Is It Really God?
The blind miraculously receive their sight, the deaf begin to hear, the lame walk, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor. There are a lot of phenomenal things happening in the world of Christianity. Reports of astonishing miracles are reverberating all over the world.
Is it really God? This is a pivotal question. Some say that it is a "counterfeit revival", while others are convinced it is the real thing.
Many "revivals" are accompanied by extraordinary signs and wonders, and phenomena such as "speaking in tongues", falling, shaking, laughter, and involuntary movements such as jerking.
Is it really God, or is it the product of man? Are these people being drawn into psychological manipulation, or is the Spirit of God really at work?
Many of these revivals are accompanied by extraordinary "manifestations" which they say are of the Holy Spirit. But is it really God?
Many people claim to be believers, but are they really believing the right thing? Many people claim to follow Jesus. Many people claim to be preachers sent from God. But is it REALLY God? You have the right to ask.
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice".
Many people claim to hear from Jesus. They prophesy. They claim they hear from the Lord. But do they really? Are they really His sheep?
We will examine the issue of revivals, signs and wonders, "Manifestations of the Holy Spirit", and false prophets on two fronts:
Here is one of the most important questions anyone can ask...
Is it Really God?
Here is one of the most important questions anyone can ask...
Is it Really God?
In a world where there are plenty of nutbars, and weirdos, we must be able to discern what is true and what is false - especially in spiritual matters.
There are many people who believe they have the Holy Spirit.
There are many people who believe they have fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
There are many people who claim to hear from the Holy Spirit.
There are many churches that believe they have the Holy Spirit.
There are many religions that believe they have the Holy Spirit.
But do they really?
There are specific guidelines that can be used to determine whether something is of God, or not.
Below you will find 3 points to help you discern the presence of the Holy Spirit. All 3 must be met in order to verify the authenticity of the presence of the Holy Spirit and to sufficiently answer the question "Is it really God?"
1. By Their Fruits
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits .
Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down , and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:15-20)
What did Jesus mean by "fruits"? Jesus was talking about the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Let's look at another scripture to clarify:
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:16-23)
Notice there are "works" of the flesh, and there is "fruit" of the Holy Spirit. And they are contrary to one another. Works and fruit are contrary. How?
"Works" are something that YOU do. It is something that is done by human effort. It is something that is done by the flesh, and in the flesh.
"Fruit", on the other hand, is something that is NOT from you, but from the Holy Spirit: thus "fruit of the Spirit". It comes only when one crucifies the flesh as stated in the very next verse (Galatians 5:24)
The Bible says that there is no good thing in us. It says that the human heart is "desperately wicked above all". Pride, sin and lust fill the human heart. "There is NONE righteous. No, not one", the scripture declares.
It is naturally impossible for mere humans to bear "good fruit". That is why we must identify with Jesus' death on the cross and crucify our sinful nature. We must also identify with Jesus resurrection in newness of life, and walk in the Spirit.
It doesn't matter how much a person may try he or she cannot muster up enough strength or will power to bear the true fruit of the Spirit. Take for example, love. The love of God is something that nobody can truly bear unless they have crucified their sinful nature and let the Holy Spirit bear the love of God through them.
Some people confuse works with fruit. They think that their service equals love. You can serve someone "hand and foot" and still not truly love them. You can work for someone with all your heart, and still not love them from your heart. Service and love are not synonymous.
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
We must abide, live, dwell and find our home in Him. If He is the Vine, and we are the branches, then we must allow His sap (Holy Spirit) to flow into us and thus nourish us to bear His Fruit. Without Him we can do nothing. Without Him we can not bear this kind of pure fruit. It is naturally impossible.
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)
Love is the first of nine fruits listed in Galatians 5. It is the "signature" of the disciples according to Jesus.
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:14-16)
Not only is the love of God the "signature" of the disciples, it is also one of the signs of salvation. If we are truly saved, if we truly have passed from death to life we will "love the brethren". What does that mean? It means that we have true, sincere love for ALL others that have partaken of salvation. The "brethren" spoken of here is the "brethren in Christ", or simply put, those who are redeemed.
I love going to church. I love being around others who have faith in Christ. I love being around others who love Him. I love being in the presence of Jesus' brothers and sisters
"I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." (Psalm 122:1)
The Greatest Commandment
"When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together, and one of them, a teacher of the Law, tried to trap him with a question.
"Teacher," he asked, "which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus answered, " "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and the most important commandment.
The second most important commandment is like it: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:34-40 GNT)
What does the greatest commandment have to do with the "fruit of the Spirit"? you may ask.
The first and greatest commandment CANNOT be fulfilled in the flesh. No matter how hard you try you CANNOT truly love the Lord will ALL your heart, soul, and strength without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In order to love the Lord with ALL your heart, soul, and strength you must surrender to the Holy Spirit. It takes the divine radiant love of the Holy Spirit to fulfill this commandment.
