Israel was to be the same way, as it was a nation where God’s Presence dwelt. It was led by a man of the Presence, since Moses related to God face-to-face. In fact, Moses relating to God face-to-face was actually forbidden by the Law, yet he was surely echoing God’s heart when he expressed the desire that all the Lord’s people would have God’s Spirit on them in the same way (Num 11:29). Similarly, David interacts with God outside the Law, with God’s Spirit directly. In fact, David considered God’s Presence the one thing he seeks (Ps 27:4). God’s intent seems to be that all Israel would be like Moses and David, since He said they were to be a nation of priests (Ex 19:6)—and it is only the priests is that they were the only ones who could carry the Ark, on top of which God’s Presence rested. As Christians, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit; God’s Presence is inside each of us. The church is the fulfillment of Israel, and is Moses’ desires made reality.
The difference between a prophet and an ordinary person was that the Spirit of God came on the prophet. The anointing is really a person: the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God came on Gideon, the word used for “came upon” was “clothe”. So God clothed Himself with Gideon! He desires to clothe Himself with us, and will do so roughly to the extent that we are surrendered to Him. Sadly, if we desire to be in control, we limit how much God clothes Himself with us. Similarly, we should not say “all of you and none of us” because God had that and sent Jesus to die so that we could be filled with Him.
God clothing Himself with us is also described as having the Presence of God rest on us. The possibility of God’s Presence continually resting on us was demonstrated by Jesus and made possible by his death and resurrection. Isaiah asks God the rend the heavens and come down. When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened—this is the same word that was used for tearing the curtain in the temple—and the Holy Spirit came down and rested on Jesus, fulfilling Isaiah’s prayer. God told John the Baptist that the way he would recognize the Christ was that the Holy Spirit would come and remain. So having the Presence of God continually is the essence of Jesus’ life, and thus is the prototype for what a follower of Christ looks like.
When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove. Johnson imagines what it would be like to live so that a dove would always stay on your shoulder—you would need to do everything with the dove in mind. “We know that the Holy Spirit lives in us as born-again believers. ... But the sad reality is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t rest upon every believer. He is in me for my sake, but He is upon me for yours. When the Holy Spirit rests upon a person without withdrawing, it is because He has been made welcome in a most honorable way.” (137) The Bible gives two guidelines for hosting the dove: do not grieve the Holy Spirit, and do not quench the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is grieved as a result of character problems: things we allow in our lives. He is quenched as a result of our will, or our lack of surrenderedness. It is like twisting a garden hose, or putting our hand over water being poured into a cup.
Character has become more important than power in part as a reaction to some people anointed with power who have had deep character flaws, which stain the name of Christ. However, as a Church, we have overreacted, and consider character more important than power. Yes, character is important, but there are many people with character, and few of them are having much of an impact. Furthermore, it seems that Jesus does not hold the same view. He sent out the disciples to heal the sick and preach the good news of the Kingdom, despite their lack of character. Immediately after they returned, James and John tried a power-grab for seats in the Kingdom, as well as wanting to murder an entire Samaritan village by fire from heaven. In fact, Jesus was the one who gave the power to the people with character flaws, and He certainly knew what would happen.
Quenching the Spirit often happens when revival breaks out, largely because we are out of control. Being led by the Spirit is, by definition, not being in control. Revival bring new believers, and new believers, like young children, bring out all sorts of things. If you want to live a comfortable, quiet life, having a bunch of toddlers in the house is not the way to do it! So sometimes we quench the Spirit in order to remain comfortable and in control. Other times we are uncomfortable because God is doing something new. God shows up in strange ways: a burning bush, instructing Abraham to do child sacrifice, the disciples at Pentecost acting in way that was similar to being drunk. The spirit of the prophets is under the control of the prophets, and God is a gentleman, but at the same time, that gentleman knocked Saul of Tarsus off his donkey! Furthermore, if God is doing something new, then by definition, we can’t validate it by finding it in the Bible, because it’s new. This forces us walk by faith, which is not comfortable.
A good example of processing through something new was in Acts, where the Gentiles were being converted in large numbers, and the Jewish believers were uncertain how much of the Jewish culture they were required to take on. Interestingly, they develop a theology based on what was happening, not from exegesis of Jesus sermons. They share stories of the amazing things God was doing among the Gentiles. Then John interprets a prophecy in Amos as pointing to the present situation. It was probably a direct revelation from God because the prophecy was never used in that manner before. In fact, the prophecy talks about Edom, so when John quotes it, he changes “Edom” to “Gentiles” as a generalization. The apostles seem to look at the fruit (Gentiles coming to faith) to evaluate if it is from God, probably with revelation to explain it, and then make a decision based on the circumstances. Nowhere do they attempt any exegesis!
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for power. Many people think it is for speaking in tongues, but it is the anointing that gives us power to do what Jesus did. It was after the baptism that 3000 were saved, and the lame man healed. It was also only after Jesus was baptized in the Spirit that he did ministry.
