As written previously, many in the charismatic circles seem to want empowerment and an identity that is nothing more than self-worship, in “Jesus” name. They seek power and influence that God never promised. They downplay their sin and elevate their self-worth. They even claim to be incarnational, as if they are Jesus Himself. Amongst these false teachings, there are other aspects of this movement that we want to bring to light because it’s what is sold as being real faith but is truly faithless, legalistic and in many ways abusive.
It’s the miracle-seeking that is seemingly driven by doubt looking for proof of God; people desperately looking for validation of His presence in their lives and His favor.
We first heard it put this way from Pastor John MacArthur when he said, “All these people running around, looking for miracles say, “Oh, we have enough faith to believe in miracles.” That’s not faith; that’s doubt looking for proof.” (Taken from The Signs of an Apostle, Part 2)
We fully agree with him. We agree because we see it, not only in charismatic circles but in all religious circles, in evangelical churches, in small Baptist Bible groups, etc.
One of us sat in a Baptist bible study many, many years ago listening to a man who was fairly new to the group express that he desired more. He was looking for wonders, for miracles. He tried to explain that this would be the wonderful boost he felt he needed in his walk. Learning the Bible and sharing the Gospel was great and all, but he wanted a thrilling experience with God. He sounded like a man not content with God and all He does through His Word. It sounds like many other people who “just want to experience the miraculous power of God” not realizing the Gospel is the power of God for salvation, which is a miracle of bringing the spiritually dead to spiritual life (Romans 1:16). The salvation of people is not the miracle they seek.
Although sprinkled within most religious circles and churches to some degree, seeking supernatural proof has been paramount for most, if not all, charismatic churches. It’s firm in their bedrock. The lack of looking at the Gospel and the miraculous salvation of souls as miracle enough gives support for all the unbiblical activity and false teachings that spring up out of it. They believe you are not experiencing the true God, the new normal, and you are not living faithfully if you are not looking for and seeing other supernatural manifestations (that were never promised or encouraged in Scripture in the first place).
From our personal experiences, if you say you don’t need to seek those types of miracles, they seem to feel sorry for you, even looking down at you. They look at you with what seems a disdain for your contentment with what you have already from God. They don’t understand it when you have peace with the mundane, obedient life or with just reading, studying, preaching Scripture. And when tragedy strikes they go into further confusion. They start desperately declaring and rebuking the tragedy in “Jesus’ name” as if doing so is the secret sauce and will undo everything unwanted.
God is sovereign and He is in control.
We have recently heard of the debacle with the charismatic Bethel Church and the sweet little girl Olive who tragically died, whom they were trying to bring back to life through frenzied declarations, song, and dance which they called “prayer time”. The poor parents were believing in the lie that God didn’t want this death and would grant resurrection if they kept contending and declaring for Olive’s resurrection. People were expecting something God never promised or encouraged for His Church to seek. They were full of such zeal, for a lie.
Bill Johnson, the leader of Bethel Church, said, “Why did Jesus raise the dead? The reason Jesus raised the dead is that not everyone dies in God’s timing.”
Things happen outside of God’s timing? Isn’t that making God look like a confused and puny God? What an insult to God and such a dangerous thing to tell everyone about God Almighty, Who created the universe and everything in it.
“‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2.
Simply put, God is in control of every life and every death and has set a time for each one- no one will die outside of God’s power, will and timing. The faithful Church understands this and has peace with it.
Something we want to make sure to point out is that Bill Johnson’s wife Beni was seen on video saying God told her a prophetic message saying Olive would resurrect on a certain day, yet it did not happen-exposing her as false. False prophets and false teachers always show up to declare these things and stir up and exploit the people who are desperate, confused, doubting, hurting and undiscerned. Chris Rosebrough does a great job of explaining more on this very thing and even shows the videos here: F4F | Bethel, WAKE UP!
The damage done by the false teachings and abuse of these false teachers and leaders is immeasurable. What does that do to the ones already doubting looking for proof in the wrong places, when the girl stays dead? When Bethel finally announced quietly that they would cease the song and dance for Olive’s resurrection and go ahead and bury her, there were no doubt people who were left more confused and in doubt. What happens next is usually one of two things: followers seek and declare harder, try to sing and dance with more passion and muster up some more of their “faith” in order to receive the proof they are desperate for, turning into more of a legalist trying to earn and usher in God’s favor, or they eventually throw in the towel on God and walk away completely. It’s such a sad reality and it shows the desperate need for these people to be told of the Gospel message. They don’t get evangelized like many others because Christians give a half glance at their “zeal for God” and their “bold faith” and make an unsubstantiated declaration that these miracle seeking people must love the Lord; that their heart is in the right place, albeit a little over the top at times. This is a tragedy, folks. Although we can’t know individual hearts and all of their intentions, we can know that when people are embracing these teachings and behaving in such a way they have likely not received what God has already provided nor are they content with His written Word, His sovereignty and will. They do not know their Scripture and likely not the true Jesus. They are doubters looking and striving for proof.
Those lost and doubting, if ever a witness of a supernatural work like a resurrection, would still doubt and be lost. They need to hear the Gospel to be saved and changed and to feed on the Word to be sanctified and encouraged via the work of the Holy Spirit. That is a reality we see throughout Scripture, especially in the New Testament. The resurrection of dead loved ones would still not bring salvation to those witnessing it.
“But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:29
The Church seeking for signs and wonders, for supernatural healing and physical resurrections is not the point made in Scripture by the Lord:
“As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.” Luke 11:29
“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 will enter. 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.’” Matthew 7:21-23.
“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19.
Even if Olive or anyone else, was raised from the dead, the Gospel is still the only thing that matters. Through Christ’s death and resurrection alone, we are saved. That is the message we are to preach, the reason for hope and joy and the miracle we should desire for others.
We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be deceived by those who say you must seek more than what the Word has instructed us to seek. We are to be content with what He has said, given and what He has chosen to do and not do. We can pray to the Lord for Him to heal and restore but with the heart of contentment and thankfulness towards Him and whatever He desires. The only thing we need to NOT be content with, is our sinfulness, our lack of understanding of the Scripture better and the lack of our zeal and love for Him and His Word, as already revealed to us.
May we keep praying for and sharing the Gospel with all those caught in this deception; from the false teachers and prophets who exploit, to the mere weak and doubting who listen to them.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” Jude 21-23.