Charles Pinkney: A Brief Testimony
It might be meaningful to share something of my own spiritual background. Often in Christian meetings sharing among the people, what I call "God talk" rarely occurs. So if I may, I will share a few key events that highlight significant chapters in my own 'God quest.' This will be abbreviated touching on the principle events that brought me into belief in Jesus. Within the writings that I have shared on links above more details and testimony will be shared. I like to call these my God stories. Such experiences reveal how the supernatural intervention of Heaven and the Lord Jesus touched me at important times in my life. I can testify that such experiences were God initiated and God enacted.
personal God story is not unique. The testimonies
of many, many others eclipse my own. I am blessed
that the Lord has allowed me to experience some of
the realities of heavenly (Spiritual) things and to
validate the reality of the matters written in the
early days of the church's beginning when the Messiah's
apostles wrote to instruct and encourage all believing
'disciples.' God is, without a doubt, the same yesterday,
today and tomorrow. The testimonies of which I write
are not unique. These ought rightfully to be normative
to believers and as I said are familiar to countless
others I know. God is very active and is still doing
mighty exploits all over the world in this very hour.
Those who follow after a denominational traditions
would be advised not to disallow or marginalize such
testimonies because of doctrinal teachings from pulpits
or media broadcasts. I will use some italicized
the following paragraphs. These will denote matters
that might be questioned, misunderstand, even rejected
owing to institutional unbelief. In the final analysis,
traditions of men should never impede the truths which
are given to us in Scripture. (Matthew 15)
In a time shortly to come the Kingdom of God will be manifested upon the earth. After the Jews receive their final redemption the Messianic age will come. The glory of God will fill the restored earth. The apostolic epistles speak about the God-transformed life of the new creation. This new creation experience allows believers to be recipients of the down payment of these heavenly things for which Jesus prayed in John 17. (This is new creature is spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:17) Strangely, while we become new creatures of the God kind, the world neither recognizes this or comprehends it. It remains hidden to their eyes.
Until I was forty years of age, I was a faithful church goer. At various times I was a Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and a Congregational church member. I sang in choirs and even taught Sunday School. From the outside, I Looked as good as most any other member of the congregation. All the while, I was aware of a lack of the evidence of any sort of Spirituality. Church attendance was familiar and routine. I had a fondness for the long held traditions. I liked well-performed music. Of course there were plenty of friendly folks to chat with, abeit mostly in superficial conversations. But an active God was absent from my life in any real sense. I did not know Him. As every other unregenerate human being, my heart was desperately wicked, a sinner. My mind was unrenewed. I had no knowledge or faith in the Word of Truth. In God's eyes I was just another tare among any wheat that may have existed in such congregations.
I had a keen desire to really know God from my earliest days. I was broght up with a curiosity about the supernatural and spiritual world. I sought the mysteries of God while in college and outside of church activities, in the world of Theosophy, Mysticism, Astrology and Eastern Philosophy. Of these studies I knew a lot; but these pursuits proved to be only vanity.
or three years before I was saved I returned from
a night at the local piano bar where I sipped wine
and sang in my company of good but worldly friends.
Later that night, I had a powerful night
vision. As the vision commenced, I
saw portrayed before me an huge, ancient book. As
I turned each yellowed page, my eyes met with mysterious
inscriptions. There were glyphs, charms and symbols
representing the deepest hidden mysteries of God.
The next scene brought an amazing transformation.
A the pages turned, the book turned into the Holy
In the next few years, my first marriage had descended to ruin. I was quite aware that I was not a devoted and loving husband, or a good role model for my children. During growing marital stress, I felt greater depression and emotional instability. The marriage end with dissolution and final divorce. A powerful lonliness grew within me. I felt unloved and unhappy. During these years I studied to find out how I might reconcile with my wife to restore a loving relationship. I attempted counseling and group therapy. Yet, no methodology, counseling or worldly wisdom could bring me peace of mind. I began to drink to medicate myself. I believe the Lord kept me from bailing out into another relationship which surely would have been another tragedy.
reached the nadir of my depression at the end of Christmas
vacation from the classroom. It was 1980. The night
of the New Year of 1981, I called out with tears and
desperation for God to reveal himself to me and bring
me out of the darkness and fearful torment I was living
Following this night I wanted to share the experience of my encounter with God, about his power and his unlimited love. But who would I share it with? With students at school? Was there any church where this kind of testimony would be allowed? I didn't know of one. Who would understand that I had really had an encounter with a Holy God? My ex wife only shared that she was happy that I did not feel so desperate and unstable for what ever reason. I did not know where such God-touched believers could go or what they were to do to share a testimony of God touching their life.
My youngest sister Edie had been born again around this time and began to encourage me. Someone told me there was an evangelist name _______, who shared deep Spiritual truths in his teachings. I thought that sounded good. So I began to listen to that man's teaching. His message essentially said it is all in the Bible. There is just so much to believe in the Bible! The Bible when examined seriously had marvelous revelation. He also taught that there was a Holy Spirit power from God to enable believers. I began to read the Bible regularly. My mind tried to read and comprehend the Bible but I would fall asleep before I got very far. I still wanted to go about with my old friends, drink and carry on in the familiar pleasures of the habitual night life. I watched broadcasts of Christian evangelists and said the 'sinner's prayer' every chance I'd get.
A large evangelistic conference came to Minneapolis five months later, in May. It was the Kenneth Copeland Ministry. The auditorium seemed filled to capacity. I entered the building going up the ramp to the second floor. As I ascended the stairs I heard a huge volume of sound coming from the auditorium. I could literally feel the weight of the presence of God in a tangible way. There was amazing worship. I had not seen, heard or experienced anything like it before. People were swept up in a true passion for worship. Their hands were uplifted they seemed oblivious of anything else but God. Although I was thrilled with the experience I still wanted to leave early to meet some piano bar folks. That very important mile stone moment did not change me to any great degree. My heart was still entangled in my habits and thought patters from my old life style.
In the Summer, July of that year, I was doing summer work on property I owned in rural North Dakota. I had been invited to sing in an AG church in a near by town that Sunday. This AG pastor had come to visit my sister Mary in town before that scheduled Sunday. She lived next door to me so I was invited over. The pastor told my sister, her husband, and I about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I had no theological objections about this and wanted to go deeper with God. There was some Bible verses shared to validate the practice. Then there we gather for prayer and the laying on of hands. I was embarrassed and somewhat put off, when I was asked to do something like expressing words outside of my own vocabulary that I did not even know. So utterance was to be released in my Spirit. I said to the group, "I would go home and do it." I did just that. That night I had a deep and life changing experience. Later, that same night about 3 in the morning a friend came over demonized and drunk. I wanted him to know what I had experienced. I knew at that moment How Real God Is. But I was ignorant about too much. I knew too little to be able lead him into the prayer of salvation even though he was ready at that moment. He was open to the Bible and to God right then. I believe that was a seeding event in his life nonetheless.
The morning came. I may have slept a few hours. When I awoke, I was keenly aware that I was experiencing something totally new. I felt altogether different walking in the light of joy and peace. I was experiencing the new creation. I felt lighter than air. The sky was bluer, the world was more beautiful, Describing that moment quite literally is beyond my ability to describe. In the days following, the Bible became my dearest possession an asset I was never without. From Genesis the Revelation, It provided continuous revelation of the most amazing kind.
The following Sunday morning arrived. I was to sing at that church. Throughout the entire morning, I was in the grip of a compelling Spiritual force that possessed the focus of my thoughts. It was a force beyond myself. I became fixated upon one phrase, "Of all the sinners in the world, I am the chief!" For several hours I was inside what seemed a spiritual 'vacuum jar.' To explain, It felt like a spiritual vacuum enclosed in a jar. No other thought could enter that vacuum. That morning I came forward to sing my special. Now I was compelled to deliver that phrase before the assembled church. Who cares what anybody might think or say? The words came out slowly as one delivering up in child in birth. Following after that moment there was an out-pouring of the anointing that grasped me. It led all my thoughts and studies. It led extol the wonders of God in praise and worship. Guided by the Holy Spirit, I was growing quickly in understanding. God was such a manifest presence. As I studied the Word revelation came continuously. The Rhema of God attended the Scriptures as I studied. (As scripture tells us; "man does not live by bread only but by every word that procedes from the mouth of God." (Gk. Rhema) that proceding word, an active and personal revelation to us personally.)
That fall, eight months after my first encounter with the Lord, I returned to my teaching job. Every evening I still smoked my pipe and sipped my glasses of wine or cocktail while I studied the word or listening to my schedule of radio word teachers. Eventually, my supply of pipe tobacco ran out and I never bought more. Similarly, I felt no desire to drink my daily glasses of wine or coctails. I left my supply on the shelf, abandoned, and untouched. I had no desire to buy more. The desire to consume tobacco or alcohol dryed up and disappeared.
For the next 3 years or more years or more, I taught my classes during the day and spent nearly all of my time after work I stopped watching any television. The only radio which interested me was listening to a number of "anointed" Bible teachers. I had no trouble discerning the ones who carried the "spirit of life" and they who spoke merely words. After my 3 hours of radio teaching I would read the Bible into the night. God's presence grew more vivid each day. The intimacy that I felt in the presence of the Lord was a reality. His presence grew stronger and stronger each day. As I said, I had abandoned TV for it was a vexation to my spirit. I was vexed by what was called entertainment. Interest in any kind of sports was the same, it was mere humdrum and noise. Current events and daily news reports were of no consequence anymore. The nice and wholesome music that I grew up enjoying spoke of only vanity and worldliness. I was growing as a disciple of the Lord. During this chapter of my God story, my one passion was being with God and I basked in the warmth of His presence.
this time I began to experience what Jesus called
"the Spirit of Truth." The
spirit of truth was more than just an intellectual
appraisal of things I saw and heard. I felt that I
had been placed in mental and spiritual state where
Jesus' heavenly perspective was imprinted in my innermost
being. The phenomena
of being Crucified to the World also
became a reality to me.
