These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses, and home or church groups.
Learning Together in Ministrydescribes how we all can learn together to minister more effectively. Expanded from chapter 15 of ‘Body Ministry: The Body of Christ Alive in His Spirit’ this book gives further comment and examples of Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered ministry by ordinary people alive in the Spirit of God.
Body Ministry is a popular version of Geoff Waugh’s Doctor of Missiology dissertation with Fuller Theological Seminary.
Geoff Waugh taught Ministry and Mission subjects in Bible Schools in Papua New Guinea and at Trinity Theological College and Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. He has a Doctor of Missiology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and is an author of books on mission and revival including Flashpoints of Revival and South Pacific Revivals.
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
For information about current courses, contact the Principal,
Welcome to this Study Guide on The Holy Spirit in Ministry.
The modules for this subject
Module 1: The Holy Spirit & His Ministry. This module encourages the student to know the ways of the Holy Spirit, to understand how He works through humankind, and how we can build a relationship with Him so that we are able to hear His voice more clearly and follow His leading.
Module 2: Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Part One. This module deals with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit – in particular the Speaking Gifts, the Prophetic Gifts, the Revelation Gifts, and the power, faith and spiritual authority believers have through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Module 3: Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Part Two. The last module deals with Signs, Wonders, Miracles and Healings available through the power of the Holy Spirit, both in the past and in the present.
Module 1: The Holy Spirit & His Ministry
Knowing the Spirit
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
The Anointing .
The Ways of the Spirit
Building in the Spirit
Listening to the Holy Spirit
Module 2: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Part One
The Speaking Gifts
The Ministry of the Prophetic
The Revelation Gifts
Power, Faith & Spiritual Authority
Module 3: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Part Two
The Power Gifts
Healing & Miracles
Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:
Identify biblical themes concerning the Holy Spirit in Ministry
Evaluate theological and historical approaches to the ministry of the Holy Spirit
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of differing approaches to ministering in the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit
Assess the significance of current practices in ministry
Apply insights from this study to the practice of ministry
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares from his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses, and home or church groups.
Global: How God used Catholic students to ignite a charismatic movement
Fifty years ago, Catholic Charismatics as a group didn’t exist. Today, there are around 120 million of them. Their emergence began when the Holy Spirit came to a dozen Catholic students in a Pennsylvania forest in February 1967.
They were from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University, out to enjoy a spiritual weekend retreat at a place called The Ark & The Dove. The theme of the retreat was the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. Retreat leaders had assigned each of the students coming to first read David Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade – a miracle-filled story of a young Pentecostal pastor leading violent New York City gang members to the Lord.
As she read it, Patti Mansfield (then Gallagher) found herself asking, “Why isn’t the Holy Spirit doing these dramatic things in my life?” That led her to pray, “Lord, as a Catholic, I believe I’ve already received Your Spirit in baptism and confirmation. But if it’s possible for Your Spirit to do more in my life than He’s done till now, I want it.”
‘My spiritual life felt powerless and pedestrian. It was like I was pushing a car uphill.’
It first hit David Mangan, though, after he listened to a teaching that weekend that the Holy Spirit could still bring tongues and power like dynamite. Mangan wanted both – the tongues and the dynamite – and asked the Lord for it because his Christianity felt powerless and pedestrian. “My spiritual life could not be described as dynamite,” he said. “It was limping along. The way I describe it, it was like I was pushing a car uphill.” As for what he was hearing about the gift of tongues, he was so intrigued, “I wrote in my notebook, ‘I want to hear someone speak in tongues – me.’ I realized I did that because I don’t know how much I would’ve believed it if it was someone else.” Mangan received a powerful answer as he sought the Lord alone that weekend in a chapel located on the upper floor of The Ark & The Dove, a location that’s become known now as the Upper Room. That’s the same name used for the place where the Holy Spirit fell in the Book of Acts on the disciples after Jesus had ascended to heaven.
‘I lost all sense of time. I was lost in Christ and happy to be so.’
“The presence of God was so thick, so powerful, you could cut it with a knife,” Mangan said of the atmosphere in that room. “It’s the most intense experience I’ve ever had in my life. Time meant nothing to me. I had no idea if it was two minutes or two hours; it made no difference. I was lost in Christ, and happy to be so.” And he got his dynamite. “There were all these electrical explosions going on in my body,” Mangan described. Then he began to speak in tongues. The overwhelming feeling caused him to run and ask the retreat leaders if it was really possible. They said it is a valid experience which happened throughout history to a lot of saints. The experience infused him with a new dynamism and power in his spiritual life – or as he puts it, “It was like somebody told me that the car I’d been pushing uphill had a motor and now I had the key.”
Shortly thereafter, Patty Mansfield had her own Holy Spirit encounter as she was in the same chapel and His Presence came upon her. “As I knelt in that chapel, I actually began to tremble with this sense of, ‘My gosh, this is God and He’s holy!’” she said. Mansfield soon found herself prostrate, flat on her face. “And as I was lying there, I felt immersed in the love of God. I realized that if I could experience the love, the goodness, the sweetness, the mercy of God like that, anyone could.”
‘What happened to you? You look different! Your face is glowing!’
When right after her experience Mansfield encountered two young ladies, they said: “What happened to you? You look different! Your face is glowing!” She was so excited by what was happening, that she dragged the young ladies right up to the Upper Room so they, too, could experience what she just had. About a dozen ended up with her and David Mangan in the chapel.
As Mansfield describes it in her book As By a New Pentecost, like before, a heavenly Presence filled the Upper Room. “As we were kneeling, some were weeping, others were laughing for joy. Again others, like myself, felt like our bodies were on fire. My hands and my arms were tingling. Others, like David, knew that they wanted to praise God, but it wasn’t going to come out in English.”
‘He said: You’re praying in Arabic! I was astounded. I had no idea.’
At a prayer meeting soon after, a student of French was sitting next to Mangan when he started to pray in tongues. “David, I didn’t know you spoke French,” she said. He said: “Oh, I don’t speak French. I only studied Latin and German.” She told him he was praising God for streams of living water and thanking the Lord for the Divine Child who had come. Later, seeking confirmation, Mangan visited a linguist, who asked the young man to pray. After a few minutes, he jumped up with a look of shock on his face. “You are speaking Middle French!” The linguist asked Mangan to pray for him some more. “When we finished, he turned around and said, ‘Now you’re praying in Arabic!’ And I was astounded. I had no idea.”
In the months and years that followed, by word of mouth, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal spread from the The Ark & The Dove and Duquesne University across the world. Holy Spirit-baptized Catholics and non-Catholics gathered in interdenominational gatherings where their differences and conflicts melted away, and all that mattered was that they were one in the Spirit.
‘The charismatic movement is a current of grace.’ “Now we share this new alive faith in the Spirit and a personal relationship with Christ, I’ve seen many walls come down,” Mark Nehrbas, a Catholic Charismatic who frequently worships with non-Catholics said. Another one, Deacon Darrell Wentworth, points out how Jesus preached in John 17 that such unity is essential for the world to believe. “We need to love one another and be a bold witness for God, so that the world can see that the Father loves everybody.” Pope Francis has encouraged the Charismatic Renewal, calling it ‘a current of grace’, and urged the Charismatics to bless the entire Church with what they have.
Source: Patti Mansfield and David Mangan, interviewed by Paul Strand, summarized by Joel News International, # 1031 | April 5,2017
Introduction1 Love God:Faith in God – God our FatherFollow Me – Jesus our LordFilled with the Spirit – God’s Spirit our Helper
2 Love Others:Love one anotherServe one anotherEncourage one another
Jesus was wholly obedient in different ways at different times as a child, a student, a carpenter, a teaching rabbi, a healer, a sacrifice. We can obey in our different situations.
The Great Commission is a call to obey everything Jesus commanded. That’s not easy! But Jesus reminded us that he now has all authority in heaven and on earth and he is with us to the end of the age:‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)This book is about learning to obey Jesus as we love God who loves us totally. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, 23). The greatest commandments of all are to love God and love others. …
We encourage Christians, especially leaders, to obey what Jesus told us to do. All Christians love to speak and sing about Jesus but we may not follow his instructions. So I wrote a mission book about how Jesus trained his followers: Jesus the Model for Short Term Supernatural Mission.It’s the first in my Great Commission Series and this is the second book in that series.Jesus taught his followers to do what he did. He commanded them to love one another as he loved us. He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, to heal the sick and to cast out unclean spirits. I hope this book will help you do what Jesus told us to do. Jesus said that all the commandments could be summed up in two: loving God and loving others.‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).Jesus described our neighbour as anyone, especially those in need. He said that we would keep his commandments because we loved him.Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)God our loving Father expects us to believe in Jesus, his Son, to trust him and to obey his teaching and instructions.And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment (1 John 3:23).
What is obedience?Jesus told a parable about two sons whose father told them to work in his vineyard (Matthew 21:28-32). One son said he would go but he did not. The other son said he would not go but changed his mind and went. The one who said ‘No’ but then went was more obedient than the one who said ‘Yes’ but didn’t go. The story shows how we can repent, change our mind and obey.Jesus’ parable of the two sons encourages us to repent, turn around, and obey even if previously we did not.
Often we may feel guilty that we are not obeying Jesus fully and wholeheartedly. When we pray we may remember how we disobeyed or were half-hearted or reluctant to obey. We can repent, and obey.Some of Jesus commands seem hard for us to obey: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you; whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me; carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; sell your possessions, and give alms; those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples (Luke 6:27-28; 9:23; 10:4; 12:33; 14:33). And that’s just a few of his instructions!
We’re not all called to be Saint Francis or Mother Teresa. But we are called to follow Jesus – and that’s a challenge. Jesus’ instructions can shape our attitudes and actions. We may live it out in different ways in different places, but his commands will always guide us as we are led by his Spirit. Jesus was wholly obedient in different ways at different times as a child, a student, a carpenter, a teaching rabbi, a healer, a sacrifice. We can obey in our different situations.
Our obedience springs from love and flows strong in God’s love. We love Him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus reveals himself to those who obey him in love: “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love them and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to them. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by them and make Myself real to them.]” (John 14:21 Amplified)
Jesus Christ’s cosmic, eternal victory over all evil on the cross is a central theme of the whole Bible. The Old Testament points to it, and is fulfilled in it. The Gospels announce and proclaim it with vivid details on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The Epistles explain its importance. Christ’s victory on the cross is the only basis for salvation in all its fullness, including the place signs and wonders have in demonstrating the power of the cross in all things.
From This Topic You Will Learn
There is a direct relationship between The Cross and the Power of God.
The significance of the cross is shown in how God reconciles all things and all peoples back to himself through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The death of Christ on the cross has overcome the powers of darkness and through belief in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross; we receive that same power over the devil and can live victoriously.
Isaiah Chapter 53, the prophetic word about the Suffering Servant and Messiah, was fulfilled by Jesus Christ during his ministry (Matthew 8:16-17).
BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS CONCERNING THE CROSS
Isaiah 53: The Messianic Prophecy of the Ministry of Jesus Christ
Isaiah chapter 53 portrays the character, ministry, sufferings, death, and exaltation of the Messiah. Isaiah’s prophecy also anticipated the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. As a fulfilment of that prophecy Matthew wrote: When evening had come, they brought to him many who were demon-possessed. And he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Mt. 8:16-17, cf. Isaiah 53:4).
Jesus quoted from Isaiah 53:12 at the Last Supper Passover meal: ‘It is written: “And he was numbered with the transgressors”; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment.’
The Substitutionary Atonement of Christ on the Cross
Throughout the scriptures we find evidence of the supernatural and miraculous signs and wonders pointing to the power of the cross and authenticating the preaching of the Word of God. Interestingly, there is a significant relationship between the Gospel and the Atoning Work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross is the heart of the gospel.” That is the reason why “we preach Christ crucified” and nothing else lest we nullify the message we proclaim. In fact, “Christ’s atoning work on the cross is the centre of gravity in the New Testament Faith” (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 12:27,31-33; Rom, 3:22-25; 5:8,9; 2 Cor.5;21; Gal.3:13; Col. 1:21-22; 1 Tim.2:6; Heb. 2:14; 9:14, 26-28; 10:10; 1 Pet.1:18-21; 2:24; 3:18; 1 Jn. 2:2; 3:5, 8; Rev.12:11) (Greig & Springer 1993:22).
Furthermore, “the power of the cross is first and foremost in the atonement and the forgiveness of all sin that the cross provides” (1 Jn. 2:2). Christ’s atoning work is also the “basis for all God’s work in our lives” as he sanctifies our soul and restores us from the brokenness of sin to wholeness (Greig & Springer 1993: 22).
The apostle Peter applies Isaiah 53:5 to the forgiveness of sin. He says of Christ, who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).
Jeffrey Niehaus explains this: Just as Isaiah portrays sin as disease (Isaiah 1:5, 6), Peter uses Isaiah’s words to inform us that the “healing” of Isaiah 53; 5 is first and foremost a healing from sin. That is the healing we find in the atonement. In the same vein, Peter goes on to quote Isaiah 53:6: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
The work of the atonement is to heal us from sin and to return stray sheep to God, as Peter’s application of Isaiah 53:5, 6 makes clear. It makes physical healing possible (“He took up our infirmities” Isa. 53:4 and Matt. 8:16, 17) but does not necessarily guarantee it in this age to God’s people (Niehaus 1993: 50).
The atonement is central to our faith. Hence, if Christ and what he has done on the cross is the “cornerstone of Christianity” then the time of Christ’s incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension is the pivotal time in the Kingdom of God. Everything in the Old Testament – especially the sacrificial system – points to the cross, and everything since then looks back to it. That is the mystery of Christ’s death and the love of the Father for us (Wimber 1986:165).
The “Already-Not-Yet” Tension of Healing and the Miraculous
According to Gordon Fee, “healing is made possible by the atonement of the cross but is not necessarily guaranteed to be fully experienced by believers in this age.” (Greig & Springer 1993: 22). Fee says: Healing is provided for [in the atonement] because the atonement brought release from the…consequence of sin; nonetheless, since we have not yet received the redemption of our bodies, suffering and death are still our lot until the resurrection (Greig & Springer 1993:220.)
In other words, there is the “already-not-yet” tension of the kingdom of God in relation to healing and spiritual gifts, and the supernatural and the miraculous (Greig & Springer 1993:22; David 1993:125-127). This raises the issue of whether “healing is in the atonement” or not. According to R. A. Torrey, “healing is in the atonement,” that is, “based on what Jesus has done on the cross, we may experience 100 percent healing on earth.”
On the other hand, J. Sidlow Baxter asserts that “healing for our mortal bodies is not in the atonement.” Colin Brown agrees. He believes that “forgiveness of sins is based on covenant grace: God intends that everyone who trusts in him will experience forgiveness of sins. But, physical healing is different: many are healed, and many are not.” (Wimber 1986:166).
Both Brown and Baxter believe that divine healing is available today but the “atonement is the basis for physical healing.” Baxter explains: “it is still true, however, that divine healing for sickness comes to us through the atonement, just as all the other blessings of salvation do.” This explains why some people do not get healed (Wimber 1986:166-167; Niehaus 1993: 48-49).
