Joseph Herrin (09-14-08)
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
We live in that hour of which the apostle Paul spoke. “From among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things.” Their intent is “to draw away disciples after them.” These are described as “savage wolves” who would not “spare the flock.”
These wolves do not look significantly different from the sheep of the flock. Tares look much like wheat. Ishmael was a young man even as was Isaac. Both certainly had a resemblance to their father Abraham, but one was a child of the flesh and the other a child of promise. One was rejected by God, and the other accepted. The Lord told His disciples that wolves would come in among them dressed in sheep’s clothing. In this hour of great deception it is necessary to discern the presence of these wolves in the midst of the people of God.
I would like to ask you to read the following passage of Scripture in its entirety, for quite often it is divided up and people do not make a connection to what is said at the beginning and what is stated at the end. The connection needs to be observed, for that which Christ is warning His disciples about is being fulfilled in this hour.
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
I think it can be discerned from this passage that there are wolves who do not know or admit that they are wolves. The trait of the wolf that Christ identifies is their ravenous appetite. The expression “hungry as a wolf” reveals a central part of understanding the symbolism of what wolves represent. They are self-focused. As Paul declared, they want to draw disciples after THEMSELVES, when they should be drawing men to Christ.
On thing that is missing from the message of ministerial wolves is a need to be Spirit directed in all that men do. Rather than pointing Christians to a Spirit led life where they do nothing of their own initiative, but live to do the will of the Father (this being the context of Christ’s words above), they seek to make men disciples of themselves. They magnify their calling and the anointing present in their lives. They lead men to a dependency upon their own ministry, and resource materials. They always have something to sell, and they seek to hype the material to make it appear absolutely necessary to understanding the actions and thoughts of God.
Have you not noticed television teachers who build up a teaching, speaking of how phenomenal it is, then at the end of the program they tell you that you can only get the full message if you purchase their video set, or book? Have you not noticed many ministries today who speak of the great anointing that is present at their churches and places of ministry, directing the saints to come to their location to experience the presence of the Spirit and receive an impartation? Of course, they also want you to stay at their hotel, eat at their restaurants, shop in their bookstores, and put your money in their offering plates. On August 8, Todd Bentley went to Morningstar Ministries and Rick Joyner wrote of this event:
Todd Bentley’s Ministry on 8/8/08
We were very excited about having Todd Bentley back with us for the gathering on 8/8/08. Todd has stirred up the church like few others in recent times. There are also very few who are neutral about him. Immediately, unprecedented excitement and threats about Todd were coming. The threats encouraged us even more that this was from the Lord, but in these times, they must be taken seriously, and we prepared for a move of God and attacks from the enemy. As most of us have learned, the greater the move of God, the greater the attacks usually are.
We had food vendors, different exhibition tents, and bookstores set up and ready early in the morning, and people started coming just after 9:00 a.m., even though the main service was not scheduled to start until 5:00 p.m. By noon, the crowds were getting large, and everyone seemed to be having a great time in the festival atmosphere and the incredible weather...
[Source: Morningstar Ministries - Special Bulletin]
Note, this was just a few days before the first revelations of Todd’s sins became known to the body of Christ. I have noted an emphasis at Morningstar Ministries in creating a festival atmosphere and attracting large crowds. This goes hand in hand with a spirit of merchandising. I truly believe there is spiritual significance to the fact that Morningstar purchased the Heritage International Ministries campus where Jim and Tammy Bakker used to host the PTL Club. Jim Bakker’s ministry was marked by financial transgressions and a focus upon money and worldly possessions, even to having a Rolls Royce on display. Rick Joyner has bought into this same Heritage, and he set a Bentley on display with the same intent of drawing a crowd and enlarging his following. (“Seeking to draw away disciples after themselves.”)
This type of charlatanism was never more evident than at the Lakeland meetings of Todd Bentley. All who came were charged admission just to enter the building. Then they were hounded by Bentley to give generously that they might receive something from the Spirit of Christ. He would frequently suggest that God had revealed to him that a specific number of people would write checks for thousand dollar gifts, and often larger amounts. He would also bring some book up to the podium and tell people how wonderful and indispensable it was. He would give a few “lucky” people a free copy, whetting people’s appetites as they hoped they would receive the freebie. When they were sufficiently lathered up, and disappointed that they did not receive what they now greatly desired, he would direct them to the book sales tables where they could receive a “special deal.”
These crass attempts to ply money from gullible and non-discerning believers reveal the absence of the fear of God in such men’s lives. No wonder that this same man was not afraid to carry on an adulterous relationship and engage in frequent alcoholic drunkenness during the same period of time he was conducting “revival” services.
The apostle Paul charged true ministers with the following command,
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
In this spirit I am going to share some words of warning concerning what I perceive to be further attempts of the enemy to kill, steal and destroy, and I will not shrink back from naming names, and pointing out where I am perceiving wolves to be lurking. This is in keeping with the practice of the apostles.
III John 9-10
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does...
Let me begin with Peter Wagner and the International Coalition of Apostles which he heads. I first became concerned about this man after 911 when he sent out a writing saying that the catastrophic events of that day had nothing to do with the judgment of God. He set forth a very illogical and scripturally flawed argument that God does not use wicked men to bring judgment upon disobedient peoples. In an hour when the people of God needed desperately to learn the fear of God and to repent of their dalliance with the world and great idolatry, his was a voice, along with Dutch Sheets and numerous others, telling Christians not to think God was bringing judgment.
I wrote a reproof to his words at the time in the article Don’t Use the ‘J’ Word - Judgment, though I did not identify him as the source of this false teaching. I have thought since that if his teaching is an example of current apostolic discernment of sound doctrine then the church is indeed in great trouble. More recent events have given me even greater cause for concern. As mentioned in the blog on Tropical Storm Fay, Peter Wagner and a dozen members of ICA were engaged in an endorsement ceremony for Todd Bentley just a short time before the entire Lakeland thing fell apart. I will quote from the article.
How many warnings were given to the church about the uncleanness of this work and the man leading it? Yet just a little over a week before this matter became known Peter Wagner, along with 16 others, laid hands upon Todd Bentley, commissioning him as an evangelist, and prophesying that what had begun was going to continue to grow and intensify. Wagner’s organization, International Coalition of Apostles (ICA), was represented in that 13 people who participated in this endorsement of Bentley were deemed to be apostles by the organization.
If these were truly apostles, then where was their spiritual discernment? Did not any understand that there was great impurity present and God was about to expose and judge it? Were these truly apostles who not only endured this evil man, but who joined themselves to him thereby sharing in his sins?
I Timothy 5:22
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
Perhaps they were not truly apostles at all. I strongly suspect the majority are not appointed by the Lord as apostles. Their appointment has come from man.
I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false...
People of God, the Lord praised the church of Ephesus for not being willing to endure evil men, and putting to the test those who call themselves apostles. Yet because of the current false doctrine that says Christians are not to judge, I know I will receive criticism from many for exercising discernment concerning these men and putting them to the test.
Even after Todd Bentley was exposed to be in serious sin, Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries wrote that Christians should not be hasty to judge the situation, but should withhold their judgment. I will provide a direct quote:
Over the last couple of weeks, there has been an increasing swirl of controversy regarding Todd Bentley. I have had almost daily contact with him, and he asked me to post the following:
Todd Bentley asked me to convey his appreciation for all the prayers, expressions of love, and concern while he tries to navigate through this present situation. He is grieved by the trouble and confusion this has caused, especially to his friends, coworkers, and all who have trusted him. He wants to make a clear statement about it, acknowledging his responsibility in this and the mistakes he made, but he feels that he should first meet with Pastor Bill Johnson, who is out of the country and will not be available for a couple more weeks. He asks that you would continue to pray for him, and he thanks those who are willing to be patient. He wants to do this right and not hastily or superficially.
I would like to accept personal responsibility for counseling Todd to wait until he has talked with Bill before trying to make the “full disclosure” of his mistakes. This needs to be done right and in a way that does not unnecessarily hurt even more people. In just a couple of weeks, things should have calmed down enough for a statement to be made. Impatience is not a fruit of the Spirit, and I have personally never seen anything done under the kind of duress and pressure that some are trying to exert at this time that ended up not being a mistake.
The only thing that I have received from the Lord about this matter directly is that “those who rush to judgment will be exposed.”
[Source: Morningstar Ministries Prophetic Bulletin]
People, let me share something with you that is a neglected truth in this hour. Judgment is not defined as only those judgments that are negative. Judgment also includes endorsing a person or event, for this is a positive JUDGMENT. I believe Rick Joyner may have clearly heard the Lord say, “Those who rush to judgment will be exposed.” All those men who participated in the alignment ceremony of Todd Bentley “rushed to judgment.” They failed to test the matter according to scriptural command, and to “lay hands on no man suddenly” and they became partakers of the sin of Todd Bentley.
God is exposing at this time those who have not been exercising spiritual discernment. He is exposing those who have been embracing impure men and impure movements, and He is showing forth their great error in doing so. It should be noted that Rick Joyner was present at Todd Bentley’s endorsement ceremony (called by them “an alignment ceremony”) and he has made much of the fact that the “revival” had been carried to Morningstar, making numerous entreaties for Christians to come and join in their meetings and to book rooms at their hotel (the largest in South Carolina).
Note: The website for Morningstar’s hotel has a page encouraging the body of Christ to invest in the restoration of the hotel. It states:
To sponsor the restoration of a hotel room is only $5,000. You can also join the Nehemiah Project with a gift of just $1,000 or more for the general restoration of the facilities. These gifts will be named on our specially designed Nehemiah Wall that will be a permanent memorial at Heritage. All who donate any amount to The Nehemiah Project will be included in our permanent Register of Donors.
There are also many new areas available for sponsorship, including the Main Street suites, apartments and shops. Now is the time. Establish your name as a part in Nehemiah’s Wall in the restoration of Heritage.
Also, you can donate stocks, appreciated assets, IRA gifts, and property. Donating these can save you significant amounts on your taxes and have your finances distributed into the Kingdom instead.
It must seem a small thing to violate the command of the Lord to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you sow money into God’s Kingdom. Are they not as the Pharisee who blew a trumpet before him when he made a gift to the temple treasury? And they are leading Christians into this same error.
“Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”
Using the Holy Scriptures to come up with sales gimmicks like a "Nehemiah's Wall" is reprehensible. It is also deceptive. It leads the naive to think that giving money to Morningstar to build a massive hotel is akin to the Jews returning from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem. Morningstar may put your name on a plaque on a wall, or enter your name into their permanent register of donors, but in doing so they are merely using the carnal methods of the world to build a kingdom according to the principles of a fallen world.
Charisma magazine, in an article titled, Leaders Commission Todd Bentley at "Lakeland Outpouring," stated that, "The special service was billed by leaders as one of the greatest moments in revival history." Peter Wagner, "presiding apostle" of the International Coalition of Apostles, was one of those who endorsed Bentley that evening, publicly stating,
“This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase.”
You can view Peter Wagner speaking these words in any number of YouTube videos that portray this event. Yet, having endorsed Todd Bentley so clearly, I found Wagner’s words after Todd’s sin was exposed to be far from apostolic. In another YouTube video he states that he did not “lay hands” on Todd Bentley, that only three apostles present did, and so his involvement should not be viewed as a commissioning of Todd. I am reminded of Adam hiding behind Eve after having eaten the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Peter Wagner arranged the event. He had twelve other ICA members invited to stand with him, yet after it was exposed to be a tragic lapse in judgment he has sought to distance himself from responsibility in the matter.
Compare these two statements of Peter Wagner together.
“This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase."
“I want to make it clear that I did not commission Todd as some wrongly think. I didn’t lay on hands. I didn’t anoint with oil. In fact, I moved to the back and neither my wife Doris or I prayed or prophesied.”
A YouTube video including these remarks can be found here:
There is clearly a lack of integrity in Peter Wagner’s actions since Todd Bentley was exposed. At the same time he has admitted that what has been revealed about Todd Bentley’s sins so far is but “the tip of the iceberg” and there are far more serious things going on. I am sure some of these sins involve inappropriate use of funds donated to Fresh Fire Ministries, and I would not be surprised to learn that there was even homosexual sin present as Todd Bentley brought Paul Cain to Lakeland and allowed him on the podium to address the crowds. Paul Cain was removed from ministry by Mike Bickle after it became known that this elderly prophet was engaged in homosexual activity with young men.
Rick Joyner wrote of Paul Cain’s transgressions back in 2004:
In February 2004, we were made aware that Paul had become an alcoholic. In April 2004, we confronted Paul with evidence that he had been recently involved in homosexual activity. Paul admitted to these sinful practices and was placed under discipline, agreeing to a process of restoration which the three of us would oversee.
However, Paul has resisted this process and has continued in his sin. Therefore, after having exhausted the first two steps of Matthew 18:15-17, we now have a responsibility to bring this before the church. Our sincere hope remains to see Paul restored...
Letter Signed By: Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Mike Bickle
In a recent post from 2008 Rick Joyner wrote the following:
When Paul Cain appeared on the platform of the revival in Lakeland it caused quite a reaction, jamming my personal emails to the point where I thought for a while it might be impossible to answer them all. Some were disconcerted about Paul’s appearance, others by some of the things he said, and others were simply asking if Paul had been restored yet.
The reason why Paul was invited to the Lakeland revival was that he had prophesied that “the last-day ministry” would begin in Florida. I have personally heard Paul say this many times over the years and questioned him about it in depth. I believe it is a true prophecy, and when I heard that Paul was saying that what was happening in Lakeland was the fulfillment of this prophecy, I was very interested to hear what he would say about it.
I also felt that Todd Bentley was right to honor Paul by bringing him to that meeting and letting him share the vision he has carried for so long...
[Source: Morningstar Ministries - Special Bulletin]
Is it right to honor a man who has brought shame to Christ by engaging in behavior that God describes as “an abomination”? It would be a different matter if Paul Cain had confessed, repented, and been restored, but Rick Joyner made these statements knowing that Paul Cain was still practicing homosexual behavior, and was now denying that he had ever participated in it. In the same bulletin, Rick Joyner speaks of the efforts of Mike Bickle and others to restore Paul Cain.
Later, Paul submitted himself to a restoration process and they declared him restored to ministry. When those who had led this process explained how they had accomplished this so fast, it set off more alarms in me. Some of the communication I had with them and with Paul only solidified my doubts. Even so, I had a great hope that I was wrong, or even if I was right about the validity of their restoration process, that the Lord would intervene some other way so that Paul could be delivered from the powerful strongholds that had taken such a grip on his life.
I kept that hope until Paul spoke in Lakeland about “the allegations” about him and his assertions of having lived a celibate life. That was pretty overwhelming evidence that he has still not repented of these serious transgressions. What Paul called “allegations” are abundant and overwhelming evidence, which Paul has admitted to. However, admitting something is not the same as repenting of it. As long as there is blame-shifting, an attempt to cover them up, or dilute the seriousness of them, the restoration process has at best fallen far short of its purpose.
As it has been reported that Todd would not let Paul come back on the platform after he asserted that he had lived a celibate life is a credit to the integrity that Todd is trying to maintain in his ministry. If Paul had even just said that he had made serious mistakes in his life and owned them just a little, it would have given me hope, but it seemed quite clear to me that not much has changed with Paul, and in fact, they are getting worse.
[Source: Morningstar Ministries - Special Bulletin]
Rick Joyner stated that is was “right” to “honor” this man who refuses to repent of serious sin. How is the church to judge the “rightness” of such an act? Are they to rely upon feelings, as Rick Joyner has done? No! This is one of the great failings of the church in this hour. They have departed from sound doctrine. They ignore the clear instruction of Scriptures in favor of following what “feels right.” The apostle Paul gives clear instructions in such a matter.
I Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves!
If we are to test men such as Peter Wagner and Rick Joyner who call themselves to be apostles, by what criteria should we test them? Should we not examine them to see if they are men of spiritual discernment, teaching things which are right to the body of Christ, and guarding both themselves and the flock against the encroachment of evil? On all accounts these men are falling short.
Rick Joyner declared in the previous quote that Todd Bentley having Paul Cain come to Lakeland, but later changing his mind “is a credit to the integrity that Todd is trying to maintain in his ministry.” Is it not more likely evidence that he made a great error in judgment, and then alter changed his mind when the objections of the body of Christ began to arise in his ears? Rick Joyner has consistently misjudged Todd Bentley, giving him glowing endorsements, as indicated in the following words.
I have known Todd Bentley for about a decade, and he is a man of exceptional theological depth, revelatory gifting, and the leader of a large and growing multi-faceted ministry that has had a significant impact on many nations. I have been to Abbotsford, B.C. a few times to speak at Fresh Fire Conferences, and I always marvel at the substance and excellence of what Todd has been able to build in such a short period of time as well as the quality of people on his team.
I am saying all of this because there is much more to Todd Bentley and Fresh Fire Ministries than has yet been revealed through what is now happening in Lakeland. I know Todd as someone who can teach or preach with a rare depth and clarity, but Lakeland is not really about that, at least not yet. It is about an impartation of faith, power, and fire. Right now we, the body of Christ, need these more than we need more teaching and strategy...
They came to get me to sit on the platform, and it was interesting how the anointing seemed different there. It was still good, but different. Even so, I enjoyed seeing Todd and a number of other friends I had not seen in awhile. When Todd came over and put his arm around me, it was a hug, but I also felt that I kind of needed to hold him up. He is under the kind of anointing that does stagger you and actually makes you feel drunk, which is why they thought the disciples on the Day of Pentecost were drunk with wine. Under this kind of anointing, I knew Todd might not be able to do some of the in-depth teaching and preaching he is capable of, but I don’t think that is really the purpose of Lakeland anyway...
Todd has an amazing depth, maturity, and wisdom for his age, but he is still young. He might say some things wrong occasionally and say or do things that are hard to understand. His tattoos are real hard for some people to take, but those tattoos seem to be the very thing that have attracted many, especially the emerging generation, to him and his message. I have heard numerous reports of people who have become almost addicted to watching the revival on God-TV because they were channel surfing and were so captivated by Todd’s appearance when that they could not stop watching. Then they started listening. Now they are on fire for God.
Even those who would never get a tattoo at least view him as a genuine person with no facades. My opinion of Todd for the years I have known him is that he is one of the most genuine people I have ever known, still untainted by religion, but one of the greatest lovers of God and His truth...
Todd has been sent to offend the religious spirit and to be an offense to the complacent, and thank the Lord it is working...
I am appalled at the statements of Rick Joyner pertaining to this man. Not only are they examples of bad judgment, but they are manifestations of unsound doctrine. To declare that Todd is a man of “exceptional theological depth” is a grotesque distortion of the truth. This is the man who introduced the church to the angel Emma, Winds of Change, Financial Blessing and other spirit beings that Christians were instructed to embrace and send forth on their bidding. This is a man who turned on the air conditioner at a church he was visiting when he had been instructed not to do so, for birds were nesting in the vents. When feathers began flying down on people he declared them to be feathers of angels. This is a man who practices all manner of lying and deception regarding physical healing, and who has covered his body with tattoos to such great excess that even worldly people have their attention arrested when they see an image of him.
Rick Joyner was right when he said there was much more to Todd Bentley than had been revealed. Todd was a deceiver, and even Peter Wagner has stated that Todd deceived them all. Yet Rick Joyner confidently asserts that Todd is a man without "a genuine person without facades." Was he genuine when he was carrying on revival meetings when getting drunk and being unfaithful to his wife?
People of God, it is often very hard to discern a person’s character without a close familiarity with them. I find that I am a poor judge of a man until I get to know them closely. For this reason I have learned to not embrace a person too quickly. This is in keeping with the command of the apostle Paul.
I Timothy 5:22
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
We should immediately begin assessing a person when we are brought to a situation where we are invited to participate in their work and ministry. There has been an abundance of evidence concerning Todd Bentley, pointing to serious failures both morally and doctrinally. Where were the 500 apostles of ICA before Todd Bentley’s sins were announced to the public? Where were the shepherds who were charged with guarding the flock of God. Dutch Sheets came out with a word about Bentley and Lakeland AFTER the sins had been exposed. He admitted to knowing there was much wrong there BEFORE the fall of this man came. Yet he failed to guard the flock against the savage wolves in her midst.
Now Dutch Sheets is in the midst of raising up another false work that has all the same telltale signs that were present at Lakeland. However a discussion of this new “movement” must wait for part 2 of this writing.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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