I was a Pentecostal preacher once, a long time ago in my ignorant youth. I heard and saw most of it: the charlatans and the sincerely deceived; the wealthy charmers able to empty people’s wallets with smooth words; the musicians and their teenage “gospel groupies”; the fake healers (“faith healers”) and their staged “healings”; the gibberish of fake tongues-speaking; the lying prophets and their fake prophecies; the “deliverance deceivers”; the heresies. For almost four decades since the Lord opened my eyes to it and delivered me from that snare, I have preached and written against the Pentecostal movement and its even more heretical sister, the Charismatic movement, exposing its lies, heresies, and deception; and by God’s grace the eyes of others have been opened and they have been set free by the Lord, and many who were never part of it have been warned to steer well clear of it.
The deception of the fake healers has been thoroughly exposed through the years, and it was exposed yet again when the COVID-19 virus emerged onto the world scene in 2020. And the fact that millions are still taken in by the lies of this movement reveals the spiritual blindness of those caught up in it, which nothing but the Holy Spirit of God can remove. For when the COVID virus began to spread, a great many Pentecostals and Charismatics reacted no differently from the rest of society: they went into a state of panic and rushed to isolate themselves in their homes behind closed doors as they fearfully listened to everything the “experts” said; afraid to visit family or friends, to touch them, to laugh or cry with them. Just as almost everyone else did, they spoke in awed tones about “the virus”, urged their friends and families to “stay safe” (and to stay away from them!), masked up like stagecoach bandits, and scrubbed their hands like deranged germophobes.
What’s wrong with this picture? For over a century Pentecostals have claimed that the signs and wonders of Pentecost are being repeated; that if a person “just has faith”, miracles will occur all the time; and that God has raised up men with the gifts of healing and working of miracles, just as He did in the apostolic age, who are able to scuttle to and fro, laying hands on the sick and commanding the sickness to “depart in the name of Jesus”! Suave, silver-tongued “faith healers” make astounding claims about the healing of crippled legs and arms, shortened legs and arms, back pain, headaches, and innumerable other ailments and diseases, including some of the most serious of all, such as cancer. But where were they when the Coronavirus began to spread? So many of them were as frightened as the rest of society, lurking behind closed doors with their masks on!
Then, when at last some of these fake healers began to crawl fearfully out of their hiding places and hold their services again, what did they do? They wore masks, insisted that everyone in their congregations wore masks, and insisted that they all maintained “social distancing”! And their flocks readily went along with it all, for they were just as panic-stricken as their leaders.
What does this reveal about their “faith”, their so-called “ministries of healing”, “moving in the supernatural realm” (as they love to say), “releasing the power of God” (as if His power is bound and fettered somewhere until they come along)? Actions speak louder than any words, and their actions spoke volumes. It was all very well to shout about “miracles” and “power” when there was no perception of personal danger to themselves; but the moment they thought their lives were in real danger from the virus, they scrambled to stop their services, locked the doors of their meeting places, and remained quaking with fear in their houses! How is it that (according to them) God supposedly heals people of all kinds of diseases week after week, Sunday after Sunday in their services – but when COVID-19 burst on the scene they were so fearful? Did God (that is, their conception of who God is) suddenly become powerless to heal them?
Truly, their fear of COVID testified more eloquently than any words could ever do, to the fact that the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is a false and lying movement.
Dear Pentecostal or Charismatic friend: you are being deceived by these charlatans in their fancy clothes and flashing their Hollywood smiles. They stand behind their pulpits Sunday after Sunday and harangue you about your need for what they call “faith”, to “name it and claim it”, to “speak healing into the situation”, to “release God’s power”, and all the rest. It’s all a farce!
The Bible warns about false ministers repeatedly, including warning that many of them will, through covetousness (greed), use feigned words to make merchandise of people (2 Pet. 2:3). It is not the Lord’s blessing which has made so many of these “spiritual superstars” extremely rich men – it is the fact that they are milking the people! “Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the [false] shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock” (Ezek. 34:2,3).
But it’s not only the obvious fakers – the sleazy, smarmy Benny Hinns, Kenneth Copelands or Joel Osteens of the world – who are deceiving you. It’s even your own local Pentecostal pastor! Oh, he may not be doing so deliberately: many of these men, unlike the big-name “spiritual celebrities”, may personally be kind and decent men, who are not deliberately out to deceive you; but whether they are outright charlatans raking in millions from their “gospel groupies”, or simply sincere but sincerely misguided souls, they are deceiving you. For they are teaching that apostolic “signs and wonders” are still occurring, when they are not.
What does the Bible really teach about the miraculous gifts of healing? It tells us that they were given during the apostolic age for a specific purpose – and then they were withdrawn. What was their purpose? It was to authenticate the apostles and their message! These extraordinary gifts are not doled out to every Tom, Dick, or (these days) Harriet! Paul wrote, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2 Cor.12:12). These gifts were the signs of an apostle. If all kinds of other people had them, and if they still do so today, they could hardly have been referred to in God’s Word as signs of the apostles! Heb.2:3,4, referring to the apostles, says, “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will”. Likewise, when Jesus said that miracles would be performed in His Name (Mk. 16:17,18), the fulfilment follows: “And they [the apostles, according to vs.14] went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (vs.20). Any reading of the book of Acts reveals that this is precisely what happened: the apostles were authenticated by the gifts of healing and miracles which were done by them in Jesus’ Name (for example, Acts 2:43; 4:33; 5:12). The Bible must be read properly, and rightly divided. One may not simply grab onto a favourite verse, wrench it out of context and give it a meaning or application it does not have.
Yes, the apostles also laid hands on some and imparted miraculous gifts to them (2 Tim.1:6; Acts 8:14-18), so that they were also able to perform miracles in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor.12:28); but these men, in turn, were unable to impart their gifts to others (Acts 8:13-18). Once that generation passed from the scene, so did the miraculous gifts. No one alive today is given them.
Furthermore, the miracles which authenticated the apostles were real, immediately observable miracles. Lame men walking and leaping, blind eyes seeing, lepers cleansed, even dead men raised to life! These were not claims of shorter legs growing a centimetre or two, or headaches disappearing – things either easily faked or non-observable. When we compare the gifts of healing and miracles which the apostles had with what passes for such gifts today, there really is no comparison. For example:
* The apostles healed with a word or a touch (Acts 9:32-35). But what takes place in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches? While the band plays music in the background to draw out people’s emotions and the congregation sings, shouts, cries, wails and screams, there is much shouting in the ears of the sick by the fake healers, and pushing, and more shouting. It is noise, it is emotionalism, but it is not God the Holy Spirit at work.
* The apostolic healings were instantaneous and complete (Acts 3:2-6; 9:34). The apostles did not send people home with the message that their healing would follow later, or that it would be gradual.
* When the Lord granted this gift to them, all were healed (Acts 5:16; 28:8-10). The apostles – unlike today’s fake healers – did not pass some by as they stood in the “healing lines”, or send them home unhealed with the words, “You need more faith.”
Truly, today’s Charismatic “healing services” are a very far cry from what occurred in the apostolic age! Here is the straightforward biblical truth: regardless of Pentecostal and Charismatic claims, no one has such extraordinary gifts of the Spirit today! No one.
The Lord, at times, heals today, not by the supposed miracle-working power of some Charismatic fake healer, but simply in answer to the humble prayers of His people, if He so wills. He does not always will it: healing of the body is not provided by the Atonement, as Charismatic heretics have taught.
What’s more, dear Pentecostal or Charismatic friend, don’t you see that your own fears about COVID, and not just what your leaders claim about healing, have also exposed the farce of Pentecostalism? It’s easy to speak about “healings” from shortened arms and from backache, and to shout “Halleluiah” whenever some person is supposedly “slain in the Spirit” on the stage and returns to his seat singing and shouting that he is healed. That’s easy. But faced with what you have been told by the media is a worldwide plague, you are frightened and in hiding. Don’t you see that this shows your faith to be a false faith? That your claims to “living in high victory” are exposed as false?
I urge you to examine this movement in the light of the written Word of God. It simply does not stand up to scrutiny. And then examine yourself, whether you truly are a Christian or not (2 Cor. 13:5). Ask yourself why you are so afraid of a virus, lurking behind your mask and your closed doors? A virus which, by the way, has a recovery rate of over 99%? Why are you – someone who claims to be a believer – so afraid to die, anyway? Isn’t Phil. 1:21 true for every genuine believer, which says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? Isn’t Phil. 1:23 true as well, which says, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better”? If these verses are not real to you, then you need to examine the faith you profess to have, because there is something very wrong with it. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, calling yourself a Christian but so afraid of COVID! Your “faith” has been exposed as false! The rug has been pulled from under your refuge of lies. You have been building your house on sand, and it has crumbled to the ground.
The Pentecostal teaching is a lie. Never mind the gifts of the Spirit – do you have the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord (Rom. 6:23)? Never mind bodily healing – have you ever truly experienced the cleansing from your sins by the blood of Christ? Never mind the Coronavirus – sin is the true “virus”, the “plague of the heart” (1 Kings 8:38)! Have you truly fled to Christ for salvation? You are seeking refuge from a virus, but have you sought refuge in the arms of Jesus from your sins?
Shaun Willcock is a minister, author and researcher. He runs Bible Based Ministries. This pamphlet was published in 2021. For other pamphlets (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, articles, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website; or write to the address below. If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ email list, please send your details.