Spiritual Manifestations: Does the Holy Spirit Force People to Scream, Shout or Shake Uncontrollably?

There is considerable debate among Christians whether spiritual manifestations, like uncontrollable screaming, shouting or shaking, are from God. In his book The Spirit-Filled Believers’s Handbook, bible teacher Derek Prince weights in on this subject

And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (1 Cor. 14:32-33).

In other words, any spiritual evidence that is directed and by God will produce peace and harmony, not confusion and disorder.

Any person responsible for an evidence that leads to confusion or disorder cannot excuse himself by saying, “I couldn’t help myself! The Holy Spirit made me do it.” Paul rules out this line of defense by “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” In other the Holy Spirit never overrides the will of the individual believer and compels him to do something against his own will.

Even when a believer is exercising a spiritual gift, his spirit and his will still remain under his control. He is free to exercise that gift or to exercise it. The responsibility for exercising it remains with him. As we have said earlier in this study, the Holy Spirit never plays the part of a dictator in the life of a believer.

This is one of the main features which distinguish genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit from the phenomena of spiritism or demon possession. In many phases of spiritism or demon possession the person who plays the part of the medium (or other vessel of satanic power) is obliged to yield complete control of his whole will and personality to the spirit which seeks to possess him or to operate through him. Very often such a person is then obliged to say or to do things which of his own free will he would never have agreed to say or do.

In some phases of spiritism the person who comes under the control of the spirit loses all understanding or consciousness of what he is saying or doing. At the end of such an experience, the possessed person come to himself again in entirely strange surroundings after a lapse of many hours, without any knowledge or recollection of what has happened in the intervening period. In this way, both the will and the understanding of the demon-possessed person are entirely set aside.

God the Holy Spirit never acts in this way with the true believer in Christ. Among the most precious of all the endowments which God has bestowed upon man are will and personality. Consequently, God never usurps the will or the personality of the believer. He will operate through them if He ls permitted to do so, but He will never set them aside. Satan makes slaves; God makes sons.

We see, then, how wrong and unscriptural it is for Spirit-baptized believers to say concerning any spiritual manifestation: “I couldn’t help it! The Holy Spirit made me do it.” To speak like this is to represent the indwelling Spirit of God as some kind of despot and the believer as a slave in bondage. Believers who speak like this have not yet come to understand their privileges and responsibilities as sons of God.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage [slavery] again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15-16).

We are thus brought face-to-face with an important principle which holds good in all human affairs whether political or spiritual: True liberty is impossible without good government. The kind of liberty which seeks to set aside all government or control of any kind ends only in anarchy and confusion. The final result is a new form of slavery, far more severe than the previous form of government which was set aside.

We have seen this happen time after time in the political history of the human race, and the same principle applies equally in the spiritual life of the Christian church. True spiritual liberty is possible only where there is spiritual government. The government which God has appointed for the church is that of the Holy Spirit.

We come back then to the statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:17:

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

If we desire to enjoy the Spirit’s liberty, we must first acknowledge the Spirit’s lordship. These two operations of the Holy Spirit can never be separated from each other.

We must also bear in mind another important fact about the Holy Spirit which we established earlier in this study. The Holy Spirit is both the author and the interpreter of the Scriptures. This means that the Holy Spirit will never direct a believer to say or do anything contrary to Scriptures. If the Holy Spirit were ever to do this, He would be illogical and inconsistent with Himself, and this we know is impossible.

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us – by me, Silvanus, and Timothy – was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes (2 Cor. 1: 18-19).

Paul is saying that God is never inconsistent with Himself. Concerning any particular matter of doctrine or practice, God never says yes at one time and no at another. If God has ever said yes, then His answer always remains yes. He never changes to no later on. He is never changeable or inconsistent with Himself.

This applies to the relationship between the teaching of Scripture on the one hand and utterances and manifestations of the Holy Spirit on the other. The Holy Spirit, being Himself the author of Scripture, always agrees with Scripture. There is never a possibility of yes and no. Wherever the Bible says no, the Holy Spirit says no. No utterance or manifestation that is inspired and controlled by the Holy Spirit will ever contrary to the teachings and examples of Scripture.

