Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
June 29, 1998
Last Updated :
May 2, 2018
Is It Because Of A Lack Of Faith?, Is It A Holy Or An Unholy Spirit?, Does It Bear Positive Fruit?, The Lord Liberates And Lifts Us Up, Is It Godly Conviction Or Satanic Condemnation?, My Personal Experiences, Lift Up Your Hands In Praise To The Lord, Judas Iscariot And Incident In The Garden Of Gethsemane
As we concluded in part four, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all flesh -- that is, upon all believing flesh -- on the day of Pentecost almost two thousand years ago; and the Lord has continued to pour it out upon those who love Him and obey Him ever since. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we have continued to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this very day. Thus, it should be evident to you by now that there is absolutely no need for a second outpouring of the Spirit. There is really no need for a second day of Pentecost event as occurred in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.
As I mentioned in part two of this series, I suspect that one of the reasons why some of these people want this supposed second outpouring to happen, is because they want and need to see the signs. They need to see something physical, because they have lost their faith, and they need something to boost their faith once again. They need physical proof, physical signs, and feelings in the flesh in order to help them to keep believing. However, as the Apostle Paul wrote on three occasions in his Epistles:
"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
Romans 1:17, KJV
"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
Galatians 3:11, KJV
"Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
Hebrews 10:38, KJV
Aside from the reasons that I have already mentioned in this series, as I point out in "Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?", if we are not currently seeing many great miracles, signs and wonders being performed by God's children, it might not be due so much to the absence of God's Spirit in our lives, but rather due to our own lack of genuine faith. For as the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Hebrews:
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen . . . But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Hebrews 11:1, 6, KJV
If we truly have the faith, then one would think that He would reward us with the miracles. For as the Lord said, if we have the faith of even a grain of mustard seed, we could remove mountains and cast them into the sea. Of course, metaphorically-speaking, we have already done this, because many nations -- or mountains -- have indeed been moved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, if we are not seeing very many genuine miracles, such as instant healing, then this seems to answer what Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke, as we see here:
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8, KJV
I think it would be absolutely great if all of a sudden the Lord's children around the world began to perform all kinds of miracles due to a renewing or a refreshing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I think it would be fantastic if I could walk up to a sick person, or to someone missing an arm or a leg, and immediately heal them on the spot. Just think of how many people could be won to the Lord, or how many people would re-dedicate themselves to the Lord, by such a wonderful miracle and testimony of the Power of the living God.
So, in my opinion, if these things are not happening, either it is due to our own lack of faith, or else because, as I pointed out in part two, this is simply not what the Lord has in store for the world right now. Instead of pouring out His Holy Spirit in great quantities, perhaps He is beginning to withdraw it in order to allow the final manifestation of evil. It is this very possibility that makes this desire for a second day of Pentecost event all the more dangerous. The time may be coming -- and in fact may already be here right now -- when there will indeed be a great outpouring of the spirit. However, it won't be the Holy Spirit. It will be an extremely deceptive, unholy spirit with manifestations which will deceive many people. Does this sound familiar?
Are we perhaps already seeing this with such things as being "slain in the spirit"? If some of these leaders are preaching a false, deceptive message, could it be that their so-called spiritual manifestations are also false? After all, in order to prove that God is really with them, and that His anointing is upon their particular ministry, they would require all of these "wonderful" signs in order to convince their flocks of this fact, regardless of the true source of these different manifestations. The question we all need to ask ourselves then is which god are we really talking about here? Which one is causing all of these odd manifestations to happen at some of these tent revivals and in some of these churches?
As I have repeated over and over again in my articles, the acid test is in the fruit. This is the criteria that Jesus Himself gave us; and it is the one which we should follow without a shadow of a doubt if we really want to stay out of spiritual trouble. For those of you who are convinced of the Divine Nature of being "slain in the spirit", or "falling in the spirit", allow me to ask you a few questions. When you have these experiences, what kind of positive remaining fruit is it bearing in your life and in the lives of others? After all, this is our whole purpose for being here. That is, to love God and our fellow man, and to bring forth fruit that remains, as we see by this verse:
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
John 15:16, KJV
Are these experiences drawing you closer to Jesus? Are they drawing you closer to His Word? Are they drawing you closer to other Christians? Do they help you to be a better witness to others? Are they bearing positive fruit by bringing more souls to Jesus Christ? How are you feeling inside after these strange incidents occur? Please clearly explain to me what falling down, or being pushed or knocked down to the floor by some preacher, does for you that is in any way positive, because I just don't see it.
These very same questions can likewise be applied to any of these other odd experiences and manifestations that some of you have been having. As I have already shown quite clearly, Scripturally-speaking, the act of falling down, or being knocked down, cast down or pushed down, is not a positive experience. It in fact involves some form of rebellion, and is usually a chastisement from the Lord. However, there are a few rare exceptions where falling down has been the result of a positive experience. I will be discussing these in the final part of this series.
On the other hand, as I point out in the article entitled "The Lord Will Lift You Up!", when we are close to the Lord and we are obedient to His Word, rather than knocking us down to the ground, and in some cases even being held there by some unseen force as we see occurring with some of these charismatics, the Bible very explicitly tells us that He will lift us up. God's Spirit is not a heavy, oppressive or suppressive force. It is an uplifting, liberating force. It frees us mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and it fills us with joy unspeakable. Allow me to share a few verses from the aforementioned article with you:
"Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great . . . He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man."
Psalms 18:35, 48, KJV
"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock . . . When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up."
Psalms 27:5, 10, KJV
". . . I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me."
Psalms 30:1, KJV
"I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room. Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly."
Psalms 31:7-9, KJV
". . . I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD."
Psalms 40:1b-3, KJV
"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them. By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever."
