BE CAREFUL HOW YOU DRINK THE WATER!
BE CAREFUL HOW YOU DRINK THE WATER! Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There is a smell of rain in the air. Many saints are testifying of a powerful revival to come. We have been commanded to pray for rain in the time of the spring rain, the rain that will bring both the wheat and the tares to maturity.
If often is true that before a real move of God takes place there are counterfeits. Some scholars have stated that prior to the appearing of the Lord Jesus a number of false Messiahs vaunted themselves.
The purpose of this article is to set forth some guidelines we think can be employed to test the validity of any spiritual movement claiming to come from Christ. If we wish to be in the Lord's army we must be careful how we drink the water of the Spirit. If we stick our head in the water, so to speak, abandoning all caution, we likely will be left out of the glorious things that are ahead.
BE CAREFUL HOW YOU DRINK THE WATER!
Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone. (Zechariah 10:1—NIV)
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. (Judges 7:5,6—NIV)
There is a smell of rain in the air. The spiritual atmosphere is charged. The prophets are speaking of revival, of unprecedented Divine Glory to come and bring the saints to maturity, to give us fresh insight into the Scriptures, and to empower worldwide evangelism on a scale never before seen—not even during the events of the Book of Acts.
Truly the Lord Jesus has kept the good wine until now.
We are in the time of the spring (harvest; latter) rain. Joel, Hosea, and James speak of the spring rain. Zechariah commands us to pray for rain in the time of the spring rain so we will have an abundance of fruitfulness.
We want revival. We are praying for revival. But we want to be sure that what we receive is the real thing.
We will receive the approval of the Lord if we put the apostles to the test.
Elijah on Mount Carmel was too experienced to move just because everything shook and flew around. There was a tremendous commotion but Elijah remained unmoved because he knew the Lord was not in these. He waited for the quiet voice he had learned to trust and obey.
In 1965 Stanley Howard Frodsham, author of With Signs Following, gave a remarkable prophecy at the Elim Bible Institute. Audrey and I knew Brother Frodsham, editor of The Pentecostal Evangel and can vouch for the godliness of this remarkable saint.
Brother Frodham saw mighty revival power coming to prepare the believers for the darkness ahead. He then warned us not to get our eyes on people.
He spoke of seducing spirits and cautioned that we should watch for righteousness in the behavior of those who profess to be from God.
He spoke of judgment coming on the churches, the same thing the Lord revealed to us personally in 1948. Brother Frodsham stated that deceivers will come who at first speak words of righteousness and truth. Then when people begin trust them they will bring forth "insidious doctrines." The idea is that there will be a mixture of truth and error.
He concluded by advising us to be established in the Word of God and not in the personalities of men, not to not "hold people's persons in admiration"; for it will be by this method that Satan will destroy many of God's people.
We Pentecostal-Charismatic people are far too vulnerable! We are experience-oriented and not Word- oriented. This is why we accepted the faith and prosperity messages when they obviously are against the Scriptures.
We seem to be willing to receive anything that speaks the name of Jesus, feels good, and draws the crowds. It reminds us of the False Prophet of Revelation. He has the two horns of the lamb (the power of Christ) but he speaks as a dragon. So it is that the spirits invading the Charismatic movement today seem to be exerting the power of Christ but they have arisen from the earth, from the human soul, and speak as a dragon.
The following are some guidelines gleaned from fifty-nine years as a Christian. My prayer is that they will enable you to eat the butter and honey and reject the evil.
When testing the authenticity of any purported move of God the first thing to do is to listen to what is being preached. Is the Bible being preached or is the Bible being used as a kind of reference point to give the proceedings an air of validity?
If the saints had read the New Testament carefully to see what it said about material riches the believers would not have received the apostles of the faith-prosperity message. From Balaam to Judas and Ananias and Sapphira the Bible warns of the love of money.
Of all the gods of the Greeks and Romans the Lord Jesus mentioned only one—Mammon, the god of riches.
The Lord Jesus had the power to turn stones into bread but He did not do this. Neither should we turn stones into bread except at the express command of the Lord. The Father was not directing Jesus to turn stones into bread and so He refused Satan's advice.
