One example, among the many I could give, involves one of my Bible students. A few years ago I was bringing an end of term address to the students in the International Bible Institute of London, Kensington Temple’s Bible school. At a certain moment a remarkable sense of God’s presence filled the atmosphere. One of the students came forward to receive prayer. Thick oil came on his thumbs and thumbnails, reminding us of the anointing God gave for the priests in the Old Testament. Before our eyes, a tiny spray of oil came out of the air and settled on his head. Something very special took place as this young man was clearly being anointed for his ministry. From that time God has used him powerfully in church planting and in the miraculous. Shortly afterwards he prayed for a woman who had been born without a womb. It was, of course, totally impossible for her to have children. But God healed her and she now has a child. Nothing is impossible with God. This miracle was verified medically to the absolute astonishment of unbelieving doctors. Our God is able!
But is there really a hunger for God’s great works among Pentecostals today? It seems as if we have forgotten our roots. After all, miracles are integral to our movement’s history as they were to the first Pentecostal outpouring in the Acts of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit has come to glorify Jesus and to demonstrate that He is alive today. But perhaps we are not yet ready to let God have His way.
A young man desperate to see God move went to the hospital and began to lay hands indiscriminately on the many sick people there. When no one was healed he cried out, “Where is the God of Elijah?” To his amazement he heard the voice of God immediately reply, “Where are the Elijahs of God?” Elisha cried out in the same fashion after he had picked up the mantle of his mentor Elijah. He was faced with the Jordan river and the challenge to part it by the power of God as Elijah had done. It happened, but the anointing he received to do it did not come from nowhere.
Elisha had spent a long time walking with his master, watching and learning. Character development and rigorous training came first. Perhaps we have forgotten there is a price to pay. Or is it that we are just unwilling to pay it?
The pursuit of high levels of anointing and power are not compatible with our convenience Christianity. It can be quite uncomfortable pursuing God. He does not entrust His secrets lightly. There is no short cut to power – a short circuit always ends in disaster. No! The long way is the only way. It is worth it in the end. What was the path to the miraculous Elisha had to tread?
The path of servanthood
Elisha was prepared to serve. He poured water on the hands of his prophet-master. Servanthood is the costly key to greatness. Many want the glory of powerful public ministry but are not willing to tread the lowly path that leads to it.
The path of Sonship
Elisha wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This was not a bid to outshine his mentor but the cry of a true son. The double portion of the inheritance was due to the first born son. Elisha looked to the prophet as a father and pursued the inheritance as a son. Both sons and fathers are lacking in our fatherless generation. Jesus ministered only through the Spirit of Sonship. Sonship is costly. It cost Jesus everything. Overwhelmed by the agony of Gethsemane, He nevertheless prayed, “Abba, not my will but yours.”
The great motivating influence upon Elisha must have been the uncompleted task he faced. Elijah was soon to go to his reward and yet Jezebel was still on the scene and the house of Ahab was yet to be judged. This must have driven him to his knees in desperation for the anointing. In today’s world, can we be any different? 92% of our national population is outside the professing Christian Church. 23% of the world has never heard of Jesus. Why are we not desperate people? Why do we not cry to God for the only solution – the miracle working God?
The path of persistence
Elisha followed his master’s last movements very closely. Elijah, to test him, tried to shake him off. Three times he told his young follower to remain behind, but Elisha was persistent. I have found after 25 years of ministry that persistence counts. The levels of anointing that we need today do not come in an instant. Persistence prevails in the kingdom. There is no quick fix.
The way of the past
It became obvious that Elijah was leading Elisha through a history lesson in God’s dealings in the past. Every place they went was charged with divine significance.
Gilgal – the place of circumcision. Bethel – the place of encounter. Jericho – the place of victory. Jordan – the entrance to the Promised Land.
At every place Elisha remembered the way God had met Israel in the past. God had done it before and He could do it again.
Today, God is calling us to retread the ancient paths and to redig the wells once flowing in blessing but now blocked up. The Pentecostal heritage is a rich one and our testimony must be revived. The key to our destiny lies in our history. God raised us up to be an apostolic movement of breakthrough power and mission. Thank God for the pastor-teacher gift but we must also rediscover our apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic roots.
Elijah had been commanded to anoint Elisha to be his successor. The fulfilment came on the day Elijah was taken up to heaven. The mantle had fallen and it had to be picked up. There are many fallen mantles waiting to be claimed by those who care to seek them out. But do we really value our heritage? At times I feel we do not appreciate who we really are as Pentecostals. We downplay our distinctives and abandon our inheritance. One hundred years ago God began to reawaken the doctrine and the experience of the Spirit. Through the Pentecostal outpouring the worldwide Church once again witnessed the Baptism in the Spirit – a definite experience, which follows faith and is evidenced by the gift of tongues. We must re-establish this testimony in the nation both by our doctrine and our practice
The desperation of the moment
Desperation can be the only way of describing Elisha’s cry for the God of Elijah to show Himself. It was as if he said, “Where now is the God of Elijah.” Everyone has his or her moment, and this was his. Our time has also come. We cannot drift back into a culture of complacency. There is a job to finish and we must have the power of God to do it. Let’s tread once again the old, neglected paths. Let’s pursue Him until He answers. We need His supernatural power today!