i was doing a bit more research on this whole revival/outpouring thing in Florida, and specifically in Todd Bentley, the “Revivalist” (a spiritual gift i evidently overlooked as i read Ephesians 4) who is mustering the whole thing up. There are plenty of resources out on the net to hear Bentley speak and define himself and his beliefs. Several of those sources include interviews of him in which he claims to have had the heavens open up and Jesus appeared to Him personally, “just as he would have looked to the disciples.” Bentley seems to have quite a following, as well. It amazes me, however, how lacking in discernment these people are. For starters, Bentley is claiming that Jesus came in His pre-resurrection state, just a “regular, plain ephod, and very brown eyes.” However, this is not the Biblical picture of Jesus. After His resurrection, everything changed. He is now sitting at the right hand of the Father in His glory – this is a state of being, unchanging. Acts 2:33, part of Peter’s Pentecost sermon, says “therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” This brings up an interesting issue. For some reason undisclosed in Scripture, the Son could not be here while the Holy Spirit was indwelling men. The prerequisite for the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was the departure of the Son. We do not know why this is true, only that it is Christ’s clear teaching (John 16:7 – Nevertheless, I tell you the Truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Christ clearly teaches that if the Spirit is here indwelling, He cannot be here in person. Again, i do not confess to understand how this works with His omnipresence or whatever…this is simply what the passage (and Acts 2) teaches. This creates a problem for Bentley. Does he have the Spirit? He surely thinks so. If so, can he really have seen Christ…can Christ really have come and spoken to him? This is letting doctrine run your life. This is what it means to be discerning. “Testing the spirits” (I John 4:1) is all about this. This is what it means. Run the claims of men through the sieve of Scripture, and see if they pass through. This one doesn’t.
Another sieve: what does Peter mean in II Peter 1:19 by “we have the word of prophecy made more sure?” What is the context? What is he talking about? He is recounting his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. He saw Jesus in His glory as He had appeared in heaven. Yet he had a more sure foundation than this experience – the Word of God, Scripture. The Scriptures, he goes on to explain, were inspired as God the Holy Spirit moved men to write. The Scripture is the more sure foundation than the seeing of the glory of Christ – to say nothing of His pre-resurrection manifestation (as Bentley claims he has seen). Sieve #2 failed.
A third sieve: Phil. 2:7-9. This passage is known as the kenosis passage, indicating Christ’s emptying Himself of His prerogative as God, and taking up the form of Man. But upon His resurrection “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Here’s the thing. Hebrews 7:27-28 indicates that Christ’s kenosis happened once for the putting away of sin. 9:25-28 goes on to say that He appeared once for the purpose of sacrificing Himself, and “to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” This second appearance is a reference to the Rapture, when He will appear to all His redeemed at the same time. Therefore to claim to see Him before this time indicates at least a unique dispensation for that individual. Obviously this is very questionable. Again, this is just letting doctrine rule your experiences. The Word of God is our final authority, no matter how ecstatic the musings of men are. Sieve #3 failed.
The point i hope the reader is getting at this point is that we must think Biblically, and be willing to act discerningly no matter how great the temptation is to do otherwise. One final note on this. In another interview Bentley was doing something (some call it prophecying or giving words of knowlege) in which he was imparting healing to some random viewer of the interview who had some sort of physical malody. Honestly as i listened to him try to describe who this person was with the illness, i could not help but think of John Edwards, Mr. Crossing Over, as he communicates with “spirits.” The whole process was far from anything seen in Scripture, and therefore quite illegitimate. All these things add up to Jude 1 and II Peter 2 – false prophet. Warning bells, anyone?