Pentecostal believers hold to the authority of the inerrant Scriptures recorded in the sixty-six books of the Bible. We do not believe Mohammed received his “revelation” from Jehovah God revealed in the Bible whose only begotten Son is Jesus Christ. The god of Islam is not the God unveiled in Jesus Christ.
Without question, however, Mohammed’s experience set the standard for Islam. Faithful Muslims to this day commonly believe – it’s a widely held conviction--that God reveals Himself through dreams. Jesus is indeed in our time giving dreams of Himself to Muslims in record numbers, and many of them are accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
John 1:43 “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, He said to him, ‘Follow me.’” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.
Pharaoh had a dream… (Genesis 41:1).
No invitation equals one extended by Jesus Christ!
The Apostle John used the wording, “finding Philip,” which communicates Jesus gave time and effort to seeking for him. Jesus searched until He found him. As the Son of Man, Jesus lived with the limitations of time and space, as do all of us. Locating Philip required seeking him.
Achieving this meant Jesus had to leave the setting of His baptism, commonly thought of as Bethabara, or Bethany beyond the Jordan near Jericho. The timeline of the trip probably included the Lord’s wilderness temptation and then the long walk north from Bethabara to Bethsaida, on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. The distance is about 85 miles, and Jesus had to cover it on foot. That’s a long walk, but He spent the energy and made the journey. As John tells the story, His goal included “finding” Philip, and through him, Nathaniel.
This story is a marvelous portrait of how hard Jesus will work to win even one follower. All who love the Lord should be motivated by Jesus’ work ethic. Jesus later said, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working" (John 5:17-18). The statement underscores how hard Jesus toiled in His humanity. It was also one of the Lord’s earliest claims to be the Son of God, and the Pharisees angrily recognized the statement as having just that meaning.
Let it be underscored: Jesus apparently walked some 85 miles to find Phillip. It raises the question, “How hard, dear reader, do we – you and me - work to win a lost soul?”
When the Lord located him in Bethsaida, He extended the invitation, “Follow me.” To his eternal credit, Philip accepted Jesus’ invitation.
In the words of Charles Dickens, it could be said of the Middle East today these are the “best of times and the worst of times.” Without question, martyrdom of believers is rampant in its cruelest forms, and includes beheadings and crucifixions – the worst of times. How we need to keep our Christian brothers in the Middle East in our prayers. Many are making the case the second coming of the Lord is near and so is the reign of antichrist. Regarding that view, my soul cries out, “Even so come, Lord Jesus!”
Coming from the Middle East today is also another interpretation. A growing chorus of testimonies is showing one way the Holy Spirit works today is using dreams to bring people to Christ. We should not think it strange the Holy Spirit uses dreams and visions. Please let me explain.
Some fifteen hundred years ago Mohammed withdrew to a cave that carries the name Hira, about two miles from Mecca in modern Saudi Arabia. He wanted to meditate and wait on God. While isolated there he received visions and dreams that resulted in his writing the Koran.
Pentecostal believers hold to the authority of the inerrant Scriptures, recorded in the sixty-six books of the Bible. We do not believe Mohammed received his “revelation” from Jehovah God Who is revealed in the Bible, and Whose only begotten Son is Jesus Christ. The god of Islam is not the God of the Holy Scriptures.
Without question, however, Mohammed’s experience set the standard for Islam. Faithful Muslims to this day commonly believe – it’s a widely held conviction--that God reveals Himself through dreams.
Could it also be the best of times in the Middle East?
Jesus is indeed revealing Himself in dreams to Muslims in record numbers, and many of them are accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. J.D. King, director of the World Revival Network, says:
“In the darkest corners of the Middle East there's a revival beginning that's unprecedented in the history of world missions....
“Reliable reports suggest more Muslims have become followers of Jesus over the last two decades than in Islam's combined 1,500-year history. Based on the accounts of several missiologists, it has been surmised that more Muslims have committed to follow Christ in the last 10 years than in the last 15 centuries of Islam. In spite of great difficulty and turmoil, Christianity is unquestionably expanding throughout the Islamic world. God is up to something amazing in a region that many have thought was unreachable.” 1
The worst of times in the Middle East? Yes, indeed! But what about the best of times? Is it possible, if Jesus tarries, the Middle East is set to experience one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church? We know the Lord’s church throughout history has grown best in its hours of persecution. Tertullian (c 144 - c 240 A.D.) wrote long ago that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
Mark it down, our heavenly Father is always working, and is definitely not intimidated by events in the Middle East. Neither is His Son Jesus, nor is the Holy Spirit. “The Word of God is not bound” (2 Timothy 2:9).