"Draw me, we will run after thee." (Song of Sol 1:4 TMB)
He first has to draw us. He is the initiator. He draws us FIRST, then we run after Him.
"We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19 NKJ)
Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit" (John 15:16)
It takes Him to love Him. The Holy Spirit within us cries out "Abba, Daddy". The Holy Spirit within us radiates His love back to Him, spilling over to all people.
'And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"' (Galatians 4:6)
We must allow Him to do surgery on us. We must crucify the flesh by faith. Indeed, the scriptures say that we have been crucified with Him. The natural human heart must be cut away, and replaced with His heart. Then, and then only can we love Him the way He wants us to.
"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:6)
Having said that, no demon, and no devil will ever give you an increased love for the Lord. Satan never makes people love Jesus. Satan never leads you to shine the unconditional love of God to the world.
2. Read the Signs
They say, "a business with no sign is a sign of no business". Signs are everywhere. Signs guide us. They also tell us where we are.
Signs confirm brand names. Signs confirm the product. Signs confirm the contents of the package.
Signs tell you if someone is alive (vital signs). They tell you if someone is dead...etc. etc... etc..
Signs are a very important part of life.
Speaking of the apostles it says, "And they went forth , and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16:20)
It says, "the Jews require a sign" (1 Cor 1:22)
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was the man who paved the way for Jesus. He was Jesus' forerunner. In fact, he introduced Jesus to the world saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
But shortly after Jesus' ministry began John was imprisoned. John said that Herod was sinning in taking his brother's wife. That led to his imprisonment.
John the Baptist was no fool. He knew what the scriptures declared about the Messiah. Jesus himself said, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound"
But John was left in prison! He taught that Jesus' role was to bring justice. He knew the scriptures. John sat in prison day after day, week after week, knowing that Jesus was just outside. He waited patiently. But Jesus didn't come. Jesus was busy healing the sick, raising the dead, and performing all manner of astonishing miracles.
"And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"
When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' " And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blinds He gave sight.
Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." (Luke 7:19-23)
The supernatural demonstration of the Spirit and power through the working of miracles was THE evidence that Jesus used to prove Himself. Supernatural works of the Spirit are God's proof of authenticity.
Jesus Himself said, "But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish--the very works that I do--bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me." (John 5:36)
What witness was He talking about? The signs! The miracles!
"And many of the people believed in Him, and said, "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?" (John 7:31)
"There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher that come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."" (John 3:1-2)
Nicodemus may not have been born again at the time. But he wasn't so stupid not to be able to "read the signs". He saw the proof of God in the signs.
"The man answered and said to them, "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing."" (John 9:30-33)
"And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." (Matthew 11:23)
Jesus used the signs as a basis of judgment. Jesus makes it clear here that one of the purposes of signs is to draw people to repentance. Capernaum ignored the signs. Perhaps they explained them away. Jesus condemned Capernaum because of their ignorance in not reading the signs.
"But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him..." (John 11:46-48)
Again, we see how God uses signs to draw people to Jesus. They said that because Jesus did "many signs" everyone will believe in Him unless He is stopped.
"But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him," (John 12:37)
The implication of this verse is that "they" should have believed in Jesus by recognizing the signs.
" If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'" (John 15:24-25)
Again, Jesus condemned people because of their ignorance. They did not read and understand the signs. They ignored them.
""Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know" (Acts 2:22)
How does God show His "seal of authenticity"? By miracles, wonders, and signs.
"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." (Acts 10:38)
A Note About Sign-Seekers
Jesus once said, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign..."
If you read the story in context (Mathew 12, Mathew 16), you will notice that Jesus was responding to His worst enemies - the Pharisees. The Pharisees were known for opposing Jesus, and being His worst enemy. This time, in there utter arrogance and pride they demand a sign from Jesus.
Of course Jesus wasn't going to foolishly respond to their demands. Out of anger Jesus said, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign...". Then He went on to condemn the "leaven" of the Pharisees. What is the "leaven" of the Pharisees? It was the substance that causes them to be puffed up. It was pride and arrogance. This is at the heart of their demands, and this is what Jesus condemns vehemently.
God does not want us to arrogantly demand a sign. He hates that attitude. He hates human pride.
But that does not mean that God wants us to ignore the signs. Why would God "confirm the word with signs following" if He didn't want us to pay attention to the signs?
There are plenty of testimonies out there of people who "put a fleece out before the Lord", as Gideon did. For example: an agnostic prays, "Lord, if you are real, make that street light blink three times" - and it does.. causing the agnostic to wholly surrender to God. That agnostic didn't pray the "Pharisaical" prayer of tempting the Lord in religious pride. Rather that person was humble, and honest. God honored that humility and openness.
Therefore, it is clear that God uses signs to confirm, establish, lead, direct, and bring us to repentance. There is nothing wrong with humbly asking for a sign like Gideon did - and like countless others have done. God honors that kind of seeking and humility. There are plenty of testimonies of people who are agnostics and humbly ask God for a sign. God answers, which in turn leads to their salvation. However, no one should arrogantly demand a sign - as if we control God. That is wicked.
3. Points to Jesus
"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." John 15:26
"These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." John 14:25-26
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." John 16:7-15
We can itemize these by saying the Holy Spirit will:
- testify of Jesus
- remind you of the teachings of Jesus
- reveal sin - "because they do not believe in Me" - Jesus
- reveal righteousness - "because I go to my Father". This speaks of the born again experience and newness of life we have in Jesus. Being truly born from above we go from sin to righteousness.
- reveal judgment - "because the ruler of this world is judged". The ruler of this world is Satan. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world"
- glorify Jesus
- reveal heavenly things - "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you."
In assessing whether or not the Holy Spirit is at work we must perform a careful evaluation using the aforementioned points.
Manifestations of the Holy Spirit
I use the term "manifestation" almost reluctantly. This is due to my belief that technically speaking, the term "manifestations" should be replaced with the term "effects". Most times when people speak of "manifestations" they speak of the outward physical reaction of a person who senses the presence or power of God. In other words, a person may react in a certain way due to the "effect" of the presence or power of God on them.Therefore, I believe it is more fitting to use the term "effects of the Holy Spirit", as opposed to "manifestations of the Holy Spirit". However, I will use the term "manifestation" because of the precedence that many Christians have set in using this term.
There have been many revivals in the past in which many people experienced phenomena such as shaking, falling, laughing, levitating, yelling, and jerking.
Such phenomena produces a wide range of response. Some don't like it, others love it. Some say that it is demonic powers doing such things, while others say that it is an authentic move of the Holy Spirit.
Case in Point
The Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship is a good example of so called, "manifestations".
Some of the "manifestations" exhibited at Toronto included:
- drunk-like behavior
Is this God?
Dr. Margaret Poloma
Dr. Poloma is a sociologist based out of the University of Akron, Ohio.
Dr. Poloma offers courses and lectures on topics generally related to the sociology of religion at Ashland Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon College (Wentham, MA), Northeast Ohio University College of Medicine, Vanguard University, and the University of Akron.
When the move of God broke out at Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship (aka "Toronto Blessing"), Dr. Poloma was soon on the scene.
Dr. Poloma asked the pastor, John Arnott, if she could do a sociological assessment on those who attend the services. John Arnott freely gave her permission.
After 7 years of researching the phenomena, Dr. Poloma wrote a book on her findings called, "Fruits of the Father's Blessing: A Sociological Report". This book is based on a 1995 survey of over 900 participants, a 1997 survey of over 350 respondents who agreed to participate in a follow-up survey, and ongoing participant observation.
Dr. Poloma found in regards to those who attend the meetings that:
- 89% said that they are "more in love with Jesus than ever before"
- 91% said they have "come to know the Father's love in a new way"
- 81% received a new sense of being in a sinful condition.
Based on her 1995 follow-up survey:
- 90% said their visit to TACF changed them
- 88% said they are more in love with their spouse
- 88% said they received inner healing
Considering all the controversy surrounding TACF, and the intense manifestations, we must ask the question: Is it really God?
Let's put it through our test:
- By Their Fruits: Do we see the fruits of the Spirit? with 89% falling more in love with Jesus, 91% coming to know the Father's love in a new way, and 88% more in love with their spouse. TACF passed this test - hands down.
- Read the Signs: Have there been any signs of the working of Jesus here: (i.e. blind seeing, deaf hearing,...)? There have been numerous reports of miracles throughout the history of this move. Many people have reported miraculous healing, creative miracles, and deliverance. TACF passed this test.
- Points to Jesus: In every service the name of Jesus is glorified. In addition, 81% say they have a new sense of their sinful condition, which Jesus said will be a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. (See 3. Points to Jesus for more info). TACF passed this test
In conclusion, the "Toronto Blessing" aka "Father's Blessing" passed all tests including good fruit, confirmed with signs, points to Jesus, glorifies Jesus, and conviction of sin. Therefore we must conclude that it is a genuine move of the Spirit of God.
Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in History
Adam- the first man
Adam experienced a "manifestation" of the Holy Spirit when the Lord God caused a "deep sleep" to fall on Adam. It was in this "deep sleep" that God did an operation on Adam and formed Eve.
A "deep sleep" from God speaks of a "slain in the Spirit" kind of experience.
