Friday, January 12, 2007

Ecstasy

Three times in the New Testament the word trance is used and all three are in the book of Acts. Let us examine each of them.

Acts 10:9-11a - On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the house top to PRAY about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a TRANCE, and saw heaven opened,
Acts 11:5a - I was in the city of Joppa PRAYING: and in a trance I saw a vision,
Acts 22:17-18a - And it came to pass, that, while I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I PRAYED in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw Him saying unto me,

If you look closely you will see that all three have a connection with each other. All three began with prayer, went into a trance, and resulted in a supernatural vision from the Lord Himself. The other connection is that the word for "trance" in the greek is the word from which we get "ecstasy".

The word ecstasy in the Greek language means to be in such wonder and amazement that you are temporarily separated from the normal reality of your mind. In the case of the word in Acts, it describes what happened when these apostles were praying and the Holy Spirit came upon them in such a way that they were temporarily rendered useless in the natural and became "captured" by the supernatural presence of God. The world would say "they are out of their mind", but we would say they have entered the Mind of Christ.

Now except for contrived religious theatre, why don't we see anyone experiencing a God given trance today? Well, the easy and shallow answer is that "God doesn't do that anymore" since the whole Bible was written. Remember, though, these trances were in the church age and there is nowhere in the New Testament that teaches that after the Scriptures were completed the Holy Spirit backs off from anymore of the miraculous. The tortured interpretation of the last part of I Corinthians chapter 13 is only accepted by some American Christians, most of the world wide church have seen the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit!

Another reason for not seeing this kind of phenomenon is that there is some spurious and counterfeit manifestations of the Spirit and it has over the years led most Christians to avoid them altogether. True enough, but who are we to put the Holy Spirit in a box because others contrive their own unbiblical doctrines? Do you really believe that what we have heretofore experienced as believers is all that God has and can do?

In the late 1940's two elderly ladies received a vision from the Lord while they prayed. God told them that He wanted to send a revival to the Hebrides Islands, off the coast of Scotland, and they should go tell their pastor. They told him and he asked what he should do. They told him God wanted him to start prayer meetings during the week and pray for revival. Two and three times a week he and the leaders of the church met in a barn and prayed for the Lord to send revival. For six months they prayed without anything really happening, until one night a young deacon rose in their midst and said,"This is of no use to pray while we ourselves are not right with God!". He then quoted Ps.24:3-5, and promptly fell into a trance before all their eyes. From that meeting began a three year revival that was felt throughout the world.

So why don't we experience those kinds of visitations from God Himself in our midst? You could say it's because of our lukewarmness; or our worldliness; or our hedonism; or our ambivalence; or a hundred other descriptions of the Laodicean condition of the church. But the central reason that the Holy Spirit does not move in such a power that it sweeps through us like a "mighty wind" is because we HARDLY PRAY! Go ahead, lie to the Holy Spirit and see where that takes you. The emperor has no clothes - WE NEED A REVIVAL OF PRAYER!!! All of us need for God to break us in Spiritual repentance so He can bring us figuratively and literally to OUR KNEES!! Look back to the three passages in Acts; the catalyst was prayer. Not only have we forsaken prayer, we have forgotten how to pray.

We now believe that praying for the President, our troops, and for God to bless us is the kind of prayer they had in Acts. Most, and I mean most, believers spend more time in the shower each day than they do in prayer. Let us not even go into the time spent on TV, golf, eating, phone, sports, and a hundred other activities which by themselves would not be wrong, but compared with the incredible lack of time for prayer these things have become our idols. I personally will confess that I am in desperate need for the Lord to move in my life and bring a revival of personal prayer that will accurately reflect what I say He means to me. Will you join me? Careful, count the cost. The first step is to start praying: significantly. You might find as I have that God is having to teach me about intercession, warfare, worship, confession, travail, fasting, and other aspects of true prayer that are no longer offered as spiritual courses on earth because there aren't many teachers who can teach by example.

Dear Jesus, I humbly confess I need you. I ask you, as did the disciples, "Teach us to pray". I read so many times that YOU got alone to pray, how much more do I need to pray. My life at its present state is a daytimer filled up with stuff and the things of this world. I need you to do in me what I obviously cannot do in myself. Help me to be willing to pay the price which I know will result in a Spiritual ecstasy that will not only separate my heart from this world, but will glorify YOU!! I am not yet desperate...

I Pet.4:7 - But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober,
AND WATCH UNTO PRAYER.

3 comments:

luvvom said...

I do agree that most Americans lack in their prayer, fasting, and Bible readings...shamefully. I for one need a great devotion in all three of these areas. I guess I don't believe in going into trances though. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray He gave us the guidelines in the Lord's Prayer and didn't mention going into trances. I do believe that the original apostles did a few times go into trances in order to hear from the Holy Spirit for Biblical writings but these were not a habit on their part and certainly not the way they prayed all of the time. I do think that we experience the aweness of God during our prayer time which is above earthly, human experience. I have at times when praying felt like I was resting in God's glory and splendor in order for Him to reveal in a small measure how glorious He is. I am refreshed as a believer during those times. I don't believe that we hear new things from the Holy Spirit now days. I think the Holy Spirit intercedes with our spirit to remind us of principles in the Bible in order that we may live holy lives. I would read this site before trying any trance activity.
http://onetruthministries.com/
This is Brian Flynn's site who use to be a New Ager and now a Christian and he talks about the dangers of "trance" activity.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

I agree it is not the norm nor should we look for these rare experiences. And if the Holy Spirit directs, it is never outside the parameters of God's written Word but He can give fresh revelation about His written Word.

Whether we call it a "trance" or something else my point was that due to the obvious lack of deep seasons of prayer, both personally and corporate, we do not experience the overwhelming presence and power of God. And generations have passed in this state so that today we don't even realize how much is available that the the church hardly ever enters into.

The bottom line is we need a prayer revival and we can leave any Spiritual manifestations to God. The catch-22 is that a prayer revival comes only through extraordinary prayer and fasting while separating ourselves from the world for elongated seasons. So with those things in mind, do not look for revival anytime soon. All of us can continue to justify our tepid, powerless condition by pointing to the millions of tapes, television programs, radio ministries, blogs, worship music, and our growing knowlege of the Biblical doctrines while ignoring the fact that the kingdom of darkness makes incredible strides right in our own neighborhood.

Have we (including me) not tried speaking out? Have we not tried writing about it? Have we not tried politics? Have we tried an onslaught of talk, criticism, sermons, and everything else at our disposal. My self-indicting point is "What would happen if the church of Jesus Christ would gather almost ever night for hours of prayer and in our private lives we gave up most forms of entertainment and obeyed the call to pray?".

And if in the midst of a sweeping and unusual revival of prayer God would chose to overwhelm some young man through a experience of His presence that left him temporarily incapacitated, well so be it. At this time we need not fear, the prerequisite for a moving of God's Spirit is not yet in place. Pray fervently, with or without a trance.

Paul said...

I don't think its just the americans are the only ones who lack prayer, in fact i think you guys are much better off.. and I get inspired what you guys write :)

And well, I don't think we have to try a trance activity.. that would be wrong.. when its a time for us and if we need it then God himself can take us into a trance and might grant us vision, but anyways I know its outta question for me because it also depends on how close to the Lord we are. Suppose if I try going into a trance without being close to God then its easy for the devil to fake a trance and show me something unreal, and that would be misguided, but even though the devil counterfeited it, I don't think that should be a reason that trances which lead to visions are not to be believed. If it edifies the person and us and the person reflects the love and outward grace of Christ then we would have enough reason to believe its a trance/vision from the Lord.

I guess this generation is easily misguided because they lack prayer and real wisdom which comes from God which is again due to not reading and studying the word of God.

There have been great and mighty acts of God even after the time of the Apostles, for example in the times of Whitfield, the results were amazing. I have heard that there have been records of more than 3000 people crying for their sins and being brought to God under a single sermon and that was back in the 1700s.. which is indeed something miraculous.. I have heard of another happening in London when just one day an entire school was saved and brought to cry for their sins, and in fact because of the revival in the school anyone who came to the vicinity also came to be saved because their hearts were moved to know their sin. There were so many cases in which the people who came to collect their children after hearing of what happened themselves came to know the Lord, so the Spirit does move in a mighty way at times and I don't think that what happened at the times of the apostles has died out.. just because something is not common does not mean its ceased. one more thing which I'd like to say is that these things will not happen unless we earnestly cry out for it. Both these incidents which I mentioned had a lot of prayer put in it.. some even like years of continous prayer by people moved by the spirit, so prayer is the key for revivals and mighty acts of the holy spirit :) God bless!