Building People of Substance for Works of Power
More than 40 years have passed since I first experienced someone prophesying over me. I was brand new in the whole Charismatic thing. In fact, I’d only been a Christian a few months. I was invited to a home bible study where a dear lady was teaching. After the lesson, she began to pray for people. She laid hands on me and began to prophesy. She said I was going to have a long ministry (correct), but that I would be like Moses, going into difficult situations (correct), and always standing alone (wrong). She droned on for a good bit, but the part about never having anyone to help me was all I really remembered.
Being a neophyte in these things, I didn’t know what to make of it. She seemed like a nice lady, and people I knew looked at her as a spiritual mentor of sorts. I soon went off to bible school, where I learned a good deal more about the Scriptures. I did my best to follow God as we embarked on our ministry adventures, but every now and then, when something difficult happened in the church, I could hear that woman saying, “You’ll always stand alone.” It would sneak up on me, often bringing discouragement before I realized it. It finally dawned on me that Moses was not alone. Problem solved. Joshua cometh (along with Aaron, Hur, Miriam, Jethro, and Zipporah). This portion of her prophecy was unbiblical.
The gifts of the Spirit are for us today. Thank God! The problem comes when we forget that the vessels through whom these gifts flow are human, and their subjective takes may be skewed by their filters. The lady who spoke over me was right on some things, wrong on others. That’s actually to be expected. Most of us in this movement have seen and heard some mighty odd things over the years. This is not a new problem. Paul warned the church at Thessalonica about such things:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.1Thessalonians 5:16-22 ESV
Notice the two dangers Paul implies in these verses:
- Rejecting all supernatural manifestations. When we see enough goofy stuff, the temptation is to shut it all down. Unfortunately, when we do that, we lose the good along with the bad.
- Having our services sullied with imitation spirituality. People are people. They have pride issues and emotional problems. They are sometimes flesh-driven or even motivated by demons. Allowing this to happen can result in deception, and it certainly drives away people who think we’re daft.
For us, the answer is not to eliminate all supernatural manifestations. Paul’s next instructions are clear, just rarely practiced. Don’t quench or despise; instead, test and hold fast. If God set these things in the church, then they must be good for us. God is good, and He’s never wrong. We have to be willing to sort through all the flaky, the false, and the evil. That means having standards, some way to filter what’s real. It also means that once we recognize something as wrong, we have to be willing to correct it. That takes grace and courage.
Somebody Said: “Satan can move in the supernatural realm, too, because he is a spirit being, as is God. You’ve got to be able to know whether a vision, dream, impression, or suggestion is from God or Satan. Those suggestions that do not line up with the Word are of the devil.”Kenneth E. Hagin
Here’s the Point:
The supernatural is supposed to be the norm for the New Testament church. When we cut it off, we lose something God intends for our benefit. It’s our responsibility to learn how to judge the manifestations, to separate the true from the false and the flaky. But that’s not enough. There has to be a pastoral determination to use these opportunities to teach and disciple. The teachable will grow, the rebellious will leave. Both of those are positives. It will be well worth the trouble.
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Try reading “Is There an Interpreter in the House?” for more on this subject.