One Kingdom–Two Rival Kings
God chose Saul to be King over Israel, Samuel anointed him, the people welcomed him with shouts of adoration, and he began his brief day in the sun. The greatest opportunity Israel could offer anyone was laid at the feet of Saul. But his reign was short-lived. He gave priority to his own will over the will of God and failed to protect the anointing entrusted to him. The Holy Spirit departed and the young king’s career descended rapidly into the sunset.
By contrast, David's anointing ushered in a magnificent sunrise. His submission to the will of the Father began a linage of kings that climaxed finally at the coming of Jesus–the promised "Sun of Righteousness" and "King of Kings," (Malachi 4:2. Revelation 17:14.) David’s sunrise ushered in the glorious day of the Messiah–who announced to the world "Upon this rock I will build my Church." (Matthew 16:18.) The Church, in turn, became the instrument to reveal the future Kingdom of God. This Kingdom, encompassing earth and Heaven–would be incomparably greater than David’s–though his was its prophetic example.
As disciples today, our greatest concern must be that we not miss the anointing. David is our example. Saul is our warning. In a tragic way, scripture reduces the experience of these two kings to this simple message:
"The Spirit of the Lord came upon David ... But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul."
I Samuel 16:l3,14
This single factor not only determined the success of David and the failure of Saul, but also determines the destiny of churches and ministries today. Those with the anointing of the Holy Spirit will experience Kingdom power, witness "signs, wonders, mighty deeds," continue the work of the early church, and triumph over the crisis of the end-times. Those without it will not.
Jesus gave a similar warning in the parable of the ten virgins. Five had oil; five did not. All were equally virgins, all had been invited to the wedding, but not all made wise choices. (Matthew 25:1-13.) In scripture, oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit which only the wise had taken with them. So it is with the church today. A great portion of modern Christianity disdains the anointing and gifts of the Spirit ...
Though Israel’s transfer of authority was initiated with David's anointing, it was not an instantaneous shift of power from the first Kingdom to the second. Years passed before the conversion was complete. During those years, every Israelite had to choose between the old regime or the new. The era in which they lived forced the decision upon them; it was an issue which could not be avoided. All the while,
"The Kingdom of David grew stronger and stronger but the Kingdom of Saul grew weaker and weaker."
Identically, Christians today have entered an era which demands the same decision: Will we be under the "anointing of the Holy Spirit" or will we not? David has it. Saul does not. The change is not to move believers in or out of the Kingdom, but to move them back under proper spiritual-headship within the Kingdom. Nor is it a question of Heaven or Hell. It concerns the Holy Spirit's gifting and ministry in the church. Saul once had the anointing but lost it; David received it and kept it. More than a century ago Charles Spurgeon foresaw the dilemma of our day and shouted this warning:
"Death and condemnation to a church that is not yearning after the Spirit, crying and groaning until the Spirit has wrought mightily in her midst. He is here! He has never gone back since He descended at Pentecost ... Brethren, if we do not have the Spirit of God, it were better to shut the churches, nail up the doors, put on a black cross and say, ‘God have mercy on us!’ If you ministers have not the Spirit of God, you better not preach and you people had better stay at home. I think I speak not too strong when I say that a church without the Spirit of God is rather a curse than a blessing. This is the solemn word: ‘The Holy Spirit or nothing ... and worse than nothing!’"
The threat to Scripture is this: Historically, the traditional church had the anointing, lost it, now claims no longer to believe in it. To defend that position it insists that certain parts of the New Testament have become invalid and are no longer believable. The conflict focuses on the issue of certain “spiritual gifts.” Actually, the argument is not about "gifts" but about the reliability of the Bible itself. Is it really true that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable," II Timothy 3:16, or is it not?
Of necessity, God raised up a younger David within the walls of the historic church and placed the anointing on him. Other issues also divide the two Kings. Today's Saul has abandoned the Bible's moral standard and willfully closes his eyes to the demands of scripture. Sexual sin is now acceptable in much of Saul's Kingdom. Romans 1:20-32. His disdain for the anointing is only part of his grievance with David. I Corinthians 12-14.
In recent decades, multiplied millions of Christians around the world have discovered David's presence in their camp and have turned to him. It is not David they are seeking–but the Holy Spirit’s presence that is on him. These believers are weary of Christianized-religion and are seeking true spirituality. Thousands who are frustrated by Saul’s spiritual deadness and rejection of truth are eagerly searching for David. As a result, many are leaving long-standing family denominations to find Kingdom life and genuineness with the young King.
God Announces A Changing of the Guard
The first hint of this radical, Holy Spirit invasion of traditional Christianity came in 1938 in South Africa. The English evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth, charged into the office of his host pastor, David DuPlessis, early one morning, shoved the startled man against the wall and began prophesying.
The message was emphatic: God was going to bring revival to mainline denominational churches. Signi-ficantly, neither Wigglesworth nor DuPlessis, as committed Pentecostals, believed God had future plans for mainline churches. But, God had spoken prophetically and they fell back in amazed wonder, awaiting its fulfillment. Instead of revival coming, Hitler invaded Poland and the Second World War began. There were years of horrendous fighting with 50,000,000 deaths world-wide. Europe and much of mankind was devastated. This period may well have been the time which Isaiah described when "darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people." Revival still did not appear and two years after the war ended, 1947, Wigglesworth died.
