The Baptism of the Holy SpiritFriday, April 02, 2010
I'm new to this arena. My testimony as a biblical-charismatic is about six years old now. And my testimony as one baptized in the Holy Spirit is about a year old now. My testimony there has been recounted by my friend Adrian Warnock on his website. My attempts to walk in it and understand it more are growing. It's difficult when you've been raised as a cessationist. (I thought it was ironic that the featured resources offered on Theopedia about cessationism are all from the dear brothers under whom I was taught at The Master's Seminary!)
My sermon preparation one day back in 2004 on Romans 1:16 led me to a theologically conclusive position on the charismatic and the power of God. This evidently built a foundation for me to experience this "baptism of the Holy Spirit." Now, God has moved me from a theological cessationist, to a theological continuationist, to a practical-wanna-be continuationist, and finally to a practical-real-deal continuationist.
No, I'm not a Pentecostal Charismaniac, who seeks signs and wonders and believes if you don't speak in tongues you're not a real Christian. I'm a biblical charismatic who believes that the same power of God can and often does accompany the same message of God in the gospel to further the same mission of world evangelization and church planting.
I believe signs and wonders accompany the gospel in evangelism, and that they also accompany the gospel in edification of believers. I believe the operation of these things is in the sovereign hand of God alone, and that I cannot manufacture them, nor do I want to. But I also believe that the gifts of the Spirit - including the miraculous, revelatory gifts like prophecy, tongues, words of knowledge, etc. - are within the grasp to control by the Christian who possesses these gifts.
I believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as it has come to be called, is available for all believers, sometimes at conversion, and sometimes after conversion. I believe that this baptism is clearly and essentially missional in its focus. I believe it provides a Spirit-driven power to the believer to do what Jesus told us to do when He commanded us to go to all the world and make disciples, preach the forgiveness of sins, both of which were interpreted and implemented by the disciples as planting churches. The baptism of the Spirit is essential for the success of this mission.
I believe that tongues will accompany this experience at some point, and that these tongues are a missional manifestation of the baptism of the Spirit. I believe that the Spirit gave the gift of tongues to reverse the curse of Babel in Genesis 11. What God created as a curse to make the people fulfill His will, He now reunites in one of the most spectacular displays of God's unifying and saving power on planet earth - the ministry of Jesus. Tongues is an arm of the mission in that ministry of Jesus.
For two Sundays in March 2010, I preached two messages at the behest of a few folks, who inquired to understand it better. That's much like asking a first-grader to teach kindergartners. For that's about as far ahead of them as I am on this subject. Nevertheless, I taught what I knew from Scripture, and from what I had experienced thus far. The following two links explain where I am at this point in my life with regard to these things. Critique them as you will, provide further insights where I had none, and point me in a better direction. I'm open.
I'm not open-but-cautious, mind you, as the cliche goes. And I'm not a charismatic with a seat-belt as one famous pastor is noted for saying. I prefer to say that I am a pentecostal-charismatic in a Jeep going 70 miles an hour with the front windshield down, my foot off the brake, and no seatbelt....but with an airbag which, upon releasing, says "God's Word" printed in large letters on it. I believe God would rather have me operate in faith and boldness and confidence and courage in these things, rather than with a hesitating, ambivalent, timid spirit. My caution comes from my brothers and sisters around me who point out where something might lead. And my theology comes from good ole' fashioned exegesis and hermeneutics, basic bible study and interpretation. I believe God wants us to drive fast in these things. If and when there might be an accident of some type (and we'll all have accidents in living our Christian lives and ministry), it is an opportunity to have our faces planted firmly into the airbag of God's Word once more to be guided freshly in a better direction. This means I praise God for grace. And I take advantage of it, but do not take it for granted.
With that said, here are the resources.
Why We Need the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
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