When Jesus carried God’s Presence it was not for his benefit. His mission was to display the nature of the Father, and to do that he released the Presence. He instructed the disciples to do this when he first sent them out, telling them to let their peace rest on the place where they were staying, and if there was no one worthy, let it return to them. Worthiness is shown by someone’s response to the Spirit of God, as evidenced by David. His brothers looked worthy, but it was David’s response to God over the years that made him worthy for the anointing. An illustration of how releasing the Presence works is when Jesus came to the disciples after the resurrection. They were hiding for fear of being crucified in addition to Jesus, and Jesus walks through the wall and says “Peace be with you.” They clearly were not reassured, meaning that they had not responded to the Presence that was released, so Jesus identifies himself by his scars. Then he again says “Peace be with you,” and this time it is received.
After this, Jesus commissions them to the qualitatively similar mission (“as the Father sent me, so send I you”). The first thing he does after commissioning them is releases the Holy Spirit to them. The first thing done after commissioning is naturally the most important one, thus releasing the Holy Spirit, the Presence is the normative mode of fulfilling the mission. Thus, all of ministry is releasing the Presence. He contrasts this with the normal Christian view of ministry: the apostles were Presence-driven, whereas we tend to be ministry-driven, that is, what we can do for God, rather than what He does through us. In fact, since Jesus’ entire life was the ministry of modelling the Father, Johnson says that all of life is about stewarding the Presence.
In order to be effective at releasing the Presence, we first need to be able to recognize and experience the Presence. The most practical way of experiencing the Presence is to simply turn our affections to Him. Often His presence will affect us physically, although the exact way varies widely from person to person. Johnson often spends five-minutes re-centering on God, giving his affection to Him and letting himself be the object of God’s affection. Another powerful way of experiencing God is to partner with Him in praying. Not so much in a list of petitions, but spending most of the time in worship and then praying God’s heart. Yet another way is letting God speak as we read through Scripture. There are also some ways God’s Presence comes that only happens in corporate settings, like when many people are worshiping God with all their heart.
Johnson also gives some thoughts on releasing the Presence. One way is speaking the heart of the Father. His words are creative, and speaking His heart will change people and situations. Another way is an act of faith—something that reveals the inner faith, like walking on an injured leg. Similar to acts of faith are prophetic acts, which are acts unrelated to the outcome, like Elisha throwing a stick into the water to float an axe-head. There is also laying on of hands. Additionally, there are some non-intentional ways of releasing the Presence for example, worship is a very effective way of releasing the Presence.
Johnson closes with his own and other people’s experiences of being baptized with power. They tend to experience an electricity-like feeling in the body, although sometimes it is God’s intense love. They also tend to have been praying for the baptism a long time, often many months, sometimes even many years. The results are different, but tend to include people being saved and miracles happening as a result.
Hosting the Presence offers some deep insights into what God intended for the Christian life. It flows better than his first book, When Heaven Invades Earth, but it still reads like a collection of eleven sermons rather than a book that builds on ideas. Because of this, it may take some work on the reader’s part to tease out themes, but those who do, and meditate on them, will be rewarded.
The writing is much better than his first book, but each chapter is far too unrelated to the previous chapters. They are roughly grouped in order of increasing depth, but often a later chapter contains discussion of a topic that would better fit in an earlier chapter. I found it nearly impossible to write a summary of this book until I pulled out the ideas into a soup, and then pulled out related ideas into the summary. The depth of the ideas merits better than a seven, but the writing is average (five).
Ch. 1: The Ultimate Assignment
All of life is comes down to one thing: stewarding the Presence
It is the Presence of God that enables us to fulfill the assignments
of growing to maturity, bringing people to Him, and transforming areas
under our influence
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not for tongues. It is for
- "the anointing is a person” (p. 23)
- It appears like nobody, including Jesus, suspected that a touch of his clothing would heal, but the woman with the internal bleeding thought it might work, and her faith was rewarded.
- “Faith sees and responds to unseen realities. ... Faith doesn’t come from the mind; it comes from the heart. Yet a renewed mind enhances our faith through an understanding of the unseen.” (p. 25)
- We have the privilege of hosting God. Note that, despite Him owning all of us, he gave us stewardship of our lives and he will only come when invited.
- Bill Johnson is interested in: (p. 29)
- What happens to the person when God rests upon them?
- What is their responsibility in protecting that Presence?
- What is the impact on the world around them?
- How are the ways and nature of God revealed in their encounter?
- What is possible for us in their example?
- “Adam and Eve were designed to rule like God.” (31)
- God’s priorities in ruling are protection and empowerment
- We are God’s delegated rulers, to demonstrate to the rest of creation the goodness of God, by ruling like Him and in intimacy with Him
- Since Adam was given the responsibility to subdue the earth, it
must not have had the same order that that Garden of Eden had. Johnson assumes that this is the result of Satan already being on the
earth (having been cast out of heaven)
- God wanted to defeat Satan, who wanted to be the center of worship, by creatures who would worship God by their own choice.
- Spiritual warfare is not about repulsing the enemy; light drives away darkness naturally (note that Adam and Eve had no instructions on spiritual warfare). If we focus on the enemy, then we are reacting, which Jesus never did
- “All our actions come from one of two basic emotions: fear or love.” (35)
- Jesus did everything out of love. A lot of spiritual “warfare” comes out of fear.
- Adam and Eve were given dominion over the earth, but only possessed what they could manage (just like Israel in the Promised Land)
- “There is always a difference between what’s in our account and what’s in our possession. ... They owned it all by promise. But their control was equal to their maturity. They possessed only what they could steward well.” (37)
- Likewise, we grow into our promise
- Satan had no authority over the earth, or over Adam and Eve. But he persuaded them to agree with him, leading them to be under his authority.
- Since we could now no longer defeat Satan, God had to do it. But he wanted (and needed) to do it through man, so Jesus became a man.
- “If [Jesus] did His great miracles as God, I’m still impressed. But I’m impressed as an observer. When I discover that He did them as man, then suddenly I am completely unsatisfied with life as I’ve known it. I am now compelled to follow this Jesus until the same things start happening in my life.” (40-41)
- “Jesus not only died for us, He died as us.” (42)
- He didn’t even have the power to resurrect himself, he had to trust God just like us.
- As a result, God gave him all authority (Matt 28:18-19); therefore Satan has no authority (all authority was given to Jesus). So now the original plan is restored.
- “While our rule is still over creation, it has become focused on exposing and undoing the works of the devil.” (44)
- “The more people carry His Presence into all the earth as joyful servants of the Most High, the more we will be positioned to see one of Heaven’s major mile markers—the earth covered with the glory of the Lord.” (45)
- The first person to touch Jesus was Mary, a virgin, representing purity. The first person to touch the resurrected Jesus was Mary Magdalene who had been sick and had had seven demons cast out of her.
- Moses asked God “Who am I?” that he should be used. God answers “I will be with you”.
- Moses was God’s answers to the prayers of Israel that they would be delivered. God often brings a person in answer to prayers.
- God gave increasing revelations of who He is. Abraham knew Him as the Lord Almighty, but to Moses He added the revelation of the possibility of face-to-face relationship.
- Moses is a prototype (like Abraham: God’s friend, etc.)
- Deut 29:29: The things revealed belong to us forever.
- “Revelation is initially for relationship and ultimately for the transformation of our lives. We are transformed by a renewed mind.” “God is not that interested in our increased understanding of concepts if there’s no relationship increasing with it.” (53)
- Moses, the face-to-face man, was tasked with bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt to worship/serve God. David discovered that God responds to the praise of His people by bringing His Presence.
- God’s purpose for Israel was that they would be a nation of priests.
- Satan tried to get prevent this from happening:
- Pharaoh suggested that they could worship in the land: “Convenience and sacrifice cannot coexist. The going is a sacrifice, and a non-sacrificial people are of no consequence to the devil.” (55)
- “We often cannot get to a new place in worship until we get to a new place with God.” (55)
- Pharaoh also suggested they could go but leave their flocks: “What kind of offering of importance can I possibly give to God that doesn’t include my money or possessions?” (57)
- Moses wanting his anointing to be for everyone (Num 11:29)
- “Moses was a prototype in the sense that was above the Law. Not in the sense that the Law didn’t apply to him. But he was above the Law in the sense that he had access to the presence of God in a way that was forbidden by the Law” (58)
- The reputation of Israel was chosen by God: to be known as the people that have His Presence.
- “These heroes of faith reached places in God that we long for. Their place of great breakthrough is always to become the new norm as their example welcomes us to pursue Him in the same fashion. He still welcomes all.” (60)
- Jesus’ blood made it possible for us to be a people of God’s Presence
- “Confidence in [God’s] existence and His nature are the essentials to active faith [see Heb 11:6]. Faith thrives when we get those two issues settled.” (63)
- “There is no greater vacuum in the hearts and minds of humankind than understanding God’s nature, especially as it pertains to the goodness of God. It seems that you can’t even talk about the extreme kindness of God without someone voicing the concern for ‘sloppy agape’ as they used to say, an anything goes kind of Christianity. Unfortunately, the fear of exaggerating His goodness has kept many a heart from the liberty that He purchased on their behalf.” (63)
- The church is to represent Jesus. God is the “desire of nations” (Hag 2:7), so everyone wants someone like Him. If we can host Him and through that to become like him, then maybe the world will experience Rom 2:4 and be able to say Ps 34:8
- Prophets were different because the Spirit of God came upon them
- God’s Presence will increase (Hag 2:9)
- God’s revelation and Presence increase (Isa 9:7, Prov 4:18); hence we should expect progression, not stagnation as God’s people
- “Most of the time when the Spirit of God comes upon a person, He moves through them according to their own maturity and willingness to be used.” (67)
- But not always. Sometimes he uses someone who does not want to be used, or overpowers their maturity. (Gives an example of a man who did not like the new direction of Bethel when Johnson came, was preparing to leave, and God just possessed him and chose him and now he is leading impactful ministry)
- “People often, unknowingly, turn away from the anointing in their life to preserve their sense of control. The other extreme is they sometimes think they’re going crazy because their experience seems so different from everyone else’s. ... We then end up sabotaging what God is actually doing. People in this position need help to process and learn of the gift that is in them.” (69-70)
- “God is a gentleman”: yes, but His idea is a little different than ours. He did knock Saul of Tarsus off his donkey
- “Two are better than one, if united. Two are less than one if divided. Learning to recognize this is essential for us to go where He has planned. It is called a corporate anointing.” (71-2)
- God took His Presence from King Saul. David begged God not to take the Holy Spirit from him. “The Presence of God must be our prize!” (73)
- King Saul experienced the anointing of the Holy Spirit after he became long-disobedient (1 Sam 19:20-24). He had an opportunity to change, because anointing brings freedom (Isa 10:27), but did not choose to.
- “We must steward the life that God gives us” (75), if we have been given much we are responsible for much. See Luke 12:48, 1 Kings 11:9.
- “I’ve seen people receive a dramatic touch from the Lord. And when they don’t steward that touch, things go sour in their lives.” (75) Critics of revivals will sometimes point to this, but it is not God’s fault that the response was poor.
- Wheat is the bread of the Word (teaching); wine is the felt experience of the Holy Spirit.
- “We saw this in the early days of the outpouring. People were angry because there wasn’t as great an emphasis on teaching. We tried. It’s just tough to get bread out of grapes. Most every time we did, we seemed to be working against God’s heart for the moment. The opposite is also true. Many just want to sit around and sing or laugh when God wants to build our understanding through His Word. My philosophy is this: When God is serving wine, drink. When He’s serving bread, eat.” (77)
- “If there was any verse in the Bible that seemed to describe the heart of people who often miss out on what God is doing, it’s this one: If God is with us, why has all this bad stuff happened? And where are the miracles we have always heard about? To this day most don’t seem to realize that He doesn’t cause the bad stuff, but instead equips us to deal with the authority, power, and assignment to deal with the devil and his works. It is up to us to learn how to use the tools God gives us. If we don’t, the devil continues to steal.” (77)
- When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34), the word “came upon” means to “put on, clothe, wear”. Basically, “the Spirit of the Lord clothed himself with Gideon”!
- We shouldn’t pray “None of me, all of You!” “God had none of us before we were created. He didn’t like it. That’s why He made us.” (79)
- John the Baptist said he must decrease and Jesus increase, but that was Old Covenant transitioning to New Covenant. Jesus gave us his power and authority (John 20:21). “What is needed is not less of us and more of Him. What is needed is all of us covered and filled by all of Him!" (80)
- All people like to make others’ lives better in some way, because God
made us that way.
- Sarcasm is the defense mechanism of disappointment
- “[God] loves to reveal things to His people. That’s because He doesn’t hide things from us. He hides things for us.” (82)
- The prophets were told of a time where people would “1) have a new heart with a new nature, and 2) have the Spirit of God live in and rest upon each believer.” (83) This was apparently beyond everyone’s comprehension, even the 12 Disciples (since they wanted Jesus to remain with them)
- “... it brings us to a deep place of responsibility and accountability because we have access to something that these kings and prophets missed out on. Sobering indeed.” (84)
- Wisdom is a person (1 Cor. 1:30); thus wisdom comes with God’s Presence
- “The king and prophet is the apostle/prophet combination of the Old Testament. To imply that apostles are kings only work when we see kings by God’s design—highly favored to serve more effectively—the least of all.” (85)
- “We have been given one of the greatest privileges of all time—abound with hope in a time of hopelessness. That is a light on a hill.” (85)
- “When Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, He wasn’t giving us a promise (see Matt. 24:6). He was describing the conditions into which He was releasing His last days army of transformational people.” (86)
- God’s work through Christ is the backswing, right now is the contact point. If those two are good, then the follow-through will make it happen.
- “He has gone ahead of us, fully securing the future for us. Faithfulness keeps us in sync with His perfect plan. Whenever God gives us a promise, it’s because He has gone into our future and brought back the word necessary to get us there.” (88)
- “God’s job is to get me to Heaven. My job is not to go to Heaven; my job is to bring Heaven to earth through my prayers and obedience.” (88)
- In Jacob’s dream (Gen 28), he equates the house of God with the gate of Heaven.
- Also, the house of God didn’t have a building or even a tent, it was just Heaven and man.
- “A gate is a transition place that takes you from one realm or place to another.” (89)
- “We are dual citizens of both Heaven and earth. As such, we are not only those who are to pray for God’s Kingdom to come, we are the tools who are often used by God to release that reality into this one.”
- In John 14:2, Jesus uses surprisingly convoluted language, he could have just said “surely there are many dwelling places in my Father’s house.” However, his actual language assumes that people’s longing for something more is reflective that something more actually exists. “He is speaking to an assumed awareness of heavenly realms that exists in the heart of every person. He is acknowledging that reality.” (90-91)
Ch. 6: Answers to Ancient Cries
- God made us to dream. If we dream with Him, we discover more of God. Without His purpose, they take us to forbidden fruit.
- Isaiah dreamed “Rend the Heavens and come down.”
- The answer to Isaiah was Jesus.
- Jesus had to be baptized by John, even though his baptism was a baptism of repentance and Jesus had no sin to repent of, to completely identify with us.
- (“Nothing happens in the Kingdom until there is first a declaration” )
- Immediately after Jesus was baptized he saw the heavens opened. The “opened” is the same word used of tearing the veil, a violent act, and is Isaiah’s rending of the heavens.
