REVIVAL...OR SATANIC COUNTERFEIT?
While attending a business meeting in Indianapolis,
Indiana, I heard about a revival that had "broken out" in the western part of
Florida. Being a resident of Florida and active in the Lord's work, this news caused my
spiritual antenna to go up immediately. I listened with rapt attention to the description
of this reported revival that began on Father's, Day 1995. By its description, it sounded
like a continuation or duplication of the widely acclaimed "Toronto Revival." It
was reported that some school teachers and students were "falling to the floor"
in their classrooms after attending this church in west Florida.
People all over the community were being changed by the experience they received at this meeting. Thousands upon thousands -- in fact, it has been reported that over two hundred thousand people from all over the United States and foreign countries -- have attended this protracted meeting in Pensacola, Florida. Those who keep the records report that over fifteen thousand conversions have taken place.
After returning home to Jacksonville, Florida, I prayed about whether or not I should attend this meeting. Several days passed before I received a witness in my spirit that it was o.k. to go and visit. I also discussed my plans with Brother Thomas. His response was, "Go and see what it's all about. If God is indeed visiting that place, we'll all go and partake." God wants us to have an open mind and not judge or castigate something from a distance, but rather to seek God with all our heart and truly measure all things in the "light of God's word," and to also try the spirits. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (I John 4:1).
Jesus sent the disciples out in two's, and the word says, "that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." (Matt. 18:16). Realizing that there is wisdom in the multitude of counsel, I invited two of my Christian brothers to go with me.
One of my traveling companions was Brother Elmer Enlow, a man of four score years, with a wealth of experience under his belt. He has been an Army Chaplain, has pastored several churches, was a college professor, and is a scholarly man who has seen about everything in his lifetime. My other traveling companion was Brother Felton Wall, who has traveled all over the world and also possesses a wealth of experience.
Before our departure, I called the church in Pensacola to get directions and the schedule of their services. One of the assistant pastors took my call and was very cordial to me throughout the entire conversation. I had several questions for him -- they were as follows:
Answer: "No, this is something new the Lord has done in this area and is growing rapidly throughout the world."
2. Question: "Does a spirit of laughter overtake people during your services?"
Answer: "Some of the people laugh, however, it is not all consuming and is not a distraction to the service."
3. Question: "Do people fall to the floor after being prayed for?"
Answer: "Yes, several do, however; some do not. What you need to do is to come and experience this revival for yourself."
During this brief conversation I was told to come early or I would not get a seat. The special revival services are on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights beginning at seven o'clock.
"Bright and early on Thursday morning, February 22, 1996, the three of us began our four hundred mile journey to Pensacola to witness for ourselves the reported revival and unusual phenomena that were taking place there. On the way we prayed together, asking God to give us His wisdom and keen discernment to know what was of God and what was of the flesh or the devil. Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17).
"As Christians we do not have to be in the dark concerning such matters. Jesus also said, "My sheep follow me for they know my voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him for they know not the voice of strangers." (John 10:4, 5). I can honestly say that all three of us were in agreement not to prejudge or come to any conclusion before we sat through the entire service with an open mind and honest heart.
"After having a late lunch and refreshing ourselves at the motel, we were on our way to the church, prayerfully looking to God that He might have His way and to keep us in His perfect will during the entire evening. We arrived at the church at approximately five thirty p.m. on Thursday afternoon. Much to our surprise people were arriving in large numbers even at five thirty. I spoke to a young man in the parking lot and asked if he was a member of this church. He replied, "I feel like a member -- this is my thirty-fifth service since the revival began. However, I'm from Alabama." This response was not unusual as we soon learned that quite a few of the people had become regular attendants traveling several hundred miles every week. Surely something had an unusual power on these people for them to faithfully return time after time.
"At last we were now in the church looking for a seat near the front so we could hear and see all that the Lord would reveal to us. After we found our seats, we took note of a steady stream of people pouring into the building. I asked Brother Elmer and Felton to hold my seat while I circulated throughout the sanctuary. I wanted to meet as many people as I could to find out where they were from and why they had come to this meeting. I must report to you that I met some very nice, kind, and sincere people from many states with a variety of religious backgrounds. Many of them had been to this revival more than once and some of them never before. I later learned that approximately one to two thousand visitors came to each of the four services every week. All without exception came for the same reason. They wanted to be "prayed for" and receive a supernatural experience so they could take it back to their family and to their church.
"At seven o'clock the service was called to order by one of the Elders and everyone was welcomed and made to feel at home. He asked all the visitors to raise their hands. There appeared to be several hundred if not a thousand visitors. Everyone was exhorted to give themselves to worship and to let God have His way in this service. As the musicians began to play and the singers began to sing I noticed a young woman going down the aisle and she took a seat about three pews in front of us. Just as soon as she greeted her friends she immediately began to shake her head left to right in a boisterous manner. I thought to myself, "Why is she doing that? Perhaps she has an infirmity, Parkinson's disease, or some type of palsy." Since I did not know a lot of the songs, I let my eyes scan over the congregation. I spotted quite a few people (men, women, and children) jerking their heads. Some would jerk backwards, some jerked side to side, and some jerked their shoulders as if they were frigid. I pondered, "Whatever this is, it seems to be spreading throughout the congregation." From time to time I could hear some laughter sprinkled here and there. However, it was not so loud as to disrupt the service.
"The music gradually got louder and louder and the singing likewise grew louder. The musicians and singers were extremely talented and were dancing in a tasteful way as they performed flawlessly for us all. When I say "performed" I mean as in a professional group that puts on a show for the audience. However, I must hasten to add that I believe that they were very sincere in what they were doing. The truth is, there was "no anointing" on it. I believe that the entire song service was for the most part an exercise in the flesh. On one occasion, one of the ministers interrupted the song service to exhort the congregation to "let themselves go" ... "do not think about what you are doing" ... "just give yourselves completely to the spirit." My Bible says that we are to "sing with the spirit and with the understanding also." (I Cor. 14:15).
"On another occasion the visiting evangelist stopped the song service to say this: "The devil is here tonight and wants to hinder this service. Well, I've got news for him -- he has to go. He" (the devil) "has analyzers here tonight." During the song service this young evangelist glanced at Elmer, Felton, and myself on more than one occasion. I am sure we were sticking out like sore thumbs, since we were obviously not taking part in the "wild frenzy" called worship. He (the evangelist) went on to say, "If you must analyze, then look at me, look at the musicians and singers, look at the congregation, look at the person to the left of you and to the right of you, and just analyze, analyze, analyze -- get it out of your system. Now let yourselves go: don't even think about what you are doing, forget about those around you and what they are doing. Release your mind -- release your spirit -- and let the mighty river of 'The Holy Ghost' take you wherever He wants you to go." I thought to myself, "Sir, I didn't just fall off a turnip truck, and although I'm not a genius, I wasn't born last week either." I certainly wasn't going to open my spirit up to this "wild, anything goes atmosphere." Jesus said, "Ye worship ye know not what . . . But the hour cometh, and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him." (John 4:22-23).
"The worship service, or shall I say the "wild fire service," lasted about one hour and then we were given liberty to stretch our legs, go the bathroom, and visit with our neighbors in the congregation. On my way to the bathroom, in the foyer area, I noticed several tables full of audio and video tapes for sale. What a coincidence--all these tapes appearing just in time for the intermission. Commerce is alive and well in many churches today.
"During the intermission I engaged one of the elders in a conversation concerning the purported revival. I asked if anyone in the church had visited the acclaimed "Toronto Revival." He replied, "Yes, the pastor's wife has visited there." I asked if her visit was before or after the Pensacola revival began. He replied, "Oh, she visited several months before our revival began." Do you remember the question I asked the assistant pastor concerning the Pensacola revival? I asked him if this revival was similar to or related to the "Toronto Revival." His reply was, "No, that this was new and not related." What a coincidence! Could it be that the pastor's wife got the "blessing from Toronto" and brought it back to Pensacola?
"I also asked this elder about the young woman who was shaking her head so boisterously. He assured me that this was the "power of God" upon this young woman's life. I asked if she did this only at church or if she continued to do this in her everyday life? He said, "She only does this at church." He also told me that several other young people had the same "gift" or "power" on their life and that it was a great honor to have it.
"Pray tell me what glory would or could it bring to Christ to make someone shake their head violently until they became so dizzy they had to lie down on the pew? This poor girl got so dizzy she would literally fall down on the pew every fifteen to twenty minutes and continue to shake her body even while she laid there. Her friends covered her with a blanket so that she would not be exposed. After fifteen minutes of lying down she would get back up to start her shaking again. This cycle lasted for over four hours.
"In every case in the Bible when it speaks of palsy (or uncontrollable shaking) it is either associated with a devil or an undesirable physical condition. In both cases Jesus and Peter would either cast the devil out or heal the person. "And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them." (Matt. 4:24). If those ministers had "the Power" or any "discernment" they would have either cast the devil out or healed this pitiful young woman. I must tell you that I had a strong desire to go and lay hands on her and resist the devil, however, I knew they would have thrown us out of the service, so I restrained myself.
Call To Order
"After the intermission, I heard the song leader call everyone back into the sanctuary. The song service was continued for another fifteen minutes to get the people "back up to an emotional high" for something very important. It was time for one of the most (if not the most) important events of the night. It was time to take up "the offering." A huge six foot six two hundred fifty pound man came out and gave a very fervent appeal for a sizable offering. He said that the Lord had revealed to him that one person would give fifty thousand dollars, and another individual was to give one hundred thousand. He also said that the total offering should be in excess of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
"I believe that the Lord can do anything, but I don't believe that God uses the "power of suggestion" or psychology to get into the wallets of God's people. The word says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." (II Cor. 9:7). It is a shame and a disgrace the way ministers beg and plead for money. You would think that God is poor and about ready to declare bankruptcy if we little humans don't come to his rescue. God is not poor. "He owns the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalms 50:10). He owns everything.
"The evangelist came to the pulpit and read two verses of scripture. (Rev. 12:10, 11) He spoke for approximately forty five minutes. Every ten minutes or so he would say, "Don't leave me now ... just hang in there ... we'll get to the good stuff soon," ("good stuff" meaning prayer time, when everyone would come up front to receive the "power" and be slain in the spirit). Isn't that pathetic? What could be more important than the word of God? Jesus said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4).
"A true minister called and anointed by God should never have to make excuses or minimize the word of God. The apostle Paul preached until midnight on one occasion because the need was so great and the people were hungry. (Acts 20:7-11). There is a famine in the land -- not a famine of bread or of water but of hearing the word of God. (Amos 8:11).
"This evangelist took most of his time explaining where he had been and the experiences that God had given him. He told of a great revival in England and a great man of God who had thousands coming to his meetings and people standing in lines for several city blocks waiting to get in. He told about walking over body after body (people who allegedly had been slain in the spirit) trying to get to the "great man of God" so that he too could be prayed for and receive the "power" and be slain in the spirit. Guess what? He got his wish. Now, God has called him to the United States to impart this great "power" and experience to all that come under the sound of his ministry -- so he says.
"The speaker also spent a good deal of time comparing this revival to "The Great Awakening" during the time of Jonathan Edwards. He was preparing the congregation to receive an experience or some supernatural manifestation (more specifically the gift of "supernatural power" via being slain in the spirit). Could someone please show me in the scriptures where Christians are encouraged or instructed to seek an experience, power, or some supernatural manifestation? There is no such example in the entire Bible. "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13). We are to seek God not an experience. Jesus said, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." (Matt. 12:39).
"After the message (or shall I say, "the psychological conditioning and preparation"), he asked all of those who wanted to be saved to come to the altar. Only a handful came forward. This disturbed the minister, so he reached deeper into his bag of tricks and gimmicks. After thirty minutes of begging, pleading, and cajoling he had quite a few up front at the altar. He did not preach against sin nor did I discern any anointing upon his message.
"The apostle Paul's preaching was quite different: "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the power of God." (I Cor. 1:2,4) After the apostle Peter preached his sermon he did not beg or even give an altar call. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Any preacher that God calls and anoints will have the same results as Paul and Peter. We shouldn't have to beg or use manmade methods, for it is certain that his word will not return void. (Isaiah 55:11).
Time For The Good Stuff
"After the altar call, the minister began to give instructions to all the visitors who had come to receive "the power" and be slain in the spirit. He said that we shouldn't let anyone pray for us unless they were wearing a purple badge, which identified them as being a part of the official ministry team. There were approximately twenty-five "Tag Team Duo's," one to do the praying and one to catch the candidate (or shall I say the victim) before they hit the floor. We were reminded again and again that God was in that place in "mighty power" and thousands had already received this experience and we too should expect to receive it by releasing our mind, our spirit, and just simply letting go. I surveyed the congregation and I saw a "ripe and ready" group of people who were "straining at the leash," as it were, to run forward and receive what they all had been waiting for.
"All the "prayer teams" were in place. The "wild and fast-paced" background music was setting the mood and stirring the emotions. There was only one thing left to do: on your mark, get set, get ready, GO!! When the minister gave the invitation to come forward, hundreds of people filled the front and every aisle instantly. This is when "chaos" and complete "pandemonium" broke out all over the place.
"Can you imagine? Loud music playing, over two thousand people clamoring, prayer teams administering their "magical prayer," hundreds of people falling to the floor and flopping around like fish out of water, and those left standing were jerking their bodies in weird ways.
"If you were to take away the audio and play only the video portion of this service to some stranger and ask them to describe what they were seeing, they would most likely say that it was a "rock concert" where people were doing the "jerk" (a style of dance) under the influence of LSD and other psychedelic drugs.
"I saw one woman bend slightly over and put her hands on her hips and begin to flap her elbows up and down and move her head forward and backward like a chicken. I wasn't close enough to hear her, but it would not have surprised me if she had been cackling like a hen. Beloved, I don't believe the Holy Spirit would make people act like animals. I do, however, believe that an unholy spirit would.
"I noticed one of the "catchers" that was behaving in a very strange manner. He lifted his shoulders up toward his neck and leaned forward, which made him look like the "hunchback of Notre Dame." As the candidates were falling he would ease them down to the floor and then he would jump up and down repeatedly looking to his left and then to his right with a diabolical smile on his face as if to say, "Oh Boy! Oh Boy! there goes another one."
"I could go on and on about the strange behavior that we saw that night, but it isn't necessary. My Bible says, "Let all things be done decently and in order." (I Cor. 14:40). Elmer, Felton, and I left about twenty minutes before midnight and the service (or shall I say the "circus") was still going strong. Only God knows when they all went home.
"On our way back to the motel, we discussed our experience and weighed all that we had seen and heard. "In the light of the scriptures" and we found it, to say the least, "wanting." I believe that many, if not most of the people that attended this meeting were very sincere in what they were doing. I might also add, "the road to hell is paved with sincerity." Religious man without Christ has a huge void that must be filled with something. There is something very wrong and very evil about seeking anything other than Christ our Lord. We shouldn't seek an experience, manifestation, or any type of phenomenon. Simon the "sorcerer" was rebuked by Peter for his evil desire for "the power" to do what Peter and the other apostles were doing. (Acts 8:18-21) The great preacher, Dr. A.B. Simpson said, "You don't need healing; you need the 'healer.' You don't need deliverance; you need the 'deliverer.' You don't need salvation; you need the 'saviour.'"
Summary "In closing, I would like you to consider the following scriptures: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matt. 24:24).
""And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (II Thes. 2:10-12).
""Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. 7:22-23).
"Beloved, I know that I will have to stand before God one day and give an account of what I have done and what I have said. I confess unto you that if God calls me home today that I will stand by what I have written in this account because of what the word of God teaches. I make no apology, but rather feel it to be my responsibility and duty before God to be honest and tell the truth. "If ye continue in my word," (not 'signs and wonders,' not seeking to be 'slain in the spirit,' not anything else) "then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32).
"Make up your own mind: -- does this eye witness account sound like "revival" or is it a "satanic counterfeit?" You be the judge.
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