An important theme on my mind going into the Bethel Church Kingdom Culture Conference (since encountering Curry Blake’s teachings) has been the issue of ministering (e.g. healing) to people through:
1) Praying for more of God (experiencing more of Him, His touch, His anointing, His leading) in order to be more effective to do His Kingdom work
2) Knowing what you already have in Christ by faith (His anointing, His presence, etc.) and thus going out to do the work of the Kingdom.
As I’ll write more in future, I see Curry Blake, Andrew Wommack and Joseph Prince as emphasizing more of the latter (view number 2). Bill Johnson and Bethel seem to focus more than the above three on the former (view number 1), while not neglecting the latter (view number 2), as you’ll see below. I wrote a bit about this tension (though in the context more of sanctification than empowerment for ministry) here and also something similar related to healing (being led by the Spirit vs. going by faith and in the authority of the Scriptures) here. Three messages I heard during the conference made me reflect more about these two different ways of doing ministry or being empowered for ministry – or whatever you wanna call it.
Kris Vallotton on Desperation for God
In Kris Vallotton’s first message on Wednesday night (23th June), he touched a bit on this theme. This wasn’t the main point of his message – his message was on believing in people. But he mentioned about how Graham Cooke (a prophet) said out loud during a meal with many people (including Kris),
I don’t wanna be desperate for God.
Kris was struck by that statement and wondered what Cooke meant. I dunno if it was Cooke or Kris who gave the explanation, but it was this:
Being desperate means you have a dysfunctional relationship with God.
Kris mentioned that “The reason we have visitations (of God) rather than habitations (of God) is because we don’t think God can tolerate us.” He also mentioned that he couldn’t sing “I’m desperate for you” anymore – I think he was referring to this Vineyard song “Breathe” which I mentioned here.
Anyway, I think the whole point of it all (at least what I took from it) is that we need to recognize that God is always with us – that is, view number 2 above. His presence is always with us whether we feel it. And sometimes being too desperate for God (His presence, His anointing, etc.) can be reflective of the fact that we somehow don’t recognize that in Christ and by faith we’re already anointed, already have all authority and already have God’s presence in and with us always. God is already with us – it’s not as though we’re trying to get Him to come to us. He already inhabits us.
I’ve heard Bill Johnson say in a few of his past sermons something like in our private prayer with God, we can act desperate or hungry for more of Him and more breakthroughs. In public when ministering, we don’t show this form of desperation. Now, I’m paraphrasing him and I may be missing his point slightly but I think what he’s trying to say is that in public we thank God for His presence and we go by faith healing the sick – i.e. view number 2 above. Perhaps we shouldn’t always show that desperate side. In private times, we wrestle with God and cry out to Him for more victories and power – i.e. view number 1 above.
Bill Johnson on Rending the Heavens
Bill Johnson spoke on Thursday morning (24th June) and he said a lot of stuff related to the above theme. By the way, Bill Johnson’s sermons are fantastic. Sometimes you hear people speak about books in which every sentence contains so many insights that one has to read slowly and chew on each sentence. Bill Johnson’s sermons are kind of like that. A lot of sentences he says contain so much insight. His style is very different from Kris. Kris is more of a preacher and Bill I think is more of a teacher. Both complement each other well.
Anyway, Bill said stuff like:
The renewing of our mind in Romans 12 is to get our minds consistent with what we already have.
We need to learn to access what’s already been accomplished – it was done 2,000 years ago.
This reminds me of what some other speakers I’ve heard recently said. I believe it was Rob Hotchkin, who ministers with Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic, who said in Covenant Vision on 6th June that:
Fasting is to get things out of the way that is preventing me from knowing I already have everything.
And during the recent Asia Conference organized by City Harvest Church, I believe it was Reinhard Bonnke who said that we shouldn’t ask for Elijah’s anointing or double portion because in the New Covenant we have Jesus’ anointing. He also mentioned that according to Matthew 28, God’s with us always and so why pray for God’s presence to come when He’s always with us? Even if he (Bonnke) doesn’t feel anything, he still appropriates God’s presence by faith and thanks God for His presence. David Yonggi Cho mentioned that our attitude in our prayers shouldn’t be that of begging God for something we don’t have, but of proclaiming (the things we already have).
The above quotes from Bill, Hotchkin, Cho and Bonnke all emphasize view number 2 above. We’re not trying to get something we don’t already have as we already have it all in Christ. If only we knew what we already have in Christ, we would be able to do miraculous things. And I absolutely love the above way of looking at fasting. It isn’t to get more power or change God’s mind. It’s really more for our own heart and to position ourselves better to receive more from God. It doesn’t earn God’s favor or power – it merely gets rid of things that are preventing us from knowing and experiencing how much power we already have in Christ. Or as Curry Blake said:
Fasting doesn’t get you power. Fasting gets you out of the way so power can flow easier.
The power isn’t something you need to get but it’s already inside you – you already have it. Fasting merely gets you out of the way and allows the power from within to flow out more easily.
Bill also mentioned how it’s not totally accurate to ask God to “rend the heavens” because
…we already live under an open heaven.
The phrase “rend the heavens” comes from Isaiah 64:1, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down”. But that was in the Old Testament and before Jesus came. Jesus rended the heavens and tore the veil separating us from God on the cross! Understanding Biblical Theology (which I explain a bit more here) would help us to see the fulfillment of that passage in Christ and that we shouldn’t be singing or praying that verse as New Covenant Christians.
I mentioned singing because there are songs – e.g. Misty Edwards’ “Rend” and “Oh How We Want You To Come!” – that seem to use the “rend the heavens” motif to refer to either Jesus’ second coming and/or the Spirit coming down powerfully in revival. Now, I don’t know if such interpretation is good theology, but at least Bill did seem to think that in at least an important sense that the heavens have already been rendered in Christ’s first coming and that therefore it’s probably not appropriate to ask God for an open heavens when Christ already rended the heavens.
Again, he’s trying to emphasize point 2 above. It’s sort of like that quote:
I don’t pray/wait for revival. I am revival.
Or as William Booth said:
I am not waiting for a move of God, I am a move of God.
That may sound arrogant, but it conveys an important truth. In Christ, we have the authority and power to bring revival and a move of God everywhere we go. God’s asking us to go out and heal the sick and raise the dead, etc., and not to pray for revival to happen. When we step out in faith, we create revival around us. God has already rended the heavens and come down in the form of Jesus Christ and He lives in us through His Spirit. So we don’t need to pray that God will rend the heavens. Rather, we need to recognize that He already has done so and that we can be revival to this dying world.
Interestingly, Kim Walker (probably my favorite worship leader at the moment) sang Misty Edwards’ “Oh How We Want You To Come!” on Jesus Culture’s Everything album. Early on in the song, she said these phrases:
We invite Your presence in this place tonight, O God.
We’re desperate for you tonight, Lord.
This represents view number 1 above.
Bill Johnson on Operating out of the Presence vs out of Principle (of faith)
Bill Johnson spoke the last message on Friday night (25th June). Interestingly, here he seemed to be talking about the importance of the presence of God (by this I believe he means something close to the tangible presence and thus something close to view number 1) as he contrasted operating out of the presence vs. operating out of principle (of faith).
I have to listen to this message again, but I believe he’s giving priority to operating out of the presence (view number 1). At least, he thinks this should be normal. We operate out of principle (view number 2) only when we can’t operate out of the presence. That is, it should be normal for us to perhaps feel God’s presence or leading to pray for healing. But if we don’t, we go by faith and still pray and believe for the person’s healing.
I don’t think both ways of ministering are mutually exclusive, although I think Blake tends to see it as such – or at least he emphasizes view number 2 so much that it gives people the impression that he thinks only view number 2 is valid. However, it’s helpful to understand the distinction and to reflect where one is upon this continuum. In my own journey, I’ve moved from view number 1 towards view number 2. From the very beginning of my Christian life, I thought that only specially anointed leaders could do healing. And thus if I wanted to heal the sick, I had to really seek God a lot for such an anointing. That made me ignore seeking to do this stuff – better just leave it to the experts because they’re gifted in all this. When I read Bill Johnson, it moved me along towards view number 2. He’s trained so many ordinary Christians to heal the sick and there’s no reason why an ordinary Christian like me couldn’t heal the sick. With Curry Blake’s teachings (and re-reflecting upon Andrew Wommack’s and Joseph Prince’s), something changed in me and I moved even further along the continuum towards view number 2 – as well as increased in confidence that I could heal the sick.
Perhaps my view is like this. Bill Johnson would say that operating out of the presence (view number 1) is normal but if there isn’t that sense of the presence, we should still operate out of the principle of faith (view number 2). However, at this point of my journey I would tend to see that operating out of the principle of faith (view number 2) as normal and if we happen to operate out of the presence and direct leading of the Spirit (view number 1), that would be wonderful, but it isn’t necessary.
Now I love Bill Johnson and I’m not sure if I’m representing him and his church correctly. But my experience is that those from the “prophetic” and “glory” camps (which Bill is partly in – at least he doesn’t disassociate himself from them) tend to prize some tangible anointing and leading of the Spirit in ministering above the authority that comes from the Word of God. My feeling is that while he tends to do this less than those in these camps he hangs around with, he does emphasize the importance of view number 1 more than say Blake, Prince and Wommack.
The danger of emphasizing view number 1 (or at least prioritizing view number 1 over view number 2) is that people don’t pray for healing unless led clearly by the Spirit to do so. Or at least (and here’s the important thing I think) they don’t feel that their prayers for healing would work unless they have some kind of clear leading from the Spirit. And so they don’t pray or they pray without faith and thus don’t see results. And I’ve seen a lot of this in my experience.
So at this moment of time, I see the dominant ministry model as operating out of faith and authority through knowing who we are in Christ and what Christ has already done for us (rended the heavens, given us authority, anointed us, etc.) – and not merely ministering healing (or whatever) only when we feel some “leading of the Spirit”.
Curry Blake once went to meet up with a man who later became his mentor, Lester Sumrall (who himself was mentored by Smith Wigglesworth). He had two questions on his mind that he wanted to ask Sumrall. One was “how to know the will of God” and the other was “how to be led by the Spirit”. Curry knocked on Sumrall’s office door, went in and even before he had the chance to ask his questions, Sumrall suddenly said:
To know the will of God, read the Bible. To be led by the Spirit, do the Bible.
To be led by the Spirit is thus to do what the Bible says. And if we believe the Bible says we’re to heal the sick (Matt. 10:8, Mark 16:18), then that’s good enough a warrant for us to go out and pray for every sick person and expect healing – not just those we’re specifically led by the Spirit to do.
Curry Blake says that:
The greatest faith is to be able to apply a general command to a specific situation in your life.
By this he means that (in the context of healing) faith is to apply the general command of healing the sick to every sick person we come across. This is what we should be doing and not waiting for a specific leading for God has already led us in the Scriptures to pray for every sick person we come across.
I’ll end with this seemingly blasphemous quote from Smith Wigglesworth which speaks of the importance of ministering to people (healing and other things) even when we don’t have a direct leading of the Spirit:
If the Spirit doesn’t move me, I’ll move Him.
This is not the end of my journey and therefore I’m still learning. Comments are always glady accepted.
PS: The above was written before I attended Curry Blake’s training. I’m in the midst of his three day Divine Healing Technician (DHT) training now in Arkansas and have talked about the above issue with many people – which they’ve been thinking about and grappling with too. I’ve also been with some friends to Walmart and we’ve seen healings and lives touched by God! How amazing is that!!! More thoughts in future posts :)
(Some of the above quotes and description of what was said by various people are all paraphrases from my notes because I don’t have the actual recording. Though they may not be the exact words, the concept should be more or less spot on, although do take into account my fallibility and that I’m writing from my own perspective and lenses.)