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The Vineyard, the Charismatic Church, and the Cults
Source Deception in the Church
Table of Contents
THE VINEYARD, THE CHARISMATIC CHURCH, AND THE CULTS 2
WHY I WRITE 2
THE WALK 3
THE VINEYARD 9
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 10
THE “BLESSING” COMES TO TORONTO 10
THE CHARISMATIC CHURCH 12
SAVED BY GRACE 13
A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT TORONTO 15
THE 15 POINTS OF WALK TEACHING AND PRACTICE 20
WALK TALK 24
RED FLAGS OF DECEPTION 25
CHARACTERISTICS OF A CULTIC MINDSET 30
SPIRITUAL DRUNKENNESS: LAST CALL FOR THE SOBER TO FLEE 33
RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! 38
WHERE THE RIVER OF GOD FLOWS 39
Long before becoming a born-again Christian in the fall of 2000, I spent 7 years in a cult calling itself the Church of the Living Word, also known as ‘the Walk’, lead by John Robert Stevens. After the Walk, I went to the Vineyard and spent 9 years there from 1989 up until 1998. When I became a Christian in 2000 I was attending a local Charismatic church.
Soon after becoming a Christian I began to notice many similarities between what we had been taught in the Walk – an outright cult – and what was being taught in the Vineyard and Charismatic movements. As a result I started taking a closer look into the teachings of charismatic leadership. I also noticed that there was prevalent within Charismatic/Vineyard churches a ‘mindset’ which was very similar to the type of mindset I found within the cult. I will discuss this ‘cultic mindset’ in more detail later, but for now suffice it to say that I am not referring to specific doctrines, but in the way rank-and-file members relate to the leadership and accept their teachings with little, if any, serious critical evaluation. This cultic-mindset is rampant in the charismatic church today and has resulted in an appalling lack of discernment in that movement.
Charismatic and Vineyard churches are highly autonomous, so I want to be careful not to paint them all with the same broad brush. It is not my purpose to label them all as cults and many of these churches are attended by sincere Christians. However, Charismatic and Vineyard churches as a group embrace the same basic ideas about how the Holy Spirit is working in the church today, and have endorsed the new ‘third wave’ generation of charismatic apostles and prophets as bona-fide spiritual leaders.
Yet many of the sincere Christians who attend these churches have not made a complete or careful examination of the teachings of these apostles and prophets, nor carefully searched the Scriptures to see if they are true. Many of the major beliefs and premises of these prophets and apostles are very similar to (and in some points identical) the heretical teachings taught by the Walk. Furthermore, within the charismatic movement there are pronounced tendencies that are highly cult-like in the way members relate to spiritual leadership and respond to teaching.
What I hope to accomplish in this article is to address the similarity of teaching and mindset between the cult and Charismatic/Vineyard groups. The similarities are not minor, nor are they confined to peripheral issues. It involves almost all of the core doctrines and major beliefs of the charismatic movement.
For 7 years during the 1970’s and early 80’s I was a member of a cult calling itself “The Church of the Living Word”, also known as “The Walk”. It was founded by a man named John Robert Stevens who, it was believed, was the ‘Apostle’ raised up by God to lead the Christian church into the “fullness of the Kingdom of God” on the earth. He taught a blending of Latter Rain doctrine and occult, with enough of a Christian veneer to fool sincere believers who had a hunger for something more than what their traditional church had to offer.
I was immediately attracted by the sense of ‘spiritual’ energy and divine mission they seemed to possess. They had apostles and prophets, just like in the Bible, and they told us that God was doing a new thing and we were “it”. I spent most of my Walk years from 1977 to 1984 as a member of local cell churches in Ontario and Alberta, with frequent trips to larger Walk centers around the US.
The founder of the Walk, John Robert Stevens (JRS), claimed to be the Apostle to the Kingdom. He believed he was receiving the new revelation from God necessary to lead the church into the New ThingGod was bringing, which was the fullness of the Kingdom of God in the Earth before Christ’s return. The Walk was one of the more radical tributaries that flowed out of the Latter Rain revival of the late 40’s and 50’s. Walk doctrine incorporated the worst of the many heresies that came out of the Latter Rain movement, with some of Steven’s own ideas thrown into the mix.
Stevens had been hugely influenced by William Branham during the Latter Rain movement. Branham believed that he was the angel of the seventh church mentioned in the Book of Revelation. He also believed, among other things, that the Word of God was expressed to us not just in the Bible, but in the Zodiac and Egyptian Pyramids, and his teaching was a blending of the occult, spiritism, and the Bible. Stevens picked up many of his ideas from Branham and other Latter Rain teachers and started his own church in 1950, located in the Los Angeles area.
I knew nothing of Walk history at the time, but when I joined in 1977 it had grown to a large network of about 100 churches spread across North America, with a few small groups in Europe and South Africa.
I soon found out that being in the Walk was going to be a whole lot more fun than traditional church life. Walk people took the doctrine of “salvation by faith alone” into interesting new levels. It didn’t matter a whole lot how you lived as long as “your heart was right” and you believed the right things. I didn’t smoke, drink, or visit bars when I joined the Walk, but that all changed. Many Walk members would often frequent bars and strip clubs, drink excessively and generally whoop it up, and I was soon going along with them. This was considered to be a healthy development for me since I was coming from a “religious” background.
In the Walk, one of the biggest hindrances to true spirituality was to have what we termed a “religious spirit”. Being religious was ‘old order’ and would hinder the ability to receive the new revelation coming from JRS. It was believed that one of the best ways to break a religious spirit was to let it all hang out and indulge your fleshly cravings. Indulging and expressing “the flesh” was considered more honest and “being real”, and therefore closer to God than phony, restrictive, “religious” behavior.
So in the topsy-turvy world of the Walk, carnality and sinful indulgence was an accepted route to spirituality. Many of those regarded to be the most spiritually mature were also often the wildest drinkers and party goers. But it was generally agreed that this was perfectly fine, because they were considered spiritually strong enough to handle it.
The Walk was very insular and elitist in the extreme. As far as we were concerned, the Walk was it. We were the embodiment of what God was doing in the earth today, moving towards becoming the manifestation of Christ in the earth with all His power and glory, which would enable us to usher in the new era of Christ’s Kingdom. Anyone who was in tune with God would see this and join our movement. Those who did not see things our way just didn’t have the revelation.
Steven’s would have nothing to do with other denominations and we did not associate at all with other Christian groups. In our view, there was little to be gained by associating with other Christian groups anyway, since we were the ones who had “the revelation”, and if there was more to be given, God would give it to us. We were on God’s cutting edge, leading the way for the “new thing” God was doing in our generation. This elitism, the sense of being on God’s cutting edge, was what attracted most of us to the Walk. We loved the sense of being a part of God’s inner circle.
Violent Intercession and Prophecy Junkies
Our services typically compromised of sitting around in a group listening to the latest tape from Anaheim. We all became prophecy junkies and lived from week to week in eager anticipation of the latest “word.” There was little teaching from the Bible. The pastor/leader was the guy who switched on the tape machine or regurgitated the latest apostolic revelation. After listening to the latest “word” from the Apostle, we would begin to engage the enemy in spiritual warfare through a form of prayer known as “violent intercession”.
Spiritual “violence” was one of the very basic premises behind the Walk, taken from the King James translation of Matthew 11:12. This teaching, generally referred to as “Taking the Kingdom by Violence”, was the concept that the Kingdom would only belong to those who wanted it badly enough to attain a sufficient level of spiritual intensity. (Violence did not mean physical force, but a spiritual intensity.) Only those intense enough would “break through” in the spiritual realm and release the spiritual power necessary to make the word a reality. Intensity of prayer, or “violent intercession”, is what made it happen. This violent intercession was a big part of Walk church meetings. We believed that intensity and forcefulness behind our prayers was required to be effective, so we all worked very hard at building up our intensity by shouting, stomping our feet, and punctuating our demands with slashing hand action (like a sword).
We would typically begin to “intercede” by standing around in a circle after listening to the latest tape. Intercession would often begin by rebuking complacency in God’s people and appropriating the promises with shouts of faith. We would rebuke the Devil and the host of evil beings arrayed against us in the heavenlies.
‘Violent’ intercession comprised of shouting favorite “catch phrases” at God or the Devil. Some typical catch phrases often shouted repeatedly during intercession were:
“We loose the word tonight, Lord!” (With foot stomping.)
“We rebuke all passivity tonight!” (Rapid hand motions slice the air in emphasis.)
“We cast down the enemy and all his lies.”
“We speak the Apostles release today, Lord!”
“We won’t rest until we have the fullness of your Kingdom Lord.”
The intensity of our prayers and faith would “loose the word”. “Loosing the word” was setting its creative power free, and was another major premise of the Walk.
Great emphasis was placed in becoming the “word” through the intensity of our intercession. Attaining greater levels of spirituality depended upon our intensity. We believed we could speak the ‘word’ into existence, and appropriate the reality through prayer and positive confession. “Speaking” a word, such as ‘peace’ or ‘faith’, would impart it. Prayer commonly involved making ‘prophetic declarations’. As we prayed, we would lean forward, rapidly rocking back and forth and stomping the ground with our feet. Prophetic declarations were punctuated with rapid hand action, chopping and slicing through the air. We seldom ever sat or kneeled in prayer, as that made it more difficult to be intense.
The focus of our prayers would be to appropriate for ourselves the latest “truth” revealed by the Apostle and to speak it into being. We would also pray for the Apostle Stevens to have the “Kingdom breakthrough” we were all believing for. It was believed that once we pushed him through to the Kingdom through our intense intercession, he would be able to bring the rest of us into the Kingdom.
The Walk was very militant in tone. The songs, prayers and teachings all had a military air. A lot of Walk teaching revolved around the whole concept of a spiritual army ‘taking the Kingdom by force’, which resulted in prayers that were not about submission to God or seeking His will, but in casting down demonic powers and strongholds in high places. We were very demanding and insistent of our rights as sons of God. Praying in the Walk had little to do with humbly seeking God for His will and submitting to it as most Christians properly understand prayer. No, not us – we demanded the promises! Of course, we believed that it was all according to God’s will as revealed by the Apostle. We were intense prophets, God’s spiritual warriors excitedly taking the Kingdom by storm, not humble servants!
Getting the Revelation
In the Walk, we often talked of “getting the revelation” or “revelation knowledge”. This was a mystical insight that gave us access to spiritual truths, as opposed to informing the intellect through the study of God’s Word. ‘Getting the revelation’ was knowledge of the truth gained through a mystical experience or insight. This method of gaining the truth was considered much more spiritual, and therefore far superior, to mere Bible study. The knowledge of truth was received by direct spiritual insight or impartation, of which the apostle Stevens was the channel. We were expected to accept what Stevens said as direct from God, without criticism. Our own spiritual capacity to receive the truth would confirm it. No need to carefully check the Bible.
There was often much talk and teaching about the necessity of bypassing the mind in order to ‘receive’ the truth. Those who were properly open to God would receive the divine illumination to know the truth of what the Apostle said. We were to have a mystical inner sense that told us what was true. Those who didn’t believe just didn’t have the necessary spiritual ability to receive, and therefore couldn’t “know”.
Possessing the inner mystical ability to “get the revelation” permeated the Walk and it’s teaching, and believing that you had it was essential to joining the Walk. This is a hyper-spiritual way of thinking that becomes very self-authenticating. It provides an almost impermeable defense from any form of criticism, because anyone who questioned us or our teaching just didn’t have the ‘revelation’ and thus could be safely ignored. They were obviously low-wattage Christians, below us on the spiritual scale of things, and we were above quibbling with them. No rational argument from scripture impacted us, because we had moved beyond scripture and entered into the realm of direct knowledge from God. The only scriptures we were interested in were those that seemed to support our beliefs. No one in the Walk ever questioned what Steven’s said, and anyone who did soon left. They were known as “blow-outs” that couldn’t handle the revelation.
Revelation knowledge was in fact what the Walk was all about. God was doing a new thing in the earth, preparing an army that would “break through” into the Kingdom and usher in the reign of Christ in the earth. The Apostle Stevens was the anointed man of God to lead the charge. New revelation was needed for the “new thing”, so God was also raising up prophets and apostles along with Stevens to speak the new, living word of God. A few isolated scripture verses were heavily spiritualized to support this.
Little Christ’s in the Earth
Stevens taught that the Bible text was a dead letter, and it was only alive as it lived in us and the Apostles. The “word made manifest” was common Walk talk. The “Living Word” was revelation knowledge spoken through the Apostle. The word of God was “Living” because living vessels spoke it and it wasn’t just “dead” text in a book. We believed that we could “become the word” as the word became manifest in us. By this, Stevens literally meant that we could become “the Word made flesh” just as Christ was, and become “little Christ’s” in the earth today.
The spoken word was, in practice if not in doctrine, placed on a par with scripture. In fact, most of us in the Walk ignored our Bibles. I seldom ever opened its pages. Why would I? We were getting God’s latest, hottest word straight off the press.
According to Stevens, he never knew when he might receive a sudden, divine impartation of new wisdom. He was receiving such a steady flow of new revelation from the Lord that he often had a small entourage of assistants following him around with tape recorders so that none of his prophetic utterances would be missed.
Stevens often talked about the Devil. He seemed to talk about what the devil was doing as much as what God was doing. Apparently Stevens was so vital to God’s endtime plan, and moving in such a high level of prophetic impartation, that the devil was always after him and giving Stevens a hard time. Stevens always gave the impression that he was in constant life and death spiritual battles with the enemy,and we were always encouraged to pray for him. In fact, praying for him and listening to his tapes was the main focus of our meetings and of the Walk in general.
We often made pilgrimages to the bigger Walk churches in Sepulveda and South Gate, and several other cities around the U.S. The Walk had a large complex in Iowa, just outside of Washington, called Shiloh. This was our major conference center and school of the prophets. It was a huge wooden structure surrounded by corn fields. I spent a couple of summers there, attending conferences and picking corn. Shiloh soon earned a bad reputation with the locals due to the drinking habits of our church members, who liked to patronize the local bars and drink excessively. Many of the local establishments became “off limits” to Walk members because of our drunken behavior.
However, drinking was very popular in the Walk and seen by many as an effective antidote to a ‘religious spirit’. We were always on the guard against religious spirits cropping up in ourselves and others. Religiosity was considered at least as bad, or even worse than, sin. It was often taught that it was better to just sin and be honest, rather than run the risk of being religious.
Once a man joined our group who used to attend a local Pentecostal church. It was the general consensus that this new member had a religious spirit. We were very worried for him, but much to our relief he soon discovered that he liked the taste of beer and took up drinking. We considered that this was a good thing as it was a sign that the religious spirit that had him in bondage was being broken.
Stevens died in the early 1980’s and his widow, Marilyn, took over leadership of the Walk. I left the Walk in 1984. The last time I had any direct contact with former friends in that group was years later, and they were still praying for Stevens to be raised from the dead.
It is not within the scope or purpose of this article to write a complete history of the Walk and it’s doctrines, but I wanted to give you a summary of it’s major teachings, characteristics and mindset, because the same beliefs that Stevens taught in the Walk are surfacing in the Vineyard/Charismatic prophetic movement today. I have included a summary of the major Walk doctrines in a subsequent chapter.
The Walk embodied a hyper-spiritual way of thinking that fosters spiritual pride, making the affected Christian susceptible to all kinds of unbiblical, elitist beliefs. The Walk conditioned it’s adherents to view all the rest of Christianity as a type of religious ‘Babylon’: in spiritual darkness, unable to receive the revelation we had, and therefore abandoned by God. The Walk was it. I remember well a comment Stevens made once that sums up this cultic conditioning very well. He said it in a very off-the-cuff manner, but it expressed the prevalent Walk attitude. “Once you’ve been in the Walk, it ruins you for anything else. You won’t ever be able to return to Babylon.” (Babylon being any church other than the Walk.)
Hyper-spiritual thinking turns a Christian into a spiritual surfer, always wanting to ride a new wave and looking to catch the next big move of God. Such Christians are seldom satisfied with the plain message of the Bible and reaching the lost so that others can be saved. They are more interested in discovering deeper truths or discussing some novel insight. One of the greatest dangers behind this type of thinking is to cause Christians to forget that our main job here on earth is to preach the gospel and teach the basic Word of God so that others can be brought into the faith of Christ. Instead, it sets Christians on a quest for ever higher spiritual experience, raising up great spiritual armies and engaging in high level cosmic warfare.
I left the Walk and joined the Vineyard movement in the late 80’s. The Vineyard is a Charismatic church growth movement characterized by a casual, relaxed atmosphere and an upbeat, modern style of worship music. The Vineyard is at the forefront of a much larger Charismatic revival, lead by the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF), Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner and the new wave of prophets and apostles rising to prominence. The first thing I noticed about the Vineyard was its music and laid-back preaching style. The music was great and the worship went on for extended periods, the dress was casual and it had a coffee bar at the back. I was to remain in the Vineyard for the next 9 years.
I soon discovered there was a reason for the laid back preaching style in the Vineyard: The Vineyard was very laid-back about what it believed. In contrast to the Walk, the Vineyard was very wishy-washy about what it believed and adopted an easy-going approach to the truth. There was lots of warm and fuzzy preaching on God’s love, personal fulfillment, setting and reaching goals, and dreaming big dreams for life. I used to be in sales in the business world, and recognized most of it as repackaged business management-speak and sales motivational teaching that had more to do with Norman Vincent Peal than the Bible.
The Vineyard was very pragmatic in its approach to church growth. We were often developing new ways to reach the community through various out-reach programs, such as door-to-door food give-aways, free barbeques, or pop give-aways on street corners. These things are not wrong in themselves, of course, but for all our good works, there was little Gospel content in what we did. We put a lot of thought into how to reach the community, but little consideration into the content of the message we were reaching them with. Most of our growth came from attracting existing Christians to our church with our popular music and coffee-club atmosphere.
The Vineyard also took a pragmatic approach to truth: whatever worked was OK. What Bible teaching there was usually came in the form of “keys” or “steps” to reaching some personal or group goal, such as realizing your full potential. Lots of teaching centered on the mechanics of various “how-to” methodologies, such as ‘how-to journal’ as a method to hear God. How-to pray for the sick. How-to reach the community. How-to minister and receive inner-healing. How-to discover your spiritual ‘gift mix’. How-to interpret dreams, and so on.
Often, preaching was little more than subjective ramblings about what the speaker “felt” God was currently saying or doing. And always about how much God loved us and how some wonderful new thing was on the horizon. Always couched in very spiritual terms, but it was typically the leader’s opinions of what God was saying at the moment and seldom was there much, if any, Biblical exposition.
In one such very typical service, the entire teaching consisted of gleanings from a secular book on business success that had been written by a Mormon. In another very typical service I recall, the sermon consisted of jokes the Pastor read from a Christian joke book. The only occasions that I can recall in which the pastor actually expounded on the Bible at any length (apart from cherry-picking the occasional, isolated proof text), was when the church started running into the red, and a sermon on tithing was dusted off.
Even before the ‘Blessing’ hit the Toronto Airport Vineyard in 1994 we were seeing bizarre manifestations in the Vineyard. In the early 90’s, just before 1994 when the ‘laughing revival’ broke out, there was a Vineyard conference in Kitchener that I still think of as “the night of the living dead”. In this conference, when the altar call was given, a large crowd lurched to the front, probably half the auditorium, and started dancing, twisting, gyrating, and hopping at the front as a “blessing” was prayed over them. Vast numbers of people lurched, crawled, staggered and limped around like a mass of grotesque horror flick zombie’s. The room was filled with all manner of freakish, bizarre and even obscene behavior. One girl was on her back in front of the stage, making orgasmic, thrashing and gyrating motions that could only be described as sexual activity.
The Vineyard leaders accepted all this as the moving of the Spirit. The prevailing attitude of the leadership and members was that this was God moving. According to standard Vineyard thinking, the Holy Spirit can do a deep inner work without the mind being informed or knowing what is going on, or without any further knowledge of truth. It was generally acknowledged that some of the bizarre behavior may be demonic in origin, but most of it was the work of the Holy Spirit or the human response to the power of the Holy Spirit at work within. It was believed that the Spirit often worked best and deepest if it could bypass the intellect, and there was no need for the mind to be informed. So we weren’t too concerned because we believed that God was doing a deeper work in them and we simply prayed that God would bless them even more.
In the Vineyard, adhering to true doctrine was not as important as just being open to whatever the ‘spirit’ wanted to do. For any leader, it was more important to be lead by the spirit, and as long as a ministry seemed to move in that, and could get results (make “stuff” happen, which in our circles meant healings and manifestations) h/she was assumed to be a man or woman of God regardless of the content of their teaching. Whatever they said was accepted as a message from God.
As a result of this mindset, a speaker could say almost anything from a Vineyard pulpit as long as they came packaged with the right charismatic personality and spiritual gifts. In the Vineyard, one of the gravest sins that could be committed was to get too firm on beliefs, since that was considered unloving and divisive. Since questioning a teaching was perceived to be divisive and critical, we seldom ever seriously questioned what was taught or took seriously the Biblical warning to test all teachings and prophetic “words”.
Discernment devolved to the level of feelings, intuitive insight and subjective impressions in which no one could know anything for sure, but certain people (usually the ‘prophetic’ types in our midst) were generally trusted to have the right discernment on issues. This attitude fostered a lack of real discernment among Vineyard leaders which opened the doors wide to a large influx of false teachers and false prophets in the early Nineties. I believe it was this lack of discernment, largely due to Biblical illiteracy, that paved the way for the arrival of the Toronto “Blessing” in 1994.
Early in January of 1994, I heard that revival had broken out in the Toronto Vineyard and we went up to check it out. Our Vineyard was within an hours drive. Many friends from our Vineyard church also went up that night. We entered the meeting room and I was stunned by the bizarre scene that opened up before us. It was pandemonium everywhere. The large room was crowded with people shaking, bobbing, running on the spot and flapping their arms.
I didn’t get the “Blessing” that night, but many of my friends did. I walked up to one friend, a worship leader from our church, who was running frantically on the spot and flapping his hands. I asked him what he thought was happening and how he felt. He had no explanation, only a smile, and he couldn’t stop the running or hand flapping.
I attended several Toronto meetings. Although the leaders would often say that the manifestations where not what it was all about, that’s what they mostly talked about and they held them up as the proof of God’s moving in our midst. It was obvious that the manifestations were the big drawing card. After an extended time of worship, there would be a testimony time in which the leader would interview people up front about what they felt God was doing within them.
Manifestations often started during worship, but became very pronounced during testimony time, and the leaders would go with “whatever God was doing in our midst” and allow almost anything to happen. Often there was no time left for preaching. But that was never an issue, because we were not going up to hear the Word. Soon, the thing was to double over making gasping or mooing noises. From that time on, there was a lot of “mmmooooooing”, “wwhhooooing” and “ooooooing” in Vineyard meetings.
One Vineyard service I remember at a church north of Toronto was very typical. It was more like a drunken party than a church service. The chairs had been cleared away so that the middle was open. The congregation stood around and danced to loud rock “worship” music. Many at the front were falling over each other. As they touched each other, they would get “blessed” and double over, collapsing in a heap, arm in arm. Communion was served as a women danced through the crowd with a tray serving glasses of grape juice to other dancers on the floor. We were there until after 10:30 at night, and still the worship and dancing continued and no one preached. I stood in the back, not dancing.
At this time, and for several years, I was decidedly pro-Toronto Blessing, as the renewal came to be known. I didn’t understand what was going on, but decided that if that’s how God wanted to move, then that was fine by me. Who was I to question God? It never occurred to me to open my Bible and test what was going on against the Word. The mystical education I received in the Walk set me up perfectly to accept the Toronto Blessing without question.
I had been taught in the Walk to accept that God could do things that did not line up with the written Word. Now, in the Vineyard we had Prophets who were getting a steady stream of messages from God who could interpret what was going on for us, even though we did not know what the Bible taught on such matters.
So I went with it, and criticized the critics for being closed to what the Spirit was doing. I considered that those “old order Pharisees” just couldn’t handle it when God wanted to do something fresh in another group like ours. They just didn’t understand what God was doing in our midst. If they’d just open up their hearts to the Spirit, then they would understand that this was really God. But they couldn’t do that because they were “religious” and narrow minded. This pretty much summed up my attitude and the prevalent attitude of the pro-Toronto crowd.
In the Walk we were used to accusations from other church groups of being a cult, and we all learned how to deal with that without letting it get to us. Didn’t Ishmael always persecute the true Isaac? Didn’t the old order always misunderstand the new thing God does? Were not the true prophets persecuted? So when other Christian groups began to question the Toronto Blessing and raise many serious and legitimate theological concerns, I already had the necessary psychological defenses in place to dismiss them out of hand – without ever stopping to think for even a moment that they just may have a point!
During the mid to late 90’s, I was involved in a new Vineyard church plant in our community. However, by 1998 the church plant fizzled and I began attending a local Charismatic church. But I still considered myself to be a part of the Vineyard and continued to move socially in Vineyard circles for a few more years.
The 2 years that followed were the worst of my life. Looking back on it now, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, because the Lord used it to finally bring me to Himself in real surrender and conversion. Faithful are His afflictions.
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
I was in the deep black pit of despair and saw no way out. A small software company I had started with a friend a few years earlier was in deep trouble. A large business deal I had made with a big distributor turned sour and threatened to bankrupt me, and I became embroiled in a lengthy and expensive lawsuit. My marriage was in trouble and was heading for the rocks. I struggled on until finally, in the summer of 2000 I hit bottom, financially, emotionally and spiritually. My business was a failure. I was out of work and saddled with a huge debt. The lawsuit continued to grind on with no end in sight. I owed more money than I ever hoped to pay off, and began to look into bankruptcy proceedings.
Late one night in September of 2000, I was laying awake in bed worrying about my debt, the lawsuit, my marriage and how everything in my life had gone terribly wrong. I didn’t know where to turn. I thought I was a good Christian and couldn’t understand why my life was falling apart.
As I laid there reviewing my life, I began to realize that even though I considered myself a good person and I believed in God in an intellectual way, Jesus was not the Lord of my life. I was still in control of my life and I was not living for Him. I had never given Him my life and entrusted myself completely to Him, and I was afraid of what He might do if I did. I had never given up my will and desires. I did not believe that His way really was better than mine. That night I saw my unbelief and lack of trust in Christ for the sin that it was.
At around 2 AM I got up and went downstairs to the living room so I wouldn’t wake my wife, and got on my knees and began to pray and call out to God. I began by confessing all my sins that I was aware of and repenting of them, asking Him to forgive me and help me to change. I confessed especially my sin of unbelief and rebellion by not trusting Him to direct my life. I repented of my fear of what He may do with my life, and I handed my life fully over to Him, asking Him to come and be the Lord of my life and take charge completely.
I don’t remember what words I used exactly, but this in a nutshell was how I prayed. The key was surrendering control of my life over to His Lordship. I confessed that I was still a sinner because I was in control and essentially doing things my way. I repented of this, and surrendered my will and ambitions over to Christ and committed myself to doing what He wanted, no matter what. I asked for His help to do this as I knew I couldn’t live the Christian life without His strength. I prayed like this for a long while, and then went back to bed.
I don’t recall feeling anything in particular while I was praying, but I soon noticed that a change took place inside me that surprised me. I became spiritually alive in a way that I had never experienced before. I had a new inner life and strength, freedom from many sins that had plagued me, and a real inner peace that I had never known. I also found a new power to resist and overcome sin. I was by no means perfect, but I had a new strength and power over sin which I previously didn’t have. Worldly interests faded and I lost interest in the usual entertainment with which I used to occupy my free time. It now seemed to me to be such a colossal waste of time, and even sinful. Instead, I much preferred to spend my free time in prayer, studying the Scriptures, or with my family and other good tasks which pleased the Lord. But probably the most significant change was a great inner peace which I had never before known. Christians through the ages have referred to this change as regeneration, conversion, the new birth, or being born-again.
One of the first things I noticed after my conversion was that I had a new love for His Word and a passion for the truth. I hadn’t read the Bible for years because I never got very much out of it, but immediately after my prayer of commitment to Christ, I found a new love and pleasure in the Word. His Book came to life for me in a way that I had never experienced before, and I began to spend hours reading it.
Also, I began to pray and soon made a habit of getting up early each morning so I could pray before going to work. One of the first things the Lord taught me after my conversion was the importance of spending time alone with Him everyday to maintain and grow in the life of His Spirit. This is how we grow deeper in Him so that we can continually receive His life and not dry up. It is the only way to grow in personal knowledge of Him.
One of the most delightful aspects of repentance and coming to faith in Christ is the spiritual reality that begins on a personal level with the Savior. Life changes from the inside, and it is truly a new life. One of the several changes that took place for me, and I believe for anyone truly regenerate, is a new love for God’s Word. I had a new hunger for the Word, and I could not get enough of God’s truth. I started to devour the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. And this is when my trouble with the charismatic church started.
Soon after my conversion I became appalled at the backslidden condition of the church and horrified over its spiritual squalor. For months I was in an agony over the state of the church. The preaching in the Charismatic church I was attending at the time of my conversion was mostly hype, froth and vacuous enthusiasm with little substance. It reminded me of the motivational seminars I used to attend while in business. Yet the people all thought it was wonderful and wanted more. It was a nightmare.
Neither did I understand why most of the people were spiritually dry or even depressed. There was a revolving door at the altar as the people continually went forward for a ‘fresh touch’ to pick them up out of their spiritual slump week after week. I soon realized that most of them knew little about daily quiet time alone with Christ and as a result did not have a very good connection Him. They were trying to get what life they could second hand from others. And I was appalled that the church leaders seemed blind to this situation, and were not teaching the people the crucial importance of getting alone with God every day to pray and read the Bible.
A generation ago, in born-again circles daily quiet time alone with God was considered basic to the Christian life, and neglecting time alone with Him was a sign of back-sliding. This is no longer the case. Today, the church in general is so backslidden and lukewarm, that those who are in the habit of turning of their TV sets and making real time for God each day look like flaming radicals. During a breakfast meeting one morning a few months after my conversion, I told the Pastor of our Charismatic church about my new found joys in quiet time and the new life in Christ I found in it. He only had this word of warning for me: “Don’t turn into a hermit”.
My outward circumstance didn’t change for a long time, and in some ways even got worse, but I felt a Peace that defied explanation. I knew that everything was in God’s hands and I wasn’t worried or anxious. I knew I was where He wanted me to be and that He would take care of me and see me through. However, it was still a long time before there were any visible changes in my external circumstances. The debts were still there and the legal battle continued. Then, about 8 months after my conversion, I lost my job and entered a period of very erratic employment. But I can honestly say that His peace carried me through it all, and I felt perfectly at rest in Him. I did not feel much anxiety over it. I knew He was in control and that if He was allowing these things, then He had a very good reason for it whether I understood or not. All along, God was more concerned with teaching me something rather than simply snapping His fingers to make everything better. Eventually He did rescue me, more wonderfully than I could have imagined, but only after I had learned the lessons He had for me.
Up until my conversion I was still very pro-Toronto Revival, even though I had some questions and had not done a thorough search of the scriptures. I was still of the opinion that we shouldn’t run the risk of going against God by asking questions. But it wasn’t long after my own renewal in Christ that I started to have some serious questions about the Toronto Blessing (TB). There were too many stark contrasts between what I was seeing in the Word and what these TB people were experiencing. I didn’t think that everyone had to experience God the same way I did, but there were too many differences that seemed to be of such a fundamental nature as revealed in the Word that I started to question whether it was really the same spirit at work.
One question I couldn’t wrap my head around was – why did Christians have to receive the Spirit from another person? Christians, supposedly already born-again and having the Spirit, were continually going to Toronto Blessing renewal conferences to receive a further blessing (‘fresh touch’) from the hands of someone who had “it”. Then, once someone had the TB, they could in turn pass it on to others.
This requirement seemed to me to be at odds with the Word and nature of the Holy Spirit, as well as my own experience. Was not the way into the Holy of Holies made for all of us in Christ? To enter in, all we had to do was retire to our private prayer closet. Why did all these Christians need some “Holy Ghost Bartender” to dispense a blessing? Didn’t Jesus say that “Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures have said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38) We shouldn’t need anyone to touch us in order to receive from God. All we have to do was get alone with Him.
We shouldn’t need to work ourselves up, get hyped or pumped at a conference by great music in order to receive. According to the New Testament, we no longer need “anointed” worship leaders to usher in the presence of God. Didn’t the Bible say that we no longer had to go to a certain location to enter His presence and that He was with us in our prayer closet? Why then this mad stampede to Toronto to get “it”? These “Toronto” people talked as if they didn’t know how to meet God at all apart from getting zapped at a conference. Whatever it was, it seemed to require all kinds of just the right externals to make it happen: it required the right music, “anointed” worship leaders, charismatic speakers and receptive crowds in order for “it” to happen. It all made me wonder exactly what “it” was that they were getting.
Another thing that struck me as contrary to the Word was that the TB was being passed on to others indiscriminately. It was anyone’s for the asking, no strings attached. The TB leaders were praying for everyone who lined up along the tapped line to receive the Holy Spirit. The only requirement seemed to be the desire to have it. There was no call to holiness, confession of sin and repentance. Again, this seemed to contradict the Bible in many ways.
TB people were often told not to pray, as it hindered their ability to receive the “blessing”. Instead, they were often counseled to remain silent and just be open to receive.  This made no sense to me at all. How could praying ever hinder the Holy Spirit?
Also, why the drunken behavior and loss of control that totally contradicted everything the Word had to say about the Spirit of God? I had spent weeks in a very manifest, tangible sense of His presence after my conversion and I came away from the experience with a greater understanding and renewed love for the great truths of the Bible. Never once did I lose control or feel “drunk”. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of clarity and sobriety, of truth and wisdom, Who comes to give us greater knowledge of Christ through an increased understanding of His Word. But these revival drunks were descending into a mindless stupor as they staggered around in a fog, falling over each other. The drunks gained no greater love for the Word as a result of their so-called meeting with God. All they wanted was “more, Lord, more”.
This was in total contrast to my own experience of God’s presence, which was marked by great clarity and left me with a greater love for the written Word and a new joy in reading it. I saw old, familiar Bible truths in a new, clear light that made them fresh and amazingly wonderful.
I pondered these and many other questions for a long while. I had a lot of questions and few answers. So much of what I was seeing in Toronto Vineyard and Charismatic circles just didn’t line up with the Word or the nature of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Word.
Although I had been in the Vineyard when John Wimber embraced Paul Cain and the Kansas City Prophets and introduced them into the church, I didn’t know much about them or what they taught. The Vineyard accepted them and I had many friends who held them in high regard, so I assumed they must be all right. But not long after I was converted, I decided it was time to check into the charismatic prophets and teachings for myself.
I decided to start with Rick Joyner’s teaching and messages, since many of my friends held him in high regard and he seemed to be one of the top “Prophets”. I started reading his stuff, with an open mind since I had no real opinions about him either way. In fact, if anything, I started with a bias in favour of Joyner because I had heard nothing but good about him in Vineyard circles and I had no reason as yet to think otherwise. Soon, my research over the weeks and months spread to the many ministries associated with him: Peter Wagner, Bob Jones, Paul Cain and the Kansas City prophets. For ease of use, I’ll refer to this group as the Third Wave.
As I looked into the teachings of the Charismatic leaders and prophets, I was startled to find out that they believed the same things we believed in the cult. Also, the overall tone and flavor of their prophesying and prophetic lingo was familiar. It sounded too much like the Walk, and I got a bad dose of déjà vu as I realized that the prophets and leaders of the Vineyard and Charismatic movements were teaching the same things we believed in the Walk.
I began making a list of the similarities between the Walk and the Third Wave, a list which eventually reached over 50 items. I later developed these points into a list of ‘Red Flag’ symptoms of deception.There were far too many heretical teachings in common to be coincidental, so I started looking into historical roots. As a result of this research I learned that they shared the same Latter Rain roots. The same Latter Rain doctrines and teachers which had influenced John Robert Stevens had also influenced Paul Cain, the Kansas City Prophets, and many others who influenced the Vineyard. But this time it was not on the fringes of Christianity like the Walk, but leading the prophetic revival sweeping the Vineyard/Charismatic church.
Another question still nagged at me: Was the Laughing Revival a real move of the Holy Spirit or not? So one night in December of 2001 I sat down with my Bible and concordance. I decided the best place to start was with spiritual drunkenness, since this was one of the most prominent manifestations touted by revival leaders as a sign of the Holy Spirit. I read through all the scriptures that talked about drunkenness, cross referencing any related words that came up, such as “staggering”.
I was surprised at how much the Bible had to say on spiritual drunkenness, and just as shocked at how overwhelmingly negative it was. The Bible teaching on drunkenness, spiritual or otherwise, is notable in its overwhelming condemnation of it. In no place does the Bible ever suggest that “spiritual drunkenness” is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, but quite to the contrary, is a sign of spiritual delusion and blindness. Drunken behavior is universally condemned as sinful, and therefore could not be the work of the Holy Spirit. There may be some gray areas in the Bible, but this is not one of them.
Learning to Be Berean
I remember the Vineyard revival leaders telling us not to be afraid of being deceived. In fact, we were often told that we should be more afraid of missing out on what God is doing than in being deceived. According to them, God wouldn’t let us be deceived. But now I understood why Jesus and Paul so often expressed concern that we be not deceived. As I studied the Bible, I began to see in the Word how and why deception happens. In a nutshell, it is often due to Biblical illiteracy.
Many Christians are misled because they lack a ‘Berean’ like diligence to “examine the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” The Bible calls them “more noble” for this diligent regard for the Word. Paul welcomed this Berean spirit. I wonder why the so-called apostles and prophets today don’t appreciate it. Today they call it ‘religious’, fault finding, critical, divisive, and warn such people that they risk being judged by God. Revival leaders seldom miss an opportunity to mock what they regard as a ‘religious spirit’, which in their view is anyone who is less than enthusiastic about their movement.
Judging teaching is not judging the person. We are not to judge the person, as far as judging their hearts, motives or sincerity. We cannot know those things, but it is a Biblical injunction to judge their teaching and reject those who bring false doctrine. We are to test all prophecies (I John 4:1, 1 Cor. 14:29), test the apostles (Rev. 2:2) and evaluate all teaching (2 John 9-11), to list but a few verses. We are to test all of them, and ignore the false ones all together.
This article is not about heresy hunting. We have the God given duty and responsibility to challenge error and in love warn those caught up in it. God holds us responsible if we don’t.
There is no doubt that the Walk was a cult. Cult experts are agreed on that and the same cultic tendencies and ideas we had in the Walk are being embraced by Vineyard and Charismatic circles: end-time elitism, Apostolic restoration, mysticism, exaltation of the prophetic and revelatory word, mindless acquiescence to prophetic leadership and directives, marginalization of Scripture, to name but a few.
‘Bereans’ who check teachings against the Word are no longer called ‘noble’, but labeled Jezebels, fault finders, and accusers of the brethren. Christians are becoming Biblical illiterates and as a result easy prey for anything that comes along that looks spiritual. They have lost their love for the written Word and are out for an experience. This lack of discernment, especially among Vineyard leaders, is one of the single biggest reasons false prophets and teachers have gained such easy access into the church to spread their heresy. Lack of discernment in the church turns it into a buffet for demonic spirits to feast upon.
Many church goers today are religious consumers who sit passively through the preaching, accepting what is said with little critical thought – much like watching TV. Truth isn’t as important as great worship music and the right religious feeling. As a result, today a prophet or teacher can say almost anything and get away with it as long as they say it with a bright smile, sound ‘loving’, and appear to have the right kind of personality. Getting too sticky about the truth is considered divisive and unloving.
The Vineyard went along with what John Wimber said because it was he who said it and they had placed their confidence in him as a man of God. Few of us, including myself, ever checked our Bibles carefully beyond the proof text given. This is devotion to a person over the objective truth of the Bible, and is the essence of a cultic mindset. We see this in churches whenever people passively accept what is being taught without checking the scriptures: the primary criteria being that the speaker displays all the charismatic trappings of someone moving in the Spirit. No one wants to believe that the smiling, loving, charismatic figure on the platform is preaching heresy and might be a false prophet.
The following 15 points define the major teachings of the Walk. This is not an attempt to create an exhaustive description of all Walk theology. For a more complete look into Walk theology and history, please see the unpublished manuscript on the Walk by the Spiritual Counterfeits Project. As a former member of the Walk for over 7 years, I can attest that this report by the SCP is a very accurate and fair description of that cult.
I have placed an asterisk (*) beside each point of Walk teaching that has an equivalent in the charismatic/prophetic movement. The exact terminology may differ, but the ideas are essentially the same.
- End-Time Elitism (Elijah Company). (*)
In the Walk it was known as the “Manchild Company”. Over the years this doctrine has also been known as “The Manifested Sons of God” (MSOG). This was one of the major heresies to come out of the Latter Rain, and has been picked up and repackaged over the years by various charismatic and prophetic groups. They will be an elite class of spiritual warriors with the power and anointing to lead the church to where it should be, establish the Kingdom of God and even inaugurate Christ’s reign on earth. It can take on a wide range of flavours and meanings, from a super-anointing on a spiritually empowered elite to “little Christ’s” – manifestations of Christ incarnate. The Joel’s Army (Gideon’s Army, Elijah Company) talk in charismatic prophetic circles is essentially the same idea.
This was one of the major premises behind the Walk, and Stevens taught a very extreme flavour of this concept. His followers could become the Word of God made flesh in the same sense Christ was. This was essentially the meaning behind the term “Living Word” as used in the name of his church: physical expressions of the Word like Christ. They could become ‘little Christs’ who will have the power of God surpassing anything ever seen before in the church. Many even saw this as possibly representing a spiritual second coming of Christ in the group before He returns physically.
- Kingdom Now/Dominion Theology. (*)
Often coined “Kingdom Breakthrough”. The victorious church, lead by the spiritual elite (The Manchild Company) will establish the Kingdom of God on Earth before Christ physically returns. “Breaking through” into the Kingdom was in fact what the Walk was all about. The Walk’s entire reason for existence was to push Stevens into the Kingdom, mostly through the prayer of “violent intercession”. Once in the Kingdom, Stevens would bring the rest of the Walk in, by “imparting” it to his followers. Sort of a push/pull approach. The Walk would push Stevens in, and then Stevens would pull the rest in. Stevens was often likened to the point of the spear, with the Walk as the shaft, that would be thrust into the Kingdom level and achieve “Kingdom breakthrough”.
- Spiritual Violence.
“Violence” was common Walk verbiage for the level of spiritual intensity required to achieve Kingdom breakthrough. The Kingdom was a new spiritual level that the church needed to attain, and only those who were intense enough could breakthrough into it. This required very intense prayer known as ‘violent intercession’. Passivity – lacking the necessary spiritual intensity – was seen as one of the greatest threats to the success of the Walk. Stevens and Walk leaders would often rant against passivity. It was a grave offense to be passive, and members were always being exhorted to rise up into greater levels of intensity, otherwise we ran the risk of failing to achieve Kingdom breakthrough. Passivity was overcome within us by entering into intense, violent prayer, which involved stamping our feet, shouting, slicing the air with excited hand gestures and other hysterical behavior. Wild shouts such as: “We rebuke all passivity today!” was a common feature of corporate prayer.
- Revelation Knowledge and Special Revelation. (*)
Divine knowledge from God revealed directly to the human mind apart from the written Word; a direct, mystical insight into truth that bypasses the rational processes of intellect, logic, reason and learning. When people received this kind of revelatory insight, they would know intuitively something was true irregardless of Scripture, reason, commonsense, or any objective evidence of truth.
‘Getting the revelation’ is an inner mystical sense confirming the truth of a special revelation or of Scripture. Knowing the Bible and believing it because it is God’s Word was not good enough in the Walk and considered inferior to ‘getting the revelation’ of a truth. A person needed to receive a subjective inner witness of the truth that confirmed God’s Word. This was a spiritual insight that enabled them to ‘see’ the truth for themselves, as opposed to believing it because God said it.
In order to receive revelation knowledge, all a person had to do was simply ‘tune in’ to the ‘flow of revelation’ that was constantly coming from heaven. This was a mystical ‘openness’ in the spirit which could be learned, and had nothing to do with studying the Scriptures and the cognitive faculties. The Walk taught that reasoning things out, even through knowledge of Scripture, would only hinder a person’s ability to receive revelation. All that was required to ‘receive the revelation’ was a spiritual capacity to open up to it and allow it to flow into our minds and spirits. Special revelation did not necessarily have to line up with Scripture, and was quite independent of it.
- Restoration of Apostles. (*)
The Walk taught that God is restoring the ministry of Apostles equal to spiritual authority and revelation to the first century Apostles. It was believed that the full restoration of apostolic ministry was necessary to equip the church for the fulfillment of its purpose and bring it to maturity. God was laying a new foundation for the church because the old foundation was no longer adequate for the new day dawning. Stevens was, naturally, the Apostle to the Apostles. 
- Restoration of the Prophetic Office. (*)
Along with the new order of Apostles, God was also restoring the full office of the Prophetic ministry. These are prophets equal in stature to the Old and New Testament Prophets of the Bible. A new revelation is needed for a new day, and God is raising up Prophets and Apostles to bring it. The Bible isn’t sufficient for the new task today. In the Walk, we needed a ‘fresh’ word each week. Stevens’s ministry churned out a vast number of tapes and booklets, and each week there was a new tape with Stevens’s latest, hottest revelation. Stevens’s weekly messages were taken verbatim as direct revelation from heaven. We all became prophecy junkies as we waited each week for the latest prophetic word.
- Resurrection Life.
Stevens taught a doctrine called ‘Resurrection Life’ that he picked up from some of the more extreme elements of the Latter Rain movement. It is the idea that we could enter into our resurrected (heavenly) bodies now, without having to die through a process of evolving spiritual states. Entering our heavenly bodies would bring us supernatural power and immortality. It was never very clear how this would happen, except that when we finally attained enough faith and spiritual intensity, we would break through into a higher spiritual level where resurrection life could be appropriated.
- Spiritual Warfare. (*)
Rebuking the enemy and tearing down demonic strongholds through intense prayer known as ‘violent intercession’. Intense, focused prayer was required to bind the enemy and ‘loose the word’, thereby releasing the purposes of God and overcoming the Devil so that the Kingdom of God could advance against the forces of darkness.
Stevens often talked about the “Nephilim”, and had whole tapes and booklets devoted to this topic. Nephilim were human agents and channels of demonic forces. Praying against people identified as Nephilim was common practice in order to bind them and block their influence.
- The Living (Rhema) Word. (*)
God is speaking a new living ‘Rhema’ word for today through His Apostles. The ‘Living Word’ was as much the Word of God as was the Bible, but better because it is ‘alive’ whereas the Bible was a dead letter. “The letter kills, but the Spirit brings life.” This verse was often used by Stevens, which he twisted to mean that we needed living Apostles and Prophets today to speak the word so that the Word of God would be alive. Without the new Apostles the Bible remained a dead text, mere ink on paper. The word lived in the flesh of Apostles and Prophets.
- Impartation. (*)
The idea that one person can give spiritual gifts, anointings, attributes or qualities to another through prayer and the laying on of hands. Superficially it sounds like Rom.1:11, but in practice it was used as a short-cut to instant spiritual growth by ‘zapping’ spiritual values from person to person. It was very common in Walk services to have personal ministry time in which an apostle, prophet or “mature brother” would impart spiritual gifts and attributes to another. The ability for leaders to ‘replicate’ themselves by imparting what they had to younger ‘Timothy’s’ was considered crucial to the future success of the Walk.
- Positive Confession (Word of Faith). (*)
This teaching is also known as positive proclamations or prophetic proclamation. It was believed that speaking ‘words’ of positive confession had creative power. We could ‘speak’ things into being, especially in the unseen realm, but also in more practical areas such as finances. This was tied in very closely with Stevens’s Living Word teaching. Because God was in us, our words had the same creative power in our mouths that God has when He speaks things into existence. Commonly used prayer lingo associated with this belief was as follows: “Loose the word!”, “Loose faith!” or “We speak faith!” or “We speak release tonight.” or “We proclaim…” and “We claim…” Prayer was usually about loosing and speaking things into reality in the spiritual realm.
- Don’t Think. (*)
Don’t think about it, just open up and accept it. The new revelation could only be received by opening up to it and accepting it, not by the understanding or studying the Scriptures. Stevens had a favorite saying: “People would be better off if they would stand on their heads.” By this he meant put down your intellect and stop thinking so much. Thinking too much blocked your ability to receive divine revelation. The Berean spirit was heavily discouraged, and any kind of questioning of doctrine was taken as a personal assault on Stevens.
- Signs Ministry. (*)
Stevens taught that the Holy Spirit would direct us through various physical sensations in our bodies. He often experienced these sorts of signs himself. For instance, a headache meant spiritual assault or witchcraft was coming against you. Stevens also taught how to interpret the color of people’s aura’s in order to discern their spirit. Red in a person’s aura meant they were rebellious, for instance.
- Personal ‘words’ of direction. (*)
It was a common practice in the Walk to give individuals personal prophetic direction during a church meeting. Personal prophetic words were a common feature of church services. The group would often enter into a period of personal ministry in which the group would pray and prophesy over an individual. During this time the other members of the group would give personal messages of future direction and encouragement to the individual being ministered to. A common feature of these messages was to reveal what that person’s future ministry was to be and what their spiritual gifts and abilities were. These words of direction could often be very long a detailed.
