A commenter on Dr. Michael Brown’s recent column, “Charismatic movement needs some self-policing,” wrote: “The fruit of the Charismatic Movement has not been good.”
Like many critics, this person could see only the thorns of the Charismatic Movement and not the beautiful rose blossoms that have blessed numerous lives, including mine.
On May 20, 1985, I decided to commit suicide. This decision was based on my failure to put together a farm publishing company. All of my financial sources were maxed out, with the only untouched asset being a $125,000 life insurance policy on my life.
Suicide was not a problem because I was an agnostic. My not believing in God relieved me of worrying about hell and God’s eternal punishment for my unbelief. It seemed like a good business decision on my part.
For some reason, I stopped at an insurance agent’s office that afternoon. Bill wasn’t my insurance agent nor was he a close intimate friend. Our relationship was built on my coaching his son for a teen baseball team the year before.
Bill invited me into his office. I sat down on a chair in front of his desk while he sat on the opposite side. We talked about baseball, but in the middle of our conversation, he paused and stared at me. “You’re thinking about committing suicide, aren’t you?” he said.
His words hit me like a sledgehammer. How did he know? It was my secret $125,000 payday. I was speechless. As I sat there, a vision played across my mind about my car ramming into a viaduct and killing me.
I wept. “How did you know?” I asked.
“Oh,” said Bill, “the Lord told me while we were talking to each other.”
His words shattered my unbelief. God was alive, and He cared about me.
We continued talking for a while longer. He gave me a book to read: “Power in Praise” by Merlin Carothers. Bill stated how the small book had changed his life a few years earlier.
When I arrived home, I began reading the book. After finishing the first 18 pages, I walked into the bathroom, closed the door, looked into the mirror and said, “Jesus, I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I guess I’ll give You a try.”
Instantly, I was changed. I bowed down on the tile floor and worshiped my new Lord and King.
How a reader views my salvation testimony probably depends on which camp of Christianity the person presently sits in.
Eight to 10 percent of American Christians might pooh-pooh my salvation testimony because they’re cessationists who believe that prophecy and the spiritual gifts ceased at the end of the apostolic age.
Another 15 to 20 percent of Christians might jump up and down, saying, “Amen, brother.” These are the Pentecostals, Charismatics and others who wholeheartedly endorse prophecy and the spiritual gifts.
That leaves a balance of 70 to 75 percent of American Christians who are not in either of the first two camps. They have heard about prophecy but have not seen the spiritual gifts functioning in their own churches. For the most part, they do not hold any opinions one way or another on prophecy or the spiritual gifts.
What does the Bible say about prophecy and the spiritual gifts?
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1)
The Apostle Paul wrote the above verse in his first letter to the Corinthian Church around A.D. 55. It explained the spiritual gifts and their proper usage.
The historian Eusebius pointed out the importance of prophecy in an event that occurred only 10 or 11 years after Paul’s letter. A Messianic believer in Jerusalem prophesied that everyone should flee the Holy City to save their lives. The prophecy also reminded the believers of Jesus’ prophecy on the first Palm Sunday, described in Luke 19:41-44.
By early A.D. 69, every Messianic believer had fled Jerusalem. Most went to a city in Jordan, named Pella, which was about 60 miles from Jerusalem.
In A.D. 70, the Roman army led by Gen. Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, slaughtering nearly a million Jews. This calamity fulfilled the prophecy spoken by Jesus on that first Palm Sunday.
The number of Messianic believers who fled Jerusalem were about 60,000 in total. Those believers loved Jerusalem and their Jewish neighbors. They would have told everyone about the prophecy, but sadly, the Jewish army had won some battles against Rome when the prophecy was first spoken. Therefore, most Jews ignored the words of those Messianic believers and remained in Jerusalem. The majority of them died.
What if someone today prophesied that we should evacuate San Francisco or Chicago or New York City or Washington, D. C., or wherever because the city was about to be destroyed?
Maybe you’re thinking something like this could never happen.
The book of Revelation tells us about the horrific destruction that will occur in our world sometime in the near future. Half of the earth’s population will die during the seal and trumpet judgments. Most of the cities will be destroyed. If believers don’t take the mark of the beast, we won’t be able to buy or sell anything, including food and medicine.
So, how will believers survive without prophecy and the spiritual gifts?
Maybe our American-held belief of a pre-tribulation Rapture will be accurate. Maybe believers will be out of here before the bad stuff happens.
But just in case, it might be a good idea to develop an ear for prophecy and learn about the spiritual gifts now.