Thoughts on the Asbury Meetings and Revival in General
The recent meetings at Asbury University in Kentucky have gotten a lot of attention. This video is dealing with Biblical principles for discernment regarding anything that might be called a revival, an awakening, or a move of God. I will focus mainly on general principles related to these things that would apply at all times, yet I’ll eventually get to some things specifically related to Asbury.
Anyone who thinks that it is wrong to question the genuineness of a person or spiritual movement or spiritual experience is definitely proving that they are not following the real Jesus and walking according to His Spirit. If they were, they would take this warning and admonition seriously.
1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
Whenever people are hell-bent on defending something or someone that they won’t even listen to any case which anyone might make against the thing or person in question, then they prove that they don’t really care about truth, they are basically inviting deception, and they are making what they are defending seem extra suspicious to wise, impartial observers.
Whenever there is a lot of excitement in an atmosphere, and I’m speaking very generally and not saying anything right now about the spiritual quality of that atmosphere, there is in such a case very likely to be a snowball effect. By that I mean that the excitement generates more people who in turn generate more excitement which in turn generates more people (and so forth). And then due to that excitement and its resulting snowball effect, whatever spirituality that generated such excitement, or which perhaps might be injected into that excitement along the way, is then easily labeled as, and mistaken for, genuinely (good) spirituality.
False teachers with evil agendas want an audience; and especially a stage. They also prey on spiritually hungry people who have extremely little or no Biblical discernment. And these people tend to be a large segment of those who will flock to a reported Christian revival which, for whatever reason, has generated much excitement. Undiscerning people and false teachers with evil agendas are a match made in hell. It should be obvious, if you believe in Satan’s existence and what the Bible says about him, that he is constantly looking to make such matches to both advance lies and to nab Christians from the Biblical Jesus; and also to turn those who seem like they are strong candidates to authentically come to Christ to a counterfeit spirituality instead that hijacks Jesus’ name and Biblical terms.
With that in mind, false spiritual teachers with evil goals which are opposed to Christ’s goals will surely attach themselves to, and work around and within, settings which they regard as credible in order to advance their evil goals and give themselves a means to look much more credible. And again, I’m speaking generally, yet eventually we’ll get into how this particular evil has indeed gone on at the Asbury meetings.
If it’s ever fitting to use the terms revival or awakening in relation to authentic Christianity, it would surely involve all of these very key and essential things.
- A great awareness of things like God’s fear and God’s jealousy for what is righteous and holy in His eyes. Exodus 34:14b: “… for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”
- In relation to the preceding point, great terror in relation to things like people being terrified by the eternal fire of hell, a recognition of how fitting a punishment this is for sinners, and great earnestness to flee from the wrath to come (in true repentance before God there is an earnestness to flee from the wrath to come).
- An earnest return to the commandments, instructions, verdicts, etc of God’s Word such as David noting that God killed Uzzah because only the Levites were to carry the ark of God on staves and correcting that in his next attempt to carry the Ark of God to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:1-15).
- Any environment of authentic Christian awakening or revival then will welcome people pointing out unbiblical practices, beliefs, etc and it will involve much the Scriptures (like the Bereans) with earnestness to see whether such criticism and rebuke is valid; and whether correction is needed. There is no true Christian revival or awakening without an earnest return to God’s written Word. The Holy Spirit reigning in an environment will be drawing people to search and adhere to the written Word of God which He inspired.
Along with these things, any alleged awakening or revival needs to be tested with God’s written Word as the reference point for the test. No sign, wonder, feeling, or other experience makes something valid Christianity. You’ve got to stick to God’s Word and let God be true and every man a liar no matter how convincing they seem- even if they do (or seem to do) miracles, cast out demons, and do other wonderful works. The Bible gives the following related warnings.
2 Timothy 3:13-17: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Matthew 24:24-25: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.”
1 John 4:1-3: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
Confesseth= Homologeo= To be in agreement with; assent to; not deny.
That is dealing with the entire Word of God; Christ’s doctrine.
2 John 9-11: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
Another thought: Whenever there is music used to somehow persuade people to make major decisions, including decisions regarding Jesus Christ, it is a form of manipulation. And some might say here: “Well, that goes on almost everywhere, why pick on Asbury?” I know most churches use music to do this, but it is still a form of manipulation, it is wrong, and I am still speaking generally. The exceedingly frequent incorporation of music for the purpose of inducing compliance shows the corrupt state of modern Christendom, especially modern evangelical Christianity. Such incorporation of music to that end is Pagan, and it is no better (it is actually worse when done in relation to Jesus Christ) than Nebuchadnezzar using music to induce people to bow down before the image which he set up in Daniel chapter 3.
