The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of scripture. Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. One of my favorite verses is John 17, 21, where Christ is on His way to the cross and he says, Father, I pray that the church would be one.
O-n-e. Jesus prayed for the church to be unified. Why? He says that the world may believe you have sent me. Well hi, Alex McFarland here.
Welcome to the program. I am so excited about the show that you're about to hear because I'm conversing with a dear, dear brother and colleague, Tony Cook. He's a professor at Cares Bible College. He's a pastor. But he, like few people I know, is an expert on the history of the church, and specifically the miraculous works God has done throughout church history. He's been on the radio with me.
He's been on television. But Tony Cook is just one of those guys who is such a repository of great wisdom and knowledge. I always learn a lot, and I get inspired, and you will too. So we'll talk about a lot of things, but welcome, my dear brother, Tony Cook. Dr. Alex, it's so good to be with you again.
I'm just so happy we connected here. Well you gave me a book, I suppose about a year ago, called Miracles and the Supernatural in Church History. Literally could not put it down because of so many great things that you document what God has done.
And what it moved in my heart was that I want to see it again. I want to see a church on fire and a church that is so empowered with the presence of God that the world can change. But before we get into that, bring people up to speed on your various ministries, what you're doing, and then what publishing you've got going on right now.
Yeah, thank you so much. My wife and I have been in ministry for, it's been, it's going on 43 years, but we still feel very young at heart. We've preached in 31 nations. Our books are in about a dozen different languages. We just had a book going to Hungarian for the first time.
We just had a book going to the Czech language for the first time. We just have a book that was just translated in Turkish and will be going, it'll be printed very very directly. So, and we love traveling to different countries. We'll be going to Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon this year. We have 21,000 of our books, four different titles, circulating across northern Africa and the Middle East. We just love, you know, kind of the books, you know, kind of just are something that can stay there after we've gone and continue to feed and help and encourage folks. You are a great commissioned Christian.
I mean, you really are. How did the Lord bring you to this point in your journey? Well, we were raised in a similar background, similar denomination, and never very excited about a relationship with the Lord. Things were mostly intellectual and mental assent and got saved at a youth camp from a different group that was really on fire for God. Later had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and even divine healing, and that launched me.
That was right after I graduated from high school, about to turn 64 now. So it's just been a blur, but just I'm excited about Jesus. I believe he's the only hope for the world. I believe the church is his expression of himself in the earth, and Jesus said, I will build my church. And so I just believe that all of us have a part to play, responsibilities to fulfill. I love the verse you opened up with, John 17.21.
Jesus, I'm reading New Living. He said, I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one. So he didn't even just pray for unity generically. He set the standard that our unity is to be like the unity shared by the Father and the Son. And I think we can include the Holy Spirit in this too, because he was inspiring the prayer. So the unity of the Trinity is the standard for the unity of the church, and it's really a functional unity. And this is why I appreciate all the rest of the body of Christ.
Each of us are like a drop in the bucket, but when you put enough drops in the bucket, something can happen. And so when I look at the Trinity, the Father, there's a functional aspect of the Trinity. The Father always seems to plan, the Son seems to perform, and the Spirit seems to perfect.
And like with redemption, God the Father planned it, God the Son came and physically did it, and then God the Holy Spirit comes and reveals it and enforces it in our lives and our hearts. So there's one God, but in the members of the Godhead, there's different functions and responsibilities. Well, the body of Christ is one. And if we're going to be like the Trinity, we have to be willing to have different roles and responsibilities and functions. And Jesus was there physically, God manifested in the flesh. But then the Holy Spirit, sometimes he did some things that were really, I don't want to say outlandish, but very visible. But how much does the Holy Spirit work behind the scenes? Reveals truth and encourages us. And so we have to have people in the body of Christ that work behind the scenes. So I just like to see the whole body of Christ, people that are called to authority, leadership positions, people that are called to action, people that are called to support. When we function in that kind of unity, we're really answering Jesus' prayer.
That is so true. And let me just say, 1 John 5.1, very straightforward says, whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God is born of God. Now within Christendom, believers, and you and I both know very well from traveling, I mean there are people that their worship style is very reserved and very stoic, and then there are people that they are very demonstrative and emotive.
