Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘Mike Ratliff’

Decisional Regeneration Versus Doctrinal Regeneration

Posted by Job on October 8, 2008

Gospel Truth or Blatant Blasphemy?


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Third Wave Pentecostalism And Why Miracles And Signs Exist

Posted by Job on August 11, 2008

I cannot say that I am surprised, because he also endorsed the Pensacola and Brownsville revivals and the Toronto Airport Christian fellowship, but Sid Roth is fully aligned with the third wave pentecostal movement in his endorsement of Todd Bentley. See this link on his website. Yep, Sid Roth is yet another one of the prosperity/Word of Faith teachers that I used to watch religiously and send money to. I continued to support Roth even after I began to turn away from the likes of the Crouch family, T. D. Jakes, etc. because I did not see where any of the discernment or apologetics ministries had addressed him. Also, I must admit that I hesitated because I personally believed in Roth’s ministry and especially his powerful testimony because it was so similar to my own! But I have to follow God rather than man, and that includes the desires of my own heart! Looking below, it appears that Roth has been supporting Bentley ever since at least 2007, because the fellow has at least 16 articles authored by Bentley on his website.

Building Dreams and Visions, Part 1 (Bentley)

Building Dreams and Visions, Part 2 (Bentley)

Discerning the Call of God, Part 1 (Bentley)

Discerning the Call of God, Part 2 (Bentley)

Encounter With Heaven Part 1

Encounter With Heaven Part 2

Encounter With Heaven Part 3

Healing and God’s Sovereignty (Bentley)

Open Heavens, Part 1 (Bentley)

Open Heavens, Part 2 (Bentley

Reigning and Resurrection, Part 1 (Bentley)

Reigning and Resurrection, Part 2 (Bentley)

Restoring the Voice of Healing (Bentley)

The Gifts of Healing and Miracles

The Spirit of Infirmity, Part 1 (Bentley)

The Spirit of Infirmity, Part 2 (Bentley)

What is the third wave? Here is a fundamental Christian viewpoint:

1. Its History

In the early 1980s the Vineyard Christian Fellowship movement began with the ministry of John Wimber in California. He believed that people would become convinced of the genuineness of Christianity by seeing miraculous signs and wonders from God more than by being convinced doctrinally. He not only practiced this belief in the church he pastored, but he also teamed up with missions professor Peter Wagner to teach and encourage its practice in the Signs and Wonders class at Fuller Seminary. Others who emphasized these signs and wonders include Christian psychologist and speaker John White, former Dallas Seminary professor Jack Deere, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School faculty member Wayne Grudem. Support for this emphasis has also come from the ministries of such recognized Christian leaders as John Piper.

2. Distinctive Views

The movement’s supporters come from various evangelical backgrounds and do not necessarily want to be identified with traditional man-centered Pentecostal views. Some, in fact, have strong Calvinistic convictions. But all stress the presence of genuine signs and wonders from God today. Tongues-speaking is not emphasized as much as in the more traditional Pentecostal groups, but healings and especially the gift of prophecy are very prominent.

D. Other Contemporary Charismatic Emphases

Also present in more recent years are the ministries of several others who have a strongly charismatic approach and emphasis. These include those who emphasize a “health and wealth” gospel; the ministries of charismatic teachers such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, and Kenneth Copeland; and the current ministries of Oral and Richard Roberts, John Arnott and the Toronto Blessing, Paul Cain and the Kansas City Prophets, and Rodney Howard-Browne and John Kilpatrick of the Brownsville Assembly of God Church and the Pensacola Outpouring Revival.

For more, please see George Houghton’s part 1 and part 2 on the topic of Pentecostalism in general. I am aware that some have accused me of being opposed to the supernatural, of miracles. To answer those charges, read my testimonies part 1 and part 2 of miraculous faith healing from asthma, addiction, and a lung infection that doctors could not cure, killed several other people around the same time (including the actress that played the bride in “Meet The Parents”), and had stopped my breathing (I was minutes away from dying people). Also search my archives and take notice of how LEGITIMATE faith healing, miracles, and deliverance from evil spirits is a major area of attention of mine (regrettably I have gotten away from those topics in these past months and need to get back into them). 

