Lesson Notes & Observations (December 2001):
WHAT IS TRUTH?
Pilate therefore said unto Him, "Art Thou a King then?" Jesus answered, "Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice." Pilate saith unto Him, "What IS truth?" (John 18:38)
Truth - Gk. 'Aletheia' from 'not concealed/hidden' = '[God is] Fully revealed.' Hence, it means the 'full revelation of God.'
Thus, John 14:6-11: "I am the...Truth... If you have seen Me, you have seen the [full revelation of the] Father..." Also, John 6:63 - "The words that I speak are spirit and life..." And 1 John 5:6 - "The Spirit is truth." Also John 1:14-17 - "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...full of grace and truth... grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Thus,
Truth =Jesus Christ = the Word = the Spirit = the Way = the Life
So Truth is NOT merely a set of doctrines handed down, but mostly a special anointing of the Spirit. As such, Truth consists of TWO essential elements: (1) The Anointed Word (right doctrine/belief) and (2) The Anointed Spirit. It is in the area of the Anointed Spirit that we suffer. But without the Anointing, we do not really have the 'Truth,' ie., God is not 'fully revealed.' I.E., there exists something of God-some of His power, His glory, His love, His Word, His intentions-that is NOT revealed in its fullness. Churches that do not have all the 'truth' are missing some of the above things from God. Churches that have a fullness of 'truth' possess all of the above.
So w/this definition, it is obvious that we as a group are missing some-perhaps most-of the 'truth.' We have a great doctrine, but we do not have the spiritual anointing, power & glory to support/prove that doctrine. What the world needs, however, is not great doctrines, but spiritual anointing. That is the 'truth' that saves, delivers, heals, empowers, works miracles, etc. So we should quit priding ourselves on having the 'truth.'
And yet our group is utterly dependent upon the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Most of our practices/customs were started by people who were moved directly by the Holy Spirit, so these practices will work ONLY with the Holy Spirit's anointing. EG., in our worship services, we ASSUME that the HS is anointing everyone in there who calls a song. We ASSUME the Lord is 'leading them' to do so. If He is not leading, then we are in trouble-our services become a dull free-for-all.
We ASSUME that the Spirit will direct someone to lead out in prayer, but most of the time only a few will dare to. When we used to have the anointing, there would be spontaneous prayers all over the building.
We ASSUME that the HS will anoint & gift our ministers so completely that they will not need to receive any other training; they can be 'ignorant & unlearned' men like Peter & John, but still so gifted that their unlearnedness never matters. If they are NOT that gifted, then we are in serious trouble.
We ASSUME that the HS will anoint us so much that our doctrine of divine healing & our practice of 'trusting God' (i.e., not going to the doctor even for life-threatening diseases), will result in a miracle. Divine healing utterly DEPENDS on somebody being able/anointed to work miracles. If we don't have that anointing, then, once again, we are in deep trouble. It is truly a matter of life & death.
We need the anointing to support & empower our doctrine. Else it is just words (1 Cor 2:4; 1 Th 1:5).
Anointing = Gk. 'Chrio.' In the New Testament, Anointing is both Inward ('enchrio') & Outward ('epichrio'). IE, it is LOVE (inward) & POWER (outward demonstration). IE, it is GRACE & GLORY. "I am filled with grace AND glory..." Anointing comes from the BAPTISM of the Holy Spirit. See Acts 1:8; Luke 24:49; etc. The disciples were filled w/both.
'Endued' means 'clothed,' wh/is something VISIBLE, TANGIBLE, AUDIBLE, or otherwise able to be demonstrated and/or felt. It is not secret & silent, else Simon the Sorcerer would never have offered money for it (Acts 8:18-24). In every instance in the Acts, the Baptism of the HS was accompanied by some kind of outward manifestation. It was NEVER received in silence.
But when we look at our own COG literature, we discover that even among us the Holy Spirit was NOT received without manifestations. It was not received in silence even among us. Things happened. They EXPECTED something visible/feel-able to happen. [Read the remarkable events in the "Bit of Church of God History" section below, from DSWarner's & others' writings in the 1896-1897 Gospel Trumpet!] Warner even said in one article, "The Spirit's Indwelling (April 1897)," that "if you have a faith that Christ is in you, and yet never feel His glorious presence moving through the chambers of the soul, and even thrilling your mortal body, your faith is not genuine, you have only believed with the head, and not with the heart..."
DSWarner himself wrote that "We frequently lay hands on people for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and He comes upon them in a sudden, powerful shock, and they are instantly prostrated to the floor." If he did something like this among us today, we would accuse him of being a charismatic and kick him out of his own movement!
Here Is the Critical Question: We no longer get the results they got, have the effectiveness they had, nor have the power they had to support/validate the doctrines they taught. Could it be that we no longer receive the baptism of the HS that they experienced? We obviously DO NOT have the anointing they had; perhaps we are missing the baptism of the Spirit they had & expected. Are we really getting sanctified the way they experienced and wrote about? Not only are we missing the miracles, other manifestations, & gifts, we are also missing the spiritual deliverances, the holiness, the power & victory in our personal lives, the ability to convict souls powerfully, miraculous divine guidance, etc.
Many of their songs contain phrases that many, perhaps most, of us don't really seem to know that much about. EG, "Is the Spirit glowing in your heart? Oh, my brother, can you say That you feel the burning love of God in thy bosom day by day?... Can you feel the mighty living power Thrilling all thy mortal frame...? etc." "I have lost myself in Jesus, I am sinking into God..." But we routinely see self sticking out all over the place among us.
Conclusion: No matter what we call it (sanctification, baptism, infilling, 2nd work, etc.) or what we claim we have already received, it is plain that we need a GREATER "coming upon" experience from the Holy Spirit. "Do you have the power of God in your life today?" is the main question for each individual. Why aren't our ministers checking out our current doctrine of the Holy Spirit?
Description of a Live Church
1. A live church is spiritually full, i.e., visibly and obviously full of the Anointing of the Holy Spirit and its various workings and gifts. In fact, the fullness of the Spirit is what "quickens" and makes a church "alive."
2. In a live church, demonstrations of God's awesome presence and manifestations of God's miracle-working power are commonplace and expected: physical, emotional, and mental healing; spiritual deliverance from demons, addictions, and other bondage; restoration of broken lives and relationships; direct Holy Spirit guidance; miraculous solutions to impossible situations; etc.
3. A live church has powerful worship services: bursting with praise and enthusiasm, charged with conviction, flooded with enlightenment and divine revelation through the gifts of the Word, and possessed with what often appears to be a direct connection to heaven.
4. A live church has a major impact and a great influence on its community in a spiritual manner (not just social service ministries).
5. A live church is filled with holiness and the fear of God in its membership, who live lives of miraculous personal victory.
6. A live church is characterized by a supernatural love and humility-direct products of the Holy Spirit filling the soul-so that perfect peace and joy, perfect inner security, boldness, fearlessness, obedience to God even under fire, a strong desire for prayer, and other soul-liberating qualities are demonstrated naturally.
7. A live church is characterized by Spirit-motivated giving, serving, a great burden for souls, and sacrificial living-as the rule, not the exception.
8. A live church has a definite vision, purpose, burden, and sense of direction-and a divinely-inspired plan to fulfill it.
9. A live church is characterized by an overwhelming hunger and esteem for the Word, demonstrated by fully attended Bible studies, personal devotions, and other church activities centered around the Word of God.
10. A live church is characterized by the miraculous addition of new believers-not mere transfer growth from other congregations-drawn to the Lord and His church in accordance with Jesus' promise: "And I, if be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32).
