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Revival or Carnival?

By Patricia Backora

Lust for power and money has turned many praying shepherds into preying wolves who devour helpless sheep. Unscrupulous pulpiteers count on the fact that most of their congregation lead harried, busy lives and dont have the time to carefully scrutinize their churchs teachings in the light of CORRECTLY APPLIED Scripture. Christians are lectured incessantly about submission to Gods authority, even while their spiritual father lacks Scriptural authority for what he teaches. As lies flow from powerful pulpits, money flows into jeweled hands outstretched to impart a pretend anointing to those desperate for solutions. Christ Himself recedes into the background as exciting personalities take center stage, dispensing spiritual dope to folks high on religion and spiritual candy to spiritual infants who never question what they hear, and never grow up. In days gone by, emotional fanatics jumped the pews and pranced around the piano. Now the spirit (which one?) not only blesses people, he BLASTS them when the preacher imparts his anointing. But let the buyer at the religious meat market beware! Satan is an old pro at counterfeiting the Oil of the Spirit with his own snake oil and greasy gospel of religious carnival tricks. When it suits his long-term purposes, the devil is even able to counterfeit the miracles of God (2 Thes.2:9; Rev.13:13). Satan often appears as an angel of light (2 Cor.11:14).

WHOOSH! Im gonna bring down the FIRE! (Just dont get burnt when offering time rolls around). One humble-looking charismatic guru gets Christians so worked up they wriggle on the floor giggling in self-indulgent delight. Some bark like dogs. He hangs out with angels (what kind?). He even takes people on trips to heaven (without Ecstasy). Lines of people tumble over like dominoes as he blows on them to slay them in the spirit. Maybe hes got garlic breath, eh? In Genesis 2:7, GOD, not some man, blew the breath of life into Adam. In Ezekiel 37:9 God tells Ezekiel to PROPHESY TO THE WIND to blow upon dead bodies to bring them back to life. Wind symbolizes the moving of the Holy Spirit in power (Acts 2:24). Significantly, God did not tell Ezekiel to help the Holy Spirit out by blowing on the dead himself! Only ONE incident of blowing on anyone, dead or living, occurs in the New Testament, but it was done by Jesus Himself, not by any minister of the Gospel. Jesus breathed upon (blew on) His disciples and said: Receive ye the Holy Ghost (John 20:22). Jesus did NOT instruct any of his disciples to follow His example in this. He promised that they would lay hands on the sick and they would recover (Mark 16:18). Recently I read a newspaper article about a certain cartoon character preacher coming to our area soon. He is alleged to have punched or shoved people and even kicked them in the face to release the power of god. If this spiritual quack had live back in the days of the early apostles, Simon Magus might have offered him a few bucks to learn this new way of channeling gods power (Acts 8:9-24. Jesus is God in the flesh. He blew physical life into Adam. So He was perfectly entitled to blow spiritual life (the Holy Ghost) into His disciples. As God, only Christ has the right to do this. Anyone else who blows the Holy Ghost on people today is doing something the apostles didnt do and is playing God. Peter passed by so many sick people that it was physically impossible for him to lay hands on them all. So he imparted healing virtue by means of his passing shadow (Acts 5:15). Paul had the same problem of being unable to touch each and every person seeking healing, and he wanted to impart healing from a great distance. So he sent out cloths as a point of contact (Acts 19:11-12). These two examples were the most unusual means used by the apostles to convey healing virtue. But how did these methods differ from what is commonly done today by healing evangelists? Peter and Paul simply got the job done, and that was it! No melodrama, no theatrics, no hyperventilating, no shouting, no jumping! They didnt follow any orchestrated program to build the crowd up to the climax of the service. No mention of musicians, special lighting, victory marches, angel feathers, or fancy fanfare! The Big Fisherman didnt do the jerk and shriek FIRE! as his shadow quietly passed the crowd. Most telling is the fact that when Paul sent out his prayer cloths to the sick, he didnt include instructions to sign your name to the cloth and wrap it around your biggest shekel! Those men might not have been perfect, but they werent circus clowns doing zany tricks to milk cash cows! Seriously, as I watched a couple of this one preachers videos, the slaying in the spirit phenomena made red flags go up for me. Outward evidence of the supernatural must NOT shape our beliefs, especially when it clashes with the written Word of God. There is NO Biblical precedent for any Christian believer falling under the power in front of a preacher, except for backslidden Ananias and Sapphira. They fell dead in front of Peter for lying to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:1-11). John on the

Isle of Patmos fell in front of Jesus, out of awe for His wonderful Majesty! Saul of Tarsus fell under the power too, but without being blown on by any preacher, and BEFORE he became a believer (Acts 9:4). Saul got knocked off his high horse by Jesus Himself to stop his persecution of believers. And when Saul got up, he might have brushed sand off his cloak, but he didnt pick any gold dust out of his hair! Preachers know that sound Biblical orthodoxy doesnt draw big crowds. Craziness does! The solemn worship of Almighty God is being turned into a full-blown freakout! Todays carnival revivals could, at least partially, be bad fruit from the way the Gospel was adapted during the Jesus Revolution to make it more appealing to young people who tuned in, turned off, and dropped out of conventional society. CocaColas theme song got adopted by the Jesus Movement: Hes the Real Thing. But turning Jesus into a cool dude went a bit too far, I think. Get high on Jesus was preached to hippies who found their parents religion irrelevant, and would never listen to conventional preaching. One guy came up with something that made me hear alarm bells even when I was young and recently Spirit-filled: We just tell those hippies they ought to forget drugs and get high on LJC, the Lord Jesus Christ! The man who said this evangelized young people and was considerably older in the Lord than myself, so I wondered if it really WAS all right to promote Jesus as just another way to get high. It really boils down to this: Young people would give up their occult practices and LSD and tune in to Jesus only if the King of Glory would be the LJC which could give these kids a better high. Sometimes the line between natural human emotion and legitimate joy in the Spirit can blur, and discernment is called for! So long as Jesus kept the Jesus People on Cloud Nine, He would always be the Real Thing to these thrill-seeking young believers. Barely stressed was the awesome Majesty and Godhead of Jesus, Who was due reverence for His position as Lord of their Lives. Its hard to truly worship Someone Who is presented as a substitute for LSD, ONE WAY to everlasting levity! Another of the biggest drawbacks of the Jesus Revolution was its greatest attraction: The Love of Jesus was overemphasized at the expense of neglecting the unpopular topic of Gods wrath against sin, and the need for true heartfelt repentance. Jesus rallies sometimes were little more than spiritual love-ins. Vast multitudes were allegedly swept into the Kingdom of God, but how long do conversions last if the preaching of repentance is neglected as being too negative, because it might scare the fish away? One guy I knew was thrilled to pieces about Jesus. Man, this guy would dance around and shout more in our church than anyone else. But later in life he resented the demands the Word of God made for holy living. He married a wonderful woman and had three children with her, then ran off to live in sin with another Christian man who had been on fire for God but left his own wife! A good dose of repentance preaching wouldnt have done either of them any harm! Human nature tends to swing from one extreme to the other. I remember the warmth and family feeling of my early church experience. Today going to meetings is just that: a disconnected, often impersonal activity which leaves you feeling alienated, unless you manage to break into one of the cliques in your local assembly. The Jesus Movement shone brightly with the love of Jesus, and it could have kept the fervor of that love even if repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus (Acts 20:21) had been preached as it ought to have been.

The Jesus Revolution ran its course, as all past revivals have done. Many of its converts, like myself, have never fallen out of love with Jesus, although I HAVE fallen out of love with a lot of the ridiculous baggage which went with it! The passage of years doesnt magically result in maturity. Unless the Word of God is faithfully lived day by day, time only turns young fools into old fools. After the Jesus Revolution faded off the scene, the Prosperity Movement sprouted up. Gradually the typical charismatic church morphed into a religious stock market, where you invested seed money in hopes of making a big return. Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple. He scattered their coins all over the pavement of the Court of the Gentiles. Cant you picture Jesus rushing through the average megachurch shouting: Get this junk out of My Fathers House! This isnt a swap meet! Just imagine Jesus scattering the big ice cream buckets some celebrity preachers use to fleece the flock, all those checks and big bills fluttering around, as if Jesus had never learned the value of a dollar! And the preachers scampering to scoop up all that greenery before Jesus homemade whip could lash at their thousand-dollar suits! Now the pendulum is swinging back to the Eternal Tune-out. Jesus is STILL treated by many as a means to an end: sensory stimulation. Big Bucks Religion has hitched its wampum wagon to the worst of the Jesus Revolution: Now weve got the Greatest Show on Earth, with the spectators being turned into trained seals that bark when the preacher passes on his nutty anointing. Holy laughter seizes people in its grip. The anointing (WHOSE?) makes you forget about life for awhile, even better than Valium! It can loosen your grip on reality and even on your wallet! The more you grease the preachers palm, the faster youll slide up to heaven with him! Fact is, you can have heaven right here on this earth, and you dont even have to trip out on Jesus like the Jesus freaks did. The preacher IS the main attraction, the man who makes delusional souls feel good while he fleeces their pockets. The New Testament apostles taught people to rejoice evermore. But no Biblical apostle ever laid hands the multitudes to get them to line dance in church and laugh like a hyena! Simon the sorcerer tried to buy the real power of the Spirit from the apostles so he could dazzle the crowds. But Peter rebuked Simon, saying his heart was not right with God and he had no part in the apostles ministry (Acts 8:20-22). The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men (I Cor.1:25). Along with Paul, Peter, James and John helped lay the foundation for the early church (Eph.2:20). But God didnt anoint the Three Stooges to build on their work! If Peter, James and John could look down from heaven and behold the lunacy passing itself off as Christianity today, it would shock their sandals off! They would probably wonder: Where are the shepherds who rightly divide the Word of God and build wisely upon the foundations we laid when we were on earth? Where are the fearless men and women who dont tickle peoples ears with fun fantasies (2 Tim.4:3-4)? Whos got the guts to teach all men everywhere that they need to repent and be saved (Acts 17:30)? Whatever happened to the churchs primary mission of preaching Gods wrath against sin, and waiting for the REAL Holy Spirit to melt peoples hearts in sorrow for sin, and convict them of their need for a Savior from hell? In Acts 17:30 Paul declares that God had long winked at (overlooked) the ignorance of the heathen, in that God did not usually intervene to punish their wicked societies. But how much longer can God turn a blind eye to the ignorance which results in carnal, counterfeit carnival revivals? The word carnival is derived from the Latin

word for flesh. So it is a very fitting description of the soiled flesh that passes itself off as the work of the Spirit. Many do not realize that very UNSCRIPTURAL (even occultic) practices are taking place, or that many charlatans are making a quick buck off ignorance. The man conducting the latest revival preaches about seeing the white light, which is a New Age supernatural counterfeit of the Glory of God. Instead of making frequent mention of Jesus alone being the of Healer the sheep, this man hypes up the anointing, and have you got IT yet? Hes focusing on some alleged FORCE which brings benefits instead on the Person of Christ. Antichrist will worship the god of forces (Dan.11:38). Yet I will concede that its important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, even if the baby is in danger of being drowned in an ocean of dirty waste water. Some DO get blessed at the wackiest meetings, but in spite of the wayward preacher, not because of him! Most people come in all sincerity to these meetings and there are those among them who are truly focused on JESUS, not some man. Whenever some healing genuinely happens TO THE GLORY OF CHRIST, it only means that God, in His mercy, used something said in the meeting to spark a greater awareness of Jesus, the REAL healer. Even in the midst of a mess, God still graciously shows mercy toward those Who seek Him. Yet, God is grieved by the open door given to FALSE spirits of wickedness masquerading as the Holy Spirit, and the fact that people are encouraged to lower their defenses to their spiritual detriment. The time is short, beloved. If people MUST bark like dogs, crow like chickens and fall over like dominoes to please some preacher, then at the very least, it mustnt be done in the Name of the One Who inspired Paul to write: Let all things be done DECENTLY and in order (I Cor.14:40). And: God is not the author of confusion (disorder) but of peace (I Cor.14:33). Dead, dry, intellectual religion produces no lasting fruit for the Kingdom of God. But it isnt a sin to have a sanctified brain and check things out to make sure theyre true (I Thes.5:21). (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day (Rom.11:8). *****