After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father in heaven, we come into the mercy court and ask to be cleansed. Now we go into the court of records, and we hold our giving up to you.
What? Where is that in the Bible? (I made that up, just like someone made up that theology of prayer). Praying in the courts of heaven is just one of many things I sat and scratched my head over in the charismatic movement. To be sure, some would say that’s ridiculous, yet they embraced other aberrant practices in prayer such as fire tunnels, being slain in the spirit, and speaking in tongues.
This month marks two years (with a slight relapse and the occasional, ‘I should look up so and so to see what they’re saying’). Okay, technically, it’s not a full two years of being out of the charismatic movement. Still, it’s the magnetic pull I want to talk about today and the problem with the “something more” mentality that overruns the movement.
I longed for something more; there must be something more. That’s the refrain of the charismatic. From John Kilpatrick of the Brownsville revival to the popular devotional Jesus Calling, it’s all about something more. And I wanted more, more of God, more demonstrations of power, more anointing. Like the leaders I followed, I wanted something more.
What exactly is more? Is it praying in the courts of heaven? Is it going to heaven? Is it conference after conference? Over these last two years, the most challenging thing was letting go of things I had been taught; thus, the relapse I mentioned at the beginning. The courts of heaven thing bothered me from the get-go because it wasn’t scriptural, but as I began to look at and study Scripture and read various books, I couldn’t find evidence for being slain in the spirit (falling when someone prays for you) in the Bible either. I really couldn’t find “our understanding” of tongues in the Bible either, but we were; I was experiencing something more, or so I thought.
It’s funny, in the prophetic arena, you hear about people going to heaven all the time. People come up with strategies in the war room, people see what’s written in their books, and Brian Simmons, writer of The Passion Translation, was shown John 22. Never mind the fact that Scripture itself says no one can add or take away from the words of this book. Ignore the fact that 2 Timothy 3:16 says ALL Scripture is breathed out by God. No, John 22 has not been left out to be given at a future time; this is outright false teaching. But because Brian Simmons went to heaven and because Jesus appeared to him and commissioned him to do a unique translation that every prominent Bible scholar has said is terrible, we should believe him anyway.
The fact that the Apostle Paul said he couldn’t speak about what he saw in heaven should give us pause for believing all these people concerning their trips to heaven. Likewise, the fact that Revelation and the entirety of the Bible give little details about heaven should clue us in on the fact something isn’t right. But, we want something more.
There are sixty-six books in the Bible that I am nowhere near knowing a fraction of, yet I’m going to a conference hoping to get a personal prophetic word and listening to teachers twist the Scriptures. I have sat in services to my shame, knowing something was wrong, but because I didn’t want to miss the move of God, I wouldn’t leave. After all, I knew something more was coming, it had been prophesied, and I wanted to be part of it. Why would I leave just because what was said or particular manifestations were making me uncomfortable? I said I wanted more, yet here I was “rejecting” it. I would sit in my room and take trips to heaven in my mind, I felt I had a prophetic calling, and I wanted my preaching to flow in the Spirit, not follow an outline. All of this seemed off at the time, but who was I to question what leaders were experiencing. Sure, there were some things I refused to buy into, but I was still “hungry for God,” and I was pursuing more.
After two decades of listening to the word of faith teaching, following prophets, and chasing everything that came down the pipe, I was struggling. I watched in disbelief as big names continued to defend Todd Bentley after being deemed disqualified for ministry. I walked away from the whole charismatic deal in September of 2019 but was back in a word of faith church in December because I didn’t know where to go, then Kenneth Copeland blew the wind of God against the virus, and I knew I was done.
That’s when I began looking at things, allowing myself to ask questions and search the Scripture. I was taught God always healed, yet people weren’t getting healed; a little girl at Bethel Church wasn’t raised from the dead, people weren’t prospering like they were taught, and we were all doing what we were supposed to. We lacked faith. The more I studied and read books and commentaries, the more I realized I had to quit holding on to the prophecies, the confessions, and everything else.
In the charismatic movement, you’re always told, don’t go by experience; go by what the Word says. Bill Johnson is known for saying, “I refuse to create a theology that allows for sickness.” Okay, explain why your ministry of healing doesn’t work as it did for Jesus or the Apostles? Explain why Olive wasn’t raised from the dead, explain the outbreak at your ministry school in 2020, and with due respect, explain why your wife has cancer. I’m not trying to be rude, but it has become glaringly evident that Johnson’s theology doesn’t pan out. Bill Johnson has created a theology, and it doesn’t line up with Scripture. Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus and told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach problems.
The hard truth is charismatics don’t rely on the Bible; they rely on experience. It wasn’t the Scripture preached but a prophecy being declared or a dream or vision being explained. It was hard for me to acknowledge, and sometimes it still is; we didn’t value the Bible; we loved the experience. The Bible doesn’t say much about heaven, but that doesn’t matter; I “took trips” while sitting at my desk. All of that was nonsense. I loved the Bible and studied it, but again, the mentality of something more drove me to seek experience more than study Scripture.
My approach to Bible study now is to study a book at a time. In the charismatic movement, we studied topics. It’s not wrong to do topical studies, but if that’s all you do, you aren’t receiving the whole counsel of God. Growing up in the word of faith, understanding the Bible was central; the gospel was not; the gospel was mutilated in that teaching. The Bible is all about Christ. The charismatic movement is all about us what we will do for Jesus, how we have gifts. You can even learn how to operate in a gift or have it imparted to you, even though First Corinthians says the Holy Spirit gives gifts as He wills.
Biblical Christianity focuses on Christ. The charismatic movement makes claims the Bible does not and puts the focus where the Bible does not. The movement chases signs and wonders, and Jesus said the cities where most of His mighty works were done would be destroyed because they did not repent and believe. The charismatic movement cries out more Lord, send the rain, send the fire. Two years after walking away, I simply say, Jesus is enough.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”Matthew 7:21-23 ESV