- The Religious Spirit. (*)
The ‘old order’ (Babylon) was what God did in previous generations, and ‘religious’ people were still ‘bound’ to it through fear and legalism. According to the Walk, religious people are characterized by fear and suspicion of anything new; a rigid, legalistic outlook characterized by an unwillingness to move with the Spirit into the ‘new thing’ God was doing. Religious people were seen as spiritually dead because they were into the legalism of Biblical text, but not the life and power of the ‘Living Word’. This religiosity blinded them to the new thing God was doing in the Walk. Hence, anyone who opposed the Walk was blind and religious.
In the Walk, a religious spirit was the antithesis of true spirituality. Therefore, it only followed that anything offensive to a religious person must be good. It was also recognized that religiosity was common to human nature and something to be guarded against personally. So Walk people were always on the guard for any development of religiosity within themselves. Any kind of offensive, irreligious behavior was seen as helping to thwart our own tendencies towards religiosity and cultivate greater personal spirituality. Hence, Walk people strove to be as irreligious as possible and cultivated very offensive behavior. Swearing, rude and offensive behavior was very common in the Walk at all levels. Stevens himself frequently swore from the pulpit during sermons.
A glossary of some common Walk terminology and catch phrases.
“Appropriate”: Claiming and acquiring spiritual gifts, power and attributes
“Babylon”: Old order. Most other churches, especially those who opposed the Walk.
“Be Christ!”, “Be the Word!”: Become the Word made manifest in human flesh like Christ.
“Blowouts”: Those who left the Walk. Spiritual failures that just didn’t have the right stuff.
“Breakthrough!” or “Kingdom Breakthrough” Entering into new spiritual levels.
“Loose”: Such as “Loose the word!” or “We loose faith.” Releasing the spiritual power of the thing loosed in order to create the reality of it. A method of positive proclamation.
“Nephilim”: Human channels of demonic spirits. Most anyone who opposed the Walk.
“Passivity”: Lacking in spiritual violence. A big no-no.
“Rebuke”: “We rebuke passivity tonight.” “We rebuke the Devil.”
“Resurrection power”: The spiritual power of the new kingdom age.
“Violence”: Spiritual intensity necessary for ‘breakthrough.’
“We speak…”: Such as “We speak faith to so-and-so.” A method of imparting something to a person or speaking it into existence in the spiritual realm.
The following is a list of ‘Red Flags’ that are symptoms of deception in a person or group. In developing this list, I was concerned, not so much with addressing specific doctrines, but in identifying characteristics that are symptomatic of deception. I started writing this list when I noticed the many similarities between the Walk and the prophetic movement gaining momentum in Vineyard/Charismatic circles. These characteristics of deception predominate in Charismatic/Vineyard groups and in the Walk.
- Spiritual elitism. This is the root of many delusions. Any kind of elitist belief is a certain indication of deception. Elitism is the belief that God has given a certain group special revelation/power/anointing that other Christian groups or previous generations have not entered into. They are on the spiritual cutting-edge, rising to spiritual levels not attained by other groups. It’s often dressed up as “Joel’s Army”, “Gideon’s Army”, and Elijah Companies of super anointed end-time warriors. Elitism is seen today in the ‘this-is-the-greatest-generation-ever’ kind of preaching we often hear. It can be found in the need to search out so-called ‘deeper’ truths and discover new, hidden mystical insights.
- A tendency to marginalize the written Word. Watch out for any talk that plays down devotion to Scripture, such as “God is bigger than the Bible” or “God is doing a new thing, so put away your Bibles.” Marginalizing the written Word can take many forms:
- a) Ignoring the Word. Neglecting private Bible study in daily life is a strong symptom of deception.
- b) Disregarding the Word. A careless attitude towards obedience. I’ve seen examples of this in wild revival meetings in which people mockingly quote the verse, “Let all things be done decently and in order”, while they enjoy a good laugh over their disorderly and drunken behavior. Any teaching that plays down our requirement to be doers of the Word is a sure sign of delusion.
- c) Deceived groups that marginalize the Word are often those who have an emphasis on prophecy. Beware of any emphasis on the revelatory, prophetic word, especially where there is a sidelining of the written Word. We are not to despise prophecy, but the real meat of the Word that nourishes the saints and builds them up in the faith is the written Word of God, not the prophetic. Teaching that would make Christians dependant on prophets or apostles for ‘current’ truth effectively marginalizes the Word of God.
- d) “Fools despise knowledge.” Any kind of talk that does not give the Word the high regard it is due, effectively marginalizes the Word and is a sure sign that deception is at work in the group. As the Word says, “Choose my instruction instead of silver.” Love it more than anything else.
- Prayerlessness in private. Neglect of private prayer time, alone with God, is a strong indication of deception. If it is prevalent across a church or movement, it indicates deception is taking hold of that group. Please note that deceived people will often continue to attend and even enjoy public church functions, especially when there is good sound, light or music – but private quite time loses its appeal.
- Disdain for Berean spirited searching of the scriptures. Any kind of anti-Berean, anti-discernment teaching that discourages people from questioning what is going on or being taught is a sure sign of deception. If you ever hear the leadership of your church group say anything along the lines of “put away your Bibles”, or “don’t worry about being deceived”, then head for the exit as fast as you can.
- An inability to separate Godly criticism of their words from personal attack. Equating ‘Berean’ (Acts 17:11) activity with criticism. Such leaders may often talk about the ‘Jezebel spirit’ and the ‘accuser of the brethren’ and warn people about moving in a fault finding or critical spirit. What they are driving at is that if you question what is going on, or challenge what is being taught, you are being critical and run the risk of incurring the Lord’s disfavor.
- Lack of accountability. One common trait among the new wave of apostles and prophets rising to prominence these days is that they do not like to be held accountable for their teachings and failed prophecies. Any criticism of their teachings and prophetic utterances is taken as an attack against their ministry.
- Discernment primarily the prerogative of leadership. A tendency to see discernment as a special gift or anointing not available to everyone to the same degree, or that increases with higher spiritual office. The ‘higher’ you are on the prophetic ladder, the more discerning you are. Since leaders supposedly have better discernment as per their higher office, followers tend to trust the opinions of their leaders over their own, since the ‘apostle’ or prophet must have better understanding anyway due to their higher standing in the spiritual ranks. Believers are not encouraged to trust their own discernment, or are encouraged only so long as it agrees with the overall word as set forth by the leaders. Discernment among the ranks becomes little more than a faculty (an inner witness of the spirit) that confirms what the Apostle or Prophet is saying.
- Any form of Mystery Religion. A mystery religion is a religion that has successive levels of knowledge and ‘deeper’ truths, which are not necessarily available to all, at least not at first. Those in higher levels will know things not revealed, nor available, to lower levels. A new ‘believer’ comes in on the ground floor, and then progresses up through successive levels of spiritual understanding and empowerment as he is introduced to the ‘deeper’ truths.
- Heightened interest with spiritual levels and rankings. Higher ‘spiritual’ rank is equated with greater closeness to God. Gifts and callings are typically ranked, and those higher in rank are seen as closer to God in some practical way, such as hearing from God more frequently and being more privy to God’s inner secrets. Those on higher spiritual levels have a privileged access to God that is not available to those holding lesser callings. As a result of their higher standing or special calling, God visits them more often and they receive greater mystical experiences than the rest.
- Heightened interest in dreams, visions, new revelations and novel insights. This may not necessarily be explicitly stated in their Creed, and they may claim to believe the Bible as the Word of God. But in actual practice dreams, visions and revelations are the preferred stock-in-trade over sound Bible teaching and exposition of the basics.
- An increase in subjectivity. Looking for subjective impressions, personal ‘prophetic’ words and ‘revelation’ for guidance and direction. Seeking the mystical ‘inner voice’ as guide over the written Word. You can be sure that if a person is seeking new personal ‘words’, it is because they are not in the Word, and serious deception cannot be long avoided.
- Detractors dismissed as having inferior vision. They see themselves as being in tune with God, and anyone who is also in tune with the Divine will agree with them. Detractors are obviously not in tune with God and have inferior vision. This sets up a very neat circular reasoning that is almost impossible to get past. It is a defensiveness which is very difficult to penetrate, because they are convinced that detractors don’t have the same level of anointing or discernment as they have. As they see it, if detractors did have the same level of anointing, they’d be in agreement. They dismiss any criticism of their teaching or conduct as bitterness, jealousy or fault finding, while they themselves feel they have very sharp spiritual perception. People are truly discerning only as long as they support their movement.
- Dismissive attitude towards detractors. Detractors given derogatory labels, such as ‘religious’, ‘old order’, ‘old wineskins’, or ‘Pharisees’. Detractors denounced as not being able to ‘handle it’, or they have a ‘Jezebel spirit’, or a ‘spirit of criticism’. They are ‘accusers of the brethren’, that sort of thing. Threats of God’s judgment on detractors and critics are a sure sign of a cultic mindset and delusion.
- A ‘get-on-board-or-else’ mentality. A fear that you’ll miss God’s new move and be left behind if you don’t join up. God is doing a new thing and if you do not go along with it, regardless of how long you’ve been faithfully serving God over the years, God will pass you by and you’ll get left in the dust.
- New thingism. God is doing a ‘new thing’ and you’d better get with it. There is now a further requirement if you want to remain a first class Christian and in God’s highest favour, which is to be a part of the new thing represented by the group. If you don’t come along, you run the risk of God passing you by.
- A special anointing. A certain person or group has been anointed by God to introduce something to the rest of the Body. God has given it to them, and other believers can come to them to ‘get it.’
- A priesthood. Placing a person or group in an exalted status with God, so that they become special intermediaries, is a sure sign of delusion. False movements and false religions invariable try to interject some kind of priesthood between the believer and God. This is seen whenever a person or group claims to have received something from God that can be received from their hands. They become an intermediary between you and Jesus Christ if you want more of God, and people are encouraged to go to the ‘anointed’ of the Lord to get it.
We see this today in certain revival circles where it is necessary to get more from God at the hands of a specially chosen vessel. Worship leaders have ‘an anointing’ to lead us into the presence of God. Prophets and apostles have a privileged access to receive things from God that the rest of the church needs. False religion always reverts to some form of human priesthood.
- “Don’t think about it, just jump in” type of teaching that encourages people to throw caution to the wind. Encouraging followers not to worry or think things through, that God won’t allow them to be deceived. Just jump in before it’s too late or you may miss the boat.
- Glorification of the vessel. An excessive focus on the ‘anointed’ person of God.
- Old Testament ‘typed’ anointing. (A ‘Phineas’ anointing. The mantle of Elijah, etc.)
- An excited interest in peripheral subjects not central to the gospel. A de-emphasis on the central themes of the gospel. They claim to agree with the gospel, but the bulk of their teaching, writing and prophetic messages show a greater interest in peripheral topics, novel insights and new revelation.
- May talk unity, but bring division along lines of gender, age, race or nationality.
- Watch out for leaders who love to surround themselves with minions who affirm their special anointing.
- More interest in breaking through to new levels and remaking the church along new lines rather than reaching the lost with the good news of Jesus Christ.
- False spirits love to show off and love center stage. They love to parade their subjective impressions and experiences up front for others to see. Publicly sharing highly subjective impressions and insights that cannot be proved or disproved one way or the other is a real “Red Flag”.
- Conference chasing. Running from place to place to meet God. Any emphasis on experiencing God corporately more than privately is a symptom of delusion. Whenever people need to go to a conference or certain location to receive a ‘fresh’ touch, something is very wrong.
There is a whole generation of believers now who are bored with ‘quiet time’ alone with God, who don’t know how to meet God in the prayer closet, and can only meet with God and experience Him in public settings that provide the right mood and atmosphere, usually involving the right music. The reason so many are chasing God at conferences is because they are not in the Word and prayer at home.
- The ‘anointed’ leader has a privileged access, a hot relationship, with God that the rest have yet to attain. They get angelic visitations, dramatic visions and prophetic insights, and they publish ‘prophetic bulletins’ to keep others abreast with what God is doing. Because the apostles and prophets are in such a privileged position of receiving the latest hot word from God, the rest are reduced to second hand status, anxiously awaiting the latest prophetic bulletin. Watch for groups that tend to place emphasis on the leaders anointing or relationship with God. This results in Christians running to conferences for a ‘fresh touch’ from those who seem to have ‘it’.
- The Holy Spirit is seen more as coming to bring an experience rather than a greater understanding of the Scripture.
- A tendency to distinguish between people who accept their movement as a true move of God and those who don’t.
- Beware of any dichotomy between the Spirit and the mind. Any anti-intellectual position, such as the belief held in many charismatic circles today that exercising the mind will hinder the Holy Spirit, is a real indication of deception. Deceivers like to parrot phrases like: “God will offend the mind to reveal the heart.” This cute little mantra often repeated in certain revival groups sounds very spiritual, but is very false. A careful reading of the Word tells us the truth: God will inform the mind to convince the heart. Jesus often did offend the Pharisee’s – by telling them the truth! The Holy Spirit leads people to Christ by shining the light of God’s Word into their minds and convicting them of its truth.
The difference between a cult and a legitimate group is relationship, not doctrine. Although it will usually follow that a cultic group will also endorse heretical doctrine, that is not what makes it a cult. Other, non-Christian religions will embrace doctrines contrary to Christian faith. That does not necessarily make them cults. A group is defined as cultic by the dependant/controlling relationship that forms between the leader of the group and his followers. The leader acquires an inappropriate level of control over the individuals of a group by fostering personal dependence upon him as the source and definer of truth. A cultic group has a strong, influential leader who knows how to encourage followers to remain personally dependent upon him for truth, purpose and guidance.
In developing this list, I was more interested in showing the characteristics of a cult as opposed to addressing specific heretical teachings; cultic symptoms rather than specific doctrinal aberrations.
My reason for this approach is twofold: First, specific heresies will change from one cult to another, but there are certain characteristics which remain fairly consistent between cults by which a cultic group can be identified. Secondly, and perhaps more ominously, large segments of the charismatic church are becoming very cultic in practice even though they may claim to believe the major tenets of Christian faith. Most of these traits were very characteristic of the Walk, and are becoming very common in Vineyard and Charismatic circles.
- Loyalty to charismatic leadership over Scripture. The primary characteristic of a cultic mindset is devotion to leadership over an objective standard of truth. Cultic followers have an excessive devotion to popular teachers, and are unwilling or disinclined to question them. They place too much trust in leadership without exercising independent, critical thought that resorts to objective standards of information outside of the group. This mindset is very predominant in Vineyard and Charismatic circles, seen in the almost blind trust placed in prophetic leadership. This is evident in their willingness to believe what they are told, as long as the right person says it. They are disinclined to exercise independent, critical thought and search the scriptures to see if what is being taught is true.
- Believing what’s said based on WHO says it. Truth is determined by what the leaders say. The cultic-mindset determines the acceptability of what is said more by who says it rather than how well it conforms to the Word of God. This mindset is predominant in the Walk, and has become predominant in Vineyard/Charismatic and “TB” circles. Today, anyone can say almost anything in a Charismatic/ Vineyard crowd and get away with it, as long as they have the right type of ‘loving’, charismatic personality and appear to move in spiritual gifts. In other words, as long as the ministry package looks good, they tend to accept the contents of the teaching with little question.
- An unwillingness to question leaders. Idolizing leaders and placing them on a pedestal. Quick to excuse and overlook their faults. Leaders will often take doubts and questions as a personal attack. Questioning the leader is viewed as rebellion, stubbornness, or spiritualized as a demonic ploy to undermine ‘God’s anointed’.
- Fear of disapproval by the group. A fearfulness of saying something that the leaders and/or others in the group may not approve of.
- Elitist and exclusive. They think of themselves as the spiritual cutting-edge. An excessive need for acceptance and belonging to an ‘inner circle’. A fear of being left out of Gods new thing is one expression of this.
- Dismissive attitude towards those outside the group. A disregard for what others say and think who are not in the group.
- A polarized “In or Out”, “Us” versus “Them” attitude towards those outside the ‘movement’. Those outside the ‘move’ are given derogatory labels. It is considered that those outside don’t have what it takes to be apart of the superior goals of the group. This is often seen in the ‘get-on-board-with-this-move-or-you’ll-miss-it’ style of preaching often seen in charismatic circles.
- Those outside the group just don’t understand.
- Lack of tolerance for dissent. Dissenters threatened with divine punishment. Dissent, doubt and questioning are not tolerated and perceived as a personal attack on the leadership. They have difficulty separating the message from the messenger. (Need I bother pointing out here that “TB” revival leaders are well-known for attacking dissenters, and threatening them with judgment from God?)
- Rational thought is discouraged. Group experience over loyalty to truth. Don’t think about it, just jump in. Don’t stop to analyze, just be open to what the ‘spirit’ is doing.
- The superior ends of the group justify the means. Revival leaders are well known for their pragmatic approach to the ‘truth’. If it works, it’s OK.
- Group leaders determine how followers should think and what is ‘true’. Truth and reality (paradigm) are determined within the context of the group. People with a cultic-mindset tend to submerge their own thoughts under the thoughts of the leader and group. They have greater confidence in the opinions of others than of their own.
- A lack of discretion and independent thought. Pro.2:11 states that “discretion will protect you”. Discretion is the ability to think for yourself; to exercise independent thought or action according to one’s own judgment. Cultic followers are noticeably lacking in this ability, so they are easily persuaded by a dynamic and charismatic leader. They find it difficult to stand back with a measure of detachment and evaluate things with a cool head in the light of God’s Word.
- Cultic persons gravitate towards dependence upon a ‘priesthood’ for their contact with God. This ‘priesthood’ can take the form of an ‘anointed’ person, a prophet, an apostle, or anyone who receives from God for the follower. Cultic persons place excessive trust in the leader and the leader’s so-called contact with God.
- Accusative self-doubt in relation to leadership. It can take the form of self-doubting questions such as: Who do I think I am, anyway? Who am I to question what the leaders are saying? What makes me think I was right and so many big name ministries are wrong?
- Lack of recourse and accountability outside the group. Little if any accountability outside the group. Members of the group take little recourse outside the group for information or help as far as the defining ‘truths’ and purpose of the group are concerned.
The Bible has a lot to say about drunkenness, spiritual or otherwise. And none of it is good. With the Biblical tools we have available today, there is no reason for anyone to be deceived about the “Laughing Revival”. My Bible and concordance was all I needed to find out for myself the truth behind so-called ‘spiritual drunkenness’.
One night, while I was still unsure about the ‘Laughing Revival’ (and frankly, I was at that time still leaning in favour of it and hoping to have my suspicions allayed) I sat down with my NIV Bible and concordance and simply did a word study to see what the Bible had to say. I wasn’t expecting to find much when I started, and once I got past the 2 or 3 isolated verses favored by TB supporters (we’ll look at those last), I was very surprised to discover just how much the Bible had to say regarding this phenomena.
Spiritual drunkenness is a sign of a deep spiritual sleep and blindness:
Isaiah 29:9-14. “Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine; stagger, but not from beer. The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep: he has sealed your eyes (the prophets);” Verses 11,12 further describe these people as being unable to understand God’s Word. Then, verse 13: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore … the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
I don’t know how much clearer the Word of God could be. Spiritual drunkenness (“drunk, but NOT from wine”), far from being a sign of God’s blessing and favor, is a sign that the following spiritual conditions and judgments have fallen upon a group professing to worship God: 1) they are blind, 2) they have fallen into a deep sleep spiritually, 3) their prophets are blind, 4) they’ve lost the ability to properly understand God’s Word (sealed v.11,12). The reason for all this is given in verse 13. This group of people has, over time, professed to love and worship God, but they have departed from obedience to His Word and have insisted on trying to come to God on their own terms.
Spiritual drunkenness is a sign of being under God’s judgment:
Isaiah 28:1,3. “Ephraim’s drunkards”. Ephraim was a name for the northern tribes of Israel, who were at that time seriously backslidden and about to be judged. Obviously, the Bible is not casting ‘drunkard’ in a good light.
Is.49:26. “drunk on their own blood” in judgment.
Is.51:21. “made drunk, not with wine” under God’s judgment.
Is.63:6. “in my [God’s] wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.”
Jer.48:26. “Make her drunk, for she has defied the Lord.” Israel’s neighbour, Moab, is made drunk because she has defied the Lord!
Deut. 29:18-21. This passage describes a person who invokes the promises and protection of God’s covenant, but disregards it’s conditions. He has turned away from obedience to the Lord, yet invokes the Lord’s blessing and protection and thinks to himself: “I shall have peace.”
Verse 19 (NKJV). “ ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’ – as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.”
Verse 19 (NIV). The NIV footnote offers the following alternative translation: “ ‘I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way’ – in order to add drunkenness to thirst.”
Deut.29:18-21 indicates that spiritual drunkenness is a sign that the drunkards have invoked the blessing of the covenant for themselve’s, yet walk after their own heart.
Jeremiah 51: A warning to flee because a greater judgment is coming!
I recommend a careful reading of Jeremiah 51, with particular attention paid to verses 6-9 and 37-45, in conjunction with Rev. 17:1-6, 18:1-8. Babylon was a real city in Jeremiah’s day that the Lord was about to judge, but Babylon is also a Biblical type of apostate religion.
Note: For those who are unsure about using the Old Testament in this manner, please look at the following passages: 1 Cor.10:6,11; 2 Peter 2,3; Heb.10:29-31, 2:1-3, 12:25-27 and Jude. Paul and the other NT writers clearly considered that the judgments of God recorded in the OT were still very relevant warnings to us under the NT. See also 2Tim.3:16 “ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.
v6,8,9: Spiritual drunkenness is an indication that the church is about to be severely judged, and a warning to the sober minded who still remain to get out before it is too late. “Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives!”
v7,8: “Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand[an instrument of judgment]; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad. Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.” Not only was Babylon under judgment, but she was an instrument of judgment in the Lord’s hands. Certain ‘revival’ centers made the whole earth drunk, as multitudes poured in from around the globe to partake. The results of many deluded pastors who ‘fetched’ the blessing in Toronto/Pensacola and brought it back to their home church can only be described as ‘madness’, as hundreds of churches were devastated.
v37,38: “Babylon will be a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals,…Her people all roar like
lion cubs.” – animal noises, roaring like lions.
v38a: “while they are AROUSED, I will set out a FEAST for them” – it’s party time!
v38b: “and make them DRUNK,” – spiritual drunkenness!
v38c: “so that they SHOUT with LAUGHTER” – ‘holy’ laughter.
“then SLEEP forever and not awake, declares the Lord.”
v40-44: And then final judgment is to follow, “I will bring them down…to the
v45: The final call for God’s people to get out while they still can. “Come out of her, my
people! Run for your lives!”
This makes it pretty clear. Here we have a people being aroused to party, shout and laugh, roar like lions and get ‘drunk’ just before they are judged. The Bible describes in many places that immediately before severe judgment, people are given over to a “party” spirit: a fun-loving, amusement mad, self-gratifying wild party time! See Is.56:12; Amos 6:1-6; Micah 2:11; Is.22:2,13; The inhabitants of Jerusalem threw parties as the Babylonian army surrounded their city. Ezek.21:10 (Amp and NKJV) “Shall we then rejoice and make mirth?” [when the sword of judgment has been sharpened against us.]
More Old Testament references to drunkenness:
The following passages also refer to drunkenness as an indication or sign of being under the displeasure of God and judgment.
Ezekiel 23:33. “filled with drunkenness and sorrow, the cup of ruin and desolation”
Nahum 1:10, 3:11. Nineveh drunk under the judgment of God. “You too will become drunk”.
Hab.2:15-16. Woe to him who gives drink, making his neighbour drunk. Now it is your turn, drink and be exposed! The word ‘be exposed’ used here can also mean ‘stagger’ according to the NIV footnote.
Is.24:19-21. The earth reels like a drunkard under God’s judgment.
Joel 1:5, “Wake up, you drunkards.”
Ecc. 10:16-17. Blessed is the land who’s King is noble, who princes eat at the proper time for strength and NOT FOR DRUNKENNESS.”
Jer.13:13. The Lord fills the kings, priests and prophets with drunkenness before he judges them.
Amos 6:6. “You drink wine by the bowlful”
Micah 2:11. The deceiver says: “I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer!”
Is.56:9-12. “Let us drink our fill of beer!”
Biblical References to ‘staggering’:
Staggering ‘under the influence’ is a common occurrence at TB style revival meetings. Interestingly, the Bible also has a lot to say about staggering.
Job 12:25.“They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.”
Psalm 60:1-3.“You have rejected us…you have given us wine that makes us stagger.”
Is 19:11-15. “the leaders of Memphis are deceived;…The Lord has poured into them a spirit of dizziness; they make Egypt stagger in all she does, as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit.” Clearly not a sign of God’s blessing, but of His judgment upon foolish and deceived leadership.
Is. 28:1-16. The drunkards of Ephraim… “stagger at seeing visions”, “reeling like drunkards”
Pro.24:11. “staggering towards slaughter”
Is.3:8. “Jerusalem staggers” under judgment because their words and deeds are against the Lord.