- The heavens, the veil, and the rocks were all violently opened, rent, signifying a new kingdom.
- “Every believer has an open Heaven.” (97)
- Since we have an open heaven, don’t focus on darkness.
- If you don’t know what to do (especially in a place of darkness), worship.
- “The size of the open heaven over us is affected in some measure by our maturity and yieldedness to the Holy Spirit. Think of the open heaven as a big oak tree. The bigger and more stable the tree is, the more people can stand under its shade. Mature believers carry Heaven’s atmosphere in a way that others are able to stand under their shade and receive protection. To use another analogy, others can draft on our breakthroughs and become changed.” (97)
- “Heaven is filled with perfect confidence and peace, while this world is filled with chaos and mistrust in God. We always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of. Living aware of open heavens has incalculable results.” (98)
- Some people are uncomfortable with God coming to where He already is. In the Bible we see five different measures of His Presence (in increasing strength):
- God is in everything and holds everything together (Col 1:17)
- God lives in those who have been born again, and makes us His temple.
- When believers gather in His name (Matt 18:20)
- When God’s people praise Him, as He “inhabits the praises of His people.” (Ps. 22:3)
- Sometimes comes so strongly that people cannot stand, as happened when Solomon dedicated the Temple: the priests could not stand or play instruments because the Presence was so strong (1 Ki 8:10-11)
- The Presence of God is the one thing David asks for (Ps 27:4) and Jesus says to seek first his kingdom and his righteous (Matt. 6:33). The kingdom of God is a subset of the Presence of the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17)
- God told Johnson one time that if Johnson would watch Him, He would watch the responsibilities He had given Johnson.
- On Pentecost, as rushing wind came from Heaven. The word “rushing” means “carrying” or “bringing forth” in the other places in NT.
- Believers are the gate of Heaven. So God is carrying something (the anointing of the Holy Spirit that formerly only Jesus had) forth from Heaven through the gate (the disciples) into this world.
- The result was that Peter, who had cowardly denied Jesus two weeks prior gave a sermon to people mocking them for being drunk, and 3000 of the city, which had previously called en masse for the crucifixion of Jesus, were saved.
- So the anointing progressed from one man (Jesus) to 120 people (the disciples) and then to 3000.
- The baptism is likened to wine and fire, both of which have strong influences. Water refreshes but wine influences.
- The apostles were Presence-driven, not ministry-driven. Ministry is about what I can do for God.
- The result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was that they spoke of the might deeds of God (Acts 2:11), healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-10), were filled again after praying for more boldness after being arrested and started speaking with more boldness (Acts 4:31)
- Needing to be refilled is not a problem; we are supposed to be giving away what we have.
Ch. 7: The Ultimate Prototype
- Revival makes people uncomfortable. “New believers are known to bring all kinds of issues to the surface.” (115)
- In Acts 15, the question was not if Gentiles could become Christians, but how much of the Jewish culture they needed to take on.
- “What moves me in this part of the story is that they actually developed their theology around what they saw God do. They didn’t approach the issue with an exegetical study of Jesus’ sermons to figure out what to do.” (116)
- If it is a new move of God, by definition there isn’t precedent for it in the Bible
- If we don’t understand something, it forces us to childlike trust. "Complete understanding first seems to violate the issue of trust that is deeply valued in the heart of God for His people.” (117)
- At the meeting, many people shared the amazing things God was doing with the Gentiles.
- Then James quotes Amos 9:11-12 and says that the prophets agree. This is probably a new revelation; there is no record of the passage being applied this way before.
- The tabernacle of David (the one Amos prophesies would be restored) housed the ark, and involved 24-hour worship, but no sacrifices (the sacrifices were at the official tabernacle in Gibeon).
- James identifies Edom in the prophesy as the Gentiles when he quotes it. (Edom sold his birthright, just as we did and have no share in Israel’s covenant)
- The reason was that you’ll know when David’s tabernacle is being rebuilt because the Gentiles will be saved.
- God insisted that only priests could carry His Presence (the ark of the covenant, on top of which He was seated).
- David tried with an ox cart first, and it ended in death.
- The second time David danced in front of the ark. Johnson notes that many people are affected when the Presence comes, but the people who dance before it comes are the ones who bring it.
- Those who despise worship (like Michal) become barren. “Barrenness is the natural result of despising worship” (125)
- The reverse is also true: Isa 54:1 instructs the barren woman to shout for joy because she will [in the future] have many sons.
- “This provides quite the prophetic picture. The people who are people of worship, regardless of circumstances, will become fruitful in ways beyond reason.” (125) “Anyone can get happy after the miracle has come. Show me someone who celebrates before the answer, and I’ll show you someone who is about to experience the answer.” (126)
- David’s tabernacle was actually illegal according to the Law. The ark was supposed to be in the Tent of Meeting, in the holy of holies, inaccessible except once a year, after sacrifices.
- David sensed that God really wanted worship, not sacrifices.
- David’s tabernacle points towards what happens with believers, where we house the Holy Spirit.
