Sid: Well I have a young man Larry Sparks on the telephone that he is just finishing up on his Masters Degree and the subject he’s getting it in anyone would like this. How in the world do you get a Masters in studying revival Larry? (Laughing)
Larry: Well I started my program and it was one of those things where I began with a Master of Divinity and Practical Theology. And over time it was one of those things where different concentrations came up. I had the opportunity to go with different things and one of the things that was available was church history particularly revival history. So it’s been really exciting to do that. And I’m just every time I go to class you know some people call seminary cemetery but the Lord’s really used it to ignite my faith exposing me to all of these stories of what’s God’s done.
Sid: Well Larry we’re talking today about your brand new book “Breakthrough Faith.” If there has ever been a time that people need a breakthrough that time is now! Before we even get into the keys for breakthrough I want to take you back right at you were saved at 16 and you started going to a church that was known for worship, but something happened to you that has literally changed the whole direction of your life. You had an experience; a man with an experience with God is dangerous to the devil. What happened to you?
Larry: Well it’s very interesting because and I want to encourage all of the listeners right now that for something to be supernatural it doesn’t need to be spectacular it can be very subtle and that’s what happened to me. I was on a quest to know God, I was looking at different churches it just came out of the blue it is the Lord just awakening this inside of me. I’d got a lot of information about God but information and revelation are two different things. You can have information about somebody but never be intimate with them. And so I got information I went to Christian school but at 16 years old I got my driver’s license, I heard about this local church that had something called Contemporary Praise and Worship which I had no idea I was just used to organs and maybe just kind of the old style of music in a church. I went and the message was good but the music was a little strange people were lifting their hands and clapping and it was bazaar to me but one night it was July of 1999 in that church I was standing there in the midst of worship very suddenly but very powerfully I felt like a heat in my chest and then kind of a electricity in my fingers. This was not stuff I was imagining it was a physical thing again I didn’t fall over I didn’t have anything like that happen but it was so deep and so profound I knew it was God, I knew He was real, and the amazing thing Sid is I’m still living out of that one encounter. Again it was so subtle I still live out of that because it was so wow this God who’s out there, this God who’s real more of Him to be experienced.
Sid: You know if you ever read the Wuest translation of the Bible?
Sid: It’s a fabulous one and John 17:3 says “This is eternal life namely that they might be having experiential knowledge of You.” And to me that’s the missing ingredient of 21st century Christianity. And yes you need to word, yes you need to be born from above but a man with an experience is as I said is dangerous to the devil. So you found yourself going to a church that was in what is called Word of Faith teaching. Now as you and I have discussed before this broadcast I started under a man by the name of Kenneth Hagen I didn’t go to his school and I read all of his literature and I got to know him personally. I found that short of someone that operates in the glory realm or in miracles say a Bill Johnson.
Sid: That if someone is struggling with healing that is the single best teaching that I know, and so this is how I grew up. But then the same thing that happened to you happened to me and that is people took the pure Word of Faith message in having to do with healing but then opened it up to other arenas like finances and then went overboard way beyond the people like Kenneth Hagen took it. What was your experience in this word of faith church?
Larry: Well first off it’s funny Sid because people will ask me you know reading my book or just knowing me in the past they’ll say “Are you one of the those faith people?” And I just find that such a funny thing it’s like what’s the opposite “Do you want me to be a doubt person?” You know it’s just like the reality is the word of faith movement from what I’ve studied and what I understand. It was actually been born out of a Biblical principal and that is just stand on the word of God, confess the word. In fact I was thinking about this Sid yesterday just as we’d been talking about it you know what Lord “The word of faith movement has actually made a huge contribution to the Body of Christ because in so many spheres and so much Bible knowledge, but Word of Faith particularly under the influence of Brother Hagen really encouraged us to put the word to work and actually speak it out and actually just sitting there and reading it which is good but he really invited us that movement really encourage us to put it into action. So I was at a Word of Faith church and so I got a lot of good principals was exposed the believers authority the power in the name of Jesus. Oh gosh another great one was “God’s Creative Power” by Charles Capps but what ended up happening is that we were there 7 years this was not the church I had the encounter with God at by the way this was a different church. And the church where I had the encounter really throughout the years to this very day places an emphasis on the presence. The word of faith church had a lot of principals but the presence of God was not their pursuit it was basically putting good principals into formulas to getting what you wanted from God. I remember there was a teaching series “How to get what you want and need and desire from God.” And the reality is God wants to meet your need I want to encourage the listeners God wants to meet your needs. He wants to actually fulfill the desires of your heart He wants to do those things the problem is God is not a formula; He’s not like Santa Claus, He is our best friend. The Holy Spirit is our best friend; we love Jesus because of who He is. And in the book I really place an emphasis on the knowledge God intimately knowing God because when we divorce intimacy with God, the presence of God from good Biblical principals again we turn God a person God the person into a formula and that’s what we found, that’s what we saw after 7 years of being in that movement. And you know that I would say is the imbalance of the Word of Faith.
Sid: I agree totally with that but you also found some sort of when they went way much further than people like Hagen in having to do with finances.
Larry: Yes, yes I mean the entire message it was funny the tithe messages asked the church, not just this particular church but these particular churches would be like an hour long sometimes, no exaggeration. It doesn’t mean that always bad but it’s just the emphasis when the bent of the emphasis is that church, when the culture of that church is all about using God just to get money and wealth and stuff and using those principals with plug in to the God formula and okay I’m going to plug in my confession because I just want to get what I need from God that just rubbed us the wrong way. What happened with me, and this is what sort of created tension with me and the church, I and some others in the church we looked outside of that particular teaching for people that were teaching about the presence of God, about intimacy with God. And people out there like John Bevier there were people that I knew at the time who were encouraging people to draw near to God.
Sid: Now just out of curiosity did you find yourself because of the legalistic approach coming under condemnation?
Larry: Yeah, yes I found myself in that position and other people did because it got so crazy and sometimes where as if you said something for example if you said “You know what I’m having a pretty bad day today or wow man my back hurts” if you say that people would actually say “Don’t say that you’re going to curse your life.” Now again there’s a balance again they’re saying “I’m having a bad day and they’re saying that my back hurts but then they’re saying you know what I’m going to die at age 50.” And actually believing that and confessing that and pronouncing that and confessing that over your life I believe you can I mean Biblically you can curse your life when you actually agree with the report of the devil.” But man that was the legalism…
Sid: But then because of where they were at and because of your hunger for intimacy with God you went from one extreme to another extreme.
Sid: Tell me what happened.
Larry: Well when we left that particular church after being there 7 years, I was there about 7 years. I wanted to run away from all of that I wanted to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Which by the way you know one thing I believe the Lord wants to do Sid as we’re talking just as He is in me I believe that He wants to heal our sins in our hearts because it’s easy to get offended by that stuff it is. It’s easy to get offended in situation where maybe you or a loved one were praying for healing or praying for a breakthrough and somebody said something real bad to you like “Wow you didn’t get healed you didn’t have enough faith or you didn’t make the right confession.” I believe Sid even as we’re talking about this the Holy Spirit is touching people and just bringing restoration and healing to ascend. He’s actually causing them to remember these things just simply repent for them and I believe the Lord wants to bring a Biblical balance to this and help people to walk in breakthrough. Because Sid the opposite I think, it was even I don’t know if it was just as bad or might have been worst, is that I ran away from all of that stuff almost running away from the Charismatic movement entirely I couldn’t. I couldn’t run away from the presence because I had been so profoundly impacted. So I was running away from the word of faith stuff anytime I heard anybody talk about it use any of that language there was a great offense or anger in my heart. And then what happened is we found ourselves in churches that basically they had faith for when you got to heaven you know “Well if God sovereignty wants to heal you maybe or if He sovereignty wants to move now that’s great but we’re holding out for heaven one day we’ll believe that we’ll be healed and whole and everything and all of our problems will be solved when we get to heaven one day.” But there was not a lot of hope for right now for today. We were in that for a couple of years and it was the exact opposite and what we noticed is I believed that a lot of people in that culture end up needlessly dealing with the devil. I mean needlessly walking in sickness and defeat and just being condemned and overwhelmed. So yeah that was the other opposite it was great theological teaching that we go about the cross and I am grateful yeah forever grateful, but when it came to walking in faith for now for now to see victory now it was quite the opposite.
Sid: And today when you prayed out to God and you said “Okay I feel like a billiard ball I mean I’m going this direction and I’m going that direction. You prayed to God “What is the truth.”
Sid: What did God begin to reveal to you?
Larry: Well you know what happened He immediately brought me to the word, and I would encourage the listeners that’s the best place to go because I was just doing for…I was doing a study of healing throughout the New Testament throughout the gospels just different healing stories. And I got to one and I read it and heard it before and heard message about it but man it really ignited something inside of me tenacity. And it was Mark chapter 2 where you have these 4 men who carry their paralyzed friend I mean the guy is completely paralyzed paraplegic cannot move they’re carrying him on a stretcher they bring him to Jesus they want to bring him to Jesus. But what happened is they get to the house where Jesus is and they can’t get in they can’t get in because of the crowd there’s this obstacle there’s opposition and my fear is that today that would happen and what would happen as a result of that we have a need, we bring it to Jesus we experience opposition and because there is an obstacle and we don’t immediately see a breakthrough the sad thing is a lot of people actually change theology about God because of what they don’t see. They bring their need to God, they pray, they cry out and they don’t immediately see something happen so they conclude “Well I guess God doesn’t heal, I guess God doesn’t want to do this and well we’ll just let God’s sovereign will be the sovereign will whatever happens happens.” I’d be okay if these 4 guys ended up making a different decision turning around going home and concluding to themselves “You know what I guess it’s not God’s will to heal our friend today.”But they did not do that and that just got inside of me Sid I saw what they did they were tenacious they were relentless they actually carried the parallelized up to the roof broke the ceiling, lowered him down to Jesus. And Jesus was not upset about this I think about this “What if this happened in churches today?” And “We don’t even want to think about this oh the service is being interrupted all of this is being is going on.” But if anybody, if anybody should not have been interrupted it should have been Jesus but Jesus did not get upset, He did not get bothered. He said “He saw their faith” and He said “Son your sins are forgiven.” And then as a result he healed the man, but we know what happened to know the outcome but what got me was the audacious relentless attitude of these 4 friends they did not accept the obstacle instead the obstacle caused them to press into God a little further and as a result they got their breakthrough. I’m wondering today for those of you guys that are listening to us if maybe your breakthrough I’m believing that maybe your breakthrough might just be on the other side of perseverance. And I’m praying that the Spirit of God would just give you a supernatural fresh anointing of perseverance and strength to contend for your breakthrough.
Sid: I believe people and that is so key people quit just before the victory. But let’s face it we do have an adversary. For instance I…you know what gets me so upset Larry is when believers real believers say “Well everything that happens to me in my life is God’s will.” What would you say?
Larry: I would say “You know what look at Mark Chapter 2 that’s just one example, one example.” I would say “Look at the different gospel accounts.” We need to go back to the gospels we need to be challenged by how Jesus responded because so many times whether it’s this paralyzed may being lowered through the ceiling, whether it’s blind Bartimaeus crying out, whether it was the woman with the issue of blood. This woman was nonstop blood flow 12 years pressing through a crowd to get to Jesus. These people actually did not allow there circumstance to be final; they did not believe that their circumstance and situation was superior to the word of God. They didn’t do so many people today do and it’s kind of a lazy theology they just say “You know what it happening so I default that it must be God’s will.” These people had something happening to them but they did not conclude that it was God’s will they actually thought that God’s will was actually something very different and they pressed in to receive it. And that’s why we have these stories in the Bible in the gospel they pressed in and they got the miracle, it’s amazing.
Sid: Now your brand new book “Breakthrough Faith” you wrote it for 3 groups of people who are they?
Larry: Well I wrote it first of all for people who are hungry, for people who want more of God and who want to actually see a breakthrough lifestyle become normal for them. Because that’s what God wants to do He wants to release something that is sustainable. Sustain not just a touch, not just an encounter those things are great but He wants this lifestyle to be sustained. So I believe…
Sid: That really is your passion of your life.
Sid: To have greater and greater hunger and intimacy with the God, that should be everyone’s passion.
Larry: Yes absolutely because here’s the thing there’s no limit to how much of Him we can experience. In Isaiah 9:10 “And the increase of His government there will be no end.” There is so much that He wants to release into the earth and He releases it into the earth through His people His kingdom. Where’s His kingdom? The kingdom inside of us so my desire is first that yeah this book would stir up those that are already hungry for God.
Sid: Alright the 2nd people group.
Larry: (Laughing) And really the second group of people would be people who have been offended or people who have had false…exposure to the false faith to the incorrect faith. Whether it was extreme word of faith teaching or the cardinal gospel of their spirit, people who are just about ready to give up on the what they call “All that faith stuff.” My prayer and my earnest desire is that not only would this encourage faith people people that are already believing for this but people who have no exposure to this. Sid that’s why I went to seminary that’s why I went I don’t believe it’s necessary to teach the gospel, to teach the word, I don’t think it’s imperative but I went because I want to do my best to steward these things and equip people especially those who are maybe not walking in a supernatural lifestyle I want to do what I can to bring a legitimacy to that. Sid that’s my desire through this book, through my own personal experiences with both sides and my best theological understanding of the Bible to help people who have just misconceptions and confusion about faith to actually start walking in it and get into and actually get hungry for it.
Sid: And of course the biggest need are those that feel that they’ve done everything they’ve been taught to do and they were supposed to be healed and they weren’t and they’re in a hopeless state you need breakthrough faith. This is what I can promise you you’re going to have a breakthrough of epic proportions this is what I’m going to promise you you will have a breakthrough of epic proportions. I believe that we had 2 of our staff senior producer types that read this book and they understood all about Word of Faith and healing and they said “What a breath of fresh air I feel like I’m now encouraged, I now have this breakthrough faith….When we come back I’ve got to hear the vision you had of the ancient rusty gates that are part of the entire breakthrough.