The problem with these claims of private revelation and prophecy ought to be obvious to the Christian who is committed to the objective Word of God. The man who seeks to know the truth through this Word has no time to chase after fanciful, manipulated experiences. The man who devours the truth of the Word will be too full to feast on fairy tales of his imagination.
Yet this is a world that thrives on emotions. It desires the subjective, anything that might make the individual feel more important, more spiritual, more fulfilled. This is why the deceptive (and often damning) teachings of the charismatic movement are so often aimed at young people. Fragile, vulnerable, and always seeking more of anything, the youth of this world are perhaps the favorite delicacy sought by the wolves who have infiltrated the church and are devouring its sheep.
This reality is evidenced by the popularity of such groups as Jesus Culture, a music group that was borne out of the youth group of Bill Johnson's Bethel Church in Redding, California. The group claims that they have been specially commanded by God to 'mobilize' a 'new breed of revivalists':
|Source, red highlights added|
Often on the move with concerts and events, Jesus Culture recently held a three-day event in Los Angeles. Among the speakers at this event was Reinhard Bonnke. Bonnke, 73, is known for his ministry Christ for All Nations that he founded nearly 35 years ago. From the website:
Since the start of the new millennium, through a host of major events in Africa and other parts of the world, the ministry has recorded 55 million documented decisions for Jesus Christ. (Source)Of course, numbers for "decisions for Jesus" mean nothing unless these were true conversions replete with repentance and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but that is a discussion for another article.
Bonnke, unsurprisingly, is adept at perpetuating many of the false teachings that are so popular in Word Faith and charismatic circles. More extreme than the typical Joel Osteen or Rod Parsley, however, Bonnke has gone so far as to claim that a man was raised from the dead at one of his meetings. In an interview with Pat Robertson of the 700 Club, Bonnke tells of a man who had been in a car accident. He was killed, rigormortis had set in, and the man had been embalmed:
ROBERTSON: So what happened?
BONNKE: His wife was one with a promise from God that woman have received back the dead by resurrection (sic). She said, 'My husband will come back, and I have heard Reinhard Bonnke is in Onitsha this Sunday I will bring him there. She brought him there. I was preaching and I knew nothing about it. Suddenly, the man started to breathe. His story is awesome and what he was shown while he was in eternity.
(Source)According to Bonnke, the man in question claims that an angel showed him Paradise as well as Hell, where he saw people cannibalizing one another. Conveniently, of course, the man himself was unable to pass through customs and was not present for the interview. Bonnke continues the story:
BONNKE: He said it was so frightening to him that the angel turned to him and said, 'The prayer of the rich man in Luke 16 will now be fulfilled, and you will be sent back to earth as a last warning to this generation.'As a brief tangent, notice how Robertson adds to Scripture here. Jesus' final words in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 are clear: "He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” No amount of physical evidence can rationalize a person into the kingdom of God. A man must be born again from above, regenerated and granted repentance by God if he is to be saved. Indeed, did not Jesus Christ rise from the dead after three days, and yet still the people did not believe? The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16).
ROBERTSON: For those who are not aware of that, in Luke 16 the rich man lifted up his eyes in torment and said, 'I have a number of brothers. Let me go back and warn them.' Father Abraham said, 'No, they have Moses and the prophets. If they won't believe them, they will not believe the one who rose from the dead. Now, he says that in this last day, he's going to be the one? He has come back?
BONNKE: He has come back. People who see this video [Raised from the Dead] are getting saved by the thousands.
This reveals Bonnke's propensity for signs and wonders, and one would expect no less from such a charismatic figure. In a Bible study about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Bonnke offers a curious reason for why he teaches that this baptism is evidenced by speaking in tongues:
Then John the Baptist adds something all-important: “The one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” (John 1:33). Jesus was the first of multitudes, the first Holy Spirit baptized man on earth. John 3:34 says “God gives the Spirit without limit” and John 1:16 declares “from the fullness of his grace we have all received”. That is the wonderful truth – what he received was for us. He was filled for us so that we, in turn could be filled out of his infinite fullness. . . .
Jesus was the Son of God, but he stood where we all stand as human beings. This meant that the day came when he was anointed with the Spirit. It was not conversion, or new birth. The Son of God never needed that. By his example, he showed that the baptism in the Spirit is not to be confused with regeneration or any other spiritual event. He received a separate and unique experience of the Spirit for his ministry. That is how it should be for us all.
The baptism in the Spirit is a positive experience of which we are aware. It is not the same as receiving one of the spiritual gifts, and has precious little to do with having a religious feeling, a dream or a vision. It is certainly not about achieving a new spiritual level and has nothing to do with spiritual progress. It is a down-to-earth event marked by speaking in tongues. It lights a fire in the soul, brings a new galvanising force and drives us on for God.
(Source, bold in original)Interesting, is it not, that Scripture does not speak of Jesus speaking in tongues at the moment of what Bonnke refers to as the Lord's Holy Spirit baptism? In fact, the Apostle Paul would later teach that the gift of tongues, as a sign gift of languages given in the apostolic age, was specifically not granted to all believers (1 Cor 12:10, 11). Of course, this invites further discussion regarding the role and ceasing of the sign gifts—a discussion which, purely for the sake of time and space, shall not be embarked upon here. For a helpful teaching about the gift of tongues, please see this article at Grace to You.
With all of this serving as an unfortunately much-too-brief background, consider the following teaching shared by Reinhard Bonnke at the recent Jesus Culture event in Los Angeles (full video may be seen here):
'God will save America.' How? What does this mean? Will every soul in America repent and turn to Christ alone for salvation? Bonnke, who is German, is perpetuating the patriotic idolatry that runs rampant in so many "Christian" circles.
This is not the first time that Bonnke has made this declaration. In February 2013, Charisma Magazine's Jennifer LeClaire had this to say:
You’ve surely heard the growing body of prophecies declaring the impending judgment of God on America. Indeed, The Harbinger—a book that many believe holds the secret to America’s not so pleasant future—has remained on the New York Times’ best-seller list for more than a year. Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s prophetic message is resonating with believers and unbelievers alike—and for good reason.
So when Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke stood on the grounds of the Vero Beach Airport proclaiming “All America Shall Be Saved” in early February 2013, the declaration demanded my attention. After all, this is the same German evangelist who declared “All Africa Shall Be Saved” and witnessed more than 55 million African souls make a decision to renounce Islam, witchcraft and other strange gods—and commit to follow Jesus Christ—in just a nine-year period. 55 million souls. . . .
As I sat listening with my spiritual ears to Bonnke announcing that the Vero Beach Gospel Fest is the beginning of something greater, tears filled my eyes and hope filled my heart. And when Bonnke said the Holy Spirit spoke to him about going to other cities around the United States and filling stadiums, I began to see prophetically the magnitude of what was unfolding in that very moment.
(Source)This kind of 'prophecy' is not new for Bonnke. As was heard in the video clip above, Bonnke claims that, in 1972, God told him that all of Africa would be saved. To this writer's knowledge, that prophecy still remains unfulfilled. It seems rather convenient that "God" did not specify how long it would take for all of Africa to be saved.
Encountering poor results from his evangelistic efforts and at frustrated at the pace of his ministry, Reinhard entered a state of heavy depression. He had a dream with a picture of the map of Africa being spread with red and heard the voice of God crying "Africa Shall Be Saved". (Source)Now, in similar fashion, God allegedly has declared to Reinhard Bonnke that all America shall be saved, yet has offered no additional details.
These false prophecies and these dangerous, deceptive doctrines are being disseminated among the visible church with the youth as the primary target. Mature Christians of all ages must be aware of the presence of these teachings and be prepared to respond to them with the Word of God:
Salvation is personal and individual. A man is regenerated when he repents of his sin and puts his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' (Acts 2:37–38)It is Christ who will establish His Kingdom on Earth (Rev 20) and eternally in the new Heaven and new Earth (Rev 21).
I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. (Dan 7:13–14)Men need only be faithful to proclaim the saving Gospel of Christ Jesus, commanding all to repent because His Kingdom is at hand.
and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46–47)Do we pray and hope that many in every nation will be saved? Of course! Do we set out on a course to 'Christianize' the nations so that Christ's kingdom may be brought to this earth, when the Lord has explicitly said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)? No. What, then, do we do? We faithfully obey the commands of our Lord as we eagerly await His return.
HT: Surph's Side
The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (John MacArthur)
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