A Fascinating Phenomenon
Recently I had the opportunity to meet a Christian who is the leader of a huge ministry of approximately 400,000 Christians in west Africa. As he described these individuals coming out of Islam and Animism—dominant religions in the region—he stated that some of them reported experiencing vivid dreams and occasionally visions pointing them to Christianity.
Frankly, I was already aware that in places that are dominated by paganism and persecution of Christians—particularly Muslim dominated regions of the world—the Holy Spirit is working in ways that are more dramatic than what we observe in our own country. In fact, the Bible includes a description of this kind of phenomenon:
After this I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions (Joel 2:28).
Although the context of this prophecy is the Day of the Lord, it illustrates the dramatic way that God can interact with human beings according to his purpose. In that regard, it’s important to note that those who report experiencing these kinds of visions and dreams rarely, if ever, seek them. Typically, they are caught off guard by them. Consequently, they are not the focus of Jesus’ criticism:
An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12: 39)
Furthermore, these short-lived phenomena almost always point them to God’s Word or to a church. In such cases, we can be confident that these kinds of reports are legitimate on the basis of what Jesus taught:
You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit (Matthew 7:16-17).
In a principle that I call “Miraculous Events,” I call attention to the fact that dramatic verification of God’s presence and will is a scriptural reality. Principle #3, page 1482 in Acts reads:
To accurately understand God’s unfolding revelation throughout biblical history, we are to consider carefully God’s miraculous plan for verifying His message.
Truly God continues to show that as the church makes strides in fulfilling the Great Commission, we should expect to see occasional dramatic verification of His presence in people’s lives. And when we learn of these reports, we should rejoice that people are responding to the Gospel!
Gene’s Principles to Live By
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