The World Is Happening To Us?
Selected Stories & Teachings From The
History Of Revival
by Bill Jackson (1994)
Questions arising out of the current phase of renewal commonly
called the "Toronto Blessing" often deal with the
Biblical and historical viability of exotic phenomena such as
laughter and falling. In this paper, Bill Jackson presents the
argument that there is a precedent for these phenomena, and that
these phenomena have been documented both in Scripture and in
Randy Clark is the founding pastor of the
Vineyard Christian Fellowship in St. Louis, MO.
After years of seeing little fruit and power in
his ministry he became desperately hungry for
God. Hearing of unusual manifestations of God's
presence through the ministry of South African
evangelist, Rodney Howard-Brown, Randy attended
one of Rodney's meetings in Tulsa, OK. Randy was
powerfully touched and, in going home, began to
see a similar outbreak of the Spirit among his
At the Regional meeting of Midwestern Vineyard
churches at Lake Geneva, WI, in October, 1993,
the Regional overseer, Happy Leman, asked Randy
to share what was happening in his church. Again,
a powerful demonstration of God's power broke out
at the meeting. There was a limited outbreak at
the Champaign Vineyard the following Sunday.
At the Vineyard National Board meeting in
November, Happy shared the results of the
regional meeting with John Arnott, pastor of the
Airport Vineyard in Toronto, Canada, and Area
Pastoral Coordinator of the Vineyards in Ontario.
John immediately went home and invited Randy to
come to Toronto to speak and minister in January.
Two days of meetings in Toronto turned into what,
to date, have been 90 days of almost continuous
meetings in numerous locations in Ontario and in
the United States.
The meetings have been dubbed a
"renewal" rather than a
"revival" by psychiatrist and author
John White and by John Wimber, international
leader of the Association of Vineyard Churches.
Randy and those who have been associated with him
say that this move of God is more associated with
refreshing the church and calling home the
prodigals than salvation for the lost. People are
coming to Christ but not in the numbers one
typically sees in times of revival.
On March 4-5, Randy spoke in Marion, Illinois,
and several people from the Champaign Vineyard,
including Bill and Betsy Jackson, went to hear
him. Bill and others from the church were deeply
impacted and came back to share with the church
on Sunday what had happened. Again, there was an
outbreak during the Sunday ministry time, this
one larger than the one in the fall.
Happy and his wife Dianne went to Toronto on
Bill's recommendation. Happy wound up staying for
almost a week and, in coming home saw an even
larger outbreak than the previous two.
Manifestations of God's presence have continued
every week since. Happy Leman has reported that
he has seen more changed lives in one month than
in all his years of ministry.
Our purpose in putting this paper together is to develop
a biblical apologetic for what we see happening among us.
Much of what we are seeing is strange to the natural
mind. The following are some of the phenomena that we
have seen in our meetings.
Any thinking believer is going to ask some basic
Is what we are seeing biblical?
What are these phenomena for?
How can you be sure it's God?
Even if satisfying answers can be given to these
questions, still more objections can be raised. How could
it be God if:
It's hard to understand?
It makes me afraid?
It causes division?
He overrides my faculties?
It's so emotional?
It causes me to be the center of attraction?
It's so disorderly?
It doesn't happen to me?
We will now take up these questions and objections in
order and try to give some biblical answers.
First, it needs to be said that it is perfectly normal
and even necessary to inquire into the biblical nature of
Christian experience. It is also OK to admit that much of
this looks "weird" as long as we don't
prematurely judge it. When Paul first went to the Greek
city of Berea, the book of Acts says that the Bereans
were more noble than the other Jews Paul had encountered
in Greece because they "searched the Scriptures
daily to see if what Paul was saying was true" (17.11).
When we ask, "Is it biblical?," we're probably
asking for what is commonly called a "proof"
text. A proof text is a portion of Scripture that, when
taken in context, validates a particular position we are
taking. In order to ascertain whether these phenomena are
biblical, we need to lay down some ground rules for solid
There are three basic doctrinal headings in the
Christian theology (what Christians are
Christian ethics (how Christians ought to
Christian experience or practice (what
You can call a verse/passage a proof text when
the writer clearly states what God wants us to
believe, do or practice. These texts can be
There are many beliefs, behaviors and practices,
however, that are not clearly taught but rather
are implied. These texts can be labeled
"secondary." This doesn't mean
unimportant, only that a clear statement cannot
Let's take baptism for instance. The
Bible clearly states that Christians are
to be baptized. There is a primary text
that says so (Mt.
How we are to be baptized, on the
other hand, is never explicitly stated.
This is why different groups baptize
different ways. There are, however, clear
biblical passages that show that it was
normal in the early church to immerse
people in water. Even the word
"baptize" means to immerse.
This doesn't prove that this is the way
the church should baptize for all time.