Still speaking generally then, here is an elaboration regarding diagnosing emotionalism and of the dangers of emotionalism. Pursuing emotional experience is a way of the heathen, whether it is labeled as Christian or not. So don’t pursue emotional experience and don’t seek to justify it because it makes you feel good.
Music is often consciously calculated to move people’s emotions in a certain way. Through the means of music, other media, and various exhibitions people can be powerfully moved. Often this is so powerful that the emotional experience can masquerade as a spiritual experience and easily be mistaken as such. Pre-planned emotional movements of a church congregation through the means of song selection, methods of preaching sermons, lighting, decorations, and in other ways are manipulative and a curse to those who are affected by such.
Music, when played to honor God and not calculated to appeal primarily to man’s feelings, can be a powerful tool for praising and worshiping God- which might perhaps generate emotional experiences in people hearing it- as a by-product. Yet when the music is used in a religious environment to deliberately alter man’s psyche, and to induce decisions, it is controlling, manipulative, and used for evil ends. Willing compliance with this is a sensual action, not a spiritual one. Environments where such is present confuse the simple, as they are taught to label their altered emotional states as “the presence of God.”
Speaking of hype, that is, deliberately generating excitement and seeking to get people to move or act based on that excitement, is also not compatible with faithful Christianity. Hype is ultimately an expression of emotionalism. Churches and charismatic leaders will try to get people on board with them, and subservient to the methods that they have contrived, through hype. It is especially bad and deceptive when Jesus and Biblical terms are attached to hype. The term soul power has much to do with such emotionalism when applied by someone with a strong or charismatic personality or applied through an environment of human pressure and/or intimidation. People are pressured and manipulated through hype into making professions of Christ (coming to the altar, saying a sinner’s prayer, getting baptized, etc) through hype. People can also through hype be pressured into doing other things to conform to the demands of the group and the individuals in it exercising strong soul power (even if they are right things, they are dead works when done in that context).
Emotionalism does not hold up when one affected by it is actually faced with the real life demands of true Christianity. Doing what is right before God in the moment by moment trials of life is inconsistent with being driven by hype since hype does not abide in the moment by moment trials of life. If you profess to be a Christian who loves and worships God, it is good to consider: Does worship have to be an emotional thing for you? And does your worship extend beyond meetings and affect you so that you abide in Christ, walk in the truth of His Word, and so live righteously, godly, and soberly before God consistently? Make sure your faith in Christ is something which will hold up, causing you to trust God and work righteousness before Him according to His Word, in the darkest, loneliest, and most trying hour.
I’ve been speaking generally to give general principles for discernment related to any alleged revival, awakening, or spiritual movement. I’m just going to say a bit now specifically related to Asbury and its recent meetings.
The problem of the infiltration of emotionalism into Christendom is the norm in Bethel-Redding church in California and other NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) churches. The NAR is basically the prototype of a movement based upon emotionalism, seeking in experience in seeking signs and wonders, and it is filled with occult practices. Any and all occult activity is demonic darkness which the real Jesus of the Bible has no fellowship with. NAR teachers are smooth talking manipulators. Going into all that is evil which the NAR promotes would be a message in and of itself.
A key lie which the NAR teaches and deceives people with is a concept called Kenosis. Kenosis is the doctrine that Christ put aside His divine nature when He was on earth. It is a perversion of the truth taught so wonderfully in Philippians chapter 2 showing how Christ was fully human and did not use His power as God as a man while on earth for His own self-benefit. Kenosis actually teaches though that Christ put aside His divine nature on earth, which is another thing altogether. The NAR people then basically teach that Christians have the potential to do any miracle, sign, or wonder and basically live on earth as little gods by (supposedly) following Jesus. This is very wicked! It has always been of the devil to persuade man to seek to be as God. And anyone who believes that they have a right (as a Christian, supposedly) to tap into God’s power as if they have the same authority and power as a human being which Jesus had on earth is following the devil- to an extreme! And it is no wonder then that Satan might empower NAR teachers and their followers with demonic power to spread this evil deception and give validity to it in the eyes of men. Much more could be said about the NAR, but this should be enough to cause anyone to know that this is a satanic movement which no one should not have anything to do with. Some popular NAR teachers are Reinhard Bonnke (who is dead, but his influence is still great), Lou Engle, Todd White, Kenneth Copeland, Rodney Howard-Browne, Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle, and Bill Johnson.
