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plumbline

I apologise for this article being a bit longer but it’s length is necessary to do justice to the subject matter involved.

In light of recent events that have happened in Christendom, people have asked me about some of the things happening to people in revelatory encounters and whether they are real, valid and scriptural; and how we know.

Revelatory encounters are certainly on the increase in the Body of Christ and many people are having and are claiming to have had Throne room encounters, heavenly encounters with angels and people, revelations regarding the revealing of the sons of God, courtroom of Heaven encounters, and more. Many of those experiences are legal, real and valid but some are not and we must learn how to distinguish between the two types.

I want in this article to drop a plumbline for judging the validity of the revelatory experiences we may have. (For those that don’t know, a plumbline is a cord weighted with lead that is used in building to check that vertical structures are true. It is used symbolically to refer to the divine standard against which God, the builder of his people, tests and judges them. It also symbolises the standards by which God will rebuild his people. Zech 1:16; Zech 4:9-10 1)

The base plumblines for assessing our revelations are these –

  • The nature and character of the Godhead – God is love, is good, His mercy triumphs over his judgement; He is faithful, kind, holy, righteous and much more.
  • What scripture shows us about God, His ways and His plans for mankind.
  • The finished work of the Cross and what that resulted in as shown in Scripture – Gods plans for the restoration of mankind to his original status and into the image of Christ, the healing, wholeness, righteousness, holiness etc that the work of the Cross accomplished.
  • What scripture shows us about the way we should walk out our salvation and life in Christ.
  • What scripture shows us are acceptable experiences and what aren’t.
  • Love – receiving it, becoming it and living it out – if our revelations do not include this work in us then we are nothing, have nothing and do no lasting good (1 Cor 13:2,3).

The things listed below are an important part of the process of assessing revelatory encounters based on the plumblines above.

  1. Any revelation that denies the Godhead as being who they are, denies that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, or denies that He is above all other principalities and powers is a deceptive one. Jesus is not simply a man, a prophet, a healer, a man of light and goodness. He is the embodiment and full revelation of the Godhead. He and the Father are one and He is one with Holy Spirit, not less than or subservient to either nor they to Him. They operate in the fullness of oneness, honouring each other and their different functional roles within that.
  1. Realise that all people’s encounters are subjective (every time) – that is, how we see them and understand them is influenced by personal feelings, tastes, opinions and perceptions, our backgrounds and woundedness from life experiences, our knowledge of the true nature of God, the finished work of the Cross, our knowledge and correct understanding of scripture and more.
  1. Realise our knowledge is at best incomplete – “For we know in part and prophesy in part”…1 Cor 13:9 – 12. None of us can claim full knowledge or understanding, so we must be willing to submit our experiences for weighing and assessment. On our very best days and in our most deep revelations we still only know in part and we will sometimes get our interpretations wrong – no individual knows all truth; they are not God. We do not stand alone as islands of revelation – our revelations together should build toward a truer picture of who God is and who we are in Christ like jigsaw pieces do towards the full revelation of the big picture.
  1. We are told in Scripture to judge or weigh prophecy and (by inference) prophetic revelation (1 Cor 14:29). That judging or assessing is done by others; not just by ourself. On our own we cannot have anything but a subjective opinion of what something means because of the life lenses we look through. We must therefore be willing to submit our revelations to others who are mature believers and leaders and be willing to be called to account for them. Prov 11:14 says “Where there is no counsel people fail, but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
  1. We are called to walk in love and it is ultimately by our love that we are distinguished from all others (John 13:34,35) not by our experiences. Others will sometimes disagree with our interpretations of our revelations and sometimes we will disagree with their interpretations; that’s life and that’s different people looking at the same thing through different lenses. But even if we disagree we are called to not break relationship but to continue to live in love (1 John 2: 9-11). Breaking relationship and love is never the right way to deal with something. This does not mean you have to still be buddy buddy besties, but love is a heart stance that refuses to let go of God’s best dreams for the other person and continues to act and speak in an honouring way to them and about them.
  1. We are to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-3). Not all revelation comes from God; not even all the good-looking, good feeling stuff. The demonic are well able to disguise themselves as being good and give us deceptively good experiences (2 Cor 11:14-15). Just because you supposedly talked to a historical figure or saint does not mean it was that person or that the experience was a valid experience from God, although it very well may have been. (God took Jesus into an experience where He talked to two men who had passed into eternity – Moses and Elijah, so it can happen – Matt 17:1-6) Can those you meet in an experience call Jesus their Lord? Do they inspire deep reverence and worship for themselves (warning bell) or do they actively dissuade you from that and turn you to worshipping Jesus? Do they invite you to continue accessing them for revelation or do they turn you to Christ in the way they speak and act? Does what you’re experiencing line up with what is revealed in scripture about God and the Kingdom?
  1. True revelation from God brings humility and pruning into our lives. In Scripture we see that true Heavenly experiences brought humility into the persons life who had them; and that also while having them they saw aspects of their nature that needed to be corrected. (Is 6:1-5; Acts 22:6-10; 2 Cor 12:1-10) We cannot come face to face with the goodness, mercy, grace, purity, righteousness and holiness of the King and His kingdom without seeing areas of our lives and mindsets that need adjustment. That doesn’t mean it needs to be a serious, or joy lacking experience, even a fun-filled true Kingdom experience will have the effect of working in us humility and pruning us as we see where our lives and thought patterns do not align with the Lord and His kingdom.
  1. True revelation should bring fruit that is measureable and lasts. An experience may be real but if it has no measurable fruit in our life or the lives of others it is either an invalid or wasted experience. The experiences we have should bear good Kingdom fruit in our lives – things like causing us to worship and love the Godhead in a greater way, to be in awe of them – their nature, character, love etc. Those experiences should set us free in areas, from bondages, and wrong mindsets. They should increase our love for other people, our respect for scripture etc. They should end up with us walking in a greater release of Kingdom realities on earth, e.g. healing the sick etc. Experiences without measureable fruit become self-focused at best and narcissistic deceptions at worst. It is not all about you and your experience; it never was and never is. The Lord’s plan for your experiences in Him is way bigger than you, even though you will be blessed beyond measure in them.
  1. Your experiences say nothing about your spirituality, character or your maturity. They are not commendations and recommendations of you to others. They are not to promote you in your ministry. They simply say you had an experience and that you have a good Father who loves His children to experience revelation about Him and His kingdom.
  1. Too many of us take literally what is often symbolic. We must turn to Holy Spirit for the right interpretations of our experiences; it is part of his role to lead us into truth. All through scripture we see that very few of the visual revelations people experienced were literal in their meaning, they were mostly symbolic. They are given like this because we have been invited into a walk of dependency on the Holy Spirit not on our mind and intellect. So we must ask the Lord for understanding and for His wisdom; our own understanding will in most cases translate our experiences wrongly because we think from a human perspective with human and often worldly or carnal thinking. All too often I meet people who have wrongly interpreted their revelations and have come to believe something that is not consistent with what scripture shows us or consistent with the nature and character of the Godhead.
  1. We are called to be led by the Holy Spirit in all areas and that includes accessing revelation – even though we are called to access the things of the Kingdom by faith (rather than from just a sovereign download of revelation and experience) we should still be asking Holy Spirit if this is what He has for us to access at this time. Even in the midst of an experience we need to be led by Him not just by our desires and wants. Often in the midst of an experience I will see something and want to investigate it yet on asking Him He has said something like “not this time, that’s not what you’re here for at the moment”. Some might be tempted to think that is staying in a place of immaturity but it is not immaturity, it is staying in a place of dependency and that is far different. Immaturity is doing your own thing, your own way, irrespective of others and how it affects them.
  1. God can move extra biblically – in other words show us things that aren’t in scripture. Throughout scripture we see many firsts and new things being revealed. God often shows things and then gives understanding later but that doesn’t mean all new revelation is from Him. And we cannot afford to blindly think it is. Even the elect can be deceived (Mar 13:22; 2 Tim 3) All revelations must be weighed and assessed by the things outlined above especially by the overall counsel of Scripture, whether it lines up with the work of the Cross, and judged by mature New Covenant Apostles, Prophets and Theologians. Sometimes that can take time to work out and the theology regarding new things can take years to form. Even in Scripture wisdom was applied when they said in Acts 5:37-39 …”if this counsel or work is of men it will come to nothing. But if it is of God you cannot overthrow it, you may even find yourself fighting against God”. So we should not be quick to jump to judgment and call something heresy (after all we all have some wrong beliefs about the Lord and his kingdom to some degree). But when God does release new revelation into the Body of Christ we must be willing also to move forward in it if it is proved a true revelation from Him; not to pull back and kick out because it doesn’t fit our preconceived ideas of how God does things.
  1. We are called to grow up into maturity in Christ, into His image, not just into ethereal experience. Jesus is our example and what we are to be becoming like. He was both incredibly heavenly minded and intensely practical – He was not some Christian mystic lost in some esoteric experience that was wasted on himself alone. His experiences had measurable fruit that lasted in his life and others. We may have experiences and even teach from them but if they do not have the effect of changing us into the image of Christ then they are invalid and wasted experiences.

