Rethinking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Part VI

If you’re just joining us, be sure to go back to Part I and work your way up to this post. Each post in this series builds on the previous ones. None are stand-alone articles.

Here are some thoughts in review . . .

We have established that the idea that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and tongues isn’t for today cannot be sustained by Scripture. God still gives tongues to some of His children, but it’s largely a prayer language for private use. If tongues are prayed in public, they should be interpreted (so says Paul).

We have established that the idea that the baptism of the Spirit is a separate and subsequent experience from conversion-initiation cannot be sustained by Scripture. We’ve established this in previous posts.

We have established that the idea that there is a normative second-work of the Spirit after conversion cannot be sustained by Scripture. The Holy Spirit comes into all believers at conversion. But His work will vary in the lives of each person and at different seasons of their lives.

We have established that the idea that a person can be filled with the Spirit only once is incorrect. People can be filled with the Spirit many times throughout their lives.

We have established that the idea that the baptism of the Spirit is always evidenced by speaking in tongues cannot be sustained by Scripture.

We have established that the idea that some Christians have received the Holy Spirit, or have been “filled with the Spirit,” while others have not cannot be sustained by Scripture. In Romans 8, Paul makes clear that a person who doesn’t have the Spirit doesn’t belong to Christ.

We have established that to separate the baptism of the Spirit from conversion, regeneration, and being membered to the body of Christ cannot be sustained by Scripture. All three of these things are joined together in Acts and in the Epistles.

We have established that the idea that all Christians speak in tongues cannot be sustained by Scripture.

We have established that our chief calling is to seek, love, glorify, and follow Jesus Christ and to edify His church.

Therefore . . .

May the Lord deliver you from the need for tarrying for the Spirit. If you follow Jesus Christ, you already have Him.

May the Lord deliver you from the need of a second blessing. “You have been given [past tense] all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”(Eph. 1:3).

May the Lord deliver you from needing something else from what you’ve already been given in Christ. For all things are in Christ, and you are complete in Him (Col. 2:9-10). You have been given the privilege of all the riches that dwell in Him. (Refer to my audio series on Colossians for details.)

May the Lord deliver you into a full and complete revelation of what is yours in Christ and into the full experience of it.

In short: pursue, follow, seek, love, and know the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will be active in your life in various and sundry ways. The Spirit’s work is all toward the goal of conforming you into the glorious image of Jesus.

If you liked this series, I’ve shared more on the subject in my book, Revise Us Again.

Frank Viola

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Comments

  1. Matthew Smith says

    I have a question about which I’m genuinely curious. My friend and I had been trying to find common ground on (and a means of conveying our thoughts about) this subject. They pointed me to this article, and I almost completely agree. I just wonder why, if we are filled upon our acceptance of Jesus, do we need to lay hands on each other to pray in the spirit. This, along with your stance that it is another public event similar to baptism by water, doesn’t sit well with me since I feel that it shows it is a separate event from accepting salvation. The reason I say this is because I feel that there is no substantial change in any person by simply accepting Jesus, but by accepting his spirit. So even though we confess and believe, we have not allowed his spirit into the major parts of our lives which is by your own definition “being filled with the spirit.” I believe that such a person’s salvation is not for me to speculate but it is my stance that they would be found in heaven after their death. All of this to say that I think it is not necessarily always a public thing like you say because if that were so then secret converts wouldn’t receive the spirit since they are not yet in a body of believers. I don’t mean to be abrasive or contrarian, but I do want to know how all of that is substantiated by scripture when it seems oxymoronic in nature.

  2. Randy H. says

    I’m relatively new here and from chapters 1-4 I was very sad and anxious because I have never been water baptized** or had hands laid on me. What a great relief when you brought up the scripture in Ephesians that I had been baptized with the Spirit when I believed :)

    As a side note, I’m still very sad that I have no face-face fellowship with any believers. I have been in the ‘wilderness for many years now and I don’t want to die alone. I’ll write more to you privately but for now will continue reading and listening. I do see the image of Christ in you.

    ** Immersed once but it wasn’t explained to me in detail ‘why or what’ the meaning was.

  3. says

    “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”

    “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”

    When we see the works of Christ ‘in’ a person our hearts are drawn to the Treasure we ‘see’, and this treasure is expressed by exalting Christ, and manifesting love for others.
    ***

    “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

    If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
    If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
    Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
    Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
    When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
    We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
    But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.

