A. W. Tozer said it best in the title of his classic book, “The Pursuit of God.” The ultimate adventure for this generation is the pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ. There can be no greater endeavor than to know Him as personally as He may be known. The Scripture promises, if we draw near to Him…He will draw near to us.
That is the “one thing” that characterized King David’s life and the hungry heart he possessed. David loved the Lord’s presence more that anything else; for that the Lord loved and trusted him. Devotion to be identified as God’s “friend” is our most noble pilgrimage. (See John 15:15)
Even so, we are also given clear and concise biblical affirmations of the functioning of His victorious Church. There is a mandate placed upon the latter-day Church to gather the harvest and awaken a misguided generation to its righteous destiny.
To accomplish this, we must be endowed with Heaven’s virtue and empowered with the overcoming victory of the Lord’s redemptive work. There is a clear revelation of Jesus Christ and His word that is validated with biblical confirmations. The Lord’s example and demonstration of mighty works are necessary for this inevitable responsibility and as He promised, even greater works. (See John 14:12)
The gospel of the Kingdom is the power of God leading to salvation. This gospel does not merely consist in words but also in God’s sovereign power. The ministry of signs and wonders does not diminish the supernatural nature of God’s written word; it only confirms it.
God’s revealed word is plainly established by the Holy Spirit’s endorsement. He demonstrates approval or affirmation through signs, wonders and manifestations of the Spirit.
According to the writer of Hebrews, the Lord’s Spirit works with His people by testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will — Hebrews 2:4
God’s power and witness is fundamentally necessary for us to accomplish Heaven’s blueprint. We simply do not posses the ability within ourselves to accomplish God’s ultimate plan. We need God and the embodiment of His Spirit that provides power.
Even so, as wonderful and necessary as incredible displays of the Spirit are, we can not allow that to supersede our quest to know Him as the Living Word.
A Word of Wisdom
John G. Lake was a man used powerfully as a missionary to South Africa and healing evangelist throughout America. History now documents wonderful miracles and spiritual wonders that the Lord achieved through this humble servant. Nevertheless, in 1925 he discerned that his generation “missed the mark” by being more captured by the phenomena of God than the Person. The same was true in the days of Moses when he said,
You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear — Deuteronomy 29:2-4
Consequently, there must be a balance in our personal endeavor to know the Lord and our mandate to win this generation through the Spirit’s demonstration of power. Through fellowship with Him our spiritual senses become keenly sensitive to His voice and the message being confirmed through signs and wonders. These prerogatives must be maintained in the proper biblical order.
The Original Model
The ministry of the early church was profound on many levels. By natural standards, the credentials of the individuals utilized were not impressive. For the most part, their personal abilities left them unqualified for their pioneering assignment. Even so, they received an impartation from God that validated their mission and facilitated the revelation of God’s Kingdom. They believed God and trusted not in their own strength, but in His.
The Bible plainly outlines the many signs and miraculous wonders that accompanied the early Church in their task. The Scripture tells us that reverential awe fell upon many as miraculous wonders took place. People were added to the Church daily and God’s name was notably glorified.
These are the same results we need today. Our task is no less important nor difficult than the one given to the early Apostolic Church. In fact, in many ways ours is even more intense. Therefore, we need all that the early church had and in multiplied fashion.
The early disciples preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and ministered to people’s spirit, soul and body. They did not “shrink from declaring the whole purpose of God.”
Furthermore, in the midst of persecution and an unbelieving generation, their message was confirmed with the Holy Spirit’s power imparted to them on the Day of Pentecost. It was their prayer that the Lord would,
grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. — Acts 4:29-30
God’s power is a witness to the gospel. That is why the early Church passionately prayed to be empowered with signs and wonders as an instrument to convey the good news of the Kingdom and win the lost.
A 20th Century Token
In each expression of spiritual outpouring throughout church history, God’s Presence was authenticated with various expressions of His Spirit. During the early 20th century, Maria Woodworth-Etter’s ministry was characterized by wonderful manifestations of spiritual signs and miraculous wonders like the early apostolic believers.
Marvelous displays of healing and deliverance were prevalent in her meetings. Additionally, it was not uncommon for many people to “fall under the power” and remain in that condition for many days. The Bible promised to “bear witness” to the Kingdom message with divers and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit. (See Hebrews 2:4)
Oftentimes doctors would examine the people while in this condition to determine their heart rate and other vital statistics. In each case it was reported that every individual was in a perfectly healthy state. They were overshadowed with God’s Spirit and prostrate before God without food, water or movement. It was reported that in some cases people remained in this condition for as long as seven days. This was confirmed by both the secular and Christian media.
Tremendous testimonies of healing, deliverance and divine commissions were reported following the encounters. It was well documented that while experiencing these signs and wonders many people would be commissioned to foreign lands and come out of the experience able to fluently speak the language of the nation to which they were sent. Furthermore, many accounts report the spirit of conviction that accompanied these manifestations to such an extent that the most hardened characters melted into weeping repentance.
This was a token of the heritage of God’s people and the empowerment of His presence essential in the fulfillment of our latter-day mandate.
A Present Sign and Wonder
There presently exists an elevated atmosphere of anticipation and encouragement for this generation to experience profound expressions of God’s power. We are promised a visitation of God’s presence to awaken the Church to her end-time responsibility and influence. We are now beginning to see more evidence of this is the Western Church.
This past February David and Donna Kelly hosted a conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Wanda and I joined Rick Joyner, James Goll and Patricia King as the speakers. In it the Lord granted a wonderful affirmation. It was indeed a sign and a wonder that has generated fruitful results and mobilized faith in countless believers.
The theme of the conference was “Engaging Heaven.” It has been the quest of many individuals and fellowships to be awakened with acute spiritual eyes and ears that provide hearts of understanding and cooperation with Heaven. God’s strategic plan is unfolding at an escalated pace. During the conference, the Lord’s Spirit provided specific endorsement to the importance of this theme and its current relevance.
According to Proverbs 29:18, where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained and perish. This Hebrew phrase conveys the necessity for the spirit of revelation to exist in God’s people for there to be advancement. The word used for “vision” implies “open vision” communicating God’s heart and strategic design. Revelation provides spiritual eyes that see and ears that hear, thereby facilitating hearts with comprehension.
On the first evening of the conference, the host pastors along with numerous other workers, friends and technicians visibly saw and spoke with an individual that they have known for years. This brother is an itinerant minister from Nashville who had planned to attend the conference. Several people spoke with him on the opening evening of the conference. Most said that his short response was merely a word a blessing. The interesting thing is, this brother was in Nashville, TN at the time these appearances occurred.
An Extraordinary Appearance
Weeks before the conference, the Kelly’s leadership team and intercessory base felt compelled to initiate a 40 day fast leading up to the conference. There seemed to be a weightiness associated with Heaven’s mandate for the gathering.
The Holy Spirit encouraged them by releasing a prophetic word expressing His desire to deeply impact the attendees and the region’s spiritual atmosphere. Current prophetic messages of hope and destiny provide encouragement to leadership and the Lord’s body. The battles have been long and wearisome. The Lord is granting wonderful tokens of confidence to position us for our spiritual release.
The decreed fast ended on February 16 and the conference began on Thursday February 17. During the opening evening, someone with the identical appearance of the brother from Nashville was clearly seen in the balcony. The host pastors acknowledged his presence during the opening session prompting others in the balcony to embrace and greet him. The people at the registration desk had actually assisted him with his name badge and conference information.
The following morning, February 18, this brother came to the meetings but disclosed that he had departed Nashville at 2 AM in order to arrive in time for the morning session. Naturally, the Kelly’s attempted to correct that and acknowledged that he was actually in the service the previous evening. He had been publicly acknowledged and greeted by many friends.
Surprised at their insistence, he adamantly denied being in the service the previous evening. He had actually been in a fellowship gathering in Nashville with other believers until 11 PM. This fact has been confirmed and documented by witnesses. It was then that the Kelly’s realized that something extraordinary had occurred. A Heavenly messenger had been sent as a sign and witness to the truth imparted from God’s word.
Naturally, these unusual signs and wonders do not occur needlessly. There must be some fruit or affirmation that is generated that advances God’s kingdom. The Lord very often allows manifestations of His Spirit with signs and wonders as:
1. A witness to the messages presented and their present emphasis
2. An encouragement to the faith of His people
3. Mobilization of His body into His plan and into their destiny
4. Spiritual Awakening to the lost and lukewarm
That is the fruit of the sign and wonder from Cincinnati.
Numerous witnesses have been interviewed on tape verifying their encounter with the messenger from God who took on the appearance of this brother as an affirmation of the spiritual realities being imparted during the conference. There has been a great surge of faith birthed in God’s people as a result of this sign.
(More information and documentation on this occurrence can be obtained from David and Donna Kelly — www.passionandfire.org)
This was quite unusual occurrence but one that has been extensively scrutinized and validated. The Bible provides the only source of genuine affirmation of such an encounter. The Scripture admonishes us to,
Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. — Hebrews 13:1-2
The Bible records countless instances of angelic appearances that marked seasons of transition and advancement. This is especially true in the early Apostolic Church. There is an essential cooperation between Heaven and earth.
We discover in the Gospel of Luke the Lord Jesus walking along the road to Emmaus in “another form.” The two disciples did not recognize Him until He came into their home and broke bread before them. (See Luke 24)
We also notice in the book of Acts the supernatural deliverance of Peter from jail. As he came to the home of the disciples, the young girl who opened the door was startled to see what she perceived was Peter. Upon reporting this to the other disciples they responded that it must have been his angel. This clearly implies that there must have been spiritual messengers working with them who took the form and appearance of the disciples.
This gospel of the Kingdom was first declared by the Lord and evidenced by the Holy Spirit and endorsed by God. He showed His approval of the gospel of power through signs and wonders and miraculous manifestations of the heavenly realm. Angelic appearances and supernatural signs awaken people from apathy and lethargy and reignite hearts that have grown cold or lukewarm to this reality.
It is not our intent to overly emphasize signs and wonders but the messages they convey. There must also be a genuine fruitfulness that comes from the manifestation of the Spirit.
To more fully understand our mission and function on earth, we must also comprehend God’s motivation. Our Heavenly Father’s desire is to display His glory and bring to His son the full measure of His reward. This is accomplished through the preaching of His word and the testimony of His power.
When our motivations are firmly planted in the Lord’s heart, then we are biblically justified when we long to see manifestations of His Spirit that glorify His name and convey salvation to the lost. The book of Acts alone records as many as 17 instances of conversions birthed out of supernatural encounters.
Ultimately, our highest purpose in existence is to delight in God and display the essence of who He is to a needy generation. We simply cannot accomplish this mandate in our own strength. We need His empowering Presence and the vindication of His Spirit.