Another Story Is Exposed To The Light
This is an article about an event that took place at a Toronto "Blessing" type church in Houston that has been passed around since October 1996. What I would like to do is quote from the article and give you my comments in bold as we go along. There are some factors involved in this "sign and wonder" that make it very hard for me to believe that this is a sign from God.
Another Veil Is Torn In Two
by James H. Rutz (End-Times News Digest, P.O. Box 1788, Medford, OR 97501 826-9877, April 1997, issue #223)
A rather vivid message from heaven was delivered at a church in Houston last October. In a move with a striking parallel to the tearing of the veil in the temple at Jerusalem, the churchís sturdy pulpit was loudly broken in two and tossed toward the pews, while the pastor was hurled backward.
First of all, how do we know this was a "message from heaven"? Did God speak directly? If not, is it possible this sign could be from the enemy to deceive the churches? I think, since God did not speak and confirm that it was He who did this, we need to "test the spirits" here. Second, the veil in the temple was torn at the moment of Christ's death to indicate that people henceforth would have direct access to God the Father in the Holy of Holies because Jesus was made to be sin who was sinless in order that we might be redeemed. Was the pulpit broken so that the people of the church could have better access to the preacher? Or was it broken by an evil spirit who does not want the Word of God preached anymore in that church? Read on for details.
This dramatic occurrence was shared in brief as part of an interview with Tommy Tenney in the January 1997 issue of End-Times News Digest. Because of the unique nature of the event, author James Rutz investigated the facts, augmenting these findings with interpretive comments from himself and others. We share with you his enlightening report.
These "facts" are being investigated by Hank Hanegraaff at the time of this writing and you can be sure that he will be much more objective in his investigation than this fellow, who has obviously embellished the facts as we shall see.
Most of the miracles today are not specifically related to you. This one is. It clearly shows that God wants a deeper relationship with His Body ...
God already has a "deeper relationship with His Body", through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. What other act can bring us closer to God? God bridged the relationship gap when He sent His Son, and it is only because of His Son that we have a relationship with God at all. It is our decision whether to believe, confess our sins, and obey Jesus or reject Him.
... but that this must begin with an upgraded style of church life ...
"An upgraded style of church life" will not accomplish bringing us closer to God.
... in which he rules more directly ...
God already "rules" His church. He already knows His elect.
... with less human interference in His agenda and more human eagerness to track with His will and what pleases Him.
Humans can in no way "interfere in His agenda" even if they wanted to. All humans can do is follow Satan into rebellion against God. Yet even Satan himself can do nothing apart from God's sovereign will. The enemy already made his mistake long ago and is now living out the remainder of his days in rebellion to God with God using that rebellion and turning it around to glorify Himself, whether Satan acknowledges that or not. We already have laid out in Scripture our mandate to obey and follow God. God is not going to force us by acts of signs and wonders to be more eager "to track with His will and what pleases Him". That has to come as a freewill choice on our part. Signs and wonders have rarely brought about true repentance and servanthood, by the way. Study the history of Israel for confirmation of that.
The Christian Tabernacle, a 3,000-member charismatic church on the east side of Houston, has been holding revival meetings five nights a week since October 6, 1996.
If this church has been holding revival meetings for five nights a week since October 6, 1996 I should think some of those people should now be revived! Yet I look at the needs on the mission fields of the world, I look at the inner city problems, I look at their neighbors in Houston and I see very little effort on the part of these "revival" churches to take up their cross and follow Christ, dying to self with a willingness to sacrifice their lives so that others might be saved ... which, by the way, is the reason angels rejoice -- not "signs and wonders" like this.
Despite the absence of advertising, 30 to 40 decisions for Christ have been registered in any decent serviceóplus a fair number of healings, deliverances, and an array of other standard charismatic manifestations.