    And the best of the three is love.” ~ Paul

  4. Susannah Williams says

    Hi Frank:

    I enjoyed your teaching on the Holy Spirit, (although I chose to save them and read them all at one time, so I could get the full effect, so I am a little late in responding). I agree with everything you taught concerning the subject.

    But, I wonder, has it been your experience that someone LOSE the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and if so:

    1) What would cause them to lose it? and

    2) Is the presence of the Holy Spirit then lost forever, or can they get it back, and if so, how?

      • Ruth Thomas says

        I am beyond thankful for locating your teaching/post on this subject. I asked Father this morning to lead me because I have been troubled by what I have seen and experienced regarding speaking in tongues. No need to go into details because what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me is exactly what you have adequately stated. I am thankful to the Holy Spirit for answering my prayer. I have also questioned prayer lines. It seems that the Word revealed is not enough anymore. There are ministries that I can dictate exactly what will occur. A prayer line to give everyone a word. Well, I would like your thoughts on that subject if you can. Thanks so much and I can’t wait to receive Revise Us Again. Blessings, Ruth

    • says

      Following the rule that you should use the clearest verses to interpret less clear ones, and assuming everyone of us here believes in the absence of contradiction in God’s Word, I believe the best passage for answering Susannah is

      Ephesians 1:13-14
      And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.

      Now we should remember that Paul uses a lot of legal language of the time. When you read this passage in Greek, the word translated in the NIV as “deposit guaranteeing” is arrabón, which Strong’s concordance defines as “an earnest, earnest-money, a large part of the payment, given in advance as a security that the whole will be paid afterwards.”

      I think that alone is pretty clear.

      Then the apostle continues with “until the redemption of those who are God’s possession”. We have two more keys here: you are God’s possession (it’s present tense, so it’s a fact for every born again believer) – see also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; then you have “until the redemption of those”. This is a clear reference to the glorification day, i.e. rapture/resurrection of the Church believers.

      Church believers cannot lose the Spirit, because He guarantees their inheritance by the grace of God.

      Whoever I have seen trying to imply the contrary has used the same arguments Muslims or unbelievers use with Christians in general: “so you are now free to sin as much as you like?”. Nonsense. When you are born again, you see sin in a different way and you want to thank the Lord with your life. You won’t be perfect, but you won’t take His salvation as a licence to sin.

  5. Gary says

    Frank
    I don’t agree with your statement’s “we have established.” You simply have expressed a point of view (which happens to be in error in my view). Paul said in 1 Cor. 14:5, “I would that YE ALL spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied:…….. I know your pride won’t let you accept you are wrong in your teaching of the Holy Spirit, but you should not teach confusion to the ignorant.

    [ The rest of this post was slander against another Christian. It has been removed as it violates this blog's rules - http://frankviola.org/rules ~ The Blog Manager ]

    • says

      Gary: I am not sure if you read the series, because I already answered 1 Cor. 14:5, but you are free to disagree with my statement “we have established” even though I believe we have established the said points. 1 Cor. 14:5 doesn’t say that every Christian speaks in tongues or that the initial evidence of the baptism of the Spirit is tongues. Instead, Paul is merely saying that he wished all the Corinthians did speak in tongues, which implies that not all speak in tongues. Paul says this very thing in 1 Cor. 12. Not all have the gift of tongues, he argues.

      Your comment “I know your pride won’t let you accept you are wrong” is a judgment of my motives, which happens to be a sin. I’m happy to stand corrected if you can show from the NT where I have erred in this series. Note, however, that being mistaken in one’s interpretation of Scripture and sinning against a believer by imputing evil motives to their hearts are two very different things. Something for you to consider . . .

      I assume you’re new to this blog and haven’t seen this post on judging the motives of others: http://frankviola.org/2012/10/31/sowingseedsofdiscord3/

      • Tim says

        Frank, I appreciate the way you engage your critics with such grace. If Gary said those things to me, I’d have a few choice words to shoot right back at him. I really can’t believe the disrespect from another Christian (or one who claims to be). I’m learning from your example here. Gary clearly presumed on your intentions and sinned against you. I’ve been reading your blog for years and I appreciate your humility. There’s no pride behind your words at all. In contradiction to Gary’s assumption I’ve seen you accept correction from readers a number of times. In fact, one time I pointed something out to you and you humbly adjusted what you wrote. I’m glad you posted that article on judging motives. I didn’t get to read it all when you posted it, but I did this morning and it’s excellent. I believe Gary is exposing the pride in his own heart by making that judgment against others. If I’m wrong, he will own his sin and apologize to you.

        This was a great series. Thanks for taking so much time writing it and serving us so freely with your time. Have a great thanksgiving.

        • Gary says

          I really can’t believe the disrespect from another Christian (or one who claims to be). I’m learning from your example here. Gary clearly presumed on your intentions and sinned against you.

          Tim
          In a reply, I outlined numerous scriptures that refute what Frank said about receiving the Holy Spirit. That reply was quickly removed (as will this one)from the post presumably because it did not agree with his “teaching.” You probably did not have a chance to read my reply before you responded because it was taken down. Therefore, you cannot possibly understand the context of the exchange. In addition, the end of my FIRST post was removed with the accusation that I “slandered” another Christian. I simply posted a web address with statements from Rick Warren’s own mouth.
          By your comment above, have you not judged and procecuted me by your own words? Have you any more stones to cast?
          Gary

          • Cheryl says

            I don’t post much but I had to jump in here. Gary you are wrong. What you said was wrong. You said “I know your pride won’t let you accept you are wrong in your teaching of the Holy Spirit”.

            This is wrong on so many levels. You aren’t God Gary so you can’t possibly presume to know what Frank will and won’t accept. So you’re wrong there. Then you accused a brother in Christ of having pride which I don’t see any evidence of but the contrary.

            Frank also responded to your point in a logical way so you haven’t disproven what he’s written but that’s besides the point. Your accusation was just wrong. I’ve read the series and there are dozens of comments that disagree with Frank and he’s responded to them all but yours is the first to get personal.

            No one is casting stones Gary except you. We are just pointing out that you sinned against a brother in Christ and you failued to admit this and apologize is the problem.

            You’ve just tuned out two men who have reproved you, I hope you will listen to a woman.

    • Robyn G says

      Paul also made statements, in context of his times and in the context of his calling, that it would be better not to be married…and that too has been misunderstood by many…

  6. Leonard Beharry says

    Hey frank,

    What are your thoughts the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements of God? Do you consider them a movement or restorations of God say in the same light as the Protestant Reformation or Methodism-Holiness movements? And what are your thoughts on the subsequent teaching that came from those movements, like emphasis on personal holiness and the encouragement to “cover spiritual gifts” etc? I understand that you don’t believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from and subsequent and additional to His regenerating work OR initial salivation ( I hope I understand correctly in that being your point.

    • says

      Your question is far too general to answer in any detail. I spent many years in that movement and cut my teeth on the Spirit’s power there. I’m grateful for what I learned, but like most (and perhaps all) denominations, a tent is built on one part of the Land to the neglect of the rest. Christ is all the Land, not just the olive trees or the water brooks or the fig trees, etc. I’ve talked about this in my books “Revise Us Again” and “From Eternity to Here” if you want more. I simply can’t get into any detail in a blog comment. Regarding my view on the baptism of the Spirit, it’s all in this series.

      • Leonard Beharry says

        Thanks frank, I will check out “Revise Us Again” and “From Eternity to Here” as well. Great series.

  7. Nancy says

    Thanks Frank for your good work on this topic. I’m running late today; just got around to reading today’s article and responses. Wow! I’m sure thankful the Lord doesn’t require of me what some seem to. I get tired just thinking about all I “have” to know to make it into the inner circle according to some. A favorite Bible prof stated to his class one day “when we get to heaven we will be surprised who we see and who we don’t”. I’m banking on the fact that God has more grace and loves us more than we seem to love each other.Can’t imagine having such “conditional” love for my children as some think God has for His own.

  8. says

    “We have established that our chief calling is to seek, love, glorify . . . Jesus Christ . . .”

    There is more. We need to be careful not to dis-establish our Father.

    Jesus told us about Him: ‘the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.’ John 4’23.

    When we received the Holy Spirit our Father becomes to us like He was/is to Jesus:

    ‘For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”‘ Romans 8:15.

    ‘And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”‘ Galatians 4:6.

    ‘. . . giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.’ Colossians 1:12.

    The Holy Spirit reveals through Paul His desire for Christ’s Called-Out People:

    ‘I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,
    2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,
    3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2’2-3.

    • says

      I recommend that you read “Jesus Manifesto” http://www.theJesusManifesto.com – you cannot dis-establish the Father by glorifying the Son. All the arrows of the Father and the Spirit point to Jesus. He’s *the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form*. By having Christ, we have the Father and the Spirit. And we cannot know God except by, in, and through Christ. And that is who the Spirit reveals.

      • says

        Effectually, it’s not hard to dis-establish our Father. Just mention His name fewer and fewer times. It happens, especially when the Holy Spirit is petitioned in gatherings.

        It seems to me that, having received Christ we are not required to seek Him but to obey Him and in obeying Him we do as He did: glorify our Father who is in heaven.

        ‘. . . every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ Philippians 2:11.

        Christ ‘has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.’ Revelation 1:6.

        I must take this opportunity to thank you and George Barna for “Pagan Christianity”. It was such an eye-opener and a great confirmation.

        • says

          Thx. for the comment. I think you missed my point about the Father. I hope you’ll read “Jesus Manifesto.” It will give you a different perspective on this. Oh, and it’s better and more revolutionary than “Pagan Christianity.” :-)

      • Robyn G says

        Frank, I agree and have been taught and believe, as well, that you cannot “over emphasize” Jesus Christ and that a focus on Jesus never overshadows the Father. What I have also been taught and believe is that the Holy Spirit ALWAYS reveals Christ…that the Spirit does not draw focus to the Spirit…but to Christ. The Trinity is not offended by the Trinity…but there is distinct purpose in each part.

  9. says

    Frank, please forgive me if you have addressed the following issues I raise, in amongst the various threads of comments over the course of the series. I’ve not had the time to read all of them.

    I’ve enjoyed the series. However, this concluding post (to me) leaves a couple of gaps. It seems to me that your argument concludes with Pentecostal/Charismatic experience not being anything unique, separate or subsequent, not a normative second-work, not a distinguishable entering into any sort of “super-natural” new life different from conversion, not something evidenced in any unique manner. Rather the Pentecostal/Charismatic experience is something that some will experience, some will not, and it will vary. Or in other words it’s not something to “go after” or “pursue.” It’s thus a little “Que Sera, Sera; Whatever Will Be, Will Be.”

    That’s all very well.

    Appreciating the bible, tradition, reason and experience as contributing factors to the theological discussion, it seems to me that little acknowledgement is given to the growth of the Pentecostal church over the last 100 years. Azusa Street through to today has seen the Pentecostal/Charismatic Church grow to over 500 million people worldwide. It’s growing worldwide while other streams of the church are sadly declining.

    There is something positive happening in the Pentecostal/Charismatic church worldwide. If it is not something to do with a unique empowerment of the Holy Spirit what do you put that down to?

    I’m not comfortable with the doctrine of “initial evidence” and its focus on tongues but it seems to me that Pentecostals/Charismatics have some sort of genuine “experience” that launches them into a life of “inspired speech and inspired deeds” (preaching, tongues, prophecy etc to expand on tongues as initial evidence).

    It seems you understand / have experienced this (forgive me if I miss quote). Do you not see this as having empowered you in your Christian life? Do you not see this as something people should pursue? How do you account for the church growth figures?

    Grace and peace.

    • says

      Thx. for the comment. I’ve addressed your points in the series, except for the last question. But you’ve made assumptions that are not exactly correct. And that has bled over to some of your questions to me.

      In short, I believe that what I’ve sketched out in Part VI should be our focus and our pursuit. It is the seeking of Jesus Christ that has been the greatest pursuit of my life and the most rewarding. Not power. Not gifts. Not virtues. But Christ.

      I have a friend who met David Wilkerson when he was working in New York City. They worked together for a time. David told my friend that he hadn’t spoken in tongues for years. I’ve come across the same testimony by other Pentecostal leaders. Tongues is a good gift, but many servants of God have come into a deeper, more profound experience of Christ and the Spirit beyond speaking in tongues. For them, tongues has played a minor role in their spiritual lives. Everyone’s mileage may vary, of course. But that’s something we often don’t hear about.

      • says

        Ok. I’ve done my best to work my way through all your comments as well as the posts themselves again.

        My conclusion (please point out if I’m wrong) would be as follows…

        1. You reject the classic Pentecostal doctrine of initial evidence. A doctrine held by the masses of Pentecostal pastors and churches, particularly that articulated during and after the Charismatic renewal of the 70’s (and held as pretty standard throughout the 80’s and 90’s) as well.

        2. You also reject any sort of subsequent “initial experience” of infilling, empowerment, overflowing baptism of the Spirit.

        3. You advocate the pursuit of Christ and whatever will be will be in regards to the Holy Spirit with the Holy Spirit working in your life in various and sundry ways as you are not a cessasionist.

        This is an understandable position in refuting some of the clear and obviously unacceptable praxis of Pentecostal Christianity at times, such as others feeling “lesser” or second rate, playacting etc.

        My comments and questions are as follows.

        1. In rightly rejecting “classical” Pentecostal thinking and your encouragement to simply pursue Christ, you seem to swing from one side of the equation to the other. It seems like “the pursuit of the Spirit and manifestations has got out of hand. Let’s just move on from this.”

        2. There is much in the way of contemporary scholarship in regards to a Pentecostal hermeneutic that is far more nuanced and grounded than that of the mega church televangelists and the masses at a popular level; the positions you argue against. Scholarship has moved on from the 80’s and 90’s though it takes decades often for this to filter down. Many of these scholars have been mentioned in the comments. I think there is the real potential for some middle ground, a more nuanced understanding of the Spirit and the Spirits role in empowering the believer for mission; inspired speech and deeds.

        3. How do you explain the growth and expansion of the Pentecostal church worldwide and for over a hundred years? It seems you haven’t answered this or addressed this at all? If the Pentecostal distinctive of the Spirit is rejected as erroneous what is/are the defining characteristics of the Pentecostal church that have been the catalyst for its growth?

        • says

          My responses look like this — underneath your comments.

          1. You reject the classic Pentecostal doctrine of initial evidence. A doctrine held by the masses of Pentecostal pastors and churches, particularly that articulated during and after the Charismatic renewal of the 70′s (and held as pretty standard throughout the 80′s and 90′s) as well.

          — correct.

          2. You also reject any sort of subsequent “initial experience” of infilling, empowerment, overflowing baptism of the Spirit.

          — completely wrong. Go back and read Part III and Part IV.

          3. You advocate the pursuit of Christ and whatever will be will be in regards to the Holy Spirit with the Holy Spirit working in your life in various and sundry ways as you are not a cessasionist.

          — Yes, I am not a cessationist. I’ve debated with many of them throughout the years in fact.

          1. In rightly rejecting “classical” Pentecostal thinking and your encouragement to simply pursue Christ, you seem to swing from one side of the equation to the other. It seems like “the pursuit of the Spirit and manifestations has got out of hand. Let’s just move on from this.”

          — Nope. It’s a matter of perspective and priority. In “Jesus Manifesto” and “Revise Us Again” I got into this question in detail. You should read them.

          2. There is much in the way of contemporary scholarship in regards to a Pentecostal hermeneutic that is far more nuanced and grounded than that of the mega church televangelists and the masses at a popular level; the positions you argue against. Scholarship has moved on from the 80′s and 90′s though it takes decades often for this to filter down. Many of these scholars have been mentioned in the comments. I think there is the real potential for some middle ground, a more nuanced understanding of the Spirit and the Spirits role in empowering the believer for mission; inspired speech and deeds.

          — Some of these scholars actually agree with most of my series via their writings. But that’s not the popular view. So we’re working together in those cases.

          3. How do you explain the growth and expansion of the Pentecostal church worldwide and for over a hundred years? It seems you haven’t answered this or addressed this at all? If the Pentecostal distinctive of the Spirit is rejected as erroneous what is/are the defining characteristics of the Pentecostal church that have been the catalyst for its growth?

          — I’ve answered this seconds ago when someone else asked me the question. I didn’t notice it in the first response. I have limited time so I read and answer very quickly.

      • Daniel Boey says

        Hi Frank, you’ve not addressed what Joseph mentioned above – why are Pentecostal churches exploding world-wide? Before Pentecostalism, there had been many groups that basically agreed with your conclusions but there had not been any sustained explosive growth amongst them. How come?

        • says

          Numbers are funny things. You can prove anything with statistics depending on who is doing the sampling. Actually, the Southern Baptists are still the largest denomination in Christianity today. And as far as religions go, Mormons grow at a faster rate than Pentecostals.

          That said, Pentecostal/charismatic worship is what usually draws people. All things being equal, people are drawn to emotion rather than frontal-lobe expressions of the faith. That’s not a commendation or a criticism, it’s just fact. As one person put it, “Pentecostals are like blondes. They have more fun.” I trust you get the meaning there. Pentecostal worship is far more exciting than, say, old line Baptist.

          However, the Pentecostal denominations in the States are losing people. In some states, they are very weak. The Reformed are far stronger, epsecially as an Internet presence. There aren’t many influential Pentecostal bloggers, for instance. http://www.invesp.com/blog-rank/Christianity

          • Tim says

            Frank you are right. Global Pentecostalism is in decline and so is speaking in tongues. Just do a search on Google and you’ll find this in many articles.

            Your quote about blondes was pretty comical. I was a Pentecostal years ago and you’re right, it was the music and free worship that drew me and my family. It was the same for all of our friends. It’s not as stale and boring as other denominations. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is what draws people but like I said it’s on the decline now.

            You’ve written a great series. I don’t know how you find time to write all of these blogs and then answer people, even when some of them seem to be full of pride to me and the arrogance comes through. I appreciate the civil way you respond. It’s the grace and the power of your arguments that keep me reading. Thanks for your free service to us all.

  10. Ann Johnstone says

    Frank, the mere fact that you repeat time after time “we have established” saddens me. The fact is that you have established these beliefs in your own mind, and for your own satisfaction. I am glad that God Himself cannot be ‘put in a box’! And I am exceedingly grateful that the experience of so many believers throughout the world cannot so easily be taken apart, analyzed and formulated by the words of one man. Be assured that the same Holy Spirit you have attempted to bring down to your understanding will take great delight in breaking out of any box you have attempted to place Him in.

    I would encourage those who have read Frank’s series but still have unanswered questions relating to their own experience, to bring these before God, allowing Him to minister to them, bringing reassurance, clarity, confirmation, and correction where necessary. As Paul said to Timothy, do not despise the gift that is in you. We are to encourage and to build up one another, not to bring others down to the level of our own understanding. Just as we were created as unique individuals, so the Holy Spirit gives each one of us a unique combination of gifts. Don’t be hesitant to use any one of these gifts, remembering they are not merely for our own benefit but to build up the Body of Christ.

    • says

      Ann, it appears to me that you are arguing against a straw man here. I’ve stated why I wrote the series, and based on the overwhelming feedback from people who have been set free and helped, I’m glad I did.

      None of my posts have “taken away” anyone’s experience. None have put the Spirit in any boxes. Quite the contrary. I have to wonder if you’ve read the posts (?). Where have I taken away an experience? What I “have established” *from Scripture* is that certain doctrines aren’t sustained by the Bible. Namely, the idea that every Christian MUST speak in tongues to be baptized in the Spirit cannot be sustained by the New Testament. I happily stand by that statement because it’s true. If you have Scripture to the contrary, please provide it and refute the arguments I’ve made from the Bible itself. I never said tongues or any other gift have ceased. I’ve said the opposite. My view of the Spirit’s work is actually broader and more expansive than the classic Pentecostal thesis. I feel that the latter is what puts Him in a box because it dictates how exactly He operates and what exactly marks His filling or baptism for everyone.

      I object to denigrating the many Christians who have experienced and effected God’s power in their lives to sub-par status and tagging them as not being “Spirit filled” simply because they don’t speak in tongues. You may not have read the comments, but many people said they were set free from such oppressive thinking, set free from the agony of trying to speak in tongues, of feeling that something was wrong with them, of feeling that God didn’t care for them like He cares for others who speak in tongues, all because someone told them they had to in order to be Spirit-filled . . . read their words, hear their pain, you may see things from a different perspective.

      Again, your comments sounds as if you think I’m arguing against spiritual gifts. Or against the Spirit’s work. This is puzzling because I’ve argued just the opposite from the New Testament.

      • Ann Johnstone says

        Au contraire, my friend. I have read every one of your posts on this topic, plus the comments of others, which is why I responded as I did. And having worshipped, ministered and studied with Christians of all denominations, I have no personal theological axe to grind. On such a topic, however, I would dare not use the term “I have established” in relation to the Holy Spirit, whether this was via a blog or a doctoral thesis. Nevertheless I do enjoy reading your posts, and thank you for your diligence.

  11. Christopher says

    I’ve followed your series and I agree with you 100%. It is about living by faith according to what the Word of God says about being filled with the Spirit, and it is through faith and living in Christ’s grace that the things we yearn for manifests. Like you advise, “In short: pursue, follow, seek, love, and know the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will be active in your life in various and sundry ways.”

    I have never prayed in tongues, but my late wife praised in tongues. One incident, while sick in bed (cystic fibrosis), she was telling our Zulu maid how wonderful Jesus was and she felt a bubbling feeling come from her stomach and she actually praised Jesus in Zulu. My late wife had no knowledge of the Zulu language and she told me afterwards that it was not something she decided to do, it just came up unexpectedly. We realised that her tongues was in Zulu because the maid confirmed it. (If you’re wondering, we’re in South Africa).

    My current wife also prays in tongues, but also, not when she decides when she wants to. For example, there was an incident when our neighbour had an emergency and called me for help. As I rushed off to help, my wife decided to pray and she found herself praying in tongues. She also described a bubbly feeling coming from the stomach that came unexpectedly. We frown upon believers being forced to speak in tongues.

    Since we,(my past and current wife) were/are one in spirit, I didn’t see anything wrong with me for not being able to pray or speak in tongues because the Spirit distributes to each one as He wills.

    Thank you for the series, and God bless you!

  12. says

    Frank,

    Could it be that the more we are shed of the grave clothes, the more of Christ in us in revealed. This would be rather than that He is less in us at any time, but it is what must be shed so that He is revealed. The ekklesia has “[past tense]” been given all, every blessings in “the heavenlies” [Interlinear, A Marshall] which is Christ in us. The fullness of Christ is in His body, and if He is lives in us from our rebirth from out of the old nature into His Name/His Nature, then He is in us. We could be speaking of the same thing, merely expressing the same action differently. Perhaps it might be that what your saying as “filled with…many times” is the very same as what I just mention. It is His rule, His reign in us, whereby that which is opposite Himself, His Nature, the ekklesia is given the Wisdom of God and as He reigns these “grave clothes” are shed more and more, and His revealing in the sons of God is shown manifested. Please, correct me if I am wrong as to your words and mine. So I suspect, there is no misunderstanding here. Just maybe.

  13. kenneth dawson says

    good stuff Frank–my own personal experiential knowledge of God’s being is that when i got saved i remember his being coming into me and suddingly i was conscious of God’s presence but it took 25 years later to realize that his coming into me was for the purpose of living out of me and your writtings helped me a lot–thanks

  14. says

    I’ve heard some teachings that say we get the Holy Spirit on conversion but the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of power for the benefit of others. It seems like there is some support for this teaching as Paul teaches us to be continuously filled and different occasions when the Holy Spirit came again to refresh i.e. Peter and John being prayed for and the building shook (Acts 4). There are also some powerful testimonies of men and women of God (D.L. Moody) who prayed diligently for years when suddenly the Holy Spirit came on them with power and their ministries were never the same. Maybe you addressed this in an earlier post. BTW, Pagan Christianity changed my life and infuriated my Pastor at the time :).

  15. AnthonyBachman says

    Frank: Doesn’t the Old Testament foreshadow what the New Testament fulfills? Deut. 16:16 is the foreshadow that every believer needs to experience a personal Passover, Pentecost, & Feast of Booth in their lives requiring giving something for each! O.T.-Israel had 3 separate living experiences (feasts); N.T.-the Church experienced all 3. Jesus in his own life exemplified all 3 of them! And I believer every Christian must experience all 3 of them! Passover is “birth”; Pentecost is receiving the Word and the “empowerment” to make it a living Word through the Spirit; Booths is “fulfillment” when we will be with him and like him in heaven! What do we give for each: Passover, we give our sins, garbage, and he gives us forgiveness, redemption & life; Jesus is our Savior. Pentecost we give him our ALL, and he gives us empowerment to live out that life: Jesus is our Lord. Booths we give our earthly bodies, he gives us our heavenly body: Jesus is our Fulfillment for we will be like him in his image!
    So your conclusion: “We have established that the idea that there is a normative second-work of the Spirit after conversion cannot be sustained by Scripture. The Holy Spirit comes into all believers at conversion. But His work will vary in the lives of each person and at different seasons of their lives,” is basically our Passover Experience, the Holy Spirit coming at conversion is Passover! But just as Jesus had “the dove”, the “Holy Spirit”, literally descend on him at His water baptism, that was the beginning of his “empowerment” ministry for the next three years, His personal Pentecost. Booth, of course, is his ascension back to His Throne!
    This isn’t about tongues & gifts, etc. This is about the WORD! Passover, receiving the word; a new birth; Pentecost, an empowerment to live out this Word; and Booths, the fulfillment of the Word in the life of Israel, the New Testament Church, and ever member of the Priesthood of Believers.
    I contend that there is not one, but 3 feasts, 3 normative works of the Spirit, 3stages of Christ like development in our Christian walk through life.
    A Christian can be “saved”, born again, choosing Jesus as His Savior, yet never make him Lord of one’s life, a carnal believer. Man can chose and receive a Passover, but also can chose or reject a personal Pentecost in his Christian walk. Just as Passover isn’t automatic but a personal choice, I believe a Pentecost isn’t automatic too, but a personal choice. They are two different experiences, two different choices! And some will say, “Lord, Lord,” on Judgement Day and Jesus will say, “Sorry, I never knew you.” Their choices during life will impact their fulfillment of the image of Christ on Judgement Day, their personal Feast of Booths choice and experience.

    • says

      Len Sweet and I deal with the feasts as fulfillments in Christ in “Jesus: A Theography,” including Pentecost, but our conclusions are in harmony with this series. The OT feasts must be interpreted in light of NT teachings. The work of the Spirit is multifarious, but they are distinct, not separate.

  16. Josh says

    Hey Frank, I really enjoyed the series. The only question I can think of that I didn’t see covered in the comments was Jesus’ remark to his disciples in Mark chapter 16 listing the signs that will follow those who believe in Him. Any thoughts on that squares with the other passages you used in this series? Thanks!

    • says

      Yes, some scholars have argued that this isn’t part of Mark’s original text. I accept it, however. But “those who believe” I take in general terms, not every individual believer. For instance, there have been many Jesus followers who haven’t picked up snakes or drank deadly poison. So not all have spoken in tongues either.

  17. Harold Thompson says

    We have established that the idea that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and tongues isn’t for today cannot be sustained by Scripture. God still gives tongues to some of His children, but it’s largely a prayer language for private use. If tongues are prayed in public, they should be interpreted (so says Paul).

    Dear Brother Frank
    You give no scripture for this personel prayer language. Question: Why would God need us to speak to Him in a tongue we don’t understand, when we are told in ICor.14:14-15 that we are to pray and sing with our understanding. The Lord knows all languages, and how do we ask what we would according to His will if we don’t understand what we are asking for. It seems that tradition has come into your articles rather then pure truth my friend and fellow brother.I have dealt with this subject for over 50 years as a teacher and as a shepherd of the Lord’s people. We have a group of teachers that get together and hammar out such subjects. I am subject to many teachers, are you? I have a grove worn in my Bible over this subject. Now, so you won’t use the Word against me that says in 2Tim.3:7- Ever learing and not able to come to the knowledge of the truth, I am safe as I don’t arrive at private teachings, I need my fellow teachers to keep me in the truth, we are not an island to ourselves. I personelly instruct believers to go to the Word and study to show themselves approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. There is only one answer to any given subject, but unfortunately some have private interpretation.

    I am sorry for such a long message, but feel led by the Spirit to address this, since you are now spreading this throughout the world. I have encouraged believers to get your books, but now I will have to go back and tell them that you have stepped into false teaching and why. You came out of the system, but I am afraid you have some baggage you brought with you. (Something to consider.) If the Lord gives a private tongue to some and not to others to reach Him, why would He do that, and not give that right to all His children. That would make Him show partiality.

    So back to the drawing board. The gifts of the Spirit are different, and I do also believe that all the gifts are still in place, just not used to show spirituality. So much damage has been done over gifts and tongues in the body and you are not helping to get out of the fog that hangs over so many believers understanding. They become discouraged because that they are not able to do these things. I do love you my brother, but need to withstand you on this one. Just plain Harold

    • Drew says

      Harold – I understand where you are coming from. However, one thing I am interested in. You say, “It seems that tradition has come into your articles rather then pure truth” in regards to Frank’s views.

      From my own “tradition” – I take “tradition” to be what is passed on generation after generation. I think what you were referring to is not really tradition as his background.

      You later say that you are subject to a group of teachers that help you keep you in the truth and then ask him if he is subject to a group of teachers.

      However, if he is letting his tradition (even using tradition as a background definition) seep in, wouldn’t that be saying he is allowing generation after generation after generation after generation of teachers impact his teaching? opposed to a handful of teachers.

      Frank presents each of his arguments from scripture.

      I feel like “the gifts” are not the major dividing issue that so many make them. Believing one way or the other on these issues does not make one a heretic nor following false doctrine.

      Just for the record, I come from a cessasionist background so it’s not like I am supporting Frank because we believe the same. However, as I struggle through this scripturally, I will say that Frank’s presentation based on scritpure, will probably be where I end up.

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