Apostasy in the Church Part 6
Miracles, Signs and Wonders
By Jim Allen
Benny Hinn is a pastor and evangelist known worldwide for his healing ministry. He is a best selling author and a household name among believers and non-believers alike. He is a true master at placing emphasis on personal experience during worship services. Love or hate him, Benny is a unique character unlike any we know. Hinn's worldwide organization is big and depends heavily on "miracles, signs and wonders" to finances his healing ministry. While the faithful support his onstage antics and partake in falling under the anointing, others remain convinced he is a fraud and rank him with the other mega-church swindlers. While there are many issues with his ministry, perhaps most disturbing is the untold number of innocent people who travel long distances in hope of a miracle. In most if not every instant, these travel-weary believers return home having their hope give way to despair and their faith, in many cases, give way to doubt.
The Bible gives insight to guard against the cunning craftiness of false teachers who twist doctrine for their personal gain while plotting shrewd maneuvers to fleece the flock. The author of Hebrew writes, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried (led) about with various and strange doctrines..." (Hebrews 13:8-9). The antics of Benny Hinn and others like him are wide-ranging and strange to be sure. To teach and then encourage people to chase after these strange practices is to ignore Ephesians 4:14 that clearly warns believers to avoid every wind of doctrine. In other words, a believer who knows the true Gospel will not be led astray by a false gospel.
The Charismatic movement places a good deal of emphasis on "experiencing God" during the worship service. From the witness of many, pastors and teachers twist the meaning of scripture, as though it were a virtue, and thereby hijack and transform the worship service into an experience foreign to the Bible. God desires for his children to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24), possessing a quiet and peaceful spirit. The outcome from a quiet and peaceful spirit is "the experience" of going through each day with a sense of God's nearness and extended hand of grace, guidance, divine protection, steadfastness in His faithfulness to us, and encouragement to face another day. Within the framework of experiencing God, He also desires his children to avoid sensuousness, often leading to a state of uncontrollable behavior. When a pastor waves his hand over a crowd and the worshipers fall like dominos, you need to wonder about the source of that power and its purpose. Jesus performed no showmanship antics by waving his cloak at the crowd; He did not cause people to fall uncontrollably from the electrifying power of His touch; nor, did Jesus become emotional and roll in the dirt or babble an unknown tongue under the anointing. Jesus spoke the truth and healed the infirmed to prove He was indeed the Son of God. Having witnessed many of these church meetings first hand, I must say there is a spirit at work in these church services foreign to the Spirit of Christ.
Believers ruled by tingling sensations, falling in the spirit, muscle spasms, barking like a dog, grunting like a hog, and performing unsightly movements during a church service are subjecting themselves to another spirit, which is not the Spirit of Christ. One man witnessed a woman on her back in a position common to giving birth. Puzzled by the odd behavior, the man later asked the woman what she was doing. She said, "I was giving birth to something, a new movement somewhere." During these times of charismatic experience, the possibility of becoming a "signs and wonders" addict grows because participants build up an unquenchable thirst or devotion for "something" they perceive to be from God. Regrettably, we live in a day when ideology has become a churning sea of conflicting ideas and religious conviction so distorted it skews God's eternal truths into unrecognizable practices that, although strange, many accept as biblical. This should not be.
Quick to reject the strange practices are the non-charismatics who say the gifts of the spirit are no longer at work in the church and that the Bible is what God intends for the faithful to follow. When Charismatics counter the argument by pointing to the growing number of new members, the non-charismatics answer with 1 Thessalonians 5:21 where God commands believers everywhere to, "Test all things; hold fast what is good." Non-charismatics also point to John who says, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1-4). In essence, non-charismatics are warning Charismatics that another spirit may be at work in the church who is an imposter, a copier of all that is holy, and a counterfeiter of God's miracles and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12). The non-charismatics are correct to say, "Take nothing for granted, and examine all things including the fruit from these movements." While the Charismatics forge ahead self-assuredly avowing their doctrines, the non-charismatics shrink back, wary of the strangeness of doctrine they witness among the brethren. Between these two extremes is the truth.