Experience is a vital part of growing and all life is based on both experience and understanding; but if our experiences take the place of what Scripture tells us are part of Gods will for our lives then we are out of line. If they do not lead to us releasing the Kingdom into earth in tangible measureable ways – living a greater outworking of love, honouring our brothers and sisters in Christ, feeding the poor, helping the widows and broken, bringing healing to those who are wounded physically and emotionally, discipling nations etc. then they become self absorbed experiences that do nothing except to heighten knowledge and possibly foster a feeling of spiritual superiority.

God is calling us to grow up into maturity, to be those who rightly divide the word of truth, to rightly interpret our experiences, and to become mature believers who walk in true revelation and understanding that leads to the establishing of His kingdom in the earth. And we are, albeit slowly; around the world there are people having genuine heavenly encounters that are resulting in lives and communities being radically changed. Let’s continue to move forward in that. Let’s hold up the plumbline of Truth to our encounters and then move forward into all God is releasing with confidence because our revelations have been weighed and tested and proved true.

  1. Plumbline – https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionary-of-bible-themes/7254-plumb-line

Over the last few decades particularly there has been a disturbing trend that has mushroomed; that is the “Christian celebrity” scene. This in turn has led to something I call “celebrity led Christianity” which has crept in to the Church and has caused some people to become more celebrity led in their Christian walk than Spirit led.

In many ways celebrity status Christianity it is nothing new – the Christians in Corinth had the same problem saying “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos” (1 Cor 1:12). Yet during the last half century the tendency to elevate people and their teaching to celebrity status has reached a new high-water mark. This has, I believe, largely happened because of the increase in media saturation particularly through the Internet; not to forget the devils purpose in it of turning people away from their priority of loving and following Christ first and foremost.

Why does someone become a favourite – usually because they preach what we believe or because they bring us fresh revelation. If they preach what we believe then the trap is that it can subtly feed our ego and sense of pride. And if they bring fresh revelation then the feelings of thankfulness and emotion we have because of that can sometimes causes us to focus more on that person than on the Holy Spirit who is in fact the one who leads and guides us into truth. Liking what someone shares and liking them as a person isn’t wrong – it’s when that liking slips over into a subtle idolatry that it’s wrong.

While it is not always bad for preachers to become popular there are inherent problems in that. One is the problem of preachers believing their own PR and getting sucked into the celebrity trap. This has in some cases led to pride and fleecing the flock with some preachers charging thousands to speak in a church meeting or conference either because they believe they’re worth that much or they have big money hungry organizations to keep running. The size of an organization is not necessarily a indicator of it’s effectiveness in the Kingdom. Also they can fall into the trap of believing that they have the monopoly on “their revelation” or on the truth.