Moreover, healing as a part of salvation does not rule out the place of suffering in the life of the believer. Suffering, when rightly and meekly borne for Christ’s sake will refine character and strengthen faith, thereby playing its part in producing wholeness (Rom. 5:3-5). The problem with this is that many Christians assert that because of the suffering aspect, disease is to be accepted as part of God’s perfect will them. The Lord can and does use disease and disaster to chasten his children in the short term (Ps. 119:67-71), but Peter definitely states that Christians should not regard this as God’s perfect will (1 Peter 1:24). In other words, by New Testament standards, asking for and receiving healing is the norm not the exception (MacNutt 1988:88).
The Power of The Cross
The Gospel could and would have been believed apart from any miracles for the Word of God is complete, not deficient. It is “the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16). Christian miracles and healings are a gracious gift from God and may serve many functions including the authentication of the Gospel message, but they are not a necessity – on their own they mean nothing (Deere 1993:114; Greig & Springer 1993:23).
The cross of Christ is the solution to every problem on earth. However, healing and spiritual gifts are not the solution to every problem nor is the cross limited to or equivalent to spiritual gifts and healing. As mentioned earlier, the atoning work of Christ on the cross to forgives sin is the fountainhead, the cornerstone, from which all other blessings flow including healing and spiritual gifts (Greig & Springer 1993:23; cf. 2 Peter 1:3)
Love: The Motivating Power of the Cross
When we view ourselves as failures and unworthy of the love of God, we will not want to draw close him. The fact is that he not only loves us but also cares and accepts us just the way we are. Not only did Christ die for our sins, he died for us.
When we look at the atonement of Christ, we look not just to the work that was done but at the Person of Christ who is the embodiment of love for God is love. In doing so we get a better picture of the personhood, nature, and kingdom of God. Our Christian faith rests not only in what Jesus has done and will do but also in who he is. Jesus is love and power at the same time.
Jesus never used his power either to show off or to serve his own ends. Jesus’ use of spiritual power was always a means, never an end. He used God’s power always to demonstrate the love and nature of God. The purpose of spiritual power in Christianity then is to show love and compassion for others. It also gives us opportunity to serve them and God. Jesus has the authority and power to forgive sins. Likewise he has given all believers the authority to forgive (John 20: 23). He also graces them to receive forgiveness anytime (1 John 1:9). Satan frequently uses guilt and condemnation to cripple Christians, even after they have supposedly repented and asked for forgiveness. Knowing that in Christ there is forgiveness and no condemnation, we can come boldly to him for we have access to God (2 Cor. 5:7; Rom. 8:1; Heb.10-19-23).
THE EPISTLES ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CROSS
The Apostle Paul emphasised the significance of the cross in many of his letters. These are some of the main passages on the cross from the epistles.
1 Corinthians1:17-18, 23-24
For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect… but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and the Greeks, foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
There is a direct relationship between the cross and the power of God as well as the unfathomable wisdom of God – far beyond all human power and wisdom.
But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
The Galatians had problems with legalism. Today, we also slide into rules and become legalistic. For example, we are ruled more by the clock rather than the promptings of the Spirit in our meetings.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ. For he himself …has broken down the middle wall of division… so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity…. For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
In the New Testament time, this enmity was the division particularly between the Jews and the Gentiles. For them and for us today, the significance and importance of the cross is that it reconciles us back to God.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…a servant, and … as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In the biblical times, the cross was meant to be cruel and despicable yet God used it for his redemptive purposes. Here, the focus is not so much the individual salvation (which is very important to God) but it is about bringing the whole cosmos and universe back to God, himself through Jesus death on the cross.
For it pleased the Father that in him all the fullness should dwell, and by him to reconcile all things to himself, by him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of his cross.
The cross is the focus of how God reconciles all things to himself. The victory of the death of Jesus on the cross is far greater than salvation for people, although it includes that amazing triumph. It involves reconciling everything to God or bringing everything into harmony with him.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which as contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
The legal right of the devil and his demons has been removed by the Cross. Therefore, we can repent and their legal right to afflict and torment and influence us is removed from our lives. To experientially know and understand this truth is important in moving in signs and wonders.
This is a paradoxical truth because most of the time, it is when we are most helpless, that God demonstrates his power and authority over the devil in our lives. For example, this can be seen in the life of Moses as the redeemer of Israel in the book of Exodus.
For us today, culturally, we can live lives independent of God. The cross rips all of this independence away and in our weaknesses we are strengthened by God. God comes to us in our weaknesses – so quickly. God is not so much impressed by our best strengths but in our frail weaknesses God comes to us immediately – right there and then. It is then that it becomes a knowing that it is not us but it is God working in and through us.
The volume of our emptiness determines our filling in…Heaven does not run out, earth just stopped being empty and hungry…When you get hungry, He gets close. Brokenness on earth opens heaven for He is near to those with a broken heart. – Tommy Tenney
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus, who both was 100% God and 100% man, became incarnate. He took on a human body and all it weaknesses yet resisted temptation and remained sinless. He lived in holiness and outworked all that the first Adam had fallen from and he became the second Adam who is a life giving being and spirit.
Jesus through the cross conquered, overcome, triumphed and won the victory over all the forces of darkness, death, sin, sicknesses and diseases, and all the obstacles in obtaining salvation for all who would believe.
Reality is this: what he did on the cross provided redemption for mankind. It’s a free gift for all. We simply need to appropriate it. Our understanding of who we are in Christ must be awakened and quickened to this reality. Only in understanding this reality will we be able to walk victoriously just as Jesus did who is the author and finisher of our faith.
The prayer of faith (James 5:15) can only be exercised in the light of God’s will. Faith is based upon a word from God and not merely on positive thinking. It is not that we believing something so strongly that we make it come true – or that God must do what we believe will happen. The prayer of faith can only be prayed when God speaks to reveal his will and intention. Occasionally, God makes his will known clearly. In all the cases, it is exciting to pray a prayer of faith – and watch God work.
Major Points of this Topic
Jesus’ death on the cross, validated in his resurrection, is central to all Scripture.
The victory of Christ Jesus on the cross has secured for us freedom, authority, and our victory over sin, death, and the powers of the evil one.
The cross focuses us on God’s redemptive plan of reconciling all people and all things to himself.
Review or Discussion Questions
Explain the relationship between the cross and the power of God.
Give some of the Pauline scriptural verses that explain the significance of the Cross.
Why is the atonement the cornerstone of Christianity and the heart of the Gospel?
Discuss: The offence of the cross. Refer to 1 Cor. 1:17-18, 23-24.
Discuss Isaiah 53. Why is it called a Servant Song or the “gospel” chapter of the Old Testament?
Discuss: Salvation is in the atonement but healing is through the atonement.
Further Readings or Research
Lake, John G. 1994. “The offence of the Cross.” Chapter 26 in John G. Lake: His life, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith. Published by Kenneth Copeland Ministries, pp. 277-283.
The Kingdom and The Power edited by Gary Greig and Kevin Springer. 1993.
Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere. 1993. pp. 109-110
A Theology of the New Testament by George Eldon Ladd. 1989. Chap 3#.
Power Healing by John Wimber. 1986. Ch. 8 .
Renewal Theology by Rodman Williams. 1996. Volume 1, ch.14: The Atonement.
See also The Lion of Judah (4) The Death of Jesus, by Geoff Waugh (2015)
Much of this Study Guide material is adapted with permission from materials used in the former Fuller Theological Seminary course taught by John Wimber, MC510: Signs and Wonders and Church Growth (1984). John Wimber and Kevin Springer adapted some of that material for their two books Power Evangelism (1985) and Power Healing (1986). Geoff Waugh attended that course in 1984 as did John White who then further researched this topic and in 1988 published his book with InterVarsity Press, When the Spirit comes with Power: Signs and Wonders among God’s People.