We love it all. Like Dale Moody said, any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine. I want to say to the body, we need each other. Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal, word of faith, born again Catholic. Look, you believe Jesus is the Son of God, died on the cross, rose again, we put our faith in Jesus, we're born again.
We need each other. And Tony, what would happen, you, I really don't know any academic that is as more well-versed on church history as yourself, and I mean that as a compliment, and I'm blessed to have a lot of friends in a lot of classrooms, but you are kind of my go-to expert on church history. What would happen if we, the people of Jesus, said across denominational aisles, look you're my brother in Christ, I love you, we need each other, we're going to pray together, we're going to speak with a unified voice, we are the church, and Christ is the Lord. What would happen if there was a movement of unity among the body of believers? You mentioned Dale Moody a minute ago. Dale Moody said, I've never known God to work amongst divided Christians.
And really powerful statement. I had a friend, I heard him share this testimony just a week or two ago. He, and a few years ago, he was involved in a paragliding accident. He was helping to launch a paraplegic off of a 1,700 foot cliff, in a paragliding, whatever that's called, and his hand got caught in the strap. So when they, these four men, launched this paraplegic off this 1,700 foot cliff, my friend's hand got stuck in the strap. So he goes off the cliff, and because his weight, his weight's not supposed to be on that paragliding thing, it goes into a death spiral. He was able to hold on until they got about 100 feet above the ground, and then he let go.
Well he fell 100 feet onto a mountainside. He had things that were cracked, and different things, and they had to send out, because it was on a mountainside up in Washington state, they sent out several different rescue squads. And he listed them all, state police, one of the nearby military bases sent two Black Hawk helicopters. And there were like four or five, you know, mountain divisions of this, and he said they had one mission, and that was to rescue him. And he said, can you imagine what it would be like if one group said, well we don't like the way this other group does things, so we're not going to participate with them. He said it took several groups working together, and he said they're from different disciplines, different departments, but they had one mission. Alex, I believe if we as a church can focus on the mission, and we know it's, we call it the great co-mission, because it's not just something I do, it's a co-mission. We do it together, and we do it with God. And if we can focus on that, and not our differences, because honestly most of the differences aren't the majors, you know, as long as, you know, believe in the resurrection of Jesus, believe in the authority of the word of God, you know, believe that his death was sufficient for our salvation. If we can find those few essentials to gather around and focus on that, and not the minutia that, you know, well I see it this way and you see it that way, those may be fun for little intellectually stimulating things, but it's not our mission.
Those intermural debates, they can be fun, they might be even interesting, but listen, we're called to give glory to God and take the name of Jesus to a lost world. Stay tuned folks, when we come back we're going to talk with Tony Cook about miracles and the supernatural in church history, and how God might make some history in our own lifetimes as well. Stay tuned, we're going to be back after this.
Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. What are you doing next summer?
Hey, how about this? I want to invite you to join me in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, August 6 through 11, 2023 for the Faith and Family Retreat. It's going to be awesome. We'll talk about foundational things. What does it mean to be a disciple?
How can you defend your faith? Family time, concerts, renewal of wedding vows, it's going to be great. Then fun, a trip to Dollywood.
Who wouldn't like that? And then faith in action. There'll be a mission outreach, talking to people about Christ. So again, August 6 through 11, 2023, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Go to faithandfamilyretreat.com. I hope to see you there. It's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program. I'm talking with my friend and colleague, Tony Cook. You know, Tony, we're talking about God doing great works. As you and I record this, you and I are each here to teach at Kara's Bible College. Folks, Kara's Bible College is where God is at work. And if you're thinking about furthering your education, there are so many hours of content online free. I mean, Andrew Wommack told me there are 200,000 hours of teaching online free on their website.
Plus, there are programs here. I would urge you to check it out because we're talking about Revival in America, A Great Awakening. And I honestly believe we're watching it happen here at Kara's. What are you here to teach this week, Tony? I'll be teaching church history.
I'll be doing eight sessions. And this is one of the highlights of my year. I love teaching church history here.
Well, and you're a great teacher. Now, where can people find your books? Tria, you must have a website. We do. Our website is my name. I wish we had a fancy ministry name, but never have come up with one. It's just tonycook.org. And Tony is T-O-N-Y.
