That the modus operandi of the chooky-critics is geared against successful Pentecostal Australian ministries is indisputable.
In an article targeting Russell Evans of Planetshakers, the chookwatchers use a radio segment by Lutheran cessationist Chris Rosebrough to mangle a testimony of God’s provision.
Being a cessationist, pirate Chris seemingly has no grasp whatsoever of the leading of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of the gift of faith, or the way in which God sometimes takes us out of our personal comfort zone into areas that potentially shake our thinking but are geared to shape us for greater things.
The testimony of faith
To set the scene for this piece, Russell Evans gives testimony of how God had led him to tell a conference of several thousand attendees that the following year’s conference would only cost $20 rather than the usual $120 per head, which was a huge step of faith for Evans considering the outlay for such large conferences. He called it a God-led risk.
Russell first approached his board, who were in attendance, telling them he was ‘happy-scared’. One board member, a businessman, suggested that prices normally go up not down, which didn’t assist the ‘scared’ part of Evan’s ‘happy-scared’ state. Nevertheless they agreed to step out in faith with the announcement. Thus Evans showed he was accountable to his board, and, more crucially, to God’s instruction.
Shortly before he made the announcement to the congregation, a pastor came up to Evans and wrote a check for $US10,000 ($A14,000), saying he was being led by God to give this amount, which was seen by board members as a confirmation from God.
Subsequently, following the announcement of $20 registrations the following year, double the registrations were made, and an offering on the last night of the conference raised enough to contribute $100,000 towards that next conference.
The context, then, was that Russell was in another city overseas telling a congregation about this act of God’s leading and subsequent provision whilst talking to them about taking God-led risks. He was giving testimony.
The chooky-critic attack
Of course, the chooky-party don’t like it when pastors give testimony of God’s provision and how He led a minister in a direction that took him out of his faith comfort zone. They need to set up a critical response.
Here’s how the chooks start their article:
Often when false teachers have speaking engagements in other countries, they don’t expect people to follow what they are saying at these events. Last year, Chris Rosebrough from Fighting for the Faith reviewed a sermon by Russel Evans of Planetshakers and caught him speaking on something he would not often reveal in Australia or in his own church.
The mindset he speaks from is frightening as Evans reveals he is accountable to no one. All channels submit to him and his “vision” or “divine direction,” including the people most assume Evans would be accountable: his elders/board. This is classic ‘cult think’.
This is complete balderdash.
- There is no intimation anywhere that Evans would not share the same information in Australia, or his own church. In fact, speakers like Evans are very aware that every word they speak is being recorded for global release on websites, which is why the chooky-critics are able to reproduce them on their blogs, and that there are chooky-critics waiting to pounce on every dot, tittle and syllable.
- The testimony is not at all frightening, unless you adhere to cessationist theology which will undoubtedly be challenged by those who have Biblical and practical evidence that the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit have never ended, and who do hear from the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- The claim that Evans is accountable to no one is an outright fabrication, and defamatory. He clearly is, first of all, being accountable to God’s leading, and secondly to his own board members who were present.
- Misrepresenting the conversation, as the chooky-critics do, is misleading and mischievous – oh, and an abomination to God.
Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
The irate pirate manhandles a testimony
Then the chooky-critics make the stock chooky claim that Evans must be part of some New Apostolic Reformation conspiracy to take over the world, followed by a part transcript of Rosebrough’s critique.
Russel Evans: […] God wants the Church, His children to start taking God-led risks not man led risks…
Chris Rosebrough: I don’t know where you’re getting any of this, because there’s nothing about God led risks in Genesis 12, no nothing in there about that at all. Yeh God said he made a promise to Abraham and God was the one who fulfilled those promises.
Well, of course, Abraham was told by God to leave Ur of the Chaldees and go to a place He would tell him. Abraham had vast flocks and many servants, even at this time, so it was no small matter to pack up an entire enterprise and journey thousands of miles on foot to a place he had never been with no idea of where he was going at the time he was instructed to leave Ur.
Remember, they didn’t have maps in those days, or satnav, or googlemaps. They followed the caravan trails.
So, yes, from Abraham’s perspective, this was a God-led risk.
It’s true to say that there were great promises associated with the journey, but it was no less an act of faith and obedience, as scripture reveals. It’s also true that Abraham had heard from God, which is something that seems to have been overlooked by Rosebrough and the chooks. He heard God. God spoke to him. He obeyed God.
