Instead of a sermon, the youth shared on recent Todd Bentley type experiences they had had. Then someone said that they now needed to be doing what Todd Bentley does, and there followed a time of prayer for this Todd Bentley stuff. There was supposed to be a sermon, but it was canceled as this other stuff was going on for a long time. Now a lot of the youth seemed really sincere, and my heart goes out to them. But for me, this was a tragic event to witness. the Church ignored the leading of scripture, and replaced it with the leading of individuals' subjective experiences.
Today I read God's command to Joshua before he led God's people into the promised land:
7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but myou shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jos 1:7-8.
Here, it is made clear that meditating on God's word day and night was the means God had ordained for Joshua to not go astray.
We see the same in the Psalms:
Ps 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ps 1:1-4.
God's people are characterized as those who mediate on God's word day and night, whereas those who do not do this, are the wicked.
In the New Testament we see that preachers are to preach in season and out of season:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 2 Ti 4:2-4.
So there is a danger that people will just want to hear things that their itching ears want to hear, and so it is the pastor's job to preach the word instead. Yesterday in church, a number of people shared about prophecies they were given, and they said, "It was exactly what I needed to hear." This worries me, as its very subjective, and the listener becomes the judge of what they need to hear, rather than the pastor. This means that not only is God's word circumvented in the whole process, but an individual's heart (which is sick and deceitful according to Jer 17:9) is the determining factor of what that person receives. In other words, their "itching ears" become the control of the food they live off.
So what should our approach be instead?
Firstly, the bible teaches that we as individuals should be meditating on God's word day and night (Jos 1:8; Ps 1:1). In the same way that we depend on physical food like bread, we should depend on God's word:
4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 4:4.
Secondly, our pastors must teach us the word, so that we are not blown about by the many new teachings that keep coming our way:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Eph 4:11-14.
Thirdly, if someone shares something in church that is not from scripture but perhaps a prophecy, or maybe just someone sharing their own subjective experience of something, then we test it by scripture:
1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.
1 Thessalonians 5:20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything;
Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Fourthly, if what is shared promotes a different gospel of the gospel preached by the apostles in the Bible, then that message, and the messenger must be rejected:
Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
This whole process will only work however if the church and the pastor are steeped in scripture. Sadly the Todd Bentley message at the moment is that God will bypass the usual sanctification process (which is heavily dependent on the bible), and instead will give you years of sanctification through a spiritual experience when you get prayed for and "slain in the spirit." What I heard in this church yesterday echoed that. The truth is however that if God's people neglect mediating on God's word day and night, being taught from the scriptures each week, and testing "testimonies" from the front by scripture - then God's people will end up being,
Ephesians 4:14 tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.