strange fires

Impartation, Anointing, and Manifestation

by Leonard Bay and Rev. Rafael D Martinez, Spiritwatch Ministries

In this brief article, we hope to bring some perspective on what is being called "impartation", "anointing" and "manifestation" that is said to be at the heart of the revivalism of the Charismatic and Pentecostal "River" movements. As you will see, this is not a "formal" paper in that everything is footnoted. This article is simply a product of what we have read and studied regarding the practices and teachings of the "revivals" that once burned brightly at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, the Brownsville Assembly of God, and other so-called "power" centers where "the River of God" supposedly flows today. At the conclusion of the article is listed the sources that were consulted that contained full documentation.


The experiences of Toronto and Brownsville are called "impartations" or "manifestations." These type of emotions or experiences have appeared in the past revivals, but usually are rejected by the leaders and revivalists as being disruptive due to their carnal or Satanic origins. Such experiences come forth among Pentecostal and Charismatic believers since they are imparted out of reaction to an excited religious environment rather than generated as a response to God through an inward spiritual life already internally present. They are external and are physically manifested in human behavior, rather than proceeding from the spiritual fruit in the heart and mind of the believer. This is a clear distinction easily and quickly lost in the heat of a charged moment around crowded altars and under the exhortation of earnest, fiery ministers.  

The teaching of impartation is based upon the popular belief that certain "special" people have a "special ability" to "impart" the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues as well as other gifts, and special endowments of power to others. Such an assertion then opens the door for a blanket legitimizing of the strange and often bizarre religious exercises found in Pentecostal and Charismatic meetings where "the River" is said to be "flowing."  "God will offend the mind to reveal the heart" is a common phrase used by the proponents of impartation, found across the Pentecostal and Charismatic worlds from one end of the earth to another, to justify the surreal and often completely carnal nature of these supposedly inspired "manifestations." 

These "manifestations" are meant to be behind virtually every physically displayed action observed in these "River" meetings. They include - but are not limited to - shaking, weeping, speaking in tongues, being "slain by the Spirit" as well as barking like dogs, roaring like wild beasts and women giving "birth to the Spirit" through "labor pains" in which they endure contractions, screams of agony and even the soiling of their clothing. Such "offense" is said to be a divine manifestation of God's Spirit He uses to "expose" some hidden spiritual deficit among those not manifesting the same way.

The idea is that modern "fivefold" prophets and teachers can dispense spiritual gifts to believers at will is a very serious misinterpretation of Scripture. The apostle Paul's exhortation to Timothy is often used to substantiate this teaching: "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Tim. 1:6). The gift that Timothy had is stated to be a "gift of God" that, according to popular belief among Pentecostals and Charismatics, is an irrefutably clear reference to the special spiritual giftings mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 which involve gifts of tongues, interpretation, miracles and prophecy, among others. This, for many, is a "Holy Ghost blank check" meant to be gateway to the "deep things of God" all are to receive from the hosts of the "five fold ministry" all around today. 

Several serious questions arise about this from Scripture itself. What about what Paul wrote in Romans 1:11: "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong--" According to the great Christian exegete W.E. Vine, the Greek word translated "impart" is metadidomi (meaning "to give a share"), a compound word (meta, "with"; give, didomai) that is distinct from "giving":

The apostle Paul speaks of "sharing" some spiritual gift with Christians at Rome, (Rom.1:11), "that I may impart," and exhorts those who minister in things temporal, to do so as "sharing," and that generously (12:8). In 1 Thess. 2:8 he speaks of himself and his fellow missionaries as having been well pleased to impart to the converts both God's gospel and their own souls (i. e., so "sharing" those with them as to spend themselves and spend out their lives for them).(1)

That Paul passionately wanted to share a gift said to be "spiritual" is not in dispute. It is the precise nature of what this gift he wanted to "impart" that is far from settled. Leon Morris, another Christian Biblical scholar, illuminates further this in his commentary on Romans 1:11:

In this place spiritual can do no more than add emphasis, for the idea is already there in the noun. Gift renders charisma, the word normally used of the special gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit (such as those discussed in 1 Corinthians 12; cf, also Romans 12:6ff.), gifts of healings, miracles, speaking with tongues, prophecy, teaching, and so on. But the word may also be used in a wider and more general sense of the gift God makes to every believer (Romans 5:15; 1 Peter 4:10). .. There is no reason to think that Paul has the special gifts in mind here, and the indefinite form of the expression favors the more general concept. .. The term is used here in the more general sense of anything that builds up the spiritual life. Paul wanted the Roman Christians to be strengthened in the faith as a result of the gift God would give them through his ministry. (2, emphasis ours)

Both Vine and Morris agree that the verse is not teaching an impartation of spiritual "sign" gifts as laid out in 1 Corinthians 12, but that the "impartation" Paul wanted to pass along to the Roman church was the sharing of God's spiritual grace in His life that would encourage or strengthen them all together in the unity of the Spirit as members of the Body of Christ ("to the end that ye may be established: that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith of you and me" - Romans 1:11-12). The laying on of hands referred to by Paul merely symbolized the recognition of their shared faith and comfort derived from God's graces bestowed upon them. So Paul had been gifted by the Spirit with ability to encourage and strengthen, and he shared these gifts with others. The verses did not teach that any person could go around to donate the spiritual "sign" gifts to whomever he or she pleases. 

God's sovereign direction alone determines the bestowal of such giftings. Such a thought may upset those who crave the chance to invoke a divine authority they do not have, but it's what Scripture says. The Holy Spirit is the one who imparts gifts "according to his will" (Heb. 2:4) He determines. This is another important point lost upon far too many Pentecostals and Charismatics who boldly lay claim to having an "anointing" for "impartation." They either have forgotten - or worse, may never have fully read, much less understood - the apostolic instruction of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:11, after he lists these same giftings:

"All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."

In Paul's first letter to Timothy he reminded him, "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you" (1 Tim. 4:14). Here, Timothy was reminded not to ignore the gift that was given by God and affirmed by those in spiritual authority and responsibility. The prophetic utterances were not supernatural pronouncements designed to dispense and activate spiritual gifts at a prophet's summoning. Rather, they were words of encouragement and exhortation confirming Timothy's giftedness and his call to ministry.

The laying on of hands was not a magical or superstitious rite that gave a person special power. It expressed the idea of being set apart by the entire church for a special task. The laying on hands signifies the gracious act whereby the work of the Holy Spirit - His calling and empowerment - is acknowledged:

Acts 6:6 "They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them."

Acts 8:17 "Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."

Acts 13:2-4 "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus."

Without pushing the comparison too far, the idea that special believers can impart spiritual gifts parallels pagan shamanism more than it does Christianity. In shamanism special gifts and abilities, including, inner mystical revelation of secret knowledge  are transmitted to friends or disciples through initiation, ritual and meditation. In Christianity, God the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to each believer: it is important again to review what the Bible says on this:

1 Cor. 12:11 "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives (diaireo; distributes) them to each one, just as he determines." (NIV); 

"But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally (idios; one's own; by implication, private or separate; is also translated "acquaintance") as he will (boulomai; "to wish, to will deliberately") (KJV). 

The Holy Spirit who resides within knows us intimately and bestows us with the gifts He feels we need to have. We personally don't see the "line them up and slap them on the head in order to receive something from the Spirit" approach promoted through this verse (Click the link to see a video glimpse of this). However it hasn't stopped too many people from blindly and naively jumping on many a Full Gospel bandwagon in churches around the world to "receive from God." 

