By Richard O’Ffill
I am going to begin by reading from Scripture and also from the spirit of Prophecy.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, . . . having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Tim. 3:1, 2, 5.
"Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming."
The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God's special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world". ( The Great Controversy, Page 465)
Two years ago on Fathers Day, 1995, the congregation of the Brownsville Assembly Of God Church in Pensacola Florida came together as usual for Sunday morning services.
There were about 1,800 people present that morning. There were baby boomers and retired military people, deacons, young people and even some of the original charter members of the church. Some of them had been members for more than twenty years. Five years before, the congregation had built a new sanctuary. It was located in a working class part of town between a barbershop and a bingo parlor. That day the service began promptly at 10:20 a.m. One hour later, Brownsville Assembly would never be the same. The pastor was laying flat on his back on the marble floor in the front of the sanctuary. He was lost in a speechless daze. Several members of his flock soon keeled over next to him. They were not sick. They were awe struck. They all believed that they had been touched by the very hand of God.
The service that day had begun with a sermon by a 43 year-old evangelist named Stephen Hill. Hill had been invited to preach that Sunday by the pastor who was now lying on the floor. The Pastor's name was James Kilpatrick. Hill and Kilpatrick were long-time friends. Hill was hard-charging and plain-spoken. He was from Texas. He had a bristly moustache and he preached straight-forward turn-or-burn sermons. Hill had a habit of stomping his feet when he was waiting his turn to preach. Kilpatrick liked to compare him to a bull pawing at the gate of a rodeo.
When he was a young man, Hill had been a drug addict. He had used heroin but he had been delivered from the habit when he was converted.
Pastor Kilpatrick was a small-town Southern preacher. He had met his wife at Bible school. He grew up in Columbus, Ga. He had felt the call to become a minister when he was a teenager. His congregation at Brownsville had come to respect him for his down to earth and passionate spirituality.
Kilpatrick had been restless. He kept saying he didn't want to just play church. He said that he was tired of merely going through the routine of weddings and church picnics and listening to the choir do the living Christmas tree at the shopping mall every year. He wanted to set his congregation on fire for God.
So he started praying for it. He made it a part of his weekly routine. Every Thursday night he asked people to come and pray with him. Sometimes he'd be the only one there. Sometimes there would be only him and Elmer Melton, who was an usher and a retired Marine drill sergeant. There they were, two men praying together for a revival to take hold in Brownsville. In his search for revival, Kilpatrick heard about how the power of prayer was working in some charismatic churches in Great Britain, Canada and the United States. He had heard of people being literally knocked off their feet.
Pastor Kilpatrick heard that one of the international hot spots of the revival movement was the Toronto Airport Church. At Toronto, prayer teams would hold their hands over people and pray for the Holy Spirit to enter them. Those who were being prayed for would often laugh uncontrollably. They would speak in tongues, shake, or swoon. After the experience they would say that they had never felt closer to the Lord.
Kilpatrick learned that people from many denominations including Catholic priests and Anglican vicars had been humbled by the experience. They themselves been thrown to the floor. Kilpatrick was interested in knowing more, so he sent his wife and several members of his staff to Toronto to check it out. They came back excited.
Hill, his guest speaker that day, had said that he'd had a similar experience when he met a charismatic Anglican priest in Brompton, England. When he walked into that Anglican church, he had to to step over people who were still lying flat on the floor from that days' services.
That Fathers Day in 1995, Hill told the congregation how the Anglican priest had prayed for him and how he had felt the Holy Spirit. He told them how he had fallen to the floor himself. Now he offered to share the feeling with them. So he asked those who wanted to be prayed for to come down to the front of the church. About half the congregation came forward. The choir was singing "Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord", Hill moved from person to person, He held his hand over their foreheads or chests and shouted "Now, Lord! Now! More, Lord, more!"
Some people only stood there with their eyes closed, weaving slightly back and forth. They waited for a lightning bolt, but it never came. Others trembled, wavered and fell to the ground. Pastor Kilpatrick followed behind Hill. He grew more and more astonished by what he was seeing. He rushed to the microphone and shouted, "This is it! Get in!" Soon after that as Hill turned toward him, Kilpatrick reeled back and collapsed on the marble floor.
Later Kilpatric said that it was as if a big, heavy blanket fell over him. He said that it was like being a young'un again and being tucked in with a quilt. He said "I couldn't move. People would lean over and try to talk to me, and I just didn't care."
Another member of the church is Hazel Johnson. She sings in the choir. She was astonished as she watched what was going on that day.
She said "I saw people I had known for years reserved, conservative people, deacons and elders, people who were on the board of directors and there they were, down on the floor. I was thinking: These are upstanding people. They don't give in to emotional displays. What is happening to them?" One of the people that fell to the floor that day was a 59 year old retired Coast Guard officer named Bill Bush. Bill said "I had never experienced anything like that in my life. The first time Steve Hill prayed for me I didn't feel anything. But the second time, I fell to the floor. I could not move my hands and feet. I was probably there for an hour. I said, Lord, if this is really you, do something to let me know this is real."
"And this is what I felt. I don't know if it was a vision, but it was as real as you and I talking. I sensed, in the distance, a huge brush fire. And I felt something reach inside of me and pull all the bitterness out of my life and put it on that fire. And that fire consumed me. Then it was as if a soothing oil was poured on my body. And I said, Lord, let me feel the joy in my salvation like I have never experienced it before. And I felt more joy an peace and contentment, there on that carpet, than I had ever experienced in my life."
So that is how it all got started, Father's Day, 1995 at the Brownsville Assemble of God church in Pensacola Florida. These days the line starts forming at 4:30 am. By noon it is a hundred yards long, extending all the way to the bingo parlor.
People bring folding chairs and beach umbrellas. They sit eight and 10 across. They are slathered in sun screen, they read their Bibles, and listen to Christian music. Some are wearing big straw hats against the heat and T-shirts that say: "Yes, Lord, We Will Ride" and and others say "Commit Or Live In The PIT!"
This is no common everyday church anymore. This isn't even the Brownsville Assembly of God any more. This is now the Brownsville Revival. People stand in line for up to 15 hours to get a seat for the services. Most nights the Services begin at 7:00pm. The service closes shortly after midnight. Many of the people do not go back to their campers and their hotel rooms and collapse for a long nights rest. They shower. They nap. And then, four and a half hours later, they go back to the parking lot, lined up for the next nights revival.
Over the past two years, more than a million and a half people from all over the world have come to the Brownsville church to attend the revival services. The services are held five times a week. Many people believe that the revival is a move of the Holy Spirit, a sign that the second coming of Jesus Christ is close at hand.
People come from Auckland, New Zealand, and Ludenshied, Germany, from Victory Fellowship in Raleigh, N.C., and the Christian Center in Fort Stockton, Texas. Many are pastors who want to recapture faded zeal. Most of the people in the lines are born-again Christians. They want to deepen their faith. They all hope in some way to be touched by God.
They say that it happens. At least, something happens. Night after night, by the end of a revival service, dozens of them are laying on the floor of the sanctuary. Some people call this being slain in the spirit. Others use a more casual term. They call it "carpet time".
Ushers keep a stock of wheelchairs on hand so that people who cannot get themselves up at the end of services can be wheeled out to their cars. Designated drivers are recommended.
One time, a 9-year-old girl fell to the carpet during one of the meetings. She began making dreamy, repetitive motions, like a lazy gardener weeding a flower patch.
Later, the girl was brought in front of the congregation. They asked her to explain what she had been doing. She said, "I was pulling lost souls out of hell, Then I was sending them to heaven."
And so the Revival goes on in Pensacola Florida.
Earlier I mentioned another Revival. This revival apparently had its beginning in Toronto. From this Revival the world has come to know what is called Holy Laughter. Holy Laughter has spread across the country and into Europe.
They call it the Toronto Blessing. A few weeks ago a friend of mine was telling me that he met a couple of doctors from one of our Adventist churches in California. They said that their pastor had gone to Toronto and had "gotten the blessing" and now he had come back to his church and was trying to get the church members involved in it.
What is holy laughter all about? One of the leaders of the holy laughter movement is a South African named Rodney Howard-Browne. One evening Richard Roberts who is the son of Oral Roberts took his little girl to Howard-Browne. Listen to what he says happened.
He said "My little nine-year-old daughter Jordan came to the first night service and Rodney laid hands on her,", "She fell to the ground and laughed for an hour and 45 minutes. When we tried putting her to bed, she fell out laughing. We finally had to put her in the bathtub."
Friends, if you think this is strange, listen to this. One night the holy laughter leader Howard-Browne was preaching on hell, Later he told what happened. he said,"It just hit the whole place. The more I told people what hell was like, the more they laughed." Rodney Howard-Browne says that you can't understand what God is doing in these meetings with an analytical mind. He says that only way that you are going to understand what God is doing is with your heart. Friends did you get that?
You won't believe this but Howard-Browne will even keep people from praying. One time a woman was about to fall into an altered state of consciousness, she became nervous and began to pray. Immediately Howard-Browne commanded her to stop. "Would you listen to me?" He shouted, "If your praying had helped, it would have helped you; now get laughing!"
Even while people are lined up waiting to receive his touch, Howard-Browne commands them not to pray: He will say "Now people in the lines, wait for me to come and lay hands on you, and don't pray, please don't pray." He says the people who insist on praying are stubborn people. He says people come trying to be all serious and praying, but this is not the time to pray. This is not a prayer meeting, get in the joy, you can pray on the way home.
Wait till you hear the rest. You will not be surprised to learn that music plays an important part in the process that leads to the so called in-filling of the Spirit in the so-called great revivals. One leader confessed that at one of his conferences the participants sang one song for over three hours. He said this was necessary in order to bridge the gulf between heaven and earth.
When that one three hour song finally ended some of the musicians were laying on the floor. In his own words the minister said, "I looked at Christianne Potter and Susy Wills, they were dancing near the center of the stage. I have never seen such a look of terror on the faces of anyone. An intense burning, like a nuclear fire that burns from the inside out, seemed to be on the stage. Christine started pulling at her clothes as if she were on fire, Susy dove behind the drums. Then a cloud appeared in the center of the stage, visible to everyone, and a sweet smell like flowers filled the area."
By the way, speaking of music. Many of the so-called praise songs that are used so much in these revivals often reflect the values of today’s culture. I am going to read you the words of one of these songs and I want you to tell me how they compare with "A might fortress is our God." Here goes:
If you feel too serious and kind of blue, I've got a suggestion, just the thing for you! It's a little unconventional, but so much fun, That you won't even mind when people think you're dumb. Just come to the party God is throwing right now, We can all lighten up and show the pagans how Christians have more fun and keep everyone guessing, Since the Holy Ghost sent us the Toronto Blessing!
I used to think life was serious stuff I wouldn't dare cry, and I acted kind of tough. Until God's Spirit put laughter in my soul, Now the Holy Ghost's got me, and I'm out of control! Now I'm just a party animal grazing at God's trough. I'm a Jesus Junkie, and I can't get enough! I'm an alcoholic for that great New Wine, Cause the Holy Ghost is pouring, and I'm drinking all the time. I just laugh like an idiot and bark like a dog, If I don't sober up, I'll likely hop like a frog! I'll crow like a rooster at the break of day, 'Cause the Holy Ghost is moving and I can't stay away! I'll roar like a lioness who's on the prowl I'll laugh and shake, maybe hoot like an owl! Since God's holy river started bubbling in me, It spills outside, and now it's setting me free! So, I'll crunch and I'll dip and I'll dance round and round. The pew was fine, but it's more fun on the ground! So I'll jump like a pogo stick, then fall to the floor, 'Cause the Holy Ghost is moving, and I just want MORE!"
What do you think? I could go on and on. People who think they are receiving the in filling of the Holy Spirit are going into trances. Some claim that the Holy Spirit is making people drunk. One leader calls it being "marinated" in the Holy Spirit. One Southern Baptist pastor claims that God is making the people drunk. He says that God told him "I have to get my people drunk in My Spirit because they have been drunk on the World. Their minds have been polluted. They feed their doubts- there is no confidence in Me and My power. I have to get them so drunk that I can change their thoughts and their attitudes."
This so called "outpouring" of the Holy Spirit is sometimes downright violent. On one occasion that I read about a woman looked as though an invisible hand had grabbed her and was shaking her like a rag doll. All the while that this was happening those who were lying on the floor all around her were laughing uncontrollably and making animal noises.
One of the leaders explained. He said that we have been conditioned to believe that the Holy Spirit's is a gentlemen who would never do anything rough or impolite. But He says, that that is simply not true.
At a Wimber vineyard conference another time a man named David was playing the piano. Suddenly he was seized by the Spirit like a rag doll. He was shaken and bounced violently like a jackhammer and then he was thrown to the ground, his glasses were knocked off and his nose was pushed to the side. His ears were pinned to his head. Later this same person was slammed on the head by what the revival leader said was the "fist of God".
My friends, the things that I have been telling you are not isolated instances. One church in Melborne, Florida began to experience the Toronto Blessing a few years ago and hundreds of thousands of people from all over came to see and experience what was going on.
I live in Orlando. Orlando is the international headquarters of the Benny Hinn ministries. You may have seen Benny Hinn on Religious television. He is one of the prominent so-called healers in this country. Sometimes he waves his arm at a row of people and they will all fall over. He says that the Holy Spirit is in his arm.
Brothers and Sisters, what is going on? I read to you at the beginning what is going on. The Latter Rain is about to be out poured and the Devil knows it and he is trying to get a jump on things. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the counterfeit revival that was prophesied. I am not saying that we have seen everything yet but we are getting into it, and we ought to be able to see where it is heading.
I heard something at camp meeting this year that really impressed me. The speaker said that the devil tries to reach us through our appetites, our passions and our feelings. On the other hand, He said that the Lord tries to reach us through the conscience, the intellect and the will. Can you see the contrast?
People are tired of a theoretical religion. They see the part having to do with the intellect or the will or the conscience as being part of the theoretical blahs. And so experience is in, reason is out.
Should our religion be an experience? Of course. Should our religion be based on experience? Look out!
I want to read you something . Listen to this, 3T 71-73:
"Adam and Eve were permitted to eat of all the trees in the garden, save one.
The Lord said to the holy pair: In the day that ye eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ye shall surely die. Eve was beguiled by the serpent to believe that God would not do as He said He would. "Ye shall not surely die," said the serpent. Eve ate and imagined that she felt the sensations of a new and more exalted life. She bore the fruit to her husband, and that which had an overpowering influence upon him was her experience.
The serpent had said that she should not die, and she felt no ill effects from the fruit, nothing which could be interpreted to mean death, but, just as the serpent had said, a pleasurable sensation which she imagined was as the angels felt. Her experience stood arrayed against,the positive command of Jehovah, and Adam permitted himself to be seduced by the experience of his wife. Thus it is with the religious world generally.
At every revival of God's work the prince of evil is aroused to more intense activity; he is now putting forth his utmost efforts for a final struggle against Christ and His followers. The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested."
Jesus wants us to experience our Faith. Being slammed to the floor or laughing uncontrollably or barking like a dog is not the work of the Holy Spirit.
Are you tired of a theoretical religion, my friends? I'm sure you are and if you aren't you should be. I am going to talk to you about how to have an exciting vibrant experience with Jesus that will thrill you through and through. If you want to feel your religion what I am about to say will guarantee that you do.
Let's see. Have you ever had a fight with your husband or wife? Or, with your children? Or with a friend? Now I don't mean a fist-fight, but I mean saying some pretty bad things. There is anger and all the rest. Of course, who of us has not had an experience like that.
What I am leading up to is this. Have you ever let the Holy Spirit work in your heart and convict you that you are wrong and need to ask for forgiveness? I remember years ago they made a movie. Out of that movie came something that went like this. "Love means never having to say, I'm sorry."
Incredible, The fact is love is all about saying I was wrong. Would you please forgive me!
I know that there are some people who would rather experience the Holy Spirit by falling to the floor or barking like a dog. But to really experience the Holy Spirit, try responding to his invitation to ask someone that you have wronged to forgive you. Speaking of experiencing your religion! You will be so nervous, you will have all kinds of feelings and when you have, you will feel joy and confidence in the forgiveness of Jesus that is unequaled.
My wife's name is Betty. We have been married for 37 years. She is a wonderful person. So kind and unselfish. Once in a while I will get upset with something or the other. Now when I get upset I don't cuss or throw things. In fact a person may not even know that I am upset. My being upset is something that happens sort of in my stomach.
Well, when this happens, I do not accept it. Being angry is not what the Holy Spirit is about. So recognizing that my feelings are wrong, I will ask Betty to forgive me. She will often say, For what? She didn't even know that there was anything wrong.
So my confession serves a purpose of making me continually aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. More than anything I want the fruit of the Spirit in my life. That is because my greatest desire is to do the will of our Heavenly Father.
We talk a lot about worshiping God. I really don't know how having a rock band in church helps to worship God if we are not living to do his will everyday of our lives. You remember the time that King Saul decided that he would do a big celebration worship. The Lord had told him to destroy all of the enemy including their livestock.
But Saul decided that he would keep the livestock and have a big celebration worship. The Prophet of God heard all the animals and asked what was going on. The king explained what he was going to do and the prophet uttered the words that are for all time. He said to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of lambs.
The problem is and always has been that we want to do what we want to do. These days that is in everything. We are making a big mistake. God has told us in His Word how He wants things to be done. The issue is not foggy or unclear. It is one and that is are we going to obey God or not.
The Bible teaches us that the Spirit would be sent. The work of the Spirit would be first of all three things. To convict of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. This is why I am talking to you about the importance of asking for forgiveness. To respond to the Spirit's call to repentance is what being full of the Spirit is all about. Don't forget that the Old Testament prophet says that before the great and awful day of the Lord that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh and as a result it would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.
It doesn't say that the Spirit would slam you to the ground or that you would have your nose smashed against your face or be hit by the "fist of God". Ladies and gentlemen, I agree it is time that our religion began to be less theoretical and more practical. but a practical faith that is experienced in the fullest sense of the word is not about a rock band and singing the same little ditty over and over again, but a practical faith that is experienced is only one that is experiencing the fruit of the Spirit.
I know that we have been focused on the gifts of the spirit for the past ten years or so, but it will not be the gifts of the Spirit that prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus but the Fruit of the Spirit.
We are more concerned about making the church people friendly than we are having a church that is to the honor and glory of our Holy God. A trap set in the church will change the church all right, but we will not like what we are going to get. The thing that will change the church is when the members get the Holy Spirit and we are not talking about raising your hands or speaking in tongues, but we are talking about love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness faith, meekness and self control. By the way these come as a package from the Holy Spirit. A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit does not pick and chose from this list. In other words you cannot select the fruit of the Spirit a la carte.
Yes, let's experience our religion. It is now or never. but don't forget that there is a context to the Holy Spirit. It is a Holy Spirit. For this reason we read that a person who in sensitive to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will be sensitive, well let me read it from Phillipians 4:8. "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." This means that a person who is full of the Holy Ghost will t steer away from watching the heavy weight boxing matches and I could go on and on.
Ladies and gentlemen, this book is either the word of God or it isn't. The Scripture says that it is all profitable for doctrine for reproof and for correction. It would seem to me that we should not only be sensitive to keeping the ten commandments, but we should be just as determined to do the will of God as revealed in 1 Corinthians 13, The sermon on the mount or the text that I just read.
Yes it is time that we were slain in the Spirit all right. But that does not mean "carpet time" and laughing till you fall out of bed. Being slain the Spirit is dying to the world,and its sinful ways. Being slain in the Spirit is to be crucified with Christ.
(Call for those who want to be slain in the Spirit to die to sin—to die daily.)