Impartation : A biblical view on the foundation doctrine of the Church
A friend messaged me yesterday asking what I thought of Randy Clark from Global Awakening and his teaching on impartation. The truth is that it does have its place in our doctrine, churches and lives. The truth is also that it has been badly abused and cheapened. One does not cancel the other.
I believe in the power of impartation. I want to be very clear. I have received touches from the Holy Spirit through some people including Randy Clark. He has laid hands on me several times. The other person who really impacted my ministry spiritually by the laying of hands was R.W. Schambach.
I have also seen some horrible abuses of the practice. You can not buy a transferable anointing and that would include paying thousands of dollars for some prophet or evangelist to pray for you. If a ministry is selling “impartation services” for $1,500 (really did happen), that is abuse and it is completely wrong. There is no excuses for this nonsense.
The ministries that take this over the top do not mean the practice is not biblical or that is should not be function in our lives and churches. It seemly means that we need to remember the advice of Thomas Zimmerman: the river has banks for a reason. Keep doctrine within biblical boundaries.
What exactly is impartation?
I define it as the tangible, transferable and empowering anointing of the Holy Spirit through someone’s ministry. Your ministry will not look exactly like the person who prayed for you but it will carry a similar message and result.
Randy Clark in his book There is More seems to define it as the transfer of a gift or baptism from God through either the laying of hands or intercession.
I would not agree that if you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit that it is an impartation. That is a second work of grace, similar to salvation but not required for it. The Acts 2:1-4 experience is for all believers but an impartation for word of knowledge, for example, might not be.
I believe the difference in understanding about it comes from theological framework. Clark holds to a single work of grace; while most of the Pentecostal (and Charismatic) movement hold to a duality of grace. Some Pentecostals (namely Church of God in Cleveland) hold to a third work of grace known as sanctification.
This goes as far back as Numbers 11:16-18 where we are told the leaders had hands laid on them. It does not say that Moses did it but that a reasonable takeaway from the chapter. This is confirmed in Deuteronomy 34:9.
In the New Testament, impartation is mainly used for ordaination and imparting graces onto people. 1 Timothy 4:14 is a reminder of when Paul ordained him in all likelihood. However, passages like Acts 28:8-9 tells that impartation can be used for miracles as well.
While there does seem to a difference in the purpose of the practice before and after Pentecost, it is very much part of the doctrine and ministry of the Apostolic age.
Why Baptism of Holy Spirit is not impartation
One of the things that Randy Clark tries to make a claim about is that people receiving the infilling of the Spirit is an impartation. This is simply bad Pneumulogy. I suspect that his view is believed from the teaching of John Wimber (founder of the Vineyard movement) and influenced by George Elton Ladd.
One of the main reasons that this is not proper theology is that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for everyone. Impartation for miracles, healings, and delivernces is not for everyone. People can move in the anointing for healings when needed but they are normally not gifted in that area.
It is true that many times in the New Testament and currently that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit manifesting in the Apostolic pattern does include the laying on of hands. It does not mean that everyone needs to have an Apostle lay hands on them so they can get filled with the Spirit.
Since the second century, people have gotten weird with the Holy Spirit baptism and came up with some really wild doctrines. Some of them just errorous and others were complete heresy.
Anything that adds works to receiving what the Apostles had happened in Acts 2 is dead religion. Anything that is takes away from it is not complete. The truth is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for every believer and the initial physical evidence in praying in tongues.
What about Mantles?
I am sure the question about mantles would come up, especially among Pentecostal in the Church of God or Church of God of Prophecy background. Dr. T.L. Lowery wrote a lengthy work about the issue is the reason there is so much interest in those groups. (Well, Rod Parsley has some teaching on it as well.)
Mantles are important and they are biblical but they don’t just fall on someone because they want it to happen. It also has little to do with what cooperative network you are part of. Simply paying some money to be someone’s ministerial network does not mean you will walk in the anointing of the person who leads it. Authentic mantles can’t be bought with a membership fee. The same goes for being part of Pentecostal denominations. (They exist for you; you do not exist for them!)
The whole idea of getting someone mantles is so abused in today’s churches that I am not even sure we understand what it means to pick up one anymore. There is a biblical imagery for it and there is a modern prophetic understanding. I think we are illiterate to both if we are to be honest. I have seen few people really recieve a mantle and walk in it.
One of these is the relationship between Leonard Ravenhill and Steve Hill. You can’t just ask someone to pray for you to receive their mantle. You have to walk with them, serve them, cry with them, rejoice with them. Steve Hill did all that in the height of his ministry. Steve took time away from his family and ministry to be with Leonard in his final days. As a result, within months of Ravenhill’s passing; the Brownsville Revival broke out and the world was re-introduced to the power of Pentecost. It started when Steve would share in Leonard’s tears just as much as his prophetic call.
How does Apostolic Succession work?