Jer.25:15-29. In this passage, the Lord has filled a cup filled with the wine of His wrath and makes the nations drink from it. Drinking from the cup of God’s wrath causes them to “stagger and go mad” before they are brought to judgment. V.27 “drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more”
Is. 51:17. The cup of God’s wrath is “the goblet that makes men stagger.”
Roaring like a lion:
Jer.12:8 “she [my people] roars at me, therefore I hate her.”
Jer 52:38 the people of Babylon [who are under judgment] roar like lions
Zeph.3:1-4 “Woe to the city [referring to a wicked city under sentence of God’s judgement]…Her officials are roaring lions…”
Is. 5:25-30 Israel’s enemies roar like lions when they come to devour her.
Ezek.22:25 false prophets roar like lions.
I Peter 5:8 The Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
Jer. 2:15 “Lions have roared” in judgement.
New Testament references to drunkenness:
Lk.12:45; Mt.24:48-50 – The unfaithful servant gets drunk.
I Cor 5:11; 6:10 – Drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Lk.21:34-36; Ro.13:11-14; Gal.5:19-21; 1Pet.4:3; I Thess.5:4-8. – Drunkenness is sinful and will be judged.
The Word of God clearly censors drunken behavior. There are an overwhelming number of verses in the New Testament which ascribe self-control, self-discipline, order, decency, and sobriety as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Why then would the Holy Spirit ever induce people to mimic behavior that is censored in the Word and contrary to His own nature?
And finally, the two proof texts most often cited in support of ‘spiritual drunkenness’:
Let’s take a look at the 2 passages of Scripture used by “TB” supporters in an attempt to lend Biblical credibility to their drunkenness. They are Acts 2:13 and Eph. 5:18. We’ll take a look at each separately.
1) Acts 2:13, “They have had too much wine.”
We will look at the entire context of the chapter, from verse 1 to the end. In Acts 2:13, it was only the MOCKERS who were making fun that said they were drunk. I do not think we should take our queue from those mocking Peter and the believers. Other than that, there is no evidence in the text that they were acting like drunks, and all the evidence clearly indicates the opposite. Peter got up and preached a clear, coherent, hard-hitting gospel sermon that cut the Jews listening to him to the heart with conviction of sin. He did not display anything like drunken behavior. Peter’s behavior was nothing like the revival drunkards who love to stagger around, slurring and stammering so much that they can hardly put a coherent sentence together, let alone an entire sermon that can bring 3000 new converts into the Church in one day. The rest of the 120 that came out of the upper room with Peter were speaking in real foreign languages, clearly understandable to the foreigners visiting Jerusalem at the time, proclaiming the “wonders of God” (Acts 2:11). These people were anything but drunk! Whatever ‘spirit’ the Toronto people are moving in, it’s not the same Spirit at work in Acts 2.
2) Eph. 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.”
Read the surrounding verses from 5:8-5:20 carefully: Paul wasn’t comparing the condition of being Spirit filled to drunkenness, he was contrasting it! From verses 8 through 18, notice the contrasts he makes between pairs of opposites: light/darkness, wise/unwise, understanding/foolishness, and finally drunk/spirit filled. You were once darkness, but now you are light (v.8); not unwise, but wise (v.15); don’t be foolish, but understanding (v.17); don’t be drunk, instead be filled with the Spirit (v.18).
The verse says: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” Do not get drunk – it leads to debauchery! Notice the word ‘instead’, indicating a contrasting opposite. Paul was contrasting being filled with the Spirit to drunkenness, NOT likening it.
In their foolishness, revival drunks actually turn that around to say, “Woohoo, lets party and get drunk in the Spirit!” The debauchery Paul warns against in v.18 is just what we are seeing in the wild party atmosphere that now reigns in revival churches. The vast number of verses in the New Testament that tell us the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of order and sobriety are stunning. Self-control, sobriety, and order are fruits of the Spirit, and nowhere does it say the Holy Spirit is a spirit of drunkenness. Therefore, spiritual drunkenness, staggering, slurred speech cannot be the work of the Holy Spirit of God, as that would be inconsistent with the nature of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture. Surely what Isaiah said is true of them: “The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes … For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll.” (29:10,11)
I would like to offer the following conclusions based on the evidence of God’s Word.
1) ‘Drunkenness’ is a form of spiritual judgment upon a church or group professing the name of the Lord yet have departed from obedience to the truth. According to the Bible passages we have looked at, spiritual drunkenness is a form of God’s judgment on a church for the following reasons, as well as being a signal to others that the church has fallen into these conditions:
- a) They are deceived.
- b) They are blind – have little or no discernment left.
- c) Their priests and prophets are backslidden.
- d) They have tolerated false prophets in their midst.
- e) They have tolerated bad, questionable teaching.
- f) They give God lip-service, but have turned away from a carefulness to follow His law. In other words, they love to sing to the Lord on Sunday, but are carnal or even sinful through the week.
- g) They want to serve and worship the Lord on their own terms; set their own altars.
- h) They have ignored the Lord’s Word.
- i) They have sought experience over truth.
- j) Their shepherds are asleep, and have allowed the enemy in.
2) ‘Drunkenness’ is a signal that another, much more severe judgment is coming!
More ominously, in these Bible passages, drunkenness preceded severe judgment. It is a signal that much greater judgment will follow the drunken party.
3) ‘Drunkenness’ is a last call to get out!
Finally, I believe it is a last call to the sober minded who still remain in these churches to get out as fast as they can. It’s a clear signal to flee while you still can because time is running out fast. In Jer.51, the drunken party (v.39) preceded final judgment (40-44). Other passages listed above bear this pattern out as well. Verse 45 – “Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the Lord.” and again in v.6 the call is repeated to “Run for your lives!” If these passages are to be believed, than spiritual drunkenness in a church is a warning from God to GET OUT NOW. Don’t hang around such churches even out of curiosity just to see what happens. From these verses, we can gather that it will not be safe to be in these groups when the next judgment arrives. There is no point in speculating what form the next wave of judgment may take, but it will be very severe and of such a nature that being in these groups when it comes will be incredibly dangerous and foolish. It would be foolish to take His Word lightly and disregard the clear warning signals God has given us.
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water ill flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” John 7:37-39
There is a lot of talk about the ‘river’ of God and intimacy with Christ these days. Christians by the thousands are flocking to conferences centers to swim in the river. The pursuit of God in this day involves chasing God from conference to conference seeking a fresh touch. I have no doubt that some do in fact have an encounter with God, because God is sovereign and He can meet His children anywhere, but on the whole this movement is deeply flawed and not born of the true Spirit of God. We can know this because it does not follow the Biblical pattern for gaining true closeness with God. Rather, it places emphasis on receiving ‘blessings’ and ‘fresh touches’ at the hands of another who seemingly has ‘it’.
Any true believer, who has come to Christ in genuine repentance and total surrender of life, will be born from above by the Spirit of God and experience the regenerating life of Christ within his soul. Through the new birth, the soul comes into vital contact with the living God, and the life of God flows in. This life brings a new power for holy living, new desires in life, and the old appetites for sin and the world fade away. Sometimes sin or carelessness in the life of the Christian will cause a blockage which hinders the life giving flow of God, but the remedy is repentance.
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Our relationship with God can only be cultivated by devoting daily plenty of time to seek Him through prayer and study of His Word. It seems that Christians today have lost their patience for this, and would rather dash of to fun filled church meetings to have the ‘anointed’ man or woman touch them for a faster, more direct ‘impartation’. The prayer closets are empty, but church conferences are packed with seekers listening to talk of intimacy.
Having someone touch us, pray over us, impart blessings or a ‘fresh touch’ cannot make up for the neglect of our spiritual roots. Whatever these believers are experiencing, I doubt very much that it is bringing them into a truer knowledge of God. We must go to the seller of oil directly for ourselves in order to receive. What I see happening before me on such a large scale in what calls itself the Church of Jesus Christ has little to do with true intimacy with God, and is in fact a massive rebellion against the very intimacy they so loudly claim to seek. The foolish virgins are madly running around, looking for another to give them more oil. What a sad parody of the true relationship with God that Christ has made possible for us in the New Testament!
Feeling dry? Instead of running out to some conference to receive a ‘fresh touch’ from an ‘anointed’ person, examine your private devotional life. How’s your “Quiet Time”? Are you neglecting His Word? Ignoring Him through prayerlessness? Is there any sin? Any carelessness in devotion? Check for unforsaken sin or negligence of duty. Bring your sin to the cross and He has promised to forgive you and “give you grace to help.”
The true ‘River’ of God runs through the prayer closet, not a conference center. The single greatest reason so many Christians feel ‘dry’ is because they are not in the Word and in prayer at home. Consequently, they are easily seduced by the ‘Laughing Revival’ and other false movements. And they have tried to make up for this lack of spirituality in their private lives with lively, rousing public worship and busy activities.
Devote yourself daily to the holy task of knowing Him by seeking Him in His Word and prayer. Turn off the amusements of the world with which you normally entertain yourself, and learn to find all your delight in Him. True spiritual revival can only begin in the prayer closet. Then the Lord will be able to use you to reach the lost around you.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure,
They are more precious than gold,
They are sweeter than honey,
By them is your servant warned.
I think that one of the highest crimes in the church today is a leadership that encourages people to come out to church, or attend the latest conference, to receive a “fresh touch” at the hands of another, but does not teach nor encourage their people to get alone with God daily in prayer and the Word. What is presently being touted in revival circles as intimacy with God is not true intimacy at all but a cheap counterfeit experience which is leading the people away from a true relationship with Christ. The true River of God is flowing through my prayer closet.
 Please see the chapter below “Characteristics of a Cultic Mindset”.
 For ease of use the terms ‘charismatic’ or ‘charismatic movement’ in this article will include the entire broad spectrum of Vineyard, TACF, ‘Toronto’ churches, ‘Kansas City’ churches, as well as the Charismatic church.
 The Latter Rain was a revival in the late 40’ and 50’s beginning in North Battleford, Saskatchewan which quickly spread throughout the world. Although it seemed to start out well enough, it quickly developed many aberrant teachings and moved into heresy, and the occult.
 Branham not only influenced Stevens, but most of the ‘prophets’ and ministries that came out of the LR, including Paul Cain, until recently a major leader in the current prophetic movement in Kansas City. Branham, his life and teachings are well documented and easy to find on the web. See http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain4.htm
 The use of the term ‘violent’ in the Walk was unfortunate and can easily give those outside the Walk the wrong idea. The Walk never advocated physical violence as far as I know.
 This is very similar to Gnosticism, a prominent heresy in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and has survived in one form or another to this day. The Gnostic isn’t content to believe God by taking Him at His Word as written, but wants to have an inner mystical sense that tells him what is true so that he will ‘know’. The Gnostic requires a mystical experience to confirm the truth.
 Over the years I’ve noticed that this as a common characteristic of a certain class of Christian often involved with what is now popularly called ‘spiritual warfare’. They take a perverse pride in the demonic attacks they suffer, taking that as some kind of sign that they must really be moving in higher spiritual realms in order for the devil to take such notice of them. People like this can often be heard complaining about all the spiritual attacks they suffer.
 For a well researched account of the history and teachings of the Walk, please refer to the unpublished manuscript by The Spiritual Counterfeits Project.
 TACF was the progenitor of a phenomenon which began in early 1994 and quickly spread to other churches around the world. Characterized by outbreaks of uncontrollable laughter, and all manner of drunken and bizarre behavior, it came to be known as the Laughing Revival or the ‘Toronto Blessing’.
 The Toronto Revival came to be known as the Toronto Blessing or the Laughing Revival. It was characterized by outbreaks of uncontrollable laughter, people imitating animal behavior and noises, large numbers staggering and falling down, and all manner of drunken and bizarre behavior.
 This attitude is a classic example of spiritual elitism (Gnosticism), which makes it very difficult for those so affected to receive Godly and beneficial criticism from concerned Christians outside the ‘camp’.
 Psalm 119:71. See also vs. 67
 The few cases in Scripture of people receiving the Spirit at the hands of another were new converts who had not yet received the Holy Spirit. There are no examples of believers who have already received the Holy Spirit needing someone to touch them for more.
 I am not saying we don’t need to pray for one another. I am referring to imparting a touch from God or a deeper experience. We cannot ‘zap’ one another into a deeper relationship with Christ.
 For one Bible example, see Acts 8. Simon asked for the power of the Holy Spirit, but received a stern rebuke from Peter instead who discerned the impurity of Simon’s heart.
 Contrast this to the Book of Acts in which people receiving the Holy Spirit prayed. It makes one wonder what the “Blessing” received really is.
 Another chapter discusses at length the Bible passages on spiritual drunkenness, and so will not repeat the Scripture references here.
 See the subsequent chapter: Red Flags of Deception. It is a list of characteristics in common between Steven’s cult and the Charismatic Apostolic/Prophetic revival.
 The historical Latter Rain roots of the Walk and Kansas City have been well documented on the web and in many books.
 One notable example is William Branham, who heavily influenced both JRS and Paul Cain.
 See the following chapter on spiritual drunkenness
 Acts 2 and Eph 5:18 are not the positive endorsement of ‘Holy Drunkenness’ that many suppose. See the chapter on Spiritual Drunkenness.
 Mat.24:4,5,11 and similar warnings throughout the NT.
 Acts 17:11
 One of the main characteristics of a cultic mindset is the propensity to believe what is said based on the personality of the speaker rather than an objective standard of truth. See the chapter: Summary of the cultic mindset.
 For a very complete and accurate description of Walk theology and history, I highly recommend the report produced by the Spiritual Counterfeits Project on the Walk: “John Robert Stevens and the Church of the Living Word (The Walk)”, unpublished manuscript from Spiritual Counterfeits Project, P.O. Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704
 I am not inferring by this that the charismatic movement endorses the Walk, or even knows about it. It is very likely that most people in the Vineyard and Charismatic movements have never heard of the Walk.
 It has even been suggested by some charismatic prophets that the new apostles and prophets today may even be greater than the first century Apostles.
 St. Paul was speaking of the Old Testament (the letter of the law) and the better New Testament we now have through Jesus Christ. He was in no way implying that the written word of God was dead.
 Values imparted could be just about any spiritual thing: spiritual gifts, anointing, power, resurrection life.
 Acts 17:11. The Christians in Berea were commended because when Paul came to them with the gospel they examined the Scriptures for themselves to see if what he said was true.
 I feel I must point out again here, that this is a highly cultic mindset, a chief characteristic of cult followers, AND IT PREDOMINATES IN THE VINEYARD and many CHARISMATIC church groups. This is not at all what the Bible means by submission and obedience to the Word and to those in authority!
 I am not suggesting here that we are to have that kind of arrogance that won’t listen to others. That’s not a healthy mindset either. Godly men and women will listen to, and give serious consideration to, the opinions of other godly people whom they know to be walking in holiness and obedience to the Word of God. But the criteria for judging what we think and what others tell us is the Word of God, not WHO says it.
 Discretion and independent thought is typically the first thing a cult seeks to remove from a new or potential convert, and it is one of the first things that have to be restored in an individual seeking to get out.
Source HERE Spirit of Error
Mike Bickle–the leader of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri–is revered by many people in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement as a sound Bible teacher, as someone who majors on teaching people the written Word of God.
But I have noticed something disturbing about his teachings. The Bible verses he uses to support them frequently have nothing to do with those teachings–and sometimes they actually teach something very different.
In this post, I look at one of Bickle’s teachings and show how he attempts to support it through the use of a botched interpretation of Scripture. This example should raise a flag of caution in people’s minds when they encounter his other NAR teachings.
The ‘Israel Mandate’
IHOP has a ministry called the “Israel Mandate,” that seeks to mobilize people to pray for Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people. Well, this might all sound good–even to many traditional evangelicals who have, historically, shown strong support for Israel and Jewish people.
So, then, what’s the problem with the “Israel Mandate?”
It’s this. According to IHOP’s description of the mandate, part of the “primary calling” of the Gentile church in regard to Jewish people is for the church to be “moving in the supernatural.” In other words, Gentile Christians have a responsibility to perform miraculous signs and wonders so that Jewish people will believe the gospel.
And what is the Scripture verse cited in support of this teaching? It is 1 Corinthians 1:22:
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom (New King James Version)
But this verse does not support the Bickle/IHOP teaching that Christians have a duty to perform miraculous signs for Jewish people. Quite the contrary. The apostle Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, is actually criticizing the Jews for demanding miraculous signs and the Greeks for seeking worldly wisdom.
Paul goes on to say that he did not give in to the demands of the Jews or the Greeks, but instead he preached the simple but powerful message of “Christ crucified.” Yet this message was not well received by the Jews, who craved displays of God’s supernatural power. Rather, the idea of a suffering Messiah was a “stumbling block” to those Jews putting their faith in Christ. See for yourself by reading the verse in its larger context.
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[a] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)
Notice two things from the above passage: (1) the Jews’ request for miraculous signs is not portrayed in a positive light, and (2) the apostle Paul does not grant their request for signs. So, then, how can Bickle use this verse in support of the NAR teaching that Gentile Christians have a responsibility to perform signs and wonders for the Jewish people?
– By Holly Pivec
We’ve been reporting about and warning of the dangerous teaching of Mike Bickle’s spiritual influence over young vulnerable students, many of whom are willing to give up everything just to come live at his campus at IHOP (International House of Prayer) in Kansas City. Now we have more testimony of the strange happenings. This personal story is very important. It was shared by a young woman named Ariel, who spent time as an intern at IHOP. It is reprinted here in its entirety, along with some signs to look for if you are concerned that someone you love may be involved with a cult. (Need more background in IHOP? Check out the related articles after Ariel’s story):
It was the year I turned 23.I was bright-eyed, excited and full of hope & anticipation.Sure, I’d been through some rough stuff, but I knew that the Lordwas the keeper of my life and I was heading into a new season of trusting Him deeper.
I was moving to Kansas City! My long-awaited (14 years) dream of being in Kansas City to be a part of Mike Bickle’s ministry which had now branched into an International House of Prayer was finally materializing into reality. I had big hopes and dreams and wanted nothing but to serve my God with everything.
Since I was 12 years old, my family and I had driven the 3 hour trek to Kansas City for conferences at the church Mike Bickle pastored at the time (It is known by various names as they changed at different stages: Kansas City Fellowship, Metro Vineyard Fellowship & Metro Christian Fellowship). My spiritual roots had, in many ways, grown from the times that I spent in these gatherings and what I felt God imparted to my life while I was there. I had been around…marinating in the environment for about 14 years; so I knew a lot about the history that led up to what is now known as IHOP (the International House of Prayer). I remember one of the first times Mike shared his vision for starting IHOP. Many left Metro with Mike when he stepped down as senior pastor to help support it’s start-up.
So fast forward…IHOP was still within its first 5 years of operation and I was captivated by what I saw and heard. If there was a “poster child” that endorsed IHOP and who was convinced it was the best thing going, that would have been me. I say all of this to lay a back drop for what follows.
A long journey and a lot of waiting preceded the decision to move to Kansas City. My family and I unanimously agreed that after much prayer, it was the right timing so we sold or gave away half of what we owned, packed up the rest and moved to the Utopia of what we thought would be the greatest spiritual adventure of our lives. I had a background in the arts…music, dance, etc and couldn’t wait to get involved so I could really feel like I belonged there…not just a visitor hanging in the periphery and coming for conferences. I wanted to get “in”.
When we arrived on moving day, the “community” we were hoping to be a part of and the support of those we knew from IHOP appeared to be quite lacking. We were told that to obtain moving help from IHOP, we had to hire them at a ridiculous hourly rate ($20/per person, per hour) which we could not afford. When the neighbors who lived next door found out that it was just us and we had NO help moving in, their family came over and helped us unpack our moving truck for approximately the next 3 hours–for no charge–just to be good neighbors. Oh…and did I mention they weren’t even believers? They had compassion on our predicament and carried boxes and hauled furniture without complaining once. They simply smiled and said “welcome to the neighborhood”.
The un-relational climate we had seen hints of in the past became rapidly obvious upon our relocation to IHOP-KC. There was a lot of talk about “community” but everyone I met was so tunnel visioned on “always being in the prayer room” that they didn’t want to socialize or make time to build real relationships with people. There was a relational vacuum and the disconnect I felt upon my arrival was overwhelming. This was a significant concern of mine and my family but we rationalized it away with “oh, we just haven’t been here long enough. Eventually, we’ll feel more connected and involved and we’ll see the relational community that IHOP advertises here. Just give it time.”
Within a month, I joined the One Thing internship (which is an intensive 6-month long internship program for 18-25 year olds). I had really felt it was what I should do and had the support of my family that this was a great thing for me. They also felt it was a great way for me to connect to the ministry we had all moved here to be a part of. So our family’s income tax return went toward the steep $4,500 tuition fee for the program and I came on board in August. I was full of excitement and felt that things were finally coming together for me. At least that’s how it appeared.
This is where it all began for me….
A cult? Strong word you might say…and you are correct. It is not a word I use lightly or carelessly to label anything. But much prayer, time and years of research and personal experience have brought me to the conclusion that I can say confidently that the root system–or foundation–that IHOP is built on follows the basic premises and signs of a cult religious group. When I first left IHOP, I went through a severe culture shock that is hard to put into words. When I began studying the signs of cult fallout and the things that cult members go through after leaving a cult, my eyes began to open to what I had been a part of and recently come out of.
Below I have listed some common signs of cult operation. Below them I cite in underlined text short examples of my personal experiences as IHOP which illustrates these particular signs in IHOP’s day to day practice. After 6 years of being out of IHOP I still hold to my position that it is a dangerous place for people’s hearts and I have seen much destruction of families, relationships and marriages of those who have been involved with this movement.
I appreciate your taking the time to read and prayerfully consider the research and personal testimony I have included below.
1. A destructive cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of its members’ behavior. Cults are likely to dictate in great detail not only what members believe, but also what members wear and eat, when and where members work, sleep, and bathe, and how members think, speak, and conduct familial, marital, or sexual relationships.
As an intern at IHOP, our day to day lives were closely monitored and dictated. I was not allowed to go anywhere or leave IHOP premises without express verbal permission from a community leader except on our one day off. Our schedules started early in the morning with hours in the prayer room, then classes, then back to the prayer room. Our nights often ran late with required attendance at EGS (Encounter God Services) or any other special event Mike spoke at that we were required to attend. Sometimes we had to attend worship sets that ended at 10 pm or midnight. Sleep was minimal and was often un-restful when I did get it. Sleep deprivation is a commonly used tactic in many cult groups to weaken the mind and make a person more susceptible to the embracing of the doctrines taught by that cult. There are many biological and psychological effects of sleep deprivation on the mind.
2. A destructive cult tends to have an ethical double standard. Members are urged to be obedient to the cult, to carefully follow cult rules. They are also encouraged to be revealing and open in the group, confessing all to the leaders. On the other hand, outside the group they are encouraged to act unethically, manipulating outsiders or nonmembers, and either deceiving them or simply revealing very little about themselves or the group. In contrast to destructive cults, honorable groups teach members to abide by one set of ethics and act ethically and truthfully to all people in all situations.
Anyone who rebelled against IHOP’s rules went through a strict disciplinarian process. At its most minimal level of discipline, for an intern, this meant the loss of having a day off and having to do manual labor. Everyone was kept on a short leash. We also had weekly groups as interns that we were required to participate in where everyone was“interrogated” and pressured to open up and share their personal struggles, etc and answer personal questions about their lives, struggles, thoughts, fears, and walks with G-d. It often felt like going to some kind of confession (as in Catholocism) and some interns out and out refused to be so vulnerable and disclosing in front of people they did not know. We were all given journals and told that we had mandatory writing assignments to complete. We were to record details of our IHOP prayer room times, things God spoke to us, dreams, visions, or whatever else that happened in us spiritually and then had to turn in our journals weekly to have an internship leader review/read them. In the last month or so I was at IHOP I paid particularly close attention to the fact that internship leaders ironically prayed things over me in prayer times or at the altar in the prayer room that related directly to things I had put in my journals. So what often might have seemed prophetic was the result of the information about me they already had access to.
3. A destructive cult has only two basic purposes: recruiting new members and fund-raising.Altruistic movements, established religions, and other honorable groups also recruit and raise funds. However, these actions are incidental to an honorable group’s main purpose of improving the lives of its members and of humankind in general. Destructive cults may claim to make social contributions, but in actuality such claims are superficial and only serve as gestures or fronts for recruiting and fund-raising. A cult’s real goal is to increase the prestige and often the wealth of the leader.
There were always an underlying pressure to bring people into IHOP. We were encouraged to invite others and get them to join what we were doing. IHOP campaigns big time to recruit new interns. At every conference, advertising and marketing videos are used to this day to promote the internships. They are played on large TV screens like presidential campaigns and are just part of the propaganda used to “sell” young people on this new version of what walking with God is supposed to look like.
Each intern paid $4,500 to attend a 6 month internship. This covered some books/teaching material we were given as well as food, lodging etc. Check this out though: Every intern lived in the Hernhutt apartments (located next door) which IHOP owned anyway so the only expense was utilities and general upkeep. There was no rent. Plus when there was a mandatory fasting day, weekend, week, etc. no meals were served. So those who didn’t choose to fast had to go out and buy food and no interns were not allowed to have jobs so this got to be a big expense since there wasn’t extra money to live on.
I lived in a 2-bedroom apartment. It housed 6 girls from the ages of 20-23. 4 of us shared one room and 2 shared another. The prayer room costs nothing to attend and is free and open to the public. So hmmm….$4,500 for meals, my electric bill and some IHOP books. I currently live in my own apartment, pay all of my own bills including rent, food, gasoline, renter’s insurance, credit card bills, student loans, electric, cell phone, etc etc and ALL of that costs me approximately $1,500 a month. So basic math says that someone was getting a big paycheck because my expenses would have never cost that in an internship program where we were given so little.
4. A destructive cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. The leader claims to be breaking with tradition, offering something novel, and instituting the ONLY viable system for change that will solve life’s problems or the world’s ills. But these claims are empty and only used to recruit members who are then surreptitiously subjected to mind control to inhibit their ability to examine the actual validity of the claims of the leader and the cult.
In the time I was there Mike often used “them and us” types of statements when referring to “the church” or those outside of IHOP. We were given a sense of being on the “cutting edge” because we were ahead of the church and were doing something new & innovative that was going to sweep the world. It all sounded good so everyone wanted to be in on it as a “forerunner” and liked the label of being on the front lines. So no one dared questioned it.
5. A destructive cult is authoritarian in its power structure. The leader is regarded as the supreme authority. He or she may delegate certain power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader’s wishes. There is no appeal outside his or her system to a greater system of justice. For example, if a schoolteacher feels unjustly treated by a principal, an appeal can be made to the superintendent. In a destructive cult, the leader claims to have the only and final ruling on all matters.
Our family became friends with a Jewish couple who were in KC for a conference. They were part of an orthodox Jewish congregation in Israel and were missionaries in the US. They had some grave concerns and red flags (regarding IHOP’s theology, the model that is used with everything IHOP related, etc) that they attempted to meet with Mike and discuss. After being brushed off by Mike multiple times in his refusal to meet with him…even though they were Jewish leaders from Israel and Mike knew of them, he finally told these friends of ours that “This is how we do things here. This is just how IHOP is. It’s not for everyone.” If there was something you didn’t like or didn’t agree with, you were basically told “IHOP wasn’t for everyone so if you couldn’t handle it, maybe you shouldn’t be here.” There was no actual accountability for anything deemed wrong/un-Biblical. We were told that IHOP has its own “culture” and you must assimilate into that culture and language to really understand it. If you had a problem with something, you were told that you just had not been around long enough to understand how they did things OR that you just weren’t a good fit. These were the answers I was given when I met with internship leaders right before leaving. There was never actual admittance of wrong doing or hurting anyone who was caught in the crossfire.
6. A destructive cult’s leader is a self-appointed messianic person claiming to have a special mission in life. For example, leaders of flying saucer cults claim that beings from outer space have commissioned them to lead people away from Earth, so that only the leaders can save them from impending doom.
Every intern was required to listen to the 12 hours of IHOP’s recorded history on CD footage. Much of this content was heavily edited before its publication. These tapes told of “prophetic words” and signs that were given to some of Mike’s mentors (Bob Jones, Paul Cain, etc)—who were all naming him as the leader of the next “big thing” God was doing. Over and over and over again I’ve heard it said (both directly by Mike as well as from others) that he (Mike) would be the leader of a movement that “changed the nature and expression of Christianity in the earth”. Every time, all recognition points to Mike. His “mission” to transform the church and capture the hearts of America’s youth has been his declared goal since the early 1980’s. One of the major dangers is that these grandious sounding claims and “prophetic” words are laden with flattery, narcissism, elitism and are a perfect guise under which anything Mike introduces through IHOP can fall under the heading of being a “new thing” God is doing.
This elitist teaching puts Mike on a pedestal and he has a Messianic-like devoted following of people who would do anything if he told them to without a moment of questioning or hesitation. From my observations and experiences on staff, IHOP members do not think for themselves or question Mike’s interpretation of scripture or the slant in the way he teaches it. At any conference, one will easily observe that if Mike recommends a book or promotes a teaching, a t-shirt or a speaker, at the next break, ALL of that item will be sold out in their bookstore. When I was on staff, I heard people continually sing Mike’s praises around the clock and quote more of what Mike says or thinks or teaches than actual scripture.
Mike has an alluring charisma and many seem to be instantly drawn to his convincing appearance of direction and purpose. He teaches with passion and emotion rather than truth and it’s that charisma that draws and hooks people causing many to blindly follow (and defend) his message.
I believe that the IHOP lifestyle by and large sets people up for disillusionment through the false hope that its deception provides. It is a pseudo, manufactured reality where people are told “you can live in Nirvana and enjoy the ‘high’ of being in God’s presence 24/7 and that can be ALL that you live for” so people sell all that they have, buy into a dream and move across the country to be a part of a ministry that makes captivating claims…and then their world often crumble to ashes when things aren’t as they seem once they arrive.
Mike’s primary target and focus is on the young people. His appeals from the pulpit and his well-polished speeches aim at capturing the hearts of America’s youth. Children and youth are not told or encouraged to respect or honor the parents G-d gave them. Instead, wedges are driven between families and a seed of pride, rebellion and elitism gets planted into the hearts of youth when they are told things like the following…
This is a very close paraphrase of what I’ve heard many, many times at One Thing, IHOP conferences and in teachings by leaders:
“YOU are called to be on the cutting edge. Come here and join a community of other people who are like you, called to what you’re called to. We understand you. You’ve been mis-understood in the church. You’ve had your wings clipped, your gifts misunderstood. Here you can fulfill your forerunner calling that your family just hasn’t understood about you. You might feel like you don’t fit back home, you’re on the outside, no one understands the fire in you. Well we get it. Youare the leaders that G-d is raising up in these end times and you will be kings and queens on the earth—reigning with Him. You were made for this place. IHOP is an incubator for people like you.”
Narcissistic speeches like this instill a sense of pride, arrogance and elitism in the hearts of youth who hear it and it feeds their need for validation and identity. They run to IHOP, leave their families, join internships…hoping that what they’ve heard is true. They go to IHOP looking for identity…instead of finding it in Jesus.
Once outside of the IHOP environment, they are terrified and overwhelmed by the “real” world and don’t know how to function in it when they’ve been in an intensive internship environment. There is a degree of re-acclimating to normal life that feels like an IHOP detox afterward. It’s a severe emotional drop because the hyped up services and conferences that were your manna are now gone and when there is no prayer room, your life in God feels empty and lifeless. Many simply don’t know how to engage with God in a real day-to-day basis once they’ve left. I experienced this and heard the exact same thing from a handful of my friends after they left IHOP and the internship. At that point when disillusionment sets in, I know many interns that walked away from God completely upon leaving the internship and went back into lifestyles worse than the ones they left when they came to IHOP originally.
7. A destructive cult’s leader centers the veneration of members upon himself or herself.Priests, rabbis, ministers, democratic leaders, and other leaders of genuinely altruistic movements focus the veneration of adherents on God or a set of ethical principles. Cult leaders, in contrast, keep the focus of love, devotion, and allegiance on themselves.
I believe my statements above illustrate this so I won’t be redundant.
8. A destructive cult’s leader tends to be determined, domineering, and charismatic. Such a leader effectively persuades followers to abandon or alter their families, friends, and careers to follow the cult. The leader then takes control over followers’ possessions, money, time, and lives.
Youth are pumped up at conferences and then go home to tell their parents they are moving to Kansas City to join IHOP, be part of an internship, etc. At the time, sadly, they don’t realize how much more they are giving up and leaving behind than just their families. I was hurled into a system that took control of my time, when I ate, slept, had time alone, etc. Picking up the pieces of my heart and rebuilding a Biblical view of God after getting outside of IHOP was quite a long process. I hope that by sharing all of this, I am able to spare others the heartache of what I went through.
You may or may not have been in a cult-like environment but here are some potential signs to watch for in safe/unsafe group leaders.
“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as wise and cunning as snakes but innocent as doves.” –Matthew 10:16
Research by Rick Ross,Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
9. The group/leader is always right.10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.
1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.
Please don’t just take my word for it. Start doing your own research. Ask the Father to lead you as you pursue what is TRUTH. Don’t just stop at the facts–look deeper. Do Google searches on cults and ask the Lord to unveil deceptions.
Blessings to you on your journey of walking with Him.
This is posted from the Bethel Church and Christianity Facebook Page. To date, the author has not been determined.
SAVED FROM THE DECEPTION OF CHARISMANIA
GOD SAVED ME AND BROUGHT ME OUT OF THE SIGNS AND WONDERS MOVEMENT
God saved me, and brought me out of the Signs and Wonders Movement, after being involved in it for nearly twenty-two years; I am now twenty-three years of age and have been saved for about a year and a half. This is my testimony, and in writing this I pray that God would use this to save others out of the movement that I was so heavily involved in, and that above all else, Christ will be magnified and made much of!
I was born and raised in the “Prophetic Movement” (which is now in the process of morphing into the “New Apostolic Reformation”), and I grew up completely oblivious to what Biblical Christianity is meant to look like. Some of the leaders who had an influence on how I perceived what the church is to look like, have included John and Carol Arnott of the “Toronto Blessing”, Rodney Howard Browne of the “Brownsville Revival”, and others such as Kim Clement, Benny Hinn, Chris Harvey, Todd Bentley, Bob Jones, Randy Clark, Patricia King, Georgian Banov, Bobby Conners, Mike Bickle, Lou Engle, and Bill Johnson.
In the fall of 2002 I ended up moving to Redding, California to get “plugged-in” to Bethel Church, which Bill Johnson (a self-proclaimed “apostle”) oversees. It was here where I ended up jumping into and entertaining the supernatural phenomenon, signs and wonders, and mystical experiences (which were falsely attributed to God) in a much greater way then I did when I was a kid growing up. I soon got involved in the youth group, which was heavily influenced by Lou Engle who heads up “The Call” and Mike Bickle who heads up “IHOP” (International House Of Prayer). I later enrolled in Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry in 2006, and went through the whole three-year program. I was heavily engaged and supportive of many of the things, which were being taught and practiced. When Todd Bentley and his, “Lakeland Revival” began to take place, I jumped on board with that as well, and became a full supporter and advocate for it. I was gladfully defending it against all the, “Religious Pharisees” (or so I called them at the time). It was also at this time that I noticed the, “Toking the Ghost” movement and became a “Toker” myself, and a full supporter of John Crowder and Ben Dunn.
However, when Todd Bentley’s affair was made public (August ’08), I ended up becoming grieved by what happened and by the poor response that was to follow. Shortly after the crash of the “Lakeland Revival” I received some severe rebukes for being involved with John Crowder’s and Ben Dunn’s “Toking Mania”, and so I withdrew myself from this aspect of the chaos. It was also at this time, while I was in my third year internship with Bethel, that I was starting to notice that things didn’t line up and I began to question the legitimacy of the Prophetic Movement.
First off, before I share my testimony of how God saved me and brought me out of this movement, I want to explain why I believe that Bethel is a cult, and not just on the charismatic fringe. Labeling someone or a group a “cult” is not a thing to take lightly and so I hope to explain why I believe this to be true with the Word of God. The following statements are examples of the beliefs and practices of Bethel, their school of supernatural ministry, and other ministries who they consider to be their friends and partners in revival. I will not be able to share everything that I was involved with, but in sharing some things I hope to bring some awareness to the dangers that this movement possesses, and bring encouragement to those of you who are praying for friends and loved ones who are entangled in this deception.
TO THE GLORIOUS PRAISE OF MAN AND A STRANGE FORM OF SINLESS PERFECTIONISM
Bethel has a really high view of man, and is extremely man centered. My understanding after being involved with Bethel for almost seven years, and after going through three years of their school of ministry is that they teach that man is basically free to choose good or evil, and that man isn’t all that bad. They would teach that man, prior to coming to Christ is a sinner, but even though he is a sinner he isn’t all that wicked. They would teach that if you pay your bills, don’t cheat on your taxes, and love your family that you are a good person. The leadership at Bethel is quick to impress this into the students who go to the School of Supernatural Ministry in the very beginning of their schooling. Kris Vallotton (a self-proclaimed “prophet”), who is Bill Johnson’s right hand man, would be quick to tell the students how amazing they are, and that they are not wretches or all that bad. It is taught that you are a child of God (which is true for those who are saved), so (by their definition) that means you are “royalty”, “amazing”, “kings” and “queens” so how can you be a wretch? Here is a link to a video clip that is on Kris Vallotton’s website, where he talks about the royalty of man, and how amazing you are.
*update video no longer available*
But the Scriptures say otherwise concerning the “goodness” of man. The Word of God says that all of man’s righteousness is like a filthy rag useless for anything at all. Isaiah 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” This is to say that all of our own efforts of “goodness” amount to disgusting garbage in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul wrote concerning men and their sinfulness. Romans 3:10-18 ““None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” Paul further writes Romans 8:7-8, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (More Scriptures concerning man’s total depravity: Gen 6:5, Ps 14:1-3, Ps 51:5, Jer 17:9, Ro 5:10-12, Eph 2:1-3) The Scriptures makes it clear that men are born with a sinful nature, and commit sin by nature and choice. Man is not good for the most part, with some sin, but rather man is totally corrupt and in love with his sin, and does not wish to part from his sin. For “no one does good, not even one.” men are naturally “hostile to God” and have a “heart of stone”(Ezekiel 36:26), nor do they naturally seek for God. People are not waiting to hear about the wonderful plan that Jesus has for their life, for they hate Him and are not submissive to Him (John 15:18-25). It is not until God does a saving work in the sinner’s life, (Jon 2:9, Jn 1:12-13, Jn 3:3-8, Jn 6:37, Jn 6:44, Jn 10:25-30, Ro 8:28-30, Ro 9, Tit 3:5) that the person is able and willing to seek for, submit to, and treasure God.
It is also taught at Bethel that once you become a Christian you are no longer a sinner. One of their “key verses” for this is taken from Romans 6:11 “So you also must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Kris Vallotton would take this and say that since you are “dead to sin” you are no longer a sinner. But the context of “consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” means that we are no longer enslaved to sin, to fulfill its lusts and desires, that it is no longer the thing that drives us, it is not that we are no longer sinners. Now, the leadership at Bethel does not teach that a Christian can’t sin, but rather they teach that if a Christian does sin it does not make him a sinner. In other-words (they would teach), if a Christian does sin it is because they believed a lie that they still struggle with sin. Here is a link to a video clip of Kris Vallotton talking about Christians not being sinners. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvS2kkIoyAs) What does scripture have to say about Christians being sinners? Are Christians still sinners? If we were to look at 1 John 1:8-10 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Scripture tells us we are sinners because, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If we claim to be sinless we lie and do not have the truth in us, or in other-words if someone was to truly believe that they are sinless then they are not truly saved.
Note on Video: [The fundamental error in Kris’ teaching is that he has missed the overriding context of 1 John. John writes to those who have made a profession of Christ (1 John 5:13) in an effort to assure them of their salvation. John does not write to non-believers as Mr. Vallotton suggests, therefore, he is guilty of allowing his presuppositions concerning sin and salvation to misleadingly guide his interpretation down an avenue that the apostle never imagined.]
SHAKE -N-BAKE WITH A SIDE OF KUNDALINI
Among one of the more common and heavily embraced practices would be that of getting “drunk in the Spirit”. This is where you lay hands on each other, pray for each other, or ask the Lord to get you “hammered”, in which people (including myself) would have experienced spiritual bliss, joy, and ecstasies. People would react differently to these experiences, some would fall down and not be able to stand, others would stumble around as if heavily intoxicated with alcohol, some would shake violently, and others would experience the blissful side of this but not necessarily exert any physical manifestations. Although, I do not doubt that their are those who would “fake” being drunk (I did this at times), this does not exclude the reality that people regularly experience spiritual highs when practicing this. One of the main “proof” texts for this is taken from Acts 2:1-15. “But others mocking said, “they are filled with new wine.””(vs. 13) and “These people are not drunk as you suppose”(vs. 15a) The defense for “getting drunk in the spirit” is that they were “drunk”, so they were drunk in the Holy Spirit (aka: falling down, laughing, twitching, and shaking), because people thought that they were drunk, and that is how drunk people act. But if we were to look at the text a little bit closer we would see clearly why they thought that they were drunk. We read in verses 1 -13, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing him speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians – we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “what does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”” There were those who thought that the disciples were drunk because they were speaking in tongues (foreign languages and dialects unknown to the speakers) “Telling the mighty works of God.” It was because of this that people thought that they were drunk. There is nothing about shaking and baking in the text at all!
These drunken manifestations that are experienced within the Prophetic Movement are identical to that of Kundalini. Kundalini is a practice found in New Age groups as well as eastern mysticism. These practices would include physical manifestations, such as jerking and shaking, and feelings of heat, energy, and pleasure. There is absolutely nothing in the Scriptures that even come close to supporting this practice at all! With this it is safe to say that getting drunk in the spirit is a counterfeit experience. Here is a link to a good video clip that Andrew Strom did on the Kundalini, and the manifestations of “drunkenness” found within the Prophetic Movement. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBpw2oQrvMM). The Scriptures warn us that people will turn away from the Truth and follow what is false: 2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teachings, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
WHEN SOLA SCRIPTURA IS NOT ENOUGH
Another common practice is for people to hear the Lord “speak to them prophetically”. In this movement and at Bethel in particular it is taught that the Lord is always and continually speaking to you (apart from the Scriptures), and all you have to do is “tune” in to the right station (like an FM/AM radio) to be able to hear from the Lord. Some of the different ways that they teach that you can hear from the Lord would include: audibly, open visions, angels, the inner-audible-voice (where you hear the Lord speak audibly inside of you, rather than on the outside), the still small voice (like that of a faint whisper), feelings (where you “feel” what the Lord is saying to you), and dreams. (however, compare that with Hebrews 1:1-2) They would say that all prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and comfort and that when you give someone a prophecy, you are doing so to encourage them and to help build them up. For Example: you would receive a prophetic “download” about someone and prophecy over them by telling them something that may sound like this, “The Lord really likes how you like numbers, so I feel like you have a grace on your life to be an accountant.” This is something that if you were to ask the leadership at Bethel about, or anyone who has been apart of Bethel for any length of time, that they would testify too.
This “continual speaking” also embarks into the arena of authoritative new revelations, or extra Biblical revelations. It is believed and taught at Bethel that the Lord is revealing new truths apart from what has already been revealed to us in the Scriptures. Bill Johnson has said, “The Lord wants to give revelation at a measure that has never, I don’t think has ever happened in the world before. The spirit of revelation is being released upon the church, but I’ll, let me tell you one of the things that makes room for the spirit of revelation to come, it’s the fact that we are willing to embrace mystery.” Here is a link to a video clip where you will hear Bill say this, and as well hear him expand on it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pfa_kj1NUk). For an actual example of extra Biblical revelation: Bethel recently had Cindy Jacobs (who is a self-proclaimed “prophetess”) come to Bethel on 09-01-10, which she gave a “prophetic word” over Bethel, about Bethel building buildings, being an apostolic center, and taking the media mountain (the “mountain” concept will be explained in the section “At The Root Of It All”). Here is a portion of Cindy Jacob’s “prophecy” over Bethel.“The apostolic team here will have to pray over this and unpack it and see what it will look like. There might be other buildings in-between and other ways. In order to do what you’re going to do, you are going to need a lot of buildings. Because the Lord says, “I am getting ready to build this apostolic network and many people are going to come and say, “I need to join.” And I am going to show you how to do this organically but yet put structure to it.” The Lord says, “do not fear to step out and do that. My people need a home and a place. I have put a heart in many that have the DNA of revival and healing and revivalists and miracles…. where will they find a resting place? There is a desire to find a resting place.” You can read the full transcript of this “prophecy” at this link
*update…no longer available*
While I was involved in the Prophetic Movement it was my experience that many people (yet not all) didn’t bother to read their Bibles on a regular basis, which was also the case for me. From what I observed I believe this was the case because it is believed that we need fresh words from the Lord, and the Written Word of God is not enough, and it is believed that you can’t walk in the fullness of your relationship with the Lord using the Scriptures alone.
The Scriptures do teach us that the Word of God is sufficient, 2 Timothy shows us of the sufficiency of Scriptures, that the Scriptures are enough, we do not need new revelation. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” The Scriptures are enough that one may be “competent, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teachings, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
2 Peter 1:16-21 “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. . [Peter is referring to his experience on the Mt. of Transfiguration (with James and John) when Jesus was transfigured and Moses and Elijah appeared] And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, [The exact meaning of “prophetic word” is described in verse 20 as “Prophecy of Scripture”.] to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” What the Apostle Peter is saying is that they have received something even “more sure” than the audible voice of God, transfiguration of Jesus, and appearance of Moses and Elijah… The Word of God! Scripture is enough and there is no need for new revelations whatsoever!
IS IT ALLWAYS GOD’S WILL TO HEAL EVERYONE?
One belief and practice that is heavily embraced and aggressively defended, is that it is always God’s will to heal everyone, and that if someone is sick it is against the will of God, and you have authority to take dominion over sickness, disease, and even death. One verse in particular, that is Bill Johnson’s and Bethel’s “hallmark” verse that is used in the defense of this is found in the Lord’s Prayer, Matt 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” So the defense goes that there is no sickness in heaven so there should be no sickness here on earth, there is no diseases in heaven so there should be no diseases here on earth. On earth as it is in Heaven. But if we were to look at this verse in its proper context it means that we are to pray that the Lord’s will be done here on earth. God is sovereign over heaven and His will is being expressed and experienced there, so likewise we are to pray that the Lord’s sovereign will be expressed and experienced here on earth as well. The Leadership at Bethel are also contending for a cancer free zone within Redding, California. Bill has said, “It’s really possible for Redding to be cancer free.” He also said, “It’s possible (for Redding to be cancer free) because it doesn’t exist in Heaven, and He said, “On Earth as it is in Heaven.”’ Here is a link where you can listen to a video clip of Bill saying these things (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4wwTw7ZOtk).
*update..video no longer available*
What is the will of God? John 6:32-40, “Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” It is God’s will that men believe in Jesus Christ savingly and receive eternal life!
Another widely used verse that is used in defense of it being God’s will to heal everyone is Matt 10:8, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”. This verse is usually used in conjunction with Matt 28:20a, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (this “defense” here was one of my favorite ones to use) Makes sense at face value, but if we go back and look at Matt 10 again, and in particular verse 5-6 we will see the setting for verse 8. Matt 10:5-6 reads, “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the hose of Israel.”” So if were to truly be faithful to Matt 10:8, we should only evangelize to those who are Jewish, and forget about everyone else. But this would be in violation of Jesus’ command in the Great Commission “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ”(Matt 28:19a).
It is also taught at Bethel, that physical healing is in the atonement for this life, so therefore it is God’s will to heal everyone. Strong defines “atonement” by stating: “The Scriptures teach that Christ obeyed and suffered in our stead, to satisfy an immanent demand of the divine holiness, and thus remove an obstacle in the divine mind to the pardon and restoration of the guilty.” (Strong, A. H. (2004). Systematic theology pg. 713) Bethel would use a portion of Isaiah 53:5 to support their claim, “with his stripes we are healed.” So it is said that the lashings Jesus received was for the purpose of physical healing in the believer’s life (the leadership at Bethel does not deny, nor would they deny that the problem of sin is dealt with in the atonement), and that if you are a Christian you are then entitled to have physical healing and divine health (where you walk your whole life and never get sick) as your blood bought right. Bill in his book Face To Face With God writes, “The sufferings of Jesus were realized in the persecution He endured and in the burden He carried for people. He did not suffer with disease. That must be removed from our idea of Christian suffering. It is vain to carry something under the guise of the will of God when it is something that He purchased that He might destroy its power over us. An additional concept to remember is that He suffered that we might not have to suffer. For example, He bore stripes on His body applied by a Roman soldier so that they could become His payment for our healing.” (Face to Face with God, ch8 Joy: The Reward pg. 172) Bill also writes, “None of us would say that He died for my sins but still intends that I should be bound by sin habits. Neither did He pay for my healing and deliverance so I could continue in torment and disease. His provision for such things is not figurative: it is actual.” (Face to Face with God, ch8 Joy: The Reward pg. 173) Is this the case? Is physical healing on this side of heaven in the atonement and thus a promise to be claimed for every believer? Let’s take a closer look at Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” What are the “stripes” speaking of? Reading the first part of the verse puts “stripes” into the right prospective. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace”. This is the type of healing that Jesus’ stripes” brought us. That He substituted Himself on the cross in the place of guilty vile sinners and bore their punishment for their sins’; He bore the holy righteous wrath of God in the sinners place, so that God could bring salvation to those He died to forgive. The Apostle Peter also echoes this 1 Peter 2:24-25 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Now, healing is in the atonement, however, the healing that Jesus (in His first coming) secured was spiritual. Perfect physical healing takes place in the resurrection of the believer, which, as is the case of the myriads that have already physically died, may come at some moment in time subsequent to death.
If you wish to look further into “with his stripes we are healed.” here is a link to a good article on Isaiah 53:5.
How Bethel would incorrectly view Isaiah 53:5 (as how I also use to incorrectly view it) also changes the nature of the atonement, because if physical healing was an absolute promise to the believer in this life, it stands to be true that if a believer isn’t healed of a sickness or infirmity, then they are not truly saved. To bring further clarity, you should be healed the moment you get saved, or at least begin a gradual process of being healed physically, if physical healing is [a promised blessing for all based on] the atonement [which is meant to be realized] this side of eternity. If you change, add to, or subtract from the atonement, then you swap out the Jesus whose shed blood paid the price for the salvation of His elect, for another Jesus. If you preach another Jesus you are then preaching another gospel. The Apostle Paul had some strong words for those who preached another gospel Galatians 1:6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” This is not to say that one by necessity must understand all of the implications of the atoning death of Christ, but one must understand why Christ died and what He died for. These are crucial to not trusting in “another gospel”.
Not only does Bethel and Bill Johnson believe that physical healing is in the atonement for this life, but Bill also believes that if you believe that physical healing is not a promise to be received or claimed in this life then you are preaching another gospel. Bill Johnson in a recent sermon he preached at Bethel on 08-15-10 entitled “The Real Jesus” said it like this, “I refuse to create a theology that allows for sickness” On this same note in the same sermon Bill tries to “illustrate” what he said by referring to Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), by saying “Paul refers to his thorn in the flesh, which has been interpreted by many, as disease allowed or brought on by God. That’s a different gospel. Jesus didn’t model it, and he didn’t teach it. And Paul said you can’t change the standard (Bill earlier in this sermon referenced Galatians 1:8-9).” Here is a link to a video clip of that sermon where you can hear Bill say these things (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhG1x4fOtBw), this part begins at the 3:19min mark. This is heresy! Why, is this heresy? Well, the question must be asked, who is the Sovereign? If God does not allow sickness or disease then who does? With Bethel having such a strong and overbearing emphasis on healing, it makes you wonder if healing is their god. Scripture itself is clear that God does indeed allow sickness, disease, and even death.
Exodus 4:11 “Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?””
Deut 32:39 “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god besides me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”
1 Samuel 2:6-7, “The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.”
John 9:1-7 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As Long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. This man who was blind from birth, was allowed to be blind by God, so “that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Now, I do believe that God can still heal today, and does still heal today. It would be in accordance to His will and not our will.
AT THE ROOT OF IT ALL
All of these things which were mentioned stems from a very heavy “Manifest Son’s of God” and “Kingdom Theology”, where the main thrust and goal of us being here on earth is for Christians to take dominion over the world in all “spheres of influence”, or what has often been called “The Seven Mountains” (business, government, family, religion, media, education, and entertainment). Bethel would teach that Jesus has commissioned us with delegated authority to take dominion over the earth and bring it to the highest level of perfection possible to offer up to Himself at His second coming.
The Leadership at Bethel teaches that we are to restore the earth to what it was like in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve fell. Bill would teach that when Adam and Eve fell that they gave up the “keys” of authority to Satan, and when Jesus died on the cross He took those “keys” back from Satan. Now that Jesus has the “keys” He has given us delegated authority to take dominion of the earth. Here is a link where you can read a chapter of Bill’s first book When Heaven Invades Earth, in chapter two entitled “Commission Restored” Bill writes about these “keys” of authority.
Bill Johnson in his book When Heaven Invades Earth writes, “Jesus destroyed the power of sin, sickness, and poverty through His redemptive work on the cross. In Adam and Eve’s commission to subdue the earth, they were without sickness, poverty, and sin. Now that we are restored to His original purpose, should we expect anything less? After all, this is called the better covenant!” (When Heaven Invades Earth, ch2 Commission Restored pg. 33)
Now, the Scriptures teach that the redemption of creation and our body’s is not for the temporal life, but the eternal life.
Romans 8:18-25 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [“the glory that is to be revealed” is contrasted with and distinguished from “the temporal life”. Paul expects believers to suffer in this present life. If Paul expects it, so should we.] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
The Leadership at Bethel also believes that God has given man delegated authority to be able to speak things into existence and declare what is not as if it was, by way of decree or declaration. One example of this would be that if there is a storm taking place, (like that of Hurricane Katrina) they teach that you have authority to still that storm, because Jesus stilled the storm when He was in the boat (Luke 8:22-25) and we can do everything He did, because He came as a man to show us what we can do!
Bill Johnson in his book When Heaven Invades Earth writes, “Jesus was sleeping in the middle of a life-threatening storm. The disciples woke Him because they were afraid of dying. He exercised authority and released peace over the storm. It was the peace of heaven that enabled Him to sleep. And it was that same peace that subdued the storm. You only have authority over the storm you can sleep in.” (When Heaven Invades Earth, ch5 Praying Heaven Down pg. 66)
Could it be that Jesus had authority over the storm because He is God? Could it be that God is the only One who could have stilled the storm, because He is the only One who is omnipotent?
Bill Johnson in his book Dreaming With God writes.
‘“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”(Prov. 18:21 NASB). With our speech we design and alter our environment. Realities are created that didn’t exist a moment earlier through simple proclamations. With this tool we can build up or tear down, edify or discourage, give life or destroy it. The declared word has the capacity to resource earth with Heaven’s resources. As reformers we must first pay attention to what we say, realizing that we are actually building the world we have to live in.” (Dreaming with God, ch9 Redesigning Our World pg. 157)
To go further down this trail Bill Johnson has also gone so far as to say that God is in “charge” but that He is not in “control”. Bill has said, “Not everything that comes at us is God’s will. We have confusion, one of our biggest areas of confusion in the church, is concerning the Sovereignty of God. We know that He is all powerful, we know that He is in charge of everything, but with that we make a mistake in thinking He is in control of everything. There is a difference from being in charge and being in control. If you think He is in control of everything then you have to believe that Hitler was His will.” Here is a link to a video clip where you can hear Bill say these things (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhG1x4fOtBw).
This “ Manifest Son’s of God” and “Kingdom Theology” mocks God, by placing a high view on man and a low view on God, rather then placing a low view on man and a high view on God, as it should be. The Scriptures clearly teach that God is the Sovereign and that man is not sovereign (Job 38-41), that God is in fact both in charge and in control.
Exodus 4:11 “Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?””
Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”
Isaiah 45:5-7, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.”
Isaiah 46:9-10, “remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purposes,”’
Daniel 4:34-35 “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”’
Amos 3:3-6 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?”
Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”
1 Timothy 6:15-16 “which he will display at the proper time – he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
God is the Sovereign; man is not. God is not powerless to act, and He is not desperately waiting for someone to enable Him to do something, He is not sitting in heaven longing for man to be “In control” or exercise “dominion” of the earth and bring it to a state of near perfection for His second coming. God is God, and man is not. Now, this does not negate away from the responsibility of man. Even though God is Sovereign, man is responsible to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15, Acts 17:30-31), go out and preach the gospel (Romans 1:16-17, 10:14-17), and Christians are called to step out in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) these are among a few of the things that man is responsible to do. How the Sovereignty of God works out with the responsibility of man is a mystery that can’t be understood, and it is a mystery that the Bible gives no explanation for.
WHAT ABOUT THE GOSPEL!? WHERE IS THE GOSPEL!?
The worst and most horrifying thing in all of this is that there is no gospel being preached at all! It is all about the signs and wonders and the stories of supernatural encounters and experiences. This creates a spiritual frenzy, that promises health, wealth, supernatural encounters and experiences, for anyone who “presses in”. This false portrait of Jesus can suck anyone in who wants to be wealthy and healthy (which is the desire of almost everyone who has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit), or anyone who is intrigued by the supernatural. (I should mention I don’t doubt at all that there are some people who are deceived in this movement who are truly saved) At the same time it creates a group of people who would deceive themselves and call themselves Christians, and yet are completely oblivious and hostile to the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ.
At Bethel there is no preaching on the Justice and Righteousness of God, and how God can’t let the guilty go unpunished. There is no preaching of the sinfulness of man, and how everyone has violated God’s standard. There is no preaching on the eternal conscious torments of Hell. There is no preaching of Christ and Him crucified. There is no preaching of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross paying the full penalty of the sins of those He died to forgive, that is penal substitution. There is no preaching of repentance and faith in Jesus’ name as the only basis for which one is justified and declared righteous in the sight of God. Bethel preaches a gospel that is deficient, useless, and powerless to save.
The “gospel” that Bethel does preach is somewhat hard to pin down, since it encompasses the whole package of Manifest Son’s of God and kingdom Theology. To explain further, they would say that God is good all the time (which is true), but what they mean by that is this, sickness and disease is not of God, so be healed. Lack of provision is not of God, so be prosperous. The earth does not look like what it did in the Garden of Eden; so go fix it, by releasing the Kingdom of God. Their “gospel” encompasses fixing and restoring almost everything on this side of eternity to a near state of perfection for Christ second coming, so that when Christ does come back the church can present to Him a near perfected earth. This is the Jesus that they would present to someone who may be lost. That if you believe in this Jesus your life can be restored into right relationship with God. That if you believe in this Jesus you can have good health, restored relationships, and abundance in needs being meant. They teach that if you believe in this Jesus you can have the “good life” now, which is what God wants for you, and you don’t have to live in separation from Him. This false and counterfeit gospel may soothe the appetites of some, but it won’t lead anyone to Christ in the least bit.
This is a different gospel then the one of Christ and Him crucified, paying the penalty of sin, for corrupt sinners and rising again on the third day showing that the wrath of God was satisfied with His vicarious death on the cross. Here is a link to a good video clip of John MacArthur delivering the gospel from (2 Co 5:21), (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZuVt7qWO80). Paul spoke strongly of those who would preach a different gospel. Galatians 1:6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” We also know that there is one gospel and only one gospel with no modifications, no new revelations, and no additions or subtractions to be received. “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to content for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3) “The faith”, not “a faith”, but “the faith” was once “for all delivered”, it is sealed, with no changes to be received or made at all!
Concerning the Gospel, Paul wrote Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘“The righteous shall live by faith.”’ The gospel is the power of God for salvation, not signs and wonders. Signs and wonders cannot cause a person to truly repent and believe (Luke 16:19-31, John 2:23-25, John 6) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, not by seeing signs and wonders. The gospel must be proclaimed, for sinners to repent and put their trust in Jesus Christ. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”’ Romans 10:14-15. This is why the proclamation of the gospel is so important, because “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
FALSE TEACHERS ARE THE ONES WHO BRING DIVISION
We also know from Scripture itself that it is those who teach falsely are the ones who bring division within the visible church, and are the ones who are enemies of the cross of Christ!
Romans 16:17-18 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
2 Peter 2:1-3 “But False prophets also arose among the people, just as their will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Jude 4 “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Jude 17-19 “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “ In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.”
False teachers deny Christ by preaching another Jesus, by making up for themselves an idol of their own imagination to suit their own lusts and passions. In doing so they blaspheme the One True God! Not only do they blaspheme God, but they are also spiritual terrorists! If you think about it, in history there were fascist dictators like Hitler and Mussolini who killed many people, but false teachers like Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, and others are a much greater threat then Hitler was! The reason why I say this is because Hitler and Mussolini were only able to kill someone’s body. Though, if someone was to die believing the lies that false teachers teach, they will spend an eternity in Hell, that is the second death.
Even Paul spoke strongly against those who would teach another gospel.
Galatians 1:6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Paul said that those who preach another gospel should be “accursed”, the Greek word for “accursed” is “anathema” which refers to devoting someone to destruction in eternal hell.
Confronting false teachers was not a job that was assigned to the apostles alone. For in the book of Jude we read.
Jude 3 “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Christians are “to content for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” and are to confront those who teach falsely (1 Th 5:20-22, 1 Jn 4:1, and Rev 2:2).
THE CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT I WAS NOT SAVED
IN THE MIDST OF IT ALL
While I was involved in the Prophetic Movement I was entertaining and practicing all these things and I had many supernatural experiences and encounters (which I falsely attributed to God), which at the time I perceived to be absolute evidence and proof that I was truly saved. In reality I was not saved at all; the fruit in my life was testifying to the contrary that I was actually saved. I was living a continual and habitual lifestyle of sin, without remorse, regret or genuine repentance. I was heavily involved with pornography, and watching it several times a week, if not at times daily. As well I had an ongoing struggle with rage and anger, which at times got violent. 1 John 1:6 says, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” This verse does not mean that if you stumble once or even twice then you are not a Christian, nor does it mean that the Christian is perfect, but rather it is referring to a habitual manner of walking or pattern, hence the words “walk” and “practice”. In short, it is not about perfection, but rather it is about direction. We also know from other passages in Scripture that it is possible for people to claim to be Christian and have spiritual experiences, but in reality they are not saved. We read in Matt 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” This is not the account of someone on Judgment Day who just out of the blue is claiming that they were saved, for the person is crying, “Lord, Lord,”. Nor is this of someone who was “once saved” then fell away (which is not possible Jn 10:25-30, Ro 8:28-30, Php 1:6, and 1 Jn 2:19) for the Lord responds with “I never knew you”, and not with “I once knew you, but I no longer do.” What will Jesus’ response be to the person who claims to be saved, but in reality was never saved? Jesus response will be “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Now, lawlessness is the practicing of sin (1 John 3:4-6). So, it is possible for someone to claim to be a Christian, but the fruit in their life testifies to the contrary, that they know not Christ.
HOW THE LORD BROUGHT ME OUT OF THE SIGNS AND WONDERS MOVEMENT
AND MY PRAYER FOR THOSE WHO ARE STILL TRAPPED IN THIS DECEPTION
The following March (2009) while I was still questioning the validness of the Prophetic Movement someone posted a video sermon of Mark Driscoll (whether or not you agree with everything that Mark says and does, their are good fruits coming from his ministry, regardless of the errors) on their Facebook page, and one of the people who rebuked me for “Toking” commented on it saying that Mark Driscoll was one of his favorite speakers. Because of his comment, and the respect I had for him, I figured that I would check it out. While I was listening to the sermon I realized that I had never heard preaching like this before, where it was straight bible, verse by verse, truth bluntly told. I was then hooked, and began to listen to several of Mark’s sermons a day (later on I found out about other ministers like John Piper, John MacArthur, and Paul Washer). It was around this time or soon there after that God saved me, that the Lord drew me to repentance and saving faith in Jesus’ name.
Never before this have I ever been told that I was really, really sinful. Never before did I hear of Original Sin, or the radical depravity of man and how everyone has violated God’s Holy and Righteous standard, and is thus fully deserving of God’s righteous and just wrath being poured out upon them. Never before did I hear of Jesus’ vicarious death on the cross, bearing the righteous holy wrath of God, paying the full penalty of sin for guilty vile sinners. Never before did I hear what the significance was of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead, that His bodily resurrection was proof that God accepted His perfect sacrifice. I was involved in the “church” for nearly twenty-two years, and I never heard the gospel fully preached!
Sure, I would hear biblical truths like, God is Holy and Righteous, Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, Jesus lived a sinless life, Jesus is fully God and fully man, Jesus died on the cross to forgive sinners, Jesus rose bodily from the grave on the third day, and Jesus is now seating in heaven at the right hand of God the Father. Even then, when these truths were mentioned, they were not handled with any real kind of value or importance. These truths were never mentioned together, and when they were brought up it was seldom, far and few in-between, as if they were potholes in the road that were carelessly bumped over!
The fact that I never heard the gospel before, even though I was heavily involved in a movement that professes to be Christian, was completely shocking and devastating to me. What has been even more baffling to me is that God would actually save a wretch like me. I am extremely grateful that the Lord would draw someone like me who was a false convert to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Why God would save me, or choose to save me is beyond my comprehension. For I know that there is nothing good in and of myself that would make God want to save me.
For a short while after God saved me I didn’t know what to make of Bethel and other leaders within the Prophetic Movement. I wasn’t sure if they were Christians who were just really fringe, or if they were plain cultic. After God saved me I struggled with this for a few months, hoping for the best, but at the same time fearing the worst, and I was not sure if I was just being legalistic about the whole thing. During this time period I began to attend Bethel less and less while I was finishing up the last month(s) of my third year internship. Very soon after graduating from the school, I left Bethel all together and began to search for a new home church. I am now at a wonderful Christ centered, Gospel-Driven church, which seeks to Glorify God in everything they do.
I am forever grateful that God would save an undeserving and ill-deserving wretch like me, and bring me out from the cultic chaos, and my prayer is that God would use this testimony to save others who are ensnared in the Signs and Wonders Movement. I pray that those who are truly saved within it would come out, and that God in His beautiful, kind grace and mercy, would grant others repentance and saving faith, and that they would come to see the Beauty and Majesty of Jesus Christ. Through it all, God would receive all the glory and honor and praise. To Christ be the glory, amen!
IHOP removed an article about Contemplative Prayer from their website. But look here… on mikebickle.org.
This removes any doubt about his involvement with mysticism and his desire for unity with the Catholic church.
Beware. Dangerous teachings follow from his Free Teaching Library
CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER – MIKE BICKLE
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Session 1 Contemplative Prayer: Journey into Fullness
Ephesians 3 is one of the great prayers of the New Testament. The ultimate prayer of the New Testament may
be the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, or the “High Priestly” prayer in John 17. We don’t really have to pick
between the two; we have them both. I really like the prayer in John 17. It’s Jesus’ final recorded prayer before
He went to Gethsemane.
Here in Ephesians 3 is one of the real pinnacle prayers of Paul the apostle. Ephesians 3 is one of the high points
in the whole Word of God in terms of apostolic revelation under the unction of the Spirit revealing the highest
things of God’s heart. There are few chapters in the whole Word of God that are equal to Ephesians 3 in terms
of the grandeur of what is in God’s heart for the human heart.
“FOR THIS REASON I BOW MY KNEES TO THE FATHER”
We’re going to look a little at this prayer. My goal isn’t to break it down line by line; I don’t want to do that.
There are plenty of good commentaries on Ephesians 3, but I want to draw attention to a couple of important
Paul said, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father” (Eph. 3:14). When Paul says, “For this reason,” he’s
referring to verses 1:13, and also verses 15-21. It’s the entire flow of what’s going on in Ephesians 3. There’s a
tremendous wealth of revelation before verse 14. That’s what’s on Paul’s mind, but he’s going to take all the
revelation of verses 1-13 and pray that it would actually come to pass, and that’s what’s on his mind when he
prays verses 14-19 and then makes that great statement in verse 20-21.
WHEN WE LOSE THE PROPHETIC VISION, WE LOSE THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER
I’ll paraphrase a little. “For this reason I labor in prayer; I bow my knees to the Father.” Let’s add the phrase, “I
labor in prayer and fasting with something in view.” Paul has a very clear vision in view when he labors in
prayer. The very thing that Paul had in view for the saints, for the believers in Ephesus, is what we have in view
when we pray in intercession for the Church and when we pray in intercession even for our own lives and the
lives of our friends and loved ones. There’s something in view; there’s a reason, there’s a vision, there’s
something that’s awakening our heart, that’s wooing us into the fullness of God’s heart.
I find that when people don’t have a reason, when they lose the reason—I’ll lay out the reason in a moment—
when they lose the reason, they lose the fire for prayer. I have never seen a people sustain themselves in prayer
that don’t have a greater and more sustained vision of what God wants for them. If you take away the prophetic
preaching of what God has for the human heart, you’ll lose the spirit of prayer.
I go places all the time and they say, “Teach us about prayer. We want to do some of the things that you men
are trying to do.”
The reason I say, “trying to do,” is because what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do are really two
different things. We’re trying to do something high; what we’re actually doing is—well, the phrase I use in
Kansas City is “little, rough, and ugly.” We’re endeavouring; we have a vision. For all of you who are leading
prayer ministries, the call to prayer always begins with a clear, regular presentation of the vision of what God
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has in His heart for people. When you lose the prophetic proclamation of the vision of what God has for the
church or the vision that God has for the individual heart, you’ll lose the spirit of prayer.
In the 1980s I travelled around, not very much, but a little, and they wanted to hear about it because I had given
myself to intercession, and I said, “If you don’t have a vision of a victorious church and a soul in the fullness of
God, you won’t have a prayer ministry in your church.” The vision of a victorious church is absolutely
paramount for night-and-day prayer.
RENEW YOUR VISION TO HAVE THE FULLNESS OF GOD
I love it when Paul says, “For this reason.” Again, he’s going backwards referring to the first thirteen verses, but
if there were a pinnacle statement it would be verse 19. We’ll get to that in a moment, but I’ll give you a little
hint: Paul said that we would be filled up to the fullness of God. That’s the vision right there. That’s the
ultimate reason. When we lose that vision, we lose the spirit of prayer, individually and corporately.
You want to renew the spirit of prayer? Renew the vision to have the fullness of God. What I want to do in this
first session is to go as far as I can and tell you some of my journey through Ephesians 3:19, to having a
growing conviction that God wants my soul to enter into fullness. Ephesians 3:19 unquestionably has been one
of the most important verses in my prayer journey in the last twenty years. “For this reason I labor in prayer”
(Eph. 3:14, paraphrased). “For this reason I do what it takes to position myself before the throne to press in. For
this reason I live a fasted life. I position my heart.” We will be a people of one thing because of a reason,
because of a vision.
He goes on in verse 15 and talks about the Father, “the God from whom every family in heaven and earth is
named” (Eph. 3:15, paraphrased). There’s a lot there, but I’ll move past that. He goes on to describe some of his
prayer theology. Why do we care about prayer theology? The name of this conference is “Passionate Pursuit.”
It’s really kind of a cool name for living a life of contemplative prayer; living a life immersed in the Holy Spirit.
What we’re really talking about is living a lifestyle of prayer, not just going to prayer meetings, but cultivating a
spirit of prayer in our secret history in God. The Holy Spirit is renewing this thing called “contemplative
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS RESTORING CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER TO THE BODY OF CHRIST
There’s no biblical definition for contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer has been defined differently by
different theologians in different generations of church history. I have my own definition; I’ll give you a
handout tomorrow and lay it all out. My definition is a little different than others. Of course, I’ve never met two
people who have the same definition of contemplative prayer. One thing is common: everyone talks about being
abandoned to God in the pursuit of it. There’s a clear Holy Spirit emphasis on the subject of contemplative
prayer. Maybe that’s a new term to you. Maybe you don’t know what I mean, or what others mean. I’ll be doing
most of the morning sessions. I’ll be talking line by line about what contemplative prayer is from the
perspective from history, and how the Word of God describes some of the dynamics of contemplative prayer.
One thing is for sure: the Holy Spirit is restoring this precious jewel in the grace of God to the Body of Christ.
We’re going to talk about what it is, why it’s important, and how to do it, because this is the God-ordained
means to enter into Ephesians 3:19 in fullness. Fullness is what we’re after. We’re after fullness. We want
everything God gives the human heart in this generation. We want everything that God will give the human
heart in this hour of human history. He will give more now than He did a hundred years ago; He really will. He
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will give the most in the generation of the Lord’s return. I believe we’re in that generation. Whether five years
or fifty years, I don’t know, but I believe there are people on the earth today who will see the actual appearing
of the Lord in the sky. I believe it’s closer to fifty years than to five years, but I don’t really know. I’m not a
date-setter. As a matter of fact, I believe date-setting isn’t just dangerous; it’s worse than dangerous. It’s
distracting. I believe we’re in that hour, and if it be true, if we’re in that final generation, whether we have
several decades to go or not, there are things that God has uniquely reserved for the final hour of natural history
called “the fullness of God.”
A BILLION-YEAR JOURNEY INTO THE FULLNESS OF GOD
The fullness of God in this age is nothing like the fullness of God in the age to come. As a matter of fact, the
phrase in verse 19 is kind of a difficult phrase for human beings to peer into: “the fullness of God.” I can just
imagine the angels saying, “Well, I would like to talk on that one for a few minutes.”
Isaiah 6 describes the seraphim. Billions of years from now, the seraphim are still there, right next to the throne,
still covering their eyes, still gazing,
overwhelmed by new discoveries, new discoveries of the beauty of God. Maybe they’ve been there for billions
of years. I have no way of knowing and I don’t care, but they’ve been there a long time. With one set of wings
they cover their eyes, overwhelmed at the new discoveries, the new flashes of power of the transcendent beauty
of God that overwhelms their being. For a billionth time they’ve gazed, and for a billionth time they’re
overwhelmed by new discoveries.
When I say fullness, I look around at the great cloud of witnesses and I admit I don’t have a clue what I’m
talking about. Let’s settle that, OK? “I’m a little man; you men know a whole lot more than I know, but what a
stunning phrase that God the Holy Spirit put in the Bible.”
