Tag Archives: Charismatic Movement

The Rest of the Charismata

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Charismata: The Spiritual Gifts as Weapons of Spiritual Warfare

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit,who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

1 Cor 12:7-11 (ESV)

Over the last several weeks, I have been posting my definitions of key Christian terms related to the Charismatic stream of historic Christianity. With our fourth session of the Ps-501, Life in the Spirit course meeting tomorrow, I thought it would be helpful to post the entire list. This list covers all the charismata, spiritual gifts, found in 1 Cor. 12:8-11 and Eph. 4:11. Below are a couple of definitions to wet your whistle and the remaining definitions are listed in the attached Word document file.

FAITH, GIFT of -Supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to believe for a major victory in a power encounter with the Enemy. An other-worldly conviction that God will reveal his power and mercy in a special way for a specific instance (Acts 3:6, 1 Sam. 17:26).

HEALING(S), GIFTS of -The everyday expectation/faith that the Holy Spirit can heal any disease at any anytime. The plural endings on both Greek nouns indicate various kinds of healing for numerous and different types of diseases (1 Cor. 12:9, Acts 3:1-10).

INTERPRETATION of TONGUES, GIFT of -An enablement from the Holy Spirit to explain meaning of an unknown human language or heavenly tongue (1 Cor. 14:5).

MIRACULOUS POWERS, GIFT of -An extraordinary display of God’s power bringing individual deliverance from sin, death, and the devil. Supernatural power that goes beyond the regular healing of the sick (Acts 5:15, 9:36-43; Acts 8:6-7; 1 Cor. 12:10).

POWER EVANGELISM is a presentation of the gospel which breaks down resistance to the gospel through powerful displays of God’s presence by the manifestation of the spiritual gifts. Through the church’s use of the spiritual gifts: words of knowledge, prophecies, healings, and deliverance from demons, the lost are draw to the Word of God by the power of God.

SIGNS and WONDERS-A special inbreaking of the kingdom which brings deliverance to those bound by sin, sickness, and Satan. This release includes the spiritual gifts manifesting breaking down barriers to the gospel. Synonymous with miracles and the word, “works,” as used in the Gospel of John for displays of God’s power (Acts 2:22, John 14:12). The entire list of definitions can be found on the Scribd page linked below:

Charismata Definitions document file

The Mind of God for a Perplexing Situation

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The Word of Wisdom

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them,”Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Matt. 22:15-22 (ESV)

The spiritual gift of a word of wisdom is insight given by the Holy Spirit into a present situation for the purpose of solving a perplexing dilemma. When caught in-between a proverbial rock and a hard place caused by either people or circumstances, the Holy Spirit gives understanding showing the way out of the predicament (1 Cor. 12:8, Dan. 2:21-22, Luke 21:15).

The word of wisdom is a spiritual utterance at a given moment through the Spirit supernaturally disclosing the mind, purpose, and way of God as applied to a specific situation.

Jack Hayford, NKJV Spirit-Filled Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 1736.

An example of a word of wisdom:

Richard Cunningham, leader of University and Colleges Christian Fellowship, in response to the question whether the gathering New Word Alive is “narrow, schismatic, conservative.”

‘It’s only as narrow theologically as the gospel demands, but as culturally broad and generous as the gospel permits.’

HT: Desiring God Blog



How Did You Know That?

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The Spiritual Gift of the Word of Knowledge

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;

1 Cor 12:7-8 (NASU)

A word of knowledge is insight given to a believer into another person’s past which ministers God’s present love into their current problems and struggles. A word of knowledge reveals heart-felt secrets that only our omniscient God could know for the purpose of displaying God’s care and concern for that individual’s needs.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.

John 4:13-19 (NIV)

Gift of Different Languages

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Glossolalia

I [Paul] thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you.

1 Cor 14:18 (NLT)

A special ability from the Holy Spirit to speak in a language never learned: earthly or angelic. Unintelligible speech directed in praise and prayer toward God for the edification of the speaker and for the building up of the people of God. Speaking in tongues is normal, but not normative. That is to say, do not be surprised to experience the gift of tongues upon being renewed in the Holy Spirit. However, the experience of this blessed gift is not a requirement, but a grace-gift from God to assist us in praying when we do not know how to pray.

(1 Cor. 13:1, Gen. 11:1-9, Acts 2:1-11).

Tongues is “a way of responding to the inexpressibility of God, a way of crying to God from the depths and expressing the too-deep-for-words sighings of the heart.”

The gift of tongues cuts at our pride. Receiving this gift surrenders our speech to the Lord and makes us like little children: humble, dependent and trusting.

The gift places us in unfamiliar territory and requires us to be childlike in prayer. But this may be why tongues are important. It is a means God uses to challenge strategies of control. It is a humble but also a humbling gift to which we should be open.

Clark H. Pinnock, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 172-173.

Discerning the Lakeland Outpouring

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God . . . . (1 John 4:1 NIV).

The Controversy

This spring, the evangelist, Todd Bentley, and the leadership of Ignited Church, began a series of meetings in Lakeland, Florida, that drew thousands as reports of dramatic healings and resurrections from the dead gained national attention. As the services began to be televised on the God Channel, sermons re-broadcast on You Tube, and stories repeated through internet bloggers, publicity for these meetings spread faster than any previous “outpouring.” Criticism of this renewal movement followed just as rapidly. Charismatic leaders most concerned were denominational officials, theologians, and pastors sympathetic to the practice of spiritual gifts and divine healing, yet baffled by Bentley’s ministry methods and dramatic declarations.

J. Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine wrote several articles (here and here) concerned with Lakeland practices that he felt produced “bizarre manifestations,” “hype,” and “exaggerated claims.” Grady targeted Todd’s fascination with angels, lack of Christ-centered teaching, and practice of bizarre methods like hitting, spitting, and the proclamation of “bam” when praying for people. These criticisms generated ire in many of the attendees and real consternation for the supporters of the renewal. Lakeland worshipers felt unjustly criticized for seeking God with all their hearts. They questioned the spiritual credibility of writers like J. Lee Grady who seemed to intellectualize the Move of God. The attendees felt that the Holy Spirit was using Todd powerfully and that any doubts shared by Charismatic or non-Charismatic leaders were unwarranted.

The controversy reached a crescendo when Fresh Fire Ministries, Todd Bentley’s home ministry (here), disclosed that Todd was formally separating from his wife. After this announcement, Dutch Sheets, Charismatic leader and friend of Florida Outpouring leaders, wrote (here) of his concerns about the hyped methods and immature leadership of Todd Bentley. He criticized an “apostolic alignment ceremony” conducted for Todd by many of Sheets’ closest associates. Sheets felt that Todd was not prepared for such of a release of responsibility. In his open letter, Dutch Sheets repented for the Charismatic movement’s lack of discernment concerning Bentley’s ministry.

My Concerns

Being theologically trained, I have been asked many questions about the Florida Outpouring. As a result, I watched with great interest Todd Bentley’s ministry on the God Channel. What I saw was a congregation hungry for more of God, yet I observed a leadership team which lacked maturity, and in some cases, integrity. There is no denying that real healings, deliverances, and salvations occurred during the meetings under the Tent in Lakeland. However, a great anointing does not make a spiritual leader flawless or faultless.

Lack of Verification

For example, Todd Bentley’s organization, Fresh Fire Ministries, gave the Associated Press a list of fifteen people who they said could be medically verified as healed, yet the reporters could not substantiate any of the healing stories. The phone numbers were inaccurate and the doctors cited would not return calls. “The Associated Press tried to follow up on a list of 15 names that were given by Bentley’s ministry that is supposed to represent healings that can be medically verified. ‘Yet two phone numbers given out by the ministry were wrong, six people did not return telephone messages and only two of the remainder, when reached by The Associated Press, said they had medical records as proof of their miracle cure. However, one woman would not make her physician available to confirm the findings, and the other’s doctor did not return calls despite the patient’s authorization.'” (“Controversial Revivals Draw Even Pentecostal Critics,” Christian Post, July 13, 2008).

Second: The ABC News program, Nightline, stated that a whole notebook of healing reports which Todd Bentley’s staff made available were unverifiable. In this notebook, Todd claims that a certain woman was healed from a massive cancerous tumor. Nightline contacted her home and her husband stated that she was not available for she was in chemotherapy. This is problematic to say the least: an individual that Todd’s ministry claimed was healed is found to be in treatment. This discovery is not good for the ailing woman or for the integrity of Bentley’s ministry.

Third: Todd Bentley reported twenty-one resurrections from the dead, yet none was confirmed by outside sources. Most of these resurrection stories were conveyed on television during phone conversations with television viewers. In other words, the resurrection reports were given “live” without proper research and background checks.

Fourth: Todd said that a man was raised from the dead because of “impartation” prayer. “Impartation” prayer is the belief that attendees could leave the Lakeland meetings and take that same anointing with them. The leadership taught that the same miracles performed in Lakeland would and could manifest among their friends and family back home. As a result, a woman testified over the phone that she had prayed for a deceased man at a funeral home and saw him resuscitated. Bentley stated that the man came forth from a casket during the viewing. No location is given, no individuals’ names stated, or date provided.

Are we saying to the world that a fully embalmed man sat up and talked? If so, produce a death certificate, a funeral director, and an amazed and grateful family. Surely, Fresh Fire Ministries would expect questions when making claims as dramatic as these. I do not doubt that God can resuscitate a dead person today as Jesus did in the life of Lazarus, but what I question is the veracity of Todd’s claims.

Fifth: In May, a Charismatic pastor from the State of Washington came forward for healing. He was suffering from terminal bone marrow cancer. Todd boldly proclaimed from the platform that the man was totally healed, yet the pastor tragically died two weeks later. The pastor’s family must be devastated. This kind of hype and on-stage theatrics wounds many a follower of Christ. In times like these, I miss John Wimber. John saw incredible signs and wonders in his ministry, yet the healing model he followed did not contain the theatrics found in Lakeland.

Sixth: Fresh Fire Ministries is now admitting that Todd was in some sort of “inappropriate emotional relationship” with a woman other than his wife.

Lack of Propriety

“We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.” Full letter found here.

This news is very heartbreaking and I pray that Todd will receive pastoral care with spiritual and emotional healing. I pray that full restoration of their marriage would be possible. In addition, I pray that no critics would gloat over the tragedy of a broken family. Yet, this misconduct is just one more red flag in a series of red flags that mark Todd’s ministry. Repeatedly, credibility issues keep manifesting without resolution.

Lack of Accountability

In a letter written last week, Doris and Peter Wagner are pastorally gracious toward Todd: they defend their relationship with him. However, Peter admits that he never met with Todd before welcoming Bentley into their Gospel Alliance ministry. Peter brings Todd into “apostolic alignment,” but has never spent any time with him, how responsible is that? How can Todd be accountable to them, if they do not know him?

“I could easily see that Todd needs deep inner healing and professional-level deliverance he has not yet had the opportunity to receive.  One of our critics said that we got it backwards and should have taken him into a back room and ministered to him before the ceremony.  We had the luxury of a few minutes with Todd before the evening meeting.  We had never met the man before.  Was I to say ’Hey, Todd, you’re a mess and need help in the next five minutes?'” [Peter Wagner email]

Well, yes, Dr. Wagner, if he is a mess please minister to him. If you see that Todd needed help, stop the ceremony, and pray for him. The question I ask, “Is why you, Dr. Wagner, laid hands on a man for apostolic impartation when you knew that he had deep personal problems?” The Apostle Paul is clear, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure”(1 Tim. 5:22, NKJV). As members of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, we recognize the importance of personal accountability, long-term relationship, and spiritual oversight. Evidently, the leadership in Lakeland did not see the need to keep Todd pastorally accountable.

Lack of Discernment

It has been reported that in Lakeland, one is labeled a doubter, “Grays,” when questions are asked about the ministry methods used by Todd Bentley. “Blues” are those who put aside their minds and accept everything as from the Lord. This kind of insulated attitude prevents accountability and correction. The New Testament affirms our responsibility as believers to weigh, measure, and discern the use of the spiritual gifts in ministry (1 Cor 12: 10, 14:29, Matt. 7:20). Discernment is insight from the Holy Spirit which enables a believer to know whether a practice, teaching, or gifting is from God, Satan, or a manifestation of the flesh. Certainly, in these Last Days, the church needs the gift of discernment more than ever before. Discernment is a check in one’s spirit with a question mark in one’s mind.

Some people perceive me as “smart” or “theologically deep” and immediately conclude that I am a skeptic who is not open to the work of the Holy Spirit. Thirty years ago, I first spoke in tongues on a street corner in Dallas, Texas. From that day, I have been a pastor in a Charismatic ministry or church. I have experienced many of the charismata listed by Paul in First Corinthians 12. As best as I can be, I am open to the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit in a public setting. However, God does not ask us to “turn off our minds.” The Lord desires for us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are to be a people who are in love with Jesus with both our heads and our hearts. It is not unspiritual to walk out the spiritual gift of discernment. Practicing the gift of discernment does not make anyone super-intellectual.

Failed Leaders

Many are citing Samson as a model for what God was doing in Todd’s ministry. God anointed Samson for a special purpose: Samson was a fighting warrior sent by God to deliver Israel from the tyranny of the Philistines. Samson had many character flaws and personal indiscretions. Nevertheless, the Lord poured out his Spirit on him anyway. It was argued that the Lord was anointing Todd in the same manner. However, Samson’s spiritual carelessness and overt sin prevented him from fulfilling God’s mission of delivering the Israelites until his dramatic death. Samson’s faith is honored in scripture (Heb. 11:32), but his life is not to be modeled.

Samson was not a presbyter, prophet, or leader in a New Testament church. As leaders in Christ’s Church, we are called to a higher standard of holiness (1 Tim. 2, Titus 1). “Dear brothers not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1, NLT). The issue is not Todd’s tattoos, strange T-shirts, or quirky mannerisms. The issue is his lack of holiness and credibility as an evangelist.

Conclusion

I do not deny that some signs, wonders, and miracles occurred in Lakeland. I pray that the many stories of divine healing are true. However, I cannot understand why the leadership of the Charismatic movement did not examine Todd Bentley’s ministry more closely before he was given so much public access.

The Holy Spirit is moving in Lakeland, but as I see it, the Holy Spirit poured out his grace because of the faith of attendees not due to the maturity and wisdom of the Florida Outpouring leadership.

I pray that all those who have attended or will attend the meetings in Lakeland would be healed.