It does, however, imply it. At the very
least it illustrates that this is what
was done. The mode of baptism, therefore,
is a secondary, not a primary issue.
When dealing with supernatural phenomena, we are
dealing with the area of Christian practice.
While there is a primary text dealing with
prophetic revelation, there are no primary texts
that clearly state that Christians are to fall
down, shake or look drunk during seasons of
There are, however, a number of secondary
(remember, secondary does not mean invalid or
unimportant) texts that illustrate that these
were some of the responses people had during
moments of divine visitation. We will examine
some of these passages where they relate to a
There are also numerous examples of similar
phenomena in church history, especially in
seasons of revival. We will also briefly examine
them. All historical quotes are taken from two
sources. Material concerning Jonathan Edwards
comes from his original writings as gleaned from
a paper from church historian, Guy Chevreau. Guy
is currently researching these phenomena in
church history. The other quotes are taken from a
priceless out of print volume by James Gilchrist
Lawson called Deeper Experiences of Famous
Christians (copyright 1911).
The most common phenomena we have seen in our
meetings is people falling down, commonly called
"resting in the Spirit." Often they
remain conscious but engaged with the Lord. They
feel weak and find it difficult to do anything
but rest with God. We have seen that as they lay
with the Lord, they have had significant changes
in their lives. What , if any, biblical precedent
is there for this?
15.12: "Abram fell into a deep sleep and
a thick, dreadful darkness came over him."
This literally reads, "a deep sleep fell on
Abram." The Hebrew word radam means
to be in or fall into a deep sleep. This is the
same word that is used when God put Adam to sleep
when he made Eve (Gen.
2:21; cf. 17.17:
"Abraham fell facedown").
Sam. 19: "Saul walked along
prophesying...he stripped off his robes and also
prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way
all that day and night. This is why people say,
'Is Saul also among the prophets?'" This
text shows that for something close to a 24 hour
period Saul lay in a prone position with God
speaking through him.
Chron. 5.13-14: In the context of the temple
priests worshiping and praising God, all of a
sudden "the temple of the Lord was filled
with a cloud, and the priests could not perform
their service because of the cloud, for the glory
of the Lord filled the temple of God." This
is a fascinating text. It never says that the
priests fell but it does indicate that under
God's glory they were essentially immobilized,
physically unable to perform their duties. What
happened seems to be connected to the Hebrew word
for "glory" (kabod) which means
"a weight." The phenomenon of falling
in God's presence might be understood as being
overcome by the weight of God forcing them to the
1.28: "This was the appearance of the
likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it
I fell facedown..."
3.23: "...And the glory of the Lord was
standing there, like the glory I had seen by the
Kebar river, and I fell face down."
8.17: "As he (Gabriel) came near...I was
terrified and fell on my face."
10:9: In another divine encounter with an
angelic being, Daniel says, "When I heard
the sound of his words I then was lying stunned (radam)
on the ground and my face was toward the
17.6: When the disciples heard this, they
fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus
came and touched them. 'Get up,' he said. 'Don't
28.4: "The guards were so afraid of him
(the angel) that they shook and became like dead
18.6: As Judas and the soldiers came to
arrest Jesus, they had an interesting encounter.
"When Jesus said, 'I am he,' they jumped
back and fell to the ground." Here we see an
immediate falling back in response to the
presence of Jesus. They were apparently able to
get up shortly thereafter because they went on to
9.22-26: When Paul was apprehended on the
road to Damascus by a light from heaven, he says,
"I fell to the ground and heard a
voice." Again we see that falling was a
normal response to a divine visitation.
10.10: While Peter was on the roof of Simon
the tanner, it says that "he fell into a
Corinthians 12.1-4, Paul describes an amazing
experience where he didn't know if he was in his
body or not. He was "caught up in
paradise" where he heard inexpressible
things that he was not permitted to tell. Again,
while the text does not say that he had fallen,
this experience was not described as a dream
which happened to him when he was asleep, but
rather as a vision/revelation (12.1).
This implies that he was awake when the
revelation came and that for whatever time the
experience lasted, he was in some sort of
trance-like state, most likely in a prone
1.17: In the visionary experience that
resulted in the book of Revelation, John,
speaking of his angelic encounter, says,
"When I saw him I fell at his feet as though
dead." Here we see an experience similar to
Adam's and Abram's where the person not only
falls but is also unconscious for an extended
period of time.
Jonathan Edwards, the main instrument and
theologian of the Great Awakening in America
(1725-1760), says in his Account of the
Revival of Religion in Northampton 1740-1742:
Many have had their religious affections
raised far beyond what they had ever been
before; and there were some instances of
persons lying in a sort of trance, remaining
perhaps for a whole twenty-four hours
motionless, and with their senses locked up;
but in the mean time under strong
imaginations, as though they went to heaven
and had there a vision of glorious and
It was a very frequent thing to see
outcries, faintings, convulsions, and such
like, both with distress, and also admiration
It was not the manner here to hold
meetings all night, nor was it common to
continue them till very late in the night;
but it was pretty often so, that there were
some so affected, and their bodies so
overcome, that they could not go home, but
were obligated to stay all night where they
Charles Finney (1792-1875) was one of the most
powerful revivalists since the reformation:
At a country place named Sodom, in the
state of New York, Finney gave one address in
which he described the condition of Sodom
before God destroyed it. 'I had not spoken in
this strain more than a quarter of an hour,'
says he, 'when an awful solemnity seemed to
settle upon them; the congregation began to
fall from their seats in every direction, and
cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each
hand, I could not have cut them down as fast
as they fell. Nearly the whole congregation
were either on their knees or prostrate, I
should think, in less than two minutes from
the shock that fell upon them. Every one
prayed who was able to speak at all.' Similar
scenes were witnessed in many other places.
Conclusion: In light of the biblical data,
the things that we are seeing now are both
similar and dissimilar. It is clear from the text
that there is a precedent for sometimes falling
during a manifestation of God's presence. The
cause of the biblical falls seemed to vary from
God putting man to sleep for a specific purpose,
to falling out of holy fear, to falling as almost
a forced prostration in the face of human
arrogance and rebellion. Interestingly, the
majority of biblical men fell facedown. The
examples from Edwards and Finney seem to support
this varied pattern. In Edward's account, the
people were overcome by the presence of God while
in Finney's, it was clearly a falling out of holy
fear. The kinds of falling we are seeing now seem
to parallel more the action of God to put to
sleep for the purpose of divine intervention,
rest and healing rather than contrition. While
some fall facedown, the great majority fall
backwards. John Wimber believes that falling
facedown is some kind of indication of a man's
stature in the Lord. Francis McNutt (Overcome
by the Spirit. Grand Rapids, Baker, p. 85)
thinks that the more common falling backwards
comes from the heaviness of the glory (kabod:
weight) of God.
Shaking is also common in our meetings and is one
of the hardest phenomena to understand. The kinds
of shaking vary greatly. Sometimes the shaking is
accompanied by all sorts of bodily contortions;
sometimes mild, sometimes almost violent. What,
if any, biblical precedent is there?
10.7: "I, Daniel, alone saw the vision.
For the men who were with me did not see the
vision. But a great quaking/trembling fell on
them so that they fled to hide themselves."
99.1: The Lord reigns, let the nations
tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake."
114.7: "Tremble O earth at the presence
of the Lord."
5.22: "'Should you not fear me?'
declares the Lord. 'Should you not tremble in my
23.9: In speaking of his prophetic
experience, Jeremiah says, "My heart is
broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like
a drunken man overcome by wine because of the
Lord and his holy words." This is a
significant verse because Jeremiah is relating
that what happened to him on at least one
occasion involved a trembling/shaking of his
bones. His wording seems to imply that he shook
from the inside out. It would take a powerful
force to cause his bones to quiver inside his
body. The analogy to being overcome could also be
a reference to being entranced by the coming of a
prophetic word. This text is an answer to God's
plea in Jer.
3.16: "I heard and my heart pounded; my
lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my
bones and my legs trembled."
George Fox (1624-1691, founder of the Quakers):
After a life-changing experience with the Holy
Spirit, Fox had some remarkable experiences.
After passing through the experience
described above, Fox was mightily used of
God, and great conviction of sin fell upon
the people to whom he preached. "The
Lord's power began to shake them," says
he, "and great meetings we began to
have, and a mighty power and work of God
there was amongst people, to the astonishment
of both people and priests." Later, he
says, "After this I went to Mansfield,
where there was a great meeting of professors
and people; here I was moved to pray; and the
Lord's power was so great, that the house
seemed to be shaken."
A remarkable power seemed to accompany the
preaching of Fox wherever he went, whether in
Britain or America, Germany, Holland, or the
West Indies. He usually went about the
country on foot, dressed in his famous suit
of leather clothes, said to have been made by
himself, and often sleeping out of doors or
in some haystack. He was ridiculed and
persecuted, beaten and stoned, arrested and
imprisoned, more frequently perhaps than any
other man, and yet the Lord seemed to greatly
bless and own his labors. Describing his
meetings at Ticknell, England, he says:
"The priest scoffed at us and called us
'Quakers.' But the Lord's power was so over
them, and the word of life was declared in
such authority and dread to them, that the
priest began trembling himself; and one of
the people said, 'Look how the priest
trembles and shakes, he is turned Quaker
Conclusion: There is a biblical precedent
for shaking in God's presence. In the verses
where the cause of shaking is mentioned, it has
to do with holy fear. The shaking we are
experiencing seems to be related more to
prophetic ministry and impartation of spiritual
gifts of which parallels can be seen in Fox's
2.13ff: "Some, however, made fun of them
and said, 'They have had too much wine.' Then
Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice
and addressed the crowd...These men are not drunk
as you suppose. It is only nine in the morning!
