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Todd Bentley: Punishment or Grace?

March 26, 2009

What is the heart of the Father toward His children who have sinned? What is His attitude toward His children who have repented?

This is what many in the church seem to think should happen to Todd Bentley:

You can get out, Todd, as soon as you've proven your repentance.

You can get out, Todd, as soon as you've proven your repentance and earned forgiveness.

But is this the heart of God? Is this how the Father treats His children? This is what the Father says:

7 I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity [a] and will rebuild them as they were before. 8 I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. 9 Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’

Jeremiah 33:7-9

When the Father forgives, He not only forget the sin, but He chooses to rebuild His fallen child as they were before. Is that an expression of “greasy grace?” No, it is so they can bring Him “renown, joy, praise and honor.” It is all about Him. Restoration brings Him joy and honor.

Bill Johnson made a fabulous point in his sermon on March 22. He spoke at length about Todd and his restoration. This is actually an incredibly meaty sermon and covers a lot of points. You can see the entire sermon below:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “God is the God of Restoration!“, posted with vodpod

What he said that was so fabulous was if Todd’s repentance is false and we accept it, God is not going to be angry. Todd will still have to answer to the Father for his sin, but we will have obeyed the word and extended mercy. If, however, Todd’s repentance is genuine and we do not accept it, he will be fine, and we will fall under the judgment of God for our sin.

God has made it abundantly clear in His word that if we do not forgive others, He will not forgive us. He hasn’t given us the option of judging whether a heart is repentant or not because He alone knows the secrets of men’s hearts.

Pastor Johnson also talks about the Political Spirit and the Religious Spirit, both of which oppose Grace. The Political Spirit washes its hands like Pilate did in order to appear righteous. The Religious Spirit takes up stones to kill the sinner, forgetting their own sin and need of mercy, in order to appear righteous.

The Spirit of Christ stands with the sinner and gives grace because, as Romans 2:4 says, “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Titus 2:11-14 makes it abundantly clear that grace is what empowers us to live holy.

11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

The passage above makes it abundantly clear that godliness and purity are processes. Grace teaches us. It is impossible to learn the lessons of grace without mistakes, just as it is impossible to learn mathematics without making mistakes. You do not destroy children for their failure to perfectly master the lessons of mathematics. You do not destroy college students for their failure to master the concepts of Calculus I. In the same way you do not destroy the Father’s children for their failure to master the lessons of grace.

Does this grace lead to compromise? No. Those who have been forgiven much, scripture says, love much. That love expresses itself in gratitude to the Father for His amazing grace that you have no desire to repeat the offense.

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Oh, Doesn’t This Look Familiar?

March 19, 2009

For those of you who have been rejoicing over the demise of the Outpouring in Lakeland, God has decided to light a new fire, this time in Australia. The Outpouring that began in Lakeland never died, it’s just been traveling, as Rob DeLuca said it would last year before the meetings in Lakeland even began. You can hear that word here.

Rob said that what happened in Florida would go to England, and it did.  The Dudley Outpouring extended meetings ran for 197 days.  They have now transitioned into equipping meetings to train the people who came.

Rob also said that this would also travel to Australia and New Zealand.  And guess what?  It is.

Roy Fields has been steadily preaching around the world since he left the Florida Outpouring. He is calling this the We are the Generation Tour. The UK leg of the tour saw 1,557 people saved there. His US leg saw 314 people saved.

Now he is in Australia and it appears that the Lord is up to something there. Today was the fourth day of meetings in Brisbane, and today Roy announced that he was canceling meetings and staying in Oz until at least the end of April. In the first four days, they have seen 70 people come to Jesus.

Brisbane Day 4

Brisbane Day 4

Here is his report from tonight’s meeting:

Literally from the first song of worship, the presence of the
Lord filled the place as people were focused on Jesus.
Worship lasted 2 hours again for the 5th meeting. Tonight
people gave testimonies of being healed and during the
revival began to receive jobs and bonuses. During the
end of the worship, suddenly Roy shut the band down and
told everyone to put there hands over their ears to hear
the sound of heaven. Some said they heard angels, others
said they heard waters, and some said they even heard
the hooves of horses. Allot of people all heard these
same sounds. Roy preached on “THE MOVE OF GOD” in OZ.
When the altar call was given, 25 decisions were made.

Roy tells about the first three nights in his podcast that’s on the Run with Fire site. They seeing about 650 people a night.

So far there isn’t a live feed, but you can see videos on the Worship Centre Brisbane’s You Tube channel.

