I encourage you to take the time to prayerfully read this message from a dear brother, Rusty Thomas. Sound teaching like this is what we need in this hour:
The Worship of God in Spirit and Truth
"Beware of manufacturing a god of your own: A god who is all mercy but not just, a god who is all love, but not holy, a god who has a heaven for everybody but a hell for none ... Such a god is an idol of your own. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible.” -J.C. Ryle
Since time memorial, the enemy of our souls has used two primary assaults to corrupt and weaken the mission of the church in this poor-fallen world. They are licentiousness on one hand, turning the grace of God into a license to sin and legalism on the other hand, which is adding to the moral commands of God based upon the traditions of men. In other words, religious systems placing burdens upon men that God never intended them to bear. Both strategies, adding and subtracting from God’s Word, have gained a measure of success throughout Church history in waylaying God’s people and leading them astray from becoming healthy, sound Christians who are actively engaged in fulfilling God’s will in the earth.
Our Lord Jesus declared to us, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13, 14).” Contrary to the world’s fixation with relativism, diversity, tolerance, and multiculturalism, Jesus proclaimed an exclusive, narrow way to that leads to God’s salvation. It is this ultimate reality stated by Christ that invokes much of the disdain of the world against Christianity. How dare one person claim exclusive rights upon truth? On this narrow path, which Isaiah describes as a highway of holiness, however, there are ditches on both sides of the road. Again, these ditches are licentiousness and legalism.
God is His goodness, gave us His explicit guidance in His word to avoid these ditches in our journey of faith, which culminates in everlasting life. John 4:21-24 states:
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
In revealing Himself as Messiah to this woman at the well, Jesus teaches us two important spiritual virtues that are necessary to avoid a fruitless life in God’s Kingdom. They are critical to His worship and service. They act as two sides to the same coin of the Christian faith. They provide the proper divine tension to help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and help protect us from the schemes of the enemy. What are they, they are Spirit and truth.
Unfortunately, for many Christians, these two indispensable supports to our faith have become quite confused in these dark, deceptive days. Some seek to pit truth against spirit or law against grace. These God ordained spiritual realities were not meant by God to be considered enemy combatants, which are hostile towards one another. Each was meant to have a distinct role working together in harmony to keep God’s people growing straight, strong, and true in their sanctification.
Some prefer love or “spirit” at the expense of truth, thereby loving people straight to hell. Others are warriors of the truth, but lack a genuine love for the souls they are seeking to influence for Christ. Some are so spooky spiritual, not only are they not any earthly good as the saying goes, but they can be downright dangerous.
I saw this vividly demonstrated in our recent venture in confronting Todd Bentley and the danger of pursuing subjective spiritual experiences at the expense of sound doctrine. Here is a man with questionable beliefs and practices, enjoying tremendous exposure, money, and “success,” while falling into gross sin. Instead of the Church loving him enough to truly discipline him according to God’s Word, those who are his “covering,” have glossed over his sin in order to restore him back to ministry.
They believe his gifting is more important than his character. Biblically, gifts are given by God, but fruit is grown. Immature believers in Christ may be enamored with gifting, but God, however, is impressed with character. Besides this, the nature of his sin disqualifies him from serving as a leader in God’s church, though I pray that he will be restored to his Lord and properly restored to the church. In stating this desire for his soul, however, he is still not morally qualified to govern in the Lord’s house according to the Pastoral Epistles articulated by the Apostle Paul in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. God has a much higher standard, judgment and scrutiny upon those who dare to lead in God’s church. James 3:1 plainly states, “My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”
The covering church, Morning Star, seems oblivious to these Biblical requirements and is instead a church committed to subjective spiritual experiences. Their main pursuits are dreams, visions, angels and the like. It is no wonder; they would avoid sound doctrine and the objective truth in dealing with life’s challenges. Even in the Biblical narrative, great men and women of God experienced these spiritual manifestations on a limited basis. On rare occasions, God would communicate to His people in such miraculous ways. Morning Star, however, thinks this is to be the rule, rather than the exception. To be led by the “Spirit” in their world is to be led continually by subjective spiritual experiences, rather than the Lord primarily speaking to His people through His infallible, immutable, and inerrant Word. It is a spiritual recipe for disaster and deception.
In John 7:38, 39 Jesus promised, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” Brother and sisters, in order for the true river of God’s Holy Spirit to flow properly in the church and each individual believer, there must be strong embankments. It is the pressure of God’s truth upon the soul of the believer that assures the sparkling, cleansing, and refreshing river of God functions according to our Lord’s promise. Take away the embankments, which represent God’s moral law, truth, and sound doctrine, and the river will become a pond, which produces all manner of scum and uncleanness.
2 Peter 2:16-21 states:
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
The Apostle Peter in this passage of Scripture reveals the proper order and priority when it comes to the relationship between spiritual experiences and the written word of the Lord. He does not deny that he experienced empirical evidence of our Lord’s glory and power on the Mount of Transfiguration. Talk about spiritual manifestation, he saw the Lord transformed before his very eyes and heard with his own ears God the Father approve of His Son “from the excellent glory.” Yet, in the midst of this miraculous visitation, he teaches the church that we have a more sure word of prophecy, the written revelation contained in the 66 books of the Holy Bible.
In stating these truths, I do not want to leave the impression with our main line denomination friends that I believe the miraculous realm of God ceased with the death of the Apostles. To do so, would deny God’s dealings, visitations, and intervention in my life. God used dreams, visions, gifts of the Spirit, miracles, and His audible voice to eventually get the attention of a rebellious, stubborn punk like me to submit His call upon my life. Yes, they were rare, but they still happened. And I for one will never deny these powerful spiritual experiences, especially to those who would use the Bible to try and refute them.
I was swept into the Kingdom through the Charismatic renewal. It was a miraculous realm. I prayed and God answered swiftly with resounding healing, delivering, and saving power. I spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and it came to pass. I literally saw my days before they happened and they would happen exactly as the Lord open my eyes to see them. You talk about being led by the Holy Spirit. It was on with mighty signs and wonders following.
Thankfully, the Apostle Paul grants us in I Corinthians 14 the proper relationship between God’s gifts of the Spirit and sound doctrine in the church. Commenting along these lines, he declared, “Let all things be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).” In context, he was speaking of a Biblical Church service, which allowed for the movement and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to function, but with divine order to help guide the service in honoring our Lord and benefiting His people.
Tragically, today, much of the glory has departed from the American church as our nation is adrift on the sea of blood and perversion. While other nations are experiencing great miracles and divine intervention, America is suffering from a spiritual drought. God, it seems, is hiding His face from us. Perhaps it is due to our turning our backs on Him. Regardless, most Christians look at the Bible and perhaps have studied the history of revivals and have certain expectations. They know there should be certain manifestations, which reveal God’s power and demonstration of His Spirit in the church today (1 Corinthians 2:4).
But, if God is not pouring out His Spirit and reviving His people, man shouldn't attempt to artificially produce a revival. If God is silent, it is foolish to speak. If God permits, we shouldn’t prohibit. If He isn’t moving by His Holy Spirit, it is error to pretend otherwise. As way of example, in the Midwest there are parks that are miles away from oceans and have machines that produce man-made waves to enjoy surfing, but it is not the real deal. Such is the error of those who seek to fulfill in the flesh what only God can do by His Spirit. They invariably become as the Bible decrees, "clouds without rain (Jude 1:12)." They promise liberty, but are servants of corruption, which leads to bondage (2 Peter 2:19).
Tragically, so many are lost seeking signs, wonders, angels, dreams, visions, miracles, and other spiritual manifestations to cope with the cruelty of this world or their intolerable conditions. As a result, much of the church is being led by subjective experiences of men, rather than the objective truth of God’s word. For instance, in times past, I’ve confronted a few so-called "women pastors." When I ask them by what authority do they rule in the house of God, invariably they tell me that they had a dream, vision, or someone prophesied to them this position. I then take them to the word of the Lord, which forbids them to govern in God’s house and then ask them, "If God’s word says one thing and a spiritual experience dictates another, who or what should you obey?" Sadly, most of them choose the spiritual experience, rather than the sound teaching of Scripture.
Brethren, God’s word must be the umpire to judge all spiritual experiences. The Bible warns that Satan can produce lying sings and wonders. Remember Jannes and Jambres of Moses’ day? Their poles turned into snakes, just like Moses’ pole. Gratefully, Moses’ snake swallowed both of them up to prove the supremacy of God’s power. In this we see that Satan is a counterfeiter. In order to have a counterfeit, however, you must have an original. In other words, in order to have lying signs and wonders, there must be true signs and wonders. Let us not be guilty of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
To distinguish between the two, the Bible tells us to test the spirits to see if they proceed from God (1 John 4:1). How do we test them? If they don’t agree with God’s word or confirm God’s word, the Holy Spirit is not the author of that experience or teaching. The Holy Spirit will never lead anyone to violate the veracity of Scripture. He will only guide us into all truth (John 16:13). He is called to bring into our remembrances the teachings of our Lord (John 13:26). He will never contradict them.
To sum up this teaching let us close with Mark 16:15-20:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
To stay on track with God and His divine purposes, we are not called to seek signs and wonders. Remember, Jesus told us that only a wicked and adulterous generation seeks such things (Matthew 16:4). In other words, wickedness and adultery are the fruits of seeking signs. This is what we witnessed at Morning Star and our public rebuke of Todd Bentley. In the age of infidelity, it is no mere coincidence that it is also the age of seeking signs. Many are obsessed running to and fro seeking a sign from God, a word from God, or a miracle from God? They run to this minister, that convention, or to this “prophet” or some other faith healer. True signs, however, follow obedience to God’s word; they were never designed by God to lead. Thus, if the church in America is ever to experience the power, presence, and miraculous realm of God again, she must come back to the truth and preach it everywhere. And according to God’s promise the Lord will work with us by confirming His word with signs following. Amen.