Having shared my own thoughts, along with Jesse’s view of the worship, and some other events of the evening, as well as his subsequent reflections, we resume Jesse’s report today, beginning with more of his reflections on the meeting he attended.
“Fourth, there was not an emphasis on preaching from a doctrinal standpoint; rather, there seemed to be a great emphasis on faith, wholeness, healing, and inner light. Again, many things were said that are true. But I think what was missing was that the gospel was not preached very clearly. Even in its most basic forms—that Jesus died for my sins so that I don’t have to pay for them, even though I have offended a holy God—the gospel was not mentioned. Instead, something to this effect was said: “Jesus bore the crown of thorns to deliver us from our mental infirmities.” Although it’s true that we can be healed of mental illness through the powerful name of Jesus, the teaching left something to be desired. Many past revivals have centered around strong, anointed preaching. This one seems to have little or no strong preaching at all.
I also have a concern about what seemed to me to be a limited understanding of the nature of sin. The teaching in this meeting seemed to be that sin is primarily something that happens to us, and from which we need to be delivered, not something that first and foremost dwells in us. Some passages about healing through the blood of Christ which seem, in context, to refer at least to spiritual healing were applied in a way that made it seem that they referred exclusively to physical healing. There have also been some reports on YouTube and the God TV broadcast that Mr. Bentley has a personal angel called Emma. Again, I’m not speaking from experience, because nothing about angels ever came up the night I was there, but these reports would be concerning to me because I think they could potentially lead people astray.
During worship, I thought to myself, “With this level of anticipation and faith, imagine the impact a dynamic, theologically rich song like In Christ Alone would have!” My heart was aching to sing of the glorious reality of the blood and suffering of Christ, and then the absolute exultation of the line:
“Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.”
Then, with an amazing realization of the power of the cross, to proclaim:
“No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”
In Christ Alone
Words and Music by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty
Instead, we sang about being a generation who will stand and fight.
So often I can be so theologically sound and doctrinal, but lack a sense of urgency, anticipation, and faith. I am lazy and comfortable with where I’m at. Then, in an environment of real faith and excitement, I think of the power that a theologically sound and rich song and the gospel message would have in that context. I was disappointed because, while I think they do well in the faith category, I think more of an emphasis on the anointed preaching of the gospel and God-centered worship, not man-centered songs, would have a tremendous impact to stir religious affections and motivate a lot of the revival that’s being prayed for.
I know some people will think I am quenching the Spirit by desiring more of an accurate theology or a clearer description of who this God is that we’re excited about, but why should we have to choose between doctrine and expectation? Why can’t we have it all? Our excitement is baseless and will never last if it is not grounded in the gospel, and all of our theology, however fine-tuned, will never by itself produce revival. I guess what you’re hearing are the longings of a reformed-charismatic who desires the best of both worlds, yet so often sins by doubting such a thing is possible.”
Continued in part 5 . . .