Bit of Church of God History
[ A series of emails]:
Subject: Re: A bit of Church of God History
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 12:44:26 EST
What do you think about this....it's intriguing to me, and I would like to know more about it. Until I read this (and confirmed its validity in the April 1887 Gospel Trumpet) I probably would not have believed it if someone simply told me about it.
D. S. Warner wrote the following in an article "The Spirit's Indwelling" in The Gospel Trumpet, April 1, 1887: "We frequently lay hands on persons for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and He comes upon them in a sudden, powerful shock, and they are instantly prostrated to the floor."
The following was written by Church of God pioneer A. B. Palmer in The Gospel Trumpet, June 15, 1886. (Note: Bro. Barney E. Warren was the major COG hymn writer.) "After the Holy Ghost feast, on leaving the house, after all had gone out, the power of God so moved on Brothers Thomas and Barney Warren that they were prostrated on the ground...."
The saints of the Church of God had an amazing campmeeting in Bangor, Michigan, in 1886. This report of the 1886 Bangor Campmeeting was given in The Gospel Trumpet, July 1, 1886: "One night a sister whom Satan had tried hard to crush, obtained glorious victory and deliverance in a tent. Shortly afterwards coming into the congregation with Sister Fisher, who had been laboring with her, both being filled with the power of God, had to break forth in His praises. Instantly the Holy Spirit, in Pentecost manner, came upon the holy assembly, and a marvelous scene ensued; wave after wave of divine glory came, many were leaping and shouting, others were laid upon the straw, and the whole congregation was awed in reverence before the mighty God, whose praises were fearful in the congregation of His saints. The wonderful manifestations of Divine power continued for the space of about one hour."
D. S. Warner wrote this in an article published in The Gospel Trumpet: "A sister received the laying on of hands for the healing power of the Holy Spirit. The mighty power came upon her in a wonderful manner, sweeping away all her afflictions and perfectly overwhelming her mind and body. She leaped and shouted about the room, and when flying violently against the wall, she remained there in whatever attitude she chanced to be, like a snow flake alighting and sticking to the side of the wall, supported by the power of God, while the glory of God shone in her face. Of course her company had to remain about an hour before she returned to the body and could travel." (D. S. Warner, "The Spirit's Indwelling" in The Gospel Trumpet, April 1, 1887).
J. C. Fisher wrote the following quotation as given in "News from the Field," The Gospel Trumpet, October 1, 1886: "Dear Bro. Warner and his little band came to Bro. Miller's Friday evening, and came to the Grove Saturday morning. Our meeting again caused our joy to burst forth into glorious peals of shouts and praise. O glory to God! what a glorious life is the life of the saint. Saturday was another day of victory, glory to God! There were quite a number of consecrations that day, and men and women received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. They were slain by the mighty power and laid like dead persons."
Subject: Re: A bit of Church of God History
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 12:44:26 EST
...Here is the entire text of that The Gospel Trumpet, April 1, 1887, article, "The Spirit's Indwelling" [Italics & underlining are mine]:
THE SPIRIT'S INDWELLING
"If we obey God in all things after we receive the power and Spirit of God, does not the power remain on us all the time just the same as it was when we received it? Three years ago next month, I was healed of bodily afflictions, of which I had suffered for 3 years and 2 months. I was converted also, and inside of four minutes I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It remained on me two days and a half, and I discovered it was gone. I said, when I get home the room will be filled with it, and it will come back; but it did not. I prayed and read three hours, and then went to bed, thinking I would ask some one the next day. But when I awoke in the morning it was on me. It remained with me 8 or 9 days, then I lost it."
ANSWER. I may help others young in experience to answer the above question publicly. An important point to consider in connection with this subject, is the distinction between the indwelling of the Spirit of God, and His manifestations. Many get in great trouble and temptation because they identify the Spirit of God with some one of His most powerful, or joyful manifestations. In other words, the Spirit of God comes upon us in a wonderful and powerful manner, then because they do not feel Him in the same manner of operation in the soul and body, the devil harasses them with fears that He has departed out of them. Therefore in answering the above question we draw a line of distinction between the Spirit Himself and His manifestation to our consciousness. And we answer as follows:
If we walk in obedience to God in all things, the Spirit of God will abide in us forever, as when first received. But the Spirit of God will not continue the same form and degree of manifestation and operation in us as when first received. As we walk in the high way of holiness, the baptisms of power will often exceed the first hour of our Pentecost, yet at times there will be a stillness, and comparative absence of the emotional movings of the Spirit, that, were we just then to decide from our feelings, especially by contrasting them with other times, we would conclude that the Spirit of God is no more in us. But saith the Word, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph. 3:17). When our feelings are not sufficiently marked to warrant the conclusion that our body is indeed the "habitation of God through the Spirit," that fact is still securely warranted to us by the promises of God, who "will never leave nor forsake us." And our faith, resting firmly on the Word of God, excludes all doubts and fears and painful anxiety. And the soul rests as sweetly when all is calm within, as in the high tides of emotion and power.
"There is one Body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling." The Spirit of God is one. But "there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."
Speaking of the various gifts, we read, "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will" (1 Cor. 12:4-6, 11). Thus we see the Spirit of God is one and the same at all times, and in all saints. But His operations and administrations vastly differ in us.
What would be the result if the Spirit of God would continue the same form and degree of operation and manifestation in us as when first received? We frequently lay hands on persons for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and He comes upon them in a sudden, powerful shock, and they are instantly prostrated to the floor. Now suppose "the power would remain on them all the time just the same as when they first received it." Why the person would be of no use to God nor man.......
Last week some saints stopped with us at [name in microfilm text is unclear]'s house, after meeting one night, and a sister received the laying on of hands for the healing power of the Holy Spirit... The mighty power came upon her in a wonderful manner, sweeping away all her afflictions and perfectly overwhelming her mind and body. She leaped and shouted about the room, and when flying violently against the wall, she remained there in whatever attitude she chanced to be, like a snow flake alighting and sticking to the side of the wall, supported by the power of God, while the glory of God shone in her face. Of course her company had to remain about an hour before she returned to the body and could travel. Now of what use would that sister be had she remained in that condition?
We often feel the power of God upon us in such intense degree that were He to continue right on in that form of manifestation, we could do nothing but leap and shout and preach. But when there is no farther need of that mighty earthquake power, the Spirit of God calms down in our soul, and we are in that sweet and Heavenly composure of feeling that enables us to prosecute the great work of writing which God has called us unto. The fullness of God, and His mighty power is always in us, and ready in a second to spring forth into vehement action, and thrilling flashes through our consciousness. Thus God knows how to keep house in His own temples, and it is none of our business how He moves about there, and when He rests in quietness.
"Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" Now if you have dedicated your body to God, to be His temple, why meddle with God's business? Why suspect that He is not properly behaving Himself in His own house? Nay.
My feelings are given to Father's control,
His wisdom shall govern my body and soul...
[Quoting from Song 299 Evening Light Songs, "I'll Say the Great Word"]
Sister H. tells us how the Spirit left her, and that she prayed three hours for His return, but He did not do so. But the next morning as soon as she awoke behold the power of the Lord was upon her. So you see the Spirit will have His own way. Remain quiet when He will, and spring forth in power in us when He chooses. Now the Spirit of God was in the sister all the time, and had she been established in the faith of the Gospel, she would no more have suspected the Spirit having left her, during His quiescence, than during His more vivid manifestations to her consciousness.