Psalms 41:9-12, KJV
"But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving."
Psalms 69:29-30, KJV
"Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up."
Psalms 94:17-18, KJV
"Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually."
Psalms 119:116-117, KJV
So you see, while the Lord will knock us down if we become too proud and rebellious, He is primarily in the business of lifting up His children, and not knocking them down, either spiritually or physically. If we are knocked down, it is either because of our own pride and personal sins; or else it is because of the condemnation and the oppression of the enemy. As I have explained on other occasions, there is a very big difference between Godly conviction which points out our errors to us and then encourages us to do better, and satanic condemnation which only condemns and criticizes us and makes us feel like we have done something wrong which can never be forgiven. The Lord's Spirit will convict our hearts through His Word, and then it will give us hope. In contrast, Satan just harshly condemns and accuses us, and fills us with despair. The Devil never offers any positive solution. If you are having this problem, consider the words of the Apostle Paul:
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Romans 8:1, KJV
To reiterate that point, God wants to inspire us and lift us up in a spiritual sense. He desires to encourage us in our walk with Him. I do not believe for a minute that He is in the business of pushing or knocking people down to the floor for no apparent reason. If some invisible, overpowering, oppressive presence is doing that to you, it certainly isn't God, in my view. So as I said, the strange practice of being "slain in the spirit", or "falling in the spirit", just does not seem very Scriptural to me in the least. Maybe some of the people who experience that are getting inspired, but are they really getting inspired by God's true Holy Spirit? Or is it merely some fleshly, or even demonic, spirit?
While I am not in the habit of discussing my personal walk with the Lord, I do feel that the following might be of a help to some of you. Just like many other Christians, there are times when I also get extremely inspired by the Spirit. This is particularly true when I am working on a certain article, and the Lord is giving me all kinds of great verses and showing me some precious truths in His Word. When this happens, do you think that I am all of a sudden knocked or pushed to the floor by some unseen force? Do you think that I get all giddy as if I am drunk? Do you think I start howling like a dog or stomping my feet or laughing uncontrollably? Definitely not!
My natural reaction, my automatic reaction, is to get up out of my chair and walk around the room in utter amazement as I say "Wow! Thank-you Lord!" a few times. Then I lift up my hands and praise the Lord a bit in thankfulness for the wonderful things He has just shown me. Those few minutes of praise are so refreshing. It is like being lifted up and transported to some other place. When I open my eyes again, I think to myself, "Oh, I am still here". That is how real and out-of-this-world it can be at times. But I am sure that some of you have probably experienced the very same thing, haven't you?
My point is, I do not get knocked down to the floor. Quite the opposite. I stand up and lift up my hands in praise to Him. That is my natural reaction, and not being pushed down by some unseen force. I am not "slain", I am lifted up in a spiritual sense. I am both edified and rejuvenated. I sit back down with new strength and inspiration to keep working until the project is done. In short, my praise sessions with the Lord bear good, positive fruit. This practice of lifting up our hands in praise is precisely what the Scriptures tell us to do. As we lift up our hands to the Lord in praise, He strengthens and encourages us. Consider all of the following verses:
"Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle."
Psalms 28:2, KJV
"Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name."
Psalms 63:4, KJV
"Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul."
Psalms 86:4, KJV
"Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD."
Psalms 134:2, KJV
"O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!"
Isaiah 40:9, KJV
"Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens."
Lamentations 3:41, KJV
"Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
Psalms 68:13, KJV
"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40:29-31, KJV
"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;"
Hebrews 12:12, KJV
This is the kind of praise that the Bible speaks about. We are clearly told that it will strengthen us, encourage us, and lift us up. Godly praise does not attract a spirit which knocks us down, or pushes us to the floor as if it is trying to oppress us. Whatever spiritual force is causing that kind of reaction and behavior is simply not of the Lord, and it should be rebuked immediately, and the preachers who promote it should be rebuked and exposed as well.
After making the original version of this series 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, from the moment that I first came in contact with this man and his church, I became troubled by some of their beliefs; and I didn't hide this fact 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 an Apostle. They believe in a coming second Pentecost event. They believe in the coming of a second Elijah. And sadly, they also believe wholeheartedly in being "slain in the spirit". In fact, this man claimed 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 stated 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 which is found in the Gospel of John. I personally find this verse rather interesting; and on several occasions I have also wondered what it means. It wasn't until this man sent me his response that I finally took a closer look at this verse, and asked the Lord to give me a proper understanding concerning it:
"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 translators for the sake of clarity. This man takes advantage of this point by stating that Jesus really said "I am", as in the "I AM" which is 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 in this verse, 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. Second, we need to examine the original Koine Greek words from which these English words are derived. 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 that are found in 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 which John did not 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 "great 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 Jesus, and of the powers that He possessed, and thus they were truly afraid of Him, and what He might do to them?
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.
It sounds very much to me like 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 which are found in the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon:
----- 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 one of the meanings of this Koine Greek word is to descend from an erect position to a prostrate position. The man who wrote to me seemed to believe that this heavily armed multitude who came to arrest Jesus, inexplicably and suddenly prostrated on the ground before Him in adoration.
Does that make any sense to you? They didn't come to worship Jesus. 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 lexicon also says that this falling down might be due to terror, astonishment or grief. Personally, I believe that this particular definition 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. Let me remind you of the following verses:
"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 the picture that I am given is that this "great multitude" which was armed with "swords and staves" was standing right next to this supposed "devil". However, they did not realize it, because they had no idea what Jesus physically looked like. The minute that Jesus informed them that He was the one they sought, they quickly followed their leader -- as per the Koine Greek word which is used here -- and they retreated. It sounds to me like maybe they fell all over each other on the ground in terror as they retreated, because they were 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.
Please go to part six for the continuation of this series.
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