Why Rosebrough and the chooky-critics can’t immediately see this is way beyond normal Christian reason. Do they not read their Bibles? Are they not familiar with how the leading of the Spirit happens, and the significance of faith? Have they never read Hebrews 11?
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Is this not an act of obedience through faith? A God-led risk? Have Rosebrough and the chooky-authors never stepped out in obedience to an instruction from God through the leading of the Holy Spirit? Have they never been led by the Spirit to do or say something that required complete trust and faith in God’s direction?
Maybe this explains everything about why they are hypercritics of those who do hear from God and do exploits in His name. It may also explain why they’ll never be entrusted with holding large impacting conferences and events that require huge faith.
Can a church of 2,000 be dying?
During his message, Evans gives testimony of a pastor who had taken what he calls a dying church of 2,000 to 10,000 in five years. Rosebrough is scathing.
Chris Rosebrough: A church of two thousand people and he described that as a dying church, oh my goodness! Whatever we are listening to it’s completely disconnected from like reality.
Well, of course, there were churches bigger than this mentioned in Revelation that were equally diminishing and required repentance and change to survive. They were warned by Jesus that they would lose their candlestick, or anointing, if they did not pay heed.
Maybe Rosebrough only sees small churches as capable of dying, but the size a of a work is not the issue, be it ten or ten thousand. The life of a church will need reviving if it loses sight of its true call.
For instance, Paul sent Timothy into Ephesus to recover the church, which was a mega-church even by todays standards, and warned the Corinthians to reorganised their structure to become less carnal.
Generosity that comes from faith and obedience
Then there’s Rosebrough’s final comment on this testimony, which again shows his ignorance of spiritual things, as Russell Evans concludes his testimony with a good report.
Russell Evans: Next morning I got up and I said to people, ‘ahh hey everybody, the Lord spoke to me that next year Planetshakers ‘Awakening’ is going to be twenty dollars’ and I said, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to work out but I just know that God told me’.
You know within 48 hours we had registered twelve thousand people for next year, do you know that we are on our way to get twenty thousand, so double in a year. You know that night, what happened that act of obedience released a ‘generous spirit’ into the Conference and that night we took an offering ….
Chris Rosebrough: ‘Act of obedience releases a generous spirit’? Which Biblical text says that? I don’t know of any text that says that, where is he getting this from? What is the source of his authority? Answer, his own personal life journey, experiences and what he thinks is direct revelation from God. Not the written Word of God because we’re learning nothing about what God’s Word really says.
Russell Evans: …so great that we walked out of the Conference with one hundred thousand dollars profit. God-led risk.
The truth is that there are several references to the generosity that comes from an obedient spirit. It’s a pity that the chooky-critic crew don’t apply them to their own words and opinion.
There is an undeniable connection between faith and obedience. In fact, faith requires a high level of obedience to the instruction of God. Abraham was obedient to God’s instruction to leave Ur, and it took great faith to follow God’s leading. As the writer to the Hebrews says, ‘by faith Abraham obeyed’.
You cannot disassociate faith from obedience to God’s Word, and generosity can be both an act of obedience and of faith.
God’s Word on the generous spirit
See if you can spot a pattern here as we look into the Word of God on the generous spirit.
Proverbs 11:24-25 There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.
Proverbs 22:9-10 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor. Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; Yes, strife and reproach will cease.
Isaiah 32:7-8 Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; He devises wicked plans To destroy the poor with lying words, Even when the needy speaks justice. But a generous man devises generous things, And by generosity he shall stand.
Finally, here’s Paul on the generous heart, reminding the Church of their promise to support others with their financial giving, and God’s word to them that He will respond in kind.
2 Corinthians 9:5-8 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
I’m not sure, unless he repents, of course, if it’s possible for a person, once he has declared that he doesn’t believe that the Holy Spirit still distributes His gifts and manifestations, or that we can hear from the Spirit as He leads, to actually hear God to be corrected for being an apologist for cessationist teaching.
If it is at all possible, perhaps we should pray that these hypercritics will open their hearts to hear from God and develop a spirit of generosity for themselves, if not for financial giving, then at least for having a better attitude towards the Christians they currently reject with their critical mindset.