The promise of God is, "I will never leave nor forsake you." The Comforter comes into us to abide. And He does also manifest Himself in us. But no one form of His manifestation is to be taken as the only test of His in-being. The holy man has indeed God walking in him. He has constant fellowship with the Father and the Son, through the Spirit. But that uninterrupted enjoyment of God is by constant faith in Him. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." So the faith that Christ is in you constitutes the real Divine substance in you. So if you have a faith that Christ is in you, and yet never feel His glorious presence moving through the chambers of the soul, and even thrilling your mortal body, your faith is not genuine, you have only believed with the head, and not with the heart. But "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
We have shown the necessity of "Christ dwelling in the heart by faith," even when we cannot specially feel Him. But it is the great contrast in the different degrees of the movings of Christ in us, that leads persons to think they are entirely without the feeling sense of Christ's presence. Comparing the low ebb of the emotional, with the high tide of joy and power, people sometimes think they are destitute of feeling. But the fact of the matter is, the holy man or woman does possess a constant consciousness of the "Son of Peace," within. But much or little feeling, "the just shall live by faith." Amen!
Hope this helps you!
Putting Manifestations In Perspective
It is biblical to seek for the anointing of God's Spirit. It is fine to seek for power from on high. The disciples were told to 'tarry' for it. It is also biblical to seek for divine love, which Satan can never counterfeit and humans cannot fake. But it is dangerous to seek for signs and wonders-as the object of your seeking. Instead, seek God's face and all He has for us. Then we will receive power and its outward manifestations, and love and its inward manifestations. If we truly receive power, then signs and wonders will definitely follow: remarkable gifts and abilities, miracles, healings, deliverances, a convicting atmosphere, direct leadings and revelations from God, physical manifestations, etc. If we truly receive divine love, then the manifestations of love will definitely follow: miraculous personal victory, overwhelming joy and peace, boldness (because all fear is cast out), absolutely inner security, passion and zeal for the lost, emotional and inner healing, etc. If we do not see these manifestations, then it is not wrong to question whether or not you really received the anointing of power and love.
Thus, we should not seek after manifestations, but after the following lasting results that come with revival:
1. A new commitment for the Bible/Word of God (hungering and thirsting).
2. A new earnestness for prayer and personal devotion; and
3. A fresh love and worship of Jesus ( a love and need for communion and intimacy with God).
4. A disgust with sin, a deep repentance, and a power to live right (practical holiness).
5. A loving concern for others in the Body; and
6. A new passion for the lost (fruits of perfect love).
These are the inward spiritual results that become part of the person himself-part of his new nature-and thus, are safer indicators of the Spirit than are outward signs and wonders. This is Paul's point in 1 Corinthians 13, "charity" (love), the "more excellent way."
How To Recapture The Spirit and Anointing of God
13If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
1. Acknowledge - First of all, wake up and see and discern the spiritual conditions around you. Then humbly admit that the anointing has been lost. This may be hard to do, but it is the easiest of the four steps. And yet it is always true that no problem can be solved until it is faced, and no help can be obtained until one admits that he needs help.
2. Repent - There is only one reason to lose the anointing: SIN. Usually it is some form of religious pride. Sometimes the sin can be that the church keeps holding onto things given instead of holding to God the Giver. Thus, it refuses or neglects to follow the Spirit, choosing instead to follow doctrines, church practices and customs, interpretations of scripture, and other things that people substitute for the Holy Spirit. It is possible to know that the anointing has been lost, but still not be fully aware of why and how it was lost. Therefore, earnest prayer and honest seeking of God's face is necessary to reveal exactly what the cause was and what must be repented of. Then actual repentance, i.e., humbling oneself and "turning from their wicked ways," must take place.
Notice that in every case, idolatry was Israel's "wicked way," i.e., they worshipped something other than the true God of heaven. Another great sin of almost every religious movement in the past has been that it shut off/disconnected itself from the rest of the Body of Christ (to 'protect' its teachings), thus shutting itself off from all anointings, knowledge, gifts, workings, etc., that God might be doing among other people in the world. This shuts out God Himself, which is a great sin & must be repented of.
3. Open up to WHATEVER God wants to do - Forget about how you may look, what people may say, what you have always thought, taught, preached, practiced, or believed, etc. Obviously, none of that was enough to help you keep the anointing. So now it is back to the drawing board. Hold nothing sacred unless it is absolutely commanded by the Word of God. Everything else must be put on the altar for God to keep, dispose of, change, de-emphasize, re-emphasize, restructure, or do whatever He wants to with. True openness is a form of spiritual brokenness, a condition of heart that asks only for mercy, seeks to be rebuilt by God alone, holds nothing in reserve from Him, and makes no demands upon Him. Notice Paul, after it is revealed that he has been all wrong in his service to God: "And he trembling and astonished said, 'Lord, what will You have me to do?'"
4. Open up to WHOEVER God may want to use - Once you have lost the anointing, someone else still has it, and God may require you to deal with them. God never stops working just because you lose touch. He continues on with His business of saving the world and blessing honest souls. Other people, on whom the anointing now rests, may be more in touch with the ways, means, and workings of the Holy Spirit today. Remember, if you lost the anointing 20 years ago, you have no idea what the Spirit has been doing for the last 20 years. The Spirit of God stays current and relevant to each generation, so those who have been somewhat left behind have a lot of catching up to do.
Therefore, you may need some help from outside of yourself or outside of your group. This is the most difficult step of all, for an individual or a church: to ask someone else for help. This is difficult because of the tendency mentioned above: Every religious movement seeks to distinguish itself and shut itself off from all other movements in order to protect itself and maintain its identity as a specially chosen move of God. This is what I call the "Great Wall of China" Syndrome. But by shutting itself in, that movement shuts itself off from whatever anointing God may continue to shower on His people throughout the world, inside AND outside that movement (Acts 10:35). It is impossible to bottle up God in some little container (ie, religious movement). The only thing "bottling" accomplishes is to make that movement's anointing to become stale, stagnant, and eventually non-existent. Therefore, we MUST open up to WHOEVER God sends His anointing through.
These are the four steps that are required for an individual or a church movement to recapture its lost anointing. Every one of these steps is absolutely essential, but every one of them is extremely difficult. For this reason, very few religious movements ever recapture their lost anointing. However, it is possible, but it will definitely take an act of God. What usually happens is that most people get stuck in one of the above steps, so God is forced to move on with the few that are willing to pay the full price. May God bless.
What I am saying is this:
(1) The real 'Truth' is NOT a set of doctrines, but mostly the anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:6). It is a dynamic combination of a Living Spirit with the Living Word. A set of doctrines can be passed down through the generations, but the "Truth," as defined above, cannot be passed down. It must be received anew from the Holy Spirit by each new generation. Thus, my main question is: We claim to have the old fathers' doctrine, but have we really received the old fathers' Holy Spirit in the way and to the degree they received it? Our evidence doesn't look like we have.
(2) If we are going to continue to make the claims that we have heard the Church of God make all of our lives... if we are going to keep preaching and expecting people to obey our doctrines... if we are going to keep claiming that we have the 'Truth..." THEN we had better put forth some radically special efforts to get back the anointing we need to support and confirm our claims and doctrines.
Our doctrines and our nice holiness lifestyle is NOT our "claim to fame." That is NOT supposed to be our most notable strong point. Instead, it must be that our claim is that we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We are to be known and noted for that. "God has given us His Spirit, And we want the world to hear it..." "It is the Spirit that quickeneth/gives life..." (John 6:63). But we seem to be missing something spiritual-i.e., having to do with the Holy Spirit-and we must go out of our way to find out what it is. "Business as usual" will never do the job.
(3) Using biblical guidelines (as suggested in "How To Recapture the Spirit and Anointing of God"), I believe our leaders should begin a serious, on-going investigation of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and other Holy Spirit-related matters (i.e., convene a Holy Spirit search conference), in the fear of God, while the people pray.
May God bless us all.
© 2001 Philip A. Matthews