Listen carefully to what is being preached. No matter what manifestations there are, or what kind of feelings you have at the time, if what is being preached is not an exposition of the Bible then get up and walk out.
We wouldn't be in the "rapture" or "Jesus did it all" problems if the believers had searched the Scriptures to see if these things are so.
Joshua was warned to meditate in the Word and not depart from it. We Christians have departed from the Scriptures!
Another guideline is, Is Christ being exalted in the service or is an experience or special doctrine being exalted? People tell me all they hear in their church is "rapture, rapture, rapture, grace, grace, grace." Is it any wonder the saints are not mature but are spiritually stunted? This is not scriptural food. It is Christ Himself who is to be lifted up, not primarily the Christ of history but Christ of today who is ready to meet every need. Brothers, Sisters, let us preach Christ, not about Christ but Christ!
We used to say in Pentecost, do not preach the Holy Spirit; do not preach tongues; do not preach healing; preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Today we hear sermons about what God has done, is doing, or will do in the service. This is not scriptural food. This is to exalt an experience rather than the Lord Jesus.
It is only as He is lifted up that all men will be drawn to Him.
We are not to preach the signs. The signs follow the preaching of Jesus Christ.
The signs are not the destination, the fullness of Christ is the destination. We are to be in His moral image and at rest in the Father through Him. This can only be accomplished as we are taught the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture, various spiritual experiences, are not to be preached. Such preaching is destroying the moral strength of the Church of Christ. By grace we mean the lawless grace that is being taught in our day, not the true grace of God which is God in Christ enabling us to overcome sin and walk in the light of God's Presence.
The purpose of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, and all other manifestations of spiritual life, is to build the Body of Christ. Whenever what is taking place in the service is not building up the members of the Body but is a private devotion or experience of some sort, then it is time for the elders to gently and courteously, but firmly, guide the believers into a more profitable demonstration. Often the best thing a misguided person can do is to sit and be quiet.
Each one of us needs to ask himself, "Is what I am doing profiting the Body of Christ? Is it building up the Body or is it my own personal manifestation or fun?"
If the eldership of the assembly is encouraging everyone to just let his hair down, so to speak, and do whatever feels good, then be sure this is not the Lord. Get out of there before you are harmed spiritually. God will not protect you if you are in a meeting out of His will.
Elders are the key to maintaining Divine order. The elders must be experienced, godly people who have a love for the saints. They must be gentle, apt to teach, patient, but they always must be ready to stop any proceeding that has gotten out of hand.
The elders must never permit a meeting to run itself. It is the responsibility of the elders to govern diligently. If they do not, Satan will enter the proceedings and pandemonium will result.
Manifestations of the spirit must be supervised by godly elders. If they are not there will be excesses of all kinds.
The reason the children of Israel sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play was that their elder, Moses, was on the mountain with God. Aaron was useless as a governing elder because he feared the people.
We need to ask ourselves: Are people being scorned, directed to quit being analytical and judgmental, and told to just accept whatever spirit they feel? Are they told not to test the apostles?
Is the spirit of the meeting gentle and easy to be entreated?
Is there unseemly behavior? God is not the author of confusion but of peace.
We always are to test the spirits. The Bible commands us to do this. The Lord will never reprove you for testing the spirits even if you do so on numerous occasions. We are to pray, "Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one."
Don't ever imagine you cannot be deceived. There is much deception in the Christian churches of our day. We lay ourselves open for deception when we attempt to make our discipleship easy or pleasant. When we do not turn away from the world, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, we are not a disciple and therefore not a Christian.
Christianity has become a religion. You can be a Christian by religion and still not be a disciple, a true Christian. It may be a fact that there are not many genuine Christians in our day. I hope I am incorrect in this!
To be a genuine Christian you must receive Jesus as your personal Lord and you must be His bondslave. Until you do this you are not a true Christian even though you are a Christian by religion; even though you have taken the four steps of salvation; even though you talk in tongues.
Are people praying to the Holy Spirit Himself instead of to Jesus? There is no scriptural basis for praying or singing to the Holy Spirit. We are to pray to Jesus and worship Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit will come because He always exalts the Lord Jesus. The Spirit's mission is to bring a bride to the Lamb who is without blemish.
Are the manifestations scriptural? The gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God are listed in Romans, Twelve; First Corinthians, Twelve and Fourteen; and Ephesians, Four. We need the gifts and ministries desperately today for it is only through these the Body of Christ can be brought to maturity.
Is there a sense of order or of pandemonium in the service? Are the people sitting down to eat and drink and rising up to play because there is no diligent eldership?
Are the manifestations self-centered or Christ-centered? Some of today's "revivals" are experience-centered and self-centered. The various bodily manifestations are not scriptural and do not lift up the Lord Jesus or build the saints. All that is talked about is "how I felt when this feeling went through my body."
Jessie Penn-Lewis' book War on the Saints will prove very helpful to a believer who has opened his personality to some of the current phenomena and now is uncomfortable with what was said and done. Try to get the unabridged version of the book (Thomas E. Lowe, Ltd., 2 Penn Plaza, Suite 1500, New York, NY 10001). It is a classic on the subject of deception.
One simple way of testing a movement and the things done in an assembly is to ask yourself, "Would Jesus do this? Would the Apostles do this?"
If you cannot picture Jesus or the Apostles participating then leave the meeting at once.
Sometime we get the feeling that it would be good to humble ourselves and bark like a dog or growl like a lion. We may find a wonderful psychological release by making a fool of ourselves in public, but this is not the Spirit of the Lord.
Didn't the Apostle Paul say, "If anyone howls like a wolf or neighs like a horse in the assembly, let him pray that he may interpret that others may be edified"?
My wife, Audrey, says when God is around the people do not bray like donkeys, rather the donkeys speak like people.
If someone has a dog and howls in order to get the dog howling (as I do at home sometimes), there is no problem here. That is between you and your dog. But please—not in the assembly of saints!
Is the power of suggestion being used? This is a form of hypnosis. Are you being asked to lay on the floor with your legs spread apart so someone can pretend he is delivering a baby? Are you being given to drink an imaginary glass of chocolate? Are you jumping off the platform pretending you are diving into the Spirit of God?
All of this is the power of suggestion resulting in self-hypnosis. Do you read of Christ or His Apostles doing anything like this?
The Spirit of God never behaves in an unseemly manner.
Some young people from our church went north of here to participate in a praise symposium. During one of the workshops a visiting pastor was prophesying in time to some current dance form.
The young people felt this was a bit unseemly and asked the Lord to show them if it was truly from God.
At this point the pastor looked at them and growled!
The marvel to me is that there were a number of seasoned, experienced elders present at the worship and none of them seemed to discern that something not of God was taking place. It took our kids (I am so proud of them!) to ask Christ if the manifestation was from Him.
No one enjoys the high praises of God more than we. But if the high praises are not accompanied by the two-edged sword of the Word there will be immorality and every other evil work.
Are we sticking our head in the water? Are we praying carefully or just diving into the river? It is how we drink that will determine whether we gain a place in the army of the Lord.
King Saul prophesied on at least two occasions but it made no change in his personality. Religious experiences are of little or no use to us unless they cause us to make up our mind to follow the Lord. It is with the mind, the will, that we choose the Lord. Success in the Christian discipleship depends on our willingness to determinedly, relentlessly, courageously keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Christ will enable us to do this once we make up our mind.
The power of lust is so strong today in America that one must be made of iron to stand against temptation. This is what Christ is looking for—men and women, boys and girls, of iron who will never give way to lust, violence, or any of the other personality traits of Satan.
The Word of God will produce iron people who can stand against the sin in our culture
You can have iron formed in you by seeking Christ constantly, praying without ceasing. Add some iron to your diet and you will be able to resist sin!
If there is a stress on numbers, on building a big church, the pastor is liable to permit anything that will draw people, thus opening up the congregation to deception. Huge churches are the sign, in America, of the successful pastor. This is a destructive value. Better to have a few people really serving the Lord than thousands who troop in and troop out without becoming disciples.
If a pastor is willing to follow the people as they lust after emotional experiences he may build a large congregation. But such an institution will not stand in the day of fire.
The false often comes before the real. We know that revival is in the air. Maybe we better make sure before we say "This is that!"
Before you say or do anything that seems embarrassing or strange to you, make certain you are hearing from the Lord. Watch the fruit, the consequences of what you do. If in doubt it is best not to proceed no matter what the leadership of the assembly says. A true elder of God will never force you to do that with which you are uncomfortable.
Membership in the Lord's army is not for fools. Drink the water of life but be circumspect. Don't stick your head in the pool.
There are numerous gifts and ministries of the Spirit. If the Spirit of God is in us we already have been given a gift. As we follow the Lord Jesus He will administrate the gift. When the Lord Jesus administrates the gift, God the Father will issue the power to exercise the gift properly.
We are to seek the Lord and earnestly desire the greater gifts. Remember, the spirit of the prophet is always subject to the prophet. God will not work against your will and Satan cannot work against your will. You are God's judge, God's ruler. This is the destiny of man. Your will and judgment are gifts to you as man. Learn to use them in Christ. Keep them bright and shining.
When any person or spirit tells you to cease judging and accept whatever spirit is present, don't do it. Always keeps your wits about you. Never just empty your mind and seek to be controlled. There are numerous spirits present at every Christian assembly and they are only too happy to accommodate your desire for spiritual phenomena and experiences.
It has become fashionable to fall down when you are prayed for. Never fall down when you are prayed for if you can help it. Are you trying to please the minister, or be like everyone else, or meet the group expectations? You might hit your head on a chair or rearrange your clothing in an undesirable manner.
Watch out for the power of suggestion. It is a form of hypnosis.
If you should howl like a wolf, pretend to deliver a baby, fan people, pretend to drink chocolate, roll on the floor, bang your head on the wall, neigh like a horse, what does it profit? Are you building the Body of Christ in so doing?
Revival is at hand. I am convinced of it. But I want to see revival that produces the fruit of righteous behavior, brings insight into the Word of God, and results in worldwide evangelism.
I want to see Jesus exalted.
I know that people will react when in the Presence of God. There always will be emotional exhibitionism when the Spirit of God touches the flesh of man. No problem with this. But it is the responsibility of the elders to insure that Satan does not take advantage of emotionalism so that the people behave in an uncontrollable manner.
Whenever people say that they could not help some manifestation they are deceived. We always can control any gift or manifestation. If we cannot then we need prayer so we can be brought into the peace of the Lord.
As Brother Frodsham said in his prophecy many years ago, spiritual movements will come that at first appear to be of God. Multitudes of people will jump into the water and "eat the flesh with the blood," to use another metaphor, because they are famished for the Presence of the Lord.
Remember that his experiences with prophesying did not make King Saul a better man. Why not? Because his will was not changed. He was self-willed while he prophesied and continued in his self-will after he was through prophesying.
Neither will all sorts of religious experiences change you from self-will to God's will. The required change of will is a change of the mind, the mind that chooses to follow the Lord Jesus.
Today we have pandemonium, in some instances. Charismatic people in particular are gullible. Therefore they are likely candidates for participation in the False Prophet, that supporter of Antichrist.
We want revival not a commotion. We want the Presence of Christ not fleshly manifestations. We want to see people brought to Jesus Christ, not people shaking, jerking, howling like wolves, neighing like horses. What does it profit my brothers?
I'm looking for the spring rain but I do not believe we have seen it as yet. May God grant that our generation will see the double portion promised by the Lord Jesus. I think we shall, but the key is godly elders who will guard the sheep against that which is fleshly and unprofitable, arising from the flesh and soul.
It is time to remove the distinction between clergy and laity. It is time for every member of the Body of Christ to seek the Lord for the proper use of his or her talent so the Body may be built by that which every joint supplies.
The Lord is coming soon with His army to judge and deliver the peoples of the earth. We will be part of the marvelous appearing of Christ if we learn now to overcome Satan, our flesh, and our self-will through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord's return will not take place until the Bride becomes unblemished, until righteous, holy behavior is evident. In addition we must learn to be sternly obedient to our Father in Heaven.
Any move that is of God will point toward the coming of the Lord. It will exhort us to practice justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
If instead we are pointed toward weird exhibitions of the flesh and soul we are not hearing from God. Best to leave all such acrobatics and contortions and to seek Jesus until we are walking in a godly, sane manner, giving glory to God not only in the assembly of saints but also in the home, on the job, on vacation, in school, or wherever we are. We need to be clothed with Jesus and in our right mind.
Let us point to Jesus, not to wild, uncontrolled patterns of behavior. Let us not permit people to lay hands on us until we are certain they are godly and truly serving the Lord. Who knows what spirit we might pick up by having unclean hands, self-seeking hands, laid on us!
If the behaviors taking place today during "revivals," jerking, shaking, falling down when prayed for, howling, barking, pretending to drink liquids, pretending to give birth, "uncontrollable" laughter, pretending to dive into water, are not from the Spirit of God, then what is their origin? Are Christians accepting unclean spirits?
If these are unclean spirits, then Satan has a purpose in their entering the believers. If this is so, what would Satan's purpose be?
We submit that Satan has a goal in mind today, and that goal is to destroy the testimony of the Christian churches.
What is the testimony of the Christian churches? In addition to the facts concerning the atoning death and triumphant bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the testimony of the churches is righteous and holy behavior on the part of the Christians. Can you agree with this?
Isaiah speaks of righteousness and praise springing forth in the sight of the nations of the earth. The Lord Jesus told us that when people see our good works they will glorify God.
But because of the current teaching of lawless grace, the believers are not seeking God for the purpose of being able to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Christian doctrine is off course in the area of righteous behavior—the testimony the Father desires; the testimony the world is waiting to see.
When we preach rapture, rapture, rapture, grace, grace, grace, the result is not a righteous, holy people walking in stern obedience to the Father, bearing their cross behind the Lord Jesus. We preachers are at fault in this. We have produced moral chaos by our teaching of Jesus as the ticket to Heaven.
It appears the American people are sick and tired of hearing about how they must be "born again" when the born-again people are no more righteous than the people of the world. (I can hear you saying "Amen!")
What are we to do? We who are teachers and preachers need to turn again to the New Testament and see if the emphasis is on actual righteousness of behavior or on imputed righteousness. Also we will find no emphasis whatever on an ascension of the believers to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation.
We are following our traditions instead of the Word of God. The inevitable has taken place. The Presence of God has withdrawn.
Now there is a vacuum. We no longer have the richness of the Spirit of God because of our emphasis on lawless grace and the pre-tribulation disappearance of the believers. Yet we are desirous of crowds of people because this is the sign of spiritual success in America.
Is it possible that into this vacuum are entering practices and beliefs that are not of Christ, not of His Apostles, not of the New Testament? Are people so starved they are "eating the blood along with the flesh" as took place during the rule of self-willed King Saul?
The Church of Ephesus tested the apostles and were commended for so doing. Are we testing carefully every spirit that pretends to be from Jesus or are we following every feeling that comes to us? If we are opening ourselves to spirits and following the feelings that come to us we are departing from the guidelines that have been established by teachers, such as Jessie Penn-Lewis, who have instructed us from the Scriptures concerning passivity and deception. We are opening ourselves to deception. We are destroying the witness of God. The Christian Church is to be the moral light of the world, the testimony of God's Person, God's will, His way, and His eternal purposes in Christ.
We ourselves will end up paddling around in a lagoon, getting nowhere, not growing in Christ, in the ability to distinguish good and evil and in the strength and willingness to choose the good and reject the evil.
Don't go to any Christian meeting because of curiosity or to "see what they are doing over there." Stay with the group you are with no matter how small, with people you know, love, and trust, under the guidance of elders whom you know to be experienced and godly.
Then you will grow strong in the Lord. Christ will be formed in you.
Keep away from the various experiences taking place today until you are absolutely sure of what you are doing, until you have God's peace, until you are comfortable with what is taking place, until you feel that this is Christ's will for you.
The level of deception is so high today it is blinding even the elders. Pray, take up your cross and follow Jesus, meditate in the Bible, meet as often as you can with godly disciples, give of your means as God has blessed you, and seek an area of service. The Lord will be with you and keep you from all evil until He returns in glory.