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Three Who Met the Holy Spirit

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by Dennis Pollock

"He that believeth on Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38)

"I believe in the Holy Spirit" — So goes the confession that has been repeated countless times by innumerable Christians the world over. And yet for many, the Holy Spirit is a vague and unreal entity, as mysterious and unreachable as to be out of their grasp, and has become nothing more than a doctrine to be quoted—a concept to be theoretically acknowledged but experientially ignored.

Such is not the case when one studies the lives and ministries of those whom God has chosen to be instruments of revival. One of the healthiest things a Christian can do is to study the great revivals of the past and present, and note their laws and their leaders. One is first struck by the dramatic differences there are in the personalities and styles of those whose ministries became lightning rods for the Spirit's power. John Wesley and George Whitfield couldn't have been more different in personality, style of ministry, and even theological views. Yet the great Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus, was pleased to employ both of them for the building up of his church.

When you go beyond the obvious differences in personality and personal style, you will always find certain common features. All had a radical love for the Lord Jesus, all ministered with a tireless zeal, all loved and fed constantly upon the Scriptures, and all had an experiential knowledge of the Holy Spirit! Let us consider three such individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by the Spirit's power.

D.L. MOODY

D.L. Moody seemed an unlikely candidate to become one of America’s greatest revivalists. He was overweight most of his life, he was poorly educated, and he constantly butchered the English language. Yet he proved imminently useful in the cause of Christ.

D. L. Moody seemed to possess from the start a natural gift of persuasion and a charisma which drew people to him. He was a very likable young man, and these traits served him well as he went about to build a church. His enthusiasm knew no bounds, and he soon had the fastest growing church in Chicago.

While he preached, Moody began to notice two ladies who always sat on the front pew. They seemed to be praying during his sermons. After the services they would tell him, "We have been praying for you." Finally he asked them, "Why don't you pray for the people?" They informed him that they were praying for him because he needed the power of the Spirit. Moody was insulted: "I need the power. Why I thought I had power. I had the largest congregations in Chicago, and there were many conversions. I was in a sense satisfied."

The women would not be dissuaded, and kept up their prayers for their pastor. At last Moody's curiosity got the better of him, and he called them into his office. They began to share with him the need every Christian has for anointing for God's service, and poured out their hearts to God in prayer that he would be filled with the Spirit. After that Moody began to have a strange hunger in his soul. In his own words: "I began to cry out as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service."
Moody's hunger was satisfied one day as he walked along a street in New York. He describes his experience thus:

I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name... I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were no different; I did not present any new truths; and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world—it would be as the small dust of the balance.

D.L. Moody did not rest upon this one experience. He learned to continually look to the Lord Jesus for fresh fillings of the Spirit. He wrote: "I believe this is a mistake a great many of us are making; we are trying to do God's work with the grace God gave us ten years ago... Now, what we want is a fresh supply, a fresh anointing and fresh power, and if we seek it, and seek it with all our hearts, we will obtain it."

 

KATHRYN KUHLMAN

She had a style all her own. Many loved her, but many others absolutely despised her. Yet despite the controversies, the outlandish mannerisms, and the expensive dresses, wherever she went, miracles followed. Even one of her most caustic critics, who claimed that working with her was like working with a buzzsaw, had to admit that every time she stepped out on the stage to minister, the Holy Spirit was with her.

Many people assume that Kathryn was in the healing ministry from the time she began to preach. Quite the contrary! Kathryn began to preach in her teens, and in those early days she had only one message: "Ye must be born again." For some twenty years she continued as a traditional evangelist (as traditional as it was possible for someone with her flair for the dramatic). It was as she approached her fortieth birthday that she began giving consideration to the issue of healing and miracles. By this point numerous evangelists had begun to preach healing, and to see enough results to greatly gather and excite the masses. Kathryn had attended a service of a well known evangelist and had left disgusted and heartbroken.

As she had sat curiously in the back row, the evangelist came out and began to work the crowd up into a frenzy. In his "zeal" to make things happen, he was all over the place, walking on the back on the long bench behind the pulpit, leap-frogging over the pulpit, and bringing the crowd to an emotional outburst of screaming and wailing almost beyond control. Kathryn described it as a "nightmare come to life."

What bothered her most, though, was not just the raw emotionalism. It was the disappointed look on the faces of those who were prayed for and did not receive instant healing, when they were told that the reason for their lack of results was the fact that their faith was lacking. As the infirmed and paralyzed turned to go home with this condemnation hanging over their heads, Kathryn was sick at heart. Was this the God of mercy and compassion?

Kathryn went home convinced that any answers she was going to receive about the area of healing, she would have to find directly from the Lord and His word. She began to study and pray as never before, for the secrets that would unlock this mystery of God's healing power. In her studies, she began to focus on the Person and the power of the Holy Spirit. As she studied the Scriptures she began to see the role of the Holy Spirit in the manifestation of God's power on the earth. She came to realize that the Holy Spirit was a Person, not merely a force or a power, and that He was Jesus' representative on the Earth to carry out Jesus' ministry, as Jesus directed Him from heaven.

Kathryn began to teach a series on the Person of the Holy Spirit. As she taught these things that first evening, so great was her excitement that she trembled as she concluded: "The last words He said before He went away were, 'And ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.' God the Father had given Him the gift. Now He was passing it on to the church... The gift is for all of us." That night Kathryn got little sleep, so thrilled was she at this revelation of the mighty third Person of the Trinity.

The next evening at the service, Kathryn was interrupted by a plump little lady who asked if she could share something. This rather nervous lady began to relate that the previous evening, as Kathryn preached on the Person and the power of the Holy Spirit, she felt something unusual happening in her body. She was sure that she had been healed of a tumor. Kathryn asked her how she knew this. She replied that she had gone to the doctor that morning and he had verified that the tumor was no longer there! As she spoke Kathryn began to realize that she had found her answer! There had been no healing line, no loud shouting and screaming, and she hadn't even leaped over the pulpit! As the revelation of just who the Holy Spirit is had penetrated her and the people's hearts, the miracle had taken place.

On the following Sunday another miracle occurred. George Orr, whose eye had become legally blind as the result of a splash of molten metal, heard Kathryn telling of the lady's healing of the tumor and had simply asked God, "Please heal my eye." No sooner was the simple prayer uttered than the affected eye began to tingle and to stream water. As he drove home his vision cleared and he realized he had been healed. At the next Tuesday service he testified before an amazed Kathryn and the congregation that he, too, had been healed. From that moment on miracles seemed to follow Kathryn wherever she went.

BILLY GRAHAM

It was in Wales that America's most popular evangelist first became acquainted with the Holy Spirit's power to fill and empower. There Billy met Stephen Olford, an eloquent and powerful Welsh evangelist. The two men spent two days together in the little Welsh town of Pontypridd, and Olford began to share with Billy his own experience of how God had completely turned his life inside out, and how he had experienced the Holy Spirit in His fullness and anointing. As he talked, Billy Graham's eyes glistened with tears as he said, "Stephen, I see it. That's what I want. That's what I need in my life."

Olford suggested that they "pray this through," and they both fell to their knees. Billy began to pour out his heart in a prayer of total dedication to the Lord. His prayer was evidently heard, for at length he said, "My heart is so flooded with the Holy Spirit," and they went from praying to praising. Billy was pacing back and forth across the room as they both laughed and praised God. Billy cried, "I have it. I'm filled. This is the turning point in my life."

Although the night before the church had been only moderately filled, that night the building was packed. Up to this point Stephen Olford had not been that impressed with Billy Graham's ministry. His sermons had been short, response to the altar calls had been meager, and the Welsh people's attention to Billy's preaching had been given more out of politeness than gripping conviction. But this night it was different. Billy preached with a power that gripped all his hearers. As he gave the invitation, the stoic Welsh people jammed the aisles until it seemed as though practically the entire audience had responded. Olford's own heart was so moved by Billy's authority and power in preaching that he could hardly drive home. When Stephen saw his dad that night, the older Welshman took one look at his face and asked, "What on earth has happened?" Sitting down at the kitchen table, he stated, "Dad, something has happened to Billy Graham. The world is going to hear from this man. He is going to make his mark in history." I think it is safe to say that he was not too far wrong.

HE'S FOR YOU, TOO

The biggest danger of presenting these testimonies of the Holy Spirit's power to transform a life or a ministry, is that some may be tempted to say, "I guess that sort of thing is fine for famous evangelists, but an ordinary Christian like me can't expect such things." Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was given sparingly, and only to special persons like David or Moses, but through the cross of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is available to all. Joel promised that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh: sons and daughters, old and young men, menservants and maidservants (Joel 2:28,29). Jesus' death and resurrection make it possible for you, too, to know the power of the Spirit in your life—whatever your calling: plumber or doctor, preacher or accountant, housewife or nurse. All who put their faith in Christ can enjoy the power and presence of the Spirit.

Many Christians do not experience much of the Spirit’s presence or power because they are so ignorant of Him. Go to your Bibles and learn of Him. You will be amazed at just how much God’s word has to say about our blessed Comforter. As you meditate on Him, you will begin to love and appreciate Him, and you will find His power beginning to work in your life in a new way.

You who are thirsty, come to Christ and drink. He is the Fountain of the living waters. Confess your dryness and emptiness, and call upon Him for His fullness. Base your request upon His shed blood by which you were justified, and upon His marvelous promise: "He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). Believe that He hears you, and watch for the manifestation of the Spirit to appear in your life.


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