Every time I listen to Bill Johnson, I’m challenged in some part of my life. Most often it’s in the place of living the kind of life Jesus lived. Call me a fool, but I’m trying to take seriously the fact that Jesus said we would do even greater things than He did.
I’d heard this particular message before, but this time his words brought to mind something I’d been wrestling with for a long time. Bill hinted at the answer I’d been looking for. He loves to hint at the answers, without coming right out and telling you the full implications of what he's saying. There’s always a pregnant pause for reflection.
The message was on hosting God’s presence. If you aren’t familiar with hosting the presence of God, I recommend viewing the video (here) because much of what I’m about to share is tied to the concepts he illustrates so well.
As Christians, we are carriers of God’s Spirit and partakers of His divine nature. God is present in and resides with us. His presence in us is the life and power behind all that we do. He has enabled us to do things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. His divine enabling is one aspect of His grace. While the law sets prohibitions on what we can do, His grace enables us to do more than we would ever dream of before receiving it.
Jesus often released the power (or presence) of God into a situation to bring about an expected result. He said, “The words that I speak are spirit and they are life.”
His very words carried the spirit and life of God in them. As he spoke to the sick, his words destroyed sickness. He knew how to release God’s presence. The release of God’s presence isn’t always under our control. Sometimes it flowed from him as he passed through a crowd like with the woman who was healed of her flow of blood.
Peter understood that he carried the presence of God. When the lame man asked for alms, Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6). What did Peter have? The presence of God. As he released it into the lame man, it enabled him to walk.
The instruction of Jesus was aimed at helping the disciples understand this concept; that they were carriers of God’s presence. As such, they had been authorized and empowered to do more than they realized and they were often afraid to fully walk in this reality.
When the loaves of bread were multiplied, it was the disciples who perceived that the multitude was hungry. They went to Jesus about the problem. They offered two solutions; send the crowd home, or buy them food. Having little money, they suggested sending them home. Jesus told them, “You give them something to eat.” In His instruction, Christ gave them the supernatural ability to carry out his command and they didn’t even know it. They gathered some bread and gave it to Jesus, expecting him to work a miracle. He blessed it and handed back a handful of bread. It had not yet multiplied. It was when they obeyed his command to feed the multitude that it multiplied. And it happened by their own hands.
Apparently, they either didn’t realize they had worked this miracle or they didn't remember it the following day as they sat in the boat being tossed about in the storm. Had they remembered the miracle of the loaves, they may have rebuked the storm themselves. But in their fear, they forgot the enabling they had received and Jesus had to calm the storm for them. He then chided them, because they didn’t remember the loaves. The disciples often forgot who they were and what they had been authorized and empowered to do. And so do we.
Many of us are fearful of overstepping our authority to operate in the supernatural. We say, things like, “I’ll participate in the supernatural, but only if God leads me in the experience or only if He initiates it.” The fact is - the natural man perceives supernatural experiences to be dangerous.
We're taught to fear the supernatural on the premise that it can lead to deception or harm. I won't tell you that it can't harm you or lead to deception. That would be naive. Satan owns a large chunk of supernatural real estate and it's not hard to find. While I appreciate the danger the enemy poses, I’d like to explain why avoiding the supernatural isn't the solution.
One of the ways God speaks to us is through preachers. One of the ways Satan deceives the world is through men and women who preach a perverted gospel. Should we abandon preaching because the enemy has found a way to deceive people through a false message?
Of course not.
The problem isn't that preaching itself is dangerous. The problem is that many of us are not able to discern truth from deception. The real problem lies in the heart of the ones who hear the preaching. If all God’s people exercised proper spiritual discernment, false preaching would have no audience and pose no threat.
One way God speaks to us is through dreams. One way the enemy speaks to us is through dreams. Should we refuse instruction from God through dreams, simply because the enemy has found a way to use them to deceive us?
Of course not.
The proper approach is to learn how to discern the difference between God’s dreams and the enemy’s and disregard the ones from the enemy. Sorting out dreams is a matter of learning God’s ways, recognizing His voice and His agendas, and learning to interpret the dreams by His Spirit. These are all things that come to us as we mature in our walk with Him.
One way God manifests His mercy is through healing. The enemy has found a way to heal people as well, through various counterfeit forms of healing. Should we reject the ministry of healing because the enemy has used it to deceive people? Again, we can’t reject the legitimate expression of God’s love because some have fallen for a counterfeit. We must learn to discern the one from God and teach others how to spot the counterfeits.
The prophets and apostles traveled in the spirit from place to place doing all sorts of bizarre things. Jesus himself traveled across lakes, alone and with the disciples, supernaturally. The enemy has learned how to transport people supernaturally through experiences like remote viewing and astral projection. Should we reject the idea of supernatural transport merely because the enemy has developed a copycat?
Of course not.
The problem once again is not that supernatural transport is a form of deception, but rather that we must learn how to discern the spiritual pathways of God from the highways of the deceiver and walk only on the ones God has provided.
For some, the answer to the problem of deception is simply to refuse to participate in anything supernatural. For others, the answer lies in only participating if God sovereignly brings the experience to their doorstep. I would suggest that these attitudes are nothing more than fear and disobedience dressed up as prudence and caution. Whether you live a supernatural life or not, you’re subject to deception.
The enemy uses many ways to deceive us including the belief that supernatural experiences are of the devil. The lives of Jesus and the disciples demonstrate the exact opposite. It was their willingness to host and release the presence of God that kept them free of deception. As carriers of His presence they received revelation directly from God on spiritual matters, which kept them walking in the truth.
Jesus is the most supernatural man who ever lived, yet He only did what He saw the Father doing. From this fact, it might appear as if he lived from moment to moment never knowing exactly what the Father had in store for him next. Yet when we read the gospels we don’t see him caught off guard, as if something had just happened that he didn’t expect. He was intentional and deliberate in all that he did.
The Father didn’t drop him unexpectedly upon the waves of the sea. He went there on his own for a specific purpose. When he appeared to Thomas after walking through a wall, no one would suggest that the Father sovereignly tossed him through the wall. Jesus chose the wall instead of the door to make a point. It was a deliberate act, where he exercised his will to do something. When he raised Lazarus from the dead, he knew days in advance what he was going to do and he told the disciples about it.
It doesn’t seem to me as though Jesus waited for His Father to make the kind of “sovereign moves” many of us are waiting for Him to make. He knew His Father’s heart and His will, which allowed him to cooperate fully with the Father’s plan. When he saw the lame, He knew the Father’s heart was to heal them. When he saw the poor, he knew the Father wanted to feed them. And when he saw the storm, he knew the Father approved of his decision to speak peace to it. When the crowd tried to throw him over a cliff, he supernaturally passed through their midst with the Father’s consent. He operated in the supernatural without fear because He knew the proper actions to take. That knowledge came from studying and knowing His Father’s heart.
As we step out in faith, and cooperate with God’s plan, He will give us experiences to help us get to know His ways. As we learn His ways, we’ll grow in confidence that we’re doing the things He approves of.
Some of us receive words of knowledge. What are they for?
To reveal something God wants us to address. Often it’s to alert us to lay hands on someone who needs healing. Words of knowledge are nice. They’re God’s way of prompting us to take action. But we can’t always wait for God to move first. We must eventually take the training wheels off the bicycle. And that means we must learn to initiate the encounter ourselves.
I used to wait for God’s approval before I’d pray for anyone to be healed. As I’ve grown in my walk, I’ve learned that I don’t need to wait for Him to tell me to pray for a certain person. If I decide to lay hands on someone, He usually backs me up. If I miss someone who is open to healing, He'll often tell me.
God began speaking to me a few years ago about spiritual transport (It was His idea, not mine). He brought up the subject and gave me a number of dreams about it. One night, while sleeping, He transported me to Brazil – not to the country itself, but to the heavens over it. Confirmation of the trip came a few months later when a friend told me about a dream he’d had where I met him at a spiritual portal over Brazil. I'd never told him about my experience, so he wouldn’t have known about it.
God desires us to experience these things with Him. I’m not completely certain why, but in the coming days, spiritual transport will be more common. In a recent dream, I saw a representation of the spiritual highway of the kingdom. Its capacity to move people was being doubled.
One of the great questions we’ve been wrestling with in the realm of spiritual transport is whether we must wait on God to sovereignly move us, or if we should learn to do it of our own free will. There are arguments to be made on both sides, but in the final analysis, the question is the same one we ask of all supernatural experiences – must we wait on God to initiate it, or are we mature enough to know when and how to do it ourselves?
One objection often raised is that some of us will “seek the experience” for the sake of the experience itself, instead of seeking God as the provider of the experience. It's true that some of us will be lured into seeking the experience out of boredom, curiosity, or some other foolish reason.
What harm will come to them?
The same harm that comes to anyone who seeks the supernatural as entertainment.
They’ll learn that the enemy is the primary supplier of supernatural entertainment and it’s on his terms that they’ll play. And they’ll suffer the consequences of their immaturity. I think once again, that the problem isn’t the experience per se, but the foolish, immature heart that doesn't distinguish between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Thrilled by anything supernatural, they’re lured into darkness little by little.
I think it's always wise to invite God to be a part of our experiences. I rarely pray for anyone to be healed without asking the Holy Spirit to bring His presence and be involved in what I'm doing. How much more should we invite Him to be a participant in something like spiritual transport?
The issue may boil down to a matter of knowing the Father, His ways and His voice so well, that deception is spotted the moment it appears. If we're honest, some of us will admit that we don’t know the Father’s voice or heart well enough and we fear that if we make a move, it will be in the wrong direction. So we remain paralyzed; afraid to move in any direction.
Papa isn’t looking for pawns that can be moved around a chess board. He isn’t looking for timid creatures paralyzed by fear. He’s looking for sons and daughters, who are willing to accept responsibility, grow in maturity and cooperate with Him in a divine plan. He wants us to know that plan or at least the part that involves us.
Jesus said a servant does not know his master’s business. But after He revealed his plan to the disciples, he called them his friends. And that is how God sees us.
As friends of God we must grow in discernment so that we know when the enemy is speaking or acting instead of God. Part of that process is learning God’s plan, which provides a map for us. Another part is to grow in spiritual maturity, which comes by spending as much time with Him as possible, asking questions, meditating on the answers and trying out the gifts he’s given you.
Yes, we’ll make a few mistakes; we are His children after all and we haven't been this way before. But no mistake is wasted if we learn the lesson that comes with it.
-till next time,