A Global Outpouring 
Tony Cooke

A Global Outpouring by Tony CookeAs you may recall, I’m working on a Masters Degree in Theological Studies with an emphasis in Church History through Liberty University Online. I am more than halfway through the program, and I am greatly enjoying these studies. It has been very eye opening to learn more in-depth about God’s dealings with and through the Church over the ages, and a recent course on Global Studies was especially enjoyable.

For one thing, I was really challenged to remember God’s ultimate purpose—a purpose that you and I have the privilege of participating in—we are laborers together with God! God is resolved to fill the earth with his knowledge and his glory:

  • Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD (Num 14:21).
  • For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9).
  • The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14).
  • David’s last prayer: And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen (Psa 72:19).

This course in Global Studies was very helpful in allowing me to see missions and church planting through many eyes. I realized when I began this course of study that it was not being done through a seminary that was necessarily oriented toward Pentecostal perspectives. However, I have been very pleased to see how strongly Spirit-filled expressions of ministry (especially on the foreign field) are being recognized and commended by many Evangelical ministries.

I had two textbooks for this course (one with 782 pages, the other with 336 pages). Both books gave recognition to the great fruitfulness and effectiveness that is occurring worldwide from ministries that embrace the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. I share the following excerpts not to advocate a one-upsmanship of one group over another, but to acknowledge our continued need to rely on the power of God, not on our own abilities or programs. Here are some excerpts you might enjoy:

According to historian Grant Wacker, “The genius of the Pentecostal movement lay in its ability to hold two seemingly incompatible impulses in productive tension”: New Testament restorationism and pragmatism. This “enabled [Pentecostals] to capture lightning in a bottle and, more important, to keep it there, decade after decade, without stilling the fire or cracking the vessel.” [1]

Missiologist Melvin Hodges perhaps has described the phenomenon best: “The faith which Pentecostal people have in the ability of the Holy Spirit to give spiritual gifts and supernatural abilities to the common people . . . has raised up a host of lay preachers and leaders of unusual spiritual ability—not unlike the rugged fishermen who first followed the Lord.”[2]

Regarding worldwide missions, Scott Moreau states, “Not since the first-century church has so much importance been placed on the role of the Holy Spirit in mission.”[3]

Charles H. Kraft writes: “We’re hearing more and more about power encounter these days among non-charismatics. We are more open and less afraid of spiritual powers than we used to be.”[4] He proceeds to refer to outpourings in the South Pacific, stating that “the early acceptance of the gospel occurred when there was an ‘encounter’ demonstrating that the power of God is greater than that of the local pagan deity.” [5]

This same professor describes three types of “encounters” that can occur in presenting the gospel: (1) Truth Encounters – presentation of truth leading to knowledge, (2) Allegiance Encounters – appealing to the will, encouraging a surrender of one’s life to Jesus, and (3) Power Encounters – demonstrations of God’s power whereby people are healed and set free.

Kraft contends that many ministries have focused on truth and allegiance encounters, but have been void of power, and argues forcefully that the church needs all three. He states, “Charismatic and Pentecostal churches specializing in power encounter evangelism and witness are growing rapidly in most parts of the world.” [6]

C. Peter Wagner also recognized the increasing presence of Spirit-empowered ministries and states, “one of the cutting edges of contemporary mission strategy has been a relatively new manifestation of the Holy Spirit among more traditionally straight line Evangelicals.”[1] Wagner spoke of Pentecostals and Charismatics, saying, “We recognize that currently they represent the most rapidly growing segment of the Body of Christ worldwide.” [2]

Wagner speaks of regrets expressed by missionaries who had seen the gospel presented without power:

These missionaries lamented the fact that “Christianity has all too often been presented as a religion of the textbook and of the head.” They now see how distant this is from the Christianity of the New Testament where “worship was alive and meaningful, prayer was an avid encounter, and signs and wonders drew people to the faith.” [3]

He also expresses his agreement with another missiologist who states, “We can no longer afford to send missionaries and national church leaders back to their fields or to send young people to the mission field for the first time without teaching them how to heal the sick and cast out demons.” [4]

I am reminded about Paul’s approach to ministry. He states, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance” (1 Thes 1:5). This is the same power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of when he commissioned his disciples in the beginning: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am excited about the future of the Church! I am excited about the proliferation of Spirit-empowered, Spirit-anointed ministry that are on a mission to set captives free and to radically transform lives. I really believe that God will fulfill his oft-stated declaration to fill the earth with his knowledge and his glory! I want to be a part of that.

[1] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015), Loc. 3544, Kindle.

[2] Ibid., Loc. 3564, Kindle.

[3] Ibid., Loc. 3595, Kindle

[4] Charles H. Kraft, “Three Encounters in Christian Witness,” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 445.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 450.

[7] C. Peter Wagner, “On the Cutting Edge of Mission Strategy,” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 579.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., 580.

[10] Ibid., 582.