Inasmuch as these people refused the waters of Shiloah that flow softly ... Now therefore, behold the Lord brings up over them the waters of the River (Euphrates), strong and mighty ... He will go up over all his channels and go over all his banks. He will pass through Judah, He will overflow and pass over, He will reach up to the neck; And the stretching out of his wings will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.” Isaiah 8:6.

In recent years I have witnessed an intensifying of the Holy Spirit’s “signs and wonders” in radical manifestations. These evidences are sometimes phenomenal; many are absolutely impossible to do by human effort. I have seen men with broken-back injuries bend forward, knees straight, knuckles on the floor, then stand erect again totally healed. The spine of one scoliosis victim--with x-rays to prove her healing--twisted until her neck turned completely around. Others appeared to drop dead as if shot by a gun. Some vibrated as if they had been electrocuted. During hands-on ministry bodies may bend backward into positions that are physically impossible. Bizarre-looking as these “signs” are, the spiritual and physical effects are always positive. Illnesses are healed, minds are calmed, addictions are driven out, joy and hope are restored. People who are “under the power of the Spirit” frequently have visions of Glory. At the same time, there seems to be no more appropriate word to describe the physical manifestations than the word radical. Please understand, when these things happen they are no more under my control than they are in the people experiencing them. The New Testament does not give us a list of the "signs and wonders" that occurred in the first century. It merely tells us that they happened.

At a meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, a man fell to the floor under the power of God, stiff as an ironing board, feet together, hands at his side, and vibrated as if  propelled feet-first, bumping down the aisle and across the front of the building. Human beings cannot fake such experiences. Another elderly man shook so violently each time I approached him that he was repeatedly thrown from his chair. In that same meeting, a woman who had suffered from clinical depression for most of her life was filled with the Holy Spirit and riotously laughed her way back to normalcy. Admittedly, to all of us these manifestations are unconventional--and to the uninformed they are frightening. Nor am I speaking of hype and soulish emotion. I detest human imitations of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

The effects of the Spirit’s work are twofold: To believers experiencing them, they are causes of great rejoicing. They build faith, establish elevated relationship with God, and open the heart to greater miracles. To unbelievers--and many Christians alike--they are objects of scorn, mockery, and denial. When God encountered a similar rejection of His works by ancient Israel--which Isaiah described as the people’s rejecting “the waters of Shiloah that flow softly”--God countered by saying that He would flood them “up to the neck with the strong and mighty river.” Simply said, God warned that He would send more intense signs upon them. “The stretching out” of His wings would “fill the breadth” of Immanuel’s land. What is Immanuel’s land? Prophetically, it is the Church! Immanuel is a specific reference to Jesus. In a parallel way, God is saying to those who reject the current works of His Spirit that they will soon be flooded with demonstrations so massive as to stagger their minds. And these manifestations--compared in size to the Euphrates--will go the full length of the Church’s domain.
 
At a Word, Spirit, Power Conference in Toronto with R.T. Kendall, Jack Taylor, and me, literally hundreds of people crashed to the floor under the power of God. Some were piled on top of each other.

Wonderfully, many of these later told me of incredible changes the Holy Spirit brought about. I have listened intently to such testimonies but still remained puzzled as to God’s motives. During a WSP Conference in Houston, Texas, I had a word in which the Lord explained the reason behind these unique exhibitions. I understood Him to say:
 
"The extent of the Holy Spirit’s radical manifestation is going to parallel the extent of the church’s radical unbelief."
When I heard that I was shocked. If I am correct, God was saying that His demonstrations are going to get more extreme than anything we have yet seen. In effect, the church’s radical unbelief merely challenges Him to become more drastic. The more that modern Christians fight and deny the Spirit’s visible demonstration, the more determined He becomes to do them.

Had someone told me 50 years ago that I would live to see the extreme manifestations presently being done by the Holy Spirit I would not have believed him. At that early period, there was no room in my theology or my expectation for the “signs, wonders, mighty deeds” currently taking place. To me, events in the Book of Acts were pages from a closed history. Under no circumstance would the church experience a repeat of such phenomenal events. For the first twenty-seven years of ministry I would have told you point-blank that all such miraculous manifestations were ended. I remember boasting that “I would not believe a miracle even if I saw one.” God alone knows the rivers of deep repentance I have since swam through because of that ugly attitude.

The theological school in which I grew up was correct in many ways. But like most other denominations, we preached the sovereignty of God as a doctrine while we denied its reality in the life of the church. Under no circumstances did our understanding of sovereignty allow God to actually do something to which we were not already accustomed. Such an idea bordered on heresy. Sovereignty, as a “doctrine?” Yes! Sovereignty as a demonstration? No! Absolutely not. Let me repeat that point: In our case, as with many other Christians, the proof of something being a work of God was whether or not we had already seen it in the past. Anything new was obviously wrong and could not be God. That attitude in the late 1700's and early 1800's paralyzed my denomination’s growth and sealed its fate. Today, that historic body of churches which I loved and served devotedly has been reduced to being the guardian of lonely pioneer cemeteries. I say that with genuine grief, not rancor. Some will object to that statement but it is true. During my half-century of preaching I saw nearly 3,000 of these churches perish. Sixty years ago I desperately tried to warn them. One of my final denominational sermons was preached in a beautiful, 300 year-old historic church building whose cemetery contained the grave of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. George Washington’s chaplain, John Gano, preached there. Numerous Revolutionary War soldiers are buried in the yard. Today, the building is a museum.

A century ago, Charles Spurgeon shouted his 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!’”

Healings occurred in Spurgeon’s ministry but in some cases church historians deleted those facts to avoid having their own theology and inadequacy challenged. That type of “editing” church history is commonplace. For example, in my youth I knew only the doctrine of Jonathan Edwards’ preaching in Colonial America but nothing about the Spirit’s visible manifestations in the people. I was equally uninformed about physical evidences in the Cane Ridge, Kentucky, revival, Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival, Azusa Street in California, Tommy Hicks crusades in Argentina, Duncan Campbell in Scotland, and others. To me, such truths were alien, unknown territory. Nor would I have been alone in that ignorance. Had you polled numerous other preachers in that era, you would have met the same response. We might have disagreed on many points of theology but we would have been in near-unanimous consent in rejecting the visible “demonstration of the Holy Spirit.” I Corinthians 2:4,5.

My rebelliousness ended abruptly in 1977. That year, without warning, God sovereignly thrust me into a totally new ministry. Sovereignty ceased being a principle I preached and became a power I experienced. And with that power came “signs, wonders, and mighty deeds” that still shock me to this day. When I see a sophisticated, elegantly dressed matron slammed to the floor by the power of God in a suddenness that literally tosses her wig into the air, I know something bigger than female pride has come on the scene. When that same woman later stands to her feet with the glory of God on her face, praising Him with excited joy and no thought of embarrassment or shame, I know God’s sovereignty has been displayed beyond all our man-made doctrines. Sometimes uncontrollable laughter breaks out when the Holy Spirit moves upon a congregation. Occasionally the people experiencing this burst of rapture have lived much of their lives under oppression and persecution. Such laughter is both physically and emotionally healing. Someone may argue, “God does not make people laugh in church!” My response is, “Don’t dare Him! If He is sovereign He can do whatever He likes.” For centuries, every Christian denomination expected you to cry in church. Grief and sadness were the emotions God approved. But laughter? Never! If you got happy God got angry. How blind can we Christians get?! Jesus said, “Enter the joy of your Lord!” When Philip preached in Samaria there was “great joy in that city.” Acts 8:8. The Greek text says it was mega joy. Identically, the lame man experienced this joy when he rushed into the Temple “walking, leaping, and praising God.” Acts 3:8. In most modern congregations such rejoicing would be unwelcome and the man would be quickly removed. Religion stifles. Spirituality stimulates.

I have encountered that ugly attitude. People became seriously offended when laughter broke out in the service. In some cases, those angered refused to attend further meetings. But I also knew this: The same critic had sat in church and laughed at the preacher’s jokes. What is that double-standard telling us? It says that laughter in church is acceptable if it is in response to human comedy. Laughter in church is not acceptable if it comes as a gift from God. Heaven help us!
 
Such "signs and wonders" are not new to the church. In 1741, the Dean of Yale University, the Rev. Samuel Johnson, became alarmed at the effect George Whitefield’s preaching was having on the students at the University. Whitefield, who was contemporary with John and Charles Wesley and a personal friend of Benjamin Franklin, experienced “miraculous signs” attending  his ministry. The Dean wrote a friend in England about these strange physical manifestations affecting those who heard Whitefield preach. Not only the students, he lamented, but whole congregations were being seized with some kind of bizarre power. Dean Johnson, in criticizing Mr. Whitefield and other revivalists, described their preaching as “hideous outcries,” but failed to mention that a wave of God-fearing morality,  intense prayer, and  love for Jesus, was also gripping the campus.  His letter said:
 
“But this new enthusiasm, in consequence of Whitefield’s preaching through the country and his disciples’, has got great footing in the college (Yale) ... Many of the scholars have been possessed of it, and two of this year’s candidates were denied their degrees for their disorderly and restless endeavors to propagate it ... We have now prevailing among us the most odd and unaccountable enthusiasm than perhaps observed in any age or nation. For not only are the minds of many people at once struck with prodigious distresses upon their hearing the hideous outcries of our itinerant preachers, but even their bodies are frequently in a moment affected with the strangest convulsions and involuntary agitations and cramps, which also have sometimes happened to those who came as mere spectators”.
 
“I want God’s next new thing. If a man is praying for an old fashioned revival, in all probability when God’s visitation comes he will not be conscious of it. Men remembering the marvelous movement under Charles Finney might have prayed for an old-fashioned revival such as that which accompanied his preaching. It is more likely that when God raised up Dwight C. Moody such men would be out of sympathy with all his methods for a long while, for the two movements were quite different. God fulfills Himself in many ways. We ought to be so living that when God begins His great triumphant march we shall fall in with the first battalion and have part in the first victories.”

 As an example of his concern for Yale students, Johnson knew that Samuel Buell, another of their graduates, preached in Jonathan Edwards church in Northampton, Massachusetts. The same peculiar manifestations had occurred. The “anointing” on George Whitefield was passing to other Yale evangelists. Fortunately, Edwards described Buell’s preaching in a letter to a friend, the Reverend Thomas Prince of Boston. He said:  “There were some instances of persons lying in a sort of trance, remaining for perhaps a whole twenty-four hours motionless, and with their senses locked up but in the meantime under strong imaginations, as though they went to Heaven, and had there a vision of glorious and delightful objects. 


In the early 1900's G. Campbell Morgan became pastor of Westminster Chapel in London and witnessed the historic Welsh Revival. While he was a strong doctrinal advocate for the sovereignty of God, Dr. Morgan also hungered for the power of God. Read prayerfully--and carefully--what he said:

Dr. Morgan is saying that he wants to accept the “softly flowing waters of Shiloah” so that God will not have to prove Himself by the violence of a Euphrates flood. To that, I add a thundering amen! But I am also convinced that the “Euphrates flood” is coming upon the modern church. God is going to be as radical in His signs and wonders as the church is radical in its unbelief. When that happens, and it will, congregations from the smallest county church to the mega-TV Cathedrals will be suddenly invaded by the unstoppable, sweeping, steeple-shaking, river-surge of the Holy Spirit. We have seen nothing yet of the Spirit’s frightening power. Will it be embarrassing? Yes! Sovereign? Yes! Humbling to church pride? Yes! But it is coming! It may not be just a man in the congregation thrown from his chair but a preacher hurled from his pulpit. As in Elijah’s day, people will fall on their faces shouting, “the Lord He is God! The Lord He is God!” After this, and the repentance that follows, I am persuaded that churches world-wide will again be flooded. This time, with open arms they will eagerly be filled with the glorious joy and presence of God. The modern, sophisticated church will have returned to the beauty and miraculous power of her New Testament pattern. “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!”