My purpose in this article is to help guide you in a further understanding of how to apply His Spirit in your life for living and ministry. I will also attempt to answer some of the questions that have come forth concerning this subject, and give further clarification from the firstarticle.
Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit found in Scripture?
Yes, it is Biblical, but, unfortunately, many people today have misrepresented what it means. Popular understanding is that it is discerned from feelings and opinions, and not from the Word!
To further clarify last months article, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit does occur in the New Testament, and it is for us today. However, the concept itself occurs very infrequently. There are only three references to it in the Gospels. In Matt. 3:11 and the parallels, John the Baptist announces that Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is referred to in Acts 1:4-8, where our Lord promises the disciples they will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Additionally, in 1 Cor. 12:13, Paul affirms that all Christians were baptized by one Spirit. This means the Baptism of the Holy Spirit refers to the initiation of the Spirit to empower the church and indwell the Believers. It can also refer to God's giving extra power for ministry and service, for His glory. Remember, these are not for self-gratification, but rather for further empowerment for ministry. Remember this important point also; we all, as Christians, already have the Spirit. There is no second outpouring for us today following our salvation; this occurs only in the account in the book of Acts, when He first came in permanence.
So, by inference, we learn that all of the Believers in Acts received the Holy Spirit, from one people group to another (Acts 1:8; 2:38; 8:15-17; 10:44-47; 11:15; 19:6). We also see concentric circles of the outpouring of God's Grace from group to group, as the Gospel was testified to that group! The biggest debate in the early Church was who could be a Christian! They first thought only the Jews could receive Christ. God intervened to say that everyone could, so Peter was challenged, and Paul was sent out to the Gentiles. And, we see this with the Samaritans, since they are half-Jews. After that, the Gentiles were reached. God then outpoured His Spirit to all of God's people--all cultures and lands.
We do not see a connection in Scripture, after the first spreading of the Spirit, that teaches that after we become Christians, there is a gap until sometime later, and if we are lucky, or pious, we may receive the Spirit. When we become Christians, we instantaneously receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It does not come later. Often we receive an emotional response, and misinterpret it as being the Spirit. Yes, the Spirit can be working in you hard and fast, but that does not mean you did not have Him before, unless you just received your faith and accepted Christ in you. It would be like buying a car, driving it around for a few years, and then getting a tune-up. When you notice that it is running better, you say, Hey I never had an engine before now! Silly isn't it? So is misrepresenting the Word.
Why is this only a new phenomenon, and why did the church ignore this before?
Until the first part of the 20th century, most theologians, beside Jonathon Edwards, paid little attention to the term the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The so-called neglect the church, as a whole, has taken, has some very good Biblical reasons. The Baptism of Holy Spirit is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as He first appeared for His permanent reign. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is only one of several designations and works of the Spirit, and is perhaps the least important work, referring to His extra empowerment versus the important work of our salvation. So, there are many more important works of the Spirit that should take our attention.
Is Charismatic and Pentecostal theology wrong?
Any theory or theology that is not rooted in Scripture in a clear and logical way is wrong! We are all Christians, in union with Christ, as long as we hold to the main tenets of the faith (see our statement of faith on the About channel). So, in the Christian community, we have differing opinions (see why Christians disagree in our Doctrine Channel). The main contention is the theologians who place the emphasis on Scripture, and not on experience. Reformed and Conservative Evangelicals say that Pentecostal theology misses that we are saved by faith alone, and when this happens, we receive the Spirit, not later on. The Spirit's all-important work is when He initiates our salvation, then comes to reside in us as we become Believers. Because they are misrepresenting the Spirit by placing the emphasis on experience, and miss His vital role in our conversion, the result is that many are led to believe in false doctrines so, Christians are looking to personalities to lead them, not relying on their own study, and solid, historical, Biblically true, doctrine.
Pentecostal theology insists that our initial conversion is not good enough to save us and we need a second experience. They teach (again not all teach this, and it is in hot debate depending on whom you read, and to whom you listen) that it is possible for a person to have been Born Again, and not have ever received the Holy Spirit, while other Charismatic groups teach that some Christians will never receive the Spirit! There is, of course, much debate in Charismatic circles as to when and to what extent the Spirit is given. Some teach that the disciples before Pentecost had received the Holy Spirit already, but they yet needed the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which flies in the face of the actual reading of the passage.
