Refreshing, Renewal & Revival | John Wimber
Refreshing, Renewal & Revival- Pt. 1
By, John Wimber
Luke 11:13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
When the Spirit of God moves….
After the Spirit of God visited us in the middle of the 1990’s we held a conference on “Let the Fire Fall.” It was after this time we received more letters, phone calls and interactions that we ever had prior. As the Spirit moved and increased, we had both positive and negative responses. I think it’s important to look at what is happening when God is moving and respond to the questions.
Most people love babies, but they don’t necessarily like the details of the birthing process. The birthing of a child is a messy experience at best. Not many people want to hear about that part. The same thing applies to revival. We love to read and hear about revival, but going through the birthing process of revival is very much like the birthing of a child: messy. And it can bring all kinds of reactions, some which are positive, and some which are negative. In my opinion, its not necessary to explain everything connected with revival anymore than a young mother needs to share in detail the travail of the birthing process. All she has to do is hold that baby up and everyone shares in the joy.
Refreshing, Renewal & Revival- Pt. 2
By, John Wimber
Testing the Fruit
I think it’s important not to evaluate of move of God too soon- in the beginning stages. We have the challenge of evaluating something that we are participating in as well as observing. Nevertheless, we assess this from both Biblical criteria and from objective understanding of our experience. That doesn’t mean experience carries the same weight as the Word of God, but experience, church history (and tradition to a certain degree) are undoubtedly lenses through which we view life.
Church history helps illustrate how other godly people have interacted with the Scriptures while trying to discern the activity of the Holy Spirit around them. As we relate to Christians, there are things we’ve learned, and that understanding acts as a foundation for evaluating what happens to us.
Scripture uses the idea of fruit as a way of evaluating spiritual teaching. Jesus told how to recognize false prophets in Matthew 7:16: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Jesus was teaching that any evaluation must go beyond initial expressions, or outward appearances. Look for the fruit. Fruit takes time to grow and time to see what something will become over time. In Southern California you can find apples on the tree in July, but they won’t be ready to eat until October.
So we must not react too quickly or in some way unjustly. Merely because what we’re seeing doesn’t fit our particular understanding. Gamaliel used the same “wait and see” approach in the fifth chapter of Acts when debating the Sanhedrin over what to do with the apostles who had disregarded the gag order to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. The Sanhedrin was on the verge of killing Peter and the other apostles. Gamaliel stepped in to offer his wise advice: “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39).
Refreshing, Renewal & Revival- Pt. 3
By, John Wimber
Spiritual reality is found in the illustration of a balanced attitude toward unusual spiritual reality in Acts 11:17. In Acts chapter 10, Peter preached the gospel of Christ in the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. Remember, it took and angelic visit, a vision, and the voice of the Holy Spirit to get Peter to this divine appointment. Peter, a Jew, was way beyond his comfort zone just being in the house of a Roman centurion. When he found a large gathering of people there, he began preaching the gospel of Christ. Before Peter could finish his sermon, “the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message” (Acts 10:44). God shook things up. They began speaking in tongues and praising God, in essence a repeat of what happened in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Peter made the connection between what he saw and something Jesus said: “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:16; 1:5).
How was the news of this mighty visitation of God’s Spirit received by the apostles and other believers in Judea? With criticism! The church hadn’t yet developed a theological grid for understanding what had happened at Cornelius’ house. Hadn’t the prophecy of Joel said God would pour out His Spirit on all people? Even though he may have not fully understood it- even though he may not have even liked it- Peter defused the anti-Gentile prejudice in Jerusalem by saying: “So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think I could oppose God?” (v. 17).
God sometimes offends our intellect, and our sense of property (Jn. 6:53). But that’s all right, because he’s God. Peter in effect is saying, “Guys, I know this isn’t the way we would have done this. But we’re not in charge, God is. He filled these people with the Spirit. He touched them in the same way that he touched us. Let’s see what God wants to do next, and by all means lets not condemn this. Let’s not let our prejudices blind us to God’s work. Let’s wait and see what the fruit will be.
Refreshing, Renewal & Revival- Pt. 4
By, John Wimber
As we evaluate a time of renewal, we should realize that little happens in and through the church that’s not some sort of mixture of humanity and the Holy Spirit. And we can’t rule out the possibility of demonic activity either, or else why do we read in the epistles “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Ths. 5:21)? So someone may say “Oh that’s the flesh” or “That’s a demon.” Or “That’s just people acting up.” Or “That’s God.” All those analyses might be accurate at any given time. Our role, as pastoral leaders, is to exercise discernment, and bring correction when it’s needed.
Unfortunately, revival and refreshing sometimes stimulate responses that are less than 100 percent godly. Revival and refreshing come because the church is at a low ebb. The church, in spite of its avowal of biblical truth, is not experiencing that reality. God doesn’t revive people who have it all together. He revives people who are hungry, thirsty, weak, naked, blind, and less than spotless.
At times of renewal, some people are reacting, or overreacting, and resisting. But it takes time to know what it’s all going to become. So based on the New Testament perspective of fruit, we must always wait and look for the fruit of what happens.
Refreshing, Renewal & Revival- Pt. 5
By, John Wimber
Matthew 7:16 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”
During a season of renewal and revival there have always been some negative responses. By comparison, they are in the minority, but nonetheless sometimes true. Some people who attended a conference when the Spirit of the Lord was very present were confused by what they saw and heard. Others felt left out because of an unspoken assumption that unless something outwardly dramatic happens, then you haven’t received anything beneficial. In the afterglow of a glorious meeting, one lady approached Lance Pittluck with a worried look on her face. “The only thing that happened to me,” she said, “is that I have this incredible inner peace and joy.” Lance reassured her that she shouldn’t feel left out if the only immediate by-product is a sense of peace and joy. That’s the fruit of the Spirit.
Other participants at times felt used or abused by overzealous ministry on the part of some. This obviously needs correction because we want people to receive ministry in a loving, affirming, biblically sound way. Nonetheless, it’s the way some people are when they are excited, touched, and moved.
In the excitement of the infilling and empowering, and moving of the Spirit, some people momentarily do things they really ought not to do. They say or do things that they think are in vogue, like “fall, fall, fall…. or “Roar, roar, roar…” Frankly, that zeal is excusable- at times- but the methodology of the ministry to one another needs correction.
As a pastor I have an obligation to bring correction to our teams at our church and to those that minister, but we also have a responsibility to interact with those who have had for one reason or another, a negative experience.
Most of what we have experienced in renewal time in our meetings has been of God. But it’s God in humans. I trust God entirely…its human being’s that concerns me. That doesn’t mean we have to expel every little thing that doesn’t have a proof text…. sometimes we have to leave it in the file folder labeled “I don’t know.” Nevertheless, when God is moving lets focus on the fruit that we can clearly demonstrate in Scripture, like, devotional life witnessing, healing the sick, casting out demons and feeding the poor.
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