Most of us young pastors in the 1940’s were taught that portions of the New Testament lost their validity when the Apostles died. For example, I was instructed to ignore teachings about the Holy Spirit’s miraculous gifts in I Corinthians 12 and 14. Chapters 11, 13, and 15, were o.k. but not the others. Had I disobeyed and taught them anyway, I would have been excommunicated. As a result, I lost nearly thirty years of precious time before I fought my way out of that dark tunnel of unbelief. It only happened then because of tragedy.On a momentous November day in 1977, the Holy Spirit forever changed my life. Walking across the parking lot at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, I faced its ominous building with a bit of apprehension. My destination was a young prisoner whom I had been counseling–but with whom the sessions had undergone a strange reversal. It was I, not he, who needed help. Secretly, I was in a black hole of suicidal depression.
A few months before, my wife, Laurie, had been in a tragic automobile wreck, suffered 13 broken bones, a concussion of the brain, collapsed lung, and so many injuries she could not be moved. She was slowly recovering but I was not. For the first time in my ministry I faced the stark reality that something vital–something strategic–was lacking in me. My doctrinal preaching was not meeting the need. As if looking into a bottomless pit, the wreck had shown me my spiritual void–which I felt helpless to change. My prisoner-friend saw it long before me and lovingly pointed me to the solution: I needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8. Every time he witnessed to me, however, two violent forces fought for control of my mind. First, I had been thrust into the most frenzied search for God I had ever known–a search where every effort seemed to fail. Secondly, a tidal wave of unstoppable depression crashed down on top of me.
When Church Tradition And The Holy Spirit Disagree
For months I wept, sought God with every breath, but found no break in the despair. Slowly, I began to realize if I were going to survive that hellish nightmare, I would do so only by receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. The demon of religious pride screamed at me not to do it. But that November day was the absolute worst day of my life and I could not go on. Exhausted, I suddenly dropped face-down before the prisoner and he laid both hands on my head. As if I were listening from a thousand miles away, I heard him quoting Ananias’ words to Saul of Tarsus, “The Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17.
The scene must have been baffling to the Mafia inmates and wives who were watching. I was a well-dressed pastor–but one broken and unable to suppress my grief–and seeking help from a convict. Our roles were completely reversed. The prisoner had been miraculously born-again the year before, delivered from drug addiction, suicidal depression, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
The effects of his laying-hands on me were phenomenal. As soon as I got home I was snatched from the grip of depression like a child snatched from the path of an onrushing car. Anger, pain, confusion, wrong attitudes, that had stock-piled in me since boyhood were suddenly gone. Like believers in the Book of Acts, I was filled with the Holy Spirit. Spiritually, I stood under an invisible Niagara Falls with all the water of the cataract pouring into me. In a moment’s time the depression was gone, never to return. That was not only the most awesome day of my life–but it was the beginning of an amazing, new ministry. The Holy Spirit roared into my life like a Kansas storm and began doing His works through me. For the first time, I experienced God’s promise that “All Scripture (not part) is given by inspiration of God.” 2 Timothy 3:16.
Soon after that, miraculous things started happening. People would sometimes shake my hand or hug me and drop to the floor under the power of God. Many were healed, delivered, filled with the Holy Spirit. Some of these fell publicly in malls, hotel lobbies, restaurants, parking lots–anywhere I went with the anointing of God on me. God didn’t seem to care where it happened. In the beginning, I knew nothing about this experience occurring in the ministry of Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Alexander Campbell, Augustine, the Puritans, early Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, and others throughout Christian history.
This I did know: Truth was in the Scripture; power was in the truth. That realization took me into another spiritual dimension; only as I looked back retrospectively did my personal history begin to make sense. Theologically, I went into over-drive in the attempt to understand the Holy Spirit’s radical manifestation. And many of them were very radical. Acts 2:12,13. The Glory that invaded me that bleak November day when the prisoner laid-hands on me was producing amazing results. Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” And it happened! He came, I received, and the power rushed in. Acts 1:8.
As I had expected, my Ordination Credentials were canceled and I soon lost most of my pastor-friends. These were men I dearly loved and still miss 35 years later. But, God was gracious and began filling the emptiness with wonderful new brothers. I soon met Derek Prince, we became friends, and he asked me to become part of his Ministry Team for Pastors Conferences in Moscow, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. Our trips together were wonderful. Jack Taylor, the Spirit-filled former Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention became my soul-partner. God brought R.T. Kendall, then concluding 25 years as pastor at Westminster Chapel, London, into my life.
R.T. invited me to preach at the Chapel and we witnessed intense manifestations of the Holy Spirit. He, Jack, and I, became inseparable brothers and soon began conducting Word, Spirit, Power, Conferences from London to Alaska, New England to Florida, and points in between. We have conducted more than 60 of these Conferences. John and Carol Arnott, pastors at The Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship–now “Catch The Fire,” Canada, stepped into my life in an incredible way. I have preached a number of times at this church that has drawn more than 5,000,000 visitors from around the world and is impacting churches everywhere. Thank God, my wife recovered from the accident and supported me in intercession until her death in 2012.
Would I go back to my former ministry? Never! I miss the old friends but where I experienced consistent failure in the past I am now seeing thousands of lives be miraculously changed by the Holy Spirit. I want no more powerless preaching! One personal revelation that transformed me and has been translated into my preaching is this:
The Release Of Power Through The Death Of Ego.
For years, I rightly preached that the rending of the Temple Veil at Jesus’ death forever ended God’s acceptance of animal sacrifice. One day, however, as I was studying the passage, the Holy Spirit stopped me and said, “Read it again.” I did so. It was not until the fourth or fifth reading that I had a flash of new understanding about the torn Veil. The best way I can describe the Holy Spirit’s message is in this way: “Charles, You are thinking only of the blood going into the Holy of Holies,” He said, “With the Veil torn and the Temple opened, what is now free to come out of the Holy of Holies?”
I was awe-struck. I knew the Shekinah Glory was the only Light in the Holy of Holies. That was the Holy Spirit Himself. With the Veil torn (in typology only) there was no longer an obstruction to keeping the Shekinah from coming outward to the rest of the Temple. In that moment, I saw two astonishing, parallel truths: In an identical way, the Holy Spirit’s flooding out of Heaven’s Temple into the Upper Room at Pentecost; Next, the Holy Spirit flooding out of a believer’s Temple-body to heal or bless another’s. Acts 2:1-4. John 7:38. The impact of truth was numbing.
The Spirit’s lesson continued, “Charles,” He said, “Your Temple-body is flesh, soul, spirit. I Corinthians 6:19. It corresponds to the Outer Court, Holy Place, and Holy of Holies. Your hands are an extension of that Temple. With your Veil torn, I am free to move to your Outer Court and upon the person on whom you lay-hands. At the time of the wreck you went through a gruesome death–but in that death you finally committed your life ‘into My hands.’ That is when your Veil was torn.” I was shocked.
The months that followed were apocalyptic. In part, I saw the beauty of “dying in Christ” as I had never seen it before. This death is not sacrificial and foreboding. God merely wants us to surrender our depraved self-will to His perfect will. When I finally emerged in 1977 from that long, religious storm, submitted to God, and better informed scripturally, I was a new man, had a new message, was anointed for new ministry. Today, at age 83, my health is excellent, my ministry more relevant, more powerful, more far-reaching, than in all previous years combined–and the end is not in sight.
