Terminology of Spiritual Manifestations

What's This About?

As people encounter God, the supernatural happens. Many ``mainline'' churches no longer believe in many of the teachings of Jesus and the NT church, but God remains unimpressed with their disbelief, and continues to do what He wants to do, anyway.

Why does God do all these things? I don't know. His ways are different than our ways; He sees the heart while we see the body and actions; He knows all while we know so little.

The usual passages cited to explain why these things no longer occur are I Cor 13/8 and 13/10:

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away... But when perfection comes, the imperfect will pass away"
First off, this is (IMO) mainly a passage about love's being eternal - not about signs & wonders. Secondly, there is no indication when this will be. The reference to "perfection" is often interpreted as being the Bible, but there is no evidence that this is what is meant. None. Zilch. Look on in the following verses. Do we see Him "face to face" yet? Hardly. This whole interpretation is a desperate attempt at avoiding God's intervention in our daily lives - an attempt to maintain control, to deny God's power - in essence, it is no different from Lucifer's "I will" attitude Is 14/13,14) which got him kicked out of the presence of God.

Well, sometimes it might be just ignorance.

I don't say this lightly, or to be ugly. It's very sad. But I don't see any other way to interpret it, or to put it. (Especially in light of the fact that in I Cor 12 & 14 Paul spends so much time on Spirtitual gifts.) I am not saying thaht this attitude will cause anyone to be left out; I am saying that such an attitude is wrong, especially when it condmns others, and when it says that such things, which are of God, are of Satan. I especially think the leaders to scream this most violently to their followers are going to be extremely upset when they meet God face to face and find out how he feels about their accusations and misguided teachings.

Most, if not all, of the great revivals (nevermind the beginnings) of Christianity (and pre-Christian Judaism) have included miraculous signs and wonders such as these. Jesus Himself, in John 14/11-12, promised that those who believe in Him will do greater miracles than Him.


Here are some of the things God is (again) doing among His people who are open to His Spirit.
This refers to being set free from the power of evil. Various groups will argue that Christians cannot ``have'' demons, but I no longer argue semantics. I don't think a Christian can be totally possessed by 1 or more evil spirits (demons, devils), but a Christian can definitely be harassed by, and even influenced by, evil spirits. Those who are not followers of Jesus can certainly be in the same boat, and can also be ``possessed'', or taken over by, evil spirits.

The NT abounds with examples of deliverance, the best known case probably being when the Gadarene demoniac was set free (Lk 8/26-39).

Drunk in the Spirit
In Acts 2/15, Peter said, "These people are not drunk as you suppose they are." In other words, they are not drunk the way you think. Why did people think the disciples were drunk? Because they acted it!

God can deal with people in various ways that make others think one is drunk. I have seen people unable to quit laughing, unable to stand, unable to speak coherently, and when attempting to sing, end up howling or something similar because that was the only noise they could make vaguely like the song they were trying to sing.

This is supernatural healing of disease, birth defects, injury, the mind, or whatever. Two of my favorite NT healings are Luke 17/11-19 (10 men with leprosy) and Acts 3 (a lame man).

I don't know why God doesn't always heal when we ask. I'd love to have my eyes healed so I don't need glasses, and my back healed so I could do more, and my shoulder healed where the collarbone wasn't treated fully after a wreck. But as God spoke to Paul, He spoke also to me: ``My grace is sufficient'' (II Cor 12/9).

Some people believe that everyone who asks should be healed; they believe that not being healed is a sign of insufficient faith or of sin not dealt with. While these are possibilities, they are far from givens. Paul had a ``thorn in the flesh'' (II Cor 12/7) from which he was never delivered or healed. Paul told Timothy to drink wine for his stomach troubles (I Tim 5/23), not to pray for healing (which he had presumably done). I must further note that many of these self-styled healers who claim lack of healing is proof of sin have to wear glasses. What's their problem?

So pray, in all the belief you have, for healing. If God doesn't do it supernaturally right then, take medicine or see a doctor. All God's children will ultimately be healed - the other side of that which we call ``death'', when we get new bodies and are all made whole.

Finally, if Jesus had healed all those with whom He came in contact, or even all those who asked, I don't think the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) would read as they do. If such healings were commonplace around Jesus, why the uproar and amazement at every healing right up until His crucifiction?

