[Reposting an essay by my cousin, at his request. — Ernie P.]
The recent Florida meetings and its influence worldwide because of media has caused quite a stir in many sections of the body of Christ.
While some sections of the body of Christ have blindly endorsed everything that is happening still others have taken the other extreme by claiming everything as false.
In the middle are some who are trying to figure out what is going on.
So in light of everything it would be helpful we look into a few of its concerns, for as a body it is important for us to discern things rightly and apply wisdom and love. Our spiritual progress greatly depends on that.
In bringing these insights my goal is not to endorse or condemn but that we discern things from God’s perspective and grow together.
1) One of the common issues pointed out in these meetings is the fascination with angels.
While one who goes to the Florida meetings today might not hear the emphasis on angels, my feeling is that it has so happened in light of strong criticisms that have risen in that regard (not that it is wrong in some cases) and that it is not necessarily a sign of genuine repentance. Now while excessive emphasis on angels and spiritual encounters could prove very unhealthy we shouldn’t be totally closed to such experiences.
It is important we examine this from a biblical standpoint and also have a broader perspective before we come to a final conclusion on what is right and wrong.
The common verse that critics use against focus on angels are usually based on
Col 2:18 Let no one defraud you, delighting in humility and worship of the angels, intruding into things which he has not seen, without a cause being vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Let’s also include Col 2:19 before we look into this.
And not holding the Head, from whom all the body, having been supplied through the joints and bands, and having been joined together, will grow with the growth of God.
Firstly in analyzing these verses we need to know that these verses have a specific application to that time and also a general application to our times.
In those times there were those in the Colossian church asking people not to do certain things (read previous and following verses), which wasn’t right (false teaching). They probably tried to lay this burden on people using their source of presumed encounters with angels (verse 18) as measure of superiority. For these had issues with pride (verse 18) and were not submitted into God’s authority (verse 19).
The same scriptural pattern applies today.
Those who seek to validate their claims based on encounters with angels and their such without proper scriptural basis will also have issues with pride which could be manifest in many ways one of them being insubordination to church authority and discipline which is actually insubordination to God’s authority. There would also be false teachings in them that would turn people away from the simplicity of Christ.
Before we come to a conclusion on a ministry or somebody in light of the recent happenings it is important we follow this scriptural pattern.
Firstly what was their ministry built on? Was it on the word of God and Christ or their presumable encounters with angels and spiritual experiences? If that isn’t clear then are they validating what they are saying based on their encounters or the word of God (not that the word can be also taken out of context and abused)
Secondly is there an issue with pride? Now all of us struggle with pride at times and so we to have that in mind. However my understanding here is that pride is revealed in not submitting to the rest of the body with Christ as its head
Thirdly there would be things taught that are not in line with scripture, which would mislead us from the basics and simplicity in Christ.
Brethren in saying all of this let us not miss the Spirit behind the words in Colossians or else we might end up unrighteously judging people. If we don’t have a proper balance between the word and the Spirit me might turn into Pharisees who judged Jesus based on the scriptures He didn’t fulfill (which He would do on his second coming) but turned a blind eye to the many He did.
Now while people would be in major error if they had built their ministries or lives on assumed experiences rather than the Lord and His words, there are others who could have followed the Lord genuinely but taken a wrong turn.
Angelic encounters and spiritual experiences by themselves are fascinating so it is easy to get carried away by them. It is similar in a lot of ways to the manifestations of the Spirit, where the church in the past-lost focus on the more important truths God wanted to establish through the manifestations and started focusing on the manifestations only. This lead to God’s life in them slowly ebb away and before long it gave place to demonic spirits in some cases.
This is same in the case of angelic encounters and their likes if the focus shifts to them rather than Christ and His message that they bring. Before long our visions and encounters would start coming from our own spirits rather than the Lord as a result of our carnal desires and in the end it could give place to deceiving demonic spirits.
For when we continue in the flesh at some point it will open a doorway for demons to enter in.
Now brethren if we see somebody operating under deceiving spirits in this regard then let us not be quick to judge, having in mind that we have been prone to error in those areas as a body for sometime now by focusing on the less important things. Also let us have in mind that we would loose the grace if we judge unrighteously ourselves but pray for them in Love.
THE OTHER EXTREME
Usually when people see something wrong in a truth presented they tend to disregard the whole thing and end up closing themselves to it totally. This usually could result in a lot of loss, as God has so many things that He wants to accomplish through that truth. So in that light we shouldn’t go to the other extreme of closing ourselves totally to such encounters for they are for today and scriptural.
Almost every one of us in the charismatic circle would agree that God is restoring the prophetic movement in the body today. So in light of that if we just take a look at the prophets in the Old Testament they had supernatural experiences, which included angels being involved quite a few times (Also look at Acts 7:52,53). So it shouldn’t be a surprise if prophets in the New Testament have such encounters also having in mind that we have a better covenant. Now in saying this am not trying to validate people’s experiences, as there are a lot of excesses in that regard but simply opening us to that possibility.
Also Joel 2 talks about God’s Spirit being poured out on the body in the last days and dreams, visions and the prophetic released as a result.
So in concluding this thought it is important we have a balanced perspective not be closed to such encounters and experiences, for we would be seeing more and more experiences of such nature as we approach the end of the end times.
2) Is this genuine revival?
Today people have different concepts on what revival is and they define it accordingly.
For instance some define revival in the context of healings and miracles. Still others define it in the way it affects our spiritual walk with God or to the degree of Holiness (which is of more importance). Still others relate it to souls being saved. Others have a combined view of what revival should look like. Some relate revival to dreams and visions and their likes.
Now the basic meaning of the word to revive is to bring something or someone to consciousness or life, to enable to become active or flourishing again.
From that definition and looking into histories of genuine revivals we would find that during those times God’s life was present in abundance to renew restore and empower people in their walk with Him and fellowmen.
So revival is simply God’s life bringing life and restoration into our spiritual lives, which were probably dead or impaired before that. The fruit of that is Love for God and fellowmen which is the most basic and most important.
If we just take a look into the recent revivals in Brownsville and Toronto they are noted for their difference in emphasis but many who were touched by them were empowered in their spiritual life and walk by the life of God in them.
It can be said like this: no matter what truth God intends to bring through these revivals, when His truth comes so does His life and with it empowering in our spiritual walk.
For instance Azusa street revival is known for the baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues but many people were transformed by the life of God in them.
Another example would be Rodney Howard-Browne’s joy revival. If we would have followed those meetings carefully many were empowered in their walk with God and set free because of God’s life in them
So in light of all of these things the question that needs to be asked regarding Florida is, is the life of God present there in a magnitude that brings radical change and transformation in people’s lives? If so it can be classified as a revival.
Now we cannot judge that based on the experiences of a few who have been transformed nor the few who haven’t been. However if Florida is what it is claimed to be a world wide revival then there should be an impact in that regard on that scale.
Let us judge righteously.
Brethren God has given everyone of us an unction from the Holy one to know all things (I John 2:20). So we would know for certain in our spirits what is of God and not of Him if we are born of Him. This should be our primary leading, the witness of the Spirit. If we have lost this in our journey of life let us cry out to God to restore it back.
The witness of the Spirit will always be sound with Scripture, which is the next and interrelated measure of discernment that God has given us.
Finally even if we are weak in these two areas there is a seemingly easier way, which is discerning by the fruits. Fruits from Matthew 7:21 to 23 are not signs and healings and miracles but the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 literally.
If we come across anything wrong let us intercede and pray for God’s best for the body during these times. Let us endeavor to walk in Love.