Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 7, 1956

We Have Miracles In Our Own Church Of Christ

Ben J. Franklin

Author, "The Spirit And Spirituality In Contrast" Pastor, Christ's Center Church of Christ, San Diego, California

On September 22, 1955, nine of the larger congregations of the non-instrumental branch of the Church of Christ, acting in unison, inserted a half-page advertisement in The Register, Santa Ana, California, Orange County's largest daily newspaper, offering a thousand-dollar reward for a single proven modern-day miraculous healing.

Oral Roberts, a prominent evangelist engaged in a healing ministry, had pitched his huge tent at the corner of the Santa Ana Freeway and La Palma Street in nearby Anaheim, and they were out to disprove him. The money was in a Fullerton bank, and the offer was made in good faith. When the evangelist moved on at the end of his scheduled appearance without laying claim to the money, the congregations and their preachers who had inserted the advertisement were sure that the miracles claimed during the meetings were false and that the evangelist was guilty of making merchandise of gullible people.

These Church of Christ people were sincere. I know, because since the congregation for which I preached was alphabetically ahead of the other eight, my name headed the list of those making the attack! I see now what I did not see then: that I and my brethren were blind to what the Bible actually says about miraculous healing!

I was born and raised in a Church of Christ environment. My father and a grandfather had been Elders in that body. I had attended two colleges operated by our brethren. My wife's family, also, is of that persuasion. We have raised our five children in the Church, with their rarely having missed a service at any time, except for sickness, from the time they were one week old. I had been preaching for sixteen years in a number of the congregations. I know all of the reasons our people give for disbelieving in the miraculous for today, and I believed, with them, that all such power of God ceased with the writing of the New Testament!

In 1962, I moved my family to the San Diego, California, area. There I became the Minister for one of the larger Church of Christ congregations. Shortly after settling in my new location, word came that a well-known doctor and his wife, Church of Christ members from families which had been such for generations, had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit! An Elder and I were discussing this, and we wondered, "How could someone so well-grounded in the Scriptures and so-secularly educated be led off into such an unscriptural doctrine?" It occurred to us that such a doctrine might rise up in our midst and that someone ought to make a more careful study of the matter so as to be able to stop it if and when it did. It was suggested that I make such a study, and I accepted the challenge. Thus, I began to search and compile information relating to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In February, 1963, a Ministers' Retreat was held in the Laguna Mountains, east of San Diego, and I had been assigned to conduct a forum on a subject of my own choosing. I had prepared a questionnaire on the Holy Spirit, and I introduced it to the brethren and sat back to listen. Immediately, I was startled by what I began hearing! Here were more than twenty prominent Ministers of the Church of Christ, well-known men, respected, honored, and familiar with the Scriptures. On most any subject, they would instantly give chapter and verse to under-gird their position. Unbelievable as it was to me, one of their very own, they were not doing so in considering my questionnaire on the Holy Spirit! I heard one say, "Let's not rock the boat." Another said, "If we say too much about this, we might lose our pulpit." And still another said, "Let's not forget how hard we have worked to get our brotherhood standing." I left this retreat sensing that something was not right.

For the next year, I pursued my study concerning the Holy Spirit at every opportunity, staying closely to the Scriptures themselves. I ran all the references in the Bible on the Holy Spirit, making copious notes.

As I continued my studies, I became aware that I and my brethren had side-stepped certain passages, that we had lifted other passages from their context, and that we had built doctrine on assumption rather than on Scripture. I came to realize that there was no Scripture which stated that the miraculous would cease when the original Apostles died — or the New Testament was written! I was surprised to find that reliable church history records much miraculous activity centuries after the death of the Apostles. I became aware that all basic Christian doctrines were given to the Apostles with the intention of their being passed on to every succeeding generation, even the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the accompanying manifestations, including speaking with other tongues!

One morning, alone in my church, as I was contemplating the Scriptures, I pushed my chair from my desk and, singing at the top of my voice, went to the Communion-preparation room to make myself a cup of instant coffee. The song I sang was "How Great Thou Art," but my mind was intent on getting the cup of coffee. I continued singing the song, as I completed preparing the coffee, when suddenly I became aware that the words strange words coming forth to the tune of "How Great Thou Art!" I realized that I could stop the flow of words at any time I wanted to, and I did after I had continued this unusual experience for a few moments. Then I began singing again, and once more the strange words came forth. I felt no emotion, only a realization that I was enjoying what was taking place without any effort on my part except the singing. The words were coming of their own accord.

The following week, I became aware that I was looking at others in a different light, and I had a depth of brotherly love and concern for everyone such as I had never had before. When someone confided their problem, my compassion brought forth tears, which was very unusual for me. The Scriptures began to take on a new light and depth. In passages I had read all my life, I now saw truths I had never seen before.

I did not speak to my Elders nor even to my wife, Geneva, concerning my experience, but I continued to study the Scriptures regarding the Holy Spirit. One day, after I became certain the Scriptures taught that the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit belongs to us today, I told Geneva what I had come to believe from my searching the Scriptures. She said that she, also, had been studying the Scriptures concerning the Holy Spirit and had arrived at exactly the same conclusion! We both agreed that God had so much more for us than we had allowed Him to give us, and that henceforth we wanted God's best for our lives, even if it meant our immediate dismissal from our Church!

Soon afterward, we revealed our convictions to the Elders and Deacons, and on the following evening we were relieved of our duties.

Deprived of any income with which to feed, clothe and house my family, I accepted an opportunity to open an Auto Supply business in Santa Ana, California, the same city where The Register had previously carried the half-page advertisement, with my name at the top, declaring that miracles were not for today!

Even though I had sung in a language I did not understand, I wanted God to give me a tongue with which I could pray and converse with Him at will. This gift I continued to seek, and my wife and I began visiting small prayer groups in homes.

In February, 1966, Geneva received the Holy Spirit, with the accompanying evidence of Speaking in Tongues! I began praying very earnestly, reminding the Lord that I, too, was seeking a language. I asked Him why He had given my wife a language and not me. I asked Him if I had committed some great wrong or was it because I did not love Him as much as she did.

The Lord gave Geneva a number of personal prophecies concerning our future, and these have come to pass with remarkable accuracy!

One Wednesday morning, about six weeks after Geneva had received the Spirit, I awoke at three o'clock in the morning to discover her pacing the floor near the foot of our bed, softly sobbing. I asked what was bothering her, and she replied that the Lord had awakened her and given her a prophecy for me.

For the following several minutes, she gave me the message from the Lord. She told me that He had heard my prayers relative to my having failed to receive a tongue and that He was trying to answer my prayers but that I would not let Him. I was told that my pride and self-consciousness, along with my wondering what others might think about me, all were preventing my yielding to the Spirit. It was pointed out that I had a great fear of men and that I distrusted what God might allow to happen should I completely surrender my will to Him!

At first, I thought, "She has sure flipped her lid, this time!" Then, after meditating on the things she had told me, I realized that everything she had spoken was absolutely accurate. Neither my wife nor I had ever had the slightest idea that any of these hindrances were deeply hidden in my personality, but now that they had been disclosed, I knew that only God could have given that prophecy to Geneva for me!

All I needed now was a confirmation from someone else and I was ready for a total surrender. I thought of the men's prayer meeting that was to take place at the Anaheim Christian Center that morning, so I set the alarm and went back to sleep.

That morning at the prayer meeting, I merely asked for a confirmation of a prophecy that I had heard. During the prayer time, someone prayed, "Lord, give Brother Franklin a confirmation of the prophecy he had heard."

At exactly nine o'clock that morning, my office phone rang, and when I placed the receiver to my ear I heard these words, "Ben, may I speak to you for a few minutes?" It was Sister Bonnie Broome, of the Northside Church of Christ in Santa Ana, who had recently been filled with the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, she began to cry. I said to her, "If you prefer, we can wait until later." She replied, "No, I have to talk to you now! The Lord woke me during the night and gave me a message to give to you. He said you were waiting for a confirmation and that I am the one to give you this confirmation!"

She told me that she had decided to call me three times and each time she had failed to carry out her decision, although before each decision, the Lord had directed her, emphatically, to give me the message! Still hesitating to obey the Lord, she had tried to phone my wife to ask her if she should deliver the message to me. She had phoned three times, each time getting a "busy" signal. It was later ascertained that our phone had not been used a single time that morning, and we have a private line!

As Sister Broome began relaying the message that the Lord had given her as a confirmation for me, as far as my memory could recall the words used by Geneva at three o'clock that morning, the statements were identical! For my confirmation from the Lord, I know of no other two people in all the world whose reliability I would trust more, than the two God used!

The following Sunday, at mid-day, in an upstairs bedroom alone, as Geneva prepared the noon meal downstairs, I knelt by the bed to thank the Lord for the beautiful day, just rejoicing in the Lord. Rising, I sat in a rocking chair near the bed and leaning back, fully relaxed, began to yawn. As I did so, I felt a sensation in my throat as though I were going to speak. Suddenly, a language I had never spoken before flowed from my lips! I could have stopped any time, but I chose to continue for several minutes. All at once, I realized that I had a peace, and joy, and love in the Lord such as I had never known! Since that day, I have used this same tongue at will. The Lord also has given me additional tongues, as I have prayed and during times of worship.

Some time afterwards, Geneva and I became associated with the Anaheim Christian Center, where we became Bible School teachers and I became an Elder.

Then we received a call from the downtown congregation of the Church of Christ, in San Diego. My wife and I made known our convictions and experiences to the congregation, and we made the stipulation that no restrictions were to be placed on the Holy Spirit. It was fully acceptable to the congregation that the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, not man nor men, were to structure the congregation. I sold my business and house in Santa Ana, moved to the San Diego area, and am now pastoring Christ's Center Church of Christ in downtown San Diego.

The Lord has led us to recognize that accepting more of the Holy Spirit in our lives does not make us any less a member of the Church of Christ nor any more a member of some other denomination. We have discovered that all religious organizations, including the Church of Christ, have certain customs, practices and traditions that need to be scrutinized in the light of the Scriptures. During Jesus' ministry on earth, He moved about in various groups, not joining Himself exclusively to any of them; so the Holy Spirit, today, is moving in various groups, yet not belonging exclusively to any of them!

We are grateful for the dedicated congregation at Christ's Center Church of Christ, and for Spirit-led Elders, so that we can proclaim a complete Gospel, without offering a thousand-dollar reward to see a miracle of God — we're seeing the miracles free of charge right in our own Church of Christ!