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In Conversation with Loren Sandford

A focus on spiritual experience and living supernaturally has obscured both an accurate perception of the heart of the Father and responsible study of the Scriptures.

On that note, Joseph, gifted prophetically, underwent a wilderness of slavery and imprisonment that shaped his character and gave him a servant’s heart before God elevated him to a position of authority and influence second only to Pharaoh. Samuel anointed David king of Israel when King Saul failed. What followed was exile to the wilderness for a number of years while a jealous and insane King Saul sought to kill him. In the fullness of time David claimed the throne, but not before the wilderness had done its work. The apostle Paul spent fourteen silent years in Tarsus before Barnabas sent for him to begin his life’s work as the greatest of the apostles.

Every believer holds a birthright to hear directly from God.

Just like these heroes of the faith, anyone called to prophetic ministry will of necessity spend an extended period of time in a wilderness of suffering and loneliness designed to eliminate selfishness, ambition and other forms of brokenness. The reward is the heart of the Father. To speak with God’s voice is to speak with the Father’s heart. Only the cross—wilderness—can so crucify the flesh that the Spirit of Christ can fully and freely operate. In God’s economy, character always trumps anointing.

 

Pneuma Review: How are prophetic words different from other kinds of communication that Christians make?

Sandford: According to Joel 2:28 in the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days every believer holds a birthright to hear from God directly. We are adopted children to whom our Father delights to speak, but merely hearing from God does not a prophet make. Every believer can and should hear from God for personal devotion and guidance. The difference between that kind of hearing and prophetic authority is that the prophetic word carries authority beyond the individual. It affects other believers to set the course of lives. Jeremiah 1:10 goes beyond that to address the authority to speak to rulers and nations to pluck up and plant, tear down and build up. The prophetic word impacts congregations and groups of people to edify and to release power to accomplish the things of God. It touches nations to alter the course of history and set in motion the purposes of God. Those who consistently move in this kind of authority are recognized by the body of Christ as prophetic people.

 

Pneuma Review: Please give us your thoughts about the biblical literacy of Pentecostal/charismatic Christians.

Anointing is not the stamp of God’s approval.

Sandford: Unfortunately, too many Pentecostal/charismatic believers are functionally illiterate where Scripture is concerned. There is a widespread and unfortunate tendency to run from conference to conference to hear the latest or most famous anointed speaker share and minister his latest revelation, then to take in everything they say as truth without seriously questioning the biblical basis of what is being taught. A focus on spiritual experience and living supernaturally has obscured both an accurate perception of the heart of the Father and responsible study of the Scriptures. “If it works,” or, “If I felt it, it must be true” has become the standard by which we accept things as true. Both of these approaches to truth carry dangerous flaws. Some people, for instance, claim that marijuana “works” for them. Ask a New Ager why he or she believes what they believe and they will tell you of their experiences and assert that it works for them, but it’s not the truth. Christians have been given a plumb line that speaks for itself and whose meaning we have no right to alter or reinterpret. We must not interpret Scripture in the light of our experience but rather interpret our experience in the light of Scripture. This, however, requires that we deeply know and understand Scripture.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2011

About the Author: R. Loren Sandford is the eldest son of John and Paula Sandford, widely recognized as pioneers in the charismatic renewal, prophetic ministry and inner healing. A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Loren has been in ministry full time since 1976 and is the founding pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. As well as traveling internationally as a conference and seminar speaker, he is the author of numerous books, including: Burnout: Renewal in the Wilderness (1998), Purifying the Prophetic: Breaking Free from the Spirit of Self-fulfillment (Chosen, 2005), Understanding Prophetic People: Blessings and Problems with the Prophetic Gift (Chosen, 2007), The Prophetic Church: Wielding the Power to Change the World (Chosen, 2009), Renewal for the Wounded Warrior: A Burnout Survival Guide for Believers (Chosen, 2010), Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look for and How to Prepare (Chosen, 2012), and Yes, There’s More: A Return to Childlike Faith and a Deeper Experience of God (Charisma House, 2015). Married since 1972, he and Beth have two daughters and one son who have collectively given them nine grandchildren. Loren is also a member of the Osage Nation, a Native American heritage he deeply treasures. rlorensandford.com Twitter: @pastorrls

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