To who it may concern:
In September of last year, I wrote concerning Todd Bentley and the end of the Lakeland Revival. At the time, I was concerned that someone would try to restore Todd to ministry very quickly. I wrote, "In the coming months, I'm sure that someone will restore Todd and then hope he gets healed. That would be tragic and perhaps disastrous." Almost every week for the last year, I have been asked what I think about Todd's restoration. I have met with members of Fresh Fire's Board of Directors and with Shonnah, Todd's former wife. All of this has furthered my resolve to share what I believe about restoring any fallen minister. I have waited and prayed about what I am writing. I have sought counsel from trusted ministers and leaders and therefore I write the following to you my Partners.
It is vitally important that we learn from what happened in Lakeland. We should first ask, "Were the healings real?" Yes, there were real healings that happened; I personally know someone who was healed. Miracles actually did occur. At the same time, there were also many exaggerations of healings and of people being raised from the dead. We need to keep in mind that signs and wonders do not always mean a person is or isn't endorsed by God. God alone judges the heart.
The Body of Christ must awake from a spiritual lethargy that has led to a gross lack of discernment. This lack of discernment has historically and recently resulted in the endorsement of many who later fell into sin. A day of judgment is coming, which Jesus warned of in Matthew 7:22-23:
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! '"
According to this passage, people can be healed; accurate prophetic words can be given, and demons can be cast out - by a leader who is lawless and/or morally bankrupt. How can this happen? When we lose moral absolutes, when marriage is treated more as a convenience than a covenant and when we think in terms of sin management, we begin to consider God's grace as the quick fix for sin. As this happens, we allow ministers who commit adultery to return to the pulpit within weeks, months or even days, which proves we have lost more than just our direction; we have lost the very fabric of our Christian beliefs.
Grace cannot be confused with righteousness. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve; mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. Righteousness, on the other hand, includes what most of us would consider difficult matters, such as punishment, correction and judgment. It also includes what most of us would consider positive matters, such as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Righteousness includes both sides of the coin: If you do this, you will receive these blessings, but if you do not do this, you will receive a severe correction. Righteousness and justice are the two foundations of God's throne (Psalm 89:14), but grace is not.
As we confuse grace and righteousness, we come to believe that we can live errant lives without fear of God's discipline. This leads to laziness and a general lack of the fear of God, because why should we fear a God who never punishes us? Yes, God is love, and yes, He loves us unconditionally, but some of us interpret these to mean we can live impure, unholy lifestyles, and God will overlook it! We think that we can knowingly embrace a certain sin, receive a hand slap and then be back in the ministry within months, at the longest. But the fear of God comes with knowing Him. The more time we spend with Him, the greater we know Him and His ways. An unavoidable consequence of living with God is a healthy fear of Him. Where is the fear of God in ministries and the Western Church today?
Obviously, I am not against restoration; I am against quick restoration. I believe that time is required. In my opinion, there are five phases fallen ministers must go through to successfully return to ministry. Each phase may take a year or longer. First, they must recognize their sin and repent with deep-felt sorrow. They must realize what they have done - not only to their spouses but also to God. This takes time because there are layers of realization that must be worked through.
Second, they must find the root cause of the sin and eradicate it. I have never counseled anyone who fell the first time he or she was tempted. What causes them to dwell on the temptation? The answer usually lies in several issues, not just one, and again, it takes time to find them. The more we leave undiscovered, the more likely we are to commit that sin again.
Third, there must be additional time for the wound to heal. Think of it this way: We can pull out the knife, but the pain is still there, and the deeper the wound, the longer it will take to heal. The patient must become stable, or he or she will likely fall and be injured again.
Fourth, the men and women need to be tested. If there has been moral sin, we should watch how they handle themselves around the other sex. What sex do they gravitate toward? Where do they look, and where do they go as they mingle with others? There are many telltale signs of where people are in the restoration process, but they take time to discover, and as the person heals, the number of signs or habits becomes less.
Fifth, ministers in the restoration process should be given responsibility slowly, and we should observe how they handle it. Pride was the fall of Satan, and it is the basis for the fall of humankind. Premature promotion will wipe out the brokenness and contrition that invite God to come near and continue the healing. In our drive to implement grace, we often seem to forget that Scripture says, "The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:18). It also says, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart - these, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17). This level of restoration can take as long a five years.
Brokenness and contrition are not to be avoided; they are to be embraced! We must hunger and thirst for righteousness again. If we do not volunteer for it, we will learn to do it in crisis.
We, the Body of Christ, not only fail to distinguish between grace and righteousness, but between forgiveness and restoration. Forgiveness is given the instant there is sorrowful repentance, but restoration only comes with trust and trust is earned. Thus Paul could order the man who was sexually involved with his step mother to be thrown out of the church for the destruction of his flesh (1 Cor. 5) and then after deep sorrow was exhibited Paul ordered the man to be restored to the Body of Christ (2 Cor. 2). Sadly, today we would say Paul lacked grace, and call him legalistic and self-righteous.
So back to the issue of Todd Bentley. Jesus said this, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" Matt. 19:9. The fact is this Todd has committed adultery. He planned out and premeditated the divorced from Shonnah. He, immediately after Lakeland, went to Hawaii with Jessa, whom he later married. Subsequently, though Todd is from Canada, he went to Reno, Nevada to get as quick a divorce (six weeks residency) to marry Jessa. In Canada it takes over a year to get a divorce.
Divorce is wrong for anyone, it is even more grievous when it occurs in ministers and this is why their judgment is even stricter (James 3:1). I believe Scripture is clear about leadership and divorce therefore Todd Bentley should not be back in ministry for a long while. Further, that Todd did this while the Lakeland meetings were in process only underscores the deep need Todd has for healing on many levels. I do not believe this depth of healing can take place in a few weeks or months. Biblically speaking, Todd's restoration should be stricter than someone who was not in that position or in ministry.
I trust this answers the questions many of you have asked concerning my view of Todd Bentley's restoration. I agree with the Apostle Peter, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" 1Pet. 4:17.
While I trust this answers the questions many of you have asked concerning my view of Todd Bentley's restoration; the sad truth is - this is not just about Todd Bentley, it is about the Church, the Body of Christ as a whole. Todd is merely a reflection of us. This does not excuse Todd, neither does Todd's actions excuse the Church. We have not demanded righteousness from our leaders. I agree with the Apostle Peter, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" 1Pet. 4:17. It is time for the Body of Christ to once again be able to trust those who minister in the Word.
For that to occur, we must take courage and begin to speak up concerning issues such as this. We must lead righteously, love deeply, and give grace and mercy to those who are deeply repentant. We must confront those who scheme, do not want to repent, and in turn demand we follow their agenda. We must return to the word of God and apply it correctly. We must live what we preach once again. If we do not, the world will continue to mock the church and yawn when the prophets speak.
John Paul Jackson
John Paul Jackson Ministries
Streams Ministries International
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