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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « On Lust, Obsession, and Self-Sacrifice | Uncovering the Secrets of God »
    Monday
    Nov292010

    On Spiritual Manifestations

    “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”. 1 Sam. 16:7

     

    Smoking Jesus; gold dust manifestations; stigmata; getting drunk in the spirit; uncontrollable laughter; angel feathers falling from “Heaven”; other occurrences of the bizarre in churches and "Christian" gatherings. To what end are these experiences?

     

    Does it glorify God or bring honor to Jesus when those who claim Him as their Lord and Savior are seen gyrating on the floor, laughing like maniacs, stumbling and behaving as if drunk, or seeing leaders glitter?

     

    Is any of this edifying to the body of the Christ by unifying, encouraging, teaching, exhorting, rebuking, or loving God and others? These experiences are titillating, sure but not every supernatural experience is from God.

     

    Careful discernment is required as we are NOT to leave our brains, minds, or spirits at the door. Truly, God is more likely to reveal His power to those who do not already know Him.

     

    1 Kings 18:36-39 (Elijah and the prophets of Baal)

    “At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 

    Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

     

    1 Kings 19:11-13 (God speaks to Elijah the prophet)

    "The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.

    After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

     

    The best ways to get to know God better are not through worship, ministry, or serving, but in simple prayer and Bible reading. These do not sound exciting or dramatic, I know. I can tell you from my own experiences though, God is able to move the most in those who dedicate themselves to basic (not contemplative) prayer (prayer is a two-way conversation) and Bible study (not lectio divina).

     

    Worship automatically comes the closer we are to God. It is an overflow, an outpouring of thanks, praise, sacrifice, and wonder when we begin to understand a little more who God is and what He has done for us. God will also direct us to the ministry or service He has planned for us (which typically is something we never could have thought of ourselves) as we pray consistently.

     

    The strange occurrences mentioned at the beginning of this article (and many others) may be fascinating and wonderful, and God does do marvelous things, but not all seemingly miraculous experiences originate from Him.

     

    Some are distractions designed to keep people in an emotional state of anticipation. When the “high” wears off, there are only three places to go. Back to church for another God-high, crash and burn, or turn to God for a real, loving relationship.  

     

    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

     

    “God is love” 1 John 4:8

     

    Seek God Himself, not these supposed manifestations of Him. Something to consider as well: the word “manifestation” is closely linked with the occult (so are getting drunk and high). Look it up for yourself (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manifestation) and check out the list of synonyms (meaning “same name”) as well.

     

    "Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  

    For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.  

    The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:38-42) (See also Luke 11:29-32 and Matthew 16:1-4)

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Many people who grow up in churches that emphasize these "manifestations", but never experience themselves, often doubt their salvation. They wonder, if this is what is supposed to happen to believers, then why isn't it happening to me? The reason it's not happening to them, most likely, is that they're not trying to delude themselves, but that doesn't stop them from getting a complex about it. People who do "experience" these "manifestations" act as if everyone should experience them and then look down on those who don't.

    Many of these "manifestations" are not born of the Spirit, but of emotion. People become emotional during worship, express their emotions in these "manifestations", and then call it a spiritual event because it happened in church.

    Just my observations.

    February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRev. Stephen R. Wilson

    Fascinating observations. I thank you for sharing, I had not thought of those sides of the issue before. It is sad the consequences of this stuff might continue on long after someone has “gotten out”.

    To be clear, I do believe the Holy Spirit can give dreams, visions, prophecies, and even speaking in tongues, but the Bible is pretty explicit on what these should look like, how they should function, and what emphasis should be placed on them (1 Corinthians 13-14). The manifestations mentioned in this article do not fall in line with Scripture in the least.

    I do believe some of these might be demonic, such as when people claim a loss of control of some kind. But you make a good point that emotional experiences in church can be confused for “spiritual” ones.

    I wonder if it may begin that way, and if a person wants to experience emotional/spiritual highs to the point they try to conjure one up…do they conjure a demon instead?

    February 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterA Christian

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