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
'In the last days I will pour out my
Spirit.'" Compare Acts
10.44-46 where apparently the same kinds of
phenomena occurred with the Gentiles. That the
120 newly filled believers were acting in a
"drunken" manner is what is know as an
argument from silence. The text never says that
they were but it is obviously inferred. They
would not be accused of being drunk because they
were speaking in different languages. They would
have been accused of such because they were
acting like drunks, i.e., laughing, falling,
slurred speech by some, boldness through lack of
restraint, etc. The analogy of the gift of the
Spirit being "new wine" would lend
itself to the connection.
5.8ff: In a passage dealing with the
Ephesians putting off their old carousing
lifestyle, Paul exhorts them, "Do not get
drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead,
be filled (Greek present tense: "keep on
being filled") with the Holy Spirit."
is contrasting carnal drunkenness with spiritual
filling. Given the tense of the Greek verb, he
appears to also be making an analogy as well as a
contrast. Being filled with God's Spirit is
similar to being drunk on wine. The difference is
that the former is holy while the other is
Conclusion: While there is not much to go
on here, the two NT passages are important texts.
The possibility of being "drunk" in the
Spirit is consonant with the overall flow of
8.9: "All the people had been weeping as
they listened to the words of the law."
Chron. 34.27: "Because your heart was
responsive and you humbled yourself...and you
tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have
2.37: "When the people heard this, they
were cut to the heart..." This text doesn't
say they wept but it's hard to imagine
"being cut to the heart" as not evoking
that emotional response.
John Wesley (1703-1791, Founder of the
On April 17, 1739, there was another
remarkable case of conviction of sin, in
Bristol. Wesley had just expounded Acts 4, on
the power of the Holy Spirit, "We then
called upon God to confirm His Word,"
says he. "Immediately one that stood by
(to our no small surprise) cried out aloud,
with the utmost vehemence, even as the
agonies of death. But we continued in prayer,
till 'a new song was put in her mouth, a
thanksgiving unto our God.' Soon after, two
other persons (well known in this place, as
laboring to live in all good conscience
towards all men) were seized with strong
pain, and constrained to roar for the
disquietness of their heart. These also found
peace." Many other wonderful cases of
conviction of sin attended Wesley's
preaching. It was a frequent occurrence for
people to cry aloud or fall down as if dead
in the meetings, so great was their anguish
of heart, caused, no doubt, by the Holy
Spirit convicting them of sin.
Conclusion: Crying is a natural and normal
response to the movement of the Holy Spirit. They
come as a result of the Spirit's ministry to
release grief, bring repentance or as a sign of
While there are not a lot of texts that describe
laughter as a response to divine visitation, the
key passage of Scripture on this subject comes at
a very important moment in redemptive history.
Both Abraham and Sarah had laughed in unbelief
when God told them respectively that they would
have a child in their old age. When God performed
a miracle in giving them the child of promise,
Abraham named him "he laughs" (Isaac).
John Wimber believes that laughter accompanies
revivals because it represents God's sovereign
activity to heal the barrenness of his people.
126: A Psalm of joy and laughter. "Our
mouths were filled with laughter...those who sow
in tears will reap in joy."
3.4: "A time to weep and a time to
laugh." (See Js.
4:9 for the opposition progression)
17.13: "I am coming to you now but I say
these things while I am still in the world so
that they may have the full measure of my joy
within them." If there is any prayer in the
Bible that will be answered, it is the high
priestly prayer in John
17. Certainly the full measure of joy within
the Trinity is full of laughter.
It was very wonderful to see how person's
affections were sometimes moved, when God did
as it were suddenly open their eyes, and let
into their minds a sense of the greatness of
His grace, the fullness of Christ, and His
readiness to save...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 forebear crying out with a loud
voice, expressing their great admiration. The
manner of God's work on the soul, sometimes
especially, is very mysterious.
Conclusion: Again, laughter fits within
the general flow of Scripture. Christians can be
so filled with the joy of the Lord that they are
given over to fits of laughter.
One of the things we are seeing is that people
are having visions, dreams and prophetic words
while under the power of the Spirit. All
throughout the Bible, prophetic revelation occurs
during periods of divine visitation. There is no
way we can cover this subject in this context so
a few key passages will have to suffice.
11.29: In response to Joshua's complaint that
some of the elders were prophesying outside of
the tent of meeting when the Spirit rested on
them, Moses says, "Are you jealous for my
sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were
prophets and that the Lord would his Spirit on
them!" This is a very significant passage.
It shows that prophecy can be a response to the
Spirit's coming. The phrase, "when the
Spirit rested on them" (v25)
is also reminiscent of the Spirit alighting on
Jesus like a dove at his baptism.
