I'm not even sure how to begin this conversation with you. My original thought was to share how frustrated I am with all the finger-pointing that various Christian factions are engaging in towards fellow Believers who are different than them. Accusations of heresy and diabolical practices are tossed back and forth, and unity among the Body is far from evident. The New Reformation movement thinks anyone involved with the Charismatic or Pentecostal branch of Christianity is practicing outside the boundaries of Scriptural doctrine. And any Christian who even hints that they believe in Healing or Deliverance is accused of being caught up in "Charismania".
Have there been self-proclaimed people of God who have been misled, and who are misleading and deceiving Believers? Yes, on both sides of that spectrum! Just as in the Bible, men have sought to elevate themselves (rather than God) through signs and wonders -- I think of Simon the Sorcerer. But I can also think of several prominent pastors and teachers who preach against anything supernatural in our relationship with God, keeping Believers bound in theology that restricts the power of God in their lives. It goes both ways. And how does any of that benefit the Church? The bickering and finger-pointing only serves Satan's purpose, which is to keep us focused on our differences. That contributes to division and takes the focus off the validity of our personal testimonies.
I think it is safe to say that the world doesn't want to hear the Doctrines of Men; our creeds, our theology, or our dogma. As Christians, we know that God wants a personal relationship with us. But why do we think that the world will be drawn into our buildings when the people of the world have made it clear that they reject our message? We must reach the Lost the same way that Jesus instructed His Disciples: But you shall receive power of the kind which God has [and exerts] after the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you shall be those who testify of what they have seen and experienced, my witnesses, both in Jerusalem and Judea, and in Samaria and to the end of the earth (The Greek Translation of the New Testament). We must share our testimony of how we have experienced Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives!
So, now I'm at the heart of what I want to say in this blog post ... how our personal testimony can both shine the Light of Christ into the Unsaved and strengthen the faith of our fellow Believers by sharing the power of God in our lives.
Whenever I've got a nugget of knowledge or wisdom that I feel is important for us to consider, but can't quite flesh it out, I always take it to my husband, Mark, who can usually see it with spiritual eyes and help me get the bigger concept. This time was no different... he actually became quite passionate about what our testimony should accomplish.
Using himself as an example, he said most Christians think their testimony is boring ... I was raised in a Christian home; attended Church most of my life; and can recall the day I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I accept that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for my sins, and I have tried to live a life pleasing to God. He said, "We think how we express our doctrinal beliefs or theology is our testimony. And if you're one of the lucky ones, perhaps you have a dramatic conversion experience when you realized you needed to change your life, and you found yourself on your knees, and asked Jesus to come into your heart".
But then he went on to say, "Most of us don't have that. So where is the experience of God's presence being exercised in our testimony? Does it really speak to the needs of the Lost who are hurting, or to the Believers who need confirmation that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit still interact with us today?
Just a couple of years ago, the Body of Christ was not even able to consider that God still acts supernaturally in this earthly realm. They could not conceive that He still wants to heal our physical sicknesses and afflictions, or that He still wants His Disciples to cast demons out of oppressed people. But that is changing, thank the Lord! I see Christians beginning to renew their minds about what the Scripture actually says, and they are seeing Jesus's commands through new revelation. And, in some instances, the word "demon" is even being accepted as part of the Christian experience; some even going so far as to acknowledge that we can defeat them just as Jesus and His Disciples did! [And for those who are still skeptical that demons can oppress Christians, who do you think is responsible for so many Christians suffering from anxiety, depression, unworthiness, bitterness, inadequacy, fear, etc? Since the Church quit believing in Jesus's command to "do the works" that He did in casting out demons, the devil and his evil spirits have had a heyday with Believers!]
If we could share that Jesus actually showed up [in the spirit] and comforted us as we dealt with the loss of a parent, or a childhood molestation, or a miscarriage, or a time of profound doubt in ourselves -- and we felt His embrace and heard Him whisper, "I'm here with you; accept my healing in this situation", don't you think that is a more powerful [and persuasive] demonstration of Who we profess to have faith in? Which do you think the Lost will find it easier to identify with --- your personal testimony that speaks of the power of Jesus to heal your (and their) wounds -- or a sermon that speaks of a theological point that has no relevance to them or their experiences?
And if Christians could be healed by sermons, then there would be no hurting souls sitting in the pews. But you and I know that is not the case. In the end, I see this as really simple ... I just wish the Church would quit denying what our Bible tells us; and quit defining this generation as "too enlightened" to believe in the supernatural character of God. The truth is that our rational, modern, and self-informed viewpoint has left us impotent when it comes to the attacks of the Enemy.
As more and more Christians come to believe the literal Word of God regarding our Commission, they will begin to experience the literal power of Jesus in their lives, through healing and deliverance. And when they can share their personal encounter with the Living Christ, and how He healed the wounds of their lives, then I believe the Lost in the world will be drawn to that message and we will have the opportunity to share the full revelation of God. (I mean, that's how Jesus presented the Gospel!) Furthermore, the Church needs to hear that testimony of Power as well. They, too, need to know they can experience those personal and supernatural encounters in order to come into their full identity as images of Christ. Then the Church will be operating in the Power of Heaven (instead of their own authority); and the REAL POWER behind the word of their testimony will conquer the devil and his schemes.
Psalm 107:2 "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary."