by haRold Smith
from Jerusalem, Israel
By now, the news of the collapse of the Todd Bentley / Ignited Church / Lakeland, Florida debacle has spread throughout the world, exposed for the heretical farce that it was. Curiously, what ultimately was shown to be at the heart of the deception was what has been discussed here over the past two articles ("A Shaking", "Tip of the Iceberg"), - sexual perversion. Mr. Bentley has admitted to numerous affairs of adultery committed against his wife over a prolonged period of time - all before and during the height of the "revival" taking place by his hand and under the supposed "watch" of men of ranking within the Body. These men (who knew of his extra-marital exploits) had turned a blind eye so as to not tamper with this "phenomenon" that, with the help of GodTV, was elevating them all to a place of world attention where the cash rolled in. They are to be held in as much, if not more, accountability as Mr. Bentley.
I received an email from a woman whose legitimate questions pretty well sums up what most of us have thought about this "affair." She writes - "My concern is, where are the Spiritual fathers that God has put within the Body of Christ? We are supposed to be actively allowing God in Christ to do through Ephesians 4:11-15 what Paul had written to the people at Ephesus but is also for the Body today. Why has this lust thing been allowed to invade God's Body which is Jesus' Body, the Church? What happened here? How did we come to this?"
How did we come to this? And this is by no means an isolated incident. We keep seeing "godly" men who hold aloft the banner of sanctity and point to the signs and wonders at their hands as evidence of their favor with God, repeatedly fall at the feet of greed, depravity and idolatry from Florida to Texas to Colorado to Toronto to England and beyond. How did this happen?
It started the day we looked at the the way the world was ruled and decided that would be a great "template" to use to "protect" the flock to be sure they weren't "scattered" and left in danger. The day that world hierarchy was brought into the Body of Christ and it became accepted as the "normal way to conduct affairs" was the day the Spirit of God was compromised by the church into becoming a business and business requires a certain code of conduct.
If we are to pay someone to be a shepherd, we expect to see results - the flock must increase. Everybody knows the measure of success is by the number of sheep there are. Of course, the greater number of sheep requires a larger facility to house them and more "under shepherds" to take care of those who bleat louder. And then there has to be a name given to this operation so that other shepherds can differentiate between the more successful and the less. Then you have those who want to tend their flock in someone else's pasture, so a governing council has to be convened within which somebody has to have the final say on who is right. So, it grows and it grows and it grows, until, today, we have erected this gigantic monolith to the "glory of God" that demands continually greater increase and greater sustenance to maintain so we can pay greater oblation to the hirelings we set in place to make sure everything functions correctly and everyone keeps their place. Now, before you write me off as Quixotic, there is a passage in scripture that describes a similar event and how God addressed it because He was so pleased with the outcome of what men had constructed (Genesis 11:1-9). (Genesis 11:1-9).
Compromise - read closely the confession of one of the senior pastors in the Lakeland area. (Click Here). To not "speak out publicly" against what he knew in his Spirit was Truth would have placed his "ministry" in jeopardy among his peers. By not speaking what we KNOW to be Truth in order to preserve the status quo, to elevate our renown or for riches is to fall into league with the world and compromises the Truth.
The wolf in sheep's clothing among us is not the Todd Bentley's of the world, it is this hierarchical system we have put in place to govern us that says in order to be a minister, you have to step onto the platform that has been built and maintained for so long by so many. It is this system that produces the Bentley's and their ilk.
Ministry is an expression of Yeshua's Life - wherever we are and whoever we are involved with. Ministry is an expression of His Life lived in and through us - it is a force of Spirit, not an occupation. The only "ministry" exemplified in scripture is the Life of Yeshua and His was "becoming of no reputation" (Philippians 2:6-8). He went and hid - people sought Him out. But He taught daily in the temple - plainly seen. But He taught in parables, so that hearing they would not hear - hidden. Not the type of ministry that would get on GodTV.
I know of genuine apostles, who go to places like Kenya and pay their own way to help believers learn how to stand in the Spirit and to do the work of the ministry called upon in Ephesians 4:11-15. As a result, these believers see the Holy Spirit move among them and through them, apart from the "apostle". These men don't call themselves anything but "brother" because their heart is to be and live as a servant, to be an example for the others to follow. We need to have a serious re-orientation about how the Body and the giftings within it function.
