Tragedy in China
A missionary once told me a story out of China that changed my understanding of truth forever. He told me about an interaction he had with a Chinese pastor after watching an ISOM session by Bayless Conley called Sozo. The session is part of our series on healing, and Bayless reveals how the Greek word Sozo does not only mean salvation, but the word’s meaning also encompasses healing and deliverance. The essence of the session is that Jesus did not only die to save (sozo) us, but also to provide a total mental, emotional, physical and spiritual healing of our lives.
After watching the session, the Chinese believers appeared to be so blessed by the teaching but then one of them, a pastor, began to cry uncontrollably. The missionary tried to console the man but he sobbed and sobbed. Using an interpreter, my missionary friend finally understood what the grief-stricken Chinese pastor was trying to say:
“If my wife had only lived to see this teaching, she would still be alive and would not have died.”
Slowly, through many tears, the missionary put together the story. The pastor’s wife had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was given only a few months to live but she made the decision to hold on to the one healing Scripture she knew. It was Isaiah 53 and especially these two verses:
“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV
She had written these verses out in beautiful calligraphy, framed them, and hung them above her bed. She confessed those verses every day and every night despite the doctors grave prognosis. These Isaiah Scriptures sustained her life for three full years. She was not fully healed… but she continued her work with hope and with the daily strength God gave her.
Because the Chinese pastor loved his wife so much, he would often solicit prayer for her from foreign pastors visiting from abroad. One day, a pastor from the USA was visiting the city and the husband asked him to come to his home and pray for his wife. The USA pastor asked what the calligraphy writing above the wife’s bed meant. The Chinese pastor explained how it was the Scripture from Isaiah 53:4-5 and how that Scripture had sustained his wife the past three years. The USA pastor retorted quickly, “that Scripture has nothing to do with healing.” The wife died within a month of that American pastor’s foolish words.
The reason this Chinese pastor was so distraught after watching the session on sozo, was because he was convinced his wife would have found healing, had she just been given correct teaching.
This same principle about correct teaching extends to the Holy Spirit. So many Christians get wrong teaching about the Holy Spirit and the wrong understanding that results has very serious consequences for their spiritual life. This is one reason why we are not ashamed of the Holy Spirit in the ISOM. Receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is taught in one of the first sessions of the program. From the very beginning of people’s Bible school training, we want people to know that ISOM is a curriculum that embraces and recognizes the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who reveals Jesus to us and without His help, we really can accomplish nothing. Speaking about the times we live in, the Old Testament prophet Zachariah wrote:
“So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6 NKJV
When Jesus rose from the dead, he met his disciples as recorded in Acts 1. He told them not to depart from Jerusalem and to wait for the “Promise” of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t want them doing anything for His Kingdom until they had received POWER from on high. Here is how the Book of Acts describes what happened:
“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the PROMISE of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” – Acts 1:4-8 NKJV
On the day of Pentecost 120 believers were gathered and God poured out this wonderful gift, thus officially launching the New Testament Church.
When I worked for Reinhard Bonnke, I filmed massive crowds with more than 100,000 people receiving this amazing gift from God. I became convinced that what God prophesied in the book of Joel and what Peter repeated in Acts 2 was fully for today:
“‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…” – Acts 2:17 NKJV
All flesh means ALL flesh. This wonderful gift is for everyone who wants it. For two years I was a children’s pastor and got to lead hundreds of kids into experiencing this Holy Spirit baptism. I made the decision to put the teaching about how to receive this gift up front and central in the ISOM curriculum. In fact, God showed me how to gently lead people into this experience and we recently recorded a session where I use three short videos to explain and lead people into receiving this beautiful gift from God. That recording can be accessed through this link.
Some Things Money Can’t Buy
If there is anything that the devil has fought in the ISOM, it’s this bold teaching about the third person of the trinity. Many years ago a multi-billion dollar company began supporting our ISOM translation and distribution work. Every month for 11 months, large checks came in the mail towards projects in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and some nations in Asia. We heard the goal of the company was to sow $1 million a month towards world missions and it looked liked ISOM might be the chosen vehicle to take their global spiritual influence from success to significance.
Then I suddenly got a summons to the company’s headquarters. I felt like Daniel going into a lion’s den as I alone faced about ten of the family’s Officers, Directors, and Board members. One of the family members had trouble with some of the courses. First was the Supernatural Living series with Dr. Gill, second was the Healing series by Bayless Conley, and third was the Faith series by Bill Winston. They made it clear to me that if these three could just be removed, significant funding would follow.
The temptation being aimed at me was to walk away from the Holy Spirit… and I could not do it. Instead, I walked away from millions of dollars and kept the gifts and baptism into the Holy Spirit front and center in the ISOM. I also made the decision to actively take a stand for the Holy Spirit in our ministry, as well as in my personal life. It is still one of the best decisions I have EVER made.
The key purpose of the Holy Spirit that Jesus mentioned to the disciples has everything to do with world missions. Jesus said “you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The purpose of the POWER was evangelism and world missions. Our heart at ISOM is global outreach and world missions, and we can get NOTHING done without His power. This is why we openly introduce people to the Person, the baptism into, the gifts, and the workings of the Holy Spirit. I pray that every Christian will discover true teaching about Him and may He lead us ALL into ALL truth.
In His Service,
Dr. Berin Gilfillan