Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
June 29, 1998
Last Updated :
April 15, 2018
Garden Of Gethsemane, Shekinah Glory, Daniel's Encounters, Jesus In Revelation, Jesus' Transfiguration, Deceptive Dreams And Visions, Lying Wonders And Strong Delusion, Joy Of The Lord, Try The Spirits, List of Questions To Evaluate Your Church, Closing Remarks, Suggested Reading List
After making the original version of this article available to my readers, I received a response from a fellow who is part of a small charismatic church in the state of Arizona, U.S.A. To be honest, since I first came in contact with this man and his church, I have been troubled by some of their beliefs; and I have not hid this from him. You see, some of the very things which I have discussed in this series, are things in which they fervently believe. For example; they refer to their leader as Apostle; they believe in the second Pentecost; they believe in the coming of a second Elijah; and they believe wholeheartedly in being "slain in the spirit". In fact, this man claims that the Holy Spirit has placed being "slain in the spirit" in the church. This man was also kind enough to send me what I believe may be a lesson which they share with their church members in order to show them that being "slain in the spirit" is a Scriptural practice.
In this short lesson, the man states that the only verse in the Bible which is generally cited when referring to this act of being "slain in the spirit", is the following verse taken from the Gospel of John. I personally find this verse rather interesting; and on several occasions have also wondered what it means. It wasn't until this man sent me his response that I have finally taken a closer look at it, and have asked the Lord to give me the proper understanding:
"As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground."
John 18:6, KJV
If we accept this man's interpretation of the above verse, it means that the Spirit of God was so heavy upon Jesus, that it overpowered these men and caused them to fall backwards to the ground. This man specifically states that "they all fell backward like dominos". I should also note that while the Authorized King James Version of the Bible states that Jesus replied "I am he", the word "he" is in italics in order to indicate that it was actually added by the translator for the sake of clarity. This man takes advantage of this by stating that Jesus really said "I am", as in the "I AM" found in the Book of Exodus. In other words, it appears that he is using this fact to emphasize the overpowering presence which forced these men to fall "backward like dominos"; that is, to be "slain in the spirit". In order to really understand what might be going on here, I believe that there are two things that we need to do. First of all, we need to back away from the picture a bit, and see the whole thing; and second, we need to find the Greek root words for some of these English words. Here then is a fuller account of the event:
"Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,"
John 18:3-12, KJV
The very first thing that I wish to call to your attention is the fact that it seems that these particular men did not physically know the person they were being sent to arrest. In other words, while I am convinced that they had heard of Jesus, and had heard of the wonderful miracles He had done in the Temple and elsewhere, they apparently did not personally know what He looked like. This is very easy to see for two reasons. First of all, we are told that Jesus asks them who they are seeking. Now, if they already knew what Jesus looked like, would there even have been any need for this question? It doesn't seem likely to me. They would have simply seen Him, recognized Him, grabbed Him, arrested Him, and that would have been the end of it. In order for you to see the second reason why I believe that they didn't know what Jesus looked like, allow me to also share with you some verses from the Gospel of Matthew:
"And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him."
Matthew 26:47-50, KJV
While this account may at first appear to contradict the first one, I believe that Matthew simply fills in a few details that John didn't include in his narrative. While John informs us that Judas Iscariot is with them, he doesn't specifically mention the traitor's kiss. However, what I wish to call to your attention once again, is the fact that these men who were sent by the chief priests and the Elders did not know what Jesus physically looked like. If they did, then why did Judas have to give them a sign so that they would know who to arrest? I think you will agree with me then, that while they had heard of Jesus, and knew of the wonderful powers which He possessed, they did not know Him in person; at least not well enough to recognize Him up close. Perhaps they had seen Him from afar in the Temple while they were performing their duties. We really don't know.
Another interesting question to ask yourself is this: Why was a heavily armed multitude necessary to arrest one man? Judas was familiar with Jesus' habits. He knew that the Lord would be alone in the Garden with the rest of His Apostles. Could this be an indication that they did indeed know of Him, and of the powers that He possessed, and thus they were truly afraid of Him? Let us proceed now to what happens next. Notice that they are all standing there with Judas, and nothing unusual is happening. Then, possibly right before Judas gives Jesus the traitor's kiss, Jesus asks them whom they are seeking? They reply "Jesus of Nazareth"; and then Jesus says "I am he". It is at this point that we are told that "they went backward, and fell to the ground". What is really going on here? Were they suddenly "slain by the spirit" as some of these people would have us to believe? I don't think so.
That phrase "went backward" is derived from two Greek words. The first of these is "aperchomai". The primary definition of this word is to go away, to depart, to go away in order to follow any one, to go after him, to follow his party, to follow him as a leader. The word "backward" is derived from the Greek word "eis" which means into, unto, to, towards, for, or among. This immediately tells us that these people didn't just all of a sudden bend backwards like reeds in the wind and fall down like dominoes as this man would have us to believe. The minute Jesus identified Himself, they physically withdrew themselves. They followed their leader and backed off away from Jesus; they retreated. As they retreated, what happened to them? They fell to the ground. This word "fell" is derived from the Greek word "pipto". Notice carefully the following definitions:
----- Begin Quote -----
1) to descend from a higher place to a lower
1a) to fall (either from or upon)
1a1) to be thrust down
1b) metaph. to fall under judgment, came under condemnation
2) to descend from an erect to a prostrate position
2a) to fall down
2a1) to be prostrated, fall prostrate
2a2) of those overcome by terror or astonishment or grief or under the attack of an evil spirit or of falling dead suddenly
----- End Quote -----
Notice that this word means to either fall from or upon, to be thrust down, or to prostrate. The man who wrote to me seems to believe that this heavily armed multitude who came to arrest Jesus, just suddenly prostrated on the ground before Him in adoration. Does that make any sense to you? They didn't come to worship Him; they came to arrest Him. As I will prove in a minute, these people were not prostrating in adoration because of the overpowering presence of God's Spirit upon Jesus. Notice that the definition also says that this falling down might be due to terror, astonishment or grief. Personally, I think that this might be what we are looking for to explain this incident. In other words, as soon as Jesus identified Himself, these people suddenly lost their nerve. They knew of the things of which Jesus was capable of doing. Remember, they had been deluded by the Temple priests into believing that Jesus was a devil, and not the Son of God. He was simply a powerful sorcerer in their eyes:
"But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils."
Matthew 9:34, KJV
"But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils."
Matthew 12:24, KJV
"The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?"
John 7:20, KJV
"Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? . . . Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death."
John 8:48, 52, KJV
So here these people were standing right next to this "devil", and they didn't even know it because they had no idea what Jesus the Christ looked like. The minute that Jesus informed them that He was the one they sought, they quickly followed their leader, as per the Greek word used, and retreated. It sounds to me like maybe they fell all over each other on the ground in terror as they retreated, afraid of what Jesus might do to them. As far as I can tell, there was no powerful spiritual presence here knocking them down backwards like dominoes.
It is right after this, that Jesus again asks them "Whom seek ye?"; and they again reply "Jesus of Nazareth". Now why did Jesus have to ask them a second time when He already knew the answer, and they already knew who He was? After this, the Lord says to them "I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way." I think the real spirit of what is being said here is "Well, you came for me, so why don't you arrest me now? Just take me and leave these others alone." In other words, I think He was telling them, "Look, I am not going to do anything to harm you. I am not the big bad devil that you think I am. Just arrest me and let's get this over with." They needed some assurance that this man, whom they had been told was a powerful sorcerer, wasn't going to hurt them. It is right after this, that Peter cuts off the ear of the servant of the High Priest, and Jesus heals him with His admonition to not take up the sword. After this, they arrest and bind the Lord. I discuss this incident in more detail in some of my political articles.
If these people were "slain in the spirit" as some people would have us to believe, then they certainly made a quick recovery, don't you think? One minute they are flat on the ground worshipping the Lord; and the very next they are ruthless criminals again tying His hands in order to take Him to the High Priest. Are these people schizophrenic or what? Doesn't something seem a bit wrong in this picture? To add to this odd interpretation proposed by the supporters of the "slain in the spirit" doctrine, here is another point which I think you need to consider. If this crowd of people was suddenly overpowered by the Spirit of God so that they were prostrated on the ground worshipping Jesus, instead of arresting Him as they had come to do, doesn't it also seem strange that Peter would suddenly pull out his sword and cut off the servant's ear? It just doesn't fit the picture, does it? Therefore, the word "prostrate" cannot be the proper interpretation of this Greek word for this verse. So again, I believe they may have suddenly retreated in fear for their lives upon realizing that Jesus was the one whom they sought.
Of course, I cannot prove any of these things conclusively. All I can do is provide you with the definitions of the original Greek words, and show you the inconsistencies which I personally see which make this idea of being "slain in the spirit" utterly false. If you don't wish to accept any of these possibilities, then I suppose you will just have to accept that this multitude was indeed "slain in the spirit". It is interesting to note that Matthew, Mark and Luke all basically describe the same scenario of Judas arriving with the multitude, Judas kissing Jesus, and then the Lord's arrest. John is the only one who describes these men falling down in this way. The fact that these people base their whole belief primarily upon this one verse should cast doubt in anyone's mind. As a final point on this group of verses, what I also find extremely odd is the fact that, according to what I have read and been told, this act of being "slain in the spirit" is supposed to be something which only falls upon devout believers in the Lord; yet here we see a large group of ungodly men, believers by no means, experiencing the very same thing. Does this make any sense to you?
After sharing the above verse, this person then explains that in order to properly establish any doctrine, there must be a minimum of two or three verses of Scripture to support it. As you know, I also follow this technique, and often encourage you to compare Scripture with Scripture in order to arrive at a proper understanding of any given matter; thus I can agree with this man. However, concerning this act of being "slain in the spirit", the problem that I see, is that this person has misinterpreted this verse from the Gospel of John, so the following verses he presents are not a confirmation of the event in John's Gospel whatsoever. In my view, they describe something completely different. To provide you with a little background, after King Solomon had completed building the Temple, it was necessary to bring the Tabernacle, or tent, the Ark of the Covenant and the other holy objects into the Temple. It is right after the priests have placed the Ark of the Covenant containing the Tablets of Moses inside the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place inside the Temple, that the following event occurs. Please note that the following two groups of verses are not two separate events. They are the very same event described by different writers in the first Book of the Kings, and the second Book of the Chronicles of the Kings:
"And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD."
1 Kings 8:10-11, KJV
"It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God."
2 Chronicles 5:13-14, KJV
This must have been one truly amazing event! As soon as the priests had come out of the Holy of Holies, the Cloud of the Lord's Glory began to fill the Temple. Some people have referred to this Cloud as the Shekinah Glory, although the term isn't specifically used in the Bible itself. This was a very real visible event. Whatever this Cloud was, the people actually saw it; just as their ancestors had seen it before during their wandering through the wilderness, and during the times that the Lord appeared to Moses in the Tabernacle. I cover all of these related verses in the article "Under the Cloud: UFOs and the Bible". Personally, I tend to think that this might possibly be the very same bright luminescent Cloud that is mentioned in the Gospels when Peter, James and John witness the Lord's Transfiguration. I will discuss that event in a moment.
As can readily be seen, there are some very big differences between what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane, and what occurred here in the Temple. In the former, we have a group of anti-god men coming to arrest Jesus; and in the latter we have devout servants of the Lord giving glory and praise to the Lord after placing the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. While the ungodly men went back and fell to the ground in what I believe was an act of retreat and terror, here we are told that these servants of the Lord were unable to stand because of the presence of the Lord's Cloud of Glory. Exactly what does this mean? Does it mean that they were knocked down, or that they were forcibly pushed down to the ground, or that they suddenly lost consciousness and fainted? The answer is definitely not; and I can prove it to you right from the Scriptures.
Unlike those who believe that the priests were "slain in the spirit" and fell to the ground like feathers, what really happened is that they simply walked out of the Temple as the Cloud continued to fill it. Once the priests had entered the courtyard where the sacrificial altar was located, the very next chapter begins with King Solomon giving an exhortation to the congregation of Israel who are assembled there. Everyone was perfectly conscious and knew exactly what they were doing. No one had been "slain in the spirit". About a third of the way through the chapter, kneeled before the altar, Solomon offers a prayer to the Lord. Once he has finished, the Lord sends a fire from Heaven to consume the burnt offering. These devout people are so humbled, and so awed by the wonderful appearance of this Cloud which has now filled the Temple, as well as by the fire which has consumed the altar sacrifice, that we are told that they voluntarily prostrate themselves on the ground in reverence to the Lord as they praise His Name. To prove that this is so, instead of just reading a few verses which can give us a distorted view of what happened here, let's read a few more of them so that we can fill in the rest of the picture:
"And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands: For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven . . . Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD."
2 Chronicles 6:12-13, 7:1-4, KJV
Notice that in the very first verses we looked at, the priests were inside the Temple placing the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies; right after which the Cloud of Glory began to appear; and now they are outside in the courtyard, and are unable to re-enter the Temple due to the Cloud of Glory. As can easily be seen, no one was "slain in the spirit" inside the Temple, or outside in the courtyard. They were fully conscious of their every act. They listened attentively while King Solomon gave his exhortation, and then when he followed it with a sincere prayer to the Lord. After this, they all followed Solomon's lead and bowed themselves to the ground as they worshipped the Lord. After they praised the Lord a bit, they offered their sacrifices to the Lord. If you still doubt that this is precisely what happened, then I encourage you to read chapters five through seven so that you will be convinced of these things for yourself.
With this event, we have now looked at the key verses which are used to support the doctrine of being "slain in the spirit". If you accept my explanations, then you too will agree that being "slain in the spirit" cannot possibly be based upon these verses. The very next verses which this man included in his explanation are found in the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel. Like John the Revelator and the Prophet Ezekiel, Daniel witnessed some rather amazing things during his lifetime. He was a man truly loved of God; and thus the Lord blessed him with some of the most powerful visions and prophecies found in the entire Bible. I discuss the interpretation of his dreams and visions more in-depth in some of my Endtime articles. In addition to the verses found in the eighth chapter, I am also including those from chapter ten in order to give you a complete picture of some of Daniel's encounters with these Beings, as well as his reactions to them:
"And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright . . . And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it."
Daniel 8:15-18, 27, KJV
"Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling . . . And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me."
Daniel 10:5-11, 15-19, KJV
As can be seen, the Prophet Daniel's encounters with these Celestial Beings were extremely powerful, and very dramatic. In the first set of verses, the Angelic Messenger is clearly identified as being Gabriel. If we compare the second set of verses with similar verses found in the Book of Revelation, it seems quite possible that Daniel's second encounter may have been with none other than Jesus Christ Himself. Notice the similarities between Daniel's description, and that given by John the Revelator:
"And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:"
Revelation 1:13-17, KJV
While we may sometimes imagine how great it would be to see the Lord, or to be visited by one of His Angelic Agents, we are really fools for even thinking such things. The human flesh is simply not made to directly interact with beings from the Spiritual World. Our weak human flesh simply cannot endure such encounters very well. Perhaps this is one reason why Paul wrote the following:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
1 Corinthians 15:50, KJV
When a body of human flesh meets a body made of the Spirit, it is a tremendous clash. Consider carefully the words that Daniel used to describe his awesome encounters. We are told that he was afraid and that he fell upon his face; we are told that he was in a deep sleep on his face toward the ground; we are told that there remained no strength in him; we are told that his breath left him, we are told that he stood trembling; we are told that he became dumb; and we are even told that when these experiences were over, that he fainted and was sick certain days.
The question we each need to ask ourselves is why this was happening? Was it because Daniel was being "slain in the spirit"? Was he being knocked down by an invisible force? No; that isn't what Daniel tells us whatsoever. He says quite plainly "I was afraid". Even though what was happening to him was truly wonderful, his poor flesh just wasn't able to cope with it; so he kept fainting. He fell flat on his face and was unconscious. When it says that he was in a deep sleep, that is precisely what it means. He fainted and was unconscious. It is derived from the Hebrew word "radam". It seems that fainting is a mechanism that the Lord has built into our bodies to protect us from trauma. Poor Daniel could only look at those wonderful Beings and listen to their words for a few minutes before his flesh collapsed under him again. That is why they had to keep helping him up off the ground. That is why he was told "fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong". If he was purposely being "slain in the spirit", why would he be told this? Daniel was trying to be strong, but he just wasn't able to do it on his own. If you look at the previous verses from the Book of Revelation, you will see that, as with Daniel, the Angelic Agent also had to touch John, who fell down as one dead, and tell him not to be afraid. Clearly, these men were merely fainting due to the strain on their bodies brought about by their own fear.
One point I would like to emphasize again, is that while those who support the "slain in the spirit" doctrine would like us to believe that these various incidents are all closely related, as a closer study of them has now revealed, this is not the case whatsoever. They are all very different from each other and involve different elements. The first was an act of quick retreat out of fear of what Jesus might do to them; the second was a matter of leaving the Temple as the Cloud of Glory filled it so that they could not return; and the third and fourth are cases of fainting due to a natural fear of things not commonly experienced by mortal men. As I mentioned earlier, I suspect that the Cloud of Glory which filled Solomon's Temple, may possibly have been the very same Cloud which was experienced by Peter, James and John during the Transfiguration of our Lord. While I can only theorize, I wonder if this might not be a side effect of the Lord opening up a vortex in the time space continuum between our physical world, and the world of the Spirit. As you read the following account, you will notice the exact same elements found in Daniel's encounter, and in John's encounter in the Book of Revelation:
"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only."
Matthew 17:1-8, KJV
Notice again that the Disciples fell on there face out of fear of the unknown, and not because they were "slain in the spirit". As with Daniel and John, the Lord had to physically touch them with His Hand in order to revive them; and then He says "Arise, and be not afraid". In other words, He knows that they have fainted out of fear, and for no other reason. In this incident, the word "fell" is derived from the very same Greek word, "pipto", we saw earlier in the incident in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is a falling due to natural terror or astonishment. It has absolutely nothing to do with being overpowered by the Spirit of God so that one is "slain in the spirit". It was simply their body's natural reaction to protect itself from trauma. In Luke's account of this same incident, it appears that this occurred late at night because the Disciples were fast asleep. It is upon waking up that they see Jesus with Moses and Elijah. Peter is so shocked by this, that he begins to babble like an idiot. Notice how John describes it. Their fear only heightens as they actually enter the Cloud and hear the very Voice of God the Father. The true nature of this Cloud has always puzzled me. If it was the Shekinah Glory, we can only wonder why they weren't "slain in the spirit" as one would expect according to this false doctrine:
"But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him."
Luke 9:32-35, KJV
With all of these examples that I have now given you, I hope that you can honestly see that this doctrine of being "slain in the spirit" is false. While this man provided a few more Scriptures to support his claims, I feel that they are even less convincing than the ones that I have already shared with you. In my view, short of experiencing a powerful encounter with a spiritual being like that of the Prophet Daniel, or like that of Peter, James and John, there is no reason for anyone to be fainting and falling to the floor as is reported in some of these testimonies I have read. Even when the Cloud of Glory filled the Temple, which must have truly been a much more powerful Presence than what some of these churches are claiming to experience, no one fainted or fell to the ground as if "slain by the spirit". The Presence in the Temple was real; it was visual; just like the Cloud seen and entered by Peter, James and John. It wasn't some invisible force knocking people to the floor. This fact alone should worry any sincere Christian who sees such things happening in their church or fellowship. As I stated earlier, when God's Spirit is present, it lifts up and inspires us. It doesn't throw us to the floor and then not allow us to get up as some of these people have reported.
On a related note, there are some people today who actually believe that they have seen Jesus in dreams or visions. They will tell you all about their visions and the things that the Lord has supposedly said to them. Some even claim to have been lifted up to Heaven like the Apostle John and met the Lord. Frankly, based upon all of the information we have now covered, I must seriously question those who make such claims. I can only wonder if perhaps they haven't really been visited by the false "angel of light"; that is, by Satan himself; or else by one of his spiritual partners in crime who have tried to impersonate an Angel of the Lord:
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:14, KJV
When Daniel, Peter, James, and John saw the real Jesus in His Spiritual Body, He had white hair, eyes of flame, a face which shone like the sun, shiny luminescent skin like brass, a golden girdle around his breast, and His Voice was totally out of this world! As we have already seen, when they saw Him this way, their flesh just couldn't cope with it. They fainted on the spot! Despite these facts, I have read testimonies of people who say that Jesus has appeared to them in white with a smile on His Face, sometimes never speaking a word. They say that they are overcome by a feeling of love and warmth, and an assurance that all is well. Based on the Word of God, if you are one who has had such an experience, don't you think that it is time that you really question these visions of yours? Are you seeing what the Bible tells you that you should be seeing? Is your flesh reacting the same as that of those who have really seen Him? Remember, as I point out in many of my Endtime articles, and even in my alien and UFO articles, we are clearly told that the Endtime will be a time of strong delusion in which Satan and his demons will be performing many great signs and lying wonders. Might you possibly be a victim of such things?:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God . . . Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:"
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 9-11, KJV
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Matthew 24:24, KJV
"And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,"
Revelation 13:13, KJV
Don't believe that just because you are a Christian that you can't be deceived, because you most certainly can be. Satan has been around a lot longer than all of us. He has had a long time to perfect his tricks. Don't overestimate your own wisdom, spiritual discernment or strength. There are many people in the world today who are sincerely deceived, and they don't even know it. The only way to avoid these things is by staying close to the Lord, as well as by carefully and prayerfully studying His Word. If you do this, then you will not be ignorant of Satan's devices:
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV
Don't just trust in the words of a man; whether he is your priest, pastor, minister or Sunday school teacher. Don't even trust in me. Trust only in God and in His Word. If you have doubts about something that I teach, then pray over the Scriptures I share. If you honestly believe that the Lord has shown you something different, well then believe it. You cannot and should not operate according to my faith; you must operate according to your own. Concerning these current issues of being "slain in the spirit", and a second day of Pentecost, and an Endtime Elijah and other great Apostles and Prophets, and America's coming greatness, etc., all I can say is that I have honestly done my best to give you the straight Word of God. I would again encourage you to read such articles as "The Office of a Prophet" and "Elijah: Where Are the True Prophets?". Lest some of you get the erroneous impression that I don't believe in the Gifts of the Spirit, or in the presence of God's Spirit in our lives, allow me to also encourage you to read the article "Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?". As you will see, yes, I most certainly do believe in the Gifts of the Spirit, but I also believe in the following:
"Let all things be done decently and in order."