At the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship there were two girls who suffered from a severe case of dyslexia. Their parents who were at the end of their ropes, were just praying that God would show them "just one thing these girls can learn how to do". The girls tried for six years to learn how to spell their name. Dyslexia steals hope. It steals life.
One of the girls, Heather, said that she wanted prayer for dyslexia.
During prayer she fell "under the power". Heather had an experience on the floor. When she got up she said that angels operated on her brain. She had heard the Lord directing the angels what to do. Those people traveled 12 hours to Toronto.
During the 12 hour drive back home her parents realized something very different about Heather. She started playing word games for the first time.
Hannah - the mother of Samuel
1 Samuel 8:12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, "How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!" 15 And Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. "
Hannah, the mother of Samuel, prays continually before the Lord. Eli, the priest noticed something very different about Hannah's behavior during her prayer. As a priest, Eli would have been very familiar with behavioral protocol, but he noticed something that was unusual.
The way that Hannah was acting signified that she was drunk. Eli said, "How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you!"
What was it that convinced Eli that Hannah was drunk?
Hannah was praying in her heart, but only her lips moved. Nothing was heard. This description eliminates the possibility of Hannah whispering, since it says that "no voice was heard". Apparently, there was no sound coming from her mouth.
Was this all that Eli saw? To assume so would be foolish. Eli certainly saw many other people quietly praying.
Obviously, Hannah's behavior went beyond the limited description here. Hannah acted drunk.
What does a drunk woman look like? We can only imagine. But one thing is certain: Hannah acted drunk, and Eli reproved her for it.
Hannah answered by saying that she is "of a sorrowful spirit".
The word translated sorrowful here "Qasheh" in the original Hebrew. Which can also mean:
fierce, intense, vehement
stubborn, stiff of neck, stiff-necked
rigorous (of battle)
What Hannah said in effect was, I was praying hard! It was out of my abundance of grief that I prayed and poured out my soul before the Lord.
This leads to a wonderful point. One of the steps to getting "drunk in the Spirit" is to pour out your soul before the Lord. The Lord honors those prayers, and fills you with His own Spirit.
120 disciples were gathered in the famous "upper room". The Spirit of God came with power, filling them.
Some of the onlookers thought that these men were drunk. Peter had to address them saying, "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day..."
Lets take a moment and think... what does 120 drunk people look like? If you were to get 120 people together and get them all drunk, what would you see? People laying around, laughing, having a great time, mumbling, babbling, and passed out.
St. Francis of Assisi 1181-1226
St. Francis of Assisi was blessed with a number of phenomenal experiences of the Lord. Some of these supernatural experiences include: stigmata, levitation, supernatural communication with animals, physical healing, raising the dead, and teleportation.
St. Teresa of Avila 1515-1582
St. Teresa of Avila experienced ecstasies, "raptures" as she calls it, levitation on many occasions.
She said, "The subject rarely loses consciousness; I have sometimes lost it altogether, but only seldom and for but a short time. As a rule the consciousness is disturbed; and though incapable of action with respect to outward things, the subject can still hear and understand, but only dimly, as though from a long way off..." Overcome By The Spirit (Chosen Books, 1990), Francis MacNutt
The French Huguenots 1500-1600
The French Huguenots experienced many "manifestations" including falling down "under the power" of the Spirit. Other manifestations included involuntary seizure-like contortions.
St. Joseph of Cupertino 1603-1663
On many occasions St. Joseph of Cupertino levitated high above the ground. Signs such as miraculous healing powers, control of nature, and bi-location.
Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758
Jonathan Edwards was the leader of the "Great Awakening" in the 1730s and 1740s. He is considered to be one of America's greatest theologians.
In an attempt to describe what was happening in his services Edwards wrote, “Many young people appeared to be overcome with the greatness of divine things and many others at the same time were overcome with distress about their sinful state so that the whole room was full of nothing but outcries, fainting and such
like and many were overpowered and continued there for some hours. Some have been so overcome with a sense of the dying love of Christ as to weaken the body. It was a very frequent thing to see an house full of outcries, fainting, convulsions and such like, both with distress, and also with joy” (The Great Awakening p. 547).
"“It was common to see outcries, fainting, convulsions with distress and joy. Some were so affected that their bodies were overcome, so they stayed all night in the church. There were some instances of persons lying in a sort of trance, remaining for perhaps a whole twenty-four hours motionless, and with their senses locked up; but in the meantime under strong imagination, as though they went to heaven, and had there a vision of glorious and delightful objects” (The Great Awakening p. 550). Their joyful surprise has caused their hearts as it were to leap, so that they have been ready to break forth into laughter, tears often at the same time issuing like a flood, and intermingling a loud weeping. Sometimes they have not been able to forbear crying out with a loud voice, expressing their great admiration” (Narrative pp. 37-38).
John Wesley 1703-1791
In John Wesley's own words, describing the manifestations exhibited in his meetings, John Wesley said “people dropped on every side as thunderstruck as they fell to the ground, others with convulsions exceeding all description and many reported seeing visions. Some shook like a cloth in the wind, others roared and screamed or fell down with involuntary laughter.”
George Whitefield 1714-1770
After George Whitefield saw what was happening in Wesley's meetings, he protested it in a letter to Wesley writing, “I cannot think it right in you to give so much encouragement to these convulsions which people have been thrown into in your ministry.” Ironically enough, when Whitefield preached the next day, “four persons sunk down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise, unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God, with strong cries and tears. From this time,” Wesley writes, “I trust we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleases Him.”
From that time, Whitefield’s preaching was commonly accompanied by many manifestations. People fell down, cried out, trembled with convulsive twitching. Sinners dropped down, shrieking, groaning, crying for mercy, convulsed, agonizing, fainting, falling down in distress or in raptures of joy! The noise was like a roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human beings as agitated by a storm. Seized with convulsive jerking all over.
Francis Ashbury 1745-1816
Francis Ashbury was personally appointed in 1771 by John Wesley as a missionary to the colonies. Ashbury was very disciplined and insisted that the meetings were held in a proper fashion. However, his meetings were characterized by crying, falling, shouting, and "jerks".
Cane Ridge Revival early 1800s
The Cane Ridge Revival was held in Kentucky, USA. Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists all participated in the meetings.
It was reported that people shook and lips quivered as many fell to the ground with shrieks and shouts. Peter Cartwright was a prominent revivalist in Cane Ridge. He wrote of the manifestations of the “jerks” that seized saints and sinners with a convulsive jerking all over, which they could not by any possibility avoid, and the more they resisted the more they jerked.
The following was the report of an atheist “free thinker” named James B. Finley, who attended the Cane Ridge, Kentucky revival in 1801: “The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human beings seemed to be agitated as if by a storm... Some of the people were singing, others praying, some crying for mercy in the most piteous accents, while others were shouting vociferously. While witnessing these scenes, a peculiarly-strange sensation, such as I had never felt before, came over me. My heart beat tumultuously, my knees trembled, my lip quivered, and I felt as though I must fall to the ground. A strange supernatural power seemed to pervade the entire mass of mind there collected. At one time I saw at least 500, swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them, and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens. I fled for the woods and wished I had stayed at home.”
Charles Finney 1792-1875
Charles Finney is considered by many to be America’s most powerful revivalist.
He is often credited as being the instrument to bring 500,000 conversions from 1825 to 1875.
During his services Finney reported spasmodic laugher; it was impossible to keep people from laughing, phenomena of speechlessness for hours, fainting spells. Finney described people falling under the power of God's presence in his meetings, "The congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction. I was obliged to stop preaching. "
At the schoolhouse near Antwerp, New York, Finney described the phenomena of people falling under the power of God's presence: “An awful solemnity seemed to settle upon the people; the congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction and cry for mercy. If I had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them down as fast as they fell. I was obliged to stop preaching.”
Azusa Street Revival 1906-1915
Frank Bartleman was a leader in the Azusa Street revival in 1906. The accounts of the Azusa Street revival describe many shaking, speechlessness, motionlessness, being enraptured, drunk in the Spirit, laughter, visions, tongues, prophecy, and the like.
Other Revivals of the Twentieth Century
The following is a brief list of modern day revivals that
exhibited manifestations ranging from mild to intense:
John Alexander Dowie healing revival (1890s)
John G. Lake healing revival (1910-30)
Aimee Semple McPherson healing revival (1920s)
Voice of Healing revival with Oral Roberts,William Branham, Kenneth Hagin, TL Osborne, etc. (1940s-50s)
The Welsh Revival of 1904 in Great Britain.
The Charismatic Renewal with the Catholics and mainline Protestant denominations (1967);
Jesus Movement Chuck Smith/Lonnie Frisbee (1970s)
Vineyard healing revival with John Wimber (1980s)
- Rodney Howard-Browne reaching Pentecostals (1993)
- Toronto with John Arnott reaching mainline denominations (1994) in conjunction with the HTB renewal in UK; Pasadena renewal center with Lou Engle and Che Ahn; the Pensacola revival with Steve Kilpatrick and Steve Hill (1995)
- The renewal in Smithton and Kansas City with Steve Gray (1995) Healing revival in Redding with Bill Johnson (2000).
Effects of Revival and Social Justice
"With all this 'revival' going on, what about the poor?", a person may ask, "What about the poverty issue? Everybody gets so focussed on revival, and they forget about the poor!"
Let's take a moment and talk about poverty. The major causes of poverty in our society are: drunkenness, drugs, prostitution, gambling, addictions, physical illnesses, and mental illnesses.
Where does revival come in, and how does it help solve the poverty problem? What about social justice?
In answering that question we must remember -
- produces good fruit
- has signs following
- always points to Jesus
Some of the "signs" that follow revival are demonic deliverances, deliverance from addictions, physical healing, inner healing, and changed lives.
During the Welsh Revival in 1904 Evan Roberts wrote:
only were individual lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, but whole
communities were changed indeed society itself was changed - Wales was again
a God-fearing nation.
Public houses became almost empty. Men and women who used to waste their money in getting drunk were now saving it, giving it to help their churches, buying clothes and food for their families. And not only drunkenness, but stealing and other offenses grew less and less so that often a magistrate came to court and found there were no cases for him.
Men whose language had been filthy before learned to talk purely. It is related that not only did the colliers put in a better day's work, but also that the pit ponies turned disobedient! The ponies were so used to being cursed and sworn at that they just didn't understand when orders were given in kind, clean words! The dark tunnels underground in the mines echoed with the sounds of prayer and hymns, instead of oaths and nasty jokes and gossip.
People who had been careless about paying their bills, or paying back money they had borrowed, paid up all they owed.
People who had not been friends for a long time because of something that had happened in the past, forgot their quarrels and were happy together again. In fact, Evan Roberts used to say that there could be no blessing on anyone who had unkind thoughts about anyone else."
The Brownsville Revival
During the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida the crime rate dropped so substantially that police officers brought their detainees to the revival services instead of taking them to jail.
Countless alcoholics, and drug addicts were instantly set free and delivered. Some of them went on to impact thousands of others such as Chad Dedmon, and Nathan Morris.
Final thoughts regarding Social Justice and Poverty
Revival has a good track record of dealing with poverty at its roots. The effects of revival have overshadowed that of any professional agency in attempting to curve the root causes of poverty.
Alcoholics are set free. Drugs addicts are instantly set free. Prostitutes are getting saved, and leaving prostitution. Addictions such as gambling are being broken. The sick are healed. Many receive inner healing.
The root of poverty is cut down through the process of revival. The end result: Revival brings "social justice" in its purest form. But don't expect this overnight. It usually takes time to rebuild once the root cause of poverty has been removed.
Yes but, what sayeth the Scriptures?
Adam, as he walked and talking with the Lord didn't have any scripture to back him up regarding his experiences with God.
Enoch, preaching the the Lord will come "with ten thousands of His holy ones" didn't have any scripture to back him up.
Abraham said that God told him to move out of the country. And go where? He didn't know either. But even Abraham, in this seemingly unnatural decision didn't have scripture to stand on.
Abraham prophesied that Isaac would be born. With a barren wife and a husband almost 100 years old, he had no scripture to confirm his prophecy.
When Abraham took Isaac to kill him he had no scriptural precedence.
Moses when seeing the burning bush didn't have any scriptural background to lean on when sharing this experience with others. When Moses confronted Pharaoh he had no scriptural precedence. The plagues of Egypt had no scriptural precedence.
Moses, when claiming to speak to God face to face on Mt. Sinai didn't have scripture references to confirm his experience. The cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night had no scriptural precedence. The dividing of the Red Sea had no scriptural precedence.
Solomon had no scriptural precedence regarding the glory of God filling the temple. When the ministers couldn't stand due to the glory of God, they had no scriptural precedence to confirm their experience.
When Ezekiel lay on his left side 390 days, and his right side 40 days, he had no scriptural precedence to stand on.
Balanced view of Scripture
Jesus rebuked the religious people for having their heads buried too far in the scriptures. He said, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me"
In other words, Jesus said, get your head out of the book. I am here! The book talks about me!
Don't misunderstand. It is very important to know the scriptures. I promote knowledge of scripture. But there are too many Christians today that idolize the Bible. Their god is a book. That is not the way God wants it to be. The book is a witness. It is a collection of prophecies, testimonies, history, and recorded events - but ink on paper is not God.
Many of the events that transpired in the book of Acts had no scriptural precedence. The "tongues of fire" appearing on their heads on the day of Pentecost had no scriptural precedence. They only had one verse to stand on regarding the phenomenon of speaking in an unknown language. They had no scripture to back them up in regards to criminals being set free from prison, or shadows healing people.
Think about. In many instances we have more scripture to back up outstanding miracles, and manifestations than the apostles had.
Although evil is increasing in the world, so is the work of the Lord. In fact, He said that we will do even greater miracles than He did! What could that possibly look like?
Many Christians are calling us to "look to God through His Word for discernment" regarding all of the manifestations of the Spirit.
They say, "The proof that any "sign and wonder" is of God is that it must be completely consistent with the "word and testimony" of Scripture." However, they are forgetting that Jesus disciples themselves did not follow this rule. They done many signs and wonders that had no scriptural precedence.
