. Anytime modern prophecy moves beyond this in authority (the prophet revealing new doctrines that are to be accepted, etc.) he’s stepped way out of line with what the Bible allows and is ‘adding to Scripture’. We don’t need any new truth – we just need to apply what we’ve got, which none of us will ever entirely successfully do while here, and will surely not do without the Holy Spirit bringing the objective truth of the Word to life in us, and making it subjectively our own.

    And that’s what I expect to see: Bentley doesn’t need to submit to earthly authority (though having a governing board of Biblically qualified elders would be a good start), so much as he needs to submit himself to the “Apostles & Prophets” – the New & Old Testament, and what God has said with absolute authority there.

    Thanks again for reading, Ben. I hope you understand that I’m not at ALL against healing (I’ve prayed, and seen people miraculously healed), nor against prophecy (done that too), nor against tongues (that one is with me always), or any of the gifts. I’m the first to admit, in fact, that I need to grow in them. I just want to see God glorified in this, and not man – I want to hear truth preached, and not lies – I want to see the GENUINE and not the faked. The video I’ve watched so far seemed like ‘The Todd Bentley’ show, I’ve heard little in the way of solid Biblical teaching, and a lot of mentions of ‘angels’ and bizarre prophecies, and I’ve not yet seen or heard of a single ‘miracle’ that has actually be substantial or reported with any hard evidence of a miracle. Those 3 leave me so weary that it upsets my stomach to think of how many are traveling there to pick up his ‘anointing’.

    Love you, bro… hope I didn’t sound too harsh. I don’t have a lot of free-time so my responses are pretty much raw off-the-cuff, and may come across a bit that way. Sorry if that’s the case. Thanks so much for reading & responding!

  14. […] few bloggers/writers are discussing this “revival” (here, here, here, and here) and all the typically charismatic hoopla that attends it. The descriptions seem all too […]

  15. […] IN A NON-CHARISMATIC CHURCH; HOLY LAUGHTER: BLESSING OR CURSE?; and the more recent posts; BE THE REVIVAL (DON’T GO TO ONE); BE THE MIRACLE, and SOUND DOCTRINE & CORRECT PRACTICE IN […]

  16. […] of sorts with Bentley. Though by no means do I ‘recant’ of my blogs on the subject (Be the Revival, Be the Miracle, Sound Doctrine, & Drop Kick), I was encouraged by much of what I […]

  17. […] like to reminded of all that I’ve said so far concerning revival, particularly in Lakeland: Be the Revival; Be the Miracle; Sound Doctrine, Drop-Kick, Current Thoughts, & Quenching the Spirit. Be […]

  18. […] of sorts with Bentley. Though by no means do I ‘recant’ of my blogs on the subject (Be the Revival, Be the Miracle, Sound Doctrine, & Drop Kick), I was encouraged by much of what I […]

  19. MortenE says:

    Loved your debate, guys. I’m from Norway and we’ve had a visitation from someone highgly active in the Toronto Blessing. And as far as I’ve noticed they’re quite linked together, so I’m studying in on both because I’m afraid for my fellow brethren and sisters here in Norway. It’s a generally lack of knowledge of the Bible here, so we would be an easy target to lead on wrong ways. Anyways – Thanks again and be with me in prayer.

  20. […] what that DOESN’T mean is that I withdrawal ANY of my earlier blogs on the subject (see BE THE REVIVAL, MIRACLE WORKER, SOUND DOCTRINE, CURRENT THOUGHTS, QUENCHING, & AGAINST), though it definitely […]

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