1 Corinthians 14:40, KJV
Let me also state for the record, that I also fully believe in expressing our joy and thankfulness before the Lord, as I explained earlier. Here are a few more verses on the joy of the Lord for your personal encouragement:
"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Matthew 25:21, KJV
"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."
Luke 6:22-23, KJV
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
John 15:11, KJV
"And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you."
John 16:22, KJV
"And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves."
John 17:13, KJV
"And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."
Acts 13:52, KJV
"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."
Romans 14:17, KJV
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."
Romans 15:13, KJV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23, KJV
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:"
1 Peter 1:7-8, KJV
"But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
1 Peter 4:13, KJV
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,"
Jude 1:24, KJV
As I have already said, there is a balance to be found in the Scriptures; and there is a proper time and place for everything. My primary message to you is to simply try, or to test, the spirits and the spiritual influence in your personal life, and in your congregation as well, and to make absolutely certain that it is of God, and not a demonic counterfeit:
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV
Simply look at the fruit in your own life, as well as in the lives of those around you. Do you see God's blessings being manifested in your life? Do you see God's blessings in your congregation? Are not only the Gifts of the Spirit present, but are the Fruits of the Spirit present as well?:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23, KJV
If your congregation is bearing good positive fruit such as through lives being changed, and new souls being won to Christ; and if both the Gifts and the Fruits of the Spirit are present, then perhaps you are in the right church and fellowshipping with the right people. Following are a few additional questions which may assist you in evaluating your current situation:
1. Does your church's doctrine and pattern highly exalt and adhere to the Word of God; or is it heavily based upon the words, traditions and rituals of men with very little mention of the Scriptures?
2. Are you able to freely approach the elders of your church or fellowship without fear and talk to them about different issues which affect your faith?
3. Are your elders willing to openly discuss the church's doctrine with you; or do they shun you and tell you that they will talk to you later; or that you are too young in the faith to understand it?
4. Do your elders have a humble spirit when they share with you, or do they express a self-righteous condescending attitude towards you?
5. Are you personally convinced in your heart that your church has properly explained the Scriptures to you?
6. Does your church encourage you to study the Scriptures on your own?
7. Do you have a peace in your heart concerning the church with which you are currently fellowshipping?
8. Would you encourage others to join your church or fellowship?
These are all important questions that you should seek to answer for yourself. If you have answered all of them in the affirmative, then you can be at peace with yourself, with God, and with your brethren, knowing that you have found a good church and are in good company. On the other hand, if any of these things are lacking, or if there is a spirit of darkness, or of confusion, or of oppression in your church or fellowship, then I advise you to really pray about your situation; as you may be in spiritual trouble and not even realize it.
With this final counsel, I am going to bring this series to a close. I trust that it has been instructive and a blessing in your life. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social network, I would appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!
For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which were also mentioned in this article, or which are related to this article, and which are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics web server.
Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?
Beholding the Evil and the Good
Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution
Elijah: Where Are the True Prophets?
Exposing the Tactics of the Enemy
God's Golden Teeth, Or Satan's Delusion?
Leviathan: An Ancient Dragon of the Sea?
Mondex and the Mark of the Beast
Nature of the Alien: ETs, Demons or a Government Plot?
Nephilim: The Giants of Genesis
Selfishness: A Prophesied Sign of the Endtime
The Battle is Not Yours Alone!
The Lord Will Lift You Up!
The Office of a Prophet
Under the Cloud: UFOs and the Holy Bible