Sermon 155

The Toronto Experience

Aim: For people to be open to the Toronto Blessing

A. Rain vs Dry & Parched land

1. Reading: Isaiah 35 headed "the glory of the Lord".
2. River metaphors are common in Scripture: we should be flowing in the River of Life.
3. Psalm 68v6 "God gives the desolate a home to dwell in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a parched land."
4. How many of you are dry and parched? No, I wouldn't have said I was before I went away. But with hindsight, I can see I needed refreshing (eg. cried with the burden for the U.K.) We need the soaking and refreshing of the Holy Spirit - not just for a minute, and not just on one occasion. [In fact, the Lord used this dry and barren garden image to help explain this move of the Spirit to me, before I went to Toronto and found it was trendy-speak.] It's something we all need for our tired, thirsty spirits - long, soaking times of refreshing (like a good soak in the bath for tired bodies). This is the essence of the 'Toronto experience'.
5. (Psalm 68v6.) Ask the question, "Lord, have I been living in a (spiritually) parched land on account of my rebellion? Lord, forgive my rebellion, and send your refreshing rain onto my parched land." Cf Isaiah 55v1, "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters."
6. The Holy Spirit is like a rain falling and soaking people who've been thirsty. But when the rain falls, the weeds come up a whole lot easier. And so we can expect problems with what God is doing. All Revivals in history have ended because of opposition/lack of interest inside the Church, not outside it. That's where the problems come from.

B. Manifestations

1. The test of this movement is not the Manifestations, it's the Fruit: a new love for Jesus, a new commitment etc.
2. The touch of the Holy Spirit manifests differently in different people: Some it
energizes - bouncing, shaking, jerking, pogo-ing
gives peace - resting/stillness
brings joy - laughter
brings healing - tears
3. Jerking: if you had a million volts put across you, you'd jerk. The power of God on you is greater than your physical body can contain.
4. Manifestations of the Spirit, such as falling, jerking, laughing, crying, pogo-ing are not really surprising: if you've been repressing hurts, problems and disappointments all your life (in my case, 34 years), then there's a lot of junk needs sorting out when God suddenly touches you in power. It's like the Berlin Wall suddenly fell - but all the social and economic problems heaped up and stored away behind the Wall are taking a lot of sorting out in the now-unified ("whole") country of Germany.
5. Being slain in the Spirit compares to diving off the diving board into the swimming pool. If someone dives in, comes to the surface, swims to the side, scrambles out and goes round to dive in again, then you know that their purpose is the diving in, not the swimming. If someone dives in once and then stays in the water swimming, their purpose is to swim in the water, and the dive was only a way of getting into this state. So with being slain in the Spirit: the 'purpose' is not to fall over - so if you do, don't scramble up immediately and come round for another go - but to rest in the Spirit. Falling over (or remaining standing but 'out' in the Spirit) is only a way of getting you there.
6. If anyone is determined this won't happen to them, then it (almost certainly) won't: the HS is a gentleman. But you'll be quenching the Holy Spirit.
7. Counterfeit manifestations - eg. falling over can be the HS, being pushed, or you falling down. But, if anything, the existence of a counterfeit tends to strengthen the case for the genuine article (eg. 7 note). [If you think I've pushed you over, you tell me.]
8. People experience worship, and take from it, different things, according to what they already have and what their needs are. It's like people going into a free green grocers: if you already have lots of bananas then you pick up oranges, pineapples etc. - but no bananas. Someone who already has pineapples will take bananas and oranges - but no pineapples. So don't worry if other people appear to be experiencing and receiving from the worship/ministry different things from you - we're different people, and God meets us where we are.

C. How to Receive from the Holy Spirit

1. Don't pray - it's hard to receive in when you're dialing out. So:
a) Focus on Jesus, not on whether you're swaying/being pushed etc.
b) Think of Christmas Day as a kid, rushing downstairs to tear the ribbons and wrappers off the presents to see what's inside - gifts from someone who loves you.
2. Have the attitude of a little child, holding out your hands to say "Lord Jesus, may I please have a gift that I don't deserve?"
3. This is no place for fear; for tradition; for pride. Relax: this is a safe place to meet with your Dad.
4. What is it like to 'rest' in the Spirit, this experience into which being slain in the Spirit is just one doorway? Well, from my experience (I've only ever been me!) - You're not asleep; you're fairly aware of things going on around you; your hearing is there. It's like God has just temporarily lifted you sideways into a suspended state to give you a cuddle. Rest there, as long as you can. Drink in what God is doing, even if you don't understand it. Then, within the space of about a minute, you feel the Spirit lift, and it's over (until the next time).
5. When the Spirit of God comes on you (a feeling of heaviness, like trying to move in a magnetic field), don't be in a rush. If you'd been there at the Day of Pentecost, would you have shooed the tongues of fire away and said, "I'm sorry, I've got to go down to the Temple now"?

D. Conclusion

1. Johannes Weiss' book, "Primitive Christianity": "A tempestuous enthusiasm, an overwhelming intensity of feeling, an immediate awareness of the presence of God, an incomparable sense of power - and an irresistible control over the will, and inner spirit, and even physical condition of men - These are the ineradicable features of historic Christianity. Unless one can understand this constant mood of victorious, jubilant happiness and confidence, he simply will not understand Primitive Christianity."

AMEN

Last Updated: 19th. July 1996