We have to realize, folks, this is God's show. There is nothing going on that He hasn't seen and taken account of. He has allowed we who embrace Truth to have eyes to see into these last times for what they are. Not so that we can change it to our liking or for us to fear its awakening, but so that His Glory might be made manifest into this earthly realm in this hour in and through those of us who are seekers of Truth - the way He has spoken of it happening from the earliest mention in the scripture. Why do we become so dismayed when we begin to see deception at our table (2Peter 2:13) when He has declared it will be so to separate those of us who are lovers of Truth from those who are just along for the ride? (2Peter chapter 2, 2Thessalonians chapter 2), We should expect it. It is they who separate themselves by clinging to darkness, not we because we bring the Light of accountability to shine over their deeds. The purpose of Ananias and Sapphira (who were believers, by the way) was for the enlightenment of the others who knew Truth to take heed and to FEAR THE LORD over the consequences of their individual actions (Acts 5). It is because we are seated on a serious platform in the Spirit that we need to be very sober in this hour.
We have entered and are now residing in the time of times. How are we to respond when genuine signs and wonders begin to befall us at the hands of those who would deceive (fire from heaven, for instance, Revelation 13:12-14)? The stuff we are seeing now will be considered tame in the face of what is on the horizon. It is we, who are of the least esteemed in the church that are called upon to judge matters of weight (1Corinthians 6:3-5). How are we to judge angels if we cannot discern Truth among us now?
These times are all spoken of and chronicled in the Book in many places. We should not be upset when we see them being fulfilled, but should rejoice that our redemption is drawing much nearer - and take heed that our own lamps are sufficiently trimmed. What we are seeing is a "shaking out" of the impure. Christ is readying a Body for Himself. He WILL have His Bride that is without spot, or blemish, or shadow of darkness. Our choice is whether we want to be a part of it - or not. Like the five virgins of the ten who weren't ready, there will be many who won't make the call (those virgins that missed it, by the way - were still virgins, Matthew 25:1-13),
This authority does not give us license to become "demon chasers." In God's eyes, there is no hierarchy of sin. Animosity and hatred toward a brother, even a brother clearly out of step with the Holy Spirit, from His standpoint, is viewed with the same eye as their sin of sexual perversion. (John 3:19-21) makes clear that those who abide in darkness bring judgment upon themselves because they refuse to bring their deeds into the Light of the Body of Believers where Life resides. The scripture says that "every way of a man is right in his own eyes." (Proverbs 21:2) It doesn't say every way of a non-believer - it says every man. No one is exempt. When we become determined to follow our own way we, too, could end up in deception. The very nature of the spirit of deception is that when you are deceived - YOU DON'T KNOW IT. That is why it becomes so important to bring every aspect of ourselves into the Light of Who He Is. And that Light resides in the Body - in the hearts of other believers. If we refuse to be transparent with those in the Body He has given for us to walk with, we will continually find excuses to abide in darkness. Yeshua said to allow the tares to grow up with the wheat - it is His job to separate them in the appointed time (Matthew 13:24-30). We are not responsible for the choices of others nor are we commissioned to go try to change them. We are only held accountable for our choices and how we act in the face of darkness.
Our purpose is not to save the world (John 17:9), our purpose is to exalt Him by the example of our lives while we are in the world in the midst of it crumbling around us. These that arise from among us (and they will continue to arise in greater number and more apparent power) usually begin in some truth but become corrupt as the true nature of their heart becomes revealed. They are given to test us, to refine us and to make pure the remnant of those who believe in, cling to and are uncompromising of Truth (Daniel 11:35) �and to fear the awesomeness of the One True God.
The Lord has been revealing that it is in the wrapper of holiness which has as its root the fear of the Lord we need to be clothed in if our spirit is to survive in this time. If we don't fear Him and the consequences of our actions, we won't stand in holiness and our aim will be skewed - no matter how loud we shout. We are living in the days of apostasy spoken of in scripture and we need to draw in close to Him or even the very elect will be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Our focus needs to be on Him and lifting Him up through the life we live for the world we live in to see - for He is Truth.