This practice and others associated with the Latter Rain movement was officially condemned by the General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1949 held in Seattle. The resolution adopted disapproved of the following practices of the Latter Rain. Six errors were specified:

  • The overemphasis relative to imparting, identifying, bestowing, or confirming of gifts by the laying on of hands and prophecy.
  • The erroneous teaching that the Church is built on the foundation of present-day apostles and prophets.
  • The extreme teaching as advocated by the "New Order," regarding the confession of sin to man and deliverance as practiced, which claims prerogatives to human agency which belongs only to Christ.
  • The erroneous teaching concerning the impartation of the gift of languages as special equipment for missionary service.
  • The extreme and unscriptural practice of imparting or imposing personal leadings by the means of the gifts of utterance.
  • Such other wrestings and distortions of scripture interpretations which are in opposition to teachings and practices generally accepted among us. (3)

Assemblies of God pastor Ron Stringfellow quoted another earlier pastoral letter delivered by his movement's leadership in another online article:

In a letter from the Executive Presbytery of the Assemblies of God (April 20, 1949) this observation was given. They are still valid today

"The true test of any movement is whether or not it will stand up under the light of the Word of God. We cannot depend alone upon the testimony of spiritual blessing, which many claim to have received under the 'new order.' When the 'Jesus Only' issue swept over the country in the years 1914-1917, there was constant testimony that this was a revelation from God accompanied by great spiritual blessing. The movement was judged, however, not on testimony of spiritual blessings, but on its adherence to the Scriptures. When it was found that its claims did not conform to sound doctrine, its message was rejected. Dire calamities were predicted upon all who failed to 'walk in the light' of that 'revelation,' but all predictions failed of fulfillment. We have heard similar predictions for failure to accept the 'new order' teaching, which we regret exceedingly." (3) 

This Assemblies' precedent of Christian discernment had to be recalled, cited and lamentably expanded upon considerably in the recent 2001 Assemblies of God position paper on endtime revival (click to download a PDF document file of the paper). It went on to rightly observe that the questionable teachings on impartation, manifestations and a supposedly divinely ordained call for "apostles" and "prophets" were alive and well in contemporary times. And the paper also reminded readers that this excess was rooted in the Latter Rain "revival" among Pentecostals of the late 1940's and that its' elements of extremism were spread to the four winds of global Christian culture by the interdenominational shepherding movement that sprang up among the Charismatics of the 1970's. Hidden in plain sight, this spiritual scourge continues almost unabated to this day.

Despite the concept's popularity and widespread influence in Christian circles everywhere, the truth must still be sounded out squarely: nowhere in Scripture do you find the Holy Spirit, a Divine Being, dissected in parts and distributed to people or places. This is foreign to our Christian faith. He can only enter your life as a Person and He does at the moment you are truly converted or born again. He is either in your heart and life or He is not.

Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

In light of these Scriptures one must ask:

1. Where does the real power come from? Without, from a impartation "received" or from within, from the residing person of the Holy Spirit?

2. Can someone arbitarily "impart" a blessing, a gift, a manifestation to someone else?


There are many examples today that demonstrate how much imbalanced and unbiblical teaching exists that confuse and even blind Christians to Scriptural truth on the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Such confusion only contributes to the ignorance of Pentecostal and Charismatic believers, when laboring under the excitement of revivalism, are led into false teaching out of good intentions. 

One glaring instance is found in the book entitled "The Anointing" written by Benny Hinn. He states that the believer lives at three different levels of "the anointing". We are first saved (in a visitation of the Spirit called the "leper's anointing), then we are baptized in the Spirit (through an enduement of spiritual power called the "priestly anointing"). He goes on to state that these two levels of "anointing" are necessary to seek and possibly receive a special third level called the "kingly anointing, the most powerful of them all" which "lifts a person to a place of high authority with God .. the most difficult to receive." (4) On a TBN broadcast, Hinn speaks of visiting the grave sites of Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson, where he has felt "a terrific anointing" lingering over their remains (5), an "anointing" that even healed the sick brought to the graveside.  

He then defends these eerie practices by using the account of Elisha's bones raising the dead. But the plain understanding of the Elisha account shows this was simply the manner that authenticated the fulfillment of God's promise for him to have received the "double portion." That in and of itself was unique, not normative. Nowhere else in Scripture do you read of anyone else receiving a "double portion." Neither Christ or the apostles taught much less advocated seeking  "levels" of spiritual anointing, so Hinn's teaching is clearly not Biblical. That doesn't keep so many others from replicating unscriptural claims about alleged planes of spiritual power to climb ladder like in spiritual progression. 

The word "anoint" means to authorize, or set apart, a person for a particular work or service (Isa. 61:1). The anointed person belonged to God in a special sense. The phrases, "the Lord's anointed," "God's anointed," "My anointed," "Your anointed," or "His anointed" are used of Saul (1 Sam. 26:9, 11), David (2 Sam. 22:51), and Solomon (2 Chron. 6:42). Priests, kings, and prophets were anointed. Oil was poured on the head of the person being anointed (Ex. 29:7). Kings were set apart through the ritual of anointing, which was performed by a prophet who acted in God's power and authority (1 Sam. 15:1). The Old Testament also records two instances of the anointing of a prophet (1 Kin. 19:16; Isa. 61:1).

The Lord Jesus Christ is known as the Messiah, which literally means "anointed one." This  description is found in the Psalms of the Old Testament which prophesies the coming of Christ and in the preaching of the apostle Peter in the Book of Acts. In the New Testament, all who are Christ's disciples are said to be anointed; they are God's very own, set apart and commissioned for service (2 Cor. 1:21). In the New Testament, anointing was frequently used in connection with healing. Jesus' disciples anointed the sick (Mark 6:13), and James instructed the elders of the church to anoint the sick with oil (James 5:14). This anointing was for the purpose of healing. The Holy Spirit's activities in a believer's life are pictured in terms associated with anointing.

Anointing in the New Testament also refers to the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which brings understanding (1 John 2:20 "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in him."(v. 27). This anointing is not only for kings, priests, and prophets; it is for everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. A physical anointing with a substance such as oil, myrrh, or balsam could be implied in these references, but the primary references are to the spiritual anointing of the Holy Spirit that anoints and sets apart a person's heart and mind with the love, truth and missional call of God to ministry.

Colossians 2:9-10 "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness (pleroo; "to fill" in the passive voice; "to be made full" is translated "complete" in the King James Version) in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority."

The word "fullness" literally means to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish, satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction). All that is necessary to secure salvation and Christian living is found in Jesus Christ. There is a completion, or a filling up, in Him, so as to leave nothing wanting.

In light of these Scriptures one must ask: 

If in Christ, we have been given filled completely, why be anointed with the prayer "More, Lord" or "Fill, fill, fill"?

Manifestation Of The Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:7-11  "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."

The word "manifestation" comes from the original Greek word phanerosis and appears only two times in the New Testament; here and in 2 Corinthians 4:2, where Paul uses it to sharply contrast spiritual deception with a "setting forth (of) the truth plainly". In context, the word in this chapter deals with "spiritual gifts" that are revealed by the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians for the purpose of building up the church and reaching the lost. The list of spiritual gifts in (8-10) includes wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Similar lists appear in Ephesians 4:7-13 and Romans 12:3-8. The gifts are a manifestation, a disclosure of the Spirit's activity in their midst. The emphasis is not on the individual gifted but on the Spirit who is at work. This is clearly what the late but great Pentecostal preacher and expositor Donald Gee had in mind when, writing of the giftings of the Spirit of God and referring to 1 Corinthians 12:7, he wrote that

.. it is easy to form an exaggerated conception of the place of the supernatural in the experience of the early Christians, and many have done this. Examination will prove that, generally speaking, the miracles had some definite connection with the preaching of the gospel, either to attract or to authenticate as "signs," in this way fulfilling the promise of the Lord that He would confirm the word in this manner. .. There is an intimate connection between the supernatural gifts of the Spirit and the initial baptism with the Holy Spirit. They constituted one of the accepted results of that blessing in the corporate life and activity of the assemblies .. The very phrase "manifestation of the Spirit" makes this clear (1 Corinthians 12:7). The Greek word is phanerosis, a shining forth. The nine gifts .. are examples of the different ways in which the indwelling Spirit might reveal himself through believers. It is the light shining through the lantern. (6)

The purpose of the manifestation of the Spirit of God, therefore, is for the common good of Christian mission around the world - the building up of the Christian community of faith and Spirit-empowered outreach to the unbelieving as the primary means for confirming the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite the apologists for River revivalist excess, such manifestations are not primarily for the benefit of individual believers to use in indulging their cravings for a spiritual high that props up tottering faith - or shores up authoritarian lust for power. They are signs of a divine instrumentality of the Spirit working among human vessels to advance His truth that is both exciting and simultaneously convicting:

There must have been a wonderfully, comforting, but sometimes also a terribly searching light in those early Christian assemblies as the Master used the gifts of the Spirit under His own loving yet faithful control. A wealth of insight is contained in just one verse where Paul says on this subject, "Thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth" (1 Corinthians 14:25).  (7)

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes about how the work of the Spirit is fleshed-out: 

16 "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immortality, impurity, and debauchery, 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16-25).

We believe the following verses speak of an over-all purpose of the Spirit's work in our lives:  

17 "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Cor. 3:17-18).

In light of those verses, one must ask:

1. Are the "manifestations" seen in these movements (being slain in the Spirit, jerking, laughing, roaring, etc.) a "manifestation" of the Spirit? Can they be attributed to something else rather than the Spirit?

2. Are these above "manifestations" more for the individual than for the "common good"?

3. How do these "manifestations" transform a believer into the likeness of Christ?

4. Where does the "fruit of the Spirit" apply?

A Closing Thought

The following statement by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones is from his book entitled Revival

"The need we say is the need of an outpouring of the Spirit of God. But, clearly, by definition, the Spirit of God can only be outpoured on and can only honor His own truth. The Holy Spirit cannot honor a lie. He cannot honor a negation of truth...So if we want the blessing of the Holy Spirit, clearly, we must make sure that our position conforms to His truth."

If D. Martin Lloyd-Jones' statement is correct (and we have no reason to refute it), then I have a difficult time endorsing movements that have their basis in unbiblical teaching (impartation/anointing) and practices (the "manifestations"). We are called upon by the proponents of these movements to "judge the fruit." 

If the seed was bad, then the fruit must be as well.


(1) Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Barbour, 1952) p. 149

(2) Morris, Leon. The Epistle To The Romans. (Eerdmans, 1988) p. 60 

(3) This 1949 Assemblies Of God statement was cited from William Menzies' book Anointed To Serve (Gospel Publishing House, 1971)

(4) Hinn, Benny. The Anointing (Thomas Nelson, 1997), pp. 89, 90, 94. 

(5) Benny Hinn's admission in a 1991 sermon at his Orlando church entitled "Double Portion Anointing" is the source of this documented claim that he frequents the graves of Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple MacPherson to top up his "anointing" tank. It is perhaps one of the most surreal and troubling statements he has made (and he's made a fair share of strange ones over the years). It smacks of a magical and detestable superstition that smacks of the foul sin of necromancy. See chapter 15 of The Confusing World Of Benny Hinn (Morris, 1999), a compilation of research articles by Personal Freedom Outreach on Hinn's controversial teachings.

(6) Gee, Donald. Concerning Spiritual Gifts (Radiant, 1980), p. 15. This is by far the most balanced treatment on spiritual giftings written from a classical Pentecostal perspective, well worth the effort to obtain HERE

(7) ibid, p. 15


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