Note that in several cases, Jesus dealt with disease by casting out evil epirits.

Hit the Floor, or Knocked Down
Sometimes people are knocked down, or otherwise become incapable of standing. Biblical examples include Christ's profession of "I am" in the Garden of Gethsemanee (John 18/6). It is a sign someone has come into the presence of the Living God in a powerful way. (See also Slain in the Spirit.)

In some services, people will be ready to "catch" these people and lay them down gently. If I am there, and see something going on, I will usually try to do this, but I've seen God's power hit people many times where they just fell and cracked the floor or a chair or something - with no ill effects.

The first times some people pray for others and this occurs, they may say, "I knocked them down!" or something similar. This is merely excitement and misunderstanding. We do the praying, God does the rest.

Interpretations of other languages (tongues)
In cases where someone is praying in other languages out loud around others, someone (perhaps the same person, perhaps another) needs to be able to interpret, or there is no real value to the others present. Sometimes when the language is a known language, someone present will understand it and translate. At other times, and always when the language is not a known, earthly language, God will give someone else present the interpretation.
Other languages (tongues)
Perhaps no other manifestation has caused such a brouhaha as that of speaking in other languages or other tongues. Yet the books of Acts and I Corinthinans are full of discussion and incidents of this. Paul felt it important enough to devote quite a bit of time to it (I Cor 14 and parts of I Cor 12 and 13), summing it up thusly:
"I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you."
This manifestation of God's relationship with us can take various forms. In cases outside of private prayer (and I include in this corporate, private prayer - when everyone is praying at once in a service), such manifestations should be accompanied by interpretations.
Prophecy is simply knowing supernaturally something about the future, or having divine knowledge about God's will. The OT is full of prophecies. A good NT eample is found in Acts 21/10-11 when Paul's arrest in Jerusalem was foretold.
Slain in the Spirit
Sometimes when someone is knocked down by God's power, they lose consciousness for a period of time varying from a second or two to days (but usually in the few seconds to minutes range). During this time one or more of several things is likely to happen: God may, of course, do something else during this time. A good Biblical example of this is when Saul met Jesus (Acts 9/1-6). Paul later spoke of being "slain in the Spirit" at a time when he had a vision.
Visions and Dreams
Most people have some idea of what a vision is. Biblically, it's when God shows us something in a supernatural way while we are wide awake. Sometimes it's instantaneous, other times it takes a noticeable amount of time. In such cases, the person having the vision may appear to be lost in thought, distracted, or even in a trance of sorts. Visions can occur any time, any place; it's completely up to God. They most often seem to appear while someone is praying, reading the Bible, meditating or otherwise communing with God. On the other hand, I have had visions while driving, watching a sunset (although that can fall under communing with God 8^), and even during a conversation.

Visions cover a lot of ground. They may reveal something of God's nature, have a prophetic nature, show something going on in the supernatural, give insight into a problem, or any number of things. Their meanings are sometimes obvious, and sometimes obscure (requiring prayer and/or interpretation to comprehend).

While visions occur wheil we are awake, dreams occur while we sleep. When the Bible speaks of dreams it typically refers to dreams sent by God for a specific purpose. Sometimes the dreams are obviously from God; other times the dreamer only later realizes the significance of the dream. On occasion, I have been relating what seemed to be a random dream to someone else, only to have them tell me it was from God (sometimes they were clearly right, other times I never knew, or they were clearly wrong). Generally, when God sends a dream, He makes it quite clear that it's from Him, and that the dreamer needs to pay attention.

Words of knowledge and wisdom
Paul lists words or messages of knowledge and wisdom with other spiritual gifts (I Cor 12/8). Knowledge is specific insight or understanding of a situation - in this case by supernatural means. Wisdom is knowing how to deal with a situation - in this case, by supernatural means.

An example of knowledge is found in Acts 16/16-19, when Paul realized that the woman following them and proclaiming who they were was possessed. (In particular, this was a case of "discernment of spirits".)

Paul's letter to Philemon was an excellent example of wisdom. How could any Christian resist such an entreaty?

Last updated: 02 August 2003

Copyright 1995,2003 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514