And Cook has an E on the end of it. C-O-O-K-E. Well, your books are great. And I want to talk about one in particular, Miracles and the Supernatural. When I go on foreign mission trips, people expect miracles and we see miracles. In America, if you talk about a supernatural work of God, people get nervous kind of fast. And I've heard it said that God's level of blessing rises to our level of expectation. So here's my question. What is the role of the miraculous in the church? And why in America have we seemingly lost it?
That's such a good question. You know, even Billy Graham in his book on the Holy Spirit acknowledged what you just acknowledged. And I won't quote this exactly right, but he said sometimes when the gospel is preached in situations that approximate first century settings. So he's talking about a place where nobody's heard the gospel, pioneering settings. He said God still sometimes does miracles to confirm the gospel. You can find that in his book on the Holy Spirit.
So he even acknowledged that in these other countries this happens. Jesus, the Bible says when he went to his hometown that he could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief. And I'm not throwing out wholesale accusations against unbelief, but we are a society that is really grounded in a sense on intellectualism, reason. Since what, 1500s when all of that began happening and all of society began to move away from the supernatural.
And it's just been cultivated and developed further since. So I think when I've been in these countries where they haven't been taught that God doesn't do these things, they haven't been taught. As a matter of fact, in some of these countries they know that there's a spiritual world.
Oh, that is true. Like in Africa and South America, you don't have to convince them that there is a spiritual dynamic out there. Like when I'm at an American university, I mean first of all you've got to plead and try to get them to try and be open to the idea that there is something beyond the physical world. But in developing third world nations, they know there's a spiritual world out there, don't they?
They very much do. And I've been in some of these crusades such as in Africa, like you mentioned, where I've seen 50 people who are blind who all of a sudden could see. That was when I was with a friend who ministers in those settings frequently, and it was just amazing to see the childlike faith and the simplicity. They don't think when they are told in many of these places, when they are told, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And they're told a simple little Bible story like blind Bartimaeus. And then they're told, Jesus did that then. Jesus will do that today. I said blind people.
I'm sorry. That particular – he prays for the deaf. They may have some blind people healed too, but his primary – and I've heard from many ministers that when they minister in those settings, they don't tend to see just everybody healed of everything.
Based on the minister, some ministers will see growth disappear, some will see blind eyes open, but then others will not see that one. But they tend to have tracks of healing that take place in many of those. And my friend, just for whatever reason, God heals deaf people through him. Tony, are there some common characteristics in a church or in a city where the avenue is open for the Holy Spirit to work? What opens the door for the power of the Holy Spirit?
What obstructs the free work of the Holy Spirit? I believe that what we're taught from the Bible – you and I both embrace the fact that the Bible is God's inspired Word. And my spiritual father said that whatever you preach is what you will see. So if you never preach salvation, you'll never see salvation. If you never preach relational health and healing, you won't see that in your people that you've got these seeds.
If you want to have corn harvest, you plant corn seeds. So he said if you want to see healing, you have to teach healing. If you want to see people being open to the different expressions of the Holy Spirit, and that doesn't mean we're advocating just craziness and wildness, you know, the Bible says let all things be done decently and in order. But if people don't know that, like for example, teaching on how the Holy Spirit can lead us and guide us through the inward witness and things of that nature, if people don't know that the Holy Spirit will lead us and guide us, then they're just going to think, well, any direction in life, I just have to figure it out intellectually.
And I'm all for a good intellect. You know, the Bible doesn't say be transformed by the removing of your mind. It says be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And so there are times we certainly use our brain, our head. God gave us the brain for a reason. But there are times when the Holy Spirit wants to lead us by His Spirit.
And so people have to be taught. And faith will come based on what is taught. So if you never, ever preach healing, probably you're not going to see a lot of healing. I know we have pastors that listen and Sunday School teachers and believers of all ages. We've got to take a break here, but I want to encourage you folks, believe God for big things. You mentioned Hebrews 13 that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I believe, and we'll talk about this more when we come back, and I say this, God is so good.
I've been to 2,200 churches. I believe the American church must get reacquainted with the supernatural. Not a luxury, a nice little idea.
No, it's mandatory. It's critical for our survival. We have got to rediscover the power of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, and we'll talk with Tony Cook about how that might take place when we come back.
Don't go away. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this.
Do you have a desire to deepen your faith, better understand Christian apologetics, or to get a biblical perspective on current events? Well, I've tried to make it simple for you to do just that. On my website, alexmcfarland.com, there's a new section called Ask Alex Online.
