A Modern Miracle: Healing Oil Appears from Nowhere

Members of the Jesus Army

Members of the Jesus Army

Not only are they practicing community of goods and spreading the Kingdom through evangelism and social justice, the Jesus Army in the UK is a church that flows in the wonderful miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. They’re also experiencing a lot of signs and wonders. This testimony is from a series they’ve published called Revival Fires that I got at home:

Holy Oil

Holy Oil

During a Jesus Fellowship ‘covenant band’ (a small group meeting) in London recently, a mysterious oil appeared on the hands of three of the four women present while they were praying and worshipping.

They laid hands on the other woman in the group and the oil began to appear on her forehead and on her hands also. One of them attempted to wash the oil off with copious amounts of water only to find that the oil appeared again.

The next day, during lunch time the same four women began to pray for Ruth, a young woman who had had severe pain in her neck for the previous two months. The pain was so bad that Ruth had become housebound and was on large amounts of morphine to control the pain.

As they prayed they watched her face change from the chalk-white colour they had become accustomed to to a normal healthy rosy glow. Ruth found a large degree of healing and was able to run and dance about and later to walk around the block. At the same time, another woman who had become deaf in one ear through an ear infection was healed when she felt oil dripping into her ear.

The most powerful effect of the experience was an anointing to pray for others, and in particular to intercede for people in the housing estate where they had been meeting in Sharon’s flat. In the month since that evening, two residents of the same block of flats have come to Sharon’s door in tears, wanting to find faith in Jesus.

Healing the Sick and Raising the Dead in China

Half a year ago my pastor told me that there is a Chinese lady studying at Stockholm School of Theology called Ge Baojuan who has raised dead people back to life. Since this school isn’t exactly charismatic I was cheerfully surprised and went to Stockholm to do an interview. I asked her to share some miracles she had seen, and she didn’t disappoint me. She said that a lot of miracles are happening in China and that this is one of the major reasons why the church is growing so quickly there.

Jenny, Ge and me

Jenny, Ge and me

She told me about when she raised a child from the dead, when a girl with mental problems was healed, when tumors disappeared from a woman’s womb and when a lady miraculously survived a car accident. The two latter examples were from Sweden, so luckily the power of the Holy Spirit isn’t restricted to China.

I was so impressed by pastor Ge’s humility and faith. She has been a pastor for a long time and has done a huge impact for the Kingdom of God in Wuhan, and now she has come to Sweden to take a master of arts in theology. In my opinion, she should teach the Swedes how to be a Spiritual master.

“An Angel Called me to Sweden”

Edward Thomas, coolest priest on earth. Photo: Rickard Kilström

Edward Thomas, coolest priest on earth. Photo: Rickard Kilström

The United States has given us a lot of crap over the years but one of the best things they’ve handed over is Ed Thomas, priest in the Church of Sweden and a friend of mine. Well, actually the United States is not responsible at all in sending him here, nor any American, but God Himself called Ed to Sweden. And I’m not talking about a vague feeling or a subjective interest that many Christians normally identify “calling” with – Ed was actually ordered to become a Swedish priest by the audible voice of God and an angelic visitation.

Ed shares this experience in the video above. He used to be a chef in the states, cooking food for celebrities like Tom Cruise and started to earn a lot of fame and money. He was a passionate believer and went through some program to know the will of God, praying every morning with some friends for almost a year in trying to figure out what God wanted them to do. Since his chef job was going very well he simply concluded that this is where God wanted him, and he was pleased with that since he was making a lot of cash out of it.

But one night, everything changed as Ed awoke hearing someone say “Edward!” There was no one there. He woke his wife up, who just told him “You’ve eaten too much strong food! It’s just a dream, go to sleep!” Ed fell asleep and a second time the voice woke him up saying “Edward!”

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A Modern Language Miracle in Jerusalem

S.t Mark's Church in Jerusalem

S.t Mark’s Church in Jerusalem

My dear friend Andreas have just returned from a trip to Israel and came back with some amazing stories. He shared how he and his friends were walking in the Old City of Jerusalem, and suddenly Andreas recognized the Church of S:t Mark, a Syriac Orthodox church that claims to be built on the house of Mary, the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12-17). Not only that, they claim that this also contains the upper room, the place of the Last Supper, several appearances of the resurrected Jesus and where the Holy Spirit ascended on Pentecost; although this is also claimed by the Cenacle.  Anyways, they went inside to have a look.

It’s a pretty cool church. The liturgical language, Syrian, is similar to Arameic, the language of Jesus. The liturgy itself is extremely old, and even if it is doubtful that the practices of the church goes all the way back to biblical times, it’s a good indicator of how ancient Christianity looked like.

Andreas and his friends met a nun who was so excited to share what God is doing in their little church. She told them about a man who had came to the church, and how she guided him around. A few weeks later he returned, and the nun welcomed him back, but for some reason he looked confused and said something in Hebrew. The nun didn’t know Hebrew so she asked him to talk English like last time they met. The man was even more confused and talked a lot of Hebrew with her.
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The Absense of the Holy Spirit Within Academic Theology

This is an assignment I’ve written for my dogmatics course at Johannelund Theological Seminary.

image

Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology is a standard introduction work for thousands of students that take courses in Christian dogmatics, including the people at my seminary. On 500 pages, McGrath talks about the most central issues of systematic theology. Five of those 500 pages are about the Holy Spirit. In comparison, 50 are dedicated to the doctrines of the church and the sacraments.

McGrath admits that the Holy Spirit should deserve a chapter of his own, especially with the popularity of the charismatic movement in mind, but still he doesn’t create such a chapter but restricts himself to five pages. Here, he writes about how the Holy Spirit is described, the debate concerning the Spirit’s divinity and finally what the Holy Spirit does. Only one paragraph is dedicated to charisms, the emphasis of the charismatic movement. One paragraph in a 500 page-book.

I would say that this priority is out of touch with reality. There are around 600 million charismatics and Pentecostals worldwide, most of them in developing nations, that are very interested in the Holy Spirit and his gifts. They have realized that the New Testament very often connects the Spirit to miracles, and that the miraculous power of the Spirit is accessible to all believers. Sharing this common knowledge, there is disagreement however on how one gets baptized or filled with the Spirit, how to pray for healing, how to hear the voice of God, the role of speaking in tongues, etc. In other words, there is certainly enough material for McGrath to fill a chapter.

Yet, he doesn’t, and I think it is not so much his personal fault but rather a tendency within academic theology as a whole: charismatics are excluded from theological discussion. This can also be seen in Norwegian theologian Jan-Olav Henriksen’s introduction to dogmatics: the chapter about the Spirit is combined with the chapter about the church, to hide the embarrassment of only giving six pages to the Holy Spirit. Just as in McGrath’s work, emphasis lies on the Spirit’s soteriological role, while charismatic phenomena are de-emphasized.

Why does it look like this? Let me share some theories.

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Compelled by Love – Movie Review

This is my review of Compelled by Love, a new film about Heidi and Rolland Baker and their organization Iris Global. You can watch the movie for free until tomorrow at Bethel TV.

Wow, wow, wow. Compelled by Love is seriously one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s radical, passionate, moving, inspiring and awesome, it combines joyful happiness with serious pain and sorrow, and in the end I just sat in awe agreeing completely with Heidi Baker when she said that it’s all about Him – what this film portraits is nothing else than the life of Jesus today in one of the poorest nations in the world. It’s a film about an amazing missionary couple and their organization, yes, and for that very reason it is a film about Christ, because Christ is all they stand for in an amazing way.

The film is 100% Iris. It’s emotional. It’s beautiful. It’s messy. Some professional film makers would perhaps react to the patchwork-style; the film is chronological for only 30 minutes or so, and then holy anarachy is released with a multitude of different messages, themes and stories presented, some of which have already been published in YouTube clips. I love it! Shara Pradhan and her team simply takes the best Iris have directly from the field.

The Bethel and Iris culture (those ministries are basically “married” by now) talk a lot about honor, and this film truly wants to honor the life of Heidi and Rolland Baker. Bill Johnson is interviewed when he states that he simply knows no one who has constantly said “yes” to God the way Heidi has, and while she and Rolland are so extraordinary in that they always, continously, give everything to Him, their passion is multiplied to so many others that see that they are not superheroes but carrier of the divine presence of the Holy Spirit that are available for all of us. The film carefully emphasizes both sides of this paradox – the Bakers are amazing saints and should be recognized as such, but their gifts are not excluded to them but constantly multiplied to those who follow their example as they follow Christ. After all, it is the Mozambiqan bush pastors that have raised over 100 dead people within Iris, not the Bakers.

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Suffering and Revival in the Congo – the Story of Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare

A month ago, I wrote about the mix of tears and joy, suffering and glory that Iris Ministries in the Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing. While people are losing their children and the women are raped by soldiers; miracles are abundant and the church has a burning passion for God. This paradoxal relationship between the cross and the glory may be hard for Western people to understand, but it is very real. Today I want to introduce you to a missionary who also experienced this in the Congo – but 50 years ago. Her name is Helen Roseveare.

After studying medicine in the UK and feeling the calling to be a missionary, Helen went to what was then Belgian Congo and started to develop the pretty much non-existant health care system. She was the only doctor for two and a half million people, saving thousands of lives. In the early 60′s, civil war broke lose as the Congolese people wanted to be liberated from Belgian colonialism. The war was extremely brutal. Helen was raped, twice.

Government soldiers came to my bungalow, ransacked it, then grabbed me. I was beaten and savagely kicked, losing my back teeth through the boot of a rebel soldier. They broke my glasses, so I could not see to protect myself from the next blow. Then, one at a time, two army officers took me to my own bedroom and raped me. They dragged me out into a clearing, tied me to a tree, and stood around laughing. And while I was there, beaten and humiliated and violated and ridiculed, someone discovered in the bungalow the only existing hand-written manuscript of a book I had been writing about God’s work in the Congo over an eleven-year period. They brought it out, put it on the ground in front of me, and burned it.

It takes less than that for others to leave both the country and the faith. But Helen knew the power and love of the living God, and she knew that He had called her to Congo to be an instrument of grace and peace. In an interview with Jesus Army, she told about the revival fires that her church saw in the midst of chaos:

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“Tell my wife, Jesus is the son of God!”

I just received these glorious news from Christ for all Nations’ mission campaigns.

Happy guy heald by Jesus

Happy guy heald by Jesus

Dear Mission Partners,

This has been one of those nights that are hard for me to describe. As always, our emphasis was on the preaching of the Gospel of salvation, to which many thousands responded. But when the Gospel is preached the inevitable result is miracles. Even though I hardly said anything about healing, the Holy Spirit loves to confirm the lordship of Jesus and manifest His Kingdom through supernatural demonstrations.

Tonight we saw so many healings: A man blind for ten years healed. A woman with an issue of blood healed. A deaf man healed. A lady threw her walking stick away. A woman took off her neck brace. I even danced with the woman who had been lame. But the most moving testimony came at the very end. I asked our video team to quickly give me the raw video watch it above so you can see for yourself what happened just a few moments ago.

A man who had been deaf for almost two years had just arrived in town from another city by train and had unwittingly ventured into the city centre (Independence square – where our campaign is being held). He was a Muslim. He had no intention of coming to a Gospel meeting and he could not understand anything that was going on anyway, so he lied down and went to sleep. But when he woke up, to his utter amazement, he could hear! He came to the platform and stood before me trembling, overcome with emotion. He had a look of shock on his face. “My name is Mohammed,” he said, and he proceeded to tell me his story.

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Surprise Sithole on poverty, aid and how it feels to raise the dead

Mr Sithole and me

Mr Sithole and me

One of my best experiences from my visit to Iris Ministries South Africa this summer was to meet and do a interview with their leader Surprise Sithole. Surprise has, as I’ve written before, had an amazing life with many miracles as he has been preaching the Gospel and helped the poor in southern Africa. In the interview I asked him how he likes the idea of combining miracles with peace and justice, what his conception of poverty is and how it feels to see God raise someone from the dead. This is what he answered:

The African Worldview is the Biblical Worldview: A Response to Conrad Mbewe

Conrad Mbewe

Conrad Mbewe

All right, I will soon stop talking about Strange Fire (most of my Swedish Christian friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the conference, John MacArthur or even cessationism – those things aren’t so hot over here) but I have to comment Conrad Mbewe’s lectures before I move on to funnier things. Being the only non-Western speaker at the event, Mbewe shared his opinions on the charismatic movement in Africa. Those opinions were negative, to say the least. You can find transcriptions of his lectures here and here.

Mbewe’s main argument is that the popularity of the “charismatic chaos” in Africa is caused by how well it fits with traditional African spirituality. They share the same worldview. In African animism, belief in spirits is prevalent, and people go to the witchdoctors to be healed, delivered from evil spirits and to have prosperous crops. African charismatics behave just the same – they go to the “man of God” to be healed, delivered from evil spirits and to prosper. Thus, Mbewe argues, charismatic preachers are just like witchdoctors.

When I saw how Mbewe talks about worldviews, I immediately got flashbacks to good ol’ Power Evangelism by John Wimber. He dedicates a whole chapter to worldviews and describes the African and other non-Western worldviews in the same manner as Mbewe does – it is a worldview where the supernatural is natural and where supernatural healing, prophetic messages and deliverance from spirits are part of normal life. However, Wimber rightly argued that this is the biblical worldview as well.

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A Response to Tom Pennington’s Seven Cessationist Arguments

Pennington.jpg

Tom Pennington

While the strange Strange Fire conference mostly was dedicated to accuse the majority of charismatics for being weird, heretic non-Christians (yes, John MacArthur did say that most of us are non-Christians), at least one session was about the root cause of these people’s uncomfortability with the charismatic movement: their cessationist belief. I gave a short summary of why I think cessationism is unbiblical in my previous post, but I felt that the cessationist arguments given at Strange Fire were so bad that I cannot let them pass unanswered. The session was held by Tom Pennington and here are a short summary and a longer transcription of his lecture.

Before Pennington even starts to give his seven “biblical” arguments for cessationism, he admits that “the New Testament nowhere directly states that the miraculous gifts will cease during the church age.” Amen to that. But then he simply states that this is irrelevant “because the New Testament doesn’t directly say they’ll continue either.”

Wow, now I feel tempted to produce my own gospel. I don’t like to pray very much, so I’ll just preach that we don’t have to pray in the post-apostolic age. And if someone would say to me “The Bible actually never says that we should cease to pray” I will simply answer “it doesn’t directly say we should continue praying either.”

For a Bible-believing Christian who thinks that we should base our lives on the life and teaching of Christ, the burden of proof lies on the cessationist, not on the continuationist. Jesus commanded his disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons (Mt 10:6-8), and then he ordered them after His miraculous resurrection to teach their disciples everything He had commanded them (Mt 28:20). It’s Tom Pennington’s job to prove that we should not do the stuff that Jesus and His disciples did, the burden of proof does not lie on the charismatics.

All right, here are Pennington’s arguments:

1) “There were only 3 primary periods in which God worked miracles through unique men. The first was with Moses; the second was during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha; the third was with Christ and his apostles. The primary purpose of miracles were to establish the credibility of one who speaks the word of God—not just any teacher, but those who had been given direct words by God.”

I thought people didn’t believe in the “three miraculous periods” stuff anymore. The book of Judges is filled with miracles and prophecies. The book of Daniel as well. Genesis, Isaiah, Jonah – they all account for amazing miracles. And the whole Bible is per definition filled with the gift of prophecy!

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Why Cessationism is Unbiblical, Irrational and Boring

John MacArthur

John MacArthur

John MacArthur is one of the leading cessationist theologians of today (cessationist meaning someone who thinks the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased), and you may remember his name from my post What if Jesus Preached what Modern Preachers are Preaching where I tried to show how stupid it would look if Jesus had said what MacArthur is saying. MacArthur’s teaching has been widely criticized by many, and one of the best rebutals is in my opinion Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, where he explains how he went from being a cessationist to a charismatic evangelical and where he basically brings up all cessationist arguments used by MacArthur and crushes them to little tiny pieces.

It seems like MacArthur has changed tactics since then. Right now he is organizing a conference called Strange Fire which isn’t arguing for cessationism so much as it is accusing the majority of the charismatic movement to be heretic, demonic and a dangerous cult. Nothing new, already G. Campbell Morgan said that Pentecostalism is “the last vomit of Satan”, so MacArthur is basically continuing an embarassing evangelical tradition of demonizing Christians who don’t agree with him.

MacArthur’s argument is of course ridiculous and its main accusation, that most charismatics offer false worship, is non-valid since even if you disagree with charismatics you have to admit that their worship to Jesus is extremely passionate compared to many other churches. But I’m not going to waste ink on arguing for the sanity of the charismatic movement but bring the discussion back to its original issue: the cessation or continuity of the gifts. In my opinion, it is cessationism that is truly “strange”, it’s an unbiblical, irrational and, quite frankly, very boring theology.

Cessationists do not argue that all gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the apostles, simply because knowledge, compassion and faith (Rom 12:8, 1 Cor 12:8-9) clearly are still around. Instead, they argue that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit have ceased while non-supernatural (like the ones I just mentioned) are still here. Problem is: this distinction is totally unbiblical. When Paul talks about Spiritual gifts he never categorised them in supernatural and non-supernatural, and he doesn’t label some cessational and others continual.

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Human Rights and Fair Trade in the Power of the Spirit – Simon Adahl

I’ve written about my friend Simon Adahl previously, a Swedish musician who is passionate about Jesus and who has an amazing prophetic gift. Not only is he using this gift to lead people to Christ, but he has also used it to promote human rights and fair trade. Here’s how it happened:

Frank and Simon Adahl on stage at World Prayer Assembly 2012

Frank and Simon Adahl on stage at World Prayer Assembly 2012

On August 15, 2011, the Lord woke Simon up and told him to write a song about the reunification of North and South Korea. “Never!” Simon replied, “Do I look like a Korean to you?” “Write the song” “No, nobody will listen to an unknown Swede anyway.”

Then the Lord started to sing: “The one who walks with God can change nations. The one who walks with God can impact millions.” A song Simon himself had written.

Simon gave up, wrote the song “I’m gonna pray for Korea”, recorded it with his brother Frank and sent it to some South Korean publishing companies. They all said “thank you but no thank you”. It was too controversial.

But then things started to change. A friend of Simon’s said that she got an email from the International Prayer Center requesting prayer for North Korea, since one of their prophets said that Kim Jong Il was about to die (he did die in december 2011). Simon asked them if they wanted to use his song for their prayer meetings, and they said yes.

Shortly after, activist organizations promoting human rights in North Korea, like Stop Genocide in North Korea, wanted to use Simon’s song on events and demonstrations. Suddenly, it was played during a massive global manifestation in New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Seoul – at the same time! And finally, a South Korean publishing company published the song.

In 2012, Christians from Indonesia contacted Simon and invited him and Frank to come to World Prayer Assembly 2012 – the biggest prayer meeting in world history – not only to play that song but to write the theme song for the whole event. Simon said yes. And suddenly they were leading worship in front of 200 000 people, as well as millions that watched it through God TV.

And this is where the really cool things began to happen.

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Suffering, Worship and Glory: Iris Ministries in the Congo

Every now and then the amazing missionary organization Iris Global releases their video newsletters on Youtube. This week’s video covered their ministry in DR Congo, and I was just wrecked by it. So much pain. So much suffering. And yet so much love, dance and passionate worship. Not to speak about the amazing signs and wonders they experience.

I’ve written about Congo before, it’s a country the Lord has put on my heart. It began several years ago when I got so upset hearing about that our cell phones and computers have financed the devastating Congolese war that has killed 6 million people. Thousands of women have been raped, and every day aroung 1500 people die because of the malnutrition and diseases the war produces – half of them children. What does the Kingdom of Christ means in such a horrible situation?

Well, it means everything.

Worship at Iris Bukavu, DR Congo. Photo: Iris Global

Worship at Iris Bukavu, DR Congo. Photo: Iris Global

The worship in the video above is amazing. The passion, the love, the zeal – it makes me breathless. Many of these people have experienced things that are unimaginable for me. And yet they do not question the goodness of God, instead they seek it more intensely.

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Miracles in the Nazi Concentration Camp: Remembering Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom

Betsie, Corrie and Nollie ten Boom

Betsie, Corrie and Nollie Ten Boom

This year is 30 years since Corrie Ten Boom went to heaven. A Dutch charismatic Christian with a humanitarian passion, she saved many Jewish lives during the holocaust through hiding them in her house. She eventually was cought by the Nazis and put in the Ravensbrück concentration camp with her sister, Betsie. God did many miracles there in the midst of extreme suffering, and even if Betsie was martyred Connie survived and could later on share her amazing story in her book The Hiding Place. Here’s an excerpt of a review of that book:

As the Germans sweep into Holland, lives are irrevocably and forever changed. The Ten Booms begin hiding Jews in their home…some temporarily, others semi-permanently. Working in “God’s underground,” Corrie finds a strength she never knew she possessed. We live with the Ten Booms through the changes WWII brings into their lives, the chances they take, but most of all, we see the guiding hand of the Lord every step of the way.

Betsie, the sister who has been sickly all her life, has the faith, the serenity, and the complete conviction that the Lord is always there in every circumstance. This faith takes Corrie and Betsie through the hardships they endure in the prisons and concentration camps where they are incarcerated. While Corrie tends to pray for their needs, Betsie prays for their enemies, whom she sees through God’s eyes…the guards, everyone who mistreats them, even thanking God for the fleas in their bunks.

Corrie was given a Bible, a sweater, and a bottle of liquid vitamins by their sister Nollie the last time they saw her before deportation. The Bible was never taken away.  It was as though the guards did not see it. Continue reading