Greetings! Welcome, and thanks for visiting! If you’ve got the time, come spend the day with me. I have many thoughts I wish to share. On the surface, the topic may appear to be the Charismatic movement and associated sign gifts, but in truth, it’s not, as that’s only the carrier. The real subject will be God and His workings in our lives. While you will not see everything exactly as I do, I believe you will find some items of value, and trust that you will be blessed if you take the time to consider them. So, with that said, if you are ready, and willing, here we go... Enjoy!
About a year into my Christianity, a friend at work invited me to a meeting one Friday evening, which I was not able to attend. Upon inquiring the following Monday how it went, he informed me he had been anointed a faith healer, and shared some literature with me. I read it, and as it seemed to make sense, thought I should put applicable portions into practice. I wanted changes in my life, had troubles in my heart, and promptly commanded out the demon of self-centeredness. Anyway, a night or two later, during the middle of the night, I suddenly sat up, awaking to a deep exhale. I believed I could feel the presence of evil leaving me, and concluded the exorcism was successful. Soon after, I remember reading "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:18-20). To my shame, I twisted this passage to mean that having spirits subject to you was proof that your name was written in heaven. I was exhilarated!
Over the course of the next month, I participated in a few healings including one on myself for a headache. The procedure was to sit in a chair with him standing behind with his hands on your head or neck while he sang and prayed. The human touch was comforting, and the singing soothing. It definitely made one feel better afterwards, which was encouraging to all. I shared these things with my parents and oldest sister, who promptly shared contrary opinions, causing me to reevaluate. A number of weeks later a surgical missionary at church talked of unresolved medical issues his wife was having, so after the service I asked him if he had considered faith healing, as I had a friend who believed he had this gift. He hesitated, and then told me he had been approached with this before, and as far as he was concerned, believed it to be demonic. I had not anticipated this response. I went home a little miffed, not knowing what to think. One person said he believed it to be of the Holy Spirit, and another of an evil spirit. What reason was there to believe one over the other, as I respected them both? What was I to do?
After ample consideration, I decided to attempt to follow these instructions: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." (1 John 4:1-3) I expressed my concerns to my friend, asking him if I could be a part of his next healing and challenge the spirit within him. He was ok with this, so soon after, I did. While he was singing, I addressed the spirit within him by putting forth the challenge in the verse. The only feedback I got was mixed emotions from my friend, as the question prompted both laughter and tears. I later asked him why he laughed (and cried) after I asked the question, and he (basically) said the Holy Spirit was laughing (and crying) at my lack of faith, at my unwillingness to believe that which was before me. In my heart, I did not believe that the Holy Spirit would laugh (and cry) at me for doing what He commanded me to do in the Scriptures. I went home very unsettled, and a little perturbed at my friend.
After further consideration, I reached the conclusion that finding the answer I was looking for wasn’t going to be as easy as I had hoped. For my next attempt, I purchased a copy of Gaebelein's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible by A.C. Gaebelein, a 1237 page work, and sat down with it and my Bible. Starting at Genesis, I would read a couple chapters out of my Bible, then the corresponding material from the commentary. About six months later, I finished reading them both, in their entirety. Wow! What a growth experience! Afterwards, I remember telling my wife it was obvious the author did not believe faith healing (or any charismatic practice) was for today, but didn’t supply any compelling reasons that would convince me to conclude likewise. I was still unsure either way. So... failure number two.
What more could I do to find the answer? Nothing else, except for that one passage that troubled me. "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons." (1 Cor 10:21) I remember contemplating: what if the missionary was wrong? What if he was right? If he was wrong and I set it aside, I would miss out on a blessing, while if I embraced it, I would receive that blessing. But if he was right and I set it aside, that would be life saving, while if I embraced it, I would not be partaking of the cup of the Lord and the Lord’s table. After much thought, I felt losing fellowship with Christ was out of the question, a risk I was not willing to take. The passage did not say that one ought not to, or should not, or it would not be a good idea, but rather that you cannot. I was done. I was not willing to take that level of risk, even with my demon experience. After all, on what basis did I conclude that in my “exhaling” it was evil that was leaving me? Maybe that’s what it feels like to have evil entering me. The Bible does not say. I set the whole thing aside and moved on with life.
About a week later while reading a book from my wife on a different subject, I ran into thoughts that began to trigger understanding. And then came more, and more, and more. It seemed like answers began pouring in from all directions. I thought I was done with the topic after six months of study, but I was wrong. After reading through the Bible fifteen to twenty times, reading approximately two hundred pertinent books and commentaries, listening to hundreds of sermons, and exchanging thoughts and ideas with many people, I now believe I am finished. As I wasn’t satisfied with any literature on the market, I developed my own, and offer it to anyone who has an interest and is willing to consider my perspective. It’s been quite the ride. The highs of discovery were exhilarating, while the lows of self examination were devastating. Thirty years of sitting at the feet of Christ considering His word, being guided into truth by the Holy Spirit, and being crushed little by little into the image of Christ by the heavenly Father, has been a real experience, one I would not trade for anything. My sins have been great (I am still self-centered - and have headaches), but God has shown Himself even greater. Even though an idea or two expressed will be disagreeable, I offer it as food for thought anyway. Take a read and experience some of the joy of my life.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.