However, as we have already emphasized, the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is not a dictator. He does not compel the believer always to act in a scriptural way. The Holy Spirit serves as interpreter and counselor. He interprets the Scripture; He offers direction and counsel. But the believer still remains free to accept or to reject the Holy Spirit’s counsel – to obey or to disobey.

This imposes a tremendous responsibility upon every Spirit-baptized believer. Every such believer is responsible to acquaint himself personally with the mind of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Scriptures and then to direct his own conduct and behavior in regard to the exercise of spiritual gifts or manifestations – as in all other matters – so that these harmonize with the principles and examples of Scripture.

If through laziness, indifference or disobedience a Spirit-baptized believer fails to do this and, as a result, exercises spiritual gifts or manifestations in a foolish, unscriptural way, the responsibility for this rests solely upon the believer himself, not upon the Holy Spirit.

In this connection, a special responsibility rests upon every minister called by God to lead the worship and service of a Spirit-baptized congregation. Not only must such a man direct his own spiritual ministry in line with the teaching of Scripture, but he must also allow himself to be, in God’s hand, an instrument to direct the worship and ministry of the whole congregation in accordance with the same scriptural principles.

To do this successfully requires, in a high degree, special qualifications: first of all, a thorough, practical knowledge of the Scriptures, and then wisdom, authority and courage. Where these qualities are lacking in the leadership, a congregation that seeks to exercise spiritual gifts and manifestations will be like a ship at sea in the midst of powerful winds and treacherous shoals with an ill-trained and inexperienced captain in charge. Small wonder if the end is a wreck!

I have now been associated with full-gospel ministry for more than fifty years. During those years I have observed two things which have done more than anything else to hinder the acceptance of the testimony of the full gospel. The first is the failure to exercise proper control over the public manifestation of spiritual gifts, particularly the gift of tongues; the second is strife and division among Spirit-baptized believers, both among members of the same congregation and between one congregation and another. Each of these has its origin in one and the same error: the failure to acknowledge the effective lordship of the Holy Spirit.

Why are So Many Churches Desolate, Poor, and in Ruin? Because They Lack Proper Ministers of the Word

Why are so many churches desolate, poor and in ruin. According to Watchman Nee, the late Chinese church leader and Christian leader, who was writing in his book ‘The Ministry of God’s Word‘, it is because they lack proper ministers whom the Lord can use to deliver His Word.

One basic problem in the church is the lack of proper ministers of the word. This does not mean that God’s word is rare or that the vision or light is unclear. It means that there is a shortage of men whom God can use. God desires that the spirits of prophets be subject to prophets. Who are the prophets to whom the spirits of the prophets will be subject? Can the spirits of prophets be subject to those who walk according to their own will, who give ground to the flesh, and who are stubborn in their mind and emotion? If a man does not bear the mark of the cross in his spirit, he is a wild and proud man. He may have suffered years of discipline, but he is not yet defeated. The Lord’s smiting hand may have been on him once, twice, or even ten times, but he is still not defeated. In spite of the Lord’s repeated chastisement, he is still unyielding. Such a man proves himself to be a useless vessel. Is the problem before us a shortage of vision, light, or the word? No. It is a shortage of prophets whom God can use.

[Indeed], the problem today lies entirely with the ministers. There is no scarcity of vision, light, or God’s word. The problem today is that God cannot find proper ministers. Many times God’s light ceases to be visible to others when it is put into our mouth. Many people speak about the Holy Spirit in their messages, but others do not touch the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, they touch the flesh. Many people speak about God’s holiness, but others do not sense any holiness in them. They only touch a frivolous spirit. Some speak about the cross on the platform, but others can sense that they have never passed through any dealings. There is not even a trace of the cross in them. Some like to speak of love, but only temper, rather than love, is expressed through them. All of these cases speak of a basic problem – something is wrong with the ministers. If all the preaching on this earth today were in the principle of ministry, the church would be very rich. It is unfortunate that there is very little of God’s word despite all of the preaching! This is the basic problem in the church today. Without ministers, there is no inspiration and no revelation. With many people, the more they preach, the further their speaking is from being an inspiration, from being the release of any light, and from being qualified to be called revelation. The problem is with the preachers; they are not the ones whom God can use. God cannot use such men, yet He does not want to speak alone. This is a problem. He has the word, yet He does not want to release this word by Himself. He does not want to be the minister of the word; He wants man to be the minister of His word.