So then relating this to Asbury, there have indeed been people associated with the NAR showing up at Asbury and spreading their demonic teachings and practices to the many thousands who have shown up there. I’ve seen some videos of people associated with some of the men mentioned above preaching on the lawn outside the meetings and being interviewed there since they came there to perform their evil so-called ministry. One might speculate that the people who are putting on the Asbury meetings don’t necessarily know about this or perhaps they’ve tried to stop it, yet could only do so much. Though I don’t know the whole story, I fear that would be an unrealistically optimistic look at this, since on February 23, 2023 the very culmination of all the recent Asbury University meetings has been Asbury’s hosting of the National Collegiate Day of Prayer simulcast. This event is directly linked to NAR leader Lou Engle, known NAR associates Francis Chan and Rick Warren, and other NAR personalities. This event at Asbury University has NAR fingerprints all over it and it makes the timing of the preceding meetings seem extremely fishy.
So in light of all this, beware! This has the markings of a vehicle for spreading mass deception and advancing very evil agendas, especially related to advancing counterfeit Christianity and ecumenicism, especially due to the known NAR connections to the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. This could be a big step in bringing many back under the shadow of Rome and the Papacy, of advancing mass deception in Christ’s name under the label of Christian revival, and could be used as grounds for vilifying those who stay faithful to the real Jesus Christ and walk in the light of His Word that refuse to participate in this and stand against it in light of the evidence.
Related to all of this, I am going to close by mentioning to beware of those who treat repentance towards God as a formality or those who would anyway speak of repentance as a gateway to an experience or a healing or getting a power or anything like that. These cheapen repentance towards God by making it seem like an easy, quick transaction or acting like man is making a deal with God by repentance, using such as a gateway to an experience or a healing or a power or something along those lines. That is not Biblical repentance unto justification and life in Jesus Christ! You cannot repent Biblically without dying to sin and self-interest, utterly changing the direction of your life and submitting to suffer with Christ in order to to be His disciple who walks in the light of His Word. One of the heretics I saw preaching on the lawn outside the Asbury meetings was inducing people to get a certain experience which he was promoting. This guy was talking about repentance, but it was in the context of getting an experience. He was using correct language to describe repentance, but the spirit in which he said it and the end he was seeking was utterly antichrist. He actually told the crowd “We’re all going to repent in a minute” and after a quick, shallow prayer of so-called repentance he went on to what he evidently considered the good stuff (in this case it was the fake tongues experience, the gibberish). And the whole thing was sick. Telling a group of people that we’re all going to repent in a minute is like telling a group of people “We’re all going to join the Army in a minute” or better “We’re all going to get led out to be crucified in a minute.” Saying we’re all going to repent in a minute is giving the implication that man’s sin, and the enmity to God which is the catalyst of man’s sin, isn’t that serious or isn’t a bitter, difficult thing to actually deal with and put away. Those who speak like this are enemies of the cross of Christ who have evil agendas to fill their own belly and get vainglory like Philippians chapter 3 talks about.
Ending then with a quote from A.W. Tozer in relation to Christ’s cross and our need to identify with Him in His death to sin in order to live unto God and inherit eternal life. Take this to heart and you will have a great help in seeing smooth talking charlatans for what they really are and not being duped by the counterfeit spirituality which they peddle. Many exhortations could be given here in relation to taking heed to cooperate with Christ so that your soul will be saved in the end, but that necessary exhortation is right in the quote also.
“The cross effects its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim’s, and creating another pattern, its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never engages in petty argument nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares not for peace; it cares only to end its opposition as fast as possible.
With perfect knowledge of all this, Christ said:
Luke 9:23-24: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
So the cross not only brings Christ’s life to an end, it also ends the first life, the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins.
This, and nothing less, is true Christianity, though we cannot but recognize the sharp divergence of this conception from that held by the rank and file of evangelicals today. But we dare not qualify our position. The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment. A shallow and worldly leadership would modify the cross to please the entertainment-mad saintlings who will have their fun even within the very sanctuary; but to do so is to court spiritual disaster and risk the anger of the Lamb turned Lion.
We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do–flee it or die upon it. And if we should be so foolhardy as to flee we shall by that act put away the faith of our fathers and make of Christianity something other than it is. Then we shall have left only the empty language of salvation; the power will depart with our departure from the true cross.
If we are wise we will do what Jesus did: endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set before us. To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless life. And we shall find that it is more than poetry, more than sweet hymnody and elevated feeling. The cross will cut into where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations. It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end. Only then can we rise in fullness of life to establish a pattern of living wholly new and free and full of good works.”
Reach brother Aaron at: [email protected]