We have read these words of Paul - - but much too
superficially. It is not a mere phrase, it is a state
of being, a state of consciousness.
The Spirit of Truth was evident in reading any printed publications. It was evident in Christian magazines and books as well. I remembered being especially aware of a theological treatise filled with commentaries of academic authorities in a book called "The Abington Bible Commentary" Hundred of pages written by highly credentialed Biblical scholars, did not resonate with truth but academic unbelief and vanity. Most published articles were likewise, hollow and empty, without the Spirit. Such scholarly content proceded from out of the writers head. It was not spiritual but religious. It was flat, intellectual without spiritual anointing. In the domain of work, classrooms, at school activities and times spent with my own children, all public events and professional meetings registered as empty, full of dead noise performed with vanity. I now know this is what Paul the apostle called, being "crucified to the world and the world to me." Wherever I went I felt like I was looking at the world as a kind of display seen trhough a window pane. I could not say I was a participant in anything but an observer from another place. I was the sojourner, the alien and stranger in a fallen, blind and troubled world.
During these years early years, which I call my 'back of the desert time," if I entered any ordinary church house the Spirit of Truth revealed life or death in that church. if the Spirit of God was absent, I would experience a physical witness, a pawl of deadness, a deadly emptiness prevailed. This sense was clearly registered or discerned but it could not based upon intellect or reason. My spirit became grieved by the absence of God life in a church. How long I would wonder have the souls who come to this place, not knowing that God life was entirely absent. How many years had this body of church-goers invested their time and energies in a place that had no connection to the kingdom of God. It was this experience that has compelled my spiritual life since that time. It is grievous and vexation to fill churches with people who did not nor could not experience God in their so called worship services. I that I must encourage believers to experience God personally and powerfully. God life and Godly direction must be brought back into the fellowship of believers. Individual believers must be awakened to their personal callings and potential to minister their own Gift from God. (Read 1Peter, 4:7-10)
Discerning Life and Death in Religion
my time of being discipled in my 'back of the
desert,' I felt entirely like an alien in
every respect. Church-house preaching "fell to
the ground." The majority of sermons or teachings
by Bible teachers resonated similarly, to have little
anointed life, uninspired, second-hand doctrine not
Spirit inspired revelation. I was soon to notice that
emotional hype and contrived preaching gimmicks were
everywhere in evidence. I knew it for what most of
it was. These were mostly words vanity and self promotion.
In the years that followed, I carefully listened to
hundred of sermons by countless preachers, evangelists,
and conference speakers. I suppose I heard every sermon
topic presented with varying degrees of knowledge
and revelation. But whether evangelical or charismatic
these had one commonality, the message was crafted
mostly to promote their ministry with
its roots in the institutional church experience.
Having these fresh insights and motivations, In 1995 I began writing a book which might have been called The Gospel for Dummies, or Practical Discipleship, but I did not want to present another religious book title in the market of Christian Books. These are produced by the tens of thousands for Christian consumption, each claiming some new doctrine or revelation and each contrived to add to the fame and fortune of the authors. So I decided upon this title, The Gospel Without Religion. The purpose of the writing would be to show to people who, like myself who were hungry to know God more but were stymied in religion. To enable religious people to discover God's reality. Outside the context of the religious paradigm, I hoped to reiterate the simplicity of the God life, the way the apostles described it; no more, no less.
About a year after the anniversary of my first God encounter, in my one room back of the desert ghetto apartment, I was blessed to hear the audible voice of God on one occasion in a night vision. I always ask others to describe their own experience with the audible voice. The reverberating many layered voice was laden with love and power. As I listened the voice addressed the message of Ephesians 4: relative to the gifts given to the build the Body to mature us all into the form of one perfect man: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14, that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- "
years following were punctuated with many special
times in the Spirit. There are more wonderful God
Regrettably, this kind of testimonial is not well received among the evangelicals. More often than not such testimonies produce anger or outcries rather than faith-building hope. As one prominent world-reknowned international Bible teacher once blustered on his radio broadcast, "If anyone ever told me that they had a visit with an angel I would tell him, it is time for him to visit the booby hatch." J. Vernon McGee,1990, Such well meaning Bible teaching results in one thing, disbelief. Such wrong beliefs and teaching grieves me. As Jesus the Great Shepherd and gatherer of his flock stated, "How I would loved to have gathered you as a mother hen gathers her own young, but you would not" (allow it.) And sadly the body remains so divided into disassociated fragments we can only wonder when this oneness, this one perfect man come to be?
Finally my brothers and friends, I wish to say nothing in my testimony to suggest that I am any different from another other man or woman that God has called. Needy seekers who ask, seek and knock, find Grace in His sight. It is so pleasant to share koinonia (fellowship of the Body) with those of like hearts, who seek God with an openess to the Holy Spirit. It is my hearts desire that we who call ourselves Christians, welcome and receive from one other who are recipients of their own unique gifts of God. As it states in 1Peter 4:10.; For as many who have received the gift, minister (that gift) unto one another as stewards of the manifold grace of God. This is the very form given to us to express the kingdom of heaven, As it was in Simon Peter's day, so is it today.