What Was Learned in the Discipleship Movement? Charles Simpson Part 1
In the 1960’s and 1970’s God poured out His Spirit mightily in America in what has been known as the Charismatic Renewal Movement. To many who experienced this moment in history, it seemed to have caught many by surprised, as an “explosion” of God’s presence that effected so much and so many. What is additionally important to remember about this Move of God is the cultural landscape that was simultaneously taking place: the Vietnam War, the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Roe V Wade, divorce was increasing, etc. This is the environment that God was miraculously reaching and bringing people to Himself. One of the leaders of the Charismatic Renewal Movement, Charles Simpson, recently sat down with VFNtv to share some of the lessons and experiences that he learned from being a part of this historic move of God’s Spirit.
What is so precious about this particular conversation is that, as Simpson explains, this is the first time he has sat down to have a recorded moment of him sharing his experiences. As one who has much wisdom and experiences, he begins his words with this preface; “I’m concerned, A., that I don’t come across defensive, and secondly, that I don’t attack anybody, having been attacked, I understand it’s not a good thing.” Simpson continues by recalling a profound quote from Dr. Calvin Thielman, who was at the time Billy Graham’s pastor, “my beautiful theory was murdered by a gang of ugly facts”. What Simpson begins to elaborate on is the significant difference of your reality the moment you begin to apply a theory. “Theories are neat and nice, and you can actually hold them without getting into too much trouble. It’s only when you begin to put things into practice that you learn yourself.”
As Simpson continues to elaborate on the difference between a theory and the application of it, he points out how our decisions also affect our opposition. “When you start to put things into practice, you get into the conflicts that come with change, and they’re numerous and the more radical the idea. The more radical the idea, the more radical the opposition.” When Jesus gave us certain commands, like making disciples, He didn’t expect us to simply “believe” His words, but that there would be an action, a response to His words. There is so much that we learn when we make that step from believing to doing. Simpson continues, “bringing things into reality is a whole lot different and difficult compared to just believing something or preaching something”. Even when we decide to do what Jesus has commanded us to do, we are going to encounter an array of differing people who have their own perceptions about life, and about your decision. “People will assign to you their own thoughts…and when they don’t like what you’re doing, they will attack your motives.”
As one who was witnessing all that God was doing, considering the landscape that America was in, Simpson was realizing that people without a Biblical background or a Biblical understanding, obviously were in need for Biblical instruction and teaching. “People were getting saved out of a non-Biblical background, and they needed teaching. They needed to know, what is the Kingdom of God, what is required, what is the Church, how do I live, and so, it was in that context that we began to teach, what I would call, very practical Bible teaching…” Without this spiritual direction, Simpson understood that the results would not be good. “Being baptized in the Holy Spirit without a Biblical background, and without a clear-cut path forward, and how we should then live, I think can be a problematic thing.” As Simpson points out, this is why the Lord has established His five-fold ministry as revealed in Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”.
Even though this period of history has been known as the Charismatic Renewal Movement, Simpson explains how you can’t create your own movement. It is all up to the Lord. “You’re not trying to create a movement. You really can’t create a movement. What you do is, you latch on to something that creates a movement. There’s a revelation, or a revival, or something that it creates, and you’re just hanging on.” The amazing thing about being part of a move of God is that you survive it. Simpson explains, “Revivals are often like that, as I described. It’s a wave. And, if you’re fortunate, you can surf it and not fall off, or be crushed by it. But you don’t create it.”
As one who continually speaks with humility, Simpson understands that we are completely dependent upon the Lord, and he is not an exception. Simpson openly shares and admits that mistakes were made, “I’m sure we made mistakes. It’s like the first airplane wasn’t built very well, but it flew. You can’t improve something that doesn’t exist. I welcome anybody who can improve on what we did.” Simpson continues to point out how we must be those who obey Jesus in times of criticism; “most of the critics don’t make disciples, and when it comes down to it, that’s the real question. It’s not, do you like the way I made disciples, but have you made any disciples, because we’re commanded to”. This is where we begin to understand the true power of empathy, when we begin trying and doing, and not simply criticizing those that are.
These are such precious moments that we can glean so much wisdom and lessons from these experiences. See the whole conversation with Charles Simpson, and so much more. Also shared in this segment: healing, praying for the sick, deliverance, spiritual warfare, the Five-Fold Ministry of God, baptism of the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, New Wine Magazine, evangelism, Shepherd’s Conference, and the Great Commission. Greg Lancaster and Charles Simpson shared in this segment.