Two more decades passed. Then, in 1964, an Episcopal Priest, Dennis Bennet, at St. Mark's Church in Van Nuys, California, acknowledged to his congregation that he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues. The "anointing" had come on him. Samuel had re-appeared. Others in the congregation also received the gift. That day, metaphorically, the oil came upon David and the flame of renewal hit the mainline Church. Wigglesworth’s prophecy had begun.
Instantly, the Kingdom of Saul struck back in angered self-defense. People in St. Mark's Church leaped onto pews, cursing, shouting, "Throw the d..... tongue-talkers out!" Saul slammed his javelin into the wall. David narrowly escaped. Pastor Bennet not only fled the church but the State. Strangely, the news of that event was carried nationwide.
Christians everywhere heard the noise. Its significance–unrecognized at the time–began today's "long war between the house of Saul and the house of David." (II Samuel 3:1.) 1964 was a turning-point in Christian history that was destined to affect more lives than had Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation ...
That is not an over-statement. Of the 2.8 billion Christians world-wide today, over 500,000,000 now believe in the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Much of that growth has taken place since the 1964-explosion in the traditional church. Every denomination has been affected. And in nearly every case, battles have followed. Many congregations divided. War between the houses of Saul and David commenced in an angered way.
Since the incident in St. Mark's Church, Reinhard Bonnke, a charismatic German evangelist working in Africa, has personally preached to more than 120,000,000 people, leading 72,000,000 Africans in Christian prayer for salvation. The year Bonnke’s crusades began in Africa? 1964--the same year the fire hit St. Mark’s Church. In the decade from 1965-1975, the charismatic renewal in the United States drew in more than 5,000,000 new converts. Between 1982 and 1983, approximately an equal number of new believers were won to Christ as were won in the first one thousand years after Christ. That number greatly accelerated in the twenty-first century. Today, 80% of all Christian conversions worldwide are achieved by David's army and represents the church in more than 230 nations. The prophetic bomb God put in the mouth of Smith Wigglesworth had exploded.
God Has Provided Us With Miraculous Potential
Our human mind has only five natural sources of information. It receives knowledge by what the body tells it through seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. We thank God for these physical senses--they are wonderful--though none of them is spiritual.
Christians whose prayer-power is limited solely to mental-knowledge are depending on a tool that is vastly insufficient for the spiritual work of prayer. We need abilities superior to our human-intellect. Let me illustrate how God deliberately designed animals with sensory ability vastly superior to man's--and why:
A Polar Bear can smell food at a distance of 24 miles. A shark's electrical sensitivity can detect a flashlight battery 1,000 miles away. The common housefly can detect and respond to danger in one-two hundredths of a second. The peregrine falcon can see a pigeon 5 miles away and dive at speeds of 217 miles an hour--and stop in one inch of space. Also, he has "fast" vision. If humans had his eye sight we could read print on a whirling airplane blade. Bats fly unaided through a pitch-black cave. Your dog has a sense of smell 100 times greater than you. Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles over open seas--unaided and alone--to a small mountainous area of Mexico.
Our sensory abilities are vastly inferior to those of animals. God's motive apparently is to make regenerate human beings use our spiritual powers. We are created in His "image and likeness." (Genesis 1:26.) Unlike our physical mind, our regenerate spirit is neither confined nor limited. It has potentials greater than all the combined animal abilities I mentioned. God's intent is that we use all our spiritual, mental, and physical abilities.
Spiritually, we have access to gifts which equip us to receive and use knowledge directly from the Holy Spirit. This special equipping is the precise function of the "word of knowledge," "word of wisdom," "discerning of spirits," and other mind-enhancing gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:8-10.) Man is created in the "image and likeness" of God. As such, it is God's intention that we communicate with Him as those who are "seated with Him in heavenly places." (Ephesians 2:6. 3:10.)
The choice before modern Christians is whether we will limit our prayer-lives to "soul" knowledge, i.e, the five senses, or believe that the gift of revelation-knowledge is available to us today. Satan himself is a spirit and is light-years beyond our meager human senses. If he can keep our spiritual life confined to things we only see, touch, smell, taste, and hear, he will dominate us forever.
Why do we need to "pray in the Spirit?" Paul explains: "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26. )
The Apostle further explains, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful." (My human intellect is by-passed.) "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also." (I Corinthians 14:14,15.) Paul is declaring that he will use the abilities of both his mind and spirit as means of prayer and worship.
If the greatest writer of the New Testament needed both tools of prayer can you and I get by with less? Whether the expression of our prayer comes forth as a groan or an unknown tongue, it is none-the-less an authentic expression of our spirit.
You, your church, your world, can experience the same blessing that came to the first disciples after their baptism in the Spirit. They "went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word through the accompanying signs." (Mark 16:20.) You will leave the Sunset of Saul and step into the Sunrise of David. As that wonderful transition is made, the former prejudices will fall off of you like an old garment and the new mantle of the Holy Spirit's anointing will envelope you ...