Extreme Exposure to God’s Presence
Nowadays, there are Christian leaders who gather believers together for corporate worship that has a new flavor that is called “Christian mysticism” by some and “ecstastia” by others. Some say “taste and see that the Lord is good” and others say “strange fire!” Which is correct? Why is this movement causing so much controversy?
The Jesus Freak movement of the 60’s and early 70’s caused stagnant churches and their members to take notice that there was something fresh on the horizon. The simple message from many itinerant beach and street evangelists was “Jesus loves you, man!” , This challenged much of churchianity and made them consider whether their love had grown cold. The message of that movement was that we needed to get back to the roots of Christianity, including the sharing of possessions, miracles, signs and wonders. Jesus music was born and Campus Crusade for Christ helped host “Explo 72, which attracted 80,000 young people. This brought media attention.
On at least one of the new mystic web sites, John and Lily Crowder talk about their own conversion during that period of time and there is a 60.s motif adorning their testimony web page. Those who lived through the 60-s and 70-s will remember the turbulence and unrest of those times while reading this couple’s testimony.
While this blogger finds the movement’s means to an end objectionable, I don’t’ align myself with charismatics either. Some Charismatics (those Christians that believe the supernatural gifts are for today too) are acting like God doesn’t do anything supernatural anymore. God does a lot of things in this day and time that man cannot explain. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read J. Lee Grady’s article on “Sloshed in the Spirit-It’s time to get sober”. (Charisma Magazine, October, 2009) He sounds like he does not believe in any manifestations of the Spirit. Is this really Charisma Magazine? http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/23733-sloshed-in-the-spirit-its-time-to-get-sober
He said, “Spiritual intoxication has been a trend in charismatic circles for a while. Some respected preachers, citing Acts 2:13, defend the concept that Christians might feel drunk when they are filled with the Holy Spirit (because the early disciples were accused of being drunk when they spoke in tongues). This teaching led to lots of disorderly conduct in revival meetings—including nosebleeds, bruises and more serious injuries.”
Grady uses Peter’s admonition that believers should remain sober and to gird their minds for action. He says that Peter did this partly to address any concerns about over consumption of alcohol but also about a sober mind set. Grady then says, this command or exhortation also refers to lusts of the flesh and or emotionalism or anything that dulls the spiritual senses.
The problem here is that he is equating “getting drunk in the Spirit” with “dulling spiritual senses”. Granted, the phrase “getting drunk in the Spirit” is probably overused by some that are immature but so are a lot of other phrases in the Bible. That doesn’t make them untrue or unnecessary.
I’ll give you an example from my own life. The church I attend started out in a small store front building and the pastor had a young Jewish woman living with him and his family and two daughters. He and his wife, embraced her at a time in her life when being in a family could bring some healing to her. So, they basically adopted her for awhile.
At the time, the Lord was revealing to me a lot about the Hebraic roots of Christianity. During one service, when the worship was awesome and holy, I went to hug my little Jewish sister, and suddenly we both burst out laughing hysterically, and collapsed on the floor. We continued to laugh joyfully for about ten or fifteen minutes.
Now the visiting prophet that was there, saw us and said, “I’m not going near that”, because he could see that this was supernatural.
I have thought about that event since that day and wondered, why, for NO APPARENT REASON, we behaved that way. Could it be because God is about to bring about the One New Man that Jesus prayed for in His priestly prayer? Here was a gentile and a Jew, hugging and the joy just poured out of us supernaturally. Get it?
God has supernaturally invaded my life like that many times. For a season though, I am “sober” because God is teaching me many things through intense scripture study and talking to people who are wise and learned in the scriptures themselves. I miss the “fun” part of being filled with the Spirit but I know that God wants to teach me and if He wants to teach me in a conventional way or when I’m “filled to overflowing” , it’s still Him teaching me.
Now on the other hand, there is that zig-zagging in some believers’ walk that makes people a little wary. One thinks, “Okay, are they extreme for God or are they off balance?”
I’ve never been very adept at apologetics but there are people that I respect and admire that are very good at debating and making intelligent arguments. John Parsons (Hebrew4Christians.com) is one, and so is Brad Scott (Wildbranch Ministries), and some folks at Beth El Shaddai messianic synagogue in Birmingham, Alabama.. But, there are times when all of us do have to study something called “doctrine” because it can get us into trouble if it is unscriptural doctrine.
We can see the reason for this in Revelation 2:12. God tells the church at Pergamos that they are doing well in a couple of things but He also warns them of some things. One of the things He warns them about is a doctrine called “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans”. He says they are tolerating people (ie., “some”) who “hold” to this doctrine of the Nicolaitans. There is little, historically, that explains this doctrine but according to some internet authors it has something to do with leaders who want to control their flock in some unscriptural way.
God was not only concerned about this doctrine but also about Jezebel and Balaam. This “triple alliance”of darkness was dangerous because it could cause believers to be led into three forbidden areas: sexual immorality, witchcraft, and idolatry, and those are serious issues for believers to confront.
Particularly striking is what the Lord tells the the church in Pergamos to do: “Repent; or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
Do you see what He says? “Repent or I will come to YOU quickly.” That is, the ones who should be addressing this doctrine, not the ones who were holding to the doctrine. The result of the leaders NOT addressing this issue, is that He will “fight against THEM (the ones who were holding to this doctrine) with the sword of [His mouth].
I don’t know about you, but I think I’d desire to be zealous to repent before the Lord had to come after someone in my fellowship with the sword of His mouth! I mean, what does THAT look like?
So, I want to look at this new doctrine in the light of scripture as led by the Spirit of God, because I have an anointing that teaches me. You do too, if you’ve confessed the NAME.
Here is my biggest beef with the new mystics and new ecstatics. Besides the fact that they are drawing from too many Catholic Mystics and people that are questionable to me, they’ve decided that trying to witness to addicts with words that God likes to use is too complicated or inappropriate or culturally irrelevant.
Here’s some quotes: “A lot of [what we talk about] is metaphor…putting it into a cultural context.”
John [Crowder] says that people on the street , I.e., “his target audience” (my quotes) “are not going to understand words like “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and “speaking in tongues”, but if you talk about a “pleasurable out of body experience” or “drugs” or “ecstasy”, they get it.”.
He’s said some other things too, but let’s look at this one first.
The author and finisher of our faith gave us His example. We read in John, that Jesus was at the point that He was setting His face “like a flint” toward Jerusalem, and beginning to say some things that some of His disciples are having a hard time receiving. Some of them drop out of Club Jesus. For them, the attraction isn’t there anymore, because what they saw in Jesus was “of the flesh”. They were not seeing with spiritual eyes.
John 6:6 From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Jesus has gotten to the point with His disciples that He wants to lower the boom so that when their world is shaken, their foundation would remain (Jesus’ words), and they would be able to make some sense of life. He says,
John 6:3 It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.
The flesh profits NOTHING. I can just see their little downcast faces, kind of shaking their heads as they walk away. Jesus has let them down again. Is He or is He not the Messiah? For them, it’s like a watching a bad soap opera. Sometimes He’s the miracle working hero and other times, He’s escaping being thrown off a cliff. That’s a very vulnerable hero.
So, what are spiritual words? Well, they are:
- Words that Jesus uses.
- Words that God uses.
- Words that the Holy Spirit uses.
- Words in scripture.
- Words that people use when moved by the Spirit. (Prophets and all flesh)
So, some, in this movement say that words or a phrase like “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is not good enough. Let’s look at that phrase. Baptism is “mikvah” in Hebrew, which is a “compete immersion.”. For example, here’s a conversation that you could have with an addict:
“Have you ever been swimming? Have you ever gone underwater? That’s immersion. That’s what God wants to do with us. Except, instead of water, He is going to do this with His Holy Spirit. What is Holy Spirit? It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s better just to let Him show you. Let’s ask Him right now and you’ll find out and then you’ll tell me what it is!”
Why does God use phrases like “baptism of the Holy Spirit”? It is because it is a Hebraic concept. It meant that you were cleansed. Men in pre -Yeshua/ Jesus times, bathed in water by immersion, believing that by doing this ritual in a prescribed way, they would be cleansed of their sins. Cleansing by faith in God using a symbolic ritual was helpful, but didn’t really get all the dirt out of their lives. There were all those hidden sins and sins they didn’t even know they were committing!
God says, “I’ll clean you up by My Spirit and you’ll KNOW you are clean!”
See, it’s pretty simple and God is very smart , a wise woman once said.
Here’s one more phrase and then I’m done. New mystics, like John Crowder say that the way to be consistent is to “Get whacked, Stay whacked, and don’t go back”!. I guess one could say he was…creative?? He’s kind of like a bad Christian comic. What does “whacked” mean to John Crowder? How does this enhance His relationship or walk with God?
If by “whacked”, does he mean, those experiences that cause paradigm shifts in our thinking? For example, does he mean the first time you were filled with the Spirit or the first time you spoke in tongues? The first time that happened to me I was standing next to my mom and dad and we were watching a Billy Graham telecast. The Lord sovereignly filled me while I bowed my head to pray the Lord ’s Prayer with Billy Graham. I didn’t speak in tongues at that time, but after it was over, the Lord brought me back to earth and I said, “God just baptized me with His Spirit!” I was full of supernatural joy! I was gushing the words out!
My dad simply grinned an uncomfortable grin and said, “That’s nice, honey.”..
The point is, God brought me back to earth to explain. You have to go back sometimes. You can’t stay whacked. That day, though, God invaded my temple. He can do that.
But God knows our frame, that we are but dust! He’s going to empower us but He’s gentle with our frame! He knows how much we can take!
But, Ginny, (you say) the Bible says, “Be continually filled with the Spirit” That doesn’t mean, “Stay whacked”. Jesus came out of the wilderness “in the Power of the Holy Spirit”. We can walk too, “in the Power of the Spirit” and still be sober.
Comments are welcome!