I wish to share some of the very confusing and dangerous teachings I was exposed to when I first came to faith in the Lord Jesus, and the amazing way God answered my prayers to reveal His truth regarding the controversial things I was exposed to. If anything I share is challenging to your own beliefs and experiences, I encourage you to prayerfully consider what I share and, most importantly, view the resources contained and read the exhaustive research and documentation for yourself. I pray my personal narrative will inspire other discerning brothers and sisters in Christ to seek true wisdom about the lack of Biblical evidence for much of what goes on in today’s churches.
Our challenge today is to stay vigilant! We must not interpret Scripture in light of our experience, but we must interpret experience in light of Scripture!
I spent my entire adult life pursuing spiritual truth, and my lack of direction and godly discernment caused me to go down some very dark hallways into the counterfeit spirituality of the new age and the occult. It wasn’t until after I had been through some very scary experiences after getting involved in shamanism and some other demonic practices, that God really got my attention to the severity of the fire I was playing with. I had answered an altar call in 2009, gotten baptized in 2013, but never truly believed in my heart as it says is need for salvation in Romans 10:9. At the beginning of 2014, a friend invited me to a five day event at a church in Miami called the “Supernatural Fivefold Ministry School.” A couple of friends assured me that there I would find the answers I was looking for.
I’m eternally grateful that I was convicted to completely surrender my life to Jesus Christ and I truly accepted His free gift of salvation at the Sunday morning service after the school ended. However I left Miami with many questions and part of me felt a little cheated because I didn’t seem to get the “fullness” of the experience as many others seemed to get. Truthfully, I had never been exposed to so much chaos in my life! I wasn’t sure if there was something wrong with me, or something wrong with the ministry I experienced.
People were falling down all over the place, screaming and crying and constantly “praying in the spirit” aka, gibberish. I’ll never forget when one of the speakers told everyone to hold hands and raise them in the air, and he went through the auditorium yelling “FIRE!!” as he pushed his palm towards different sections of the audience and 75+ % of them fell over like dominos! I just stood there as my friend flew back in her chair letting go of my hand and then fell on the floor under her chair for a few minutes, like she had been knocked out. Another time while this chaos was ensuing, I was looking around with probably a scared look in my eyes, and one of the “pastors” saw me and came and grabbed my head with both hands while yelling. I just closed my eyes and waited for him to leave, because I certainly wasn’t feeling the “power” everyone else seemed to be feeling.
When the lead “pastor” was “ministering” to people for “healing” I was amazed at the number of people who went forward just to fall down “under the power.” All the while the stage was full of dancers while repetitive, hypnotizing music was playing, and the church was filled with swirling lights that could easily induce a seizure. I wondered, was all of this chaos truly giving reverence and glory to the Lord?
What was most concerning was the fact that I noticed when the “pastor” went to pray over someone, he would put down his talking mic and pull up another mic from his collar that he would forcefully blow into! That mic was turned up so loud that the sound that came out of the speakers could shake every bone in your body! No wonder they fell over!
Between all of the described chaos, it was subtly insinuated or explicitly said, a disturbing number of times, that if I planted a “seed” (gave money) to the ministry I would “reap a harvest.” I went home with a love for Jesus but also with many unanswered questions. In the almost two years since that experience, I stumbled across this verse:
“For God is not the author of CONFUSION but of PEACE, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 (emphasis mine)
If you haven’t experienced something like this, go watch Benny Hinn on TV and you’ll get an idea. Then simply ask yourself: does that look like CONFUSION or PEACE? When you go into a church and everyone is “praying in tongues,” ask yourself if that fits Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 or if the church is appearing “mad” as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:23?
I will just say that I am extremely grateful I only spent a few days experiencing that charismatic chaos, because many succumb to the peer pressure over time and get tossed to and fro by the deceitful winds of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). I spent over a year reading and following ministries that profess the endtime restoration of the prophets and apostles, of tongues, healings and power, yet the more I prayed for discernment and wisdom as God instructs in James 1:5, the more red flags I began to notice.
Ask yourself: do these self-proclaimed “apostles” and “prophets” really pass the tests Moses gave in Deuteronomy 13:1-10 and Deuteronomy 18:19-22? I’m afraid most of them unfortunately fit the description given in Jeremiah 23:16-32. The types of people highlighted in Charisma magazine or appearing on Sid Roth‘s “It’s Supernatural,” more often than not seem to be the false teachers described many times in the New Testament. (See Matthew 7:15-20, 1Timothy 4:1-2, 2Timothy 4:3-4, 2Peter 2:1-3, 18-19, 1John 4:1-3, 2John 1:7-11)
Unfortunately many Christians think (and some are even taught) that anything that happens inside a “church” is safe, from God, and not capable of being a spiritual counterfeit. The church paradigm for most of history has held that said that “if you have right teaching you will experience God,” yet the philosophy of the emergent church says that “if you experience God, you will have right teaching.” This dangerous teaching is a fertile breeding ground for spiritual and demonic deception. A church that seeks “feelings” and “experiences” over sound, biblical doctrine is on a very slippery slope.
If you take the time to research the history of the people and events that have led to many of the new-age, occult practices we are now seeing in the Church, you will be amazed that things have gone this far. When there are practices happening in a “Christian” church that are also happening in new age and eastern mystical religions, in hinduism, buddhism, kundalini yoga and other deceptive spiritual practices, we have a problem.
As I spent more and more time praying for wisdom and discernment and seeking God’s opinion on these controversial topics, He showed me things in His word, through personal experiences and through communication with other friends in the body of Christ that brought answers and clarity. God led me to a book called Counterfeit Revival and it provided amazing historical evidence and frightening insight into many of these controversial experiences happening in the charismatic/pentecostal circles today. What was even more amazing is that even though the book is almost 20 years old it exposed many of the exact people and ministries I had been exposed to at the conference in Miami and even personally met less than two years prior, so I was able to validate the book’s claims from personal experience!
The book covers the things being pushed by the modern New Apostolic Reformation leaders, practices like being “slain in the spirit,” “speaking in tongues,” and false signs and wonders. It further documents the effects of hypnotism, peer pressure, group dynamics and socio-psychological manipulation that play a major role in the chaos happening in many churches today. Chaos that you personally may have been subjected to or suffered the devastating negative effects of already. I highly recommend this book to any and everyone who is interested in a true, personal and intimate experience with the Lord–one devoid of false doctrines and deceptive teachings. The author illuminates many reasons why the Church is so overrun by false teachers today, as Jesus prophesied thousand of years ago, and he also provides many testimonies of the negative effects it has on people.
“Many false teachers determine truth by the subjective experiences of their subjects rather than by the objective exegesis of Scripture.” – Hank Hanegraaff
The bottom line is that any person who seeks experiences, mysticism and gnosis more than a deeper understanding of God’s established and complete revelation in Scripture is risking one day hearing the worst words one could ever hear from our Lord and Savior: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23) I can’t imagine anything worse.
“The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgement.” – A.W. Tozer
Do you ever find yourself interpreting Scripture in light of your experiences instead of interpreting your experiences in light of Scripture? Have you every had any negative experiences from the charismatic chaos I have described? Who do you know that is being led astray from such false teachers that might benefit from this information?