Then, we have the confusion in some Reformed circles that say, "The New Testament teaches that all Believers experience Holy Spirit baptism," thus there is no extra empowerment for ministry. They do this by confusing the coming of the permanence of the Spirit, as foretold in Joel 2:28-32, with the extra empowerment that God gives us for ministry as stated in other passages in Acts that we looked at last month. The universality of the gift of the Spirit was one of the main points in the prophesy of Joel (as well as what will happen in the last days), and Moses' longing (Num. 11:29), which was fulfilled at Pentecost. In the Old Testament, the Spirit and His gift were distributed only to chosen individuals for God's work and glory. The Spirit would be poured out on all Believers. The Spirit would come not only on the leaders, but also on the servants, the every-day folks. Thus, all of the people of God would be His prophets, speaking forth to His glory and wonderful works.
Then the Dispensationalists take it further, cutting God's power and sovereignty into pieces. Now that I have ticked off two-thirds of the Christian community, just go through the passages for yourself that were listed in last month's article. Look to Scripture, and see for yourselves what is taught. It is much better for you to seek God's truth, rather than reading into the Bible your own presumptions, your own thoughts, or what you have heard, and then not do careful exegeses of what is actually true of the Word.
However, with that said, what the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have done positively is open our minds to the power and works of the Holy Spirit that we too often have ignored. Edwards has a masterful work on the subject that I have drawn from to produce this article, which is the quintessential work on the subject We can take the ideas of renouncing all sin, obeying all of God's commands, passionately thirsting for the Spirit, and then ask, and really expect, God to work, because these are in Scripture. So, make sure you adhere to what Scripture teaches, both on these things, and all things!
Why do the Charismatic and Pentecostal teach their aberrant Theology?
I have no idea. I guess people are not comfortable just to take God's Word for it; they have to, for ego sake, add in their two cents worth. Soon, another person comes to do the same, and this builds to the point that people are quoting one another; their loyalty goes to the wisdom of man and not to God. But, this phenomenon (bad teaching) is not limited to the Charismatic and Pentecostals. All Christians do this to an extent, even the Reformed denominations, because pride and positioning caters to our whims, not to solid reasoning and the search of the Word. I also want to make this clear; I am not putting the Charismatic and Pentecostal down. It is only when there are teachings and proclamations that are not from Scripture (from anyone!) and are proclaimed as if it is from Scripture, that it is wrong!
What does the Bible say about Tongues?
This gift is a matter of hot dispute among many theologians in the Charismatic and Reformed camps. So, all I can do is show you what the Word has to say, not what people think it should say! A Biblical definition of tongues is, speaking in a language that you do not know, that you have not learned, so that another person can hear the gospel or message from God through you in their language. Tongues can also be in the form of a prophecy, where another person will interpret through God's empowerment what the speaker of the proclamation said, and the message will never ever contradict Scripture! Scripture also tells us that only one to three people will speak in tongues, never more than that. If it is any different, it is not from God, so beware! There is no indication from Scripture that this gift has ended, even though many fundamental and dispensational groups believe that.
The New Testament does not convey any instances of tongues being used to evangelize, although this is one of its roles. There is also no indication that the 3,000 converts at Pentecost received the gift of tongues. Biblical tongues will never be said without an interpretation, nor will they ever glorify the speaker! Not all people will speak in tongues. It is the least of the gifts. Paul lists tongues twice with the other Spiritual Gifts, and places tongues and their interpretation at the very bottom of the scale of need and importance, which makes you wonder why people are so zealous about it (1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28-30)!
Paul rebuked the Corinthians' teaching, which is the same as the modern Pentecostal view, as an improper interpretation due to their over-zealous desire to peruse tongues and not the Word. As both groups looked to tongues and experiences over and even against what the Scriptures have to say. In so doing they carefully studied tongues and not the Word. Most Charismatic and Pentecostal commentators teach that the Corinthian tongues were not the same as the tongues at Pentecost. They believe that the Corinthians tongues were overjoyed outbursts of prayer and praise that were out of control. Paul attacks the misuse of tongues when they become unorganized and incoherent. Ironically, these utterances often become strange and incoherent emotional hysteria in the very churches who say this. The irony continues with the speaker's or leader's own grandstanding manipulations.
