In my book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, I documented the dynamic, miraculous work of the Holy Spirit from the Day of Pentecost to the present time. I also documented the intensifying of the Holy Spirit’s work since the turn of the twentieth century, with virtually all denominations now open to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, and the formation of thousands of new Pentecostal and charismatic churches and denominations.
Even as I was doing the research for that book, however, I was being made aware of the demonic deceptions that arose in virtually every revival. Thomas Coke, John Wesley’s colleague and biographer, wrote of how Satan sought to destroy the great eighteenth century Methodist revival with counterfeit gifts and manifestations. He also acknowledged that it was not something new.
Those who have read the accounts of the great revivals of true religion in many parts of Europe, and in our own country in particular, will easily perceive the sameness of those devices of Satan whereby he perverts the right ways of the Lord.
The devices Satan uses again and again in revival are spiritual pride and a neglect of Scripture for the pursuit of esoteric, spiritual experiences. Coke mentions this in his biography, saying that Wesley was called upon to oppose several great deceptions that arose in the revival. According to Coke, one of the deceptions was,
Attention to dreams, visions, and men’s own imaginations and feelings, without bringing them to the only sure test, the oracles of God.
I am a life-long, committed Pentecostal-Charismatic who values the miraculous and dynamic work of the Holy Spirit My earliest memories include being in church meetings where gifts of the Holy Spirit were being manifest and prayer for the sick was being offered. I remember as a child going with my family to great healing revivals under the giant tents of Oral Roberts and William Freeman.
I lived through the great healing revivals of the 1950s, the great Charismatic Renewal of the 1970s (when I was supernaturally called into the ministry), the Word of Faith revival of the 1980s, the Toronto and Pensacola revivals of the 1990s and the work of the Holy Spirit since that time.
Yes, I value the work of the Holy Spirit, but I have learned from experience that all that glitters is not gold and that Christians, perhaps as never before, need to listen to the words of Paul who, in II Corinthians 11:13-15, warned,
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.
The purpose of this book is not to be critical. The purpose of this book is to help this generation realize that along with the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days, there are many Scriptural warnings of wide-spread deception that will also characterize the end times. I see signs everywhere of this deception, especially in the modern charismatic movement.
It behooves us, therefore, to be equipped to discern the true from the false, the real from the fake. As John the Apostle exhorted in I John 4:1,Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.