Worship meetings in TPM have a peculiar flavour. It attracts the spiritually immature ones into their grip. Welcome to “The Ultimate TPM Worship Management”.
I know exactly how people feel about it. The “Been there, done that” feeling does not go. I remember how I used to join people in describing my worship experience at TPM. Once I went to a local faith home on the 1st day of that year (January 1). I asked the brother-in-charge, “How was the watch night meeting at your faith home?” He at once replied in an excited tone, “Very powerful. There were seven prophecies!”.
I was highly impressed! Another believer joined in describing his experience to me, “I felt the power of God moving mightily. There was this joy I cannot describe in words.” Apart from local ‘faith-home worship experiences’ the experience at the conventions especially the Chennai convention is at another level. Concerning Chennai Convention and the Youth Camp, the newly joined believers are told “Dear brother, please attend the Chennai convention at least once in your lifetime“.
According to them, God’s moves mightily in the Chennai convention. Some say, “If you have not received the gift of unknown tongues, then you must attend Chennai convention or international youth camp.” When this solution was proposed to me, I wondered, “Why does God anoint people in Chennai convention only? Why cannot he anoint me when I pray at my home?”
The Kaaba of TPM
One thing that I have realized over my years and years of attending TPM worship meetings, ranging from small in-house cottage prayers to international conventions, is that God’s power is directly proportional to the size of the people assembled together(Pun intended). The larger the size of the gathering, the more powerful the god of TPM becomes.
When the meeting takes place presided over by a sister in a local faith home, in small towns, with five-ten believers then the experience is far inferior to one when it is compared to experience one gets in international youth camps, presided over by charming talented TPM leaders who are fluent in communication. With more facilities at his disposal, like better musical instruments, better sound system, talented singers, charming personalities, the gathering tends to become more and more electrifying! It is indeed a puzzle, why is it that you do not get the same Chennai kind of experience at your own home? Isn’t God the same who works in both these places?
Then why is the difference felt? Is God’s power bound to a place, to a city, to maybe a few powerful people, or enchanting musicians? Why is it that TPM god needs the assistance of these external things? No wonder, many TPM pastors have raised this question, “Why do people need rapid clapping or playing of drums & tambourines for the so-called Holy Spirit to descend?” These questions are perplexing and it is time to unravel the mystery behind TPM’s worship charm.
Counterfeit Worship and Counterfeit Joy
To unravel the mystery of the feeling of ecstasy in TPM worship hours, we must first realize that there is a counterfeit set of emotions experienced in counterfeit worships. When the Israelites assembled to worship the golden calf, we are told that they could rejoice and experience ecstasy.
It was an idolatrous gathering. They were not worshipping Jehovah but the idol made up of gold. Yet they experienced feelings of joy (Exo 32:6). When Stephen described the idol worship of Israelites says that they rejoiced. Paul says they danced (Acts 7:41-42, 1 Cor 10:7). Then we read in the book of ‘Revelation,’ that people could derive a false sense of joy because of their misdirected devotion to the beast (Rev 11:10).
My point is that what people experience in TPM worship meeting cannot necessarily be ascribed to Holy Spirit. Now TPM fanatics might respond saying, “we are not worshipping the idol of golden calf like Israelites.” True my friend true, but the point is that if people can experience joy thrill and ecstasy in idol worship, then what makes your experience genuine?
Is not the bible clear that there exist counterfeit spirits with counterfeit prophecies and miracles and wonders? Did not Jesus forewarn us not to fall for the trap of these signs in his name? On the last day, it would be a surprise to many Christians who were assuming that they were praying and doing prophecies in Jesus name. Jesus would reply to them “I NEVER knew you (Matt 7:23).”
Before we proceed, please watch this video.
Notice that these are folks assembled in the name of Jesus. They seem believe that their experience is the work of the Holy Spirit. Just as TPM folks use scripture of Acts 2 and other references where unknown tongues are cited in the bible (to claim their experience as biblical), so do these “joy anointing group” use scriptures like Heb 1:9 and ample others (Acts 15:52, Rom 5:5, 14:17, 15:13, 1 Thess 1:6) to claim their experience is anointing with oil of gladness.
Just as it happens in TPM, when a stranger assumed the TPM shouting as the proof of the Holy Spirit, these people who believe in oil of gladness assume their experience is joy shed by Holy Spirit as written in scriptures.
A sane mind (who is not under this delusion) can easily identify this as the work of demons. Compared to this, the TPM’s anointing is superficially hard to discern. TPM’s worship experience is more refined. Just like there are two kinds of counterfeit copies of the iPhone in the market – one which can be easily recognized because of its crude finishing, and another kind which one cannot be discerned by a superficial look. Similar is the case with TPM’s Pentecostal experience and the other inferior ones.
To make you practically understand the counterfeit worship experiences of TPM, I request you to go through the video below. It is a collage of snippets from the Malayalam movie ‘Trance.’ It shows how with a perfect concoction of charming personality, and powerful music, the feelings of people can be manipulated.
Having watched the above video, I ask you, “Does not the video remind you of the Euphoria of TPM tarrying meeting?” I played this song Thullichadi from this movie trance in my sound theatre and I closed my eyes. I felt as if I was transported into a TPM meeting at Irumbuliyur. I felt I am in a TPM youth camp. I could easily visualize Teju and Manasseh instead of Fahad Fassil (actor of Trance). I felt the same Chennai convention’s “God moving in our midst” feeling.
If David was a gifted musician, then we must not forget that devil also had anointing and gifts of music (Ezekiel 28). It is not hard for the devil to charm us with music that appears divine. Apart from this spirit world involvement through song and music, there is an angle of science too! Our bodies are created in a way to react to music. Science says that when we listen to powerful music, our bodies release hormones like dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and similar such hormones in response to sound, light and other sensory stimuli. A perfect brew of instruments, melody and emotional words can make us euphoric.
It is possible that feelings of Joy and ecstasy experienced in Pentecostal meetings are nothing but hormonal responses of the human body to lights, music and sound effects. For further confirmation that music can manipulate and play with our emotions, listen to ‘hare Krishna worship melody’ in the video collage above. Close your eyes by submitting to that ‘hare Krishna music’ (like TPM asks you to submit to its meetings by asking you to close your eyes).
I am cent per cent sure that you will definitely experience something you would only describe as powerful and divine. If you were not an awake Christian or if you were a Hindu then you would definitely call this “hare Krishna” music divine. Observe in the above video how the foreigner woman is dancing to the bewitchment of ‘hare Krishna melody’, played in the gathering. Her hormones are deceiving her. Her emotions have led her to believe the lie. In the case of TPM, the same hormonal deception is working. Music is indeed a powerful tool to manipulate people’s emotions. It is easy for people to get carried away, thinking melody to be the Spirit.
How to Distinguish between the Holy Spirit and the Counterfeit spirit?
By our own mouths, we might argue that ours is genuine worship, but what sign do we have from God that our worship is genuine? True that there are genuine tongues, genuine prophecies and miracles. Alternatively, there are also counterfeit tongues, prophecies and counterfeit miracles. Like the genuine, the counterfeit is also a gathering in God’s name. But God doesn’t approve of it. He is not bound to place a mark of approval in every gathering that takes in his name.
Right in the beginning of all things, we have the example of the worship of Cain, which wasn’t approved by God. Even though the worshipper Cain was offering his sacrifice to Jehovah God, it was marked as invalid and unacceptable. In the book of the first kings, 400 prophets gathered in name of Jehovah, but Jehovah sent a lying spirit in their midst (1 Kings 22). The Pharisee of Luke 18 was praying to Jehovah. He considered himself to be a faithful person to God in tithes, prayers and regular fasting. Yet his prayers were unacceptable to God.
To the Israelites of the Old Testament, God said, “you people emulating the music of David is of no avail to me (Amos 6:5 paraphrased).” Concerning their songs, he said, “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.” (Amos 5:23). Matthew 7:23 describes how miracles, prophecies and wonders can deceive Christians in assuming that they proceed from God alone. My point in describing all these biblical examples of worships is to make us question ourselves.
What can be considered as a sign of genuine work of the Holy Ghost? How can we be assured that our worship is not a counterfeit one? our tongues are not bogus? our prophecies are not fraudulent?
The distinguishing mark of true work of Holy Spirit, distinct from the superficial melodrama of counterfeit spirits is that Holy Spirit elevates Jesus Only, and ensures that fruits of Spirit begin to display in the lives of people experiencing the power of God.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.John 16:14
Counterfeit experiences, on the other hand, may grant people ditto thrill, joy and euphoria like genuine meetings. There will be superficial music and praising of God in forged gatherings. There will be prophecies and miracles in these fictitious assemblies. Yet the immediate effect of such meeting will be that, people will begin to elevate humans as co-partners of God. Instead of establishing Jesus as the only mediating party between Man and God, leaders will exalt themselves in the sight of people. People will start thinking that it was due to the holiness or power of the leaders that people could experience the thrill in worship – c.f. Acts 3:12.
When counterfeit spirit works, people will see no change in their own lives. Instead of fruits of the Holy Spirit, there will be reports of strife, immorality, money laundering, lies, and all evil works in the life of ministers, through whom this counterfeit spirit operates. Another great danger of the counterfeit euphoria is that in such assemblies people’s religious experiences begin to shape their ideas about God.
Rather than the scriptures, they rely on their personal feelings and spiritual experiences to shape their theology. Instead of sharing the gospel from the scripture, people start to trust more in dreams and visions of hell to convert people to Christianity. This reminds me of a quote from R C Sproul – “Your personal testimony, however meaningful it is to you, is not the gospel.”
My dear brothers and sisters, the true joy and peace that Holy Spirit sheds in our hearts are everlasting. Scriptures have left us with examples of true worship, true psalms, to help us realize that there are both genuine and counterfeit elements in the worship of Jehovah. The only distinguishing mark is the inner transformation of how we honour God above all, and how we love others in persecution and trying times.
Beware that there is also a counterfeit manifestation of good characters and divine love, but when it is tried in the crucible of fire, its true nature will be shown. A man may appear humble and ripe with virtues, but let someone strike him, his religious feelings, his family, his own body, his devotion and fanaticism of certain men and women, his wealth, his health. At that time, his true nature will erupt out.
It is for every man to look into the mirror. In short, momentary ecstasy of emotional manipulation by use of sound and light, music and charming words, is not God’s presence. I close this article with quotes from those believers who spoke on a similar theme before me.
- “Don’t pursue feelings. Pursue Christ.” (R. C. Sproul)
- “A church fed on the excitement is no New Testament church at all. The Desire for surface stimulation is a sign of fallen nature, the very thing for which Christ died (A. W. Tozer).”
- “The great need for us is to be taught theologically, not just stirred emotionally (Alistair Begg).”
Note: For more information on identifying counterfeit movement of spirit, read Jonathan Edwards “Distinguishing marks of work of Spirit of God” which he wrote when he witnessed the first great awakening of 1730-1755.
The End of “The Ultimate TPM Worship Management 1”