But I must say that I was motivated to finally deal with Sid Roth after seeing him promote a pastor who claims that during his worship services, angel feathers, gold dust, and precious jewels would appear out of thin air. The pastor was also selling a book – with companion DVD – claiming to have discovered in scripture the secret for unlocking the power of God in your life that he was using to bring forth these manifestations (it is humility). Let me first state that Christianity IS NOT a secret religion. It is based on revelation from the Bible that is freely available to all. People speaking of finding secrets and unlocking spiritual keys are actually practicing gnosticism, which is based on using gnosis (secret knowledge) to advance spiritually and attain salvation. Gnostics were syncretists who assimilated elements of virtually every religion and belief system of the time that suited them in order to create their own abominations. And no, the gnostics did not invent the notion of secret or magical spiritual keys or codes embedded in religious texts. That idea long predated them, coming from the ancient near east mystery religions and cults. Basically, gnosticism was a mixture of Christianity, Judaism, and western (especially Greek) mythology and philosophy, and who knows what else. So, the third wavers that are convinced that they are finding some new – or rediscovering some lost – way of reading the Bible and worshiping God through Jesus Christ under the Holy Spirit are actually just rehashing the same vile dark deceptions that John, Jude, Paul, etc. took up most of the New Testament contending against. So much of what we know about Christian doctrine and practice in the New Testament was not information volunteered at the author’s initiative, but rather came from an apostle writing an epistle to oppose some lie that people claiming to have secret knowledge or special revelation was passing around! 

But the primary issue that must be dealt with is the erroneous fascination of third wave pentecostals on signs and wonders: miracles and revelation. The reason is that it is BACKWARDS. This fascination is due to faithlessness by the alleged faithful. If you truly believe nothing else in the Bible but Genesis 1:1, the idea that God can work a miracle should be presupposed, basic, nothing to get excited over. Why? Because it is merely God changing something in the natural realm that He created in the first place … very often things that would change anyway without a miracle! Further, not everyone who witnesses a miracle responds with faith. Case in point: the Pharisees. Despite all that Jesus Christ did, they kept telling Him “OK, just do one more miracle or give us one more sign and THEN we will believe that you are the Messiah.” The Pharisees were simply the spiritual descendants of the children of Israel who refused to enter Canaan after seeing God work the greatest miracles that the world had ever seen to crush the greatest empire of the world AND miraculously sustain them with food and water AND the glory of God on Sinai AND the rock that followed them AND the pillar of fire by night/cloud by day that guided them. What was the problem with those Israelites? Well the least favorite book of this movement, the Book of Hebrews (which says that revelation was completed and ended with Jesus Christ in its opening verses … or maybe 1 Corinthians with its denunciations of confusion and disorder in the church are the least favorite!) it is FAITHLESSNESS. If the basis of your Christian doctrine and affiliation is miracles and signs, trust me, it is never going to be enough, because just like a glutton with a piece of pie or a fornicator and sex partners or a greedy man and dollar bills, you will never be satisfied, you will always seek JUST ONE MORE no matter how much you have already had! 

So, the FAITHFUL who know well and good that God can perform miracles on the natural order … we praise and glorify God over those things true, but those are not the things that we focus on, not the least because evil spirits can emulate those. Do not be offended! Evil spirits emulated several of the signs and wonders of YHWH in Egypt during their contest with Moses. People follow false religions for a reason! And the Bible itself says that the anti-Christ will deceive the whole world with his evil fantastic works, and that but for the grace of God even the very elect would be deceived by him also! 

