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In Ephesians 4, Paul describes the five ministry gifts that will lead to the church:
But to each one of us was given grace according to the gift that Christ measured out … And he gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. They would equip the saints for the work of service to build up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the adult population of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:7, 11-13).
In my Swedish house church, we once looked at this passage and realised that not only are the apostles and prophets extremely rare in the West, but when they still show up, we become terrified. Especially if they dare to call themselves apostle or prophet. This probably stems from the prevalence of cessationism in Protestantism, which elevated teaching as a major component of church life while prophecy and apostleship were viewed as obselete.
Today, most European churches have abandoned cessationism, and many realise that the Bible does not limit the title “apostle” to the twelve guys closest to Jesus. Yet, we have incredibly difficulties using the terms apostle and prophet. We look with skepticism when, for example, Christians from Africa are not afraid to liberally use these terms for describing their leaders. (more…)
The charismatic revival has not just been about signs and wonders, but about worship and music as well. Similar to previous revivals like Methodism and Salvationism, early Pentecostalism had a lot of zeal and passion in their hymns, with a renewed focus on the Holy Spirit and miracles. The African American influences and inspiration from the mission field also impacted the tone of the music so that it became more inspirational.
Things changed even more during the Western charismatic renewal of the 1960’s and 1970’s, as the Jesus movement incorporated popular, hippie tunes into their worship. This in turn impacted the Vineyard which combined the contemporary style with a focus on singing to God rather than just about him. Today, charismatic churches like Hillsong in Australia and Bethel in California are without doubt the main influences when it comes to contemporary worship music and are really popular especially among the youth.
This style of worship is not without criticism. Songs are commercialized, the concert-like performances are expensive and the worship leaders may receive too much focus. Popular worship lyrics that emphasize God’s majesty and power are criticized for portraying him as too distant and dominant, while songs about human struggles and doubts are rare. (more…)
There are many who have compared John Wimber and Bill Johnson. And they surely are similar: both are white, middle-aged male pastors from California with confusingly similar names. The main parallel people usually draw is that John Wimber in his time (the 80’s and 90’s) was arguably the most influential person in the Western charismatic movement, and the same can be rightly said about Bill Johnson today.
John Wimber, who went home to God in 1997, opened the door to the charismatic Renewal in America’s evangelical community through its healthy and relaxed attitude to the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the hysteria and manipulation that charismatics usually are associated with. His Vineyard movement boomed through church planting, and today it includes over a thousand churches in the world.
Bill Johnson is also a laid-back charismatic preacher, his Bethel Church in Redding is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of charismatics, and he gets invited to speak at a variety of conferences around the world. Although Bethel is not a denomination that starts churches, many churches have been impacted and inspired by Johnson.
Johnson has said repeatedly that he is very inspired by Wimber. Both base their charismatic theology on God’s Kingdom. Both have seen many miracles. Both are true prophets.
However. While Wimber is one of my greatest spiritual role models that undoubtedly has shaped my own view of the Spiritual gifts the most, I am not a very big fan of Johnson. Again, I do not deny that Johnson is a man of God who has many good things to say, but I would like to point out a few things where he is very different from Wimber that I think one should be aware of. (more…)
Lonnie Frisbee was an amazing Jesus freak. Being a key figure and informal leader of the Jesus People Movement in the 60’s and 70’s, his impact on Western Christianity is huge. With his long hair and beard he tried to look like Jesus himself “because there’s no one else I want to look like”, he preached on the beaches to his hippie friends that the Holy Spirit is even better than LSD and brought thousands of them to church.
The Jesus movement spread rapidly across California, US and the world, but most churches closed the door for them – after all, they were hippies. A church that did welcome them though was Calvary Chapel led by Chuck Smith, not because he was a hippie, nor because he wanted to become one, but because he liked them.
While Chuck emphasized Bible studying and evangelical values (which Lonnie thought was awesome) Lonnie himself was a holy roller. He cast out demons, spoke in tongues, healed the sick and prophesied loudly. He proclaimed himself to be a prophet and a mystic, and the whole Jesus Movement became a radical charismatic movement.
In 1980 he visited John Wimber‘s Vineyard church and released the youth into full scale charismatic renewal, which had a huge impact on Wimber himself and the whole third wave charismatic renewal. In John Wimber: The Way it Was, John’s wife Carol Wimber shares how important Lonnie was for the Vineyard, and she has some awesome testimonies from a trip to South Africa she, John and Lonnie made where they literally saw the blind and lame being totally healed when they imparted the power of the Holy Spirit to them.
“Sometimes I wish we still were Quakers”, Christy Wimber said this morning at the Nordic Vineyard Summer Camp, which I am currently enjoying. Christy belonged to the Yorba Linda Friends Church where John Wimber and his family worshipped, and joined them as they got kicked out of it when they started to heal the sick and baptize converts. She has been a Vineyarder ever since and married one of John’s sons. But she still wishes she was a Quaker.
I can see why. Quakerism, with its teaching on radical discipleship, pacifism and social justice, never left John either. I’ve already collected some quotes from him about poverty and social justice, but now I got hold of a book here at the conference, The Way In is the Way On, where chapter three is totally devoted to John’s teaching about this issue. Here’s an excerpt:
I love to teach on social justice! It really is one of my passions. Justice always go hand in hand with true revival and renewal of the Spirit. Justice – setting things right for the poor and marginalized – is one of the primary purposes for God sending His Son into the world. He came in order to set things right. Great leaders in the history of the church have always understood the relationship between faith and justice. There has never been a movement of God started on fire that did not have a ministry to the poor.
The poverty is devastating in Moldava. It is one of the poorest countries in Europe. You can help easily.
This video is made by “Serve East”, founded by brothers and sisters from the Vineyard in Bern, Switzerland. They pour out their hearts and lifes into this country.
Pray for the people of Moldova to encounter a God who gives them hope, acceptance, justice and restoration.
Marc Dupont, minister, prophet and revivalist, has in his book Healing Today (co-written with Anglican minister Mark Stibbe) described a creative miracle he experienced in the 80’s. By creative miracle, I mean a healing which involves the sudden appearence of something that previously did not exist, for example like when Jesus gave a man, who was blind from birth, his sight (Jn 9). In Dupont’s case, it concerned a clubfoot that transformed into a normal one (pp. 130f.):
A woman brought her young son, who had a clubfoot, to me for prayer at the end of a meeting. In fact, it was the last of four nightly meetings held while I was visiting a church in the mid-west of the United States. After four nights of extensive ministry I was very tired. So when she showed me his foot with the obvious deformity, my tiredness took over and I felt no faith whatsoever to pray for this five- or six-year-old boy.
As she explained that he could walk OK, but had never been able to run successfully in his life, my heart went out to him, but I still felt my tiredness upon me. To step into a faith mode and believe for the impossible seemed even more impossible at that point in time.
However, as I knelt down and began to pray for his foot, almost immediately right in front of my eyes it began to change shape. What had, more or less, appeared as a block of wood covered by skin began to change into a normal foot with toes, an arch etc, all in normal size and shape. It had taken place so quickly that I was a bit dizzy. I wasn’t sure whether I was actually seeing a miracle happen, or was imagining it. It took all about five seconds for the transition to take place.
I’ve written a lot about how inspired I am by the life and teaching of John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement. The Kingdom of God was the most central concept in his theology, just as it also was the most central concept in the teachings of Jesus. And what Wimber showed quite clearly was that the Kingdom cannot by any means be separated from signs and wonders.
The reason for this is that miracles manifest power. When God does impossible things like raising the dead or multiplying food, it becomes evident that He is an almighty King, and that He alone can save us from sin and death. Therefore, it is not surprising that the gospels tell us how Jesus and the disciples preached about the Kingdom and healed the sick at the same time (Mt 4:23, Lk 9:2). “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (1 Cor 4:20)
Wimber’s teaching got a huge impact. The Kingdom of God is central not only in the Vineyard but also in other Charismatic movements like New Wine, Bethel Church and Global Awakening. However, I’m afraid that they have missed a very important aspect of the Kingdom that is quite evident in the Scriptures. The Kingdom of God is of course also a political term, with political consequences in our lives.
John Wimber, whom I’ve written a lot about now, is perhaps mostly known for proving that it is possible to be charismatic without being fanatic. At the end of his life, he told his fellow Vineyard pastors: “Ruthlessly assert the Vineyard value of ‘no hype’ in all communications. Avoid pumping people up for the ‘new thing’ God is doing. Demystify new emphasis even as the Vineyard has attempted to demystify spiritual gifts. Understatement is a key Vineyard value that I pray will flourish for many years.”
Jake Kail writes on his blog:
Recently I watched some old videos of the late John Wimber preaching and ministering. One of the things that was so refreshing to me was his authenticity. Rather than pushing people so that they would fall to the floor, he would encourage people to stay standing as much as possible. He would tell people that if they did not feel any positive change after prayer for healing, to simply be honest about it instead of trying to make the one praying feel good by claiming to be healed. He gave words of knowledge in a very simple and natural way. The overall feel he gave was “you can do this stuff too” not “I am a great man of God.”
I believe that there is a great need to recover authenticity in ministry today. If we are going to walk in the true power of God, we need to get real. The Bible indicates very clearly that a “love of the truth” is a safeguard against deception (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11). Part of loving the truth is being authentic. (more…)
In the clip above, John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement, shares how he led a couple to Christ on an airplane thanks to the gift of prophecy. God told John that the man was cheating on his wife, John said to the man that he has to repent because of this, the man realized that John only could know this if God had spoken to him, and thus he got saved and led his wife to the Lord as well – after telling her the painful truth about his sinful behaviour.
These sorts of events happened from time to time in John’s life. Jack Deere shares in his book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit another event when John’s prophetic gift manifested quite dramatically (at a time when Jack himself was very sceptical towards the Charismatic movement):
[Wimber asked] the Holy Spirit to come, and then he was silent. So was the audience.
About a full minute later, he looked up and said, “O.K. I think I know what the Lord wants to do tonight. He has given me some words of knowledge for healing.”
Presumably that meant that God was communicating to Wimber that he would heal certain people in the audience that night. I had never been in a service like that, and I didn’t know what to make of it.
Wimber said that God wanted to heal people with back pain. Quite a few people came down to the front of the church to be prayed for by teams of church members rather than by Wimber himself. After a few minutes he said, “There is a woman here who has severe back pain, but you haven’t come forward yet. Come forward; I think the Lord will heal you right now.”
Not only was John Wimber a great Charismatic leader who was used by God to perform miracles and teach others to do the same, but he also had a burning heart for the poor and oppressed, and especially in his later years he emphasized to remember the poor and to work for social justice. Here are some quotes by him concerning this issue, mainly found on the John Wimber Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“The same Lord who gives sight to the blind and creates miracles through our hands is the very One who feeds the hungry through our hands and watches over the immigrant. We must never ignore the poor & needy. We must never spend any outpouring of Gods Spirit on ourselves.”
“Faith is spelled, R.I.S.K….Commitment is spelled, M.O.N.E.Y…”.
“The call to social justice is not adding to the Gospel, it flows from the heart of God. Great leaders in the history of the Church have understood the relationship between the Gospel and justice.”
“When we stand for social justice, we testify to the presence of the Kingdom.”
“We need the poor as much as they need us…” (more…)
John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement who went home to the Lord in 1997, is one of my heroes in faith. As a man dedicated to combine signs and wonders with evangelism and social justice, he is of great inspiration to me. The text below is taken from an article by Jon Panner which can be found here.
“Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:7-8).
A president of an evangelical seminary once introduced John Wimber with these words: “John Wimber is the greatest theologian of the 20th century.” I nearly burst with laughter. John looked at me, winked, stood up, shuffled slowly to the microphone and opened with, “Really, I’m just a fat saxophone player trying to get to heaven.”
At moments like these, he seemed like our collective grampa. His Santa Claus demeanor reassured us, “Kids, I’ve read the end of the book. Guess what? We win!” (more…)