Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit Baptism

The subject of Holy Spirit Baptism has been very divisive. Typically people are polarized into two camps:

  1. At the moment you become a Christian you receive the Spirit.
    • “Baptism with the Spirit” happens at the point of conversion.
    • There may be later “re-fillings” but all Christians have the Spirit
    • Characteristic of non-Charismatic evangelicals and Third-wave Charismatics such as the Vineyard,
  2. “Baptism with the Spirit” is a second experience after conversion (sometimes called the doctrine of subsequence)
    • There are two kinds of Christians, those who have been Baptized and those who have not.
    • Some groups, such as traditional Pentecostals, would say you must speak in tongues to be baptized.
    • Characteristic of Pentecostals and many Charismatics
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The Spirit of Love, Truth and Power

I was once visiting a church and the pastor announced, “We’re not going to have a sermon today because we want to just hand the whole meeting over to the Holy Spirit and see his power”. This immediately felt wrong to me, and I started trying to think through why.

For one thing, if the preaching is from the Scriptures, then it is “Holy Spirit” truth. So it is not a choice between “Word” and “Spirit” but “Spirit” and “Spirit”.

But then I read Act 14:3, “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” The miracles came, not instead of the preaching, but because of the preaching! So if you want to see signs and wonders, then preach a message that God will want to bear witness to, with a supernatural “Amen!”

So it looks like we have two operations of the Spirit: the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of power. I wondered whether it would be possible to go through the Bible and divide the references to the Spirit into to those two categories. As I started on the project I found plenty of truth verses, such as:

  • “However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth;” (John 16:13)

And power verses, such as

  • “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;” (Acts 1:8)

But then a third category emerged. He is the Spirit of love

  • “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom 5:5)

I began to get excited when I found several verses that combined two of the three and some that combined all three, such as “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7) It seems I was onto something. (The complete list of references can be found at loveintruth.com)

I see an unfortunate tendency for churches to zero in on one, or maybe two, of these three aspects of the Spirit. Charismatic churches want to see the Spirit move in power. Reformed churches love the way the Spirit leads us into truth. New churches are emerging whose main focus is strong relationship.

But what does the Spirit think of this? Does he want us to take one aspect of his ministry to the exclusion of the others? How would a girl react if a man said to her, “I like your beauty, but I’m really not interested in your mind!”

So what does it mean for churches that want to see more of God’s power? Instead of cancelling the sermon, I suggest we need to ask the Spirit to lead us into such an excellent understanding of truth that the Lord will bear witness to it in power, as in Act 14. And then we need to be radical in our love: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22)

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Experiencing the Presence of God (Delighting in God part 2)

I’ve heard it said that if you removed the parts of the Bible that deal with the presence of God, you would end up with the genealogies, Proverbs & Philemon, and maybe not even that!

Everyone recognizes that this is one of the most important subjects that there is, yet very little is written about it apart from the description of some experiences. So here I am attempting to begin to develop the theology of the subject.

I believe that there are three ways that the Bible speaks about God’s special presence:

  1. His presence everywhere
  2. A special manifestation of his presence
    • External, e.g. in the O.T. from his presence in Eden, through to his temple presence
    • Intimate, through the Spirit e.g. Experienced by David and by New Covenant believers
  3. The chosen place of God’s final “residence” among his people (Rev 21:3)
    • We have a foretaste of this when believers are gathered and the Spirit makes God’s presence felt

So the big question is: Why do we often not experience God’s presence the way we would like to?

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Response to "the polite cessationist"

First, thank you for your sincere response! I am going to respond back to you point by point. I appreciate also the comments of RB.

  1. How do you know this voice was from God? Is there not a philosophical-statistical possibility that this is from Satan or a demon that is trying to get this man’s thoughts away from Christ and his promises in the Word by glorying not in the person and work of Jesus Christ but rather in a subjective supernatural experience ? Surely you must logically see that there is somewhat of a chance philosophically speaking.
    • If we look at cold statistics, people do on occasion think God speaks to them. However, Mary had been dying for several months so for the voice to be accurate to within 2 minutes would be highly unlikely to be a co-incidence but not totally impossible.
    • Richard is not a charismatic and attends a cessationist church, so this makes him imagining it even more unlikely.
    • However, Jesus tells us to judge prophecy by the fruit. (Matt 7:15f) The fruit was that Richard:
      • has great joy and peace (fruits of the Spirit) as a result
      • has continued to give glory to God over the events
    • I am concerned that you place the Word in opposition to subjective experience as if we can have one or the other.
      • Jesus promised the Spirit as a comforter.
      • If our relationship with God has no subjective component, it is mere knowledge and we do not know Christ.
  2. Were there other person’s in the room who heard it?
    • It was not audible. Richard said “God spoke it to my heart”
    Thus to be PRECISE every time the Bible talks about the voice of the Lord is it not actually the voice of the Lord rather an Angel who is sent on God’s behalf to speak for Him.
    • What about when Jesus appeared to Ananias (Acts 9:10f) and Paul (Acts 18:8f)?
  3. If this was a true revelation from God then of what use is it to the church. How does it benefit the global church?
    • The prophetic words given in Acts 15:32 were for the purpose of “encouraging and strengthening” some individual brothers. If their words were relevant to the global church then God would have caused them to have been recorded in the Scriptures. Genuine New Testament prophecy sometimes had only a local purpose.
    • How does this make one more holy?
      • This is an excellent question and is the right one to ask. Richard has not stopped praising God for what he has done and giving him glory. He has also received peace through the events. These sound like fruits of the Spirit to me.
    • It sounds alike an attempt of Satan to create spiritual pride
      • I am sure that there is a great danger of gifts producing spiritual pride, but let us not forget that it is the spiritual gift of knowledge that Paul singles out in 1 Cor 11 as sometimes leading to being “puffed up” Yet of course that would not lead us to deny the value of spiritual knowledge!
      • the same logic would lead us to say that the gifting of a Bible scholar is a result of Satan’s work because it could lead to pride
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Looking for Pleasure in All the Right Places

I have just preached two sermons on "Delighting in God". I am interested in the "normal Christian experience" of joy in God. Peter says:

"Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory" [1 Peter 1:8]

But is that the experience of most Christians?
We tend to relegate this kind of thing to "Bible times" or a few odd characters in church history. I maintain that this kind of almost ecstatic experience of God should not be regarded as an optional extra, reserved for a few, but is a requirement for a healthy Christian life. What do you think?