This teaching has been around forever but the first I really started to hear from it was when Rod Parsley, the resurrection seed preacher, started to push it in connection with impartation and joining his ministrial fellowship. The teaching has been around in different forms for centuries and it has been abused for just as long. However, a lot of people, especially pastors, get caught up in this stuff.
As the story goes, Smith Wigglesworth imparted his mantle to Lester Sumerall and Lester Sumerall imparted it to Rod Parsley. Naturally, if you join Rod’s ministry network; you will carry the same mantle that was once on Smith Wigglesworth. It might sound crazy but many people end up get really messed up with these teachings that are popular in today’s Pentecostal churches.
With this bizaree teaching comes the famous “generational curses” (and generational blessings) teaching that is just as goofy. There is no grandkids in the Kingdom and there is no sin (or blessing) that is passed from one generation to another by the blood line. Sin is in every man and we all come to God on the same terms. In my opinion, most “curses” are nothing more than learned lifestyles.
Impartation is for giftings and the callings from the Lord that can be encouraged and developed by other with more experience in the ministry. It is not about joining a network that has some mystical connection to some giant of the faith in a time before us. If this was true, all Methodists would be walking in the power and authority that John Wesley did.
Impartation in revival?
In my circle of the Kingdom, the revival movement, there is a lot of discussion about revival being imparted. The reason being is many leaders of one revival center first was impacted by another one. Lindell Cooley was touched radically in Toronto just months before Brownsville broke out. Steve Hill was laid out by the Spirit at Holy Trinity Church in London weeks before Father’s Day 1995. The story of Smithton is another example.
Can a revival be imparted and will go to a revival meeting mean that you will take it back to your church and your city? People that are teaching this (they are out there) are doing it for marketing purposes and are just as guilty of trying to prostitute the anointing as Simon in Acts was. Thousands of pastors went to the Brownsville Revival only to come back to the same dead church the week after. Being in a camp meeting is not the silver bullet to transforming the region for the glory of God.
Revival is not really about having more church services, anyways. It is about when Heaven comes down. If you tell me that revival is happening in Cleveland, Tennessee. I want to go to the local Wal-Mart to see it, not the Pentecostal church. True revival changed the city, not just has a bunch of church folks traveling for their sanctified entertainment.
While it would seem that people did get an impartation in a revival and took it back, I think we need to look deeper. In most cases, it was some much more important going on. The Holy Spirit was dealing with personal sins and hidden motives in leaders. He called them personally to a depth of repentance they have never known. What people saw as an impartation was really just the leaders get convicted of sin and responding to the conviction of the Spirit.
In other cases, it was the Spirit giving them a fresh baptism. The early church needed another infilling of the Spirit in Acts 4. They might have spoke in tongues but they lose the importance of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was just do “tongues” as a spiritual discipline because that is what we do. It was really am impartation but God renewing them by getting them back to what they should have been doing anyways.
Anointing meets Desperation
I have given quite a bit of thought about this. What does biblical impartation actually look like and how should it work without the worship of men? It is a dangerous line to try and walk. I realize that going into the discussion. I believe that impartation is where anointing and desperation meet. While this is flashy church talk, I truly do believe it. There is two human elements to it and there is there is the divine element of the Holy Spirit.
The first thing for an impartation to happen is the person that is carrying the anointing must be willing to pray for you. He must want to impart the anointing on his life to you through the laying on of hands. This is not always the case that they are willing.
The second element for it is the person wanting the impartation has to be doing everything else in private right. They have to desperate for more of God in their life. They need to be expecting God to move in their prayer life. They need to be willing to move in power in evangelism with the anointing they have. Impartation is like pouring gas on a fire but you have to have the fire started for gas to do much.
The most important part of it all is the Holy Spirit that impacts both parties with fire and processes the transfer so they can walk in a fresh touch from the Lord to be better evangelists and prophets to the world. If the Holy Spirit does not show up in the prayer, all you got was some vegetable oil on your head and some spit from another believer in your face. Nothing more.
Thoughts on Global Awakening
We started this discussion talking about Randy Clark from Global Awakening. I want to give some thoughts on what I see his ministry doing. While I have some major theological differences with the Baptist turned Vineyard pastor; I love what he is doing overall.
One of the things that made me notice him the most was he comes out of the Toronto Blessing but he is completely missional. A lot of people that are related to the renewal that happened in Toronto back in 1994 are almost anti-missions. It is refreshing to see one of the core leaders to believe in missions so loudly. Another one that has put missions at the forefront is Heidi Baker.
He is working to try and train up an educated group of people who believe in scholarship and the power of the Spirit. This is something that the Pentecostal churches have seriously lacked in in years gone by. We have scholars who have vast understanding of scriptures and history but could not get a common cold out of a person. On the other hand, we have people that have great miracles happening in their ministries but their theology is a nightmare.
I have personally traveled with Randy to Brazil and to Africa on mission trips. He is very much the real deal and a friend of Pentecostals.