Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 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 then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.(Matthew 7:21-23)
I was struck one day, while reading this sober passage from the Sermon on the Mount, that these words of Jesus could only apply to those ‘believers’ who are open to the supernatural manifestations. These are not Jehovah’s (false) Witnesses or Mormon heretics.
The people who are so stunned to hear the words “Depart from me…”are congregations of those who thought they had the power of God, and the Word of special Prophecy and who were cutting edged Christians performing many signs and wonders!
What struck me about this scripture was that it hit so close to home, these were people that I worshipped with, and were using terms I was familiar with, they came out of my spiritual world. In short these are Charismatics of a sort.
I am not saying this applies to all Charismatic, for the Charismatic movement was never monolithic, and it developed into several different strains. Some have continued on down the road, following the latest “wave”, whether it be the new prophets, Todd Bentley, or some sort of pilgrimage movement, trekking to Toronto or wherever they think the ‘spirit’ is moving.
Others have left Charismatic churches and gone to “safer” churches, without all the antics of their former Charismatic churches. Many have been drawn into the spectrum of Calvinism, due to the fact that Calvinistic and reformed Evangelicals appear to treat scripture with greater reverence than the typical Charismatic pastors.
There are good many former Charismatics who have made their way into more sober Evangelical and Baptist churches also, something I find preferable to them leaving the faith altogether.
But within the Charismatic world as it developed over the last three decades, I had noticed a pattern, spelled out by Jesus.
LORD,LORD, Didn’t we prophesy in your name?
...And Cast out demons?
…And didn’t we do many wonderful works?
I didn’t realize it, but after the fact I noticed my first three books reflected this pattern. My first book, Making War in the Heavenlies(1994) examined the spiritual warfare movement, My second book, WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING;PUTTING THE TORONTO BLESSING IN CONTEXT, (1995)critiqued the “signs and wonders” revival. Shortly afterwards(1999) I wrote a caution of the “Prophetic” movement called BEWARE THE NEW PROPHETS, which I have recently revised.
Starting in the mid 1980s there was an emphasis on Spiritual Warfare. But this wasn’t Spiritual warfare as envisioned by the Apostles. This new Spiritual Warfare was based on the erroneous Manifested Sons of God doctrine, and involved a theology of “Territorial Spirits”, “Binding and Loosing Satan”, “Releasing entire geographical locations from the grip of Satan”, Discerning the names of the demonic entities over cities and regions, symbolic actions such as “Prayer Marches” (The founders of March for JESUS taught that the march was a spiritual action designed to alter the spiritual atmosphere).
This new “mystical warfare” degenerated into such practices as carving scripture or sacred words into stakes and driving them into the ground to mark territory for Jesus, Co-ordinated efforts to stand on (literal) high places, such as the top story of the tallest building, so that authority could be taken over principalities.
Another aspect of the new warfare was popularized, called Identificational Repentance, the false teaching that by repenting of the sins of our ancestors, we could “change the past”, alter the spiritual atmosphere and “break through the heavens”.
Th militaristic theme permeated the Charismatic church for a while, Larry Lea led rallies in combat fatigues as on of “God’s Generals”, Cindy Jacobs started her group “Generals of Intercession”, and the (since disgraced ) teacher Roberts Liardon wrote a book of biographies of ‘Christian’ heroes of the past called “God’s Generals”. The book has introduced to a whole new generation the false prophet William Branham, of which we have more to say ahead.
The problem with all of this fervent activity, which seemed pretty spiritual and exciting at the time, was that none of it was Biblical.Neither Peter or Paul ever researched the history of the cities they ministered in to find the name of the “Strong Man” that they might “bindHim” or “Plead the blood” around the city. They never tried to “repent for their ancestors” to heal the wounds of the past, seeking a breakthrough.
Their Spiritual warfare was debating, reasoning, taking the time to try and remove the intellectual and emotional barriers people had , in the way of accepting Jesus. The prime example would be Paul’s behavior in Athens,
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.(Acts 17:16-17)
What did Paul do when his Spirit was grieved by the idolatry in Athens? Did he rebuke Zeus? Did He bind Appollos? Did he ‘plead the blood”?
No he went down to the synagogue first, and talked to the Jews, then the God Fearers(Gentiles attached to the synagogue but uncircumcised), then He went out and engaged greeks in the Marketplace. That is Spiritual warfare, because the way the Devil blinds minds is by vain reasoning, philosophy and “knowledge that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”!.
The Spiritual Warfare movement, was well meaning but almost entirely mystical, superstitious and even pagan. Christians possessing high places? Driving sacred stakes?
The Spiritual warfare movement was an exercise in mysticism which set up charismatics for the next heretical phase, the plethora of self proclaimed prophets and Apostles such as Rick Joyner, Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, Che Ahn, C Peter Wagner, John Wimber and Mike Bickle, and a host of others, all of whom wreaked much damage to the faith and even to churches of those unfortunate and undiscerning enough to get caught up in that phase of the downward spiral.
We will elaborate on this in our next article….