May 30, 2004
A Pentecost meditation: God (and therefore Christ and the Holy Spirit) was, is, and will ever be the same. How then can I understand what is written in the Word in a way that is compatible with the way I see the world now? If they appear at odds with one another, I ask God to lead me into understanding in such a way that my vision is changed, my heart made ready to see the Word for what it is. Is the “light” of Pentecost a Deuteronomy 29:29 mystery that occurred only then or a phenomenon that continues in the world? It is my belief that God desires us to know Him but He wants us to KNOW HIM, not be subject to the deceptions and distortions of satan. Therefore, only those who’ve had their senses sharpened by the Word to know the difference will see His revelations of Himself and the Truth in the earth through their experiences and have them stand the test of Scriptural scrutiny.
Recently I read an article that speculated upon how true soul to soul communication results in a visible change in one’s countenance, a “light” on the face of the communicators. I had explored this phenomenon myself after experiencing it years ago. A relative of mine was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We were close and had shared a lot of difficult times together. The Lord put a heavy burden on my heart for her salvation in her final six months. She had some long held grievances against some people and couldn’t seem to get to a place of forgiveness. We spent hours talking, crying, praying, and me witnessing to her through the Word. I often agonized over this and pleaded with God to release me from it because I could see how much talking about it pained her. On a Sunday afternoon I sat by her praying silently as I held her hand. She was on a morphine drip and we knew she was close to death. When I arose to leave I stood at the foot of her bed and looked at her bald, emaciated body. Amazingly, I saw luminous beauty in her face, a glow that was truly heavenly. In my spirit I heard “This is the face of Christ.” I believed in my heart that the work had been completed in her and that she was at peace. I reached for her hand and although she had not spoken since I arrived hours before she squeezed my hand and said clearly, “I’ll see you later.” I believe she and I both knew in our spirits that it would not be on this earth, but in heaven. She died shortly thereafter. After that experience I began to read Scripture with particular attention to references to “light” and “fire”. I’ve had several additional experiences where I have either seen that glow in others or others have told me they’ve seen it in me. In all cases there was a close spiritual/ emotional connection. I discussed the phenomenon with my pastor, several other pastors, and several mature Christian friends. My pastor said that although he’d never observed it, it made sense to him and may account for why so many artists have rendered portraits of the saints and Christ bathed in light or with a halo. We discussed that it is, in all probability, a binary miracle, that is, one of both BEING by one and SEEING by the other. The luminous figure is so filled with the spirit of Christ that they truly do glow with His light, a very beautiful, attractive (and attracting!) feature. Those who are spiritually sensitive and/or those for whom that luminous figure has some message of significance can see the light, but not necessarily anyone else. I had one woman tell me about a similar experience following a church meeting. She said that when I walked in it looked to her as if I was wearing candles on my head I was so full of light. She was drawn to me and out of our conversation God impressed her on a particular issue. I don’t recall anything about the conversation and we were only casual church friends at the time. Later we became close spiritually intimate sisters in Christ. I knew nothing about her experience until we were working a retreat together some time later and she shared how I’d changed her heart on a matter. My opinion is that Christ used me to speak to her without any awareness of it on my part. As a result of these two experiences (and others) and my study of the phenomenon in Scripture, I believe that this provides a basis for understanding, in a modern day sense, what the disciples and all of those who saw them experienced at Pentecost. The disciples glowed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit and those whose hearts God was calling observed it as “flames of fire” upon their heads. (Acts 2:3-4) It was both a miracle of being and seeing. Christ called Himself the light of the world. (John 8:12). His spirit in us allows us to be bearers of that light to others. (Luke 11:36, John 11:9). Furthermore, Hebrews 1:7 (which is a New Testament rendering of Psalms 104:4) says He will “make his servants flames of fire”. Also, in Daniel 12:3 we read “and those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Proverbs 13:9 says “ The light of the righteous shines brightly…” One might ask, how is it then that non-Christians can experience this by either seeing or being light.
There are two possible explanations, it seems to me, from a Biblical Christian worldview. 1.) The answer is simply God’s prevenient grace working through someone to woo us to Him even before we know Him personally. The Old Testament is full of references to the Spirit of God coming upon someone for a specific purpose, then departing from them. On the other hand, in the New Testament Christ says when He sends the Spirit upon His disciples, it remains and is always with us. Acts 13:47 suggests that God causes the light to be manifested and/or observed as He desires for the accomplishing of His purpose. It says, “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (those who do not believe in God) that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.’”
2.) Alternately, it may be the work of satan (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) an imitation of the real thing, a demonic deception. For every phenomenon that is true in the Christian faith there is a satanic distortion that seeks to deceive those who are spiritually naive and Scripturally uninformed. This is why discernment and knowledge of the Word are so necessary. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says ,”For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”
Those who have not had such experiences may find this ludicrous. I can only tell you what I have experienced, and furthermore how God has used His Word to help me understand those experiences. I am sure that you have experiences, too, that you question. I invite you to surrender yourself to the truth that the Bible is trustworthy as a “test” of all things. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who is our teacher, we can come to understand the Word as the intimate, living, two-edged sword that it is. However, I must caution you that the trust in the Word precedes the understanding that can come from it. One can’t use it as a ouija board, to try to discover the meaning of their lives without faith in the God who gives all understanding. By that faith God rewards those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 says, “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying (“forthtelling” or instruction from the Word of God, NOT foretelling of the future!), but test everything; hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil.”