"Despite the absence of advertising" is not true. This story has been plastered all over the Internet and is being used by "anointees" all over the world as proof of the validity of this new "Third Wave" movement. You can be sure that this story has brought revival seekers from all over to try to find a way to have their spiritual lives somehow jolted into motion."Standard charismatic manifestations" in these types of meetings include but are not limited to laughing, crying, shaking, running around the building, fast dancing, running, etc, followed by collapse; barking-howling, trances, drunkenness, falling out, oinking, being "hot", fanning self or blowing (Article entitled "More on the Revival" by Richard M Riss), hooting like owls (Renewal Magazine UK April 1995 issue, page 43), walking like chickens (Impact Magazine Singapore June/July 1995 Issue, page 2), high pitched whine reminiscent of a lively horse (Electronic Version of Jesus Army Streetpaper, United Kingdom 12th May 1995), mooing and crowing (book entitled "Signs of Revival" by Patrick Dixon 1994 edition, page 29), swimming in the spirit-on the back and also breast stroke style (book entitled "Signs of Revival" By Patrick Dixon 1994 Edition, page 27), women going through imaginary birth pangs (witnessed by Phillip Johnson, Internet:email@example.com), hopping like kangaroos (Signals Prophetic Newsletter @1991-1994, 107 Apricot Street LA 70037, Page 2), loss of conciousness (Article entitled "Revival" Richard Riss' Home Page, http://WWW.grmi.org/Richard_Riss/homepage, page 5), trying to soar like eagles (An Eyewitness Account by Dr RL Hymers, PO Box 15308, Los Angeles), hissing and moving like a snake (article entitled "Toronto Experience" downloaded from Compuserve's Religion/Christianity Forum Library. Contributor 100241,1446), inability to speak and involuntary body spasms (video entitled "The Holy Laugh", United Kingdom, 1994), kung fu-like stances, (witnessed by KS Loo, Internet:firstname.lastname@example.org, Singapore Indoor Stadium 18th Sept 1995), vomiting in the spirit and holy head-banging (Trumpet Call, May 1995 (Volume 1:8), page 2), stripping (taking off clothes) (book entitled "Is the Blessing Biblical?" By David Pawson, page 40, Hodder & Stoughton London 1995)
I find myself asking the question -- is it God's will for His people to be doing these things while half the world is dying in their sins with no knowledge of Jesus Christ?
Because the leadership is very open to the real-time leading of the Holy Spirit, every meeting has been different in theme and order of service. To date, there have been seven cases of cancer cured. And on one remarkable Sunday morning, three people were healed of profound deafness while being prayed for by a 7-year-old boy who had just been healed of deafness the week before himself!
These types of stories have not been verified and from what I have seen of this movement so far, they are usually trumpted up far beyond what actually happened. To date none of these "miracles" conferred by the laying on of hands by another human being can be independantly verified. Case in point -- one of the stories being circulated about a person who was supposedly raised from the dead that was able to be verified turned out to be someone reviving breifly on their deathbed and saying a few words before dying. This kind of thing happens naturally all the time. This is not to say that God does not do miracles in His sovereign way for His purposes. But these stories are being testified to by people not directly involved and who have not even taken the time to investigate them. So many testimonies have been used in this movement and it seems to me that if those using these testimonies to validate their claims are not willing to take the time to find out if they are true or not, then it has become obvious that this movement and its "anointees", in general, are only interested in telling these stories as a means to an end. If this is the case, Christians beware!
The most singular distinction of the meetings has been the palpable presence of God.
How can one possibly know if God is present simply by their feelings? Feelings and emotions are easily manipulated especially by musicians, orators, and con artists as well as by the enemy himself. Satan is not going to make people feel bad when he wants to deceive them. One of the reasons people take drugs is because they make them feel good. Doesn't it seem to you that Christians, bored with chewing and digesting the meat of God's Word, are now using what they perceive to be God's power as a drug to escape thier boredom?
For example, moments of silence have come in which the people have hardly dared to breathe because of the overwhelming weight of His glory. On one memorable occasion, the silence lasted for an hour and a halfówith scarcely a cough or a babyís cry.
Silence is great if it involves worship and prayer and preceeds service. Just because people get all emotionally charged and all decide to be quiet after chaotic behavior only indicates to me that they needed a rest. I beleive that the very highest form of worship is obedience in doing what God has already told us to do. Worship God with your life!
However, the Presence has been felt during many other moments. In fact, the leadership has been quick to explain that the Presence is everything, and the meetings are not an example of Godís "anointing," but rather of His glory. One factor in the meetings is visiting evangelist Tommy Tenney, a third-generation Pentecostal pastor who says he knows what itís like to be under the anointing:
Now the writer of this commentary begins to use the word "the Presence" instead of the Holy Spirit. Is he afraid to use those words? Or is he treating the Holy Spirit as an object to be used, tapped into, imbibed, or scooped into other people? If mere human meetings are an example of God's glory, we have a very dim view of God's glory. We will see His glory in every corner of the world when Jesus returns. Until then we have work to do. Blissing out like "new agers" is hardly a fitting activity for servants of God who know that someday in eternity we have the promise of being glorfied with Christ. Why do we seek that now? Perhaps it is because we are not really in tune with God but rather ourselves and our needs. It makes me wonder if God has given many of these people and churches over to a strong delusion, since they were unwilling to follow His commands in Scripture to begin with. Check out the stories of Saul and Uzzah for reference material on people who decided not to follow God's instructions and, in the heat of passion and emotinalism, incured God's wrath beacuse they neglected God's previously revealed laws.
When you preach, you preach better. When you sing, you sing better. Anything you do, itís a lot better.
Many years ago I became involved in a group that I later discovered was heavily into occult practices. The Lord miraculously delivered me out of that situation. We had a three man music group that was very poplular at the time. I began to notice that when one of the wives of one of the members of the group was present at our concerts, the music sounded a whole lot better. This culminated in an amazing phenomenon one night at a concert where there were about 1000 people present. We began our music set as usual but as we sang I could hear other voices and more instrumentation than we were playing. I saw the smiling face of the member's wife from the stage. After the concert other people came up to us and were amazed that they heard more that what we could have possibly been playing. This story should illustrate to you that Satan can do this "sign and wonder" also.
But these meetings have nothing to do with the anointing.
This phrase makes me very suspicious. He states it a couple of times. If these meetings have nothing to do with "the anointing" then why do they recount that the pastor was "slain in the spirit" and that power is being transfered by laying on of hands, even by a small boy. These are exactly the same things that are happening in Toronto, Pensacola, Kansas City and in all the other "Third Wave" churches. It is interesting to me how far people in these movements are going out of their way to say that their particular church has NOTHING to do with any of these other movements. This should send a little alarm bell off in your head. The enemy is trying desperately to hide his intentions from Christians. Be assured, however, he cannot hide from God and, in fact, God has ordained this whole situation for purposes that only He knows at this time.
I get up to preach, and I ramble around awkwardly, trying to think of what I should say. From a professional viewpoint, itís pretty pathetic. But after awhile, the Presence comes, and I just say, "Folks, itís time. Come and pray." And they start weeping and repenting and walking to the front to pray.
Given the many admonitions from Scripture about preaching the gospel clearly (Titus 1:9, 1 Ti. 4:16, Col 3:16) and the example of the apostles of clear preaching which "is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Rom. 1:16) this is a sad display being put on by this pastor. Prayer is good. I would hope, however, that they are praying for the salvation of the countless millions today that do not know Christ or believe in Him, and not for "more power" which is the popular prayer of today in the Toronto "Blessing" style churches.
Although the scholarly Tenney dutifully comes prepared to preach a revival sermon each time, the Spirit always leads in some unexpected direction, and that full sermon had seldom been given in Houston. But on Sunday morning, October 20, in the 8:30 service, events went from unexpected to shocking and stunning.
Notice that the "Spirit ALWAYS leads in some unexpected direction". How exciting it must be for the people there not to have to listen to God's Word or learn any hard lessons but just to sit back (or lay back) and receive blessing and glory for which, I am sure, many of them have done little to deserve. Sounds like a deception to me.
That day, the atmosphere was again thick with the Presence of Godóso thick that both Tenney and Pastor Richard Heard were quite hesitant to break the profound silence and take the pulpit. (By, any standard, both men are very humble, and Rev. Heard is especially quiet and undramatic. A friend of his commented, "Most of the time, you canít even tell if heís happy or sad!") Seated in the front row next to Tenney, Heard finally leaned over and whispered, "Come on, itís time for you to step up and take over the meeting." The awestruck Tenney responded, "Iím about half afraid to go up there because I think something big is about to happen." And he didnít budge.
I frankly find it hard to believe that the pastor anticipated something was going to happen. This looks like a typical story embellishment that got added later to me. Again, what was the criteria by which the statement is made "the atmosphere was again thick with the Presense of God"? Feelings -- emotions. When one of these types of meetings came to our town we attended one meeting where the people who had already been "slain in the spirit" and "anointed" were commenting from the pulpit that you could feel the presence of God in the room. A number of other pastors who were there to observe commented later that they felt nothing of the sort. This is because they had not been taken in and caught up in the self-delusive emotionalism of the practically unending repetitious songs during the "worship time" where people rocked back and forth until they were no longer thinking about much at all, including the words -- and the sermon time where much of it was spent prepping the audience to receive the "anointing" and not to analyse too much or they wouldn't receive it.
So after a moment, Heard stood, walked across the soft-padded red carpet, mounted the 28-inch platform, grasped the pulpit and read from II Chronicles 7:14: "Öif My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." What the Holy Sprit is saying to us is that we should seek Godís face, not His hand. We should not be seeking just His benefits, but seeking to know Him. At that instant, a loud clap of noise hit the sanctuary, Heard was thrown backwards, and the heavy cast acrylic pulpit was split in two pieces and flung toward the congregation in two directions, landing about six or seven feet apart.
To know God we must learn His character and will for our lives. To know those things we must be familiar with Scripture. To be familiar with Scirpture we must study it diligently to find out what God has done and is saying to us through it today. We must study Scripture in it's contextual and cultural settings and not pulll verses out of context to prove some experience we have just had. God is saying in the verse that the pastor quoted that people need to humble themselves and pray. God is not going to forceably bring His people to their knees in awe of some sign or wonder. He is asking for our obedience and faith though we have not yet seen His face (John 20:29). Through this obedience He will then heal our land. I don't see where this verse says that people should "seek God's face, not His hand". This is not implied in this verse at all. The second statement is implied and it is interesting to me that this church seems to have been in hot pursuit of "His benefits" for some time. If people truly know God, they obey Him. Obedience to God means preaching the gospel to the entire world, not rejoicing in signs and wonders (Luke 10:20).
The action was explosive in its suddenness. All the witnesses interviewed on this point exclaimed, in virtually identical words, "It all happened so fast!" Heard was unhurt, but flat on his back eight to nine feet away and thoroughly "slain in the Spirit," in the Pentecostal phrase. Only a non-stop twitching of his right hand showed he was still alive.
This statement contradicts his earlier statement that this was not "the anointing". This is exactly what happens in "anointing" services. Why has this author tried to distance himself from the Toronto style movement, when these people have obviously been to those meetings and received the "anointing". I don't even have to have confirmaton on that point to see the pattern here. This reminds me of the deception and lies at Brownsville, Pensacola where they continue, to this day, to say they are not part of the Toronto movement, when their leaders received the "anointing" DIRECTLY from Toronto movement people.
It took four men to carry off his limp form, partly because of the weight of Godís glory emanated from him and made their own bodies seem heavier. (On another occasion, it took four struggling men to carry off a 90-pound girl for the same reason. The Hebrew chabod means both "glory" and "weightiness.")
Oh brother! Here is some real editorializing. Has this "investigator" never heard of "dead weight". When someone is out cold they are very heavy. To attribute the weight of a man with "God's glory" is silly and ludicrous. I have never heard the term"glory" be brought down to the level of physical weight before. I doubt very much that this is a correct interpretation of "weightiness". However, it is yet another indication that this story has gained details since it happened.
The half-inch thick Plexiglas-type pulpit fared not so well. It lay in two pieces, with a jagged, lightning-bolt-like edge running down at about a 30 degree angle from top to bottom. The base and top were unscathed, but the stem middle was severed.
Plastic often breaks with jagged edges. If they broke a piece of plexiglass while installing it in their house would they describe the break to someone else as "a jagged, lightning-bolt-like edge"? Other people who have related this story say a lightning bolt hit the pulpit and shattered it, or a thunderous sound occured. But that is obviously yet another exaggeration and embellishment on the facts of this story. Let me give you a possible theory on this whole sordid incident -- is it just slightly possible that the pastor was leaning on the plastic pulpit and his weight caused the pulpit to buckle and shatter? Just a thought.
Later, the pulpit manufacturer went into denial when informed of the split. They firmly stated that if the material were subjected to extremely high pressureóover 57,000 pounds per square inchóit would shatter into tiny splinters, like glass. But they insisted there is absolutely no way it would ever split along a diagonal jagged line, regardless of the kind of pressure exerted.
This also needs to be verified. Of course the manufacturer is going to deny that his product was faulty in any way. The rest of the alleged testimony of the manufacturer sounds like a made-up story to me.
The congregation was stunned. Tenney gave seven altar calls, and people kept coming forward. Some didnít even make it, falling down and out cold on the way. The meeting continued until midnight.
All I have to say is that people these days are looking for anything to validate their Christian experience, apart from obedience and service. The hyper-suggestability of many Christians these days makes it very easy for them to be lead astray by those who know how to use these meetings to their own ends. What does any of this have to do with our mandate to preach the gospel from Scripture and the cross of Jesus Christ?
Although they didnít understand the message too clearly, they knew God has spoken loudly. And they knew there was no earthly explanation for what they had seen.
Pretty soon people will be so willing to believe anything as a sign from God, that when a jet plane flies over and a sonic boom happens they will fall to the floor. The danger here is that there is a man who is going to declare himself soon that will be able to do lying signs and wonders the likes of which our generation has never seen. It looks like he is going to have a very receptive audience. His most receptive audience at this point are those who have fallen under this power in churches all across the world. The man who will upstage all the others -- the False Prophet.
At this writing, the meetings continue. And according to Pastor Heard, "There isnít a spot of carpet in the place that hasnít been stained with tears of repentance."
If they are truly repentant, all they need to do now is "turn from evil". This evil in our churches today is spreading like a virus.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other and the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" Gal. 1:6-8
The "different gospel" is the gospel of signs and wonders -- the gospel of power. The true gospel message is that people need to repent and believe that Jesus died for their sins and that He rose again to afford them eternal life. The real gospel involves Christians who have moved from "milk" to "meat" and are willing put away childish and selfish pleasures and follow Jesus to the cross. This is not a popular concept today in the church. Is it any wonder so many are being deceived?
by Deception In The Church, 1997