Another problem comes on our end, when we accept everything someone says simply because they are popular, one of our favourite preachers or are our Pastor.  The more popular someone is the more influence they have over people and there is a danger in this because they are not infallible, they do not always see things correctly, they are growing in understanding as well as character – as we all are! Don’t fall into the trap of accepting blindly everything your favourite preacher says just because they say it.

We all see things through the lenses of our current theological understanding and preachers are no different; they all preach from their place of current understanding and revelation. That understanding should develop and change as we gain more understanding and the Lord gives us more revelation. In five years time I may look at some things I believe now and be less convinced of them or I may be more convinced of them – depending on the fresh revelation and understanding that the Lord has given me. We must make sure we don’t fall into the trap of believing that our current understanding will be our only one on any subject – it can and should change as we grow in understanding and maturity.

In this media driven world we live in it is so easy to fall into the trap of relying on what our favourite preachers say without checking it out in scripture for ourselves or asking the Lord about it. In some cases we are even taught not to question those who hold some sort of position of authority. Asking questions is sometimes seen as sowing discord or being rebellious or even worse leading to someone being labeled as having a Jezebel spirit; the amount of times I’ve seen that happen over the years isn’t funny! The reason why it is seen like that is often because a leader was themself taught never to question authority figures or sometimes because of insecurity in that leader’s life.  An insecure person will sometimes be tempted use their position to prove or bolster their sense of worth.  So if their teaching is questioned they will sometimes see it as a personal attack or an attack against their credibility and not see it as what may simply be a very reasonable enquiry.

By our fascination and promotion of Christian celebrities we are in danger of building a Church that relies mostly on other peoples revelations, that no longer thinks for itself or asks the Lord for direction to the extent that we should. In fact it may be hard for many of us to accept that our favourite preacher has somehow become someone of celebrity status to us and a subtle idol instead of being simply a brother or sister who is on a journey of progressive growth and revelation just as we all are.

There are people that are gifts to the body – the five-fold ministry is a part of that, but even they should keep pointing you back to Jesus as the focus of your attention and not try to draw you to themselves. Their job description is to train the body for it’s work of ministry, not to just do the ministry themselves, become a celebrity and build a following.  They are given to train people in how to hear from the Lord for themselves and follow him, becoming good Kingdom representatives and sons and daughters who grow into maturity, releasing heaven into earth, bringing freedom wherever they go. If they are not doing this, then they’re possibly not a real five-fold ministry person or they have gone astray from their calling.

Today do take the time to do a spot check. Are there those that you follow who have become someone of celebrity status to you? Do you accept whatever they say without checking it out for yourself; if you do then determine to change that. You have the freedom to question and to grow, the liberty to think for yourself and to learn how to function as a mature son and daughter of God, walking a Spirit lead life not a celebrity led one. By all means, honour people and their gifting but don’t make them something they were never meant to be. Don’t fall into the ‘celebrity status Christian’ trap.

A new year has well and truly started, my batteries are refreshed and my creativity is flowing… sounds great doesn’t it? And it feels great too!

I have just finished the first draft on a new book about how to grow and enhance your creativity. It’s funny – but when you start to write you realise you know a heck of a lot more than you thought. You just are so used to putting it into practise unconsciously that you don’t stop to think what you’ve learnt along the way. You also find out how much you don’t know lol, and how much you can still learn. So the new book is in it’s infancy but should be reality fairly soon. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Today – can I suggest that you take some time to think about something you are currently involved with doing and consciously think about and be thankful for the things you’ve learnt that you’re putting into practise in that task. Gratitude is such a positive creative booster and mood booster you’ll find that your day will even go better because you took a moment to be thankful. And quite possibly your task will too.