And there it is, Jesus declares that we shall be empowered to be effective witnesses when the Spirit shows His activity in us. Luke the Physician accounts (Acts 1:8)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

There seems to be a desire to see God move amongst His people in some of our mainline Churches. Now, when we say power, for some, it simply means to some that there is tangible evidence of the miraculous to accomplish extraordinary events. Even though, we should note that the emphasis of Christ’s statement in this sentence is the word “witness” and not as often believed to be the word “power”. Yes, we should desire to see God’s active presence persistently accomplish His will in our Ministries throughout the Church but not for the sake of novelty. Craig Keener even notes that we should even petition God for the sole purpose of seeing His Kingdom advancing on earth. He writes;

The Holy Spirit gives us boldness to ask for things in accordance with God’s will because we walk in his desires for his work in the world rather than our own agenda…” (John 3:21-24; 5: 14-15).[1]

One of the tell-tale signs of a move of God is that people desire to see God’s Kingdom advance in power, but not a central man’s ego. So often have I been part of ministries built on the assumption that the leading man of God knew what was best and more preferred before God’s Kingdom at the expense of God’s people. Hero-Worship is an unfortunate preference of our day and age. Leaders should primarily be shepherds, not entertainers, and character should not be confused with giftedness. People should acknowledge that God wrought the supernatural, “as the Spirit wills” (1 Cor.12:11), and not be easily enticed by showmanship. Power-hungry ministers will always be part of the Church, men detached from any form of accountability. Keener cautions us when he writes;

Once we realize that the power and the orders come from God rather than from ourselves, we will be ready for God to send us and use us the way he sees fit. We should pray for God to grant signs to his church for its work of evangelism (Acts 4:29-30); we should also be ready for the life of faith Cod asks of each of us-with signs, suffering, and sufficiency in him alone. The ultimate objective goes beyond signs, and even beyond evangelism and church growth; the goal to which these other activities lead is presenting people who are mature in Christ (Col. 1:28).”[2]

I know certain cessationist friends who hold that God can accomplish any supernatural act as He will. Still, they hold that the gifts associated with the supernatural, as mentioned in Paul’s letters, have seized to be of any relevance.[3] I need to say that wherever you may land, this should not be a reason for discord. But unfortunately, there seems to be left, right, brain disconnect in Church circles today that has been used as an effective tool of the evil one to bring unnecessary discord. As Martin Lloyd-Jones himself noted:”

“The trouble has generally been . . . that people have emphasized either experience or doctrine at the expense of the other… This is something that has been happening in the church from almost the very beginning… When the whole emphasis is placed upon one or the other, you either have a tendency to fanaticism and excess or a tendency toward a barren intellectualism and a mechanical and a dead kind of orthodoxy….”[4]

John Michael Talbot writes,

“We are called to be radicals for Jesus, but radicals are not fanatics. What is a fanatic? A Fanatic takes one particular aspect of radical living and emphasizes it to an absurd extreme.”[5]

How do we steer away from empty fanaticism and a culture that looks for miracles at the expense of Christ and a denial of self? By placing Christlikeness and the death to self as a primary Kingdom prerogative in all of our services (Luke 9:23).  A. W. Tozer wrote;

“Any objection to the evangelistic methods of our present golden-calf Christianity, is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning the lost!” And what are you winning them to? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To total committal to Christ? Of course, the answer to all these questions is NO…”

He adds more;

“Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ, is currently so common as to excite little notice!”Modern religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity, and bluster make a church pleasing to God.[6]

May the Lord Jesus help us not to place results above rootedness and fruit. Frank Bartleman was an eyewitness to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in 1907 at Azusa Street, Los Angeles wrote a tract warning of a Christless Pentecost.

“Any work that exalts the Holy Ghost or ‘gifts’ above Jesus will finally end up in fanaticism. Whatever causes us to exalt and love Jesus is well and safe. The reverse will ruin all. The Holy Ghost is a great light, but focused on Jesus always for His revealing.”

In another place, Brother Bartleman warned:

“The temptation seems to be toward empty manifestations. This does not require any particular cross, or death to the self-life. Hence it is always popular.” … “We may not put power, gifts, the Holy Ghost, or in fact anything ahead of Jesus. Any mission that exalts even the Holy Ghost above the Lord Jesus Christ is bound for the rocks of error and fanaticism.”[7]

As a generation zealous to see God move, we would always ask ourselves, why? Why do we need God to prove Himself to satisfy our curiosity? Would we be content with His presence without verification? As I go from Church to Church, I see that there seems to be a lot of confusion as to why miraculous signs and the giftings inspired by the Holy Spirit are amongst us. Prof. Raymond Brown gives us some reasons as to why it is present;

“Jesus’ miracles were not only or primarily external confirmations of his message; rather the miracle was the vehicle of the message. Side by side, word and miraculous deed gave expression to the entrance of God’s kingly power into time. This understanding of the miracles as an intrinsic part of revelation, rather than merely an extrinsic criterion, is intimately associated with a theory of revelation where the emphasis on the God who acts is equal to (or even more stressed than) the emphasis on the God who speaks.”[8]

What is God confirming when these gifts and signs are displayed in our Church? Megalodon Scholar Craig Keener writes,

“Signs and wonders remain the primary method of drawing people’s attention to the gospel in Acts (for example, 2:5-41,43; 3:11-4:4; 5:10-11, 12-16; 6:3, 5, 8-10; 8:6-7, 13,39-40; 9:34-35,40-42; 13:9-12; 14:9-10; 15:12; 16:25-34; 19:11-20; 28:5-6, 8-10; see especially 4:29-31; 14:3), although well-educated Christians also engaged in public lecture and debate forums (6:10; 17:2-3; 18:28; 19:8-10), and the gospel was also passed on through personal witness from individual Christians (8:4).”[9]

Let’s ask ourselves, is the Gospel advancing with each showing of God’s Spirit. And are we producing a generation of disciples that are more in love with Jesus obeying Him? That is our portion, and that should be our gain.



[1] Gift and Giver, Pg. 62.

[2] Ibid Pg.64.

[3] In his review of Strange Fire, Prof. Thomas Schreiner, a top New Testament scholar and a cessationist, wrote:

“. . . it should be acknowledged that the arguments for a cessationist reading aren’t open and shut. Nowhere does the New Testament clearly teach that supernatural gifts have ceased. A good argument can be made for such a reading; indeed, I think the case for cessationism is convincing, and the warnings MacArthur raises are salutary. Still, we must admit there are some solid arguments on the other side as well. For example, a good case for the continuation of the gifts until Jesus’ second coming can be made from 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.”

[4] Excerpt From Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Brown, Michael L. This material may be protected by copyright.


[6] The Pursuit of God, Pg.7.


[8] Excerpt From Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Brown, Michael L. This material may be protected by copyright.

[9] Gift and Giver, Pg.58.