There is hunger for revival in Australia and God is sending it to them. Aussies are amazing people, and they have suffered some devastating losses in the last few months. I am tickled to see the wind of God’s Spirit blowing over Australia.

Bill Johnson teaches the principle of first the natural, then the spiritual. Australia has been hit by the most powerful fires they have ever seen. May the fires of the Spirit burn even more brightly and consume the entire continent!

THANK YOU, RICK JOYNER!

March 17, 2009

Rick Joyner has responded to J. Lee Grady’s attack in Charisma against Todd Bentley and the restoration process Todd has only just begun. Rick responded as follows:

(Rev. Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries sent this response on March 12, 2009)

Lee, I think what you call “the Lakeland disaster” would be disputed by multitudes of people who got healed or touched there. If you are such judge of this what gives you the credentials? What moves of God have you led? What have you built? Paul the apostle claimed to have authority for building and for tearing down, but what gives you authority to tear down the work of others is having built something yourself. Read more…

Todd Bentley: Is Divorce and Remarriage Sin?

March 15, 2009

I’ve done a study on the subject of divorce and remarriage in scripture, but I hold no “credentials.” I found a study on the Greek and Hebrew behind the scriptures on divorce that draws the same conclusions that I came to with my primitive language skills.

_________________________________________________________

Divorce, the Law, and Jesus

by Walter L. Callison

Divorce and remarriage are topics of much debate. The purpose of the following article is to invite the reader to reassess the church’s attitude toward remarriage. Read more…

Todd Bentley’s Video Statement

March 11, 2009

This is the first in a series of videos Rick Joyner and Todd Bentley plan to share with the greater Body of Christ about aspects of Todd’s restoration process. Todd is attempting to be transparent about his issues and the process he is undergoing. The heart behind this, I think, is to try to help the 50% of the church that has been through divorce.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Todd Bentley’s Video Statement“, posted with vodpod

Todd Bentley Begins Restoration Process

March 9, 2009

This was posted on Todd’s Facebook page today:

Todd Bentley Begins
Restoration Process

By Rick Joyner

Todd Bentley was used to spark the Lakeland Outpouring, which raised the faith level of much of the body of Christ. Testimonies of healings and miracles from it are now virtually all over the world. When Todd’s marriage failed, he abruptly stopped all ministry and virtually disappeared for almost nine months. In the meantime, his divorce was finalized and he has recently remarried.

Todd has taken full responsibility for the failure of his marriage. He and Jessa also admit that their relationship was premature and should not have happened the way it did. Both are adamant that it was not the cause for the failure of his first marriage, nor did they begin their relationship until Todd was convinced that his marriage was over. They have both expressed that it was wrong and premature. They do not want to try and cover this up even though they know many will never accept them for it. Even so, they are married now and are resolved to make the most of their marriage, their lives, and to continue to serve the Lord in the best way that they can.

My position all along has been that I will do my best to comply with Galatians 6:1, “If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (NKJV). To obey this Word, I have always felt that it did not matter what one had done, and that it was my responsibility to help them find the grace of God to return to the place from which they had fallen. I confess that with Todd, I am not just doing this as a duty. From the time I first met him nearly ten years ago, I knew that he had an extraordinary purpose and a gift of faith for the miraculous that would be desperately needed in these times. I consider helping any of God’s children an honor, and helping Todd is a privilege.

I also confess to some selfish ambition in wanting to do this. I had a dream two decades ago in which one of my children had fallen into a sewage ditch and could not get up. My child was being scorned and no one would help him. A man came along who helped my child get up and then cleaned up. In that dream, I felt as if I would give everything that I owned to this man who helped my child. Then I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Jim Bakker is My child. Will you help him?” Since that time, I have been devoted to helping any of God’s children that I could who have committed any trespass, because I knew there were few other things that would bring the Father’s favor. I consider this willingness to at least try to help others this way a major reason for the extraordinary favor that our ministry, my family, and I have received. I love Todd and am glad to help him, but I also know by doing this, I will be doing something that means a great deal to our Father.

When we release someone to minister in the body of Christ, we are releasing him or her to minister to God’s own children, and I personally do not do that with anyone who I would not allow to minister to my own family. For all that was done through Todd, and especially at Lakeland, which touched and helped countless thousands, many were also left confused and hurt by the way it ended. I think Todd is even more sensitive to this than I am. Although in some ways he greatly misses being in ministry and praying for people, he wants to be sure that when he comes back that his life and his ministry are on the most solid ground possible so that he does not cause these kinds of problems again.

Jack Deere and Bill Johnson have agreed to be a part of Todd’s restoration process. I asked them to be a part because I know they will probably see things I don’t, but also because both Todd and I trust them and know they would not sign off on something they did not really believe in. However, both of them are going to be involved in this at a distance, and therefore, I will be the main person responsible.

Being a believer in body ministry, I expect our whole leadership team, and to some degree, our whole local church, to be involved in helping Todd and Jessa. Our staff and all from the church that I have discussed this with are very happy about them being here and want to help them in any way that they can.

In future Bulletins, we will go into more detail about what we’re doing and why, as well as what we think was a cause of some of the failures Todd experienced. We will only do this for the sake of helping others avoid the same traps. We know that trust has to be earned and that Todd will have to earn the trust of the body of Christ for future ministry, which will not be easy, nor should it be. Todd, more than most, does not want to jump back into ministry prematurely, even as much as he misses it in some ways.

I for one have been very encouraged by the expressions of grace and genuine concern so many have expressed toward Todd in this situation. It gives me great hope. As we have been constantly reminded, the Lord had great patience with sinners, but He had none for the self-righteous. We’re all here because He had mercy on us, and we know we still need it. However, we also know that true repentance and restoration can only come if we refuse to compromise the clear biblical standards for morality and integrity.

Todd wanted to personally say the following:

It has been a long while since I have spoken publicly and openly. I am sorry for the hurt and confusion that my decisions have caused the body of Christ. It has been a true season of brokenness, hiddenness, and a long process of grieving.

As many of you now know, my previous marriage has endured years of unresolved conflicts. I apologize that it has ended in divorce, and I take full responsibility for my part for the ending ofthe marriage. I realize thatmy silence and decisions have caused many of you to feel hurt, confused, and offended. The reason for the silence was for my needof healing, creating a restoration process under a team of qualified leaders, much needed rest after the Lakeland Outpouring, repentance, and the divorce process.

I have now relocated to Fort Mill, South Carolina and have entered intomy restoration and healingprocess under Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, and Bill Johnson.I am confident of this one thing—that God is faithful to His promise and my hope is to be fully restored, strengthened, healed, and to learn from all the mistakes I have made along the way.

Thank you friends and partners for your continued prayers, encouragement, and love. I am committed to the work of the Holy Spirit and confident that the good men around me will help me be restored first as a man, as ahusband, and ultimately to fulfillGod’s call on my life.

Those of you who were touched by the Lakeland Outpouring do not lose your encouragement. What happened there was from God, and Todd is a true servant of God. He has made some mistakes, and he is trying to get his life back in order, and you can be confident that he will. Throughout the Bible, many of the greatest heroes in it also made some of the worst mistakes. King David, possibly the greatest hero in the Bible after Jesus, made one of the most horrible mistakes, not only committing adultery, but murdering the husband of the woman he committed it with. God knew that was going to happen with David when He called him, and He loved David before, during, and afterward.

One of the remarkable events in the Bible is that the Lord then used Bathsheba to bring forth the heir to the throne, Solomon, and she is part of the genealogy of Jesus. It still stretches me, but we need stretching in the grace of God. At the same time, we must balance it with how God hates divorce, and it is one of the scourges of our times that is tragically hurting many, many people. Marriage is under such an assault now because it is so important. However, legalism will not overcome lawlessness. This situation and similar ones that almost every church and family are now being faced with is one that we need answers for. We cannot run from Him, but must run to Him with our need.

Many of Todd’s friends and former partners have asked if and how they might help to rebuild and establish Fresh Fire USA, which has recently relocated from Abbotsford, BC Canada and is now based at Heritage International Ministries in Fort Mill, SC. Donations can now be made to Fresh Fire USA at the following address:

Fresh Fire USA
C/O MorningStar Fellowship Church
375 Star Light Dr.
Fort Mill, SC 29715

Make checks out to Fresh Fire USA, or if you would like to donate by credit card to help in rebuilding Fresh Fire USA, call 1-800-542-0278, and tell the operator that you want to make a donation to Fresh Fire USA.

Let the howling begin.

One thing I want to point out is that God is the God of mercy.

Many in the Body of Christ want to hold Todd to a standard that they themselves would never live under.  Todd’s marriage was on the rocks for years, and he tried to save it.  He truly believed that God told him to marry Shonnah.  But there comes a time when you don’t have anything left and you say, “I’m done.  I’m done God.  I don’t care what the consequences are, I’m done.  I can’t do this anymore.”

I know.  I said those same words the day I left.

Over 50% of the church in the US is divorced.  Somewhere between 20 and 40% of the clergy are divorced.  I know of two leaders with world-wide effective ministries who have been married for over 30 years to their second wife.

Divorce is a horrible thing.  I would not wish it on anyone.  But which is worse, to live a lie for the sake of ministry or to be honest and leave?  Charles Stanley lived a lie for years.  He and his wife were separated.  She never attended the church he pastored.  He is now divorced and still pastoring.  He said God called him to ministry, not marriage.

David, the man after God’s own heart, had an affair with his friend’s wife, got her pregnant, had the man murdered and then married the woman.  When God confronted him about his sin, He didn’t tell David that his marriage was illegal and to send Bathsheba away.  He didn’t tell David he was no longer worthy to be king and to resign.  God did not even tell Nathan to impose the death penalty for adultery on them both.  God, for whatever reason, had mercy.  He judged them and the child died.  David pleaded for mercy, but accepted the judgment when the child did die.

Personally, I think Todd is guilty of gross stupidity, but graceful is not a word I would ever associate with Todd Bentley.  He crashed and burned in a spectacular way, the same way he has lived the rest of his public life.  I don’t think he is capable of doing anything in a corner in secret.

I believe what Todd and Jessa have said about their relationship.  I agree the timing wasn’t the brightest thing they ever did.

To me, there are a couple of different types of adultery.  There is physical sex, which may or may not have any meaning.  Sexual adultery doesn’t have to have any emotional attachment whatsoever to it.  It just is.

Then there is emotional adultery in which the affections of a married individual are enticed away from their spouse by another person.  I believe within Christian circles this is far more common than is realized.

I don’t think Todd is guilty of either of these.  By all accounts that I have heard, Shonnah had departed for Canada before Todd and Jessa connected.

You know, in the Bible, all a man had to do to divorce his wife was give her a certificate of divorce and it was OVER.  If you want to consider dating while waiting for a divorce to be finalized adultery, I will concede you have a valid point.

So the real question in this is how is the body of Christ going to respond to the whole divorce and remarriage issue?  It is a daily reality in all our churches.  Do you treat the people in your church who are divorced and remarried the same way you thing about Todd Bentley?  Some of them DID have affairs.  Some of them DID leave their spouses for the person they are married to now.  Do you threat them they way you are advocating Todd and Jessa be treated?

Revival Alliance Statement on Todd Bentley

November 2, 2008
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PUBLIC STATEMENT ON TODD BENTLEY FROM REVIVAL ALLIANCE

Dear friends, several years ago, six leadership couples came together formed a relationally based, non-denominational network called Revival Alliance.

When the Lakeland revival broke out Todd Bentley and the revival meetings were coming under much criticism. At the suggestion of Peter Wagner, three of the members of the Revival Alliance team went to Lakeland because the Alliance as a whole wanted to express support for the Lakeland Outpouring and to commission Todd as a revivalistic evangelist. Having been powerfully touched in the Toronto outpouring, and seeing the opposition that came from leaders in the church because of that movement, we wanted to stand with Todd and deflect some of the personal assaults that were coming against him. Many of the attacks were coming from well-respected Christian leaders, people that we still hold in high esteem. Yet the mandate from the Lord was clear. And we stood with Todd and the Fresh Fire Ministries team to both endorse and support this move of God.

Rory and Wendy Alec of God TV also took tremendous risk in airing the revival prime time and broadcasting it to over 200 nations around the world. Their heart is to capture and release the move of God, no matter where it happens, or who God uses as His instrument. This unparalleled media attention gave unusual advertisement for the outpouring. But it also put their whole team in an unusual, high-level position of receiving both praise and criticism.

The impact of the Lakeland Outpouring has been amazing, and it still continues. The record of conversions and miracles of healing is extraordinarily great in number. And the spreading of the revival to nation after nation has also been very significant. The God TV broadcast stirred up the hunger in people from around the world to go to Lakeland and receive from God, but then bring it home to their local churches. Impartation seems to be one of the unusual markers of a genuine move of God. Revival fires began to spread around the world as a result of the impartation received at Lakeland. But as great as the fruit has been, so have the devastation and fallout from Todd’s personal failure.

While there must be no toleration or whitewashing of sin, there must also be no allowances for ungodly judgments in the name of Jesus. Hatred often masquerades as a passion for holiness. And while the church has had its share of tragic failures of leaders in recent days and equally tragic reactions, we must get this one right. It is possible to promote holiness and accountability in the spirit of grace.

The quickness to condemn and abandon a fallen comrade has caused us as much concern as has the actual sin of our friend. Some want to humiliate and expose Todd before the world. And then there are others who want to point to the obvious anointing on Todd’s life as the sign of God’s approval of Todd’s behavior. Neither is acceptable to us. There must be deep repentance and thorough restoration.

The restoration process must be firm but loving, while holding to the Kingdom standards of both holiness and grace. The initial goal is not to get Todd preaching again. It is to get him healed from the issues of the heart that have brought devastation to his family, and such shame and failure to him. His gift will always function when given an opportunity. We just want it to come from a place of personal victory and triumph this next time.

Since the announcement of Todd’s leaving his wife, Revival Alliance has been working to help restore our fallen brother. Sin is disastrous on any level, but it is well known that “to whom much is given, much is required.” Gross sin from someone on Todd’s level of influence is devastating. Even so, God is ready to heal and restore.

Todd recently spent three days in Redding, California, with Bill Johnson dealing with the issues of his personal life. Following that, he went to Morningstar Ministries in Charlotte, North Carolina, to be with Rick Joyner for the same reason. Rick, along with the Morningstar leadership team, has offered to help in his restoration. With great confidence, Revival Alliance recommends this as the appropriate process for Todd’s healing and restoration. Todd will be moving to Morningstar Ministries to live for a season. Rick Joyner’s wisdom, along with the strength of the Morningstar community of believers, will be a great support to Todd as he deals with the heart issues that brought about his failures. A council of three has also been formed to give oversight to the restoration process. Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, and Bill Johnson will give oversight as needed.

We appreciate the prayers and support of countless numbers of believers who have continued to support Fresh Fire Ministries. We also appreciate the prayer support of so many for the Revival Alliance. We are also very thankful for Rick Joyner and his whole team that will be working to bring about a complete healing to our friend, Todd Bentley.

It should also be noted that effort is being made to ensure that Shonnah (Todd’s wife) and children are also cared for and given opportunity to receive ministry and help. As you may imagine, they have suffered great hurt from this failure.

There are many in Fresh Fire Ministries who also need help. Efforts are being made to serve them as best as possible. John Arnott recently invited the Fresh Fire Ministries associates to Toronto for their Signs and Wonders Conference to receive personal ministry and encouragement. These kinds of efforts will continue.

Bill Johnson, John Arnott, and Rick Joyner have each spent time with the Fresh Fire Ministries board, and will continue to assist them as needed through this tragic season.

Fresh Fire Ministries will continue their crusades and conference schedule around the world. They are a group of ministers with much integrity and a great heart for the lost. Pray for them as they maneuver through the challenging season ahead, while serving the church at large.

We are thankful for the honor of being involved in this crisis.

On behalf of Revival Alliance: John Arnott, Ché Ahn, and Bill Johnson
Thursday, October 23, 2008

The heart of God is always redemptive, that is the whole message of the gospels. God wants to redeem His creation, not destroy it. That’s why Jesus came. If God wanted to judge the world and destroy it, He had ample opportunity – just ask Noah.

Unlike other failures in the Body of Christ, Todd Bentley is not being cast into outer darkness to fend for himself. He is surrounded with people who genuinely love and care for him and his family. He is submitting to a restoration process in a loving community of Christians who want to see the deep issues in his life resolved so that he can be truly restored to usefulness in the Kingdom of God.

I believe this whole situation with Todd has exposed something in the body of Christ: the difference between hirelings and fathers. When parts of Todd’s failures became public knowledge, there were a slew of statements given. They fell into two categories, those who loved Todd and those who were engaging in CYA activities.

The CYA crowd were ready to cast Todd off without a second glance. They actually reminded me of the Pharisees reaction to Judas when he came to them and said, “I sinned,” and their response was, “Not our problem.” When Judas hung himself, their only concern was how to spend the money he had thrown them. This group saw Todd as a “problem” and not a person with deep wounds who needs ministry.

The fathers (and mothers) on the other hand, continued to love Todd and extend their hand to him. Not one of these for an instant condone things Todd has done, but he is theirs and they will not disown him. They are committed to walking with Todd through this and ministering to him. They are committed to seeing him freed from the sin that has ensnared him, and seeing him walk in that freedom.

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t cast off His children when they fall. There is only one sin that He has placed beyond His grace, and that is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. For everything else that we do, the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from ALL sin. God has made provision for the forgiveness of everything we do that violates love, but He has given the Body fathers to help us find the roots of our sinful behaviors so those roots can be destroyed and the sin eradicated from our lives.