The following post is a chapter-length excerpt from the manuscript for The Elisha Code & the Coming Revival by Ed Hird and David Kitz.
“And these signs will accompany those who believe:
In my name they will drive out demons;
they will speak in new tongues;
they will pick up snakes with their hands;
and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all;
they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
(Mark 16:17-18, NIV)
What will it take to turn this nation and the world to faith in Jesus Christ? That question should set us on a Holy Spirit driven quest to see a world-changing, Book-of-Acts revival take place in our time.
There are those within the church who argue the age of miracles ended with the death of the original apostles. But those who hold such a view are not being true to the Scriptures, or the historical record of the church down through the ages.
Have you noticed that most revivals in the last hundred years involved a renewed emphasis on the healing ministry? Many denominations have functionally delegated the healing ministry to the wastebin of New Testament history. Sorry, they might say, this is the wrong dispensation to get healed. Jesus does not do that anymore. Spiritual gifts like prophecy, tongues, and healing have all ceased since the publishing of the New Testament. If you are sick, all that is left is to go to your medical doctor and hope for the best. “If it be your will” prayers have become the dominant way of praying for the sick. Perhaps God nowadays wants us sick rather than whole.
Aimee Semple McPherson and AB Simpson were two Ontario-raised Canadians who challenged that assumption. Both asserted that spiritual gifts are still available today, including the gifts of healing. While both valued the role of medical doctors, they helped many discover that Jesus Christ our healer is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Both asserted that this is not the wrong dispensation to get healed by Jesus. He is still willing and able to heal the sick in body, mind, and spirit.
Both Aimee and AB Simpson helped people rediscover the prayer of faith in James 5:15 where we read that if anyone is sick, they are to call the elders who will lay hands on them, anoint them with oil, and exercising the prayer of faith will heal the sick. They will be restored to health. By confessing their sins one to another and praying for each other (sins like unforgiveness, bitter, rage, self-hatred), many were healed. In the healing revival, it was noticed that people were often healed first spiritually and emotionally. The outer physical healings often naturally followed the inner healings.
Albert Benjamin Simpson was born on Prince Edward Island on December 15th, 1843, of Scottish Covenanter heritage. His family had emigrated from Morayshire, Scotland to Bayview, P.E.I. After the collapse of his father’s shipbuilding business in the 1840’s depression, his family moved from P.E.I. to a farm in western Ontario.
Fresh out of seminary in 1865, Simpson had accepted the call to pastor Knox Church in Hamilton, a congregation with the second largest Presbyterian church building in Canada. Over the next eight years, 750 new people joined the congregation.
But AB Simpson had been such a workaholic that he destroyed his health. In 1881, his medical doctor gave him just three months to live. But upon meeting an Episcopalian (Anglican) physician, Dr. Charles Cullis, at Old Orchard Camp in Maine, he experienced a remarkable healing of his near-fatal heart condition. His restoration to health was so complete that the next day, Simpson was able to climb a 3,000-foot mountain, and then successfully pray for his daughter Margaret’s healing from diphtheria. This was the very disease which had earlier killed his son Melville.
Simpson believed that Jesus Christ is still healing people today (Hebrew 13:8). His first of many books was fittingly called The Gospel of Healing.
Word spread fast regarding these healings. He was inundated by many with pleas for help. By others, he was vilified and ridiculed as another quack miracle worker. Simpson started Friday afternoon healing & holiness meetings, which quickly became New York City’s largest attended spiritual weekday meeting, with 500 to 1,000 in attendance. He even turned his own house into a healing home where people could come for prayer ministry.
Simpson, as founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, brought together four separate movements into one alliance (1) missions and evangelism (2) healing (3) holiness, and (4) Jesus’ Second Coming. His four-fold gospel emphasized “Christ our Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King.” Simpson saw that the healing ministry as vital in the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.
Few people nowadays realize that Aimee Semple McPherson was the most famous North American woman in the1920s. How is it a Canadian farm girl had such a lasting impact on the lives of millions around the world?
Growing up on a farm near Salford, Ontario, Aimee was raised in the Salvation Army by her mother. At age 17, Aimee said, “Lord, I’ll never eat or sleep again until you fill me with the Spirit of power.”
Having been touched by the Spirit, she married the visiting evangelist, Robert Semple. They promptly went to China as missionaries. But within months of their arrival in Hong Kong, her husband died after they both contracted malaria. Aimee came back to North America in 1912 as a broken woman, a widow, and a single mother of a daughter from her brief marriage.
She wrote: “I had come home from China like a wounded little bird, and my bleeding heart was constantly pierced with curious questions from well-meaning people.”