The word tongues, in the Greek language--a very clear, real, and stable language--is not ecstatic speech (a dead language, understood by no one except God, and that comes with extra emotionalism and hysteria to make it more real) as many teach today. The argument can be made for speaking in tongues to God, so that only He understands, but Paul warns us not to lean or dwell on this (1 Cor. 14:26-33). Also, Paul cites its use in Romans (Rom. 8:26), as more of the Spirit strengthening us, not necessarily giving us the words to give to God. Yes, in 1 Corinthians 14:2, Paul explains it as a communication to God, but also notice his emphasis on its orderly use! Order is the key, and the emphasis to glorify God is essential for worship. To have the view that tongues are essential for the Christian is to perform made-up-in-the-mind exegesis.
Too many Bible commentators like to pull from Scripture what is not there. God's Word is crystal clear in these passages. Also, the word, mysterious, refers to the speaker of the tongues not knowing the language, not that the language itself is mysterious! Paul also uses the word, mysterious, to proclaim divine truth not yet disclosed to us, which is in the context of prophecy in First Corinthians. Some argue that Paul refers to an intimate prayer between the Spirit and God. If that were so, then you would not utter it, since you are not the Spirit, or God! However, the Greek is clear that it refers to human languages that are known, not dead, or mysterious. And, of course, God is the principle audience, especially in worship!
When tongues become incomprehensible to the speaker or the audience, then it is the result of misplaced and uncontrolled emotionalism only, and not of God (1 Cor. 14:4-14). Remember, God is a God of order and unity (1 Cor. 14:26-33)! Thus, the gift of tongues should not be sought. However, if it comes, welcome it, seek its interpretation, and search the Scriptures (Isa. 28:11; Joel 2:28-30; Acts 2:3-36; 4:31; 8:17; 9:17-18; 10:46; 19:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; 12:28-30; 13:1; 8; 14:5 -6; 14:1-39; 14:39; Rev. 16:10)!
What about being slain in the Spirit?
This has no Biblical reference other that with Ananias and Sapphira, and I do not think you want to line up for that. This practice originates in the kingdom of the cults, and any good hypnotist can easily do this. People are succumbed by social and psychological manipulation!
How can we get a proper view of receiving the Spirit from God's Word?
I have to begin this by saying; there is nothing we can do to earn favor with Christ. If that were so, the cross would have been unnecessary. But, after saying that, and to remove any confusion that we do not earn our salvation or receiving His Spirit, we are still to respond to His call and leading. Not because we have to, but because of a prime desire to do so, out of a response of gratitude for what Christ has done for us. Because of what Christ has done, we should be seeking, listening to His Word, and applying His character in our lives. Then, perhaps, if it is His will and purpose, we will receive more empowerment of the Holy Spirit for ministry. Thus, we can earn more favor to be better used by God through our faith, trust and obedience, but we cannot earn more of His love or our salvation.
Pentecostal and Charismatic theologies place conditions on receiving the Spirit. That is, if we wish to partake in all of the blessings of the Christian life and what we have been promised, faith alone is not enough! This is in direct opposition to the teachings of the Reformers, and most importantly the Word of God. So, to seek God's power in their view, we have to renounce all sin, obey all of God's commands, passionately thirst for the Spirit, then ask, and really expect. If it does not happen, it is because we did not have enough faith. Now, you may wonder and say, Hey! Wait up! These seem good! We should do all those! You would be correct. We should! However, it should not be done to gain more grace, salvation, or to get a special blessing, because that has already been given to us. It should rather be as a response of gratitude. Because of what Christ has done, I will lead my life to please Him, not just to get something, even if it is more ministry power.
Do not take the radical departure from sola fide, that we are saved by faith alone, by Christ's work alone. We do not need to seek special anointing or Holy Spirit baptisms as a means of Grace, because we already have it. So do not teach if you do not speak in tongues you are not a real Christian! This thinking is rooted in imagination, not in the Word! If you are a Bible teacher, your responsibility is to teach truth from careful study, not jump to conclusions or onto the latest bandwagon of false doctrines! You are to represent Christ, not promote yourself!
What this means for us, the role of the Spirit, and the main things you need to concern yourself with and ask:
1. Is the Spirit at work in my life, helping me to produce obedience and faith?
2. Is the Spirit at work in my life, helping me to subdue sin, and moving me to produce more character? Is He removing from me what is in Galatians 5:19-21 and producing what is in Galatians 5:22-26? These are the Fruits of the Spirit, which are the evidence of the Spirit at work, happening in me! Notice what is missing! Tongues!
3. Is the Spirit at work in my life, helping me produce praise in all aspects and moments of my life, not just on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.? Is my life filled with Him, modeling His character so my heart, mind, and mouth worship Jesus Christ?
4. Is the Spirit at work in my life, helping me produce courage, so that I am overcoming my fears--even taking risks for the cause of Christ?
5. Is the Spirit at work in my life, helping me produce an attitude of what is really important? Am I seeing that speaking in tongues, and the gift of prophecy are not significant, as compared to Galatians 5:22-26, that growing in maturity and character is important, and that we should not even seek tongues (1 Cor. 14)? Yes, tongues are still for today, and are a sign of God's grace. However, the other gifts are much more precious and pleasing to Christ, and are real evidence that the power of God is working in us! If tongues happen, then embrace it, as called for in Scripture. Just do not go out and seek it!
Here is what you need to do as outlined by Scripture to receive His empowerment for ministry:
Step 1: Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior!
Sounds like, duh! But, remember, you cannot accomplish anything in the Kingdom of God without God working in you (Rom. 10:5-13)! You have to be the people of God to do the work of God. This is the first, essential step towards receiving His Spirit; you have to be right with God! You have to have accepted, by faith, the work of Christ on your behalf, His atoning death for you, that saves you from your sins. This cannot be just an intellectual exercise; it has to be rooted in your heart and Will so that it affects all aspects of your existential life and being! He is Lord. His Will is supreme (Gal 2:20-21; Phil. 3:10). The fullness of the Spirit will be withheld from you if this has not transpired because your pride will block your mind from seeing Him. Remember, before you came to the Lord, the Holy Spirit was already at work in you illuminating you, and then became complete in you by His saving Grace. Thus, you must have already received the Holy Spirit before you can be given the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an empowerment for ministry. In Reformed understanding, by Faith alone you have received Christ (Sola Fide), and you have also received the Spirit (John. 16:16f; Col. 2:10). Christ is present wherever the Spirit is present, as there is one God! Hence, there is no second work of Grace; just more power for ministry!
Step 2: You must renounce all of your Sins!
This means removing what is in Galatians 5:19-21, and producing what is in Galatians 5:22-26, the Fruits of the Spirit, which are the evidence of the Spirit at work, happening in us! We must make a clear-cut choice between the Holy Spirit and unholy sin. Which will rule our hearts, minds, and Will? At the same time, we must be aware of our ever-present sinful nature. Although it is covered by Christ's atonement, we must make the commitment to fight it and remove it though confession, prayer, and being held accountable (1 John. 1:8). This is accomplished by our confession and repentance, which means we turn away from the sin and do not do it again. This is the indispensable aspect of the Christian life that is so ignored today. It is not only the opening into the life of maturity, faith development, and further outgrowth of real discipleship, but also what God expects of every Christian! Christ centered confession is to be constantly surrendering fully to God and renouncing all of our sin. We will then grow in maturity and faith, and receive the blessing of the Spirit of more empowerment for ministry. This is not confession about us; it is seeking His Lordship, with our focus upon Christ. This will be a struggle. But, remember, He gives us the power to even overcome our sins--not that we have renounced sin, but that Christ saves us from it (Heb. 4:14-16)!
Step 3: Commit to a life of Obedience!
Acts 5:32 tells us, The Holy Spirit whom God has given to them that obey him. 1 John 3:23, This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another. The goal of the Christian life is to obtain perfect surrender of our Will to His as the primer work of Sanctification. This is the result of having what Christ has done for us impact all aspects of our life. Obedience is a result of our trust and commitment that forms out of gratitude for what He has done for us. The Holy Spirit is given to all those who are in Christ. The Baptism of the Spirit is given to help us in ministry to glorify God, and that gift is given, as we see from Scripture, to those who obey Him. Through your faith, obedience, and through His purpose, He will impact you so He can impact others through you.
