Stetson Harper | Charlestown, Indiana
Granville Estep was born in the hills of Kentucky in 1912. He received salvation in 1939, at the age of 27. He began preaching the Gospel, experienced the power of the Holy Spirit throughout his ministry, and became a mighty man of God. In his book, A Mountain Preacher, Granville recounts many miraculous adventures. One time, he and another minister were confronted by an angry gang of men waving clubs and knives. Powerfully, the Lord intervened and turned them away. On another occasion, he and a group of preachers were traveling home by foot, over a mountain, in the dark. The Holy Spirit led them with an unexplained, transient light. As they followed the light, they were protected from a violent man who met them and fired his weapon at them repeatedly, intending to take their lives. As a visible sign of the power of God, Granville asked the Lord to use his body to display healing miracles. God’s answer to that prayer was this: Granville endured and was healed of both tuberculosis and cancer. Throughout his ministry, this powerful man of God witnessed many supernatural healings as well as the continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
When I read about this man and his ministry, I could not help but think, “Here is a man who was full of the Holy Spirit. Here is a man who continuously received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit over his life and over his ministry. Here is a man whose heart was fully committed to God. Here is a man who responded like Isaiah did, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” As I reflect on the events of God’s Word and the events of Granville Estep’s life, I see a correlation, a connection between the two. The things Granville speaks of in his book are reflections of the events of the Old and New Testament. This mountain preacher lived a life filled with the exploits of the Holy Spirit. However, I find myself asking, “Where are these events today? Where is our powerful, overflowing, miraculous move of the Spirit?” To be sure, I have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in my life and ministry. I believe many people can say the same thing. Even so, have we allowed ourselves to experience the full and unrestricted outpouring of the Holy Spirit? I find myself longing for the full and continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my life and in this Church. I do not want to simply be partially filled with the Holy Spirit, I want to be filled to the brim and overflowing. I want my life to be an example to those around me that the Spirit of the Lord is alive and moving. I want to respond, “Here am I!”
I have been around the Church long enough to know that some people refer to these things as the “good old days.” They speak of miraculous events as if they are only something to be remembered, but not sought after. I have heard people wish we could go back to a time when the Holy Spirit was moving every day, where there were services almost every night of the week, and when baseball games were not played on Sunday morning! They attribute the diminishing movement of the Holy Spirit in our churches to changes in our society, rather than to changes within our hearts and our commitment to God. However, I would argue that if we are seeing less of the power of the Holy Spirit, it is not because God has changed, it is not because God has moved, and it is not because the Holy Spirit has ceased to perform signs and wonders. Scripture declares in Hebrews 13:8 (NKVJ), “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” I serve the same God that the prophets of old served. I serve the same Jesus that walked and talked with the disciples. I serve the same God who walked on the water, healed the lame, and rose up from the grave on the third day to defeat Satan and all of hell. That is the God I serve! He has not changed! His Spirit is still searching for those who would answer the call to seek Him! God has not removed His Spirit from us, in fact He has promised, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28 NIV).
We cannot afford to be a people without the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We are nothing without the Lord! We have no ability to save men and women from the clutches of Satan unless we have the fullness of the Spirit! That is our purpose, our call—to be full of the Spirit, to be filled up so we may be poured out. We need not just a knowledge of the Holy Spirit, we need not just a history of the moving and the power of the Holy Spirit, we need a fresh outpouring of Holy Ghost power over our lives and over our churches! I don’t want just a taste; I want the complete fullness of the Spirit. I believe there are three major things that have prevented the Church from experiencing the fullness and the continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit: the fear of the world, inattention to the pursuit of holiness, and a lack of obedience. I’m going to expound on the first thing on that list in this article. The other two, I will share in a later issue of the White Wing Messenger.
Fear of the World
We have entered a time in history theologians and sociologists are referring to as a post-Christian era. Serving the Lord is not popular. The Bible is not mentioned in our schools, the Ten Commandments are not on our federal and state buildings, and the Church has lost the respected place it once held in our society, government, and homes. The pendulum has swung to the other side, pushing inclusivity and acceptance of all lifestyles and belief systems. You are not allowed to disagree with a person’s lifestyle or religion, or you are labeled as bigoted, racist, homophobic, and judgmental. Toleration is touted by every media outlet for every religion, except Christianity. We are no longer the popular religion. In some cases, churches that have proclaimed the banner of Christianity have compromised the truth of the Gospel to stay in step with the popular circle. They have traded what is holy for what is sinful and contrary to the heart of God to avoid the pressure this world applies to those whose hearts are set towards God. For some, this changing societal landscape has caused a retreat into our churches, hoping for better days to roll back around. For some, the fear of ridicule, hatred, and opposition has halted the pursuit of the Holy Spirit in their lives and churches. This is what I mean by fear of the world. The fear of what people might say or do.
I recently spoke with a friend who is pursuing a degree in elementary education. My friend attends a secular university and was required by the degree program to take a class with the objective of getting education candidates to acknowledge there are more than two genders. Week after week, this individual was pressed by peers and professors to admit that gender is fluid and should only be determined by the individual. This class went so far as to say that first and second graders should be able to decide what gender they are. We know that this stands in direct contradiction to the Word of God. My friend expressed opposition to the indoctrination that was taking place. As a result, this person was told by both peers and professors that the refusal to accept gender fluidity made the would-be teacher unqualified and unable to fulfill the duties of an educator. The enemy would like to disqualify Christians for positions of influence and authority because he knows that where we go, the Spirit of God goes. I stand, as an educator and a minister of the Gospel, to declare that my faith in God makes me even more qualified to go into the classroom and teach children. I may not be able to assign Bible passages as reading lessons, but I can anoint the desks and books in my classroom, I can pray over my students, I can wage war in the heavenly places against the enemy because of the Holy Spirit living inside of me.
We cannot afford to operate in fear, allowing the world to tell us where we are welcome. When Isaiah saw the seraphim praising God, they were declaring, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3 NIV). Paul then tells us in Romans 8:17 that we are co-heirs with Christ Jesus. If we are co-heirs with Christ Jesus, and His glory fills the whole earth, there is no part of this world that is off-limits to the people of God. We go with the authority of heaven, declaring what God has created, we have access to. The devil does not determine where the Spirit of God is allowed. We must not live in fear of the world. Satan would like nothing more than for us to pull back from those places and jobs that have become anti-Christian. However, we are not called to simply survive, we are called to thrive! I want to run into those places the world says we’re not welcome and proclaim the power of the Holy Spirit and the salvation that comes through relationship with Christ Jesus. I am not going to run away; I am going to run in!
Jesus told us we would experience times like these. Jesus said in John 16:33 (NIV), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Church, it is time we put on the full armor of God and take back the ground that the enemy has tried to steal from us. We cannot allow the fear of the world to stifle the work of the Spirit in our lives and churches. We must press forward! Jesus said in Luke 10:19 (NLT), “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.” Then Jesus said in Matthew 18:18 (NIV), “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” As a body of believers, it is high time that we start exercising the authority that we have in the Spirit. Live on purpose! Don’t waste the gifts and power that God has made available to us. I long to see the Church use its power to bind up the enemy. I bind the spirit of drunkenness, I bind the spirit of drug addiction, I bind the spirit of homosexuality, I bind the spirit of division, I bind the spirit of gossip, in the name of Jesus! Yet, I do not stop with simply binding up the enemy, I go on to loose the Spirit of God. I release an outpouring of the presence of God over my family, my community, my co-workers, and my nation. I declare to Satan that he has to go, and I invite the Spirit of God to come in like a flood. Devil get out, Holy Spirit pour out!