Brothers, God will not speak by Himself. If ministers cannot speak His word, what will be the condition of the church? The church is desolate, poor, and in ruin because human elements have not come up to the standard of God’s word. If God can find a person who has been dealt with by Him, who is broken, and who is prostrate on his face, God’s word will flow through him. We are looking all the time for God’s word, but He is looking all the time for men whom He can use. We are looking for God’s word, while He is looking for ministers. If we are unwilling to be dealt with, we will not be able to work for God. We must not think that such dealings are optional. We should not presume that, after hearing a certain number of messages, we can release the same word. No! If a person is not proper, his message will not be proper. Man can hinder God’s word. The Holy Spirit is not released through the word alone. When God’s word comes to us, we must be free from all hindrances. We must be broken, and we must bear the mark of the cross. Our spirit must be a smitten spirit. God can only use such persons, and the Holy Spirit will only flow through such persons. If the Holy Spirit is locked within us, the hindrance and frustration is our outer man, our emotion, and our temperament. When such things are present within us, surely God’s word cannot flow through us. Even if we deliver a wonderful sermon, in reality it is nothing but words, teachings, and doctrines; there is not the word of God.

Convicting of Sin is The Greatest Work The Holy Spirit Can Do Upon An Unsaved Person (Frank Lindblade)

According to Joseph Prince, senior pastor of New Creation Church, “the Holy Spirit does not convict the believer of sin”.

However, speaking of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John wrote: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

Writing in year 1928, Frank Lindblade expanded on this truth in his book “The Spirit which is from God

In dealing with the phenomenon of conviction of sin we have a subject that is not greatly understood by even many professed Christians. Convicting of sin is the greatest work the Holy Spirit can do upon an unsaved person, and is probably the greatest of all the Spirit’s manifestations. Because of the general ignorance concerning the Holy Spirit’s person and work as a whole, and therefore conviction included, the present condition of the general church has been arrived at. The Spirit has been given not only to brood over and care for the church, but also that the church may be added to through His activities. Because Peter was filled with the Spirit and preached under His anointing the church received three thousand adherents one day and five thousand another day. Acts 2:41 and 4:4. The church’s recruits are from the ranks of the unsaved. Before a person becomes a member of the church he must first be saved, and salvation cannot come until that person has first had knowledge and feelings of his sins and has been under conviction. So unless there is a conviction of sin there is no real addition to the church which is the body of Christ. Because of the predominating absence of the Spirit and therefore also His conviction of sin, the nominal church today is to a large extent adding to her members unregenerate persons who never have tasted of the grace of God and of the salvation that there is in Christ Jesus…

Because of the lack of the Spirit’s presence and the conviction that He brings, men have busied themselves searching for substitutes that will be just as good. But it happens that in this instance there is nothing just as good. The Spirit is not one of several persons or things that bring conviction. He is the only one who can do so. These others are but counterfeits. We live in an age of progress, evolution as men call it. They are attempting to evolute everything in these days. They have wonderfully progressed in the art of killing one another, of committing sin and covering up their crimes, of debauching their bodies and minds and serving the devil in general. Now they are trying to evolute the scriptures by removing certain portions obnoxious to themselves. They are also trying out this evolution program on the Spirit’s work of convicting of sin, but have only succeeded in making a fizzle of the whole affair and incidentally misguiding many people, and possibly sending many to destruction…

Man, after excluding the Spirit of God in his attempts at soul saving, has dragged in all manner of things. These at times have provided to be excellent instruments for the creation of interest, drawing the crowds and producing great mental and fleshly enthusiasm. But great interest and powerful widespread enthusiasm does not happen to be conviction of sin. A powerful presence and operation of the power of God will create great interest, draw crowds and produce much enthusiasm, but these in themselves will not bring the presence of the Holy Spirit. God can use some man’s strong personality, and most persons that have been used and are being used of God are of strong personality, but a strong personality in itself except as God honors it, can bring but little results towards real salvation. In fact, at times it may do great damage. Many a preacher’s so-called success consists of the use of more than usual natural talents and being born a leader among men, which gifts sway the multitudes. While under the influence of his preaching people feel dominated by his stronger will power and make a profession of religion which never came from their hearts. There has been altogether too much of this done, and thousands today have no more salvation that that received through the shaking of some man’s hand or signing some card.

Many, in these days, often mistake enthusiasm for evidence of the presence of God. Because they sing fast, because there are good collections, because many are boosting the cause, because some or many are free in shouting “Hallelujah” or “Amen”, because someone jumps and makes much noise, because the preacher works up a tremendous fervor, removes his coat, jumps and runs to and fro, therefore God must be there! God surely is there doing all that He can, or as much as they will allow Him to do, but very often the largest part of all of this is nothing but plain everyday flesh. When the greatest conviction comes, there is a hush over the audience and a silence so deep as to be literally felt, broken only by sobs of those with whom the Spirit is dealing. Even the infants strangely become quiet or fall asleep.

Others will play upon the emotions, telling narratives planned to awaken sympathy and cause tears and when this condition is on, urge the people to make a decision. Robert Ingersoll could make an audience laugh or weep, but who would dare to say that weeping was God? A person may weep because of having his sympathy played upon through hearing of some poor widow losing her only son or of the death of some orphan child, but that does not necessarily mean that these are tears of repentance. Stirred emotions and tears of sympathy are not always an indication that the individual has godly sorrow in his heart because he lied, stole, mistreated his parents, or served the devil in general, and rejected Jesus Christ. Godly sorrow works repentance, and unless there had been godly sorrow for sin, there is no true repentance unto salvation. Evidently there are many who know little or nothing of true repentance or salvation.

David Wilkerson on Weird Manifestations in Church That are Wrongly Attributed to the Holy Spirit

In a sermon that was preached at a World Challenge rally in Moscow in year 2000, the late Rev David Wilkerson (founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City and author of the well-known book The Cross and the Switchblade) addressed the issue of strange manifestations in some churches that are wrongly attribute to the Holy Ghost.

Jennifer LeClaire, news editor at Charisma, narrated the sermon as follows, in an article that appeared on Charisma Magazine:

Wilkerson was an Assemblies of God man who was well acquainted with the Holy Spirit. He was certainly one to flow with the Spirit of God. He heard from God. And it grieved his heart to witness the rise of strange manifestations in the name of the Holy Spirit—manifestations that were certainly not of God.

In his sermon, Wilkerson tells a story of a woman who was confused about what was going on in her local church. She explained, “Many of our church don’t know what to do. We were having wonderful services. The Spirit of the Lord was with us. But our pastor thought there was more. The church wasn’t growing fast enough. And he heard of revival. He went to this revival. He came home three months ago. He got up to preach. And he started to laugh for half an hour. He couldn’t control himself. He just laughed and laughed. There was no preaching. And he told us, ‘This is a new move with the Holy Ghost’.”

I want to stress this point: Wilkerson went on to explain that this wasn’t a one-time incident at that local church. This wasn’t some spontaneous outbreak of holy laughter. It went on for three solid months. There was no preaching for three months of Sundays. Only uncontrollable laughing. Wilkerson asked a pointed question: “The Holy Ghost who wrote [the Bible], who said, ‘The truth sets you free,’ will He cause the minister to laugh so he cannot preach this Word?” I’m not against laughing, but three months of laughing at the neglect of equipping the saints with the Word of God?

Without naming names, Wilkerson called out ministries where people barked like dogs and made other bizarre animal noises. He referenced unnamed churches where people hiss and wiggle on the floor like snakes. He described many strange manifestations—and explained how people call it the Holy Ghost. Fighting back the tears, Wilkerson said crediting these sorts of manifestations to the Holy Ghost makes Him look like a fool. Before the end of the sermon, Wilkerson was overcome with grief and began sobbing in his hands.

A recording of the above-mentioned sermon above can be viewed below: