The following is about 1/4 of the Ex-Word of Faith Movement Testimony of Steve Lumbley (from ApostacyWatch.com). His whole testimony is really good, interesting and helpful.
Our eldest daughter was born in 1979 and we decided that like us, she should be raised in church. We started looking and attended a couple of local Baptist churches but I tell you they were so dry and boring I just couldn’t stand it. It was during this time we were introduced to the Charismatic movement.
One of my wife’s co-workers invited us to a new church she and her husband were attending. I thank God for this woman although today I can’t even remember her name. She ministered the Gospel to my wife one evening in our living room and my wife accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. We accepted her invitation and visited this new church. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was a relatively small group, maybe a couple of hundred people meeting in an old warehouse building. The music was upbeat, the crowd was joyful and obviously excited to be there. But what really blew me away was the dynamic, charismatic, on fire for God pastor. His name was Robert Tilton. This was the beginning of our 17 year journey through Charismatic/Faith camp.
The Charismatic Faith Years
From my very first exposure to Bob Tilton and the faith message, I was hooked. It was at that first service we attended that Bob was beginning a new teaching series he called Biblical Laws of Success. Wow! This was exactly what I had been looking for. A sermon that was actually relevant to my everyday life. Something I could actually use. I remember thinking ‘why hasn’t anyone told me these things before?’
Actually I had heard some of these things before. Only a few weeks prior to our visit my wife and I had attended a business seminar that focused on things like goal setting and positive thinking. That seminar had been an eye opening experience for me and now Bob was teaching virtually the same thing but from a scriptural basis.
The truth was that what Tilton was teaching was in the Bible. My wife and I were perfect candidates for deception because we had both been raised in religion. We understood some scriptural concepts. I in particular thought I knew the Bible pretty well although I really didn’t.
Jer 17:10 10
I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. NKJV
Well anyway I dove in head first. I began reading everything I could get my hands on. I began to study all the great faith teachers, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Oral Roberts E.W. Kenyon. I began to apply the ‘faith formulas’ I was learning. My whole outlook on life began to change. And Tilton’s ministry began to grow.
Around 1980, Bob’s church, Word Of Faith, moved into a brand new 5,000 seat facility. It was obvious to all that the faith message was working for him, and we all knew that God was no respecter of persons. If God would bless Bob and Marte Tilton then certainly he would bless us as well. And in truth we did begin to see positive changes in our life and circumstances.
During this time Bob began Word of Faith Bible College. The courses were taught by many of the big faith preachers. The way it worked was by satellite television. People like Copeland and Capps, and Marilyn Hickey, etc. would broadcast a teaching by satellite. That course would be viewed live during the day by the full time students and would be taped for later replay for part time students. I enrolled as a part time student and took courses 2 or 3 nights per week.
By the time our second daughter was born in 1985 we were doing pretty well. I was studying the Bible more and more. My job was going great. I was learning how to live by faith (or so I thought). I remember one experience in particular in which I sought God about a situation with my job and after several days of fasting and prayer God completely changed the situation. In fact I got a major promotion and raise, followed by several more pay raises in the next few months. My wife also had gotten a good job with a large company that included a company car and more money than we had ever made in our lives.
I tell you all this to say that deception can be a subtle thing. The greatest deception consists of 99% truth and 1% lie. Jesus said a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Satan is a deceiver and he’s had at least 6,000 years of dealing with man. He knows how to push our buttons. Actually Satan is just an instrument of God. It was God Himself that was leading us according to the idols in our own hearts – see Ezekiel 14: 3-5.
Now there were some things that bothered me about what we were involved in especially at the very beginning. I remember one of the first things I questioned was the bookstore in the church. Even when we were meeting in that tiny warehouse building there was a bookstore selling Bibles, books from the faith preachers, and all sorts of ‘Christian’ supplies and knick knacks. You may have a bookstore like this in your own church.
I remember thinking at the time ‘didn’t Jesus drive from the temple those that bought and sold?’ I had that thought but I quickly put it out of my mind. I reasoned that this was surely different than what Jesus was talking about. It must be different because Bob Tilton was obviously a man of God and he wouldn’t do anything that was contrary to Jesus teaching.
Do you see what I did? I didn’t seek God over this. I didn’t go to the scripture and study for myself. I reasoned. I assumed. I allowed the judgment of a man to override the clear teaching of scripture. Right there I could have made a choice to follow truth as it is revealed in the Bible but I chose my own way, and God allowed me to do it. He allowed me to believe a lie because I refused to love the truth.
2 Thes 2:10-11
…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
I first began working for Robert Tilton Ministries in 1987. At this point in my life my secular career wasn’t going as well as it had been. I had left a good paying, steady job to seek more money. I didn’t really seek God over this. It was purely what I wanted.
You see, I was following the teaching that I had been sitting under. Bob had written a book called ‘Charting Your Course By The Dream in Your Heart’ and that’s what I was doing. I was seeking my course, my will, not God’s will for me. The covetousness of my heart was leading me away from God’s will as I sought to have more of the worlds blessings.
So, while I was struggling in a job that I wasn’t really equipped for I decided to work part time in Tiltons prayer ministry center. Bob’s television show, ‘Success In Life’ was really taking off at that time. He had found a great format teaching people to make a ‘vow of faith’ in order to be blessed by God. The phones were busy 24 hours a day with people calling in to make vows and to ask for prayer. At it’s height Bob employed several hundred people both part time and full time to answer phones. This is what I was doing. Taking calls and praying with people for various needs to be met in their lives.
This was great I thought. I was doing a great work for the Lord. I was praying with people for salvation, for healing, for unsaved loved ones, man I was really building up great rewards in heaven! Or so I thought. In reality, it was all a lie.
Bob Tilton preached a false gospel, a powerless gospel that is really no gospel at all. I now know that no man can come to a saving knowledge of the real Jesus Christ by hearing a false gospel. I had become an active participant in the great apostasy. I was guilty of leading people into a false assurance of salvation as they merrily walked the broad path straight in to hell.
Even now, many years later it is difficult for me to write these words, to acknowledge the cesspool of darkness that was my heart. Even more overwhelming though is the weight of Gods grace and mercy upon my life. He opened my eyes and pulled me out of that pit. I didn’t deserve it. I still don’t. I can never be any more than an unprofitable servant to Him.
After about a year of part time work I quit the ministry center and again changed jobs in my secular career. I was still seeking money and the things of this world. It was always just around the corner, over the next hill. The next place was always going to be better. Of course it never was. The covetousness of my heart was actively deceiving me, keeping me in bondage and lack.
By 1989 things had pretty much fallen apart for me in my job. The company that I worked for had gone broke. I had tried several things on my own. Nothing seemed to work out. I decided that God was closing these doors because He wanted me back in ministry full time. I went back to the ministry center, this time as a full time employee.