The Revival Without Repentence
In 1994 the ‘Toronto
Blessing Revival’ started to sweep over the world and
eventually came to Sheffield, England, where I live. There
were four main places here that promoted this revival as far
as I am aware, these were, ‘The Kings Centre’ (A
Charismatic offshoot from House Church), ‘Walkley Baptist’
as then was, ‘St Thomas’s’ (A Charismatic
Anglican church in the Crookes area of Sheffield), and ‘Hope
of Sheffield’ (led by an Australian who had a Pentecostal
background). Other places may have dabbled at this time.
Peter Fenwick of House Church openly opposed the ‘Toronto
Blessing’ as not being from God.
In all true revivals there is always a mixture of what is
from God, what is from self and what is of the devil. The responsibility
of the leaders is to discern between these and warn the flock
about actions that will promote the enemies work in the church.
Let us look at some of the actions in this ‘revival’
and discern their root.
At Kings Centre where the leaders had been to Toronto, the
chairs were removed from the hall and the people who had come
for this experience all stood around waiting for something
to happen. I went along and we were encouraged not to praise
the Lord or focus on God but rather to just open ourselves
to receive. This was said to me because I started to praise
and worship God. I was told by the leader to “shut up
and just receive”, how could I possibly expect to receive
anything while I was giving. It wasn’t said with love
but more with contempt.
Folk from Kings Centre then went round wafting their hands
over the recipients and saying “come Holy Spirit”.
People gradually went down on the floor, this was the ‘proof’
that they had got it. Many started to make animal noises or
weird actions including what was called the chicken dance and
‘giving birth’. Many animal noises were now apparent
as the whole place was affected by this strange ‘revival’.
Since this time the leadership at Kings Centre has all changed
and it is now linked in fellowship with St. Thomas’s
At the Hope of Sheffield a meeting was held with visitors
from America who had been to Toronto, after the main meeting
the chairs were removed and people were prayed over so that
they might be slain (supposedly) in the Spirit.
Walkley Baptist had visitors from Toronto and again there
were many weird manifestations of animal noises and actions.
St Thomas’s also had after meetings for the ‘Toronto
Blessing’ where people were ‘slain in the Spirit’.
Around 1995/6 I started to go to St Marks at Grenoside, Sheffield
where the Vicar was Mark Stibbe. At this time he was unsure
what to make of the ‘Toronto Blessing’, was it
of God, man, or the devil, or was there a mixture?
I eventually left St Marks and started going to St Thomas’s.
After the main meeting there would be a time for people with
needs to come forth and be zapped as it was jokingly called.
The phrase “Come Holy Spirit”, with the wafting
of the hands became a main feature. Someone went to Toronto
and the ‘laughing revival’ started at St Thomas’s.
He would start to laugh in the meeting and would not be able
to stop. Others also started to laugh. I remember one meeting
where the leaders were all called to the front and the spirit
of laughter was waft upon them bringing most of them to their
knees or flat out on the floor in uncontrollable laughter.
I also remember two separate manifestations of people acting
like snakes, completely controlled and dominated by the spirit.
It was recognised that this wasn’t God but rather the
devil. People would come to the front at every meeting in order
to be zapped. The congregation was growing fast with hundreds
of young people coming to the meetings. There were many real
and lovely Christians involved here, but the question remains,
“were they bewitched”?
Signs and wonders became the big desire at St. Thomas’s.
The leaders went to meetings where the gold dust was manifested,
but I don’t know that this was ever manifested at St.
Thomas’s, however someone did manifest oil in the palms
of their hands.
I had been brought up in a Pentecostal church and was baptised
in the Holy Spirit. While at St. Thomas’s I looked for
the witness in my spirit so that I might be part of what was
happening, it never came and after three years I left St. Thomas’s
Before all this started, back in 1993, I was in House church
and felt there was a need for a revival of God’s people.
A revival that would bring us back to a place of surrender
to God and release the gifts of the Spirit with signs to confirm
the preaching of the word. I wrote an article for the church
magazine warning about the cares and pleasures of this life
that would choke the Word and prevent it bringing forth fruit
in our lives. In general the reason why we cannot do the works
of God is because of a lack of faith, which is a manifestation
of hardness of heart (Mark 16 v 14, John 14 v 12, Matthew 17
True revival always involves repentance, first from Christians
then, as it spills over into the world, from non-Christians.
I finished my article with these words. “Yes! God is
doing wonderful things in our lives each and every day. He
is answering our prayers and revealing things to us, but are
we doing the things that He said we would do if we believed?
If not then I suggest the first step towards revival is that
we humble ourselves and repent of a hard heart asking God to
soften our hearts and give us a heart of faith.” The
Editor refused to print it saying “that the emphasis
is critical and negative” however she would reconsider
if I changed it and removed the critical parts. I did not feel
that it was critical of the church but rather it recognised
the need of the church. I felt it very important that the article
remained intact and that it was a warning for the church for
what was to come. This was October 1993. It was never printed
but I did pass the warning on to others to read.
To leave out all the so called ‘critical points’
would have meant accepting a revival without repentance, a
revival exactly the same as the ‘Toronto Blessing’.
A week ago I was speaking to someone who said, concerning the
‘Toronto Blessing’, “You don’t throw
the baby out with the bathwater”. I can agree with that
statement however my question is, “what does the baby
represent in this revival”? This prompted me to write
this article. I hope that it will help people to be more discerning
about spiritual manifestations and the spirit behind them (1Corinthians
12 v 10, 14 v 29).
If the baby represented the people then I certainly believe
that there are a lot of real Christians who are on the fringe,
if not fully involved, in this revival, but I don’t think
we would look at people being the baby but rather we would
have to look at the core itself which is either the manifestations
of signs and wonders or some specific doctrine. If these are
of the Holy Spirit they will give glory to Jesus Christ, if
they are not of the Spirit they will focus in and on themselves
as something to be desired and sought after.
Manifestations of course neither prove nor disprove anything,
but seeing as how they make up the biggest part of this revival
then we need to look at them more closely to see if we should
throw them out with the bathwater or keep them so we can build
on their foundation.
In past revivals there has been much weeping and groaning.
This can be of the flesh but it can also be a sign of deep
repentance as a person sees the wretchedness of their state.
In this revival one of the main manifestations was the spirit
of laughter. Laughter, I am sure, can well be the result of
being full of the joy of the Lord. The bible tells us that
the “joy of the Lord is our strength” and we are
told to “rejoice”. So the joy of the Lord is something
we need to be full of. To be full of the joy of the Lord would
cause us to worship the Lord. The laughter in this revival
was not the result of an inner joy but rather was a power that
took control over people resulting in them not being able to
control themselves. This could go on for hours and often at
the most inappropriate moments.
What was the source of this laughter?
Watchman Nee (1) warns against seeking this so called “holy
laugh”. He says, “He who claims to have this kind
of laughing cannot control himself”. He goes on to say
“Can this possibly be the fullness of the Holy Spirit?
Can this be His work? No, this is plainly one of the works
of the soul”. The person may ask to be filled with the
Spirit but their real desire is that they want to laugh.
John Wesley also came across this manifestation and was convinced
it was of the devil. (2) He spoke of some “who were buffeted
of Satan in an unusual manner, by such a spirit of laughter
as they could in nowise resist”. He had come across this
same thing many years before and saw it as a tool of Satan
to disturb the meetings and to stop them singing God’s
If we line everything up with the word then this all controlling
laughter can be thrown out with the bath water.
I think that many people now agree that animal imitations
are not of God. In the Westminster Biographies on John Wesley,
(3) it is recorded that his brother Charles, when meeting with
a French Prophet who “fell into violent agitations and
gobbled like a turkey-cock”, prayed to cast the demon
out. John Wesley warned his people against them and “to
avoid as fire all who do not speak according to the law and
the testimony.” These definitely need throwing out with
The term “come Holy Spirit” on the surface can
appear scriptural however the hearts desire here is for manifestations
for the sake of manifestations. We do not pray to the Holy
Spirit to “come” but rather we ask the Father in
Jesus Name for the Holy Spirit that we might glorify Jesus.
Jessie Penn-Lewis says, (4) “The Holy Spirit is not
to be prayed to, or asked to come, as He is the Gift of Another”.
When we focus on the Holy Spirit we grieve the Holy Spirit
because He has come to point us to Jesus Christ and not to
Himself. By seeking such spiritual manifestations we are also
creating the right conditions for deceiving spirits to operate.
To receive this ‘spirit’ I was told (at Kings
Centre) not to worship Jesus but instead to open myself up
to receive the Spirit, or should I say ‘spirit’?
Passivity of the mind is an open door for the spirit of deception.
All these things can and should be thrown out. But what should
be saved? Here we need to look at what doctrine is emphasised.
Unfortunately the one thing that I felt was missing was an
emphasis on sound doctrine or in fact any doctrine. I was not
on my own here as others who are faithful in their support
of St Thomas’s were concerned that they were not getting
any real food as far as sound doctrine went.
Looking back at St Thomas’s I believe there were three
main areas that were emphasised. The first emphasis was on
the church itself, the second emphasis was on the Spirit and
being zapped by the Spirit and the third emphasis was on signs
and wonders. Their ‘vision’ was ‘up, in,
and out’. Up to God in worship, in with one another in
fellowship and out to the world to bring them in. They also
ran several Alpha courses for new Christians or people that
weren’t saved but interested in knowing more. A major
emphasis in these was the Holy Spirit weekend.
St. Thomas’s eventually set up their own web site, which
I thought would certainly give some idea what biblical doctrines
they emphasised. There was none.
Things have moved on since when I left three years ago. It
would be nice to think that their emphasis was now on Jesus
Christ and Him crucified but only those now involved can answer
An insight into what kind of structure has been built on the
foundation of the Toronto Blessing can be found on their new
web site. Their new web site can be found at http://www.stthomaschurch.org.uk/
and the web site for their youth involvement can be found at
The ministry team at St Thomas’s has a lot of charisma.
For young people (whether saved or not) there is a lot of encouragement
to be part of what is happening. It’s family and it’s
fun. A lot is happening at St. Thomas’s; they are growing
together as a community and reaching out into “all the
world”. But what is their real gospel, what is the ‘good
news’ they emphasise? Are they busy building up a massive
church structure that they have lost the emphasis on the simplicity
of the gospel. Has their emphasis on reaching out and building
groups and ‘tribes’ of people all being part of
a family and having fun, taken the place of teaching sound
St Thomas’s is a force to be reckoned with in this part
of the world. I hope the leadership will get back to lining
up their foundation and structure with the word of God.
As far as I am aware there was no doctrine in the bathwater
to save, so then what was the baby that we needed to save from
being thrown out with the bathwater?
1. The Latent Power of The Soul by Watchman Nee. Christian
Fellowship Publishers, Inc. New York. Page 71
2. The works of John Wesley, Vol. 2, page 392, 469
The Journal of the Rev. John Wesley Volume 1 page 271-272
3. John Wesley by Frank Banfield. The Westminster Biographies.
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co Limited. Page 46.
4. War On The Saints by Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts.
The Overcomer Literature Trust. Page 46