(photo above by me)
In many of today’s churches you can see some truly astonishing things taking place. Many far-out manifestations are happening, and people are giving the Holy Spirit credit for them, when in many cases the Holy Spirit truly had nothing to do with them. People falling over backward, violently shaking on the floor, barking like dogs, howling, laughing uncontrollably, staggering around and falling over like drunkards, shaking their heads back and forth rapidly, as if demon possessed. The list goes on and on. My first question is this: Are these type of manifestations found anywhere in the Bible? The short answer is “absolutely not!”. First, let me offer this test you can apply to any manifestations you may encounter at your church or in a meeting you may attend. Read on.
First of all, I have to admit that this “test” as I call it, was originally articulated by what I call a “clear thinking charismatic” named Zach Poonan. He is a pastor I admire, even though he is in the charismatic movement. I have always used this following test myself in a very similar form, but I had never broken it down into four simple parts as Mr Poonan does. When it comes to the type of manifestations I mentioned above, here is a great test to apply to any of them. It is four easy steps. Consider any single manifestation or supposed move of the Spirit, then ask yourself:
1) Did Jesus ever do it?
2) Did Jesus ever teach it?
3) Did the apostles ever do it?
4) Did the apostles ever teach it?
It’s that simple, and if we apply those tests to the things we see going on today in many churches, then we clearly have some things to call into question! If we hold to this test of manifestations, then we keep ourselves safe from most error. Did Jesus ever stumble around like a drunkard and fall over, laughing uncontrollably? Absolutely not. Clearly the Bible does not record Him as doing such, but can you even imagine Him doing that? I cannot. Sure, I can imagine Him laughing! Jesus was not some stoic Mr. Spock personality. But this thing today called “holy laughter” is clearly not found in scripture. Uncontrollable laughing is attributed to the Holy Spirit in many charismatic churches today. There is no scripture whatsoever to back it up. Is God doing a “new thing”? If you want to accept any “new thing” that comes down the pike, you have that right. You are opening yourself up for deception, and even to the demonic in some cases.
There is one famous preacher named Rodney Howard Browne, who dubs himself “The Holy Ghost Bartender”. He is not known for his Biblical preaching, but rather for his talents of manipulating people into a laughing, staggering frenzy. I’m sorry, but my Bible does not mention such behavior! Oh, you might say, “what about in Acts 2, at Pentecost, when they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues (languages)? Weren’t THEY all “drunk in the Spirit”? To that questions I will answer plainly with another question: Are you going to make a doctrine out of what a few unsaved mockers said? For in Acts 2: 13 it says “Others mocking said, ‘these men are full of new wine'”. First of all, it seems to me that they (who were filled with the Spirit) were being made fun of because they couldn’t handle “new wine”. New wine was basically grape juice! It was new, unfermented wine. The onlookers were basically doubly insulting them by saying they were drunken on grape juice, which would be even more of an insult than saying they were drunk with fermented wine. In other words, they were likely saying that they could not handle even unfermented wine! But now you ask, why were they being called “drunken” anyway? Weren’t they staggering around? I seriously doubt it. There is no place in scripture where drunken behavior is spoken of in a good way. It’s always sinful. God does not want His children losing control of their minds! Sure, at Pentecost they had just received the Holy Spirit in a very dramatic fashion! They were certainly more than a little excited. They were likely being very LOUD. In those days, when any gathering of a religious nature escalated to something remotely out of the pattern of normal behavior, it was usually because alcohol was involved. I’m speaking of the pagan religions which dominated the age. Pretty much all the ancient religions were marked by drunken gatherings, often including orgies, ecstatic speech, staggering, and the like. At Pentecost, the apostles were filled with the Spirit, and certainly they were a bit excited when they were speaking “the wonderful works of God”. Who wouldn’t be? The onlookers were assuming they were drunken, as would normally be the case for a religious gathering in that day! “Look, those Christian goodie-goodies are drunk on new wine!”. Again, for that time in history, any gathering that became remotely loud or energetic would be automatically assumed to be of alcohol induced behavior. Nowhere does the Bible say they were staggering around, or falling over, as you would see in many Pentecostal churches today as they try to constantly reenact Pentecost.
Well, I did not originally plan to cover the second chapter of Acts to that degree, but there you have it. That’s my take on it. I will soon write an article on Acts 2, so watch for it in the near future. Now, let’s move on to some other manifestations. First, let’s look at a few that are quite easy to judge by the Word of God. In many of today’s false revivals and chaotic meetings, you will see bizarre behavior, and all is attributed to the Holy Spirit. Some of it is simply ecstatic emotional behavior, and some is downright demonic. We all, including myself, must be careful as to what we attribute to which Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us to “test the spirits”. Jesus spoke of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit when the scribes asserted that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub. (Satan) Mark 3:22. “And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils'”. In this case, the scribes were attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Today what we see is often the reverse, which is where people ascribe to the Holy Spirit works that are done by demons. Now, if you have ever done this yourself, and many of us have, do not let this send you into great panic. It’s a very deep subject to explain, but if you are a believer, I do not believe you can commit the “unpardonable sin” of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. If you have concerns, just do some research on it. It’s too much to cover here. Now I digress back to the manifestation issue. Barking like a dog in church? Flopping wildly on the floor? Well, we can certainly mark off barking like a dog as being totally unscriptural, and outright ungodly nonsense. If you are ever in a gathering where this behavior is accepted, RUN for the door! Did Jesus ever do it, or teach it? NO. Did the apostles ever do it, or teach it? NO. Discard it.
Flopping on the floor. This one is certainly in the Bible! Well, sort of. But the thing is, it’s not a good thing in the Bible, if you are flopping on the floor like a fish. First, let’s apply the test. Did Jesus ever do it or teach it? No. Did the apostles ever do it, or teach it? No. Discard it. In the Bible, when people were flopping and convulsing, they had a demon! There are NO places in scripture where “the power of God was so strong, Bobby just fell down and convulsed under the power of God”. This is not Biblical behavior, unless you have a demon. Luke 9:42 speaks of a demonized boy, and says ” and as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father”. In the Bible, ONLY people with Demons ever convulsed on the floor. NEVER did Jesus or any apostle ever lay hands on someone and knock them over, or cause them to fall down and convulse-unless they had a demon. Wild shaking, convulsing, flopping around is not something Christians ever did in the Bible. Jesus and the apostles picked them up, not knocked them down! Today, we call them the “Holy Rollers” of the Pentecostal movement. Also, there are new and different variations in the charismatic and “Third Wave” movements. Much of this produces the exact same manifestations as found in the cultic Kundalini experience. Someone may defend the manifestations, saying that the Kundalini movement is just a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit’s manifestations on a person. Well, Kundalini has been in operation for over 1,000 years. Today’s wild, serpentine type “Christian” manifestations are still fairly new in comparison.
How about being “slain in the Spirit”? You may have been “slain” before, or have been to a church where it is practiced. This one is a bit of a controversy in the church world today. It is yet another completely unscriptural behavior that we will now examine. First, let’s apply the test! Did Jesus ever knock anyone over backward, or teach others to do it? (either by physical force, or by the power of the Spirit in Him) Absolutely not! Did the apostles ever do this, or teach this? No they did not. These reasons alone are enough to make me “just say no” to slaying in the spirit. Like Zach Poonan says, “hey if you want to fall over backward, then go ahead, but don’t expect me to do it”. Much of this is simply learned behavior. It’s expected in certain churches or meetings. Some view it as a way of appearing to be extra-super spiritual. If the pastor touches my forehead, and I fall over backward, then I must be spiritual–or at least my super-ultra anointed pastor is! Well, again, let’s be good Bereans and check EVERYTHING against scripture. Jesus never, ever knocked people over when touching them. So why are we doing it? The apostles never ever laid hands on someone who then fell out. Truly, it is a modern phenomenon. This behavior is very popular today in charismatic churches, yet scripture is completely devoid of any hint of it. This should set off your alarm! “Slaying in the spirit” basically became popular with Kathryn Kuhlman. Benny Hinn greatly admired her workings, and he took it up subsequently. Did you know this practice also exists in occult religions? (see photo above. The Hindu “Shakti-pat” being performed in the photo is often followed by being “slain in the spirit”, complete with wild writhing on the ground ) This is completely unbiblical behavior. Yes I do know the reasoning used by those who practice this in Christian circles. I know the reasoning they use to justify this behavior. They say that the power of God is so strong, that your physical body cannot handle the anointed man’s touch, and you simply fall out. To that, I say– please show me that in the Bible. It’s not there. Anywhere. It is man-made, or worse. In most cases, it is simply the equivalent of fainting. That’s all it is. In the pentecostal world, or at a Benny Hinn show, the expectation is so built up in the people’s minds, and when the person is touched, they fall out. There are also “catchers”, ready to catch them. (please find that for me in the Bible also, of you can. If you do, I will send a free copy of the King James Bible) Sometimes it is done without a touch. Benny Hinn likes to show off his hypnotic skills by blowing on people, or by whirling his white coat around, thus “slaying” many people who are prone to such things. Remember, I came from a charismatic background. Really, my whole life up until recently was spent in the charismatic world. I even spent a short year in a Pentecostal church, with much “slaying in the Spirit” going on every service. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve had hands laid on me several times. I have never once even slightly been “slain”. Not even a tingle. Frankly, I have never believed in it. Was I REALLY charismatic then, you may ask? I certainly was! I fully believed what I was taught, that all the gifts of the Spirit are for today. I fully believed that. The thing is, I never believed much in those people who were claiming to have the miracle sign gifts. I believed in the gifts, but I never saw anyone who truly had them (gifts of healing, etc) Falling over backward is NEVER a good thing, scripturally speaking. Those who fell backward in the Bible were under a judgement of God. Those men who came to arrest Jesus before His crucifixion, they fell backward. I would not consider that a “blessing”! Other places in scripture, it speaks of people “falling down on their face” to worship God. Many charismatics try to use that as an argument for slaying in the spirit. Clearly, falling on one’s face–forward, to worship in the presence of the Almighty Holy God is different that being knocked backward. It is speaking of a willful, yet almost automatic planting of one’s face on the ground in the presence of almighty God. This is not slaying in the spirit.
I have gone too long in this blog already. I have so much more I would like to say on the subject of manifestations. For now, I would only want to warn those who read this, please take heed as to what you are believing in and what you are practicing. Do not exceed what is written in the Scriptures! I would urge you to always, always apply the four part test.
1) Did Jesus ever do it? 2) Did Jesus ever teach it? 3) Did the apostles ever do it? 4) Did the apostles ever teach it?
If none of those apply, then you can keep it. I don’t want it. We keep safe when we stick with what is written. The Bible warns of much deception in the final days. I believe we are in the final-final days! Watch out for the apostate churches and pastors. Study your Bible and do not be deceived. Be blessed, and mind your manifestations!