Believers do and can experience God and in many wonderful ways. The following is a true story about a person who "experienced" God unexpectedly one day while resting. He tells of hearing heavenly music that, at first, sounded distant. The music had no beat and was very beautiful, slowing increasing in volume. While listening and not knowing the source of the music, a chorus of voices began to sing in angelic harmony with the music. Then, he heard someone singing a beautiful love song to Jesus in an unknown tongue. While caught up in what appeared to be a time of worship in heaven, he realized that it was he singing in the spirit, in an unknown tongue. As the divine visitation began, so it ended with everything slowly retreating until there was again silence in the room. He went on to say the experience was the most wondrous experience ever, a divine visitation no less. He also said it was not a figment of his imagination because on a musical scale from one to ten (ten being the best), he is a one, not having the mental capability to imagine such wonder. He did not seek the experience but knew God had reached down from heaven that day with a special touch.
Jesus is still touching those who seek Him, in innumerable ways. If Jesus and the apostles performed signs and wonders to touch and convince Israel that Christ was indeed the Messiah, then workers of iniquity will do the same to lead people away from the true gospel. In Matthew 12, scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to prove His ministry. Jesus was annoyed by their demand for proof and lack of faith and said, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah" (Matthew 12:38-39). The problem with seeking after signs and wonders is that it violates the one sign God commanded all to follow, which is the sign of His resurrection, depicted in the account of Jonah and the whale. If you have faith to believe Jesus rose from the dead, then you need no other sign because your heart has shown itself to be true, open to receiving and embracing the true Gospel.
Conversely, believers who embrace the "miracles, signs and wonders" conjured up during church services, under a person claiming the anointing of Christ, will be open to receiving and embracing the doctrine of that person, and herein the warning and potential for deception. Benny Hinn is obviously under the anointing of a spirit, but not the Spirit of Christ. While the dynamics of human persuasion are at work in the worship services, there is most assuredly another spirit working to lead astray. The participants in the Benny Hinn healing services are experiencing what they perceive to be a sign from God approving Hinn as one of the anointed few. However, critical review of Hinn's ministry shows him to be a false prophet, a false teacher, a counterfeit healer, and a person who proclaims a gospel quite different from the one in the New Testament. These facts are a cause for concern about the man and his methods.
What we know for sure is that in the last days workers of iniquity will use signs and lying wonders to deceive and draw many away from the truth (Matthew 24:24). Paul gives a strong warning against the "lure of signs and wonders" in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 where he writes, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
Believers who do not receive the love of the truth are those who follow another gospel. The Bible teaches Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Whatever wonders and healings Jesus performed during His earthly ministry are available today to those who seek Him. God is compassionate and always willing to touch believers in a miraculous way. If true, then why do so many remain untouched by the healing hand of Jesus? Part of the reason (and I emphasize part) for why believers remain infirmed stems from seeking the healing more than the Healer. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." The word "all" in the verse means exactly what it says; and therefore, appropriate to declare "good health and healing" is part of "all these things."
In closing, the greatest sign and wonder in the church today is not physical but spiritual, when the transformation of a person is from sinner to saint. Similarly, the greatest way to experience God is not by chasing after "miracles, signs and wonders" but by seeking after the Savior in genuine faith. The person who heard the music and sang in the spirit never sought after the experience. He sought then as he does today only to abide in Christ and worship Him in spirit and truth (John 15:7; 4:24).
In my next post, I will write about the Gospel of Works and its power to keep people from experiencing salvation.
Apostasy in the Church: The Series
Part 1: When Wolves Lead the Flock
Part 2: Under Cover Lies
Part 3: Their Greed, Your Seed
Part 4: A Time to Refrain from Embracing
Part 5: Angels of Light
Part 6: Miracles, Signs and Wonders
Part 7: The Partial Gospel
Part 8: The True Gospel
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