The greatest growth areas in Christianity today seems to be the so called "Toronto Blessing" and the "Alpha" type courses. These two happenings have provoked many books to be written, every one with their own idea or view. The most controversial of these is the "Toronto Blessing", which was originally called that by the British Media, it seems that they have difficulty in attributing anything to God. However, they do not stand alone in this, a number of Ministers, Theologians and Christians are also sharing in this problem. They err to the side of caution neither going with the tide of opinion or standing against it. Now if this is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, together with the characteristic manifestation that occur in his presents, then surely every Christian should be seeking this experience for themselves. But if it is a counterfeit of the occult then all Christians should stand against this false teaching. The many books, video's and audio tape messages on this subject of course have tried to prove or disprove the source of what has started in Toronto and is now enveloping this country.
So how do we recognise the distinguishing marks of the Spirit of God and not be deceived by the latest fad or fashion brought by a worldly influence or by false teaching. Let's be honest, none of us wants to be deceived do we? But how can we be sure that something is of God?
First let us try to define what Authentic Christianity is and then find a biblical understanding of the distinguishing marks of the Holy Spirit.
The Authentic Marks of Christianity
What are the authentic marks we can expect to see in Christianity, what is the real nature of Christianity, and how do I identify it. If we ask ourselves these questions, we have a basis for determining that which is truly of God.
The following verses in a small way sum up what the authentic marks of Christianity look like. That which can be observed by the outsider. Here we have Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, who were questioning them, asking "By what power or what name did you do this?"
Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit answered the Sanhedrin provoking this response.
Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
What had the Sanhedrin observed?
From this we can see that Christianity is a phenomenon, a dynamic happening, a historical fact, it's alive and vibrant. It challenges the world and is an alternative to it.
Christianity is God's power at work.
The local church is the local manifestation of Christ's body. If the average person see's the church as a middle-class club, clinging to lifeless traditions that have a forgotten meaning, or singing yesterdays songs for which they have no understanding. Where there is no vigour or life surely that person cannot be seeing the body of Christ, because he, Jesus is alive.
What distinguishing marks should we look for in a group of Christians that would show their authenticity.
1. Love for one another, but that love also spilling over onto those they come into contact with in everyday life.
2. Ordinary people from a variety of different backgrounds.
3. Changed lives, a testimony of people set free, new birth.
4. A confidence/ boldness in the good news of Christ.
5. A vision and purpose for their lives.
6. By personal experience and experiment in faith that signs and wonders should follow them.
7. That a Christian as a follower of Christ, a disciple or pupil, cannot truly be so unless he has been with Jesus, spends time with him regularly.
CHRISTIANS OF THE EARLY CHURCH WERE CALLED CHRISTIANS BY THE WORLD, AS A TAKING NOTE THAT THEY WERE DIFFERENT, SET APART, HOLY.