September 12, 2006

Prophetic Evangelism

Last night a Morroccan Muslim couple, M. & A., came to visit. Actually, they are very close to the Kingdom of God because they have encountered many miracles - healings, dreams, visions and powerful encounters with the presence of God. A.'s sister was visiting and they brought her along to our house.

Our friends wanted to hear about all the miracles we had seen over the summer as they had been in Morrocco and we hadn't seen them in a couple of months. While we were telling them some stories, the Spirit of Prophecy came on me and I just stopped and started to prophesy over A'.s sister. The Lord showed me that she would be a prophetess in His Kingdom. I told her that she was already "seeing things", which she confirmed. Knowing that the enemy was using her, I explained that as she submitted to the Holy Spirit, her prophetic gifting would increase exponentially. I then saw that she had been in a relationship that had ended for a specific reason - namely because the man was too dominant and wouldn't give her the freedom to be who she was. She also confirmed that it was true.

Finally, the Lord showed me through a word of knowledge that she still had a broken heart because of this relationship. She said that was true also. I explained that as we prayed for her (both that night) and on other occassions, the Lord would heal that emotional pain. This young Morrocan women allowed us to pray for her after this.

It was a powerful night. The Lord gave us several other prophetic words for the couple as well. We pray that the Lord would continue to draw these precious Morroccans to Himself.

September 11, 2006

Healing Incompatible with the Blueprint!

As long as we carry the misconception that sickness and evil is part and parcel of God's sovereignty, we haven't meditated deeply enough on the Incarnation and the Crucifixion. Nor will we join Christ in destroying the works of the devil.

Greg Boyd writes,

In my view, every other understanding of divine providence [read: the models where God determines everything] to some extent diminishes the sovereignty and glory of God. It brings God's wisdom and power down to the level of finite human thinking. We would need to control or possess a blueprint of all that is to occur ahead of time to steer world history effectively. But the true God is far wiser, far more powerful, and far more secure than we could ever imagine. Remember whom we are speaking about. This is the omnipotent Creator who "flexes His omnipotent muscle, "as it were, by being born in a stable, growing up with the stigma of being an illegitimate child, hanging out with sinners. . . and [dying] on the cross! To the natural understanding this is foolishness, but to the apostle Paul, it is the wisdom and power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). This demonstrates that the normal human way of thinking about sovereignty only as control is misguided (see Matt. 20:25-28). God is so sovereign, he chooses to save the world by allowing himself to become weak. Since Jesus is for believers the very definition of God (John 1:18, 14:7-10; Heb. 1:3), we must not think of the cross as an exception to the way God really is. Rather, the cross constitutes the supreme example of the way God is. God rules by love, not control. God's unchanging gracious character leads him to change in response to us. God's glory is displayed in his allowing himself to be affected by us. And God's sovereignty partly consists in his openness to us and the future we help create.

Boyd, Greg. God of the Possible, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, 2000, pp. 68-9.
Let us help Him create a future where it is on earth as it is in heaven.

September 10, 2006

Hillbilly Healed, yes, in America!

My friends and I went to pray for these two old bachelor brothers. Let me set the scene:
these guys are in their mid-60s and have never married. They live in a small house in a small town and grew up in the backwoods of America. Well, these guys called us and asked us to come over and pray for the older brother's (George) leg. He had "been down" for a few days and couldn't walk without difficulty. After we prayed for them both for an extended period of time and asking the Lord to bless them, we left noticing that the swelling had gone down a little. This happened the beginning of the summer. Yesterday, one of my friends who had gone to pray with me ran into the two brothers. He asked George how he was feeling these days. George testified that some guys (he didn't recognize my friend as one of the ones who had prayed for him) came over and prayed for his legs to be healed and 15 minutes after they left, his leg was totally healed. Then John (the younger brother) chimed in and said that he saw his brother's leg go from a sick brown color to a red color and then to his normal flesh color. He said that he saw it and he will never doubt it. Then George said, "Some people don't believe in that laying on of hands thing but I tell you . . . ".

Some people don't believe in that laying on of hands thing. . . too bad for them.

LET US FORGET "THE GREATER WORKS"! (at least for now)

Sometimes a familiar Scripture jumps out and grabs you - almost as if you've never read it before. I believe this to be a manifestation of what Paul calls "a spirit of wisdom and revelation"(Eph 1:17). Last night this is exactly what happened to me (and subsequently my wife) listening to a Bill Johnson message entitled "A Mandate for Miracles". My whole understanding of John 14:12 changed completely.

Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (NASB)

Many Charismatic Christians, like myself, will quote this verse often. We talk about it amongst ourselves, we preach from it, and we even use it to defend our theological convictions. I have often referenced this verse in my own preaching.

For the most part, Charismatics tend to focus on the latter part of the verse - the 'greater works'. I think one of the reasons we have done this is in response to the influence of cessationism that teaches that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were limited to Christ and His Apostles in the 1st Century. Many Christians won't entirely subscribe to this doctrinal perspective, but its influence is prevalent in many theological/Biblical resources.

I wanted to see what different commentators said about this verse. Where did they focus their attention? Interestingly, all four commentaries (none of them being Pentecostal/Charismatic) I looked at also focused upon the meaning of the phrase "greater works" - mostly referencing unusual miracles done by the Apostles that were apparently not done by Christ. All of these commentators seem to more or less reflect the cessationist perspective, i.e. these "works" were for Christ and His Apostles and not for us today.

So whether the verse is being explained by Charismatics, or conservative Evangelical scholarship, the focus on the verse remains the same - both are fixated on "the greater works" which I now think to be the completely wrong focus.

No one seems to be focusing on the 1st part of the verse! This is what hit me last night. What was my 'fresh revelation'? It wasn't any further insights into the "greater works" - their nature, the timing of their manifestation, etc. No - the second part of the verse had clearly distracted me (us?) from seriously considering the first part of the verse.

Jesus says that he who "believes" (the same word used in Jn. 3:16) in Him, the works (clearly referencing the miracles, see 14:10 & 11 - also see John 10:25-38 ) that He has been doing, they will do also. Translation: If you have faith in Jesus, you will be doing the very same miracles today that Jesus did. John couldn't be clearer in his meaning and yet I couldn't have been further away in my understanding.

Why am I talking about and praying & fasting for "the greater works" when I'm not even doing the "same works" that He did?????? What does this say about the quality of my "believing" in Him? I am currently not even remotely close to do doing what Jesus did while on the earth. I have seen a few miracles along the way. I have even seen a couple of blind eyes and deaf ears open. I have also seen a man crippled in an accident healed. However, that is not happening to me on a regular basis - in fact, it has been a couple of years now since I saw those miracles. What about last month? Last week? Yesterday?

Since that time, I have prayed for over 5 blind eyes that have not opened up, and several people in wheel chairs who have not walked. Forget "the greater works" for now - WHERE ARE THE NORMAL WORKS OF CHRIST in my life?

I guess because the future is referenced regarding those "greater works", we have an ability to explain away our lack of their fulfillment - "They WILL COME", we reason. Maybe next month, next year or even at the end of the age - but for now, we are strangely comfortable. We shouldn't be comfortable at all! If we aren't doing the works that Jesus did on the earth now, then there must be something defective in our "believing", which is definitely something we don't want to fess up to.

I am - I confess that my believing in some way MUST BE wanting, because, I am in no way seeing the normal works of Christ in my daily life and there I must confess like the father in Mark 9, "Lord, I believe, HELP MY UNBELIEF".