When you read church history, beginning from the time of the apostles and on through the rise of the institutional church, the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the Revival moments and the pentecostal/charismatic movements, it becomes very clear that Satan has always been trying to derail the Church of God.
It is the Church which is the primary object of God’s love, and therefore the primary object of Satan’s hatred.
The “early church fathers”, those leaders and writers who came after the time of the apostles, were always trying to preserve the unity of the church, and oppose heretics and heresies.
To some extent they were succesful, and we can thank God for that. Ideas such as the Arian heresy, which denied the full divinity of Jesus Christ, were rightly put down by these men.
The Early Church Fathers were concerned for the unity of the Universal Church, and to hold the church together, it was natural to appeal to the authority of bishops – ecclesiastical leaders who had oversight over particular geographical areas.
IT WAS ASSUMED THAT THE BISHOPS AND THE CHURCHES THEY LED COULD ULTIMATELY NOT GO OFF THE TRACK, BECAUSE CHRIST WAS UNDERWRITING THEM AND HAD GIVEN THEM THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN TO BIND AND LOOSE – BY WHICH THEY UNDERSTOOD “MAKE THE RULES”.
People like Ignatius taught that it was important to “do nothing without the bishop”. An interesting idea, but one that denies the principle of Scripture that says that “for as many as are led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14), and other Scriptures like John 3:8, which says:
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is EVERYONE who is BORN of the Spirit.”
God will ultimately stand with a man or woman who is faithful to Him and His Word, even unto death. What counts with God is spiritual regeneration and the giving of place to the Spirit of God in obedience to the Word of God, including the commands to love and serve one another, NOT merely ecclesiastical stamps of approval and submission to ecclesiastical men of influence, money and power.
People followed the bishops, with the results that the Church ultimately entered the Dark Ages, and began to commercialise the grace of God, keep people in Biblical ignorance and teach fables rather than true doctrine.
Just as it was unthinkable to many in those times that the bishops themselves could be going astray in certain important respects, SO TODAY IT IS UNTHINKABLE TO MANY IN THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT THAT THEIR “ANOINTED LEADERS” COULD BE GOING ASTRAY.
I submit that the current trend is a repeat of the Post-Apostolic falling away of much of the visible church into doctrines of demons. What begins as a pure move of God can degenerate into “Babylon” when the love of money, the herd instinct and the glorification of men starts to take over in the church.
If the apostolic church was not too big or great to be in some sense derailed – though Jesus always has had his true remnant – then neither is the present day Charismatic Movement, in which I see a trend towards institutionalism, power broking, compromise, man pleasing and the disregard for truth. The difference is this time people are still operating to some extent in the charismatic gifts of the Spirit – probably mixed in with occultic divination in some cases.
Take heed lest no one deceive you. Balaam started as a prophet of God who truly heard God’s voice, but ended up a “soothsayer” as the Scripture records in Joshua 13:22
“The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.”
Just because church leaders today do and say certain things does not mean they are right. These men are not immune to peer pressure, the desire for earthly security and pretty much to be “spoken well of all men”.
Find leaders who fear God, love the Truth as well as the presence of God, and work with them. Or be that leader yourself if God is calling you. And please don’t think that your movement is “too big to be derailed”, “too big to fail” or anything like that. You had better get prepared.