NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS
“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
“How could this be God? We’ve never seen anything like this before.” Sorry to say, all of us get out our measuring sticks when something we have never seen before happens, especially in church. When Jesus forgave a paralyzed man’s sins and then healed him, there were all sorts of responses in the crowd. There was everything from joy and celebration to anger and pent up hostility. Some people were doubting and others, their faith was soaring. The ones who were angry and doubting began to voice their complaints. “We have never seen anyone forgive sin or heal the sick, this couldn’t be God.” Every time there is revival you get the same complaints. Jonathan Edwards dealt with the same attitude in the 1700’s, here is what he said about new things appearing in times of revival.
“There is a great aptness in persons to doubt of things that are strange; especially elderly persons, to think that to be right which they have never been used to in their day, and have not heard of in the days of their day, and have not heard of in the days of their fathers. But if it be a good argument that a work is not from the Spirit of God, that it is very unusual, then it was so in the apostles’ days. The work of the Spirit then, was carried on in a manner that, in very many respects, was altogether new; such as never had been seen or heard since the world stood. The work was then carried on with more visible and remarkable power than ever; nor had there been seen before such mighty and wonderful effects of the Spirit of God in sudden changes, and such great engagedness and zeal in great multitudes–such a sudden alteration in towns, cities, and countries; such a swift progress, and vast extent of the work–and many other extraordinary circumstances might be mentioned. The great unusualness of the work surprised the Jews; they knew not what to make of it, but could not believe it to be the work of God: many looked upon the persons that were the subjects of it as bereft of reason; as you may see in the book of Acts.”
Just because it hasn’t happened before, doesn’t mean its not God. In the case of present day Pentecostal outpourings, it has all happened before anyway. When the Spirit is poured out on people there is going to be a response. It may be laughter, tears, shouting, trembling, running, falling out into a trance like state, there are many kinds of manifestations of His presence. I think I will take the counsel of Jonathan Edwards, manifestations do not have to be demonic, many times they are spiritual. How can we tell the difference? Its easy. Test the fruit. The devil makes people carnal, Jesus makes people spiritual. Manifestations don’t scare me, they are the signs of His presence. You know what scares me, a cold, apathetic church where God’s presence is not welcome.