Beware of Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn-Lewis. They are two dangerous and very influential false teachers and exponents of grievous Keswick, continuationistic, and demonological errors. Their works should be avoided and their influence in the preaching, writing, and theologizing of others should be detected, warned about, and rejected. Their strong imprint upon the Keswick theology, and upon the Pentecostalism that arose from it, blackens these movements and provides all the more evidence that they are corruptions of Biblical Christianity. They plainly stated that they had endured demon possession, and claimed that being possessed was key to the content of their writings on demonology. Will you follow and learn from those possessed by demons? Or will you reject the doctrines of demons and cleave to the Bible, the perfect and sufficient revelation of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
Beware of revisionist history. All historians are fallible, and even their most accurate histories have no authority for Biblical faith and practice—the Bible alone is sufficient to make “the man of God perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). How much the less should historical errors influence the faith and practice of God’s people? But, unfortunately, writers who are more interested in hagiography than truth exercise a great influence over the saints, leading the Lord’s sheep to look up to and pattern themselves after wolves and devourers rather than fleeing from them. Following the writings of Jessie Penn-Lewis and patterning church practice after the person and methods of Evan Roberts will destroy sound Baptist churches and expose individual believers to extremely dangerous demonic deceptions, yet vast numbers of Christians have been exposed to this pair and spiritually weakened by them because of a mythical revision of events in Wales in 1904-1905. Recognize the truth—Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn-Lewis were powerful instruments in the hands of Satan to destroy a true work of revival in Wales, bring to an end many years of growth among the true churches of that land, inaugurate decades of decay and desolation, and hatch the fanaticism and demonism that fills the Pentecostal, charismatic, and Word of Faith movements and has contributed to the spiritual destruction of innumerable souls worldwide. Do not allow true revival to be corrupted to false revivalism in your own life and congregation because of the influence of these two demon-possessed fanatics. Do not perpetuate the revisionist history that makes them into great servants of God and the center of a true work of revival in Wales, and if you have perpetuated this lie in the past, immediately repent of it and then confess your error to those you have misled. It is high time that the truth about the real revival in Wales, and the Keswick continuationism and fanaticism of Evan Roberts and Mrs. Penn-Lewis that so widely infiltrated and destroyed it, replace the distortions of reality that find their place in the hearts of too many of the precious people of God. If you love and long for true revival, be discerning, cleave to the Spirit-breathed Word with all your heart and soul, and reject and reprove the theology, praxis, and historical revisionism surrounding peddlers of Satanic revivalism like Evan Roberts, Jessie Penn-Lewis, and other Keswick and Pentecostal continuationists and fanatics.
One can glean numerous spiritual lessons from the negative examples of Mr. Roberts and Mrs. Penn-Lewis. They illustrate what spiritual dangers and destruction Keswick continuationism can lead to, and how important it is to reject it with all of its demonic delusions for a Scriptural cessationism. Evan Roberts also illustrates the danger of confusing true conversion and God-wrought regeneration with mere experiences of the supernatural (cf. Matthew 7:21-23). An unconverted Judas performed miracles (Matthew 10:4-8), an unconverted high priest Caiaphas prophesied (John 11:49-52; 18:14), nine unconverted lepers were miraculously healed by Christ (Luke 17:11-19), idolatrous Egyptian magicians performed miracles (Exodus 7:11, 22), an unconverted sorcerer named Simon did marvels and convinced many that he was the great power of God (Acts 8:9-10), unconverted men had supernatural dreams (Genesis 31:24; 41:7), and Evan Roberts experienced many visions, dreams, voices, and other marvels, but had no clear testimony of conversion and died with barely a glimmer of Christian piety. And if many genuinely supernatural occurrences—even those that are truly from God, not from Satan—are less than true conversion and regeneration, how much less than the new birth is simply having an emotionally charged experience—and how far, far less than the new birth is standing up or coming to the front of a church building? Such soul-damning acceptance of substitutes for regeneration filled the work of Evan Roberts in the Welsh holiness revival, causing immeasurable spiritual harm. Christians and spiritual leaders must learn from this disaster the extreme importance of clearly and without confusion preaching the gospel, recognizing true conversion, and cleaving to Biblical methods of evangelism rather than adopting methodology that, although it may appear effective in the short term, actually contributes to the everlasting damnation of eternal souls by confusing the nature and fruits of real salvation. Scripture is sufficient for both the doctrine and practice of evangelism. Your church should be preaching regularly in public places and seeking to reach large groups of people at once, while also preaching Christ house to house to systematically reach everyone in your community (Acts 5:42). You should be preaching the good news of Christ’s substitutionary death, His burial, and His resurrection, and salvation through repentant faith in Him. You should not be employing worldly promotion and marketing techniques or seeking to draw people to your church services with sensationalism. While providing people with spiritual counsel immediately after preaching is Biblically justifiable (Acts 2:37-38), including, for example, in an “inquiry room,” the elements of worship in the Lord’s church do not include the modern invitation system invented by Charles Finney. Furthermore, while Roman Catholic and liturgical Protestant religious organizations have altars at the front of their meeting places, true churches have no such altars. There is absolutely nothing sacred about the front of a church building, and there is no reason to conclude that because someone walks to the front of a church building, or is led to repeat the words of a “sinner’s prayer” after walking to the front of a church building, that he has been born again of the Holy Spirit of God. The replacement of true conversion with decisionism was central to bringing the time of Baptist church growth in Wales to an end as a result of the methods employed in the holiness revival under Evan Roberts, and its consequences have been inconceivably disastrous world-wide whenever they have been adopted. Nonetheless, there is hope—a rejection of unbiblical and nonbiblical doctrines and practices in evangelism, a recognition of the foundational importance of the Regulative Principle of worship, a wholehearted repentance for neglecting Biblical doctrine and praxis, and a return to Biblical and Spirit-empowered evangelism and preaching, both outside of and within the context of the instituted worship of the church, could be, in the hands of the sovereign God, the instrumentality for glorious and widespread true revival.
Furthermore, learn from Evan Roberts’s destruction of true revival the fallacy of his practice of only preaching on God’s love. Reject this practice of Roberts, and instead preach boldly, pointedly, and with uncompromising conviction on specific sins, on hell with its fire and brimstone, on the wrath of God, and on the absolute necessity of the propitiatory work of Christ and the new birth to escape everlasting torment, as well as on God’s glorious love. If you truly love unconverted sinners, you will follow the practice of Christ and His Apostles in preaching the law and judgment as well as grace and love. It will not be easy to do so—if you preach so, you will need a true love for and trust in God, and a real love for the unconverted. Preaching that pricks and cuts men to the heart may, instead of seeing three thousand true conversions as did Peter (Acts 2), lead men to become so angry with you that they gnash on you with their teeth and seek to kill you, as they did Stephen (Acts 7), and as they sought to do to the Prophet of prophets and the perfect Pattern for all preachers, the Lord of love, Jesus Christ (Luke 4:29).
Consider also that marvels are no substitute for Spirit-empowered preaching of the entire Word. The visions and ecstasy of the Welsh holiness revival did not produce revival, but destroyed it. It certainly is possible that searching preaching is used by the Holy Ghost to bring people under such tremendous conviction of sin that powerful emotional responses follow. However, the preacher must never aim only for emotional response, nor must such responses be allowed to overturn the apostolic command that all things be done “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Furthermore, someone who is truly filled with the Spirit will not see visions, pretend to the gift of prophecy, or adopt other continuationist errors. Rather, he will manifest the fruit of the Spirit in a Christ-like life and in great progress in that true Christian sanctification that is impossible without the supernatural efficacy of the Spirit of God.
The following are the parts of this series:
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick and Welsh Revivalist, Quaker and Freemason (part 1 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Conversion (?) and Higher Life (part 2 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Spirit-Baptized Woman Preacher (part 3 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick Faith Healer (part 4 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: the Christ-Life and Quietism (part 5 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Her Inspired Writings (part 6 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired Woman Preacher (part 7 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: her mystical false god (part 8 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Worldwide Keswick Impact (part 9 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Welsh Revival and Pentecostal Preparation (part 10 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: War on the Saints (part 11 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Christians Demon Possessed (part 12 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Warfare Prayer and the 1914 partial Rapture (part 13 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding Satan (part 14 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding and Loosing (part 15 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: “My Demon Possession Key to My Keswick Teaching” (part 16 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired “Truth” on Demon Possession (part 17 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Throne Life / Power and the Higher Life (part 18 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Soul Force, Only the Human Spirit Regenerated, And Other Bizarre Foolishness (part 19)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, I (part 20 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, II (part 21 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, III (part 22 of 22)