MESSY, MESSY, MESSY
Acts 2:11-13 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” ¶ Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
Uncontrollable shaking, violent jerking, obnoxious laughter; bizarre behavior, especially in church. How could these kinds of behavior been “allowed” in church, let alone be acknowledged as acceptable or even spiritual manifestations. First of all, these occurrences are not new but have occurred throughout the history of the church actually beginning on the birthday of the church on the day of Pentecost. The very first “Christian message” was a response by the Apostle Peter to accusations of public drunkenness being displayed in the streets of Jerusalem by the followers of Jesus. In Peter’s famous response he said, “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” Peter said that these manifestations were the disciples’ response to the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Similar accusations were made against Jonathan Edwards and his church during the initial phase of the Great Awakening. Edwards wrote an entire book evaluating the manifestations common in revival. That book is called “The Distinguishing Marks of a True Move of the Spirit of God”. Here is one of his points from that classic book on revival.
‘Therefore it is not reasonable to determine that a work is not from God’s Holy Spirit because of the extraordinary degree in which the minds of persons are influenced. If they seem to have an extraordinary conviction of the dreadful nature of sin, and a very uncommon sense of the misery of a Christless condition or extraordinary views of the certainty and glory of divine things,–and are proportionably moved with very extraordinary affections of fear and sorrow, desire, love, or joy: or if the apparent change be very sudden, and the work be carried on with very unusual swiftness–and the persons affected are very numerous, and many of them are very young, with other unusual circumstances, not infringing upon scripture marks of a work of the Spirit–these things are no argument that the work is not of the Spirit of God.–The extraordinary and unusual degree of influence, and power of operation, if in its nature it be agreeable to the rules and marks given in Scripture, is rather an argument in its favour; for by how much higher the degree which in its nature is agreeable to the rule, so much the more is there of conformity to the rule; and so much the more evident that conformity.’
In modern everyday words, a sudden move of the Spirit, especially on young people, can be quite messy. The suddenness and the strength of the outpouring can bring out some bizarre and quite humorous behavior. Edwards’ assessment of the situation is this, look at the long term effect on the lives of those being touched and then you will know. Are they reading their Bible more? Are they talking about Jesus more? Is their lifestyle marked by holiness and purity? Is there a concern for those who are without God? If these are the qualities being formed by the outpouring then it is a true move of the Spirit of God. I think what we need is an increase of God’s presence in our society. What we are experiencing as a nation, the economic and political mayhem, can only be stopped by a true move of the Holy Spirit. Come Lord, pour out Your Spirit once again.