Editor’s Note: The following message was released by Matt Sorger in his ministry newsletter on June 15. He received a tremendous response to it, and I wanted to make it available to those who haven’t yet read it. Though it is not in the form of “Thus saith the Lord,” it is an important word of caution for those of us who love the prophetic and may be tempted to seek the spectacular demonstrations of the Holy Spirit over a genuine encounter with God through His Word.
I am witnessing an alarming trend in some of our charismatic circles and services. I travel full time on the road all across the United States and in other parts of the world. Each week I am ministering in another state or nation to a new group of hungry believers wanting to live in the fullness of God’s Spirit. Several times in the last few months I have made a disturbing and grievous observation. Before I share it with you, let me give you some of my personal background.
I was saved at the age of 14. I am thankful to have been raised in a solid Bible-preaching, Spirit-filled church. The Word was always given a priority. The necessity of living a holy, sanctified life was always preached with conviction. I took my first steps of walking, living and ministering in the Spirit there.
As a young pastor I was given some room to begin to spread my wings when the anointing and power of God began to move through my life. I took full flight when I launched out from pastoring six years ago to travel full time in a “prophetic revival” ministry.
My years before pastoring were spent seeking God, spending time in personal devotion and study of the Word, and attending a great Bible school in Rhode Island. Upon graduation I stepped into the pastoral ministry. I learned many valuable things during those years that I carry with me to this day. Life experiences have a way of shaping you into the person God has called you to be.
I want to define “prophetic revival” ministry. For me “prophetic” means hearing and then declaring a true word from God, either through preaching and teaching God’s heart as revealed in His Word, or speaking forth an anointed word directly from Him. Both types of prophetic ministry should be solidly rooted and grounded in Scripture.
“Revival” holds a dual meaning for me. I see it as stirring up in the church a deeper passion for God and learning to live and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, and then watching that passion overflow through the lives of believers into the world around us. The power of God in the life of the believer is not supposed to be contained. It must overflow and impact the world around us.
An Alarming Trend
Now I must share with you an alarming trend I have witnessed. I have seen it even in my own meetings! Because this is hitting so close to home I can no longer be silent. I am a man of deep convictions, and it is time for me to share them with you.
Recently, after a meeting I was standing near my resource table greeting people. A woman approached me to share about the wonderful overflow of the Holy Spirit she had experienced in the meeting the day before. She could sense a whole new level of God’s presence. It was clear she had been deeply touched. But she proceeded to tell me something that caused me to raise a “red flag.”
She said, “You know, when you started preaching, I thought, I have heard this before. I really came looking to hear something I had never heard before. But the presence of God in the meeting did have a profound impact on me, and I am not the same.” I rejoiced over what the Lord had done for her, but at the same time I grieved.
That same week, after we had finished only one day of meetings, a pastor I was having lunch with shared his thoughts. The night before I had preached a word the Holy Spirit had placed on my heart. After the preaching of the Word, I was led by the Spirit to call some folks out from the audience, and I prayed for them with a clear demonstration of God’s presence and power. I left the meeting rejoicing.
The pastor didn’t share my enthusiasm. He said to me, “You know, if the preaching of the gospel could have gotten the job done, it would have been done a long time ago. What we need are the signs. I just want to see the stuff. I don’t want you preaching. Preach just a few minutes. We want the miracles.”
It became apparent that what this church wanted was a charismatic show—the “signs following” with no preaching of the Word. I’m sorry, but I am a Word preacher.
I believe their outlook reflects an alarming trend in the prophetic movement. It seems that we are unintentionally cultivating the idea that the truth of the gospel, which emphasizes the power of the cross and blood of Christ, is no longer good enough. We need signs, signs and more signs. A life transformed by the power of God’s amazing Word is not enough.