It's simple, it's clean, and you can read my answers to common questions about God, faith, and the Bible. So visit the website alexmcfarland.com and look for the section that says Ask Alex Online. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show.
What a joy to be speaking with Tony Cook. By the way, our summer camps are coming up. We're going to be doing seven summer camps in 2023. We'll be in Colorado, Iowa, New Jersey, Georgia, the Carolinas, and folks, this is for middle school and high schoolers, biblical worldview camp.
I'll just put it this way, grownups, we are trying to woke-proof your kids, okay? We'll have 1250 teens. Your youth group can be a part of it. Very, very, very affordable.
Go to the website equipretreat.org, equipretreat.org. You can be a part of our summer camps, and also Paris, Tennessee, which is not far from Nashville, April 21-23. We'll be there with our Truth Matters Conference. Truth Matters, confronting the issues that will shape your future.
So folks, this is time to get equipped. This is time to be bold, to stand strong, and each one of us to be a voice for God and truth at this moment in our culture. By the way, you can support what we're doing.
You can give securely online. I would ask for your prayers and financial support. Partner with us to call our nation to Christ at my own website, which is alexmcfarland.com, alexmcfarland.com. Well, Tony, before the break, we were talking about the power of the Holy Spirit in the church.
And I'm with you. It's exciting to see healings and things like this, and I know from friends of mine that are absolutely credible people of unimpeachable integrity telling me about going to India and seeing hundreds of people healed at once. I'm talking about every kind of healing you can imagine and deliverance from demons. I'm going to ask this. Is it possible in our nice, tidy America where we get dressed up and go to church and we live just well, orderly lives? Are there people in America that are demon-possessed or demon-oppressed? I love that question. And I hate Satan's influence of oppression and bondage and fear and things like that.
C.S. Lewis said that Satan is equally pleased with the magician and the modernist. And he was making the statement that in some cultures, people are hyper-spiritual. They're hyper-superstitious. You know, they're afraid of everything, and everything's a demon, and they just live in total fear of the devil or evil spirits. And then there's other cultures – that's kind of what he was calling the magician, in a sense. There's other cultures that are like what he referred to as the modernist, which people are so hyper-intellectual that they scoff that anything could be supernatural. The devil wins in both cases because one group is obsessed with him in a fearful way.
The other group is completely oblivious to them. And Satan doesn't care how intellectual they are. You know, if they don't believe in Jesus, don't even believe in a need for Jesus, don't even believe God's a myth and that type of thing. Well, Satan is in total control of both of those groups of people. And so can people be demon-possessed in America? Absolutely.
I don't know how much we see that. I think there are levels of influence. Some people are what we would call oppressed.
Other people are, you know, we might call obsessed. And then there might be that deepest level of possession where the person has absolutely so been taken over. Regardless of the level, Jesus set people free at all levels. You know, we look at the madman of Gadara and things like that. But how many other people were tormented by fear?
You know, Hebrews tells us that he was manifested to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. So we can talk about these degrees of influence that the enemy can have all the way from just maybe a tormenting thought, you know, to oppression, to possession and that type of thing. But the main thing to realize is that Jesus and the truth of his word and the power of his Holy Spirit is the ultimate key for victory and freedom and all of that type of thing. So I've had an aversion myself to focusing too much on the dark side of the equation.
I know people who've gotten into it so hyperextensively that they've categorized thousands of demons by name. And I don't see Jesus doing that. I see Jesus bringing light, life, health, healing. And, you know, usually when he ministered, there was no big, you know, let's parade the devils around.
It was, you know, come out, be free. He said, if I be lifted up, I will draw them into myself. And we're to keep Jesus way out front and the good news of the gospel. And as the light of the gospel fills a place, there is no place for darkness to be anymore.
Right. Amen. People do give too much credit to the devil. And, you know, I look at James, you know, he said every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, you know. And so I guess it'd be really easy for me, even though the devil is the source of temptation, to blame everything.
Oh, it's not my fault. The devil made me do it. But really, God has given us his word and his truth. And the Bible says submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. And of course, the material in Ephesians 6, you put on the full armor of God and, you know, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the breastplate for all that. And so the believer has a responsibility to, you know, know some things. The Bible says, if you continue in my word, you'll know the truth, and the truth will make you free. So we want to make sure that we as believers are being filled with light.
And if we're filled with light, there is no room for darkness. Your book, Tony Cook, Miracles and the Supernatural in Church History, is such a good book. Folks, I would urge you, it will inspire you. You will learn things about the church that you've not known. But I've got a question, and sadly, we're about out of time.
I look forward to when you and I can visit again. So when we've seen miracles and, you know, great awakenings and I think about, you know, in the 18th and 19th centuries, God did so much in England, whereas you know, today, Great Britain is just an unreached mission field almost. But the power of the Holy Spirit, so that whole cultures were changed, continents were brought to Christ, did they consciously pray for a move of the Holy Spirit? Or was that wonderful visitation from God just a natural outflow of obedient lives?
Wow, that is a great question. You know, Wesley, John Wesley, who ministered throughout the 18th century, had a good number that he documented in his journals of different healings. One guy he prayed for, he didn't say he was dead, but he kind of gave the impression he could have been dead, and Wesley prayed for him and he came back. It was at least a miraculous healing, if not a resurrection. John Wesley prayed for his horse to be healed, and his horse got healed.
He had several different things. It's all through his journal, and I want to highlight a lot of those, but he really got his spiritual experience by way of the Moravians in Germany through Nicholas von Zinzendorf. And they had what was called the Moravian Pentecost, I think in 1727, don't hold me to that.
And then Wesley got exposed to that, and then when he went back to England, he spent three months there with Zinzendorf. And they started having the power of God fall in their meetings, and people would literally fall to the ground. And I'm not talking about things that are learned behaviors, where people are just doing things kind of in a ritualistic, charismatic way, but I mean literally the power of God. Like when Saul of Tarsus encountered Jesus, he fell to the ground.
When John the Apostle had the Lord appear to him on the island of Patmos, he said, I fell at his feet like dead, like a dead man. And there are times where the power of God just shows up, and I don't think we're supposed to seek the experiences, seek the kind of a sensationalistic type of thing, but if God does move in that kind of way, and our job is to preach the gospel, to call men to Christ, and to pray for people's needs and things of that nature. But we've all seen some of the things. Billy Graham talked about being in certain meetings where he felt things were being so manipulated toward healing or whatever. There's such an importance of maintaining a pure heart and not getting into showmanship with these things.
But there should be no surprise. When Jesus said, verily, verily, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he shall do also. And greater works than these, he shall do, because I go to my Father. Even Martin Luther said, we should not sweep these words under the rug, as some people do. He said, these are Christ's words.
And Martin Luther saw a few miracles here and there. You know, we're almost out of time. I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Folks, you read the Bible, and you'll never see the phrase, best if used by, like the expiration date on a gallon of milk, or, you know, do not use after such and such.
There is no expiration date. And the very same God that we read about in the Bible, Old and New Testaments, the very same God that has moved so mightily throughout church history all around the world, this is our Savior today, the Lord Jesus Christ and God's Holy Spirit. So this thing of knowing the Lord, walking with the Lord, the power of God manifested in your life, are you up for it? Are you ready for it? Are you willing to say to God, Father, cleanse me, fill me, send me, use me.
If you want to be used by God, and you want to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, and it's all for God's glory and to point people to salvation, you can be a vessel used by God. Let's do it. One life to live. Let's do this for the sake of the gospel and the glory of our Savior. We're out of time. Tony Cook, thank you. Folks, you can listen to this again at alexmcfarland.com or wherever you get podcasts and digital content. Thank you for listening. May God bless you.
Stand strong for truth. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at alexmcfarland P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-Yes-God-1. That's 1-877-Yes-God-1.
Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of The Alex McFarland Show. Christian author and speaker Alex McFarland is an advocate for Christian apologetics. Teaching in more than 2,200 churches around the world, schools, and college campuses, Alex is driven by a desire to help people grow in relationship with God. He arms his audiences with the tools they need to defend their faith, while also empowering the unchurched to find out the truth for themselves. In the midst of a culture obsessed with relativism, Alex is a sound voice who speaks timeless truths of Christianity in a timely way. With 18 published books to his name, it's no surprise that CNN, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets have described Alex as a religion and culture expert. To learn more about Alex and to book him as a speaker at your next event, visit alexmcfarland.com or you can contact us directly by emailing booking at alexmcfarland.com.
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