Step 4: Thirsting after Christ
We always need to understand we can do nothing to be meritorious in receiving His Grace or favor. But, out of our response of gratitude, we can receive His blessings and empowerment for further service. The Spirit is alive and well in our lives as Christians, from the start of our new life to eternity to come. We must realize that our receptively is blocked by our refusal to yield and surrender, as well as by our pride and busyness. His strength and power remain the same. It is we who change, so He can work in us more. He can also impart to us extra power, but this is rare. This translates into our Sanctification and growth in Him, and we should see a yearning for more--more of Him in our Life, more of Him working though us to the lives of others. This is the thirst after His righteousness and the willingness for Christ to do a work in us (John. 7:37-f.). The key is your desire to be pure after His heart, and not your own, to be so for the glory of God, and not for your own. You must desire the baptism with the Holy Spirit for becoming more mature in the faith, for being more open for Him to work in you so that you may honor God with more effective service. If you are seeking it to get a new power or a new influence on others, you are serving yourself, not God! The whole purpose of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is to point to Christ's work, and to help others understand and apply it to their lives.
Step 5: Ask Christ for it!
If you feel you have the first four steps down and nothing is happening, did you ask why (Luke 11:13; James 4:2)? Through faithful prayer, ask Christ to allow you to grow close to Him, and become humble so to be receptive. But beware: when you ask God for this, He will give it to you! Be specific in your prayers. Do you see a need, and a way that God could use you? Then ask for the ability and help to do it. Be open to other areas of need you may not yet have considered. Through prayer, seek His blessing. If it does not come, do not fret. It may not be time, or His Will. Be patient. He is in charge! We already have His indwelling; you seek empowerment for ministry, and this is recurring, so, pray constantly. As new situations and needs come up, so will be the need to go to Him for extra power. Seek this urgently, fervently, importantly, and purely! Remember, the focus is on preparing yourself, not just trying to get a quick fix from God. You must have His glory and ministry in mind before He will use you effectively.
The Holy Spirit's ministry is greatly needed in the world today. So, we need to seek it in all of its fullness. It is for the church today, and it is for you. In many situations, it is a matter of survival. As you ask for His empowerment, expect to receive it, not because you are special or worthy, but because of the urgency of the need, and the certainty of His promise. At the same time, do not be disappointed if it does not happen. Sometimes it does not happen. We can fail; we can die. We are to seek Him, and keep our focus on our Lord. Remember, you are still in Him, and in His plan!
Step 6: Faith
Why is faith listed last? Should it not be first? The definition of faith is, trusting in Christ who was crucified for you; it is not, expecting God to give you whatever you ask! He is not a divine bellhop! It is last because it is inferred in Step One, and when we go through all of the steps, we come full circle. It is by faith we are to pray definitely and earnestly to be willing and open for Christ to use us. At the same time, we have to have the awareness to confidently expect Christ to use us. He does not use every Believer in the way each would like to be used. His plans are better. Rely on faith to tell you that your confidence is in Him, and not what He gives or does for or through you. If you do not get what you want, praise God, because it probably was not good for you! Our confidence is that God has promised and has given His Spirit to all who believe, which is far more than we deserve or could even imagine! The confidence to expect a blessing must be rooted in the true seeking of His Will and purpose, not what we think or desire.
Sometimes, those of us who grew up in non-Pentecostal denominations may not be sensitive to the Spirit, or may not have been taught to recognize the work of God. How do I discern the Spirit? How can I be filled with the Spirit? By trusting that the God of hope really reigns (Matthew 10:29). Pray, declare your faith to the Lord with passion and conviction. Then, prepare yourself to be yielding and receptive to His leading, which is the fullness and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life. Ask Him for the ability to discern His Spirit!
We need to understand that even as a mature disciple, we will not stay 'full' of the Spirit all the time just from our feelings and receptivity, nor will we stay joyful and submissive to God, and empowered for service all of the time. However, He stays the same. It is we who are up and down in our spiritual journey, in our awareness and maturity. This is because our sinful nature is still there, as is Satan and our emotions--all competing for dominance. However, our goal to be mature in Christ is to seek His outpouring as our great longing. As a dear pants for the flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1,2-5, 11; 43:5). In order to quench that thirst, we must be willing to persevere, and fight the fight of faith.
The power of the Holy Spirit will empower us to be His witness, not the desire for show or for personal benefit! We cannot let our experiences replace truth, so, we must interpret our experiences in light of the Scriptures, not the other way around!
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of 'Into Thy Word Ministries, 'a discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word and is also a pastor, teacher, speaker and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California. He has amounted over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant.