Excerpt from Evangelism by Fire
Take up your bow!
Today we are seeing entire nations shaken by the power of God. This is not man’s doing, but the work of God. People ask, “What is the secret of your success?” The fact is that nothing can measure up to the effects of the Gospel. Entertainment, politics, and other attractions may draw crowds, but nothing attracts like the Gospel. It offers no cheap popularity, yet its wonderful power is bringing millions together in fellowship worldwide. How does it happen? The answer is: The kind of evangelism that wins the world is Holy Spirit evangelism.
Holy Spirit evangelism makes use of the weapons that God has given for this task, namely the gifts of the Spirit. Anointed preaching, along with anointed music and singing, are not the only explanations for our success. We must have something more as did the first disciples. The New Testament talks about manifestations, which were things to see. They are truths made visible.
What are the works of God?
They are not only conversions, or even healings. They include revelation, prophecy, supernatural knowledge, wisdom, discernment, dreams, visions, and authority over the powers of Satan.
People wake up to the reality of spiritual things when they see something that is beyond mere words. The gifts of the Spirit supply this slice of experience. I want to stress the glorious possibilities of these weapons, the gifts. By these God-given means, the timid soul can become bold, and the defensive person can become aggressive. The Lord intends us to carry the credentials of an ambassador. To those whom he sends, he also gives power and authority.
Many believers long for these spiritual gifts but are, perhaps, nervous about using them. “Suppose I am wrong?” they reason. The worst mistake is not to employ the weapons of the Lord. Remember some key scriptures.
Be strong and very courageous.
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence.
Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 2:1)
Desire spiritual gifts… and desire earnestly to prophesy.
(1 Corinthians 14:1,39)
Concerning the demonstration of spiritual gifts, there is an Old Testament passage that has fascinated me for a long time. Put alongside the New Testament truth, it gives a clear picture of how God does turn the tides and the tables on his enemies:
Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him [Elisha], and wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel, and their horsemen!” And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians in Aphek till you have destroyed them”. (2 Kings 13:14-17)
A king full of self-pity
Joash, the King of Israel, was young and inexperienced when disaster threatened his kingdom. The Syrian army had mobilized against him, and he knew that he could muster nothing to match it. He had terrifying visions of defeat and his own imprisonment. Even the possibility of death haunted him. He felt sick with worry. Joash was one of Israel’s bad kings, but in the time of trouble he, too, remembered the Lord’s prophet, Elisha. The king decided to visit Elisha, who was now about 80 years old. He approached the old prophet with flatteries describing Elisha’s usefulness to Israel as like “the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!”
Then he “wept over his face,” letting Elisha see his tears, crying, “O, my father, my father…” It was quite a show! The fact was, however, that Joash was not weeping because Elisha was dying, but because he might die himself. Elisha simply told the king to take his bow and arrows. I think that he could just as well have said, “Take your handkerchief.” He had seen the ways of Joash too often to be moved by his sob story.
Nothing is too hard for God
More significantly, God was not impressed. It is high time for somebody to say that God knows when people are weeping only because they feel sorry for themselves. Some people seem to need much more of other peoples’ time. In fact, it is often difficult to know what their trouble is, if indeed they know themselves. They may occasionally be victims of mental bruising earlier in life. But leaders who specialize in counseling may find such patients give them plenty of practice. There is the danger that the hours devoted to their pity-parties could drive the trouble deeper into their consciousness, even making such people feel that they are very special sufferers, beyond the normal ability of the Lord to help them. Nothing is too hard for God.
Our job is not to pamper Christians, who feel sorry for themselves, but to wake them up; not to give them a sedative, but a stimulant! People need to come out of themselves, and to see again the needs of a dying world. Beware! This is a wearing down tactic of the devil: devoting valuable time to people who never resolve their personality problems. Precious time wasted in talk could have been invested in winning the lost.
Elisha knew how to deal with this situation. He knew that the king’s tears were not for the prophet of God, nor for the nation of Israel, but for his own self-preservation. By the word of the Lord, therefore, without formalities for the royal presence, Elisha came straight to the point.
“Take bow and arrows.” He was brusque, perhaps, but when enemies are invading, the answer had to be just that – bow and arrows. A military mindset was needed. Joash must forget himself and play the man.
Trembling or triumphant saint?
Where are our weapons? Paul wrote, “Stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Timothy 1:6). He instructed, “Stir up.” This word has to do with fire – the stirring up of a campfire, to get the embers blazing. It means, “to kindle,” “to bring up to full flame.” Do not cool off! Stir up that fire! Use the fan on the dying embers.
Joash was a feeble king, as we shall see, with little fire in his bones. He went crying to Elisha, “my father, my father” when he was scared, instead of mustering his army and bringing weapons out of the armory. Elisha would have appreciated action a lot more.
We have our weapons!
We have our weapons, and the devil has done his best to stop Christians from using them. When God opened up his armory and displayed the gifts of the Spirit at the beginning of the 20th century alarm bells rang in the church. The gifts, described in 1 Corinthians 12-14, were assumed to be natural, not supernatural. The church had long given pre-eminence to natural gifts and abilities to the detriment of supernatural gifts. There had to be a revision of biblical exposition. Valuable though natural gifts are, they can never take the place of Holy Spirit endued gifts, and more importantly, they must never be confused with them.
Many churchmen and medical doctors have opposed divine healing. They have made much of those who are “disappointed” and who are not immediately healed. They have conveniently forgotten that doctors disappoint millions. Nearly everyone in the graveyard had been to a doctor first, yet nobody would be so foolish as to demand the closing of all hospitals! Others object to divine healing simply because some are not healed, and so they do not minister to the sick at all. This leaves everybody unhealed! Where is compassion, or obedience to the Scriptures?
Other gifts also have come under attack. When the word of knowledge was first being restored by Pentecostal and charismatic evangelists, many declared its workings to be “like spiritualism.” Why should God not do such mighty things? In fact, spiritualism and clairvoyance are only the devilish counterfeit of what God means to do. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are far greater than anything that the occult can manufacture. There must be the real wherever there is the false.
Are your weapons gathering dust?
Some Christians have let their bow and arrows (their gifts, their spiritual weapons) gather dust in a corner because of critics. Others have been hurt, perhaps by remarks from fellow believers, and thus have dropped their gifts of prophecy, or tongues and interpretation. They have “lost” them, though God never reclaims them, for “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
These gifts must be recovered. Hear the word of the Lord: Go back to the day and to the place where you left those spiritual gifts, and ask the Lord to forgive you. Do not despair; the gifts are still there, albeit dormant. Dry your tears of despair and sorrow, and “take bow and arrows” – again!
Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke
Excerpt from Chapter 12 of “Evangelism by Fire” by Reinhard Bonnke