My word to you is this: Come go with me! Say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
SUNRISE OF DAVID/SUNSETS OF SAUL
The first book I published, Sunrise of David/Sunset of Saul was in the mid-1980’s and was widely-received. Jack Taylor is re-publishing this book–which I am now enlarging and up-dating. In it, the rival kingdoms of Saul and David are used in a comparative study of the church today. Saul had the anointing, lost it; David, got it, kept it. Like Saul’s failure, the historic church no longer believes in the anointing or the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The full-gospel church believes in all the gifts and seeks to operate in His anointing. This is the basic message of Sunrise of David/Sunset of Saul. Here, for example is a quote I think you will find interesting:
” … In the Fall of 1756 George Whitefield preached at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in the village of Haworth, north England. The local pastor, William Grimshaw, was a godly man and powerful in the Scripture. Whitefield stood on a platform erected outside an open window of the church where he could be heard by those crowded within the building and the several thousand standing without. He paused silently to pray and then in a loud, commanding voice, announced his text: “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after death the judgment.”
Before he could speak his next words, there was a loud shriek from the audience. A person had dropped dead. There was a moment of confusion as Reverend Grimshaw rushed in that direction. The dead person was carried away. After a pause, Whitefield repeated the text loudly again, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after death the judgment.”
From a different section came another shriek. A second person had dropped dead. Both had died instantly upon hearing Whitefield’s announcement about death and judgement. This one was also carried out of the crowd. From the place where the second person had fallen, Grimshaw shouted to Whitefield, “You are standing between the living and the dead!” His reference was to the time when Aaron stood with his censer between those alive and those who perished under God’s judgment. Numbers 16:48.
We know nothing about those who died that day, the condition of their souls, or why God chose to call them to judgement at the moment Whitefield proclaimed the word. But you and I do know that a holy terror gripped the people standing before him. Whitfield was no ordinary preacher. He was an anointed man of God. The congregation learned in a terrifying way that the Holy Spirit was confirming Whitfield’s word with “signs following.” Mark 16 20.
The gifts and power of the Holy Spirit are still available to the church today. Pray for the success of this book: Sunrise of David/Sunset of Saul.
SUPPOSITION: DANGEROUS SUBSTITUTE FOR FAITH.
“When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon … striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.” Acts 27:13,14,41.
It is possible for believers to be seduced by a subtle imitation of faith. That seduction is supposition. Instead of hearing “what the Spirit is saying,” Revelation 3:13, people are sometimes directed by the deceptive appearance of circumstances. Supposition caused Paul’s shipwreck, Mary and Joseph’s anxious days searching for Jesus in Jerusalem, Luke 23:44,45, and has brought frustration to millions of other conscientious believers. In Paul’s case, disaster struck when ocean winds drove the ship into a “place where two seas met.” This metaphor, “where two seas met,” describes church-crisis in a phenomenal way.
Whether it be Paul anciently or Christians currently, the end result of supposition is disaster. I can say without hesitation that the greatest mistakes made in my fifty years of preaching was based on “supposition”–not the Spirit’s leadership. As a result, I too, have fallen into that turbulent area of two seas meeting. What does that expression about “two seas” meeting imply. Hear me carefully:
Two different bodies of water, if they are of different depth, will also be of different temperatures. Where they come together, if the colder water overlays the warm, it will try to sink. The warmer water, by nature, will try to rise. The counter-resistance of these two opposing each other produces a dangerous swirling effect that results in whirlpools. Numerous churches are caught in this same pattern. Some members want to “rise” in the power of the Spirit and welcome the change He brings. Other members feel compelled to resist, to suppress, to keep “things as they were.” Need I say more about church turbulence?
My exhortation to pastors and churches is this: At all costs, avoid the mistake of “supposition.” Hear what the Spirit is saying and obey Him alone. Do not suppose you know the time to sail or the time to remain in harbor if He has not expressly told you. Fair skies, calm weather, are not your guide. Get in your closet, shut the door, spiritually live there, pray to the Father who sees in secret, and obey when He guides you openly. When you have heard His instruction, follow it. Regardless. Leave consequence to Him alone. If you do that, you will avoid much crisis of “two seas” crashing together. I am not suggesting that all pain will be avoided; but I am saying pastors and congregations can be spared needless heartache by following God. Never trust supposition.