- Worshipers first declare what happens. They call nations to their God-given destiny. (Ps 22:27, Ps 67:4, Ps 72:17, Ps 117:1)
- Johnson thinks that Isa 2:2 and Micah 4:1 referring to the mountain of the Lord being raised above all mountains of all nations streaming to it refers to believers from all nations coming to become a company of worshipers, a great harvest happening before the End.
Ch. 8: Red-Letter Revival
- Problems with the modern church:
- Some want OT religion with Law and prophetic condemnation, but that time is gone (Luke 9:54, 16:16).
- Some try not to offend anyone with the gospel.
- Jesus did not seem to value not offending people...
- “If they did not hear the same gospel of abandonment of all to Jesus, then whose message did they hear? Do we honestly think that the people who were unwilling to sell all in Jesus’ day would be any more converted in ours?” (132)
- Seminaries to teach information about God, but not how to do the things Jesus commanded: hearing God’s voice, healing the sick, leading someone to Christ through deliverance, managing our tongues and our families not just finances.
- Trying to be relevant by watering down the truth (virgin birth, miracles, etc.)
- “We are never relevant because we mirror the culture of the world around us. We are relevant when we have become what the world longs for.” (133)
- “[Jesus] illustrated a lifestyle that is within reach but must be reached for. It will not come to us. Much of what we need in life will be brought to us, but most of what we want we will have to go get. It’s just the way of the Kingdom.” (134)
- The anointing is not something separate, it is a person—the Holy Spirit.
- It is much easier to be aware of God’s Presence in worship than for His Presence to be released in ministry.
- Jesus was so aware of the Presence that he felt when the woman with internal bleeding touched his clothes and power went out from him, even though he was walking and talking in the midst of a great crowd! Johnson longs for this kind of constant awareness.
- God told John the Baptist that he would know who it was that would baptize by the Holy Spirit when he saw the Spirit come and remain on him. The dove came and remained on Jesus.
- If you had a dove on your shoulders, how would you walk to keep it there? Every step with the dove in mind.
- “We know that the Holy Spirit lives in us as born-again believers. ... But the sad reality is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t rest upon every believer. He is in me for my sake, but He is upon me for yours. When the Holy Spirit rests upon a person without withdrawing, it is because He has been made welcome in a most honorable way.” (137)
- “We have been chosen to carry the Presence of God”! (137)
- There are two biblical guidelines to hosting the Presence of God:
- Do not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30)
- Grieving is character-centered; don’t let the Holy Spirit be grieved at what we do or allow in our lives.
- Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19)
- Quench would be to stop the flow of something (like bending a garden hose)
- The original word meant “extinguish,” which would relate to our passion for God (according to Johnson)
- Character vs power
- Many preach that character is more important that power because of the very visible failings of some people with a power gift but less character.
- Jesus did not seem to feel the same way. He gives the disciples gifts of power to heal the sick, etc., and then right afterwards they are arguing about who is the greatest, and James and John want to partner with the spirit of murder to destroy an entire town. Then Jesus gives the same anointing to 70 others (who were presumably even less qualified than the disciples).
- “Sometimes true character can only be formed in the trenches of warfare and life.” (140)
- Power is not more important than character, but character is not more important than power.
- Many people have character with no power, and they are making little difference.
- Jesus had character and power; we need to imitate him.
- Jesus’ mission was to display the nature of the Father (John 5:19, John 8:26).
- He only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19) and heard the Father saying (John 8:26).
- How do we know what the Father is doing?
- “My personal belief is that much of [the direction for what to do in a situation] came in the nights Jesus spent in prayer that preceded the days of ministry.” (142)
- Sometimes He got a direct word from the Father.
- “One of the more encouraging possibilities that Jesus displayed is the fact that He didn’t always seem to know what to do ahead of time, but got His direction by seeing faith in another person.” (142), for example the centurion.
- Sometimes we need to use our own faith.
- “Abiding faith pursues the will of God until it is found. We will always fall short in this miracle realm if we only respond to the things that become perfectly clear. Some of the greatest breakthroughs I’ve ever seen came as we responded to a slight impression or an idea of what God might be doing.” (143)
- “Give place to the Presence of God as our greatest joy and treasure is not a trick we use to get miracles. But the Father cannot be adequately represented without miracles.” (144)
Ch. 9: Releasing the Dove
- Sometimes Jesus doesn’t tell us what to do. We should pursue what is commanded, “But romance is no longer romance when it is commanded. ... Discovering His ways is the invitation to come to Him and know Him in the way revealed. Revelations of His nature are invitations to experience Him. As He reveals His nature to us through the moving of the Holy Spirit, He will often leave us without command. Instead He longs to discover what is actually in our hearts, as it is in the nature of the heart in love to always respond to the open door for encounter.” (146)
- Jesus didn’t prepare the 70 he sent out with specific trainings or providing for food or anything, he just sent them out.
- His purpose wasn’t the outcome, but that they learn to be a people that the Holy Spirit would remain on.
- He told them to release peace on the house they were staying in, and take it back if there was no one worthy (Matt 10:13)
- Releasing peace is the foundation of ministry
- Peace is not absence (of war, of noise, of conflict, etc.), it is a person: the presence of God.
- Jesus is the Prince of Peace; the Holy Spirit is the spirit of Jesus.
- Principles are good, but the Presence is paramount: “So much of what we do is done out of ministry principles instead of out of the Presence.” (149) “When we reduce the joy of knowing God to the principles that bring breakthrough, we cheapen the journey. Those who desire principles above the Presence seek a kingdom without a king.” (149)
- The battle to which we are called is where God’s protection is
- Jesus sent the 70 out as sheep among wolves but they were protected. Essentially he said “Make yourself vulnerable in your abandonment to My purposes so that unless I show up to provide and direct, it will not work.” (150)
- David stayed home Jerusalem in the season when kings go out to war, and fell. The battle was where the safety was.
- The Kingdom operates by seeking first the kingdom and then all the other things will be added (Matt 6:33)
- We release the Presence to someone who is worthy, that is, someone who responds well
- As the flood was ending, Noah sent out a dove “from himself” who returned “to himself” because she could not find a place to rest. Later she found an olive branch, and later did not return because she had found a resting place. This is a picture of what Jesus instructed the disciples to do.
- Likewise, we are to release the Presence, your peace. If we see it resting on someone, we know there is someone worthy. Otherwise it will return to us.
- The definition of “worthy” is “someone who responds well to the Spirit.” The anointing of David illustrates that we can’t tell who is worthy from the outside: his brothers looked great, but it was David’s responsive heart that made him worthy.
- Often great sinners have a very responsive heart because it has been untouched.
- People who have been exposed to some of Jesus but have not responded often have unresponsive hearts because they have been hardened to God. (e.g. Pharisees)
- “Total surrender draws us into encounters with God that keep us tender. Without that element, we become hardened to the very word that was given to transform us.” (156)
- Learning to recognize when the Holy Spirit has found a place to rest on others starts with recognizing the Presence on us
- Developing the awareness of the Presence is critical to our growth.
- Our bodies have the capacity to recognize God’s Presence (the psalmist says his flesh cries out for God [Ps. 84]), but everyone experiences God’s Presence differently.
- “One of the things I have discovered, almost by accident, is that whenever I turn my affection toward Him, He begins to manifest upon me.” (159)
- When Jesus appeared to the disciples after being resurrected, he illustrated releasing the Presence
- First he said “Peace be with you.” But they were hiding out of fear that the religious leaders would kill them next, and Jesus magically showing up only increased their fear. So the peace could not rest.
- So Jesus identified himself by his scars, then he repeated “Peace be with you.” This time, they could receive it.
- Then he says that he is sending them out as the Father sent him, and breathes the Holy Spirit onto them.
- Clearly the first thing one does after saying “so I send you” is the most important. So releasing the Holy Spirit is how are to be sent out.
- All ministry is releasing the Presence.
- They received the commissioning (and again in Matt 28), which gave them authority. They even had received the Holy Spirit. But they did not get power until the Pentecost encounter.
- “To this day this is true: authority comes from commission, and power comes from the encounter.” (162)
- Ways to release the Presence:
- Speaking the heart of the Father
- God’s word is creative, so when we speak God’s word, His heart, that creativeness is released and which influences and changes the situation.
- Act of faith
- This is any action that outwardly demonstrates the faith on the inside (e.g. walking on an injured leg).
- Prophetic act
- Something unrelated to the actual outcome, like Elisha tossing a stick in the water to make the axe-head float.
- Laying on of hands (Heb 6:1-2, Acts 8:18)
- Compassion, which bubbles up spontaneous from inside
- A friend of Johnson’s took people to the streets of San Francisco. Half of them would worship and half would minster to people. The police said that crime stopped when he was on the streets.
Ch. 10: The Practical Side of His Presence
- “It’s been said of the early church that 95 percent of their activities would have stopped had the Holy Spirit been removed from them. But it is also stated that 95 percent of the modern church’s activities would continue as normal because there is so little recognition of His Presence.” (170)
- “Living conscious of His Presence with us is one of the most essential parts to this life. His name is Emmanuel, which means God with us.” (170)
- “Trust will take us beyond understanding into realms that only faith can discover. Trust is built on interaction, and the resulting discovery of His nature, which is good and perfect in every way. We don’t believe because we understand. We understand because we believe. Understanding we receive in this manner is the ‘renewed mind.’” (171)
- “As I’ve mentioned, my strongest tool for discovering God’s Presence is my affection for Him. Even so, He is the initiator.” (171)
- Practical ways to experience God’s Presence
- Prayer is a partnership with God, it is not a discipline of praying to him.
- “When we pray anointed prayers, we are praying the heart of God. His heart is being expressed through words, emotion, and decree. Finding the heart of God is a sure way of locking into His Presence.” (174)
- Praying in tongues is a good example of praying “in the Spirit”.
- When we are praying with God, we might find ourselves getting all kinds of ideas: remembering things we need to do, solutions for problems, etc. These are often from God. Take notes for action later and continue spending time with God.
