I think we are having a “terminology limitation” in the prophetic.
As many people seek to describe their spiritual experiences, they may be making a mistake that the Paul avoided. By inspiration of Holy Spirit, he carefully avoided saying that “he went to heaven to see Jesus” when he did, in fact, have such an experience. However, he could not properly describe where he was during the experience. That is, under inspiration of Holy Spirit, writing Bible text, Paul did not specify the location of his spiritual experience.
He was given permission to say, “I was in paradise.” He was not given permission to verify, “in the body” or “out the body.” So, in fact, we have “I went to heaven and saw Jesus” in the Paul. He was not given permission to describe his experience as anything other than spiritual. He characterizes the experience as “someone was seized and carried into.” He doesn’t offer any context for these being something that every believer should experience on a regular basis, nor does he use it to do anything other than set up the discussion of his thorn in the flesh, calling his “boasting” unprofitable. That is, using this experience to validate himself would be have no merit.
Why? To avoid the confusion, now becoming a pandemic misunderstanding, even becoming a marketing ploy for seer conferences and sign ups, Paul does not describe or characterize, interpret, or construe his revelatory experiences with any of our modern “gotta prove it or lose it” mentalities. He just simply says, “This happened.”
We have no such experience in John or His Revelation. I get the idea that “come up higher” has meaning, but I have no context, nor does John provide one, for the kinds of communication we have expanded into in our present forms. John says, both in chapter one and chapter 4 when he sees the door open and the voice says, “Come up here!”, “I was in the Spirit,” not “I went to heaven and saw Jesus.
People use the phrase, “I went to heaven and saw Jesus,” to describe visionary impressions and experiences they receive while “in the Spirit.” They seem to assume they actually went somewhere, but they went “in the spirit.” They went into visionary experiences in dreams, visions, or trances.
I would concur. I have these kinds of experiences. How often and for what reasons, I wouldn’t say because they are not for public consumption, not anyone else’s business, do not serve to validate my spirituality or level of spiritual importance, nor are they part of my identity. Of these experiences, I would share those that involve a directive in my apostolic calling, those that are specific to an assignment to the kingdom citizens, and those I have permission to share. After that, I would still have to wonder why the idea that “we all need to get into some ‘realm’ is even pertinent. Opening people up to the spiritual reality without the same principles, processes, and protocols available to safeguard them and others in the prophetic is a very odd pursuit, and contrary to the basic logic of revelation.
I have written about the open vision I had March 7, 2003 in a University of Ministry class. This was the beginning point of my first book in Portuguese for Brasil, later published in English by Destiny Image, The Spirit and Power of Elijah. I was in the vision, prophesying out loud and being recorded for more than an hour and a half. That vision is still being unpacked, but it took me to a nation to deliver a message to a nation. That vision includes the Americas, and I am living in the continuing fulfillment of it today. I saw Jesus in several settings, from above the earth looking down, from the earth looking into the earth, from the earth looking into nations. I was in the Spirit. I didn’t go to heaven to see Jesus anymore than Paul or John or anyone else. I experience heaven in the Spirit from where I was at that moment. So does everyone else.
Paul makes this very clear, following up with the focus of his experience: the thorn in his flesh that followed the revelatory experience. Paul makes much of this and little of the trip to paradise. Paul makes much of his experience on the road when Jesus knocks him down and yells at him in front of all this friends. He makes a particular point about pride with respect to his involuntary “taken up” experience.
I think the context of a revelation is pertinent. What breaches protocol is the idea that “going to heaven and talking to Jesus” makes the revelation something of higher value, scope, authorization, or validation at another level. This idea always, without exception, leads to a false perception of personal importance. According to the Bible. Paul experienced something from satan that beat him up for that very reason, an opportunity to become weaker and in greater need of grace by humility. The idea that such an event would become a great opportunity to sell books, market training, or validate him as someone of greater spiritual superiority would have shocked Paul, as it should shock us today!
It also leads to a pervasive sense of false entitlement, equality, and expectation upon the part of tens of thousands of believers who have valid experiences but assume because the experiences were part of this special dispensation of revelatory ambience they and the revelation rise higher in value and validation. This causes amazing levels of disappointment when others do not give their revelation value at the same level, and nearly always includes the expectation of personal value expansion.
The “I go to heaven” validation causes tens of thousands of believers to demand a role they have not authority or calling to receive. Then, when that isn’t made available to them, because of kingdom cultural principle, processes, and protocol, they become offended. All unnecessarily!
This perception is fed by the way we handle these experiences, describe them with some presuppositions not included in Scripture, and the present circus environment about prophetic things. We may be creating perceptions in people’s minds about revelatory operations and functions that contribute more to confusion and lawlessness than to healthy prophetic process.
When your spirit imagines, the context is dissimilar to your own mental imagination. Through experience, you learn to discern the difference, and until you do, spiritual leaders help you discern the difference. However, in the prophetic process, once revelation arrives, it must be communicated. That communication step moves revelation from the spirit into your mind. It didn’t originate in your mind because it is not the product of your imagination. It is the production of spiritual imaging or imagination. Immediately the perfect revelation steps into the prophetic process, the process requires the revelation to stand up to accountability.
That is, you must immediately become accountable to other people with expertise and experience about communicating revelation once you’ve received it, and to be accountable to them you first communicate what was revealed to you. Without the process, you are left to your own imagination. You are left to communicated with yourself what you receive in your spiritual imagination. You immediately begin to mix the two. You cannot trust the revelation to remain pure once that happens.
Some people experience something spiritual by spiritual imagining or imaging and contextualize it as “I went to heaven” when they were not in heaven. They were visualizing a spiritual reality that many people mistakenly call, “heaven.”
One “seer and revelator” says she visits the planet heaven all the time. (She doesn’t, since heaven isn’t a planet but a spiritual condition.”) The idea that heaven is actualized the way she communicates shows that some possibly legitimate experience in spiritual imagination is being communicated at times; but once she gets that something into her own imagination, the possibilities are endless in error. She ends up in gross error of Bible teaching, but uses “Jesus told me” as a validation point. Some of it might have prophetic value. The circus that follows has none. I wouldn’t say she was a false prophet as much as I’d say that most of what she says isn’t true. And, I would suggest that someone ask her to stop talking her imaginations. Sadly, popular sources sometimes quote her as if she is valid. She is not a valid source because the mixture is much more her own imagination, not SpiritFirst revelation from God.
I still can’t get the idea that we seek “realms.” I hear this said over and over and it is meaningless because there are no realms. Even the “realms of Glory” descriptor forces me away from Bible terminology. The problem is that “realms” can mean anything anyone wishes it to mean without a Bible context, and often does.
A realm is simply the area ruled by a king. “Different realms” makes no sense the way we use the term. Are we attempting to say that there are fourth and fifth dimensions of reality? I hope not! That is baloney. Are we trying to describe “close but far away” aspects of spiritual reality into which we enter by our spirit? Again, more new age mindset error.
We could discuss kingdoms to discuss realms. We could say Jesus was brought back from among the dead, and we could use the term “realm of death,” I suppose, to speak of that kingdom of death. I don’t understand why we would, however. We could speak of the realm of darkness. Some speak of “realms of darkness,” and I suppose they wish to describe different territorial authorities that operate in that kingdom, but the realm of darkness is, technically, one realm governed by the ruler of darkness. In this case, we could ask why the use of the term describes spiritual reality better than saying, “Rulers of the darkness.” Again, Ephesians lists three rulers as operating in “this present darkness,” so the idea of different realms doesn’t help us. It produces confusion.
How Thins Really Work in the Spirit
“How Things Really Work in the Spirit” is essential to the valid practice of and in spiritual reality. We know nothing legitimately about spiritual reality except by God and through God, and the Source of that revelation is the Bible so that we can judge the validity of spiritual experience by that revelation of “How Things Really Work in the Spirit.”
Anything that borrows from a worldview other than the Bible is an error. Everything that describes spiritual reality that isn’t from the Bible must answer to the Bible, because God revealed the “How Things Really Work in the Spirit” in the Bible. He does not reveal them to people outside that context, as further revelation, expansions of mysteries, or update the Scriptures through present revelatory experiences. He revealed Himself in the Bible and how He does stuff in the Bible so when we encounter both God and God at work, we recognize Him.
Actually, anything that borrows from a worldview not sourced in the Bible, opens the door to deceptions from demon teaching. Because everything other worldview is from demons, we either test all things by the Bible and Holy Spirit capacities of discerning the character and spiritual conditions of sources, or we are thinking what demons think, a means of deceiving mankind.
These “realms” ideas are mostly fantasy stuff, and those that are valid are lost in an inadequate way of communicating a spiritual experience. They all need prophetic process, in any case, so the idea that we enter realms remains a completely beside the point to the process of revelation. We should be training and maturing people in communicating, interpreting, applying, and implementing revelation. We should not be encouraging people to do “fly aways” into their imaginations, seeking out “realms,” thus producing an increase in christianized gnosticism. We are creating a problem for which we have no solution, in other words, because we are training from the wrong point and perception of “How Things Really Work in the Spirit.”