11.6: When Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses,
God revealed how he speaks to the prophets in
contrast to speaking face to face with Moses:
"When a prophet is among you, I reveal
myself to him in visions, I speak to him in
Sam. 10.10: In fulfillment of Samuel's
prophetic word to him, Saul met a procession of
prophets. The text says, "...the Spirit of
the Lord came on him in power, and he joined in
2.17-18: On the day of Pentecost, Peter
quoted the prophetic word of Joel saying,
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out
my Spirit on all people. Your sons and your
daughters will prophesy, your young men will see
visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on
my servants, both men and women, I will pour out
my Spirit in those days, and they will
prophesy." This is the only primary text
concerning the phenomena that we have been able
to find. Peter conveys quite plainly: "God
says" that when the Spirit comes upon his
people, they will prophesy and receive dreams and
Cor. 14: An entire chapter of 1 Corinthians
is devoted to the exhortation to be eager for
spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
When an unbeliever comes into a meeting and hears
someone prophesying, Paul says that, "he
will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, 'God
is really among you!'"
And a report went abroad of me, that I was
a young man that had a discerning spirit;
whereupon many came to me, from far and near,
professors, priests, and people; and the
Lord's power brake forth; and I had great
openings and prophecies; and spake unto them
of the things of God, and they heard with
attention and silence, and went away, and
spread the fame thereof.
Conclusion: When the Spirit comes in
power, God's people will prophecy.
33.14-16, in response to Moses it says,
"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with
you.'" The promise of God's Presence is the
distinguishing mark of God's people. Moses says
to God, "What else will distinguish me and
your people from all the other people on the face
of the earth" (v.16).
The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit is in
each Christian and since Acts
2 has been continually active in the Church.
Jesus, speaking of the Spirit, says to the
disciples, "he is with you and will be in
14. 17). There are times, however, when God
allows us to see His presence to build our faith
and show us where He is working.
Ki. 6.17: When Elisha saw that his servant
was afraid of the surrounding armies, it says,
"And Elisha prayed, 'Oh Lord, open his eyes
so he may see.' Then the Lord opened the
servant's eyes and he looked and saw the hills
full of horses and chariots of fire all around
Elisha." Here God allows his Presence to
manifest. The phenomena we have been describing
are biblical manifestations of God's presence.
The phenomena can best be described as prophetic
signs, even as Ezekiel and Jeremiah were signs
that pointed to God.
Those that have moved in these signs have noticed
over time that certain phenomena mean specific
things, especially shaking.
Certain shaking motions preceding
Certain shaking meaning empowerment
Certain body movements indicative of
God is shaking us to wake us up!
5.14 Paul says, "Wake up O sleeper, rise
from the dead and Christ will shine on you."
This command precedes the exhortation to be
filled continually with the Holy Spirit. We are
to wake up and seek to be continually filled with
the wine of God's Spirit.
If we haven't heeded God's previous wake up
calls, perhaps He is now shaking us to arouse us
and get our attention.
To humble us
When Randy Clark asked God why He was bringing
all the phenomena to Toronto, God replied that He
was looking for people who were willing to look
publicly foolish for the honor of His name. Paul
Cain said, "God offends the mind to reveal
The bottom line issue is one of control. God
wants to know who among his people will be
willing to play the fool for his glory.
The filling of the Holy Spirit is a repeatable
experience and one we are commanded to
continually experience (Eph.
God will sovereignly move on us to impart
supernatural ability to do certain things.
Tim. 1.6: "I remind you to fan into
flame the gift of God which is in you through the
laying on of my hands."
...the Holy Ghost descended on me in a
manner that seemed to go through me, body and
soul. I could feel the impression, like a
wave of electricity, going through and
through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves
and waves of liquid love; for I could not
express it in any other way. It seemed like
the very breath of God. I can recollect
distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like
immense wings. No words can express the
wonderful love that was shed abroad in my
heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I
do not know but I should say, I literally
bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my
heart. The waves came over me, and over me,
one after the other, until I recollect I
cried out, "I shall die if these waves
continue to pass over me." I said,
"Lord, I cannot bear any more;" yet
I had no fear of death.
Finney continued for some time under this
remarkable manifestation of the Holy Spirit's
power. Wave after wave of spiritual power rolled
over him, and through him, thrilling every fiber
of his being.
Note: Signs are pointers to a destination, not the
destination itself. Our destiny is to become conformed
into the image of Christ (Rom.
8.29). We have also been called, as the Church, to
bring the gospel to every nation and then the end will
24.14). When the Holy Spirit comes in power, He comes
to make us like Jesus, to heal us and empower us for our
particular roles in the mission. The results are what
He's after, not the phenomena. If, under God's
sovereignty, He chooses, during seasons of divine
visitation, to do His work without phenomena, that is his
choice. So also, it is of no benefit to shake or fall and
have no long lasting fruit. Ultimately, what God is after
is a willing, humble heart. He decides how to sanctify,
heal and empower.
Neither a negative nor a positive judgment
should be based on the manifestation alone
because the Scripture nowhere gives us any
John White, When the Spirit Comes With Power,
InterVarsity Press, 1987, p. 81-82:
...manifestations, while they may be a
blessing, are no guarantee of anything. Their
outcome depends on the mysterious traffic
between God and our spirits. Your fall and
your shaking may be a genuine express of the
power of the Spirit resting on you. But the
Spirit may not benefit you in the least if
God does not have his way with you, while
someone who neither trembles nor falls may
Just remember Lk.
10.20: "...do not rejoice that the
spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your
names are written in heaven."
24.24: "For false Christians and false
prophets will appear and perform great signs and
miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were
Cor. 11.14: "...Satan himself
masquerades as an angel of light."
Jn. 4.1: "Dear friends, do not believe
every spirit but test the spirits to see whether
they are from God because many false prophets
have gone out into the world."
Key texts for proper discernment
11.9-12: "So I say to you, ask and it
will be given to you... Which of you fathers, if
your son asks for a fish will give him a snake
instead? Or if he asks for an egg will give him a
scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know
how to give good gifts to your children, how much
more will your father in heaven give the Holy
Spirit to those who ask him!"
Simply put: If we ask for God, we aren't
going to get the devil.
3.24, "A kingdom divided against
itself cannot stand."
Jn. 4.2-3: "This is how you can
recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that
acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the
flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not
acknowledge Jesus is not from God."
Simply put: If the person praying exalts
Jesus, the Holy Spirit will be the one
who will come to answer his/her prayer.
The devil wants to slander Jesus' name,
not exalt it.
We have demonstrated that when we pray
and ask for God, the Holy Spirit will
come in answer to our prayers.
The next question is whether the
manifestation we are seeing is God
blessing, empowering, etc., or whether it
is what missionaries have called a
"power encounter," i.e., the
light of God exposing an area of
darkness. In the case of sin, this would
call for repentance. In the case of
demonization, this would call for
deliverance along with repentance.
Another possibility is that the person is
performing acts of manifestations
himself. In this case, proper pastoral
judgment must be used.
Cor. 14:40: "Everything should be done
in a fitting and orderly way."
This criteria concerns the way the
meeting is being conducted. The
"everything" Paul is referring
to is the coming of the gifts of the
Spirit into the meeting. By nature, this
looks a bit messy at times.
Look for the way the meeting is being
conducted. Are the leaders humble?
Exalting Jesus? Maintaining order in the
way the gifts are moving? If they are,
and the atmosphere is peaceful and not
carnal and hyped, then it will be the
Holy Spirit who will come to build Jesus'
Church, not the devil.
12.33 "Make a tree good and its fruit
will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit
will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its
5.22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
Simply put, if the long term fruit is Gal.
5.22, it's God.
The character of Jesus is the destiny of
the Church (Rom.
Summary of judging criteria
Are the people being prayed for asking for God?
They will get God.
Are the people praying asking for God and
exalting Jesus? The Holy Spirit will come in
answer to their prayers.
Are you asking for the gift of discernment?
Are the leaders humble and exalting Jesus? Is the
atmosphere peaceful, even though perhaps noisy?
If yes, then these are signs of the Holy Spirit's
Our presupposition: If it were God, I would understand
All throughout the Bible, God revealed Himself in ways
that were hard to understand
God's chosen people for the most part missed
Jesus. The Pharisees called Him
"Beelzebub" which was a term for the
The disciples didn't understand the mission of
Jesus until the Holy Spirit came in Acts
The Jews as a whole never understood that God's
heart was for all the nations. Even the disciples
were shocked that God would offer the gospel to
the Gentiles, law free. They muse in amazement in
11.18, "So then God has granted even the
Gentiles repentance unto life!"
Historically, God has moved in ways that are hard
to understand. The classic example of this is
martyrdom. Martyrdom has always been an explosive
key to church growth. One of the early church
fathers, Tertullian, said, "The blood of the
martyrs is the seed of the church."
Our presupposition: If it were God, I wouldn't be afraid.
Visitations produce fear throughout the Bible.
Lightning, thunder, and smoke on Mt. Sinai (Ex.19)
Daniel in Chapter
10 had a great vision: "I had no
strength left, my face turned deathly pale, and I
was helpless." The angel, Gabriel, had to
say, "Don't be afraid," because he was
Great fear seized the whole church in Acts
5 when Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead
through a prophetic word when they lied to the
Note: This fear is not the same fear as that which comes
from Satan. 2
Tim. 1.7 says that God has not given us a spirit of
fear. The devil's fear robs us of faith and hope and
renders us incapable of love. There is, however, a godly
fear that the Bible says is the beginning of wisdom (Prov.
9.10). It is this kind of fear that is produced by
divine visitations. It results in a more godly life.
How could a visitation of a holy God on sinful men not
An infinite God
How could our finite minds expect to
understand the infinite ways of God?
He is completely beyond us and holy.
Fear is caused by:
The holiness of God coming in contact
with our sinfulness.
Our anti-supernatural world view: since
we have no category in our western world
view, when we encounter the supernatural,
we encounter the fear of the unknown. It
causes the psychological state known as
"cognitive dissonance." We
receive data that does not fit and it
causes feelings of insecurity.
Our presupposition: If it were God, there would be no
There are two kinds of division
When the kingdom of light clashes with the
kingdom of darkness, it causes godly division.
Jesus said that he had not come to bring peace
but a sword. "A man's enemies will be the
members of his own household" (Mt.
Backbiting, slander, and rebellion are ungodly
because they cause the kingdom to be divided
Godly division is thoroughly Biblical:
Korah was judged for his rebellion against Moses
Jesus caused division wherever He went.
The inclusion of Gentiles caused division (Acts
Godly division is thoroughly historical:
The Great Awakening broke out in New Jersey in
1725 and was violently opposed by more
G. Campbell Morgan called the Pentecostal
Movement "the last vomit of Satan."
The last move of God usually persecutes the
Our presupposition: If it's God, it would be always
spiritual, tidy, and orderly.
Both the Bible and history show just the opposite.
Until Christ returns, there will always be a
mixture of the Spirit and flesh. This is why we
are told to pray that the kingdom would come. We
are at war and war is always ugly.
The disciples were rebuked for their mixed
motives. They wanted great position while
genuinely trying to serve Jesus.
Paul rebuked Peter to his face in Galatians
2 for being in the flesh but this didn't
discredit Peter's ministry.
Paul and Barnabas split up over the issue of
taking John Mark with them on the second
missionary journey. Luke never tells us whether
either Paul or Barnabas was in sin. The point is
that the kingdom continued to advance despite
division in the ranks.
John Wesley himself had bitter disputes with
other godly men over issues of doctrine.
Remember Satan's trick is to try to discredit what's true
by infiltrating it with what's false.
He wants to tempt the flesh that is at war with
our redeemed spirit in its attempt to serve God.
He wants to expose the sinful character within
This fact does not negate the genuineness of our
ministries any more than it did Peter's or
It always smells in a nursery.
The very nature of discipleship is trial and
error. We have grace for our children as they
learn to walk. Praising the good and reprimanding
in love the bad is part of parenting. To debunk a
new movement for not getting it all right is not
fair. Godly correctives, on the other hand, are
necessary to keep that movement on course.
We need a "free to fail" environment in
order to learn.
Cor. 14.40 says, "Let everything be done
in order." Let's put the emphasis on
"everything" and later focus on the
"order." The biblical order is that you
build the fireplace around the fire, and not vice
versa. Function always precedes form.
Our presupposition: When God moves, the same things
happen to everyone.
It's simply not true that some people seem to be
"favored" while others are not. God's
love is for the whole world. Under his
sovereignty he treats everyone in a way that is
beneficial for them. God ultimately determines
what is best for us.
Jesus healed only one man by the pool of Bethesda
despite the fact that there were many more sick
5). This in no way meant that God loved the
man who was healed more than the ones who
weren't. Jesus said that he only did what he saw
the Father doing and the Father was somehow
loving all those at the pool that day.
It's OK to have questions about what is happening but we
must try to be honest about the motive behind our
If it's because of your personality, that's OK.
But let's not let our personalities keep us from
being touched by God during this season of divine
If it's because you are a "noble
Berean," that's to be commended.
Search for the truth diligently.
When you find it, press in.
If it's because you are afraid:
Ask God why.
Don't run -- if this is God, then you
would be turning your back on Him.
After the crucifixion, the disciples had questions too.
The Jesus who walked with two of them on the road to
Emmaus and opened their minds so they could understand
the Scriptures is the same Jesus who walks in our midst
by the person of the Holy Spirit (Lk.
24. 13-35) . He will open our minds as well.
When we ask the question, "What in the world is happening
to us?", it is clear from what we are seeing and hearing
from all over the United States and Canada, that we are in a
sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. Peter told early onlookers to
the Spirit's activity to repent so that times of refreshment
would come from the Lord's presence (Acts 3.19).
What should be our response to such a season of divine
visitation? The clearest passage in the NT on the subject of a
local church's response to the coming of the Holy Spirit is 1
Paul's purpose in writing 1 Corinthians was to
answer a set of questions delivered to him in the
form of a letter from the church (see 7.1;
). He had also received some oral information
from "Chloe's people" ( 1.11).
When Paul proceeds to answer their questions
about spiritual gifts, he does so in a section
where he is dealing with questions related to
when they gather together for church ( 11.17
12 , Paul encourages the activity of
spiritual gifts when they gather together. He
also said that the church was Christ's body which
was to be built up as spiritual gifts are
His admonition in chapter
13 is that they exercise gifts in love.
Herein lies the most important point of all as we
press into the season that is upon us: without
love it profits us nothing.
3 , Paul had already established that
whoever co-labors to build on Paul's
apostolic foundation will have his/her
works weighed on the day of the Lord.
Some works will be labeled "gold,
silver and precious stones." Others
will be labeled "wood, hay and
stubble." It is the quality of each
man's work that will make the difference.
How do we know that our work is the kind
of quality that will pass the fire test
on that day? I believe the answer is in
the motive. In chapter
13 , Paul says that the motive must
7.15-23 , in a passage dealing with
false prophets who would be known for
their fruit, Jesus said, "Many will
say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did
we not prophesy in your name, and in your
name drive out demons and perform many
miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly,
'I never knew you. Away from me you evil
doers.'" This passage allows for a
category of person in the church that
amazingly are able to move in spiritual
gifts but at judgment day will be counted
among those that do not know Jesus. The
difference is that they are not doing the
will of the Father. Their motive is not
one of love for God or men, but is self
serving. Jesus is clear: self serving
activity, no matter how powerful, doesn't
Paul finishes his response to the Corinthian
question of spiritual gifts in chapter
14 where he says that the sign of a loving
exercise of gifts is the building up of Christ's
body. If the exercising of gifts does not, in the
end, build up the church, it has been counter
productive. Whether because of ill motive or
because the leaders have not been facilitating
the operation of the gifts in the meeting
"decently and in order" ( 14.40
), the fact of the matter is that the gifts have
not been allowed to work to build up the church
for the common good.
Conclusion: The final word, then, about
the season that is upon us, belongs to the
apostle Paul. He calls us to embrace the Holy
Spirit's ministry in our midst. He exhorts us to
exercise the gifts with a loving heart posture in
such a manner that the church is edified. The
leaders need to see that this is done in an
orderly way. What counts in the end is not
whether someone fell or shook or even was healed.
No, what counts ultimately is whether they are
loved and built up. What happens as a result of
the Spirit's sovereign intervention is up to God.
This is his work, not ours. Our job is to
love and pray in faith for the kingdom to come,
watching, as we do, for the what the Father is
doing so we can bless it.
So what has Father been doing during this season that
has been upon us? As we conclude, we need to ask whether we are
seeing any long term fruit. This is the ultimate test in
determining if it is God. In Acts 3.19, Peter called his
onlookers to repentance so their sins could be wiped out. The
result in their lives was that times of refreshing would come to
them from the presence of the Lord. One of those seasons of
refreshment is upon us now. In talking to John Arnott, the pastor
of the Airport Vineyard in Toronto where this visitation has
continued non-stop for over three months, the overriding theme
has been joy. This is thoroughly consonant with the New Testament
which sees joy as a sign of the presence of the Spirit in the
believer's life (there are over 60 references to joy in the NT).
God's people are simply having fun in him. In the early days of
the apostles, as they were searching for a word that would
communicate to the Gentiles the ecstasy in having their sins
forgiven and being in right relationship with God through the
atoning blood of Christ Jesus, they choose the word euanggelion
which we now translate "gospel" or "good
news." It was a completely secular word that was used in
reference to the emperor's birthday. It was a holiday, a day of
good news. The apostles traveled throughout the ancient world
preaching that the day of God's party had come.
We are learning to party in God again because the Spirit
of the Lord has come among us to teach us grace, mediate
forgiveness and reveal the Father's love in Christ. The
second characteristic of this renewal, then, is a return
to our first love, Jesus. Reports are coming from
every corner about people falling in love with Jesus in a
whole new way, about a new love for the Bible, about
being taken up into heaven in the form of visions and
dreams. In the arms of Jesus is fullness of joy.
The third characteristic of the renewal is healing.
Reports too numerous to count tell of physical healings,
deliverance from demonic influence and deep emotional
wounds being touched. It seems that as people spend
"floor time" with God, he meets them where they
are, at their point of need. He is removing barriers that
have kept us from moving forward with God.
Much of the shaking has to do with empowerment for
service. Spiritual gifts are being imparted through the
laying on of hands. We have seen impartations for
intercession, evangelism, healing, prophecy and pastoral
Finally there has been a significant return of prodigals
to the church. God is healing old wounds and drawing lost
ones back into fellowship with himself and with the
There have been numerous salvations but not enough
to characterize this as a genuine revival. Revival is
characterized by masses coming to Christ. Those that have
been on the vanguard of this move of the Spirit believe
that its purpose is to refresh the church and to prepare
it for the mighty and genuine revival that is on the
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