These are critical days for the body of Christ. We are in
the epoch of church history spoken of by the apostle Paul as
"perilous times" (II Timothy 3:1). What makes the danger all
the more imminent is that not much of the church believes
it. Many of us have owned the glorious but erroneous vision
of an end-times remnant walking in unconquerable power,
transforming entire societies. The result has been nothing
short of catastrophic. How soon we forget.
Every cult in the world has sprouted from the
fertile soil of deception, always initiated by a drastic
move away from the primacy of the Word of God into the
nebulous, self-defining atmosphere of experience....
In the case of my former congregation, our pre-supposed love
of the Word of God, along with our ignorance of and
opposition to nearly every scriptural warning about false
doctrine and seducing spirits in the church, left us open to
bizarre teachings and practices. As we embraced mysticism,
our biblical parameters melted away. Yes, we were sincere,
but what we were wanting was diametrically opposed to our
relationship with Jesus Christ.
Like physical signs of pain, there were signs in our church
that something was terribly wrong. But just like the person
who ignores the pain and avoids going to the doctor, we too
ignored what should have been so obvious. That is, until it
got so bad that avoidance was no longer an option.
Why do people ignore warning signs? ... I've discovered that in the
spiritual arena most people will do exactly this: they take
pains to look the other way when something bumps up against
their doctrine. As a Christian, there's no quicker way to
start a fight with a friend than to tell him that some of
his most fervent beliefs are wrong. I know. I've lost my
share of friendships that way. The problem comes when folks
aren't willing to deal with the uncomfortable. And the
horror of it is that in spiritual matters, we're dealing
with eternal things....
In my own case, association with a cutting-edge group
offered me security and personal power, and for years, the
paranoia of offending God kept me from asking too many
unsettling questions. It's ironic that, in a fellowship that
taught a watered-down version of the fear of the Lord, it
was fear that motivated me to stay put.
Many other Christians find themselves in this same
predicament, especially those with a genuine heart for the
truth. When some doctrine foreign to biblical Christianity
is introduced into the congregation, they want to inquire
about its origin and validity, but fear holds them in check.
If it comes from the pastor, who surely must be more
spiritual than the rest of the group, then God must simply
have approved it. Therefore, questioning or opposing the
pastor or church leadership is seen as opposing the Lord
But God doesn't work that way. Throughout the Bible are
examples of those who love the Lord [and] who questioned authority
when it was wrong. And what's more, "prove all things" is
clearly God's instruction to the believer (1 Thessalonians
This manipulative pastoral attitude of squelching sincere
inquiries was recently brought home in a frightening way. A
friend of mine attended a local church service, knowing that
the pastor was fully in support of the so-called Brownsville
revival. She was nonetheless unprepared for the chilling
threat from the pulpit. After reminding the congregation of
the judgment deaths of Ananias and Sapphira for opposing the
Holy Spirit, the pastor looked directly at the congregation
and said, "If you think about questioning anything that goes
on in this service ... well, you just be careful!"
Two plus two still equals four. His meaning was quite plain.
If you want to end up like that evil-hearted couple, just go
ahead and do some serious inquiry into the teachings or
manifestations of this group.
Brothers and sisters, something is seriously wrong here.
Brutalizing the saints with a threat from an angry heart is
not the Bible way. But it is becoming quite a fashionable
pastime for leadership to silence even well-intentioned
criticism with threats and ridicule. It has been going on
from both the Toronto and Brownsville pulpits for years and
has spilled over into many other groups in the church today.
Name calling and ostracizing are common methods to silence
critics. Names like hypocrites, Sanhedrin, and God mockers
are merely a sampling of the invective aimed at Christians
who are concerned about doctrinal error. Nobody wants to be
labeled a Pharisee or heresy hunter. But that is often the
penalty for daring to step out and ask for a public,
biblical accounting of doctrine and practice.
I know the feeling first hand. I have more than once been
called legalistic and have been accused of "going down a
hard path"--one of my own making, of course. I had been told
repeatedly that I was spiritually immature and had not
understood the importance of such works as Rick Joyner's The
Final Quest --despite its un-biblical concepts and many
outright contradictions to Scripture.
A current river is flowing, which many believe to be of God.
Removed from its proper setting in the 47th chapter of
Ezekiel, which speaks of a stream gushing out from the
Temple of God, this passage in Scripture is today used to
promote a last days vision for the church. In its proper
context in Ezekiel, this wonderful prophecy is an
encouragement that God has not forgotten His covenant people
of Israel. But overstepping the sanctity of scriptural
boundaries, this passage has been reshaped into the
comfortable doctrines of the easy believism and sensual
manifestations that mark a massive shift in the church. As
believers, we have taken a hairpin turn from the preeminence
of the Word of God to a relative, experiential, and terribly
The River Revival movement--encompassing the Toronto
Blessing, Brownsville Revival (or Pensacola Outpouring),
Dominion, Latter Rain, Word of Faith, Rodney Howard-Browne's
laughing revival, the Kansas City prophets, and an arbitrary
mix of all or some of the aforementioned--is flowing into
congregations worldwide. Given impetus by these major
doctrinal tributaries, this movement's teachings have led
multitudes away from the truths of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ into a dangerous realm of subjective experiences,
mysticism, and blatant heresy. Closely follow the curves of
this river and you'll find spiritual deviations at first
overlooked. After all the hype, the wild manifestations, the
wonderful testimonies, the flamboyant prophecies, and the
earth-shaking visions, the discerning eye will gaze upon a
farther shore, where an entirely different, frightening
story unfolds--a story of broken lives and shattered faith,
of rebellion and of merchandising a substitute "anointing."
There is another side to all the fanfare, a glaring
something that for the most part remains unspoken or
deliberately avoided. There is indeed another side to the
River. As believers, it is time we cross over and take a
long, hard look. (from
The Other Side of the River,
by Kevin Reeves)