There’s the relative definition, and of course there’s the absolute one, the absolute definition of the fullness of
God; a billion years into eternity we will still be discovering the inexhaustible ocean of God’s being. It’s
inexhaustible. I don’t know what to say about the absolute definition of fullness. I don’t think it’s my mandate
or my invitation in God even to peer into that in any significant kind of way, but on this side of the resurrection,
there’s a relative definition for fullness, for what God will give the human heart in this season of history.
The church in the Western world has so quickly abandoned our inheritance of the fullness of God, even in the
relative sense of the term. I don’t want to give up our inheritance for this hour of history. I want to be a man in
the midst of a people related to a whole company of people all over the earth, an international family of
affection that has Ephesians 3:19 written on its heart by the Holy Spirit. We’re going after this thing with all the
abandonment that the grace of God will give us. Business as usual is not OK. I’m not taking my cues from other
leaders in the Body of Christ who pat me on the head and say, “Settle down, you’ll be OK.” I don’t want to be
OK. I want an unrelenting pursuit after fullness, which is another way of saying hungering—hungering for God.
YOUR DESIRE FOR GOD IS GOD’S GIFT TO YOU
It’s the greatest gift that God can give you. Well, I don’t know if I want to say, “the greatest.” There are a lot of
things you can put in that category. One of the great things that God can give the human soul, the human heart,
is desire for Him. Your desire for Him is His gift to you. It really is. It takes God to love God. It takes God the
Holy Spirit. It takes supernatural activity to be abandoned to go after God in fullness.
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THE PARADOX OF HUNGER IN THE LOVE OF GOD
The problem with hunger is that hunger has tremendous pain and tremendous delight on the other end of it.
There are several very powerful paradoxes in the heart of the hungry for God. The very anguish we feel of
darkness and barrenness is really an expression of hunger and love. It’s the dark side of love. I don’t mean dark
in an evil sense. John of the Cross talked about the dark side of love. He spoke of dryness; he spoke of
experiencing the pain of barrenness that can’t bear accepting the status quo, but can’t have that for which we
yearn so greatly. In itself it’s the very work of love in the human spirit.
God has many reasons for what John of the Cross called “the wounds of love.” He draws us closer. We get
closer to the fire of His being. The closer we get, the more awakened we are in love, and yet the paradox is this:
the closer we get, the more aware we become that we’re outside of the fullness of the experience of love. We
feel the pain of being overwhelmed, and in the same twenty-four-hour period we feel the pain of feeling like
we’re groping, touching nothing. I’ve known them both in the same twenty-four-hour period. It’s like eating a
thirty-ounce steak after a twenty-day fast. In my tiny capacity, I know the pain of touching a little of God and
being so full and stuffed. “Oh, I can’t take any more. Stay Your hand lest You kill me.”
I haven’t had many of those, but I have had a few experiences where God’s revelation touched me. It was such
a small thing, but my capacity was so much smaller that it was like a big steak after a long fast. It was painful; I
said, “Don’t give me anything more for a little while.” Then, in the same period of time, even in the same
twenty-four-hour period, I felt like I was groping with nothing. It’s a strange thing, this thing called the grace of
God in the human soul.
THE GLORY AND THE GORE OF THE FULLNESS OF GOD
We’ll talk a little about the wounds of love. We’ll talk about John of the Cross, one of the contemplatives from
the sixteenth century in Spain, one of the great men of God, a man who touched some of the secret places in
God’s heart in union with God. God has raised him up as a statement—not infallible, not perfect, but his
abandonment to God is a rebuke to the modern church, because even that long ago God was giving these things
to the human heart.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the fullness of God is gory and glorious. I call it “the glory and the
gory”—the overwhelming delight and the horrible anguish of love happening in the same human heart. We’re
pursuing this together, not just in one place; I’m talking about the fellowship of the burning heart all over the
nations, from all different traditions in the Body of Christ. Millions of people are going after this thing. There’s
a certain fellowship around the burning heart of God that’s so precious and so dear. We don’t have to apologize
for the intensity of our desire for God. Probably everyone in this room lives in a context where we have to
apologize to other people for our intensity. That’s the way it works; it’s not a rebuke to anyone, that’s just the
way it works. We have to hide it. It’s almost like we have to pretend it isn’t really there, because even believers
in Jesus are intimidated, overwhelmed, and made uncomfortable by spiritual intensity.
I know God is raising up places all over the world where we can gather, little oases where we come together for
a few days; they’re going to be everywhere. They’re everywhere now. We come together and we drink from
this well a little. For just a few moments, we don’t have to have any facades. We’re weak, we’re broken, we
have intensity, we have a vision, we’re not entering into it, we’re failing, but we’re going, and we don’t have to
apologize for our failures, nor do we have to apologize for our vision and our intensity. We’re going for it. It’s
very important. When you preach on it and proclaim it, there will be those who make sure they watch and catch
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you when you fail. There’s a certain sense of, “Well, I won’t really speak my real heart.” Then there’s the other
group of people who feel so rejected and intimidated, you don’t want to say it to them either. Then there’s the
group that’s walking with you, hand-in-hand together, and there’s a little competition, so you can’t really go
there. We feel exhausted hiding it. It’s in the Bible, it’s the will of God, it’s the Holy Spirit’s activity and
ministry. We’re going for this thing. We’re going to be people of one thing.
JESUS DIGNIFIED THE WISDOM OF BEING A PERSON OF ONE THING
There are three primary verses I use when I talk about the people of one thing. I’ll probably quote them a half a
dozen times. These are three verses that are good to know.
Jesus said it. Most of you know the passage; in Luke 10:42, He’s talking to Martha about her little sister, Mary.
He says, “Martha, your little sister does this one thing” (Lk. 10:42, paraphrased). He uses the phrase, “This one
thing.” Jesus dignified before the human soul the wisdom of being a person of one thing. We don’t have to
apologize for being a man or woman of one thing.
King David spoke in the same spirit in Psalm 27:4. We all know the verse. King David said, “This one thing: I
gaze on His beauty” (Ps. 27:4, paraphrased). Jesus said it to Mary, and it doesn’t get any higher than that; He
was describing Mary’s heart. Then we have David saying, “This one thing.”
WE DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN THE AFTERGLOW OF YESTERDAY’S VICTORIES
Then we have Paul the apostle: “This one thing I do” (Phil. 3:12). He said,
“I forget and I press. I press for the goal, the prize of the upward calling. I press. This one thing I do: I forget
my victories, I don’t boast in them. I forget my failures, so there’s no condemnation. I push delete on yesterday
and press, press, press. This one thing: I press for the upward call. I press in.”
I care about yesterday’s victories in the sense that they’re important to the Lord, but I don’t want to live in the
afterglow of yesterday’s victories. Do you know what? I don’t want to live in the backfiring, so to speak, of
yesterday’s defeat. I want to press in and forget. “This one thing”: I press. We’re going to be a people of one
thing. We have to be a people of one thing to enter into fullness.
“STRENGTHENED WITH MIGHT THROUGH HIS SPIRIT IN THE INNER MAN”
In Ephesians 3:16, Paul explains why he’s pressing; he explains why he’s laboring in prayer. Why are you
laboring in prayer? What’s the reason? Why do you posture your heart to receive everything God has? Why are
you endeavoring to be a people of one thing? These phrases are so filled; you could go on and on. I’ll skip some
of the really important stuff and just get right to the very mountaintop: so that you would be strengthened with
might on the inside.
Paul said, “I fast and pray for you for one primary thing to happen: that the might of God would be released into
your inner man.” He qualifies it in very glorious ways and he gets insight through the Holy Spirit.
POSITIONING OURSELVES TO EXPERIENCE THE MIGHT OF GOD
There are many, many things to say about this. Basically, it takes God to love God. It takes the power of God to
be abandoned to God. We need the might of God touching our human spirits. I want to be a man of prayer, not
because I want to prove that I’m dedicated. Many of the people in the false religions have tremendous devotion,
and they’re trying to create a reputation in the land that they’re devoted. I don’t care about devotion for the sake
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of devotion; I’m desperate in my weakness for the might to touch my spirit. I need might on my spirit, because I
want to go somewhere and I can’t go there without might, divine might. I can’t go there by reading books about
it; I can’t go there by hearing your story. Your story can encourage me, but there’s only one way I can go
forward: through the escort of the Holy Spirit, releasing might to my inner man. That’s very important.
A lot of people put the primary emphasis of their life upon the increase of their ministry. We need to put the
primary emphasis on receiving might that touches the inner man. We read books about might, we write books
about might, we go to conferences about it, we argue about it, we do everything except for positioning ourselves
to experience the might of God in the inner man. No one can fake this. No one with wisdom would want to. I
don’t want the reputation of it; I want the reality of it in my secret life. In all of thy getting, get the might of God
upon your spirit.
LIVING IN THE FIERY REALITY OF THE HEART OF GOD
It’s the very thing that Paul would go on and say later in Ephesians 6:10. He said, “Be strong in the Lord and in
the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Oh, what a sentence. He goes on to talk about spiritual warfare, and he
references this verse in verse 16. He says, “This might will bring you to new heights of God in your heart, but
also it will equip you to free others in warfare” (Eph. 6:16, paraphrased).
FEELING AND MOVING IN UNITY WITH THE HEART OF GOD
This might isn’t something you can fake. It isn’t a certificate you hang on the wall; it’s something you receive
in your secret life in God. Again, I don’t want to have the reputation that I’m devout and have a prayer life. I
want living reality when all you guys are gone. I don’t want to be an echo; I want to be a voice. I don’t want to
memorize phenomenal clichés of mighty men and women of past days; I want to live in the fiery reality of the
heart of God. That’s my destiny. That’s your destiny on planet earth. It isn’t enough to get the best clichés and
say them and write books on them and get materials and be eclectic and put it all together and have people say,
“Wow,” and buy the book. It means nothing. No devil or angel will be moved by your book. I want the kind of
thing that moves things in the spirit.
The demon said, “Jesus we know and Paul we know, but who are you men” (Acts 19:15, paraphrased)? I want
to make an impact in the Spirit, but I want more than that. I want something more than just moving angels and
devils. Daniel in Daniel 9 bows his knees and prays and angels start coming. Angels were set to flight by the
movements of a man’s heart on the earth. That’s massive to me. That’s massive. Demons were set to flight by
the movement of a man’s heart on the earth. It’s impact in the realm of the Spirit, but there’s something more
than that. It’s our destiny, it’s our dignity, it’s who I am, to feel and move in unity with the heart of my God
forever—not just in eternity, but now. It takes might; it’s the might of God. That might of God is more than just
gently pushing people down in prayer lines, maybe saying, “I didn’t really push you,” and having a little debate
afterwards. This is might on the inside of me that no devil can touch and no religious argument can steal. They
can put you in prison, but the might that’s on the inside neither rust nor moth can destroy. It’s on the inside of
you. The martyrs took it to their deaths, and they took it into the resurrection with them. The might of God is
our number one inheritance, the internal might of God.
It takes God to love God. I don’t mean just the power over demons; I’m talking about the ability to have a weak
human heart soaring in the realm of power and light, in the realm of God himself. I like what Paul said in
Ephesians 3: “I labor.” Look at verse 14, “I’m fighting for you in prayer. I know the value of might. In all of thy
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getting, get this might. Don’t be content in faking someone out. Don’t be content with a reputation that you
have it. Get it. I’m fighting for you in prayer to have it” (Eph. 3:14, paraphrased).
This is the very thing that Paul fought for in prayer. He wrestled through the night that he would be in his own
vein. It’s a radical lifestyle change. When we have the vision of divine might, beloved, there’s nothing you
won’t do with the clear visions God wants to give you of divine might.
THE LIGHT AND THE DARK SIDE OF FLOWING IN LOVE
Know this: the divine might of verse 16 is just one of the important ingredients to the fullness of verse 19. It’s
about fullness. We’re after fullness. We’re not just after might in itself; might is indispensible to experience the
fullness, the fullness of our heart moving in union and intimacy with God’s heart. It’s the quest, the hunger for
fullness. Remember, that hunger is God’s gift to you. That hunger has overwhelming delight and the anguish of
feeling abandoned and barren. There are two sides of love when we move in the spirit with our weakness. God
uses the one overwhelming love to absolutely empower us and draw us. He uses the hiding of His face for the
sake of love, in order to produce meekness and tenderness and dependency, so that in our victory we don’t get
raised up in pride. He uses both sides of love. John of the Cross calls it the light and the dark side of flowing in
love of God. Again, dark in this context doesn’t mean evil; it means that God hides the release of it from our
feeling it. It’s there. It’s true for every single person in this room: if you lose your anguish to have more of God,
you’re already going backwards.
Our anguish to experience God more isn’t from the devil. Think about it: the devil didn’t give you anguish for
God. Your anguish to experience more of God isn’t a deed of the flesh. It isn’t just a religious spirit. The flesh
doesn’t produce anguish to know more of God in the human heart. It isn’t the devil, it isn’t the flesh; it’s the
work of God in you and in me.
I talk to people all the time. They say, “It’s so horrible; God is so far away.” I’m smiling and they just want to
reach over and hit me. “What are you smiling about?”
I say, “You didn’t have that anguish years ago. Years ago, you never thought about it. Look at how different
you are. Look at what has happened to you. You used to hurt because someone didn’t like you. You weren’t
popular or famous or rich; you weren’t this, that, and the other. Now you’re in anguish because you can’t
discern the invisible presence of God. You’re in anguish over it. Where did that come from? It didn’t come
from the devil; it didn’t come from the flesh. That’s the token of God’s hand upon your heart. Stay with it. Get
into a marathon pace. Don’t evaluate yourself; don’t evaluate others. Don’t compare; just keep going after it and
you’ll have both sides of it in different seasons. Even in the same twenty-four hour period we have both sides of
“THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS THROUGH FAITH”
In verse 17 Paul says, “When this might touches you, there’s something that happens: Jesus dwells in you”
(Eph. 3:17a, paraphrased). Let’s say it a little differently: it’s the manifest presence of the Godhead upon your
emotions. He isn’t talking about Jesus dwelling within you at the new birth. These Ephesians are already
believers. They’re already pretty fervent believers. Is what sense is Paul praying that Jesus would dwell in
them? They’re already born again, and they already have the Holy Spirit’s ministry operating in them. He isn’t
talking about initial experience; he’s talking about what Jesus said in Revelation 3:20 when He stood at the door
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of the Laodiceans. He said, “I’m knocking because I want to come into you and dine with you” (Rev. 3:20,
paraphrased). He’s talking about a manifest presence in the midst of believers.
JESUS CHANGES OUR EMOTIONAL CHEMISTRY THROUGH DIVINE MIGHT
Instead of the word dwell, put the words, “Jesus manifesting His presence on your emotions.” Again, there’s the
release and the withholding as expressions of His presence on you. John of the Cross called it “the dark night of
the soul,” or, “the dark night of the senses.” He had two different terminologies.
Beloved, my weak heart is cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Its own frame and its own design are weak. The very
emotions of the Godhead are resting on us, just a little. Jesus is moving, expressing His personality through
your personalities, in little tokens, but a little goes a long way. Paul tells us that when divine might touches you,
the manifest presence of God changes your chemistry. You’re not perfected in one release of divine might;
that’s not what he’s talking about. There are things I love now that I hate, and there are things I used to hate that
I now love. That’s Jesus changing my emotional chemistry through divine might.
Verse 17a brings you to verse 17b. Notice the word that. There’s a purpose, a divine logic, and it not only
motivates Paul in his prayer, it enables him as he trains the people in how to move forward in God. He says,
“Number one, let’s fast and pray to release might on your spirit. Might will bring you into an emotional
chemistry change, Jesus dwelling on the heart. He will cause you to be rooted and grounded in love” (Eph.
This is an agricultural and architectural metaphor: “rooted and grounded.”
He’s talking about the foundation of building. These are two of Paul’s favorite metaphors when he talks about
the cooperation of the Holy Spirit in the human will. I don’t want to go into that right now, but they’re brilliant.
They’re magnificent. I’ve done some study of people who have had great understanding of these metaphors in
different commentaries. It’s a brilliant piece of wisdom.
Let’s just say this: “awakened inside.” Not only are we feeling God’s love, not only are we feeling God’s heart
for ourselves and having some of those moods begin to change a little, but we’re actually beginning to be rooted
and awakened in love. The very love of God is imparted, and it’s profoundly a part of who we are now. It’s a
permanent change in our being. It’s something that we will have forever and ever. It’s tokens of His presence
that take root in our being. They don’t go away. We can quench His presence, but there’s a place where we’re
rooted and grounded. There’s a place where it becomes a permanent part of our being, a part of who we are.
We’re lovers of God.
TO THE MAN OR WOMAN WHO HAS LOVE, EVEN MORE WILL BE GIVEN
Then he goes on and he says, “Now, when you’re awakened to love, when it becomes a permanent part of who
you are, even in immaturity, you’re a lover of God” (Eph. 3:17b, paraphrased). He says, “When you become a
lover, there’s no one who understands love like a lover.” This is the principal of the rich getting richer. This is
the principal of Mark 4:24, where Jesus said, “Be very careful what you listen to, because to him who has, even
more will be given besides” (Mk. 4:24, paraphrased). To the man or woman who has love, more is given. It’s a
strange dynamic; the very impartation of love is what equips you to grow in the ocean of love. To the man or
woman who has initial experiences, God says, “If you stay with it, it enlarges your capacity, and you go on into
that vast, inexhaustible ocean.”
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The lover comprehends love like no one else. I love to teach on the Father heart of God and the passionate heart
of the Bridegroom. It’s the first person of the Trinity, the tender Father. It’s the second person of the Trinity, the
passionate Bridegroom. There’s something about the Father’s tender love and the Bridegroom’s fiery love;
there’s something about it that just throws us into another realm in God.
You tell that message to a sincere believer who’s not rooted or grounded in love, and they look at you and say,
“Huh. That’s cool. Anyway, let’s go on to build the church and do this.”
You say, “Stop. It’s more than cool. The Godhead is in love with you.”
They say, “Yeah, that’s neat. I really like that.”
Anyway, we’re thinking about the outreach next week, and they don’t grasp it at all. It takes the heart of a lover
to be introduced into the new realms of God. I began to devote a bit of energy to the revelation of the Father and
the Bridegroom, and I thought I was really going somewhere. Now I know I’m not. As I began to give myself to
it, I began to rework in my heart a little of the rooting and grounding in the revelation of love. It begins to be a
small part of who I am, not just an insight that touches me here and there, but part of the fabric of my being.
That’s what equips you to see the ocean, the realms of love far out beyond. The introductory experiences of
love, the experiences of falling into love on the front end, are what prepare you for the inexhaustible ocean, the
deeper realms of God.
It’s like the aerospace mathematician, or whatever his name was. He was in fifth grade, and he was number one
in the class in multiplication. He really thought he knew math. He said, “I was number one in the class. I knew
math. Then I went to college and got into calculus, and boy, I really knew math.”
Now he’s seventy years old. This is a made-up story. You go to the man and say, “You really know math.”
And he says, “No, no, no, I really don’t. I thought I knew math when I was ten, twelve, fifteen, and twenty years
old. I don’t know any math. I understand that there’s a world of math out there. I don’t have a clue how those
galaxies relate to one another. I don’t know anything.”
The further I go in this, the clearer it is that I’m one inch out of the water, at most. I thought I was in Ezekiel 47,
overflowing in love. As years go by I have the opposite experience of Ezekiel. He started at the ankles, and he
went to the knees, and the loins, and finally to overflowing. I thought I was overflowing a few years ago. The
line was up to here. A few years later, I said, “I guess I’m only up to here.”
A few years later I said, “Man. I’m in wet sand and the water is just a few feet away. I’ll be in that water in just
a short while.” The sand is wet. I look for it carefully; my heel is in dry and my toes are in moist sand. That’s it.
I had the reverse experience of Ezekiel. That’s what’s going on here. In other words, it’s the introductory
experiences of verse 17a that prepare us for the greater dimensions of love in verse 18: the width, the length, the
depth, and the height, comprehending the inexhaustible thrill of the ocean of love. I can say this, and I admit it:
I don’t really know what I’m saying, but I know there’s a universe of math out there. I can understand that
scientist in the space department who knows that he doesn’t understand math. I understand what he means, just
a little. I know just enough to know that there’s a world I have no comprehension of at all.
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Paul tells us this: when you begin to comprehend some of the depth, some of the deep stuff, then the
comprehension of verse 18 turns into the experience of verse 19. Instead of the word know, put the word
experience. Instead of the word know, put the words, “intimate experience.”
“FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST COMPELS US”
Paul says, “This love compels me. It drives me from one prison to the next. They beat me, they threaten me, but
this thing is alive in me. I can’t stop, and they tell me they’ll beat me again” (2 Cor. 5:14, paraphrased). He
says, “I’m driven by the experience of incomprehensible love. I know the logic. If I go to the next city, I’ll get
hit really hard again.”
“I say, ‘I’m not going. I’ll send Timothy!’ Then I get quiet and that volcanic thing happens in me, that divine
compelling, and I say, ‘I’m going, because the power on the inside has more force than the pain of the beating
on the outside.” This is the secret of the martyrs at the end of the age: the intimate knowledge.
Then verse 19 is the ultimate. He says, “Why? So that in the relative sense we could have all that God will give
the human heart.” That’s what contemplative prayer is about. Well, I have to measure it a little, but this is one
of the really classic chapters on contemplative prayer.
Again, tomorrow morning I’ll have some notes for you, and I’ll talk about some definitions and some pathways
to contemplative prayer. A few more ideas and then I’ll pray for you.
The pathway to contemplative prayer, to the inward life, is enjoying intimacy with God. It’s more than
intercession, more than praying for the sick. Oh, I love those. This isn’t for the faint of heart, this journey. You
can be weak; I’m really weak. If the weak are invited, I qualify.
There’s a strange thing going on in the land today. The Body of Christ has a billion in the earth. It’s a very
small number. The Protestant wing of the Western church is nearly 98 percent unaware that the Holy Spirit is
restoring contemplative prayer, bringing it center stage to the Church.
I come and go. I don’t ever want to be a know-it-all hot shot, and go somewhere; I don’t even know what’s
going on. I don’t even want to do that stuff. I want to get might and be lost in love. I don’t want to be one of
those, “I know more than you know” people. I’ve tried that, and it wore me out. It’s so exhausting. Then you get
the tar beat out of you, because their spirit is as feisty as yours. It’s a huge waste of time. Anyway, the Western,
Protestant end of the Body of Christ is almost entirely unaware of this.
DO WE CALL THEM “CONTEMPLATIVES” OR “MYSTICS”?
Do you know who picked up on it? Of all people, it was Barnes & Noble. I don’t know if they have a prophet in
there, or if they have really smart entrepreneurs. I don’t know when this happened; it may have been five years
ago. I’m one of those guys who go get the Starbucks, sit in the chair, read the books, and don’t buy them.
Sometimes I accidentally mark in them, and then I have to buy them. Anyway, I like the whole Barnes & Noble
deal. I’ve been going there for ten or fifteen years. First there was a book on prayer here and there; then they got
this big religious section, and then there were one or two books on contemplation. They call them mystics. I
don’t use the word mystics, even though it’s a legitimate term. I don’t want to fight that war. There were so
many people who use the word mystics who were so off. I don’t want to argue for them. I don’t want to say who
was and who wasn’t, so I’m just saying, “contemplative prayer,” but I mean the mystics.
CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER – MIKE BICKLE
Session 1 Contemplative Prayer: Journey into Fullness
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Free Teaching Library http://www.MikeBickle.org
Even in our work here at IHOP-KC I say, “Let’s just stay with contemplative.” Again, there were plenty of
people who were really in profound error who somehow ended up on some list of the great mystics. We’re just
lovesick for Jesus. We just do Jesus. I don’t know what groups do what, but we’re really going after the Man
Christ Jesus under the grace of God the Father by the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to go into the semantics, the
debates, who was and who wasn’t, because they’re all lumped together in one giant category. It’s sad to me,
because it obscures the glory of what’s in front of the Body of Christ. I call them contemplatives. It isn’t wrong
to use the other, but I have limited time for arguments. I don’t have time to go there.
EVERYONE IN THE BODY OF CHRIST IS CALLED TO THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFESTYLE
Anyway, I went to Barnes & Noble, and initially there were five books on the mystics, the contemplatives. Then
a year went by, and there were thirty. I said, “Oh,” and my stack was getting bigger. A year went by, and there
were 200! I said, “Someone is figuring something out.” Then there were 500. I’m making up the number, of
course. There were shelves of them. I said, “Who is figuring this thing out? How come the leadership of the
Body of Christ isn’t figuring this out? Why is Barnes & Noble prophesying to us?” I don’t know if they’re the
true prophets. I don’t know if they’re Balaam’s buddy prophets. I don’t know who’s picking up on it, but it’s
the word of God. It’s God’s heart.