- Derek Prince says that if you have 10 minutes to spend with God, use 8 for worship and 2 for prayer (you can get a lot prayed in 2 minutes)
- Re-centering on God
- Johnson will often take five-minute vacations, where he spends five minutes (or some other amount of time) and tells God “I’m going to sit here quietly, just to be the object of your love.” (176)
- Ps. 16 says that David keeps God’s Presence before him continually, and that in God’s presence is fullness of joy.
- Johnson reads scripture for pleasure, because God often speaks to him through it.
- Community: some aspects of the Presence only happening individually and some only corporately
- “There are times when God will only allow us to recognize His Presence in a crowd. It’s not a rejection. He just longs for us to share His joy in the whole.” (179)
- We need to build our personal history with God, because that is where maturity comes from
Ch. 11: Baptism of Fire
- We need to seek the encounter with God, because power comes out of the encounter.
- “Tragically, many stop short of a divine encounter because they’re satisfied with good theology. ... True learning comes in the experience, not the concept by itself.” (185)
- We need to not limit ourselves to encounters described in the Bible. The Bible reveals God, it doesn’t contain Him.
- Bill Johnson: has had two life-changing experiences:
- He had been crying out for months for God to give him more of Him. One night at 3am, he was woken up by power shooting through him, with his arms and legs flailing uncontrollably. Felt like being electrocuted. No one he knew would have thought it was from God, but he was put in mind of Jacob, who encountered an angel, and Mary, who give birth to a baby without having sex. Began to realize that God was giving him an exchange: more of God’s Presence in exchange for his dignity. Continued for three and a half hours, and he got up completely refreshed. This continued for two more nights.
- One time he was reading 60:1-19 and God highlighted to him the purpose of the church. It was like Moses’ burning bush, where he said, “hmm, this is unusual, let me go see it.” Was not spectacular, but has been changing his life ever since.
- The Lord will let us find Him, but we must seek patiently and seek with focus.
- He promises we will find Him (Jer 29:14), but Jer 29:7 says to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
- This is not passive. Resting is knowing that we are accepted because of who we are, not what we do.
- The 120 at Pentecost had been praying for 10 days. Johnson had been praying for 8 months, sometimes where he woke up praying.
- “Intense focus restricts what you are will and able to see ... [and] will also open your eyes to see more of what you hunger for. Self-control is not the ability to say no to a thousand other voices. It’s the ability to say yes to the one thing so completely that there is nothing left to give to the other options.” (190)
- The Holy Spirit must be that object of our single-minded focus.
- Other people’s encounters:
- D. L. Moody: was walking up Wall Street one day, after having been praying for breakthrough and felt God come on him. He quickly borrowed a room from a friend and stayed for hours, while the Holy Spirit gave him so much joy that he had to ask Him to stop because he felt like he would die. One result was that his sermons had much more effect, even though they had not really changed.
- Evan Roberts: attended every prayer meeting (one a day) for 13 years in order not to miss out if the Holy Spirit fell and was praying for the baptism. One day before school, God revealed himself amazingly and indescribably. He trembled a lot after this, and had nightly visitations for weeks. Some time later at Grammar School, the Holy Spirit told him that “bend us, O Lord” was what he needed. Later than evening the Spirit told him to pray it out loud and he was baptized again. This lead to the Welsh Revival.
- Mel Tari: In the 1960's, his Presbyterian church was praying, and an audible wind came, the church bell started clanging, and firefighters came to put out the fire (except that the church was not being burnt by the fire). Many people were saved.
- Cevennes: In 1688, people in Cevennes started having ecstasies, words of knowledge, angelic visitations, starting with a 16 year old girl, who would have ecstasies where she would quotes Scriptures unknown to hear, and sometimes preach and lead people to repentance.
- Moravians: In 1727 about 300 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and many missionaries came out of it.
- George Whitefield/John Wesley: Wesley describes a meeting of Whitefield’s where the Holy Spirit came. Many had exceeding joy and some fell to the ground. Afterwards they praised God.
- William Seymour: At Azusa St, people would often laugh, dance, or jerk about. Countless miracles happened. There was prayer all hours of the day. At least once firemen were dispatched to put out a Holy Spirit fire on the building. John G. Lake said that William Seymour was the most Spirit-filled man he had met up until that time.
- John G. Lake: while preparing to pray for a sick lady, he felt his, normally active, brain go very quiet and an awe of God fill him. God said that he had what he had been asking for, and electricity-like power started flowing from his head through is feet. He walked, with difficulty, to the lady, touched her head with his finger and power went through her. His companion, not realizing anything had happened, took her hand to pray for healing, power went through him and knocked him to the floor. Needless to say, the lady was healed. The memory of that experience was burned into Lake even many years later.
- Charles Finney: he entered a factory, and two ladies stood out to him. As he got closer they got agitated, and then started trembling as he got closer. When he was within 10 feet, they started crying and slumped down. Very quickly all the workers (young women) were in tears. The factory owner was not a believer, but he recognized it as being from God and shut down the factory so his workers could come to Christ. A mini-revival broke out for a few days and practically the entire factory was converted.
- Smith Wigglesworth: as he would pray, God’s Presence would come so strongly that people had to leave. One man vowed to himself to stay, and was at a meeting where it happened, and managed to force himself to stay longer than anyone else but eventually had to flee, sobbing, otherwise he would die.