New Wine Articles
God's Manifest Presence

VI. Exposing False Equations About the Manifestations

  1. "If I was more devoted, then I would experience these manifestations of the Spirit." The experience of these things are not related to our spiritual passion and diligence, but are the operation of the grace and providence of God.

  2. "Many people were visibly touched by the Holy Spirit. Revival is here!" Actually the classical understanding of revival goes far beyond the experience of manifestations to deep and far-reaching spiritual and practical transformations of individuals, spiritual movements, geographic regions and whole nations. The terms "refreshing" and "renewal" are more appropriate for the present work of the Spirit. Hopefully it will lead to full revival. All the more then, let us keep praying and believing for it!

  3. "Those people God is using to impart his power are really mature and sensitive to God. God must really love them a lot more than He does me. But if I'm diligent enough, maybe I'll become qualified to do those same things." People who have moved in "power ministry" have often unwittingly conveyed the notion that the power gifts are merit badges of spirituality. This has brought many dedicated and sincere believers into condemnation. These gifts and callings are free gifts of grace and God gives them as He wills to various members of the Body of Christ. In times of spiritual visitation more members than normal are used to impart the Holy Spirit.

  4. "Just be open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit and you will get touched too." It would be much less perplexing if this was the way it worked, but it doesn't. Although people may have emotional barriers that hinder the work of the Spirit, many who are skeptical and cynical have been powerfully and visibly touched by God. Others who are very open and hungry for a touch are not powerfully affected, at least outwardly. We must refrain from judging who is "open" and who is "closed" and assuming this may be aiding or hindering a person from receiving from God. If you believe you may have such a barrier, ask God to reveal the nature of it to you. He will be faithful, in His time, to answer such a request. In the meantime, do not assume that it must be a barrier that is keeping you from receiving from God.

  5. "If it was truly the Holy Spirit touching and moving upon these people, then there will be instant and/or lasting "fruit" in their lives. Actually, God moves upon and woos people closer to Himself who never bring forth the fruit that He intends through these encounters with His grace. There are no guarantees that "fruit" will result from these "divine invitations". People are free to respond fully, partially, or even ignore such spiritual opportunities.

  6. "If it is really the power of the Holy Spirit on these people, then they should not have any control over their responses and behavior." There is such a thing as "uncontrollable" experiences with the Spirit; however, these are actually more uncommon than many people think. There is a mysterious combination of the divine and human powers surrounding the Spirit's work. Peter knew how to walk and had the power to do so when Jesus invited him out onto the water. The supernatural side of the event was that he didn't sink as he walked. On the front end of welcoming the Spirit's manifest presence, there is more control at our disposal to respond to his activity. In the middle of a welcomed experience with the Spirit, there is typically less control on the human side, but even still, there remains an ability to "pull out" of the experience if the need or desire is present. There are exceptions to this general rule and we must learn to recognize them, "There is a time for everything," said Solomon. The Holy Spirit knows this (He wrote it!), and He is not necessarily quenched when those in authority in the church or a given meeting discern, for instance, that the time for quiet, attentive listening to the preaching of the Scripture has come and they therefore ask the assembly to respond accordingly. This is not automatically to be considered the manifestation of a "control spirit"! Loving community implies individual restraint. Absolute freedom is absolute nonsense!

Revised: October 19, 1995