Where are the leaders? Where are the evangelical leaders who are calling the Church? We have Richard Foster;
he’s been doing it for years. You have a few here and there. You have Dallas Willard. There are a few.
I said, “Lord, let’s go for this.” My prayer is that you would get clear in your soul that this is a now word. This
is a kairos hour. We’re in a time frame where God is speaking the call to contemplative prayer, and to lives of
contemplative prayer. I don’t mean that you leave your jobs to do it. Some of you will do that. God is calling
everyone. Everyone in the Body of Christ is called to live in the contemplative lifestyle—everyone.
That’s one of the great strongholds we have to overcome. People think, “Well, if you join IHOP-KC or if you
join a monastery or if you can go out into the desert, you can do it.” No, it’s for people who work fifty and sixty
hours a week; they have three and four and five children and more. It’s for people in prison. It’s for people in
discouragement. It’s for people in all walks of life who say yes to Jesus. We have to get rid of this lie that it’s
only for people who quit everything and go to a mountain. We have to get over that hurdle. Barnes & Noble is
prophesying it. Hurdle number one is this: we have to understand that contemplative prayer is everyone.
Everyone is called to the fullness. Ephesians 3 wasn’t written for one half of 1 percent of the Body of Christ in
history. It was written for the whole Body of Christ in all of history. It’s written for people with jobs and
families and neighborhoods and pressures. Ephesians 3 is for everyone, and I’m not going to let the devil steal
it from me or those who will listen to what I’m saying. We’re all going to go into this thing.
CHURCH HISTORY DIDN’T BEGIN WITH MARTIN LUTHER
There’s another hindrance that’s bigger than that. It’s a very, very important hindrance we have to dismantle. I
say we, but the vast majority of this room is Protestants. A lot of us think that church history began in 1517. We
think that when Martin Luther went and nailed those Ninety-five Theses on the door of the church in
Wittenberg, church history began. It didn’t begin with Martin Luther. Church history has been going for 2,000
years, not 500 years. Some of the brightest lights in all of history were blazing a thousand years before Martin
CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER – MIKE BICKLE
Session 1 Contemplative Prayer: Journey into Fullness
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Free Teaching Library http://www.MikeBickle.org
I understand the reasons, but I’ll take liberties and not be totally honest here: historians call that period of time
“the dark ages.” There are good reasons for that, but forget those good reasons for a moment and let me say this.
The brightest lights in history were man and women of abandonment in the dark ages. Somewhere we have to
say, “The dark ages with luminaries in the grace of God.” We don’t count them: they were Catholic priests; they
can’t be bright! It has to be the dark ages. We’re Protestants.
I tell you, I haven’t studied it intensely, but certainly with more than a casual interest. I’ve studied the lives of
the mystics and the contemplatives through history. Clearly, the most inspiring, compelling examples in my
world have come out of the Catholic dark ages. I can’t find anything like it in modern times in America in the
“We can’t do that, because don’t they do those other funny things?” Well, some of them might do some funny
things, but I guarantee you that when you stand before the Lord, you’ll understand that you did some funny
things too. It’s this idea that we have to find the group that doesn’t do anything funny—where are we going to
go? Not to Kansas City, that’s for sure. I really mean that.
I love what Paul Cain says: “Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” We have to be able to go and
receive where God has rested His presence in history, and some of our examples will have Catholic roots in
history. You don’t have to accept all the dogma of the Catholic church to receive the inspiration of lives of
abandonment today—lives that we know of, lives that burn today. We need a little Holy Spirit, catalytic jump
start. We need to see where a few have gone before us and say, “If they did it, we can do it, and more,” and if
you want to go deep in that way, I’m sad to say, the vast majority of your roots in history will be Catholic. You
don’t have to accept all the dogma of the Catholic church to receive the inspiration of lives of abandonment. I’m
not intimidated by that.
I have books by Protestants and Catholics; we’re getting them out there. I don’t tell people, “Wait until it’s
perfect before you read it.” I have very few books that are perfect. I say, “Use discernment. Read the Bible with
discernment, and read and know what part is in the Word of God, and be inspired and move forward.”
THE EARLY EXCITEMENT AND PROMISE OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT
I’ll give just a little of my history. I’m out of time. I met the Lord in 1971, thirty years ago this summer. After I
met the Lord I was involved in a fiery youth group. The youth group grew from about 200 to about 1,200 in a
single year in the midst of the Jesus movement. Some of you remember those times. How many of you can
remember the early 1970s, when the hippies were all coming in? Everyone was getting saved, and the numbers
My leaders were leaders in Campus Crusade, and they told us all about prayer and revival and evangelism and
the Great Commission, and we loved it. We fed our lives on the missionary biographies. We had a vision to go
hard. Then, after we did the evangelism thing for a few years, we figured out that it wasn’t working very well.
We wanted to go win the world, but almost no one was responding after the wave of the Jesus movement lifted.
Then, in the natural process of the Holy Spirit, the leaders said, “We have to find ways to interact with God
through fasting and prayer to release more so that we can do what these great missionaries did in history.” We
kind of endured the idea of fasting and prayer in order to fulfil the Great Commission. We endured God in order
to serve God. We wanted to be great missionaries and evangelists, but we didn’t want to have to mess with
God—really getting close and overcoming all the obstacles and living lives of abandonment and learning the
CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER – MIKE BICKLE
Session 1 Contemplative Prayer: Journey into Fullness
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Free Teaching Library http://www.MikeBickle.org
ways of the Spirit in prayer. We didn’t want to do that; we just wanted to serve Him. Maybe someone would
write a biography about us, and then we made it.
This was in the mid-1970s—1973, 1974, and 1975. I really began to say yes to this thing called prayer. I read a
whole bunch of books on prayer and I didn’t like it at all. Prayer was one of the things I hated. There were four
things I hated; I say it all the time. I hated prayer, I hated fasting, I hated witnessing, and I hated Bible study. I
really did. I loved God and loved meetings. Bible study was the easiest of the four great, horrible things,
especially if it was a group Bible study, because I could talk all the time. Bible study was the least worst of the
bad things; then evangelism was probably the second. But prayer and fasting? Ugh, forget it!
The men who were over me said, “You have to do this.”
I said, “What a drag. If that’s the only way I can go forward, I’ll do it. I don’t like it, but I’ll do it.”
I read a bunch of books on prayer. It was uncomely. You couldn’t have convinced me that twenty-five years
later I would be involved in a prayer movement. I would have said, “No, you really have the wrong man.
Preaching on fasting? No way.” I figured out every way to get the job done without prayer and fasting.
I experienced one of the great privileges of my life, in a natural sense, a month or two ago. I got to spend part of
an afternoon with Bill Bright, who’s eighty years old. Through his ministry he has led more people to the Lord
than any living person in history.
He was sitting there at eighty years old, and we were talking. He said, “After fifty years of doing it, I’ve learned
one thing: it doesn’t work apart from prayer.” He’s eighty years old; he looked at me and said, “Young man…”
I said, “I’ll take it!”
He said, “If you’ll buy into this in your youth and never back out, you’ll be wiser for it. It doesn’t work; and if
anyone can say that, I can. It doesn’t work without prayer and fasting.” Wow! What a powerful privilege to hear
the wisdom and conclusions of a man like that.
Anyway, I was reading this book in 1976—not that the date matters. I couldn’t remember where I was when I
was reading it. This man said, “I have prayed Ephesians 1:17 and Ephesians 3:16 thousands of times, for years
I said, “What? Ephesians 1:17 and Ephesians 3:16? OK.”
So I wrote it down, read Ephesians 1:17 and Ephesians 3:16, and said, “These are the strangest, most confusing
prayers I have ever imagined,” but out of sheer desperation, I put them on this list and prayed them everyday. I
prayed them, and I had this prayer list that I went through over, and over, and over again. The only way I could
pray for any length of time at all was by reading the same prayer list over and over. I didn’t know what to say if
I got off of the list. My goal was to pray for an hour a day.
This is horrible, but I said, “I have to do this forever. I hope in the resurrection it changes. I can do this for fifty
years, but I can’t do it for billions. There’s no way I can do this for billions of years.”
CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER – MIKE BICKLE
Session 1 Contemplative Prayer: Journey into Fullness
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IHOP–KC Missions Base http://www.IHOP.org
Free Teaching Library http://www.MikeBickle.org
I had these ten or twenty prayers, and Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 3 were at the top of the list because this book
said it. He said he liked it, so I said, “I’ll try it for a year or two.” I stayed with it for some years. I had no idea
that I had stumbled right into the middle of the heart of God.
I started praying Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 3. Some years went by, and it was the summer of 1981, twenty
years ago. It was one of the great, life-changing summers of my life. I went on my first extended fast. I was
scared to death. I prayed this for literally two or three years, and it might help you. I said, “If You’ll really help
me to do a long fast—and not just one of those, ‘Lord, help me,’ I mean You really have to help me—I’ll do
The Lord smiled and said, “You know, little man, I love you so much. It isn’t like that, but I’ll help you.”
THE LIFE-CHANGING IMPACT OF JOHN G. LAKE AND MADAME GUYON
I went on an extended fast in the summer of 1981, and nothing was happening. I ran into two things that
changed my life. I ran into the teachings of a man whom I read for some weeks during the fast; his name is John
G. Lake. I had nothing to do; I was too tired, too moody, too everything, so I tucked away for hours and took
naps, drank coffee with triple Sweet n’ Low just to get a little zap from it. It was a water-and-coffee fast, but I
figured Sweet n’ Low was legal, so I put a ton of it in there. Let me tell you, it has a bad kick in a few days. I
won’t go there now, but don’t do that. Later I’ll talk more in-depth about John G. Lake. I read his writings for
weeks, and they totally transformed my life.
Someone gave me a little book by Madame Guyon called Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ. I could
never pronounce her name; I didn’t have a clue what it was about. I read this book ten, twenty, thirty times. It
was an extended fast. I read it over and over and over, and I want to say this: there are a number of sentences in
this book that I think are really off. This book is so wonderful, but there are a number of things I think are really
off. I can’t think of anything that’s perfectly “on” that has the glory of what’s in this book.
She let smallpox touch her face and she said, “For the glory of God I will let this disease destroy my beauty.”
I wrote, “Dumb!” I did, I wrote, “Dumb!”
Because even when I gave someone the book, they saw that and said, “Wow, I guess you didn’t agree with
I said, “No, there are a number of things.” It was like a safety net.
John G. Lake was saying, “Don’t ever go to a doctor or you sin.” I said, “Wrong!”
He was saying, “Get rid of everything that’s sickness.”
She was saying, “Everything that’s sickness, go for it.” I was kind of in a collision with my Sweet n’ Low, and I
was twenty-five years old; I couldn’t figure it all out, but I know that healing is awesome, and I know that going
deep in contemplative prayer is awesome. Somewhere I’ll figure out how they work together. In my
CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER – MIKE BICKLE
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Free Teaching Library http://www.MikeBickle.org
understanding, they profoundly come together, but I never met anyone who says it exactly right. This book is
phenomenal, but you’re going to run into some things that are off, in my opinion.
I began to go into those two different lines of flowing in the anointing of John G. Lake, the greatest of all
Protestant healing ministries. Then, a few years later, there was another book. I’ve talked about this at the other
conferences. The man who wrote it was Bernard of Clairvaux. Some of you have never heard of Bernard of
Clairvaux. John G. Lake was my hero; Andrew Murray said he had the greatest healing ministry in history. I
read the incredible miracles of John G. Lake. I became a John G. Lake fanatic, and, not a scholar, but an eager
student, at least.
I read all of his stuff over and over and preached it for years. The only life I have ever read that has eclipsed
John G. Lake in power healing was Bernard of Clairvaux. There were incredible healings: the lame walking, the
blind seeing, hundreds of thousands of converts, demons coming out; he combined the anointing of John G.
Lake with the contemplative prayer of Madame Guyon, and his favorite book was the Song of Solomon. He was
lovesick with the Bridegroom revelation.
There are a number of biographies on him. For me he became the most inspiring life outside the Bible. Some
years ago I began to read everything I could. I had many, many books on Bernard of Clairvaux. He put Madame
Guyon and John G. Lake together in one package and added the Bride of Christ on top of it. I think you could
present a case that he was the most powerful man in the secular, political, and spiritual dimensions in the world.
He was born in 1090 and died in 1153; he only lived sixty-three years. He was this little abbot, this young man
who had a little monastery. He started it out in the woods, and named the little valley Clairvaux. I mean, it was
horrible. He almost starved to death during the first few winters. He named it, “Valley of Life,” Clairvaux.
This little monastery began to grow. The powers that be came to him and said they wanted him to be the pope.
He said, “No, being the pope is great, but I don’t want to be the pope; I want to be a man of prayer.” He spent
his whole life fasting and praying, teaching on the Song of Solomon. He picked his main disciple and said,
“Make him pope,” and they made him pope.
His main man was pope, and they said, “Bernard is truly the pope because his man listens to him so much.”
Then the King of Italy, the King of France, and the King of Germany had such profound respect for Bernard of
Clairvaux, his spiritual power, his prophetic ministry, and his ability to cast out devils, that they would listen to
anything he said. They were going to war with each other a few times in his ministry. He walked over to the
King of Germany and said, “Stop it.”
The man said, “OK.”
They said, “Bernard is in town. He walked from France to Germany. He wants to meet you.”
He said, “No, tell him I’ll stop the war.” Obviously, there are a lot more details than that, but these three men
were powerfully impacted.
That’s the way those nations were in the twelfth century. He installed the pope, and he had a whole army of
people all over the world, casting out devils, healing the sick, and leading hundreds of thousands of people to
CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER – MIKE BICKLE
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IHOP–KC Missions Base http://www.IHOP.org
Free Teaching Library http://www.MikeBickle.org
Jesus. But Bernard said, “All I want to do is go back home and live in my little room, praying, fasting, and
studying Song of Solomon.”
I fell in love with this man. You want to get rocked? Read the life of Bernard of Clairvoux. He made a few real
blunders, and he said some things that, in my opinion, were wrong, wrong, wrong. But I hear the Holy Spirit
whispering, “Yes, but he has so much more right than you have.” It’s really true.
I would say the most influential life in my thirty years of walking with the Lord is Bernard of Clairvaux. John
G. Lake would be number two. My old faithful, David Brainerd, the missionary to the Indians, would be
Then finally, just three or four years ago, this phenomenal book came out by Father Thomas Dubay. It was a
bestseller all over the world—Protestants have never heard of it—called Fire Within. He takes probably the two
greatest examples of contemplative prayer. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila were friends. They lived in
the sixteenth century at the same time. They worked in the same place for a season in Spain, and somewhere in
their soul with God they both said, “We’re going for it with God in the deeper life.”
They’re two of the shining examples, and they’ve articulated with such clarity the way of deeper life in God.
You go to the Protestants and they say, “Wasn’t he one of the dark night men or something?” He was one of the
greatest flaming hearts of love in all history, along with Bernard of Clairvaux, John G. Lake, and Teresa of
Avila. There are plenty of things that I would say differently, but they have so much right that I can’t throw
them away because of what’s wrong, because there’s too much right to dismiss them. We’re in great need in the
Protestant world right now for some examples that will beckon us into the fullness of God. I don’t know of any
passage more relevant than Ephesians 3 for the fullness of God.
Amen. So that’s a little introduction. Let’s stand.
More startling and sad developments at International House of Prayer. This ministry was doomed at its conception.
IHOP Murder / Sex Scandal – Developing
As you may already know, Bethany Deaton, an IHOP intern, was murdered on October 30 by another IHOPper, Micah Moore, apparently at the request of Deaton’s husband, Tyler Deaton. The murder was staged to appear as a suicide.
The story involves orgies at Deaton’s home: assualts on Bethany, and sodomy among other participants.
I will be posting more on this in the very near future- right now most of my time is being spent collaborating with colleagues who are researching this story.
Right now, as the story develops, I would suggest that you look over at Truthspeakers Weblog. And seriously, new information is trickling out almost every hour.
Read more HERE
Mike Bickle admits Catholic Contemplative influence on IHOP-KC
From the Office of Public Relations, Franciscan University of Steubenville, 11/9/12:
“The International House of Prayer (IHOP) was founded in 1999 by Mike Bickle, who says that many IHOP teachings draw upon the works of St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, as well as contemporary Catholics including Father Henri Nouwen and Father Thomas Dubay, SM. The IHOP 24 hour prayer room, he says, was inspired by the spiritual practices of Catholic European monks, such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux. ‘I’ve always had a passion for Catholic-Christian unity, and enthusiastically welcome this years Catholic track,’ says Bickle. ‘We may have different religious traditions, but we focus on fellowship, and unity and Jesus being glorified in prayer, worship, and teaching.’”  (bold mine)
Read article HERE
About four years ago, I was interacting with two youth leaders from IHOP. One of them, Zach, had a large website which featured a link with all of his recommended reading or “library”. I can confirm that all of the books listed in the below article were in his “library”. It was confirmation of the root of Catholic mystism behind this aberrant and cultic ministry.
Source My Word Like Fire
Keith Major is a former Protestant missionary, pastor, and IHOP-KC staff member who converted to Catholicism in 2009. Major was baptized in a Catholic church at age three, but his family began attending a Protestant church when he was eight years old. As a Protestant missionary, Major helped smuggle 100,000 Bibles into Russia. He served for years in Russia and Poland.
Describing his path to his 2009 conversion to Catholicism, Major stated that International House Of Prayer founder Mike Bickle encouraged him to learn about Catholic mystics. According to Major, “Being that the Director [Bickle] was a Catholic until he was twenty, he highly recommended people to read Catholic mystics, particularly Bernard of Clairvaux, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Lisieux, Francis de Sales, Catherine of Sienna…” 
What was Bickle’s purpose in this? “He would just say if you want to know more about contemplative prayer, these are the people who have mastered it. But when you read it, spit out the bones,” said Major.  (bold mine)
Unfortunately, contemplative prayer is really the same thing as Eastern or New Age meditation, only painted with Christian terminology. The goal is to enter the silence, which is accomplished by emptying the mind of all active thought. In this mental void, spiritual deception can and does occur. This contemplative (meditative) state potentially opens people to the influence of lying spirits.
And he said, Take heed that you be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near: go not therefore after them. (Luke 21:8)
Contemplative prayer is far removed from genuine biblical meditation, which occurs when the Word of God is read and pondered, ruminated upon, and where the mind remains active in thought.
The foundation of IHOP-KC teaching rests upon contemplative prayer. Mike Bickle wants the book, Fire Within, which celebrates the Catholic, contemplative teachings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, “to be the manual for IHOP-KC.” [3 ] Bickle has taught contemplative prayer to his IHOP-KC flock, which he calls “communing prayer.” [4 ]
Both IHOP and the Catholic Church look to Catholic mystics like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila for spiritual truth. Such IHOP/Catholic contemplative commonality does much to explain IHOP’s “partnership” with the (Catholic) Steubenville Conferences at Onething 2012.
Ex-IHOP staff member Keith Major is now Marketing Coordinator at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. There is still obviously a connection with International House Of Prayer. On Major’s blog is an announcement for “Catholic Track at IHOP’s Onething conference 2012.” 
The announcement states, “The International House Of Prayer is partnering with Steubenville Conferences in the first ever Catholic Track at Onething in the Kansas Convention Center this December 28-31. Archbishop Joseph F. Nauman, Scott Hahn, Ralph Martin, Mike Bickle, Misty Edwards, Matt Maher, Audrey Assad and others will be sharing. Join with over 25,000 attendees as this year’s theme is Encountering Jesus and His Transforming Power through living out the Sermon on the Mount.” [6 ] (bold mine)
By partnering with the Catholics in the Onething conference, IHOP-KC is sending a message to every young person in attendance that praying to Mary and the saints, believing in purgatory, even believing the Eucharist to be the literal body and blood of Christ, are not important differences.
But the most important issue is that of Salvation.
According to qotquestions.org, “The most crucial problem with the Roman Catholic Church is its belief that faith alone in Christ is not sufficient for salvation. The Bible clearly and consistently states that receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith, grants salvation (John 1:12, 3:16, 18, 36; Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9-10, 13; Ephesians 2:8-9) The Roman Catholic Church rejects this. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that a person must believe in Jesus Christ AND be baptized AND receive the Eucharist along with the other sacraments AND obey the decrees of the Roman Catholic Church AND perform meritorious works AND not die with any mortal sins AND etc., etc., etc. Catholic divergence from the Bible on this most crucial of issues, salvation, means that yes, Catholicism is a false religion. If a person believes what the Catholic Church officially teaches, he/she will not be saved. Any claim that works or rituals must be added to faith in order for salvation to be achieved is a claim that Jesus’ death was not sufficient to fully purchase our salvation.” (bold mine) click to read gotquestions.org article
One of the Catholic speakers is Ralph Martin. One of Martin’s books, The Fulfillment of All Desire, is about Catholic mystics. It was this contemplative book, read while fasting, that further influenced Major to become a Catholic. Ralph Martin’s endorsement of IHOP is on the IHOP-KC website. 
The young IHOP people are so sincere, so hungry to draw closer to God. Yet they are being led by those who believe the way to God has been paved by Catholic, meditating mystics.
1. Interview on The Journey Home, go to approximately 34:55 mark Link here
2. Interview on The Journey Home, go to approximately 35:10 Link here
7. IHOP endorsed by Ralph Martin http://www.ihopkc.org/about/endorsements/
Reprinted by Permission
Other articles on this site:
TAKING SPIRITUAL DOMINION OVER
By Gaylene Goodroad
and The Discernment Research Group*
Only the most naïve would imagine that an aggressive assault on the kingdom of satan would be met with anything but a desperate fight. That is why satan and any of his principalities or powers attempting to stop the spread of the Gospel must be bound…Binding and loosing, therefore are extremely important weapons which must be found in the arsenal of all those who desire to win the lost for Jesus Christ.
~ C. Peter Wagner, NAR
To partner with Jesus in fulfilling the Great Commission,… the church must renounce fear and fatalism and recover the prevailing faith behind Paul’s frontal attack against the forces of darkness… [Christ’s] church must learn to contend, to wrestle with and throw down its spiritual adversaries…. The church, functioning as the house of prayer, the governmental ekklesia, is the correct context for Jesus’ teaching on binding and loosing…[it] is a council of war at the highest level. With Christ as our Head, we are bringing heaven down to earth and barring hell’s invasion.
~ Lou Engle, TheCall/IHOP
The Bible subsequently reveals that it is the believer’s responsibility to “ask” before God will respond, to bind and release on earth for heaven to do the same, and that part and parcel of the Great Commission is the duty of the church to cast out demons and to tread over the power of the enemy. Apparently when we do, we send shock waves through the heavenlies!
~ Tom (and Nita) Horn, Christian author/publisher/speaker
THE GODS WHO WALK AMONG US
Prayer Warfare methodologies conceived and borne out of the Latter Rain Movement and nurtured under the New Apostolic Reformation are going mainstream. Twenty years ago, Chief NAR apostle, C. Peter Wagner, applied his Church Growth teachings to the spirit realm in what he termed Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW). The plan calls for identifying “territorial spirits” (demons) of a geographic locality, then devising practices (such as militant intercession and fasting) and techniques to defeat these unseen foes so that cities, nations, and beyond will respond to the Gospel.
Sadly, this heresy is creeping into conservative Christian forums unawares through various prophetic ministries concerned about the eschatological implications of transhumanism and loosely related subjects.
Full Article HERE
It was great to get a mention on WorldViewWeekend…
Mike Bickle of IHOP wants a book about Catholic mystics to be “manual for IHOP-KC”
Much of the literature being sold through the International House of Prayer’s online FORERUNNER Bookstore indicates a contemplative influence. One such book being offered is Fire Within, written by Father Thomas Dubay. IHOP founder Mike Bickle states, “I want this book to be the manual for IHOP-KC.” 
That is high praise indeed from Mike Bickle. The full title of the book is Fire Within: St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel–On Prayer. Incredibly, Bickle’s “manual” is about Catholic, contemplative mystics! Also for sale on the website are books by and about St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and even Madame Guyon.
Another book being offered is The Forgotten Desert Mothers, by Laura Swan. Swan writes, “We begin to discard our old ways and go in search of new ways of communicating with God. Our prayer matures and takes on new forms.”  And what are these new forms? Swan states, “Centering prayer, lectio divina, Christian meditation, Taize, and the Divine Office are all sought. Prayer moves us toward the simple: often sitting silently before the Divine–in contemplative or centering prayer–is all we feel drawn to do.” 
In an audio message, Mike Bickle apparently voiced great enthusiasm for contemplative prayer. Jocelyn Andersen has transcribed some of what was said, which you can find HERE. Kim Olsen of Discernit has reproduced IHOP’s promotion of contemplative prayer HERE. Perhaps it is not surprising that these have vanished from the web but can still be examined because of the diligence of these two saints.
Full article HERE
and a very strange and sad story of IHOP youth evangelism at a Psychic fair:
in the comment section after this article a representative of the International House of Prayer tries to play down its involvement.