Remarrying on the rebound to the practical Harold McPherson, she tried unsuccessfully to be the traditional stay-at-home housewife her new husband wanted. It almost killed her. After ending up in hospital, and near death, God told her to go back preaching. She said yes to her calling and was instantly healed.
Leaving that night with her two children, she began preaching in Canada. At her first meetings, only two men and a boy turned up for the first four days. Then, after miraculous healings broke out, the curious crowds appeared.
“My healings?” said Aimee, “I do nothing. If the eyes of the people are on me, nothing will happen. I pray and believe with others, who pray and believe, and the power of Christ works the miracle.”
The next step was travel to the West Coast. Aimee and her mom Minnie Kennedy became the first women to drive alone across North America on uncharted roads. After relocating to Los Angeles, Aimee became as well-known as Charlie Chaplain, Harry Houdini, and even President Teddy Roosevelt.
In the 1920s, the sheer numbers healed during her services was astounding. This included the wheelchair-bound being able to walk, the blind able to see, the deaf hearing, and tumors disappearing.
On January 1st, 1923, Aimee Semple McPherson opened her headquarters church in Los Angeles, the 5,300 seat Angeles Temple. A typical Sunday would see Aimee preaching three services to a full house, while tens of thousands more listened on radio. Her influence on the culture of southern California was so profound that linguists attribute the present-day southern California accent to the impact she had on the language. In those formative years, so many heard her voice in person and via radio that she shaped the pronunciation and syntax of daily speech of that region.
One month after opening Angeles Temple, Aimee started L.I.F.E Bible College which soon attracted 1,000 students. Many of those students became Foursquare pastors and missionaries who spread the Foursquare Gospel around the globe.
Like AB Simpson, Aimee proclaimed a fourfold gospel message centered on Jesus—Jesus as Savior, Healer, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, and coming King. She called this the Foursquare Gospel and founded the denomination by that name.
Her legacy remains and flourishes. Today, there are 44,000 Foursquare Gospel churches in 143 countries around the world, and through the ministry of those churches, a million new believers committed their lives to Christ in the last calendar year.
But as we know, each new generation needs to discover the scope and power of the gospel for themselves. We cannot live on our parent’s faith. We must experience God’s grace firsthand. Undoubtedly, it was for this reason that Jude begins his epistle with these words:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people (Jude 1:3, NIV).
Are we contending for the faith that was entrusted to us by the apostles? It is a faith that moved mountains of doubt, fear, and disability and cast them into the sea. It is a faith that healed the sick, restored the crippled, and raised the widow Tabatha from her deathbed.[i] Are we contending for that kind of world-shaking, bondage-breaking faith?
The following testimony from evangelist R. W. Shambach illustrates the power of supernatural healing in bringing the lost to faith in Christ. Shambach made his first trip to India in 1956. He was gripped by the poverty and misery he saw in the marketplaces, and by the many he saw who were sick, crippled, and blind.
On that opening day, I preached for two hours, and my interpreter translated for two hours—for a total of four hours. They wanted me to go on. When I gave the altar call, I was so disappointed. I had preached to 50,000 people, and not one soul had come to accept Jesus.
Although no one came forward to accept Christ, and the crowd was obviously ready for the benediction, I said, “I am not done now. God says that signs follow His Word. I did what God called me to do. Now I am going to let God do what He said He was going to do.”
I invited three people from the audience to come forward—they were beggars. I knew who they were. One was blind, one was deaf and dumb, and the other was a crippled woman who had never walked upright.
Fifty thousand people were watching.
They were all healed.
Do you know what happened? The people in that crowd started jumping out of trees, and a mob came running towards me… I never saw such an onslaught of people. They were yelling something at the top of their voice. I asked my interpreter, “What are they saying?”
He said, “They are hollering, ‘Jesus is alive. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is God.’ They are coming to get saved.”
What a thrill! Not one of them came when I preached, but when they saw the demonstration of the Gospel, they came. God has called the Church to demonstrate His power.
Aren’t you glad He is alive today?[ii]
What will it take to turn this nation and the world to faith in Jesus Christ? Many are blind and hostile to God and the message of the gospel. The only thing that will open their eyes to the reality of Christ’s love is a demonstration of the Lord’s supernatural healing power.
Paul knew the importance of the miraculous in his ministry to the lost of his time.
I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:3-5, NIV).
Is the gospel message we are presenting just wise and persuasive words? To be truly biblical our message needs to be rooted in a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
Healing and the miraculous are an integral part of the Elisha Code. Let’s not miss out on this key to future revivals.
[i] Acts 28:8-9, Acts 3:1-10, Acts 9:32-43
[ii] Excerpt From “Miracles: Eyewitness to the Miraculous” by R. W. Schambach, 1969.