We cannot hope to improve on God’s point of view, and training from His point of view will always produce the best results. Why look for a circus performance? To what end would we wish to find a bizarre approach when God has given us an excellent one?
I train prophets. I train intercessors. I train seers and watchmen of the intercessory type. (A seer is not prophet; we have popularized the use of this word “seer” because we wish to have a way to distinguish prophets who predominately see.) I train men and women in the practice of prevailing prayer, praying in the Spirit, operating SpiritFirst in both worship and prayer. They get into the spirit, their own spirits, and then that alignment opens the way for SpirtFirst interaction through Holy Spirit, wherever Holy Spirit takes them. That gets the job done. They learn to live SpiritFirst, to move from soul dominated to Spirit dominated. They learn how to differentiate between what they are thinking and what God is revealing.
Some prophets see. Some prophets hear. Some prophets burst forth from the spirit with a message. The idea that levels of “prophet” can be measured by exotic, deeper realms, off the charts galaxy travels, or visits to the planet heaven are for comic books like “Spiritual X Men” or “Seer Man,” a guy in a suit with a mask that looks like his eyes are extra large. Our marketing stunts are not producing the one thing our teaching should be producing: maturity.
I know exactly what a visionary person means when they describe experiences because I have them. I know what a seer experiences because I experience it. I know what a person with revelatory impressions experiences because I experience revelatory impressions of the several kinds available in the spirit. So, all those that are gonna say that this article says, “Don Lynch doesn’t believe in visions, seeing Jesus, or revelatory experiences” will be wrong. What I don’t see as valid, what I do see as unnecessary and confusing, are the marketing claims of people doing exactly opposite of Paul and John in terms of the presuppositions of the Bible about revelatory experiences.
Here, I am addressing a limitation in describing revelatory experiences that leads to all kinds of unnecessary offense, dysfunctions, malpractice, confusion, and outright error and bad teaching. I am addressing the way we are using these spiritual capacities to market something, using exaggeration, the hype side of being spiritual often used to make forms of revelation appear more spiritual. Marketing these exaggerations to sell their products and fill their conferences, and get people signed up to their hype sessions on the internet.
1. We do not need to get anyone into the realms by teaching them how to imagine something. If you get people into SpiritFirst mode, they will experience what Holy Spirit has decided they should. Anything else is simply asking for error. The idea that “we should all prophesy” also means “we should all visit heaven” is a bit nutso. The idea that we all need to be the same in terms of revelatory function, and all we need do is get into some seminar so “we can become just as heavenly as the leader is,” is also beside the point in a really big way. The fruit if these excursions into fantasy is abundantly available, and it is all bad fruit. That is not how things really work in the spirit.
You are engaging people in personal imaginations just as dangerous as “open yourself up to the universe” mysticism. You are preparing people for error when all you need do is activate the gifts of the Spirit and teach them to enter SpiritFirst alignment, since Holy Spirit does the rest. Those online seminars that really prepare people do this and offer them a safe place to make mistakes and receive correction. There are several I would recommend.
2. We do not need to create the idea that it is more spiritual “to visit heaven and see Jesus.” When such an event provides a higher form of validation, the experience itself is minimized by the message received. Being in the Glory is common to people who can operate SpiritFirst. So, they are going to have intense experiences with God without going to heaven and seeing Jesus. They are going to create terrible, unbiblical misunderstandings acting as if “eyes open” to angels and Jesus in the room is “higher faith” or “deeper spirit” or safer, kinder, holier, better, more spiritual, or validation of a higher calling in the kingdom. So, when you use the phrase, “I went to heaven and saw Jesus, and He gave me a message,” you are actually describing a prophetic, revelatory experience in which the appearance of Jesus in a spiritual context was necessary to the message itself. It is not a “I want the world to know that you are special and better and more spiritual so they will think everything you say is better and more spiritual than other people.” That is not true. A person may deliver one powerful, valid, authentic message and then start teaching error the next week because they assume that everything they ever imagined has been validated by seeing Jesus in the context of heaven.
Paul says, “Not me!”
We say, “It is normal for people to have revelations.” Then, we completely contradict ourselves by producing a list of “this is better.” It is either normal, or it isn’t normal. It cannot be normal and abnormal, right? We cannot convince ourselves that all should prophesy, then create some categories of superiority in order to place and position ourselves as “deeper and more spiritual.” We lack intellectual honesty when we do. We cannot create these special categories to market ourselves and our training sessions either.