Part 1 notes and download: Looking for Pleasure in All the Right Places
The second sermon will be online in a few days.

My friend heard God speak to him this week

Richard and Mary Bailey
Mary in 2002, with Richard in the background

Mary died on Tuesday. She was 73. She and Richard would have been married for 28 years at the end of May. Richard had a very difficult childhood and was taken away from his father to work on a farm. Both of them had hard lives and struggled in many ways but came to know the Lord with a simple faith.

Mary has been in a nursing home for several years and towards the end was suffering terribly. Richard had been praying that God would take her home.

Things came to a head on Tuesday evening and it was so distressing for Richard that the nurses suggested he left the room, so he went to get a cup of coffee. Half way across the street God spoke to Richard. He just said, “Don’t worry. I have answered your prayer! I have taken Mary home.”

Richard immediately turned around and went back to the building. A nurse met him and said, “They want you up on the third floor right now!”. Mary had indeed been “taken home”.

He keeps talking about the look on Mary’s face. Her eyes were fixed wide open in awe and amazement and she was smiling. Moments before she died she must have had a glimpse of the one she was going to be with. But what he talks about most was that a light was actually shining from her face and body as if it were lit up from the inside.

(I asked Richard if he minded me sharing these facts and he said, “Oh no! It’s a testimony!”)

I was wondering what a cessationist would make of these events.

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Report of TT2-3: Julian Adams - Prophecy in the Church

Stepping out in our churches

  • I am really passionate about moving people from coming to a meeting about the prophetic to being activated and stepping out in their gift.
  • The two Jack Deere books are really good
  • The world is hungry for an encounter with God
  • Story of three young men, unsaved, who came to a meeting where there were lots of manifestations
    • I prophesied to them and one of them began to weep and thought I was some kind of a psychic
    • I explained you should never be impressed by power, but it was the source for power that you are plugged into that counts
    • I was angry that the only source of power he knew of was demonic
  • It is so important that we restore NT prophecy, so that when people come into our meetings they know that God is there
    • drawing people into an encounter with Jesus
  • We need to contend for this in our churches
    • I want to encourage you to step out, because there will be mistakes and fear
    • But went it brings glory to God it is one of the most satisfying thing ever
  • The secret council of the Lord is to those who fear him [read more...]

Report of M08: Rob Rufus - Living in the Manifest Glory of God

  • I grew up in a home with an atheist dad and agnostic mum—no faith in the house at all
    • No legacy of any Christianity whatever
    • As a little 5 yr old boy I felt his presence. It was the same up in my room earlier today
    • I never felt the presence of God again for 18 years
      • My only rule was “Thou shall not deny thyself”
    • Switched to becoming a Hare Krishna
      • Once again felt his presence and his holiness was terrifying, in a Hindu temple
    • Surrendered to him and stopped running
      • Immediately I felt the same presence as a little boy.
      • From then on the pursuit of my life has been the presence of God [read more...]

Report of TT2-2: David Holden - The Holy Spirit and your Church

  • There is a flow in the topics between these three seminars
  • It is essential that people in our churches are filled with the Spirit
    • Sometimes people come because they like the worship
    • The heart of what we are in churches is a gathering of individual people who are baptized in the Holy Spirit
    • This is the doorway that opens the gifts of the Spirit


  • What is the function of the HS as we gather?
  • Where do we get our ideas from? As much as possible the Holy Scriptures
    • John 4:21 —a huge difference between the Old and New Covenants
    • This is a radical new way of worshipping
    • Our meetings have to be Spirit led and so there is spontaneity
    • There is not a rigid structure for worship. We have moved from form to the unknown
    • 1 Cor 14:26 “whenever you come together, each one has a...”
    • 1 Cor 12 lists gifts of the Holy Spirit (I am concerned when there are no gifts being manifested)
  • The HS has a massive role in our lives. We can’t do anything of any value without him [read more...]

Report of M05: Rob Rufus - Five ways of increasing in the Spirit of Faith

  • I have a problem with the teaching that God does nothing except in response to men’s prayers. How did he great the universe
  • Nevertheless he does respond to faith initiatives
  • Jesus seems to be totally controlled by his father’s initiative
  • Other times it looks like he is being directed by the faith impulses of mortal men (e.g. Jairus)
    • Then the woman touched his garment and he focused on her

1. Be honest with God that you don’t have the faith to heal those in wheelchairs

  • The doesn’t mean it is not the will of God.
  • Jesus says, “all things are possible to them that believe”
  • Often we need to learn how weak and needy we are before God will help us. It is not that we are strong and just need a little help, but we have no strength

2. By exercising the Spirit of Faith

  • Story of a blind woman he prayed for. Not healed, but he did try!
    • Peter sank, but at least he got out of the boat!
    • He started exercising his faith, and later on his shadow was healing people
  • Story of a blind baby who was healed a short time afterwards [read more...]
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