Counterfeit Revival

© 2003 Wesleyan Episcopal Assemblies Pentecostal

I grew up in the Assemblies of God. Over the years, so called ‘reconciliation’ ministries have begun to work a revision on the history of the origins of the various Pentecostal denominations. In this revisionist history, Pentecostals are just very special Baptists who accept the Evangelical doctrines, but have an added ‘light’ concerning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. My own first hand experience belies that specious claim.

The Pentecostal movement in America had antecedents which were scattered across the Midwest and East Coast. But the real outpouring that lead to the eventual organization of discreet associations and denominations was clearly localized in Los Angeles, California. It would be a very bold revisionist indeed who would brazen his way through an account that failed to give principal responsibility for the authoritative Role Played by Bishop Seymour and the Azusa revival.

In every real sense Seymour played the role of Apostle, or Missionary of the full gospel. He published a journal which lead to the spread of the truth of Sanctification, Healing and Fire Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This journal influenced a generation of pastors and teachers who were so inspired by the simple truths and first hand accounts that they themselves were transformed and in turn began works. Seymour sent missions workers to foreign lands and to the ripe fields of 20’th century America. These men and women were in every sense disciples of Seymour, just as Timothy had been discipled by Paul. Paul’s admonition was to be a disciple of him, in the same way that he was in turn discipled by Christ.

Seymour lead many to a deeper understanding of the relationship of the church with Christ through the acceptance of those portions of the Gospel which had been neglected in the theological dark ages between the 11’th and 19’th centuries. In a very real sense the ‘enlightenment’ had been a period of endarkenment theologically. People had neglected substance in favor of formula and had espoused doctrines which were politically and financially expedient rather than Biblically and Spiritually sound.

The Pentecostal or Full-Gospel revival restored much of what had been lost to power brokers and charlatans over the previous period. But it did so at the expense of good relations with various ‘Restorationist’ movements which had gone only so far in their efforts and failed to the take the next crucial step when God offered it. The false starts had gone far in changing the course of the church and bringing God’s people into repentance, but not far enough.

These days a number of ‘counterfeit’ revivals have sprung up to confuse the issue. They claim to have picked up the mantle of the Pentecostal pioneers and continued the work in the same fashion that Elishah continued the work of Elijah. This claim is easily denied. Three critical factors have been the hallmark of every revival decreed by God going back to the calling of Abraham. These are: 1) a call to repentance and personal holiness, 2) a call to greater submission to the sovereignty of God, and 3) a deeper more perceptual relationship with the Spirit of God.

The 21’st century has so far shown signs of swallowing the success of the Pentecostal movement in a swamp of ecumenicism and compromise. These counterfeit revivals place great emphasis on emotionalism and on purported guarantees of wealth contained in heterodox interpretations of scripture devoid of the meaning intended by the context. They fail to bear the brand of repentance and submissive relationship and instead claim boastfully to have authority to command God. Lack of good scholarship or in some cases clearly fraudulent intent has lead many to tickle the ears with promises of wealth and justification, without purity or submission. They claim grace offers the promise not of sonship, but of the demanding, controlling relationship of a spoiled brat. Where Jesus advises that we be like the beggar disturbing our lord in the wee hours (Luke 11:5-9), they claim we should name what we want and yell ‘mine, mine, mine!’ like a two year old dragging bedraggled parents through the aisles of a toy store.

This new endarkenment has been accompanied by many signs of the End Times Prophecies. And one of those is a thorough lack of internal holiness. Even those organizations and movements that stress holiness are stressing an outward form that has no basis in real ‘circumcision of the heart’.

In Romans Paul points out that the act of engaging in an outward formula to achieve holiness, such as the practice of circumcision, holds no value if it is not echoed by a heart change that guides behavior dynamically. Real Holiness comes as Paul points out from becoming a new type of person who is sanctified and therefore recognizes subtle corruption and avoids it without need for a rule-book. Yet these ‘holiness’ believers will practice all sorts of envies and slanders, and even condone things which Jesus himself declared to be sinful. One example would be the stance on divorce.

Divorce is a difficult topic. Human wisdom (Proverbs 14:12) would lead one to believe that divorce is often a compassionate solution to messy human relationships. Jesus words contradict that notion. In Matthew 19:3-12 and in Mark 10:2-12 Jesus words on this subject are recorded. The context is critical here. One must bear in mind that the Old Covenant demanded that the believer execute those persons caught in adultery. The penalty under the law is not divorce but physical death! At the time Jesus spoke, those present were keenly aware that adultery was a capital crime according to Jewish law. So, what was the question that was being raised?

Divorce in the Old Testament was only offered as an option to men. Its purpose was to allow a man who was offended by the moral or social characteristics of his wife to force her out of the home and away from his children. She could be ‘put away’ because she was offensive to her husband’s sensibilities, and he could replace her with someone he was more attracted to. Look out when a man hits mid-life.

Jesus comment was that this was a sign of a lack of compassion, a hard heart. Throughout Jesus ministry wherever he talks about a hard heart, he is indicating someone who is not submitted to the will of God, and is rebelling against God’s guidance. This is the case here as Well. Jesus is saying Moses allowed you to divorce because you were rebellious and (by extension) because he knew you would sin if he didn’t give you some room to be rebellious (Matthew 19:7-8).

Jesus then goes on to say, ‘I bring you a better way’ (Matthew 5:31, 32). Jesus whole ministry was the presentation of a ‘better way’ the Way that is called Christianity. He is presenting a method, wherein one is sanctified by the Holy Spirit and lead to the ‘power to become a son of God’. This power is the power that Peter spoke of on Pentecost and the power that Paul called the freedom from slavery to sin (Romans 6:6-8). Simply put it is supernatural ability to obey God, and to express Godly compassion.

So then, this better way concerning divorce is clearly a single facet of the larger way that leads one to live in Jesus. What is the better way that Jesus espouses here? Simply put it is, ‘Don’t Divorce’. He doesn’t merely restrict people from divorcing because they are ‘incompatible’ or have irreconcilable differences. He repeals the Old Testament sentence for those guilty of adultery. He tells us now, not only can you not divorce for reason of being offended; you can’t execute the adulterous mate. What’s more, you really ought to forgive and stay with that mate. And if you do divorce your mate without the cause of adultery on their part, you are responsible for your ex spouse’s sexual frustration and eventual sin (Matthew 5:32).

That’s a strong statement. But it is born out by other passages. Jesus told us that one person can in fact be responsible for the sin of another. He warns us that someone might be capable of causing a child of God to stumble. He is so adamant about this that he offers a threat and a curse against those who cause this. He says it would be better to have a huge grindstone tied round your neck and be drowned in the ocean with it (Luke 17:1-3). This is pretty strong language. Al Capone, with his cement overshoes, couldn’t have been more threatening.

But clearly in Matthew 5, Jesus asserts that he, who leaves a spouse for illegitimate reasons, causes the former spouse to stumble into adultery. Mark 10 demonstrates that Jesus intent was that the principles he taught concerning divorce were not gender based and apply equally to men and women.

The critical factor is that issue of inadequate compassion. Moses allowed not condoned, divorce because the people lacked compassion. When we look at 1 Corinthians 13, we find that compassion is the core of Christian Life. Without internal, heartfelt Compassion we are irrelevant and meaningless, and no amount of compassionate behavior or ministry can make us relevant.

This goes back to the issue of a circumcised heart. Paul shows us that without circumcision of the heart we are irrelevant. Jesus shows us that condoning or practicing divorce proves a lack of inner circumcision. Essentially, if you cut your hair a certain way, blow shofar at worship, rebuke generational curses, deliver others from addiction and pornography, cast out demons, sing beautiful songs that stir hearts from Wacko to Topeka, but condone divorce you are carnal and meaningless.

We live under grace not the Law, but as Paul pointed out grace operates according to principles or a ‘Law of Grace’ (Romans 6:20-22). Jesus said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’ Grace is freely given, but there is a maintenance fee. That fee is obedience, and the Red Letters clearly mark out the path of that obedience. Join me in prayer for the reconciliation of Divorcees, and the restoration of the American home. Let’s drive carnality and hard-heartedness out of our churches, so genuine revival will come (1 Corinthians 5:5,9-13).

In the service of our Lord,

Fred

Are You Tongue Tied

© 2003 by Wesleyan Episcopal Assemblies Pentecostal a California non-profit association. All rights reserved.

Once upon a time two apologists were arguing over the validity of miraculous tongues. One, an evangelical preacher and critic, was aggressively pounding out his understanding that tongues should cease. In mid sentence, as he utters the words of 1 Corinthians 13:8, “Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease'”

His opponent, a Pentecostal preacher, interrupts to say, “Do you like ice cream cones?”

Startled from his tirade, the critic responds, “Yeah they’re pretty good. Why?”

The preacher continues, “So, do you eat one with your teeth?”

The critic looks puzzled as he says, “I do some, but mostly I lick the ice-cream till it’s gone.”

“Really?” The preacher responds, “Then what do you lick it with? Do you use your nose or your teeth?”

The critic answers suspiciously, “No, I generally use my tongue.”

The preacher responds smugly, “Really, you eat ice-cream by speaking English at it?”

The critic snarls disgustedly as he responds, “No! That’s not what tongue means in this context!”

This story is, of course pure fiction, but it illustrates an important point about context. Obviously, the word glossa, which is the Greek name of the oral appendage called the tongue must be understood in light of the surrounding text. Its use by a Greek speaker to refer to a spoken language was idiomatic in the first century just as it is today.

In 1 Corinthians 13:8 the surrounding context refers to knowledge and prophecy as things that would be made obsolete by the arrival of “that which is perfect.” A common interpretation of the perfect referred to here, by critics of supernatural tongues is the arrival of the written cannon. The mistake in this line of thinking is two-fold.

Firstly, the Canon itself reaffirms the need for scholarship. “Study to show thyself approved, a workman that need not be ashamed.” This is a clear imperative for the believer to gain in knowledge during the Christian Era. So long as there is a Canon there is a source for knowledge. This clearly demonstrates that the perfect, which causes the absolution of knowledge, has not yet come.

Secondly, the canon cannot precipitate the cessation of prophecy. The scripture of the old Covenant is a collection of three bodies of literature. The Mosaic law (Torah), the writings of the major and minor prophets (Nevyim), and the Poetic writings (Ketuvyim). Prophecy is best defined as God’s contemporary instructions and predictions concerning the outcome of obedience or disobedience of those instructions. Jesus himself informed us that all scripture is beneficial for teaching Godly faith and practice, therefore it qualifies as prophecy which is the revelation to man of God’s will. Another way that prophecy enters the arena of Christian and of Jewish experience is in the body of sermons, inspired by the spirit of God. Preaching is a synonym for prophesying, and is used quite frequently in the Old Covenant writings to refer to activity of God’s prophets. Jesus himself, informed us that not one small letter [from any word] of the prophecies of Old Testament Canon shall pass away until they are fulfilled in their entirety.

The Bible contains many apocalyptic, or end of time predictions. According to Jesus, the canon and its body of prophecy cannot pass away until the apocalypses contained within it have been fulfilled. To put it simply, Prophecy cannot cease till the End of Time. Therefore, that which is perfect cannot arrive; by Jesus’ own testimony, until Time has concluded. Prophecy, tongues, and knowledge shall persist, until Time has been concluded.

Now what does tongues really mean in this context? Opponents of tongues have committed a serious faux pas by linking the tongues in this passage to the gift of tongues. This passage, when viewed in light of the testimony of Jesus Christ, would say that tongues shall cease, when time has concluded. For all practical purposes, they have proven the case that tongues is intended by God to be normative within the church. However to be fair I must point out that it is quite reasonable to believe that the tongues referred to in this passage must be the oral member. Read in this way, this passage would read, “Love never fails, even if prophecy withers, tongues pause, and knowledge fades.”

Clearly, this is a hyperbole intended to illustrate the durability and power of Godly Love (Agape). Any intellectually honest interpretation of this passage will conclude that it is in no way a reference to a historical period where the scripture is present but God’s miraculous power has ceased to work in the lives of his faithful.

Join with me in seeking whatever God has to offer. Anything God offers can only be a benefit in the life of a believer. The measure of a believer’s devotion, is his ability leave behind the norms and presuppositions of the World becoming gradually more conformed to the pattern of biblical life. Let’s not allow fear and prejudice prevent us from taking hold of the gifts. Let us all get our eyes off the form and formula and focus on the giver of these gifts. When we are thoroughly committed to allowing God to work in our lives in any fashion he sees as appropriate and focus all our attention on mimicking Christ and improving our relationship with his sweet Spirit, we can forgive him for choosing a mode of expression that we might find embarrassing. Real faith is trusting God even when he doesn’t meet our human sense of propriety.

God bless you and keep you in his holiness.

Fred

Open Letter

© 2003 by Wesleyan Episcopal Assemblies Pentecostal a California non-profit association. All rights reserved.

God has laid on my heart the need for a renewal of that fire baptism that the Wesleys were so gracious as to share with us. For many years, the work of men like Bishop Seymour in Azusa, California and Agnes Ozman in Ohio state, lead people to a consecration and a single minded devotion that brought powerful testimony of God’s love and grace as well as his direct intervention in the daily lives of believers.

The ministry of the many branches of the Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church led people to this deeper consecration by teaching the basic principles of genuine Christian practice. They lived the character of the Apostles creed and they practiced a simple trust in the character and nature of God that had a dynamic effect.

The late 20’th century saw the advent of a New Age of anti-Christian Mysticism and metaphysics. This movement has polluted the very fabric of American society and the Western world at large. It has infiltrated the schools and public service agencies with a message of religious humanism where Mankind is elevated to the status of gods in training. This Spirit of Antichrist has even made insurgencies into the leadership of once powerful ministries including mainline denominations and the Wesleyan movement in all it’s sundry expressions has not been unaffected.

It is time for a change; not a reinvention of the wheel, but a real repentance. The Wesleyan movement has always been an outspoken advocate of Evangelism and of the need for a spirit filled life. My own roots are with the Assemblies of God, which, as many of you will know, owes its origins to the work of spirit filled Wesleyan Episcopal priests and ministers. These men were inspired by the writings of Bishop Seymour and by the testimonies of real people touched by the healing hand of our precious savior.

The Assemblies of God is a fine organization. They have a written doctrine contained in the16 Fundamental Truths that is clearly biblical and just as clearly a variation on the central theme of Wesley’s three moments of salvation (i.e. Salvation, Sanctification, & Fire Baptism). That is fine as far as it goes. But, even in this esteemed organization. there are those who have espoused the fancies of the New Age and preach a brand of metaphysics, wherein God is reduced to a vending machine for those who are strong willed enough to wish things into being. For these men and women prayer is nothing more than demanding what you want like a spoiled child, or a thaumaturgical rite where calling on significant names binds celestial beings to do one’s bidding. Thankfully, such malpractice is still relatively rare, but sadly it exists.

This letter is intended as an invitation. In a sense it is an old fashioned Methodist altar call. I am inviting you to join me in prayer for America. Not the ecumenical papist prayer that asks a generic God to rubber stamp the activities of our civil authorities. Instead I’m asking you to pray in fear and in trembling that the unchanging God who destroyed Sodom and Babylon with equal contempt, will bring the leadership of the American Churches to a place of repentance. We need an outpouring of that Old Time Fire that moved and shaped the Wesleyan movement so long ago.

Let’s pray that God will bring true repentance and the blessings that inevitably will follow. Let’s pray for the single minded devotion of the early church. Let’s reclaim the term true believer which has become a pejorative in the media. If you are interested in joining this effort or if you have a specific prayer request, please write or email me at weap@mycommlog.com. As God moves, we hope to begin circulating a praise report of God’s intervention and intercession on the part of a praying people.

Sincerely,

Fred Franklin Davis Junior

Founder/Apostle