“A complex gospel thrives where there is no experience.” (Bill Johnson)
What do I think he means by that? Potentially, that if you are not experiencing God’s supernatural inbreaking in your life, and haven’t for a while (or ever), the easiest thing to do is adapt your theology accordingly. In other words, you lower your expectations of God’s power, and adorn your disappointment with loquacious academic concepts. This often does nothing except make a diluted theology more ‘acceptable’ to the imperious rationalism of Western culture.
It has been an interesting year studying Theology, Politics and Faith-based Organisations at KCL. The last essay I wrote was on whether it is possible to empirically measure the truth/effects of prophecy, and if so, how. My conclusion quoted Jesus’ linking of truth and freedom, in John 8:32 – “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I wrote that it is possible to apply this assertion, empirically test it, and convey it in terms comprehensible to the world, and that this shows prophecy’s role in confronting “the puncturing spiritual hunger of… [those] who are not spiritually satisfied with the unremitting fare of rationalism, scientism, humanism and dead orthodoxy”; and in reminding the church that “truth is that which sets us free – that which is properly transforming, both spiritually, historically, and existentially.” In others words, prophets will be known by their fruit, and the fruit is the transformative effect prophecy has by freeing individuals, communities and nations.
One Sunday at church (I go to Christchurch, Fulham – best church ever!), whilst I was in the process of reading for the above essay, we had a visiting preacher. He got some of us to come to the front. He picked me, amongst others. We were then to pick another person, who would partner with us in giving prophetic words to whoever came up to us. I felt God say to pick a specific guy in the front row. He came and stood next to me, and whispered in my ear, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever had a prophetic word for anyone’! Perfect. Anyway, we did as we were asked, and it was fine though fairly unspectacular. At the end, a man came up to us and asked for prayer. He had (and I quote), “malignant basal cell carcinoma” – skin cancer, basically. The three of us had a little chat and it turned out that the guy I had picked to pray with me had also once had skin cancer, but it had been effectively dealt with by doctors and he was now totally fine. I got him to lay hands on the man in front of us and impart healing. We then declared Jesus’ authority over cancer and spoke healing over the basal cell carcinoma. That was that. No drama, just smiles and handshakes all round, and we headed home.
Weeks later I received an email from the man we prayed for. I’ve copied and pasted below (with his permission):
‘It was diagnosed as a malignant basal cell carcinoma. I don’t want to “big it up” – but after an initial biopsy I needed to come back for the rest of the growth to be removed. There was no massive urgency – they apparently are slow growing. There was no big deal during the prayer – just a sure sense to go and ask for this thing to be healed.
Last week I went back for the check-up and possible removal. The Consultant was genuinely surprised when he couldn’t find it under his very large magnifying glass. I subsequently received a copy of his letter to my GP:
“Thank you for asking me to see this chap with a BCC over the left cheek biopsy proven. The plan was to remove it from him. However it has completely disappeared. There was nothing to see today at all and I have simply reassured him and will see him once more in 6 months time and if all is well discharge him back to your care”.’
There it is – the truth of prophecy shown by freeing someone from sickness, and empirically proven by medical confirmation. In short, God backed up my wordy assertions in my essay with his supernatural power. Isn’t that the funniest, kindest thing ever?
So here’s to making sure we don’t overcomplicate things. Here’s to beating cancer through whatever means. Here’s to knowing the truth, and being set free.
[Want more? For an amazing website on prophecy, with clear teaching and cool testimonies, have a look at: http://www.unwrap.tv]