So no, those who truly believe in God are not after by angel feathers, gold dust, and jewels popping up out of thin air! We are not after new visions, revelations, and secrets. Why? The reason is that those things, while impressive to behold, have no lasting value. They are not the things that the kingdom of heaven is built on. So what true believers love to see and hear about are CHANGED HEARTS as evidenced by CHANGED BEHAVIOR. Unbelievers hearing the gospel and getting saved. People confessing their sins and turning from them rather than using their works, church membership, background, or “anointing” to justify remaining in them. People overcoming the grief of losing a loved one. People forgiving those that have done them grievously wrong. The fearful becoming bold, the haters becoming lovers. THAT is what Christians should seek after and try to participate in. And those are what we Christians should be after. For it is a certainty that demons can motivate tongues and private prayer languages. That goes on in Hindu temples all the time! I have no doubt that a demon can cure – or at least temporarily alleviate – physical ailments. Were that not the case witch doctors, rootworkers, medicine men and women, etc. would go out of business tomorrow. The same with the diviners, necromancers, fortune tellers, etc. People have been seeking out mighty wonders, strange works, new revelations, etc. ever since man rejected the knowledge of God as Paul told us in Romans 1:18-32 for a reason! Not a few missionaries can relate dark spiritual happenings involving the demons that work through those false religions that would curl your hair even if you were bald! Check out “And The Word Came With Power” by missionary Jo Anne Shetler if you doubt. But an evil spirit cannot save someone’s soul or change their heart! So why put all the emphasis on the things that Satan can imitate while ignoring the things that he cannot? I don’t know about you, but while hearing testimonies about people delivered from asthma personally touch me because I was healed of the same, what I really love hearing about is testimonies of God delivering them from selfishness, hate, pride, lying, meanness, sloth, lust, and irresponsibility, for those character flaws and many more I had them, and let me tell you they were much more destructive to me and those around me than my asthma was! 

So then, why DO miracles and revelation occur? Why does God work them? Let me start with my own personal testimony and go from there: God healed my body as part of His plan to draw me to Him and save me from my sins. And that corresponds to the Biblical record. God was not some two bit Las Vegas entertainer performing tricks for the ooohs and aaahs of alcoholics, adulterers, and gamblers. Some say every miracle, every revelation, every prophecy regarded in the Bible played a part in salvation – redemption history, a rough English translation for the German term Heilsgeschichte, God’s plan to redeem mankind from His sin. Others take a broader view and say that it was part of God’s plan to reveal Himself to mankind, with the ultimate and final revelation being His Son Jesus Christ. So, God parting the Red Sea was a salvation – historic act to deliver Israel, His elect nation that He planned to use to be a light to all nations and use to incarnate Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s healing the Gentile woman’s daughter in Matthew 15:21-28 was an act of revealing both God’s love and mercy to mankind. Peter’s vision while on the tanner’s rooftop was God letting the Jews know that Jesus Christ came to bring salvation to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. You want to know about the importance of the floating axhead? Well try this link. Ultimately, God had a higher purpose for every miracle, every prophecy, every vision in the Bible. They were not done because people like to see visions. They were done to reveal Himself to sinful men living in a sinful world so that His chosen among them would turn to Him. 

The main thing to remember, third wave charismatics, is that the Bible makes it clear that everyone who works mighty works even in the Name of Jesus Christ will be saved. See Matthew 7:21-23! The Bible even makes it clear that everyone who receives a miracle in the Name of Jesus Christ will be saved! Remember the ten lepers! They all had faith to be healed by Jesus Christ. They were all healed by Jesus Christ. BUT ONLY ONE LEPER BOTHERED TO FALL AT THE FEET OF GOD AND GIVE HIM THANKS! Are you going to allege that a person who is not thankful for the work and person of Jesus Christ is going to be saved by Him? And let me tell you about the one … HE WAS A GENTILE! Let me tell you about the nine … THEY WERE JEWS! Do not misunderstand me, I am not going anti – Semite on you here. Just let me put it into the context. The Jews were in it for the miracle, the Gentile was in it for the God who worked the miracle! So, the Jews in it for the miracle in this story represent church folk who continually need to see signs and wonders to have some semblance of outward faith. In other words: THIRD WAVE CHARISMATICS AND ALL LIKE THEM WHO WILL ABANDON TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF SOUND DOCTRINE BASED ON THE BIBLE TO FOLLOW EMMA THE ANGEL AND SOME MAN WHO KICKS A STOMACH CANCER PATIENT IN THE GUT AND THE GUY DOES NOT EVEN GET HEALED! But Gentile in this story represents the person not in the church who repents and follows Jesus Christ not because they were looking for a miracle, but because they were seeking the God that works the miracle!

And guess what? At the beginning of the leper story, all ten were unsaved. Both groups were all in the same boat. But by the end of the story, only one group was saved, and the other group was unsaved. Can you guess based not on my words but on your knowledge of the Bible which group was saved and which group wasn’t? And after you do that, apply that Sunday school Bible story to your own life situation and ask yourself which group YOU are in!

Posted in abomination, Christianity, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, prosperity doctrine, Word of Faith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments »

Todd Bentley’s Violent Revival A Windfall for God TV

Posted by Job on July 5, 2008

It is all about the money people! Please follow link: Todd Bentley’s Violent Revival A Windfall for God TV

Posted in abomination, Christianity, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Todd Bentley Caught On Tape Committing Assault

Posted by Job on July 2, 2008

Wholesale lifted from Independent Conservative.

Video of Todd Bentley Assaulting a Man.

by @ 1:58 am. Filed under Nuts on Parade

Some guy with tats and piercings all over beats some guy on stage and they claim it’s the “healing” power of God. This man talks about demons, when he’s the one who really is working in the demonic.

Check out this video.

(Hat tip Battle 4 Truth.)

And the Word of God says:

2 Corinthians 11:13-20 (New American Standard Bible) 

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

16 Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, so that I also may boast a little.

17 What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.

18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also.

19 For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly.

20 For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.

This ungodly demonic mess Todd Bentley is doing is nothing new and it appears after nearly thousands of years nothing has been learned and people still run after these false apostles. Being beaten and devoured and still falsely calling it a move of God.

Related post:
 Todd Bentley, Doctrine of Demons Indeed!

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Todd Bentley Supporters Take Note: Contemplative Centering Prayer Advocates Finally Admit That Their Practice Is Not Biblical!

Posted by Job on June 18, 2008

Todd Bentley fans, Bentley along with his crew of “prophets” are heavily into the contemplative prayer scam and similar abominations. Here, Apprising Ministries informs you that the very people who started this fad rolling downhill into the lake of fire acknowledge that it is not supported in or derived from the Bible. 


They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them, But they mingled with the nations, And learned their practices, And served their idols, Which became a snare to them.(Psalm 136:34-36)

Contemplative Spirituality Was A Core Doctrine Of The Emerging Church

In the Apprising Ministries article Prayer Is News in the Southern Baptist Convention—But What Type of Prayer? we began to look once again at the growing acceptance of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism festering within the apostatizing Southern Baptist Convention. TheSlowly Becoming Catholic, an allegedly evangelical Protestant denomination, is hardly alone in their re-embrace of this neo-pagan mysticism that originally flowered within the apostate Roman Catholicism.

And as we watch this false version of Christian spirituality spreading apostasy throughout the American Christian Church it seems good to give you a working knowledge concerning just whereContemplative/Centering Prayer actually came from. We begin with the incontrovertible fact that emphasis on so-called “Christian” mystic traditions was a core doctrine of the theology of theEmerging Church from its inception.

As such the Emergent Church has proved to be a very fertile ground into which mystics like Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster could plant their neo-pagan spiritual elements of so-called spiritual formation that are actually absolutely hostile to the historic Christian faith. You also need to realize that this Gnostic mysticism with its warped spiritual practices is still very much an integral part of the theology of the Emerging Church.

Emerging Church Authorities Speak On So-Called “Christian” Mysticism

In an article from Christianity Astray Today called “The Emergent Mystique,” Emergent Guru Brian McLaren, a most prominent theologian within “Emergent, the emerging church network that he and several other church planters and pastors lead,” cites Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, with their emphasis on spiritual disciplines, “as key mentors for the emerging church” (“Online source) As a matter of fact the source link I’m using for this CT article actually comes from McLaren’s own website where he also provides a running commentary throughout.

In McLaren’s comments on the section of The Emergent Mystique concerning Willard and Foster, which I just quoted above, we read:

“He cites Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, with their emphasis on spiritual disciplines, as key mentors for the emerging church. None of these thinkers has any inclination to throw out the baby of truth with the bathwater of modernity.”

I’m grateful to Andy for including the preceding, because many people doubt this.(Online source)

Elsewhere on McLaren’s website a reader asks the Guru to tell him more about the subject of “Spiritual Formation,” which is simply another way to refer to this contemplative spirituality we’re discussing within this article:

The reason I am writing you is because I am trying to better understand what spiritual formation is…I think it is important to seek the wisdom of today’s leaders. I have heard a lot on this subject from people such as Richard Foster and Dallas Willard, but I was wondering what Spiritual Formation is to you. How would you define Spiritual Formation and what kind of importance would you place on it with the current generation? I appreciate your time.

A: I hope to do some writing on this subject in a year or two. In the meantime, I have deep appreciation for what my friend Dallas Willard is saying. He, and those he points to, are great guides.
(Online source)

And as evidenced by this answer to a reader’s question, McLaren also seems to have a deep appreciation for what the Roshi Richard Foster is doing for the “Christian mystical tradition” as well. Please also note below that in addition to Foster Emergent Spiritual Director McLaren recommends Tony Jones’ book Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (SW) as a good resource on the subject of contemplative spirituality/mysticism as well:

In some of my readings, both of books authored by you and others, I have read about Christian mystics. Who are the predominant Christian mystic authors?

Answer: If you pick up Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” and his other work via Renovare, you’ll get a great exposure to the Christian mystical tradition. “The Spiritual Formation Workbook” is a great resource too. Tony Jones’ “The Sacred Way” is also a sturdy introduction to contemplative practices. (Online source )

Emergent Church Authorities Now Reveal Christ Didn’t Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer

So now we have established Swami Richard Foster as a “key” mentor and source of authority in the Emergent Church on contemplative practices and the “Christian” mystic tradition. And we have also seen from a leading theologian in the Emerging Church that Tony Jones, the National Coordinator of Emergent Village (EV), is also to be considered a “sturdy” authority on this so-called “Christian” mysticism as well.

Foster writes about “The Discipline of Meditation” in his book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, which is his classic dissertation on these so-called “spiritual disciplines.” Unfortunately Foster is guilty of using circular logic below when he laments:

Often there is a question as to whether meditation can be spoken of as Christian. Is it not the exclusive property of Eastern religions? Whenever I speak to a group on meditation as a classic Christian Discipline, there is the inevitable raising of eyebrows,… It is a sad commentary on the spiritual state of modern Christianity that meditation is a word so foreign to its ears. Meditation has always stood as a classical and central part of Christian devotion, a crucial preparation for and adjunct to the work of prayer. (14, 1978 ed.)

Don’t you find it odd that as Foster speaks to a “group” they are surprised how something that has allegedly “always stood as a classical and central part of Christian devotion” like meditation seems “so foreign” to “modern Christianity”. And how do we know that, “Meditation has always stood as a classical and central part of Christian devotion”? Answer: We don’t. This is because it hasn’t ever even been a part of the historic orthodox Christian faith.

In his own mind Foster believes meditation is “crucial” to prayer, so therefore it is. But without any proof from history he is simply begging the question when he states that, “Meditation has always stood as a classical and central part of Christian devotion.”. Yes, Foster does go on to say, “Meditation was certainly not foreign to the authors of Scripture.” It’s beyond the scope of this piece to go into this further, however, Foster then cites Genesis 24:63; Psalm 1:2; 63:6; and 198:148, which do use the word meditation in most translations of the Bible.

However, Foster is clearly forcing his own definition of this mind-emptying Eastern-style meditation into these verses because this type of meditation is absolutely unknown to orthodox Judaism. So where did this Contemplative/Centering Prayer aka “Christian” meditation actually come from? Let’s bring in Emergent anti-theologian and Emerging Church authority on “contemplative practices” Tony Jones.

In SW Jones gives us an accurate historical background concerning this spiritual discipline of meditation practiced by mystics and Quakers like the Richard Foster. In his chapter entitled “Centering Prayer” Jones tells us:

“Like the Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer grew out of the reflections and writings of the Desert Fathers. John Cassian (c.360-c.430) came from the West and made a pilgrimage to the desert to learn the ways of contemplative prayer … Cassian was deeply influenced by his time in the desert, and he wrote his book The Conferencesabout his conversations with the Desert Fathers to acquaint Western Christians with their teachings. (70, emphasis mine)

We can see in the above that “the Jesus Prayer,” as well as “Centering Prayer,” actually arose through “the reflections and writings of the Desert Fathers.” And further we find out that this type of mystic meditation was unknown prior to these apostate Desert Fathers circa 4th century. One might also observe that Jones makes no mention whatsoever of this meditation being an Apostolic doctrine nor is there reference to Christ or His Apostles ever employing these practices themselves.

This is for good reason; the simple fact is that it wasn’t taught by Christ, it was never Apostolic doctrine in the New Testament and there is no evidence extant that the Master or His Apostles ever practiced this so-called Christian meditation. Please also note above that Jones equates “Centering Prayer” with “Contemplative Prayer.” And let me also bring to your attention that history shows John Cassian would go on in his own contemplative mysticism to develop the man-centered form of semi-pelagian theology at the root of the Emerging Church currently crippling contemporary Christianity in this nation (Online source).

Sadly, this warped and toxic teaching would then be metastasized into the mainstream of the evangelical community through Zondervan, a publisher of contemplative spirituality as well as a financial supporter of EV at their 2006 National Pastors Conference (NPC). You need to know that 2006 NPC was also sponsored by InterVarsity Press, also publishing contemplative mysticism and another financial supporter of EV. And it would be through 2006 NPC providing teachers of a counterfeit Christianity like Dan Kimball, Jones, and his own pastor Doug Pagitt, a legitimate forum that these Emergent Church leaders would then present this spurious type of contemplative spirituality/mysticism to your pastors and youth ministers.

 by Ken Silva, pastor-teacher at April 29, 2008 04:44 PM Copyright © 2008 by Ken Silva. All rights reserved.

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Posted by Job on June 13, 2008

Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God


As I researched Todd Bentley and Bob Jones and the “Lakeland, Florida Revival” over the last several days  it soon became apparent that the supporters of this are completely convinced that there is a legitimate “outpouring” from the Holy Spirit going on. They are vocal. They are adamant. The number one reason that these people become apologists for Todd and this movement, that I have seen, is the sings and wonders performed on stage supposedly by the Holy Spirit through Todd.

They believe that since people are genuinely healed then this is undeniable verification that this is legitimate. I read dozens of comments on various blogs today in which an apologist for Todd would suddenly appear within the discussion proclaiming in a very sincere tone that all of those pointing out Todd’s inconsistencies and lack of Gospel focus and the speaking of heresy are wrong. Why? Because people are healed miraculously through him.

My brethren we are called to ask God for wisdom and look at all ministers and ministries with discernment given to us by Him. Now,  does the presence of signs and wonders prove that God is in something? Is it the marker that tells us all to declare that Todd Bentley is indeed a prophet of God? Please read the following article by John Piper in which he addresses this from The Word of God. – Mike Ratliff

Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God

By John Piper

March 26, 2008

Does God have designs for deceptive signs and wonders? Does he have purposes for heresies?

From the time of Moses to the end of history, this has been and will be an issue. Jesus promised that “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). These are not little tricks. They are great signs and wonders. Great. But aimed to deceive.

Paul said that “the coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). “Signs and wonders of falsehood” is a literal translation to show that the falseness of the signs and wonders is not that they aren’t real miracles, but that they lie about reality. They are real miracles, and they lead away from Christ.

Similarly, to the end of the history—especially at the end of history—false teaching and heresies will dog the church. “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4.3-4).

At the other end of history, things have been this way from the time of Moses. And it is Moses who answers our two questions: Does God have designs for deceptive signs and wonders? Does he have purposes for heresies? Here’s the key passage:

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, “Let us go after other gods,” which you have not known, “and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

Notice five things:

First, Moses tells us that signs and wonders in the service of heresy really happen. They are not tricks. “If a prophet . . . gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass. . . .” They really do come to pass. It is not smoke and mirrors. These are supernatural, but not in the service of truth.

Second, some miracle workers aim to draw believers away from the true God. “If he says, ‘Let us go after other gods . . .’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet.” In other words, some heresies (“let us go after other gods”) are endorsed with miraculous signs and wonders.

Third, God has a design in these deceptive signs and wonders, and he has purposes for the heresies they support. He mentions one of these designs and purposes: “For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” When temptation happens from man, a test is happening from God. This is God’s design in the deceptive signs and heresies.

Fourth, love for God is what God is testing. “Your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Fifth, I conclude from this that the heart that loves God sees through miraculous deception. Love for God is not based mainly on miraculous power. It is based on seeing through miraculous power to true divine beauty. Therefore, love for God is a powerful protection against heresy, even when it comes with miraculous confirmation.

Understanding these five things from Deuteronomy 13:1-3 helps protect us from deceptive signs and wonders and from heresies. But understanding is not enough.Love for God is both the aim of God’s testing and the means by which his tests are passed. Understanding awakens us to our need to love him. But love for God sees through deceptive signs and wonders to the falsehood they support and flees to Christ.Love for God sees through the heresy and holds fast to him. May God deepen our love to him so that it has this kind of penetrating, protecting power.

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By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

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