Apr 10, 2017

Dear Esther,

Thank you that you stand up for Jesus Christ, and are not ashamed of His name. Your articles are very encouraging and help me realize that others face the same problems I do.

The Lord saved me about 20 years ago. At that stage I attended a Pentecostal church, which I remained with for many years. As per the norm now days the preaching and teaching went off the rails.

I left the church and have not attended a church for a while now. It is quite difficult to find a good Bible-based teaching church in South Africa.

I have felt a tug on my heart to worship with other believers. There is a church near my home which still preaches the need to repent and be forgiven of sins, through Jesus Christ.

The problem is this: This church practices the laying on of hands whereby people are prayed for and then fall over backwards onto the floor. Nowhere in Scripture have I come across this.

Could you please advise?

Regards,

Alan

 

Dear Alan,

Thank you for your thoughtful words of appreciation. I am sorry you are having trouble finding a good, solid Bible teaching church. It is a real problem everywhere. I know of few good churches here in the United States. Most of them have sold-out in one way or another; many falling into the category you speak of. Falling backwards onto the floor and losing control of oneself is not biblical.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, ‘When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD’” (Amos 8:11).

The term “slain in the Spirit” is used in the Charismatic circles to designate a supposed movement of the Holy Spirit upon a person. The claim is that the Holy Spirit moves with such power on a person that the person is “slain” (so overcome by the presence of the “Spirit” that he or she falls down to the ground being completely overcome).

Many evangelists have televised meetings where Christians gather together. Some of these meetings have special times of healing or “receiving the Spirit.” This is where the “evangelist,” who is supposedly anointed to be able to do this goes around putting his hand on peoples’ foreheads causing them to fall down to be “slain in the Spirit” as they are overcome by the presence of what is claimed to be the Holy Spirit. This display is unfortunate since it is unverifiable, ostentatious, and could very well be nothing more than the overcoming power of emotions of a person.

On the other hand, it is possible that the Holy Spirit could move so powerfully on a person that he/she is overcome. After all, God is incredibly powerful. But, the problem is not with this possibility but with whether or not it is biblical. We must always seek to remain as close as possible to the Word of God and let it guide our words and practices, as you Alan, are doing. So, let’s look at the Word of God:

Perhaps the closest occurrence we can find in the Bible to being slain in the Spirit is where Paul the apostle fell to the ground when Jesus appeared to him:

“And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me’” (Acts 9:3-4).

Is this being slain in the Spirit? No, it is not. But it is an instance where people fell to the ground when the presence of the Lord was strong. Some people have reported incidents where the power of the Lord was so strong that they were forced to bow to their knees. But the result was worship and adoration, not a lack of bodily control.

Nevertheless, let’s look at some additional Scriptures used to support being “slain in the Spirit”:

“And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:2-4).

“Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. When therefore He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back, and fell to the ground” (John 18:3-6).

“At midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads’” (Acts 26:13-14).

We can see that in the presence of God people fall to the ground. This is natural and proper given the majestic holiness of Almighty God compared to our sinfulness. Falling to the ground in the presence of the Lord is to be expected. But, does this mean that being slain in the Spirit is biblical?

When someone is slain in the “Spirit,” he or she is usually touched on the forehead by a pastor or teacher or evangelist, etc. This touch alone seems to be the compelling means by which a person receives this movement of the “Spirit.”

The person is then incapacitated for a period of time. Again, is this biblical? Apparently not, since there is not a single instance in the New Testament where someone is touched on the forehead and falls to the ground due to the presence of the “Spirit.”

Furthermore, the danger in this phenomena is that it can be set-up by the teacher who appears as someone special, an “anointed” individual with the power to cause the Spirit to move on people. They then congregate around this individual and view him/her as a specially-anointed person. This is inherently dangerous, especially given the numerous theological errors taught by many of the TV evangelists.

This is not to say that the Spirit of God cannot knock someone down, or that the Spirit of God does not move today. Of course the Holy Spirit is still very active in the church. But, given the overt sensationalism in the TV church movement, the numerous unbiblical practices and teachings that occur, and the over-eagerness of people to be slain in the “Spirit,” I would be cautious about accepting this type of phenomena as a move of the Holy Spirit. [1]

Alan, if you have met some people that you resonate with at the church you are going to or anywhere else in your home town, consider starting your own ministry. Pray about this and see how the Lord leads you. Home churches are becoming very popular due to the politics, weirdness and aberrant teachings in too many of today’s churches. Seek out others who are in similar situations and work together to create an atmosphere of worship and Bible study.

I don’t see what else you can do unless you go to all the Christian churches in your community and see how they operate. But from what you say that option sounds like it is very limited. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about what their beliefs are and what they teach. If the pastor or whomever it is that you speak with cannot give you answers to your questions, then you know that is the wrong place for you.

Today with the Internet it is possible to connect with so many people. Even getting involved in a good Christian blog where others share and encourage one another is another way you can fellowship with others. Ask the Lord to guide you as you go forward to find the right situation for you. He is there for you and will guide you.

Keep in mind the most important times are the ones that you personally spend with the Lord, one on one. It is then when you can best discern His “still small voice” and receive the guidance for your life. His sweet fellowship cannot be replaced and it is often when we cannot connect with others to worship Him with us, that we grow the most in the Lord. Solitude can reap great rewards when we are give our all to Him.

It can be very discouraging not to have a home church or a consistent core group of believers to fellowship with, but in time, the Lord will bring true believers into your life you can spend time with. Use this time to draw closer to Him. Vow to keep filling your mind with Scripture; focus on His teachings and you will feel a peace in your life that will help dissipate the aloneness you feel. Trust that He knows what is best for you.

God sovereignly works all things according to His will and rules over all things. He cares for the birds, the flowers and He will then, certainly care for His children. Ask Him to bring the right people into your life. Ask Him to guide you to a solid place of fellowship and worship. It could very well be to start your own home ministry or to find a designated place in your community where you can gather together with like-minded believers. A few small steps could start something wonderful for you and others seeking true Christian fellowship.

Please keep in touch with me and let me know if you find a new church or a way to gather together with other true believers. Seriously think about taking small steps toward starting your own ministry. God can bring His children together in ways we cannot, and open doors that need to be opened when the time is right. Our job is to be obedient and place Him in first in our lives 24/7.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6a).

Endnotes
[1] http://carm.org/