“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:19-21)
There is so much about the post you are about to read that I wish I did not have to write. But the story is too important not to tell.
Thirteen fellow evangelists and I went to the Galen Center (USC). The purpose of our trip was to bring the Law and the Gospel to those waiting in line to enter the center, to hear the false prophet, Todd Bentley, and others.
When we arrived at the Galen Center, members of the team attempted to distribute gospel tracts to those standing in line. Based on the reports I received, half of the people in line refused to take the tracts. It should be noted that the tract made no mention of Todd Bentley or any other spiritual personality.
I am not ashamed to admit that before stepping onto the box, I felt as nervous as I have ever felt before preaching in the open air. I was so nervous that I asked for more prayer. Members of the team gathered around me, laid hands on me, loved me, and prayed.
“Folks, many of you are here today because you believe the Holy Spirit will be in this place. I do not know you so I do not presume to question your sincerity. But are you sure what will take place here, today, will be brought about by the Holy Spirit? Or is it possible, even likely, that what will take place here today will be the work of other spirits?”
The crowd was very quick to respond…and they weren’t happy. They began to yell, chant, sing, and do everything they could to silence my preaching. As you can see in the above photo, they even turned their backs.
One-by-one, the hecklers left the line to engage me and the others on my team. Some were reasonable and kind. Others, like the “event staff” person in my face, in the above photo, ranted and raved like so many of the “unbelievers” we face every day on the streets.
At one point, before I finished preaching, two young girls (pictured above) left the line. They stood before me, dropped to their knees, raised their hands, and (I assume) were praying. I could not help to ask myself, “To whom are they praying? I was quoting Scripture–preaching the Law and the Gospel–and they were opposed to what I was doing. To whom would they pray to silence the preaching the gospel?”
It broke my heart.
At the risk of looking foolish and a bit out of control, I’m going to allow you to hear what Christian said, and my response. (I kept my digital recorder running almost continually during the event, since I did not know what we would face from event staff, security, local police, or the attendees.)
This is what he said…
I was so brokenhearted by the people’s hatred for the Law and the Gospel (and yes, hatred for me) that I just lost it when I heard Christian’s words of encouragement. The emotion seemed to erupt from my heart.
Christian put his arms around me and prayed. I wept bitter tears on his shoulder.
It would be the only encouragement I would receive from those attending the event. It was more than enough. I told Christian that I believed he had been sent by the Lord.
It was time to move on. There was yet more work to do.
We made our way to the side of the building where there was yet another long line of people waiting for the doors of the Galen Center to open. First, we debriefed the last hour of evangelism, including my open-air.
We were in agreement that the quick and angry reaction to my first open-air was due to the fact that I began by attacking (in their mind) their idol–Todd Bentley. They responded the same way a Mormon would respond if I were to begin the conversation by pointing out the heresy of Joseph Smith. They responded the same way a Jehovah’s Witness would respond if I were to begin the conversation by pointing out the heresy of Charles Taze Russell. They responded the same way a Seventh Day Adventist would respond if I were to begin the conversation by pointing out the heresy of Ellen G. White.
By the time I reached the point of preaching of the Law and the Gospel, the crowd had worked itself up into an angry frenzy. Even with amplification, I had to yell to be heard above the crowd.
So, I told the team that this time I was simply going to preach the Law an the Gospel the same way I would in front of a DMV or courthouse. I would not make any mention of Todd Bentley or the Lakeland Revival. I wanted to see how long it would take for the people to express their hatred for the message and/or the messenger.
It wouldn’t take long…
Like the line of people who heard my first open-air, the second group was quick to shout down my preaching. No argument could be made that I was attacking their idol. I simply preached the Law and the Gospel.
The angry man in the above photo rebuked me as if he were attempting to cast a demon from me. Imagine: a professing Christian thinking that a man preaching the Law and the Gospel is demon-possessed.
Now we were getting somewhere. The reason the people were so angry with the preaching of the Law and the Gospel and saw it as an attack against Bentley was that what they had heard and would hear from him was a different gospel.
If you are reading this and are a proponent of Todd Bentley and what is happening in Lakeland, Florida and other places around the world, you may try to levy the charge that I am anti-charismatic. While I am not charismatic in my theology, I am not anti-charismatic. And the above photo is evidence of this truth.
Meet Josh Elsom. He attended the Ambassadors’ Academy this weekend. He is charismatic in his theology. He is my brother in Christ. And, together , we brought the Law and the Gospel to the people standing in line.
I included the above photo because it is so very sad. “The Young Adult Prophet Squad.” And who is being glorified? Christ? The Holy Spirit? No. It’s the young adults who think they are prophets who are being glorified.
And the photo will help to make my final point.
During the one-to-one conversations we had yesterday afternoon, we repeatedly ran into a particular objection. The people were confused as to why we were preaching to them. “After all,” so they asserted, “we believe the same gospel. We preach repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ alone.”
The Mormons can make the same argument.
But, unlike the Mormons and other cults who believe in a Jesus that is not found in Scripture, these folks do believe in the Jesus of the Word of God. So, what’s the problem?
I think my experience outside the Galen Center provided the answer.
Yes, you will hear Todd Bentley and others like him talk about repentance. Yes, you will hear Todd Bentley and others like him talk about salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone. But to what end? And therein lies the difference.
Todd Bentley and other false prophets and prophetesses like him preach repent and believe, not for salvation from sin and eternal life with Jesus Christ (even though they may say the words), but for the impartation of spirits and angels, and for manifestations of spiritual power in this temporal life. And, once again, therein lies the difference. The gospel of Todd Bentley is basically “Your Best Life Now” on spiritual steroids.
So, people go to Lakeland and the Galen Center, and other places around the world to “get some” of what Bentley and others are offering. They “repent and believe,” so to speak,” and then Jesus is quickly brushed aside for what they really came to receive–manifestations, spirits, angels, healing, predictions about a better life, and a spiritual shot in the arm.
Yes, there may have been genuine followers of Christ in the lines outside the Galen Center. (I made that point over and over again in my preaching that day.) While the Elect of God will never be so deceived as to become apostate (Matt. 24:24), they most certainly can be duped by false prophets for a season. My prayer for them is that they will repent and return to worshiping the Creator instead of worshiping the magical maneuvers of a fallen, sinful creatures.
For the lost who were there that day (and there were many), my prayer remains the same. I pray that they will repent and believe the one, true Gospel while they still have time.
For those of you who endured this very long post to the end, you can click here to listen to my second open-air outside of the Galen Center. -Tony Miano