Misinformed individuals are passing judgment upon current moves of God without seeing the whole picture. They are jumping to conclusions. They are not "doing their homework". They confuse manifestations with the gifts of the Spirit, which are two completely different things.
A well-known "Christian" apologist, Norman L. Geisler said, "God never performed a miracle "slowly" nor did an "80 percent" healing. Biblical miracles were 100 percent and immediate. In the case of the few immediate cures in the contemporary signs and wonders movement, most are clearly of the psychosomatic type and none are immediate healings of incurable diseases. There is nothing supernatural about these kinds of cures."
Apparently Mr. Geisler never read his Bible entirely. Or perhaps he is forgetting about the blind man that Jesus had to pray for twice (Matt 8). The first time Jesus prayed for him he did NOT receive 100% healing. Jesus (even Jesus) had to pray for the man more than once to receive a full healing. If Jesus had to pray twice, how much more do we have to?
These carnal "Christian" teachers say "Instead of God moving, people are being pushed over or manipulated by hypnotic suggestion, after being set up by repetitive mesmerizing music."
The consensus is that people are being psychologically manipulated through hype and high-power music. If manifestations are evident ONLY when being in such an environment than perhaps they have a point. But that is NOT the case. People are having power experiences with God, with manifestations WITHOUT any music, or preaching in some cases. I am a living witness to that. Let me add a little of my personal testimony here:
My wife was a Muslim. She made a pilgrimage to Mecca. She argued against Christianity. But I made up my mind from the start to never preach to her. She can witness to that. I never preached to her. I just let God work.
One day we had a few friends over for a BBQ. The Lord impressed on my heart to have a prayer meeting. There was no music. There was no preaching. God, the Holy Spirit came on my Muslim wife in power. She shook. She laughed. She fell. The outcome? She gave her life to Jesus. Love started emanating from her like never before. She has never been the same.
My point: there was NO preaching. There was NO music. There was NO hype. We simply said a quick prayer and the power of God changed her life.
That is only one testimony. There are thousands. God, the Holy Spirit comes on people in the most expected places, at the most unexpected times. Many times the person who gets hit with the power of God don't believe in it. Sometimes they are unbelievers. Some don't even believe that it is possible.
Take Kathryn Khulman for example: Many were healed in her meetings without even believing. Some came to oppose her. They ended up under the power of God.
Another good example is that of Rev. Randy Clark. In one of his meetings, an unbeliever wouldn't go in the church, but rather stood in the doorway making fun of them. Suddenly, God, in His mercy fell on him and he started shaking under the power of God. Soon he was a believer!
If this is a result of psychological manipulation then:
- Why do some who oppose it suddenly experience it?
- Why does it happen in meetings where there is no repetitive mesmerizing music, and no preaching?
- Why does it happen at times when there is NO emotional stimulation?
The answer is simple. You don't have to be a seminary graduate to understand... It is NOT a result of psychological manipulation. It is the person and the power of the Holy Spirit... doing what He wants, when He wants, to whom He wants.
There is no doubt that evil spirits can also cause people to manifest. Some people use this as an argument against manifestations, saying that other faiths, or other cults also produce manifestations. Some do, but that does not mean that God does not.
Satanists have the Satanic Bible. They read it. They study it. They obey it. Does that mean that Christians shouldn't have a their own Bible, study it, and obey it too? Just because Satan has a counterfeit doesn't mean that Christians are to discard the real thing.
Other demonic religions have meetings, where many people gather. Does that mean that Christians shouldn't have meetings?
Other demonic religions sing songs to their gods. Does that mean that Christians are to discard music? Just because Satan has a counterfeit doesn't mean that Christians are to discard the real thing.
Likewise, demonic powers can cause manifestations. Does that mean that Christians are to discard manifestations? Just because Satan has a counterfeit doesn't mean that Christians are to discard the real thing!
False Prophets, Deceivers, and Delusions
This is a subject that must be addressed. There are a lot of people who believe that their sole purpose in life is to expose false prophets, and deceivers.
You will hear them quote scriptures such as:
"And many false prophets shall rise , and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24:11 )
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo , here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold , I have told you before .
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold , he is in the desert; go not forth : behold , he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:23-27)
"And then shall that Wicked be revealed , whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; 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: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessolonians 2:8-12)
Anyone with wisdom would ask the following questions: How can you tell the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet? And, how can you tell the difference between "lying wonders", and true wonders?
These questions are answered in the following scriptures.
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of . And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." (1 Peter 2:1-3)
The scripture above clearly says that false prophets deny the Lord. They do not glorify Jesus. In fact they do not even accept Jesus as the Son of God. They deny Him.
"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass , whereof he spake unto thee, saying , Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known , and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
Again we see the sign of a false prophet is one that says, "Let us go after other Gods"... denying the Lord
"Beloved, do not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.
By this you may know (perceive and recognize) the Spirit of God: every spirit which acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [actually] has become man and has come in the flesh is of God [has God for its source];
And every spirit which does not acknowledge and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [but would annul, destroy, sever, disunite Him] is not of God [does not proceed from Him]. This [nonconfession] is the [spirit] of the antichrist, [of] which you heard that it was coming, and now it is already in the world." (1 John 4:1-3 Amplified Bible)
It was well known in John's day that the Christ, the Messiah existed from the beginning. He always was. As John said, "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God". Jesus always existed. But some did not confess that Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, "the Anointing" became a flesh-and-blood human being. Any spirit who do not confess this is NOT from God. Those who confess God came in the flesh is from God. Period.
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live." (Revelation 13:11-14)
What signs and wonders are listed here? 1. Power to worship "the beast", again turning away from the Lord. 2. Making fire come down from heaven. This can be interpreted as anything from supernatural fire from "nowhere", to an air-raid dropping bombs from planes. In any case, it is NOT at all similar to Jesus' signs and wonders. They are totally different. The devil does not want to heal you in Jesus' name!
We can summarize the markings of a false prophet as thus:
- False prophets do not operate by the Spirit of God, but rather another deceiving spirit. We can test this Spirit by seeing whether or not they confess the Jesus (Jehovah, our Savior), the Christ, the Messiah has come in the flesh.
- False prophets deny the Lord. False prophets lead people away from Jesus, not to Jesus. They lead people to worship other gods, NOT the Lord.
- False prophets can perform "lying wonders", which does not at all look like the works of Jesus (Blind receive sight, lame walk, deaf hear, dead are raised, demons are cast out.. gospel is preached). There are certain things the devil would NEVER do. Jesus made that clear. Remember even Jesus was called a false prophet (deceiver). He said clearly Satan cannot do the kind of things He does. A kingdom divided cannot stand. Satan cannot cast out Satan.
Many "false-prophet detectors" operate out of a spirit of paranoia. They are afraid they will be deceived. Anything that looks suspicious to them is labeled false. Anything that doesn't fit their theology is labeled false. Anything that they can't wrap their head around is labeled false. The truth is that the Most High God is MUCH bigger than their theological concepts, and will not bow or bend to fit their finite box.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Revival
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899– 1981) is considered by many to be one of the most influential voices in Christianity. For nearly 30 years he ministered at Westminster Chapel in London, one of the most well-known churches in the world at the time.
Lloyd-Jones pointed out that it is almost a rule in revival that manifestations occur, such as people groaning in agony of soul and feeling the power of the Spirit to such an extent that they faint and fall to the ground with physical convulsions. And sometimes people seem to fall into a state of unconsciousness, into a kind of trance, and many remain like that for hours. He wrote that “these phenomena are not essential to revival yet it is true to say that, on the whole, they do tend to be present when there is a revival.”
Lloyd-Jones taught: “Why should the Devil suddenly start dong this kind of thing in a period of spiritual dryness? The very result of revival completely excludes the possibility of this being the action of the Devil. If this is the work of the Devil, well then the Devil is an unutterable fool. He is dividing his own kingdom; he is increasing the kingdom of God. There is nothing so ridiculous as this suggestion that this is the work of the Devil” (Lloyd-Jones 1987, pp141-2).
Lloyd-Jones points out: “Always in a revival there is what some call divine disorder. Some are groaning and agonizing under conviction, others praising God for the great salvation. And all this leads to crowded and prolonged meetings. Time seems to be forgotten. A meeting may not end until daybreak the next morning with nobody aware of the passing of the hours.”
Why Do We Need This?
Whether you call it "revival", "renewal", or "awakening" we need a powerful unprecedented move of God.
We are up to unprecedented sin, unprecedented technology, unprecedented darkness, unprecedented opposition. Therefore, we need an unprecedented move of God.
An unprecedented move of God means more Power, more Glory, more Salvation, more Revelation, and more changed lives than we have ever witness hereto.
An unprecedented move of God means we need to be be able to receive unprecedented power, unprecedented signs and wonders, and an unprecedented manifestation of the presence of God.
God has always done unprecedented things. The creation of Adam was unprecedented. The judgment of the tower of Babel was unprecedented. The flood was unprecedented. The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah was unprecedented. The burning bush was unprecedented. The cloud of Glory was unprecedented. The fire by night was unprecedented...etc...etc...etc... We shall not limit God to the precedented.
Three things have always been, and always will. A move of God 1. bears good fruit, 2. is exhibited with extraordinary signs, and 3. points to Jesus.
Keep these three points as your guideline and you will not go wrong.
Our society needs more love, freedom and life. If we humble ourselves, pray, and turn from our wicked ways that is exactly what God will do... Are you ready?
Links of Interest
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