Could this be the last great awakening before the Lord returns, with the Holy Spirit using dreams as an important part of it?
What about you, dear reader? Do you regularly receive counsel and direction from the Holy Spirit? So many even among us Pentecostals have ruled out dreams and visions as a vehicle of divine communication. But we really do need to rethink this. To cite three world-changing dreams of the many in the Bible:
Pharoah’s dream resulted in Joseph’s release from prison and his elevation to prime minister of Egypt. Please do not miss this truth: God communicated to a pagan ruler with a dream, and Joseph gave him the interpretation (see Genesis 40).
Nebuchadnezzar, another pagan ruler who was Babylonian, had a dream that led to Daniel’s elevation to the highest levels of power in Babylon (see Daniel 2).
In the incarnation, Joseph had a dream from God that motivated him to marry Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. After Jesus was born, God told Joseph in a second dream to get up and take the Child to Egypt because Herod would try to kill Him. Joseph obeyed immediately. In a third dream, God told Joseph, when the time was right, to take Mary and Baby Jesus back home. They made the trip north and settled down in Nazareth, fulfilling prophecy (Matthew 1:21-22; 2:13, 19-23; Judges 13:5; Isaiah 11:1).
We also recognize God has many ways, in addition to dreams, to give guidance. The testimony of Assemblies of God pastor David Gable will demonstrate how the Holy Spirit guided a pastor to win a man and save his marriage.
“God Sent Me to Talk to You!”
“Pastor, could I talk to you for a minute?”
Her voice was low; she wasn’t sure of herself. She looked to be in her early 20s, a girl I’d never seen at our church before.
It was my first year as senior pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle in downtown Fresno, California. I was greeting people after the Wednesday night Bible study.
“What can I do for you?”
“Would you please talk with my husband? He moved out from our home into an apartment with two women. I don’t know what to do.”
“Is he a Christian?”
“He’s the one who led me to a relationship with Christ.”
“I’ll be glad to talk with him. How can I get in touch with him?”
“That’s the problem. I can’t reach him. If he wants to talk, he calls me.”
There was little I could do. I asked her to have him call me if he talked with her again.
I remember the look of despair in her eyes as she walked away.
Friday was my day off. I got up early. We were landscaping our front yard, and I wanted it finished. By late morning the end was in sight. It was hot. I was muddy, aching, and thoroughly tired of the whole project. To add to my woes, I ran out of ornamental plants. I drove to the store for more.
The first store had the right kind, but the price had gone up. A store a mile down the road had them, and the price was right. I loaded my cart and headed to the checkout. As I waited in line, I glanced at the cashier’s name tag. It looked familiar. As he began to ring up the plants, I motioned to his name tag.
“Is that your name?” [Dumb question, but I wanted to be sure.]
He looked at me blankly, going on full village idiot alert.
“Are you married to ___________?” and I named the woman who had talked with me on Wednesday night.
He looked wary. “Yes?”
I drew myself up to my full 6 feet 5 inches—unshaven, messy, sweaty, and muddy. I gave him my happiest smile. “God has sent me here to talk to you about your marriage!”
Some 300,000 people lived in the Fresno area then. Out of all of them, the first person I had talked to, other than family and staff, since Wednesday night was this husband.
In a lifetime of seeking to be led by the Lord, that is the most powerful example I have experienced. I had heard many stories of people led by the Spirit going to unusual places or to say unusual things. I always wondered what that would be like.
At times I’ve really needed guidance and have prayed earnestly for it. God has helped me. But my unerring, no-wasted-step trip to that husband remains my most remarkable example. Not only was I not trying to be led, I wasn’t conscious of God’s leading. I just wanted the yard finished.2
We are indeed a Word based people anchored in the Scriptures. It is a cherished understanding with us that the Bible is the final rule book for all matters of faith and practice. But the Bible makes plenty of room for dreams and visions as vehicles of communication from God.
My prayer, dear reader, is that a new expectation will grow in your heart and mine this Christmas season to believe God for new and specific guidance, including full openness to include dreams and visions.
1 To read Mr. King’s full article go to: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/53443-the-underground-revival-in-the-middle-east-that-might-take-down-islam
2 C. David Gable, “He Leadeth Me,” Pentecostal Evangel, May 30, 2010, P. 15.