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by Rowland Croucher
. The Rev. Dr Rowland Croucher wrote as a Baptist minister and was editor of the newsletter Grid. This chapter is adapted from the Summer 1986 issue.Also reproduced in John Mark Ministries
Charismatic renewal is not going way. According to David Barrett, editor of World Christian Encyclopedia, pentecostals and charismatics numbered an estimated 100 million worldwide in 1980. He says that number jumped to about 150 million by 1985 and 337 million by 1989.
The word charismatic (Greek ‘charisma’ – a gift of grace) is useful as an adjective but sometimes offensive as a noun. Here we will reluctanly use charismatic as a noun, and as an adjective, but with the understanding that every true Christian is charismatic.
We are now hearing about post-charismatics. They had assumed the experiences in Acts 2,8,10,19 and 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 were normative for all Christians for all times. Having sought an emotional high, they found that their version of the charismatic renewal promised more than it delivered.
Let us work through the myths or misconceptions in order.
1. Renewal is a fairly modern phenomenon
Those unfamiliar with the mistakes of the past, as Santayana said, are likely to repeat them. Movements of religious renewal are not new. That happens when something lost is found: the book of the law (Josiah), prayer and asceticism (Desert Fathers), simple lifestyle (Franciscans), justification by faith (Luther), sanctification (Wesley), spiritual gifts (Pentecostals).
Christian renewal emphasizes the church’s organic, communal nature and tends to idealise the primitive apostolic church. Static institutions are challenged to change and become dynamic.
Traditionalists are usually blind to the disparity between the institution’s claims and its ineffectiveness. Renewalists often have little, or an idealised, sense of history; God is on their side and against the institution. They don’t realize that they too will set up new institutions which will eventually settle down, preserve a status quo and be challenged again.
Howard Snyder and others have helped us formulate a mediating model of the church, which affirms history and expects renewal – both.
. 2. Enthusiasm is a sign of immaturity
Not necessarily. Stolid Anglo-Saxons may not approve of too much enthusiasm, but other cultures (Latins, Africans) like it. Two Israelite leaders, Eldad and Medad, got excited when the Spirit fell on them, so Joshua the institutional spokesman told Moses to stop them. Moses retorted by wishing the Spirit might similarly fall on the lot of them (Numbers 11:26-30)!
Experiences of some of the mystics (Richard Rolle, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross), reveal an affinity to modern charismatic phenomena.
The Holy Spirit being manifested in a person, a culture or an age produces various attitudes: an ordering attitude, a praying attitude, a questioning attitude, and an attitude of receiving. Without the receptive attitude the other three dry up. Mark Hillmer says that without mystical experience, without an ongoing awareness of the presence of God, we do not live a full and rich Christian life. The charismatic renewal represents the re-entry into the world of the felt presence of God. It means that mysticism, the attitude of receiving, is being renewed for us.
In all renewal movements there is a predictable dialectic: a move far enough one way will cause the pendulum to swing back to the other extreme.
The sad history of enthusiasts illustrates both the dangers of unchecked fervency not centred on the revelation of Jesus Christ, and also the inadequacy of merely institutional or rational authority. The faith is endangered when Christians have to choose between this uncontrolled fervency and dessicated, authoritative, uninspired orthodoxies in Protestantism or Catholicism. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love and community, the Spirit of reflection and control.
. 3. Pentecostalism is an ecclesiastical abberation that can be ignored
Not without reason has Pentecostalism been called the third force within Christendom. Pentecostalism teaches a necessary second stage in a believer’s relationship to the Lord – baptism in the Spirit – whose initial evidence is speaking in tongues. Its mission has been to restore spiritual gifts that had been neglected or opposed by the churches: tongues, interpretation, prophecy, faith, miracles, healing, wisdom, knowledge, and discernment (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
. 4. Charismatic renewal in the 1960’s and 1970’s was indistinguishable from the older Pentecostalism
The Neo-pentecostal renewal began in a significant way in the historic churches in the 1950’s.
Catholic charismatic renewal (the term Neo-pentecostal soon went out of vogue) probably goes back to Pope John XXIII convoking the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and his prayer that the Holy Spirit would renew the church as by a new Pentecost.
Charles Hummell uses a World War II analogy to explain what happened. Pentecostalists based their pneumatology on the Synoptics and Acts: wasn’t Jesus first conceived by the Holy Spirit, then later baptized in the Spirit? Didn’t the disciples receive the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them, but were later filled with the Spirit at Pentecost?
Traditional theologies, on the other hand, were Pauline. They said you mustn’t build doctrines from these events in the primitive church, but rather ask ‘What do the New Testament letters to various churches teach us?’ And only once is baptizing in the Spirit explicitly referred to there (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). And so the battle-lines formed, and the troops became entrenched within their fixed positions.
It was something like the French Maginot Line facing the equally impregnable Siegfried Line. Each army was safe behind its ramparts but unable to advance. Suddenly the German panzer divisions moved swiftly around these fixed positions and rolled into Paris without a pitched battle.
So with our little theologies. We fight our wars, protect territory already won, and are often ill-prepared to take new ground. Hummell explains that for decades pentecostal and traditional theologies of the baptism in the Spirit faced each other along one major doctrinal battle line. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit moved around these fixed positions to infiltrate charismatic renewal behind the lines in mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.
Catholic charismatic renewal has less emphasis on spiritual gifts and more on nurturing a personal relationship with Christ and on developing Christian community. In 1979 the Australian Catholic Theological Association said that through the movement thousands of Australian Catholic men and women were able to experience a deeper conversion to Jesus Christ; a renewal of faith; an introduction to a serious prayer life; a new appreciation of the Scriptures; an openness to the use of their gifts from the Holy Spirit; a commitment to evangelism.
. 5. Conservative churches are frightened to touch charismatic renewal because it is an all-or-nothing package
Peter Wagner, professor of church growth at Fuller Seminary has popularized the notion of a third wave of renewal experienced in many churches in the 1980’s. He says that many historians feel this century has seen the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit since the first century or two. The first wave came with the pentecostal movement. The second came around the middle of the century with the charistmatic movement. The third wave is more recent, having begun around 1980, with the same powerful, supernatural acts of the Holy Spirit which had been confined to pentecostals and charismatics now being seen in a growing number of evangelical churches.
Wagner goes on to talk about his ‘120 Fellowship’ that meets from 7.30 to 9.15 Sunday mornings. They see signs and wonders on a regular basis. They don’t teach a baptism in the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace but see the Spirit’s impact as a filling or anointing of the Spirit which may happen to a person many times. They do not permit themselves to be called Spirit-filled Christians, as if others in the church were something less than Spirit-filled.
They try to avoid the Corinthian error concerning tongues; they neither forbid nor stress it. They treat tongues as just another spiritual gift, not as a badge of spirituality. Many pray in tongues, but they do not encourage public tongues in their class.
Wagner sees the third wave of the Spirit as an opening of the evangelicals and other Christians to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. He notes evidence of this in many mainline churches now incorporating renewal in their worship service, sponsoring healing services, or praying for healing and deliverance in their normal worship times.
. 6. There’s only one way to understand the term baptism in the Spirit
Baptism in the Spirit, in the pentecostal and charistmatic traditions, is an effusion of God’s Spirit upon a Christian with power for praise, witness and service. It is an experience which initiates a decisively new sense of the powerful presence and working of God in one’s life, and usually involves one or more charismatic gifts, observes Francis Sullivan. Pentecostals normally view it as a second work of grace. Charismatics have come to understand it as a deepening of the faith grounded in the new life received in Christ.
When a person becomes a Christian (and that can happen in many different ways), he or she never realizes all that has happened. A fuller understanding of justification, for example, may come much later. But it happened earlier. So we mustn’t put dogmatic strait-jackets on this experience. Conversion can be dramatic (if the person was running hard from God beforehand, for example), or quite matter-of-fact.
So with the Holy Spirit. Luke and Paul write about the work of the Spirit from different perspectives. For Luke the Spirit gives believers power for witness in the world – and that can be repeatable. Paul talks about the Spirit incorporating us into the body of Christ – that’s once-for-all.
Words can have different meanings in different contexts. Paul has perhaps five separate meanings for flesh. The Bible has many ways to describe the meaning of the death of Christ. Baptism is used in the Scriptures as a flexible metaphor, not merely as a technical term. I heard theologian Clark Pinnock say that so long as we recognize conversion as truly a baptism in the Spirit, there is no reason why we cannot use ‘baptism’ to refer to subsequent fillings of the Spirit as well’.
. 7. Regarding spiritual gifts, the best course is to be conservative (stick to the safe ones and leave the others well alone)
Every church ought to be open to the full spectrum of the gifts. Spiritual gifts are meant to create truly Christian community. Where there is love, there’ll be gift-giving. God’s gifts are love-gifts – God at work.
Gifts are given freely by the Holy Spirit. They can’t be manufactured by us nor is their presence or absence a sign of Christian maturity.
In a truly biblical fellowship the focus is not on the gifts, but the Giver. But that shouldn’t be a cop-out, ignoring the gifts we aren’t comfortable with.
Here’s a common problem: ‘I had the best hands laid on me, but nothing happened’. Well, what did you expect to happen? Faith-filled prayer believes you have received the Spirit: leave the rest to God’s timing. David du Plessis (Mr. Pentecost) says that baptism in the Spirit is always easy when Jesus Christ does it for you, but always difficult when you struggle to do it yourself or with the help of others. And Richard Lovelace comments that Christians act as though fellowship with the Holy Spirit were very hard to establish. Actually it is very difficult to avoid! He says all that is necessary is for the believer to open up to that divine Reality in the centre of consciousness which is the most fundamental fact of a Christian’s inner life’.
Western fundamentalism has been infected with dispensationalism which sees the activity in the Book of Acts as transitional; the canon of Scripture is now closed, and the curtain has been brought down on all this sort of thing. When Paul says tongues and prophecy will be with us until the perfect comes (1 Corinthians 13:10) they say Paul meant a perfect Bible. The rest of the church interprets Paul as referring to heaven, when we shall see face to face.
Prophecy is a direct dominical utterance (thus says the Lord) for a particular people at a particular time and place, for a particular purpose. The Divine Word also comes through Jesus, through Scripture, through circumstances, and through visions (more commonly in non-Western cultures).
Prophecy gives the church fresh insights into God’s truth (Ephesians 3) or guidance about the future (Acts 11), or encouragement (1 Corinthians 14:3, 1 Timothy 1:18), or inspiration or correction. It either edifies the church or brings it under judgement (God is in this place! – see 1 Corinthians 14:25). The biblical prophets combined judgement with hope.
. 9. Tongues is an ecstatic gift (for immature Christians)
The gift of tongues (glossolalia) is a quasi-linguistic phenomenon, not language in the normal sense of the term.
Tongues-speaking is not an indication of mental imbalance. After fifty years of research the consensus still runs, as with Virginia Hine over twenty years ago, that available evidence requires that an explanation of glossolalia as pathological must be discarded.
Two decades of research into the discrete functions of left and right hemispheres of the brain appears to show that the dominant cerebral hemisphere (the left, for 95% of the population) specializes in thinking processes which are analytical, linear, logical, sequential, verbal, rational. The right hemisphere normally shows preference for thought that is visiospatial, simultaneous, analog (as opposed to digital), emotional.
While speech has been seen to rise from mapped sectors of the left hemisphere, language-formation capacities are probably spread over both hemispheres. Glossolalia may be right hemisphere speech, sharing a location beyond – but not contradictory to – the usual canons of rationality. It is appropriate to think of glossolalic prayer as neither irrational nor arational, but rather transrational; when reason fails in prayer, the Spirit helps (Romans 8:26,27). It’s spirit to Spirit communication rather than mind to mind. (1 Corinthians 14:15).
Richard Beyer claims that there is a fundamental functional similarity between speaking in tongues and two other widespread and generally accepted religious practices, namely Quaker silent worship and the liturgical worship of Catholic and Episcopal churches.
. 10. What if they’re not healed?
Let’s look at the tough questions.
Does God want everyone healed? Pentecostalists usually say yes (and if you aren’t, the problem is with lack of faith – yours, or your praying friends’ or your church’s).
Most others would say no.
Francis McNutt offers a more balanced view. In general, he says, it is God’s desire that we be healthy, rather than sick. And since he has the power to do all things, he will respond to prayer for healing unless there is some obstacle, or unless the sickness is sent or permitted for some greater reason.
The church today surely needs less pride and prejudice in this area. ‘But what if we pray publicly and they’re not healed?’ is the kind of faithless question that stymies our maturing in this area. Our calling is to be faithful and obedient. It’s God’s business whether he heals or not!
. 11. Deliverance from evil spirits is a medieval or animistic idea. We’ve now outgrown all that.
Naturalism is a view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual.
This world view has influenced theology in this century principally through Rudolf Bultmann. He claimed that because the forces and laws of nature have been discovered we can’t believe in spirits, whether good or evil.
Against this, the biblical worldview holds that the universe consists of both visible and invisible creatures, angels, demons, and powers. As theologians like Gustav Aulen and Helmut Thielicke point out, the inbreaking of God’s kingdom in the ministry of Jesus Christ can’t be understood apart from its being a war against the principalities of evil. Emil Brunner says we cannot rightly understand the church of the New Testament unless we break out of the strait-jacket of naturalism and take seriously the dynamic manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
Someone has calculated that 3,874 (49%) of the New Testament’s 7,957 verses are ‘contaminated’ with happenings and ideas alien to a naturalistic world-view. Morton Kelsey noted that the only large group of Christians who take seriously the idea of a direct encounter with the non-space-time or spiritual world are the Pentecostals and the charismatics, and they have come in for derision from every side.
However, as C.S. Lewis and others have warned us, there are two opposite errors we must avoid: either disbelieving in the devil’s existence, or giving Satan more attention than he deserves. Cardinal Suenens similarly exhorts us to steer a safe course between Scylla and Charibdis, between underestimation and exaggeration.
Within the church the gift of discernment of spirits is very important. The Scriptures suggest various tests to discern the spirits: Is Christ glorified (John 16:14)? Is the church edified? Are others helped? Does it accord with Scripture? Is there love? Is Jesus Lord of the person’s life? Is there submission to church leaders – allowing others to weigh what is said or done?
. 12. It’s all so divisive that we ought to leave charismatic issues well alone
Divisiveness would head anyone’s list of the issues confronting us in the modern charistmatic renewal.
My observation, however, is that divisiveness is not a function of the presence or absence of certain spiritual gifts, but of insecurity, fear (charisphobia), insensitivity (charismania), or lovelessness on one or both sides.
David Watson talked about tidy churches, with piles of papers neatly in order. The windows are opened, but the fresh wind of the Spirit blows the papers about, so the elders scurry around collecting them all again, and close the windows. You’ve got tidiness, even stuffiness.
That’s the picture of many a church, he suggests. He wants to have the windows open with a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit blowing. Untidiness with life is preferable if the alternative is tidiness and death. One of the tidiest places you can find is the cemetery.
Let us beware of the error Gamaliel warned about (Acts 5:33-39). If this is of God, we must take the movement seriously.
Certainly the swift stream of renewal often throws debris on to the banks. Old wineskins can’t cope with new wine without bursting. When the Spirit is at work, the devil will be sowing weeds among the wheat.
. 13. Experience-centred and Word-centred theologies won’t mix
The success of an experiential theology must be judged by the ease (or lack of ease) with which it moves from Spirit to Word. If Word and Spirit can be held in dynamic union, then experiential theology has the possibility of becoming definitive for the life and witness of the church today.
Too often Word takes the place of Spirit. Our traditional theologies run the risk of being rationalistic, contrived conceptual schemas. The Holy Spirit is the subject of a sterile pneumatology, with little openness to an experience of his power.
But, again, an experience-centred theology sometimes stays there. Sometimes there’s an unhealthy identification of truth with a prophetic leader, or a great experience; everything else derives validity through reference to these. Or else the Bible is used as a sanction for one’s independent feelings and experiences. Or perhaps we are not open to the whole of experience.
Thus an unhealthy individualism and a pervasive subjectivism often accompany pieties of personal experience. As Russell Spittler has put it, individualism is a virtue when it assures conscious religious experience, but becomes something of an occupational hazard for Pentecostal-charismatics. Add in some dominant personality traits, take away an acquaintance with the church’s collective past, delete theological sophistication, and the mix can be volatile, catastrophic.
Let us beware of inhabiting simplicity this side of complexity, or complexity the other side of simplicity, but rather move to simplicity the other side of complexity!
The security of the slogan is easier than the hard work of discovering the truth. Much of what is written in pentecostal/charismatic books is what Kilian McDonnell calls enthusiastic theological fluff – pink hot air in printed form.
There is a great need for a thorough-going charismatic theology. For example the juxtaposition of the ideas of baptism in the Spirit and the release of spiritual gifts may be seen to be a most significant contribution to twentieth-century theology, but a lot more work has to be done on it yet.
. 14. In the church’s worship you can’t mix charismatic elements with traditional forms
Probably, in retrospect, it will be seen that the pentecostal movement will have made its most important contribution in corporate worship, in the sphere of liturgy and preaching, and not in the sphere of pneumatology, as is constantly and quite wrongly supposed, suggests Walter Hollenweger.
Aspects of pentecostal/charistmatic worship are invading traditional churches with a rush! It’s becoming more common for worshippers of all kinds to raise their hands in adoration, as they sing scripture-songs in their morning worship-services. However these songs are as limited as is charismatic theology. There are very few about mission and justice, for example. They’re mostly ‘God loves me and I love God’ songs. Nice, but there’s more; love issues in a life of witness and obedience in a hostile world.
The way forward ultimately is to integrate the unique insights and results of charismatic renewal into the full life of the church, with a submission to the order, tradition, doctrine and spirituality of the church as a whole. It’s not helpful to go underground. Every special movement needs the whole church body to give focus, direction, discernment and correction; it needs to be tested, evaluated, encouraged, improved and admonished. As Cardinal Suenans says, to be most useful, the charismatic movement must disappear into the life of the church.
. 15. The problem of elitism should eventually go away
I’m pessimistic on this one. We enjoy sorting others out according to false hierarchies of value. There have always been ‘haves and have-nots’ in the church. Only the categories change. In one era a priestly caste takes special prerogatives to itself and we have the evil of clericalism. In others there are heresy trials with the orthodox removing the heterodox. In the charistmatic renewal, experience is the watershed: those who have ‘arrived’ have been ‘baptised in the Spirit’ in a discernible experience subsequent to conversion, and speak in tongues. But the New Testament mostly uses ethical rather than experiential categories to define stages of Christian maturity. For example, Barnabas was spirit-filled; that is, he was filled with goodness and faith (Acts 11:24).
. 16. Magic isn’t a problem if we’re ministering in Christ’s name
It is possible for a miracle-centred theology to become theurgical (Greek ‘theourgia’ – magic). An openness to signs and wonders can easily degenerate into miracle-mongering.
Miracles are not just for show. Jesus resisted the temptation to work miracles to dazzle people or to seduce them into believing in him, notes Alan Richardson. He refused to give the Pharisees a ‘sign from heaven’. He did not want to be sought after as a wonder-worker.
Magic involves repeating formulas (vain repetitions). It’s wanting blessings more for my sake than God’s. It’s manipulating deity for my ends.
. 17. The charismatic renewal is ecumenical
If it is charismatic, it’s ecumenical, says Mr. Pentecost, David du Plessis. But he adds that there has been a dangerous tendency by pentecostals/charismatics to criticize the church, leading to the formation of schismatic, independent groups:
The more schismata the less charismata (1 Corinthians 12:25,26), he would say. This humble Pentecostal pioneer had a passion for unity because the prayer of Jesus was for unity, that the world may believe. He saw little hope for the world unless unity comes to Christianity.
. 18. Charismatic renewal and mission
Christians are commissioned to do in their world what Jesus did in his: bringing salvation (wholeness, the reign of God), where there is pain, sickness, lostness, alienation, oppression, poverty, war, injustice. So the church’s mission has three dimensions: evangelism (preaching good news), works of mercy (relieving persons’ pain), and works of justice (addressing the causes of pain). It uses three instruments: word (what we say), deed (what we do) and sign (what God does).
Pentecostalists/charismatics have brought the church back to signs and wonders and they have generally done evangelism better than others.
But pentecostal/charismatics churches are weakest of all in the justice area. There’s more in the prophets than Joel’s promise of the Spirit on all flesh. The prophets cried out for justice, the redress of wrongs done to the poor.
. 19. Being baptised in the Spirit is an antidote for antinomianism
It isn’t. Antinomianism (living carelessly and lawlessly) is as much a trap for pentecostals/charismatics as for anyone.
. 20. Conclusions: the way forward
Sherwood Wirt noted that the most important gift God has given to the charismatic renewal is a fresh outpouring of love. Not joy, not ecstasy, not tongues, not miracles, not even martyrdom, but love.
And there’s something else the cautious ought to be more afraid of: attributing the work of the Spirit to the devil. That’s a very serious sin, Jesus warned.
Paul sums it up: ‘Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts’ (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Word and Spirit was born of personal concern about misunderstanding and disunity in the Body of Christ with regard to charismatic beliefs. The booklet encourages Christians to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.
Word and Spirit has the potential to bring healing to Christian disunity concerning the role of the Holy Spirit. . . . She shows that the truth of God is clear.
James Brecknell (Journey)
Her biblical treatment is . . . balanced, and avoids . . . legalism.
Robert J. Wiebusch (The Lutheran)
Alison Sherrington has written a book on charismatic renewal which is eminently sensible and intelligently presents a discussion of issues raised by non-charismatics. An excellent book.
Geoff Strelan (New Day)
Alison Sherrington’s Word and Spirit: Coming to Terms with the Charismatic Movement “is intended as an encouragement to be both faithful to the Word and open to the Spirit.”
Her book provides an excellent introduction to contemporary concerns raised by charismatic renewal. It rejects a false dichotomy between Word and Spirit, places experience under the scrutiny of revealed theology, acknowledges a dynamic exegesis which refuses to be contained within our Western conceptual framework (for the wind blows where it will), and explores spiritual gifts in terms of God’s sovereign presence in all of life – not merely as theories confined to our paltry categories.
As a comment on faith and obedience, the book calls for courageous openness to God’s work in his world in the power of his Spirit. This involves change for us all no matter what our pet categories may be. God’s ways cannot be confined to ours. We are encouraged to seek the Giver even more than his gifts. He is Lord. He gives charis (grace) and chaismata (gifts of grace) more liberally and more comprehensively than any evangelical or Pentecostal theology can categorize.
Alison Sherrington affirms the importance of both Word and Spirit and challenges any dividing or emasculating of both. She does not attempt an exhaustive exegesis, but calls for faith in God founded on obedience to the Word of God empowered by obedience to the Spirit of God.
This book is useful as a guide for those confused by the legalism of much current debate (on all sides) because it affirms the primacy of God’s Word revealed and interpreted by his Spirit.
Geoff Waugh (Renewal Journal)
Foreword by Rev Dr Geoff Waugh
Experiences of theHoly Spirit
The charismatic claims
Does experience matter?
The stumbling-block of terminology
Are there Scriptural parallels?
Is there Biblical support for experiences today?
Are modern experiences of the Spirit genuine?
What are the results of such an experience?
What descriptive terms should be used?
Baptized with (or in) the Spirit
Giving and receiving the Spirit
Filled with the Spirit
Have I been baptized (filled) with the Spirit?
Do you want a baptism (filling) with the Spirit?
Being baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit
The Gifts of the Spirit
What are spiritual gifts?
The relationship of Spirit-baptism and gifts
When are the supernatural gifts to cease?
Why do some believe certain gifts have ceased?
The proper use of spiritual gifts
Which Way Ahead?
About the Author
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This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel! (Acts 2:16) Or, as the old version puts it: ‘This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.’
This … is … that!
The immediate responses to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost included amazement and amusement. Some, Luke tells us, made fun of them and said, ‘They’ve had too much wine’ (v. 13). Why would anyone who wanted to be taken seriously suggest they’d drunk too much? Presumably because they looked drunk, sounded drunk and generally behaved as though they were drunk!
It is interesting that St Paul too in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus links and contrasts the effects on the body of alcohol (‘Do not get drunk with wine which leads to debauchery…’) with the effects of being immersed with the Spirit of God (‘… but be filled with the Spirit’) which leads to ‘speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
Paul wasn’t at Pentecost but many times he’d seen people genuinely filled with the Spirit. Indeed he seems to have been able to tell pretty quickly whether disciples were or were not filled with the Spirit!
He may have been thinking of his visit to Ephesus described in Acts 19 when he asked what we would think of as a rather direct question: ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ To which he got back an equally direct and honest answer, ‘No we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And, as we all know, ‘on hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus and, when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied’. Luke adds that there were about twelve men in all.
Since about Tuesday of two weeks ago, we have begun to see an astonishing outpouring of the Spirit of God upon our own church and congregation. It seems to be a spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit and there are certainly some very surprising manifestations of the Spirit very excitingly reminiscent of accounts of early revivals and movements of God’s Spirit.
Some of the manifestations include prolonged laughter, totally unselfconscious for the most part, and an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). For some it is prolonged weeping and crying with a sense of conviction and desire for forgiveness, purity and peace with God. For others it seems to be a silent reception of the Spirit of God sometimes leading to falling down and sometimes standing up, sometimes kneeling, sometimes sitting.
There are great varieties of the manifestations of the Spirit. They are breaking out both during services and outside them in homes and offices. At times they are easy to explain and handle, and other times they are much harder and more complicated!
We had been hearing for several days of the movement of God’s Spirit in the Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada, and a number of people have come to us from there telling us about what was going on and of what they thought it all meant.
For that reason Jeremy Jennings and I decided to go to Toronto at the beginning of this month just for two and a half days to see what we could learn and what conclusions, if any, at this stage it was possible to draw. The manifestations are quite extraordinary and would undoubtedly be alarming if we hadn’t read about them previously in history.
That’s really why I started where I started in this article. You don’t get accused of being drunk just because you speak in tongues. And many of the manifestations of this modern movement of the Spirit of God carry with them many of the symptoms of drunkenness. Laughter, swaying about, slurred speech, movements which are difficult to control … all sometimes continuing for long periods of time.
The manifestations themselves of course are not as significant as the working of the Spirit of God in the individual and the church. The manifestations are the symptom and therefore of course it is to the fruit that we look rather than the signs.
Times of refreshing
The church in Toronto first experienced these symptoms on January 20th (1994) and since then they have been ministering to an increasing number of outside people: ministers and church members from all over America, Canada, now Europe and even further afield.
Meetings go on night after night (every night except Monday) and include a pastors’ meeting on a Wednesday from 12 to roughly half-past three in the afternoon. Their understanding is that God seems to be pouring out his Spirit, refreshing his people and drawing them closer to himself, revealing his love to them and a deep sense of preciousness in away that kindles their own sense of the love of God, their love for Scripture, and their desire to be involved in the activities of the Spirit of God today.
So this is primarily a movement toward God’s people. Naturally we expect it to flow out and over into a movement that will affect the rest of the world but for the moment it’s God’s deep desire to minister to his church – to refresh, empower, and prepare them fora wider work of his Spirit that will affect the world to which the church is sent.
Charles Finney (1792-1875) – one of history’s greatest evangelists – records his experience of the Holy Spirit immediately following his conversion:
The Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me body and soul. I could feel the impression like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love… And no words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after another until I recollect I cried out ‘I shall die if these effects continue to pass over me’.
During the ministry of Jonathan Edwards in the 1735 revival in New Hampshire, he described some of the effects of the spontaneous work of the Spirit of God. ‘The town seemed to be full of the presence of God,’ he wrote. ‘It was never so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then.’
He describes something which happened during one of his sermons in New Jersey on March 1st 1746: ‘Toward the close of my talk, divine truths made considerable impressions upon the audience, and produced tears and sobs in some under concern and more especially a sweet and humble melting in sundry that, I have reason to hope, were truly gracious.’
During the Cambusland revival in Scotland in 1742, Doctor Alexander Webster described some of the effects of the preaching there: ‘There were two kinds – the outcrying and trembling among the unconverted and the ecstatic joy among believers… indeed such joy was more a part of this work than the sorrow over sin. It appears that many believers found themselves so moved by a sense of the Saviour’s love to them and, in turn, by their new love to him, as to be lifted almost into a state of rapture.’
I could go on and on – and probably you could add your own accounts that you’ve read about in history. There are more than one in the Acts of the Apostles.
I think it’s important that we should stay close to the Lord and be grateful for every sign of his grace upon us. Don’t let’s get too caught up with the symptoms of his Spirit, but more with him and his love for us.
Let’s encourage those who think they have experienced nothing (it may or may not be true) – and let’s above all continue to pray that through this outpouring of God’s Spirit he will build a church worthy of him: holy, equipped, and full of love and grace towards him and the outside world.
Meanwhile let’s pray that it may continue. And continue to pray for one another.
The current move of the Spirit
Mrs Eleanor Mumford , wife of the pastor of the South West London Vineyard church, comments on her visit to Toronto in this edited version of her message at Holy Trinity Brompton on Sunday morning 29 May 1994.
This whole move of the Lord
is all about Jesus
I have just been to a church in Toronto in Canada. I heard that there were things going on. I wanted to go and get into the middle. I went because I knew I was bankrupt and that I was longing. And I went with a spirit of tremendous expectancy.
So the first night I went forward and this delightful pastor said to me, ‘Do tell me who you are and what you’ve come for.’
I said, ‘I’ve come for all that you’ve got. I have two days and I’ve come from London.’
So he looked at me with a glint in his eye and then proceeded to pray for me on and off for the next two days.
At the same time there was a young Chinese pastor who arrived at Toronto from Vancouver where he was pastoring and he came fasting. The darling man looked as if he’s spent his whole life fasting and he was the most wonderful and godly man. As he arrived at the church the Lord spoke to him clearly and said, ‘You can forget about your fasting. This is a time for celebration.’
Indeed it was.
An ordinary little church
The Airport Vineyard church in Toronto is a funny little place. It’s just a very ordinary little church set in an office block on the end of the runway of the airport. Even that in itself, I thought, was gracious of the Lord because so many of us can get there so easily. It takes 10 minutes from the check-out to the church!
It was a very ordinary place. I was reminded when I went in there of how the people in the crowd said at Pentecost: ‘Are not these Galileans? Are these not just terribly ordinary people?’
I went in and I thought, ‘Well, God bless them, these are just ordinary people like me.’
It’s just to do with Jesus, and yet the attitude and the sense of expectancy was enormous. As the worship leader strummed his rather tuneless guitar, he stood up and said, ‘What have you come for?’
We all said, ‘We’ve come for the Lord. We’ve come for more of God.’
And he said, ‘Well, if you’ve come for God you’ll not be disappointed.’
From that moment on that was the truth.
There was just a beauty on those who were ministering there – the leaders and the pastors and the worship leaders – the sort of beauty that I guess the people saw in Acts when they looked at the disciples and they said, ‘These people have been with Jesus.’
These Canadians were just men and women who had spent 130 days in the company of Jesus who was pouring out his Spirit on them. They shone with faces like Stephen. It was beautiful to see.
I saw the power of God poured out in incredible measure and it was all accompanied by phenomena.
Jonathan Edwards, a great man of God during the eighteenth century who was part of the Great Awakening in America, wrote this in his journal of a similar outpouring of the Spirit of God at that time: ‘The apostolic times seem to have returned upon us, such a display has there been of the power and grace of the Spirit.’
He wrote of fear, sorrow, desire, love, joy, tears, and trembling, of ‘groans and cries, agonies of the body and the failing of bodily strength.’
So I thought, ‘Well, none of this is new. It may be unusual but none of it is new.’
Edwards also wrote, ‘We are all ready to own that no man can see God and live. If we see even a small part of the love and the glory of Christ, a foretaste of heaven, is it any wonder that our bodily strength is diminished.’
That is indeed what happened to many of us despite ourselves.
The truth is that this whole move of the Lord is all about Jesus. I was there for only 48 hours. I never heard anybody talk about the devil. I never heard anybody talk about spiritual warfare. I never heard a principality or a power mentioned. We were so preoccupied with the person of Jesus that there was really no time. There was no space for talk of the opposition because there was just a growing passion for the name of Jesus and for the beauty of his presence among his people.
So I went scurrying back to the Scriptures and scurrying back to church history and it’s all happened before. It’s all in the book and there’s nothing that I saw – however strange or unusual – that I haven’t since been able to read about in the Bible.
Jonathan Edwards’ wife had an intimate acquaintance with her carpet for 17 days during the time of the Great Awakening. For 17 days she was unable to make their meals or take care of the family or look after the visitors.
She said after 17 days that she had a delightful sense of the immediate presence of God – of ‘his nearness to me and of my dearness to him.’
I thought to myself when I came home, that’s what this is about. It’s about his nearness to me and my dearness to him.’ Wonderful, wonderful things are going on.
During the time I was there I saw all sorts of people coming and going. There were many very weary pastors who turned up with their even more weary wives, and they were so anointed by the Lord.
There was one very sensible middle-aged man who’d been in pastoral ministry for years and when he spoke to us after having been there for several days he was just behaving like an old drunk. It was funny. Once he stood up and talked about the intimacy that he’d gained with Jesus. Then the leading pastor said to him, ‘Well thank you, Wayne, for telling us about this. May we pray for you?’
He said, ‘I’d be glad for you to pray for me.’
They prayed for him and down he went and he rolled on the floor for the next two hours and no-one took any notice. He just continued to commune with his God.
I saw another young pastor who talked at the pastors’ seminar that I went to. He was a very all-together young man – quite serious minded and godly and thrilled with everything but very much in control and very anxious when he came and not at all sure of what he’d come to.
For a day or two he just watched and he just basked in the presence of the Lord. After a day or two he started to twitch and he was a little embarrassed. Then he started to shake and he was very embarrassed. Then after a while of shaking and laughing in the presence of the Lord he decided, ‘Who gives a rip? Who cares what people say?’
A verse in Psalms says, ‘gladness and joy shall overtake me.’ This young man had been overtaken by the gladness of the Lord. But he had a sense of responsibility and felt, ‘I’ve got to keep my church on the road.’
So he decided that the obvious thing to do was to go into the office and to type out the church bulletin, the news sheet.
‘Someone’s got to keep a grip round here,’ he said to himself.
So he went to type out the bulletin and as he got to announcing the seminar. The title of it was ‘Come Holy Spirit’.
He typed, ‘Come Holy Spirit’ and fell under the power of God.
There was another young man who was a youth worker who arrived and he was worn down with ministry. His wife had said to him, ‘Why don’t you go to Toronto?’ She thought he was getting far too straight and serious.
So he came to Toronto and arrived the night that I did. That night he fell on the ground and he laughed and laughed. I thought he would have died. The next day he spoke about what God had done for him and the refreshment that had come to his soul. Then they said to him, ‘Would you like us to pray for you again?’
He said, ‘I think so.’
So we prayed and down he went and just laughed his way through hour after hour of the pastors’ seminar.
And you think to yourself, ‘What is this?’
But this is just the refreshing of the Spirit of God. It talks in the book of Acts about times of refreshing from the Spirit of the Lord, and that’s what God is doing.
He’s pouring his Spirit out upon us. He’s sending his joy and he’s refreshing our spirits just because he loves us.
I’m not even sure that he’s equipping us. I’m not even sure it’s all about being better this, better that, better ministers. It think it’s just his love for us. It’s about his nearness to me and my dearness to him.
Joy and refreshing
I could tell you heaps of stories. There are stories about people who are ringing one another up and getting led to Christ over the phone.
There was a story about a young woman who’d lain on the floor and laughed for two hours. Then she got up and decided she was peckish and went off to a little fast food restaurant. She sat down. Opposite, she saw a whole family sitting at a table and, completely out of character, she went to them and said, ‘Would you like to be saved?’ And they all said yes! The whole family was led to Christ.
I went to the Dolphin school [a Christian school in Clapham] the other day and talked to them about what the Lord had been doing and I prayed for them. The Lord fell on those children aged five years old and they were laughing and weeping for the lost and crying out to the Lord. The teachers were affected and the parent were rolling around.
I thought, ‘God, this is a glorious thing you’re doing. This is fantastic.’
Jesus is breaking down the barriers of his church because he’s coming for a bride, and he wants his bride to be one.
We’ve been meeting with Baptist pastors this week. We’ve been meeting with New Frontiers pastors. We’ve been meeting with the Anglicans. And God is pouring his Spirit out on us all and it’s a glorious thing.
I was reminded of that verse in the Psalms (133:1,3), ‘How blessed it is when brothers dwell together in unity … for there the Lord commands the blessing.’
He doesn’t just invite it, or suggest it. He commands a blessing on us when we dwell together in unity – when we love one another and we love one another’s churches and we bless one another’s people.
So God is moving, not just on this funny little church at the end of the runway. He’s moving across the denominations. He’s moving across the land. He’s moving across London and England in a fantastic way. And he’s moving across the world.
Greater love for Jesus
What are the perceived results so far?
For myself, there is a greater love for Jesus than I’ve ever known, a grater excitement about the Kingdom than I ever thought possible, a greater sense that these are glorious, glorious days in which to be alive. I’m thrilled about the Scriptures and I’m going back to the Word and finding that it’s all been there from the very beginning.
I’m excited about church history. I have a heightened sense of what’s been going on up to this point.
I have an ever stronger sense of the whole church than ever before. The Lord said to them in Toronto right at the beginning, ‘This is not about the Vineyard; this is about the Kingdom.’ This is not about any one church. This is about the Kingdom, and about the Bride of Christ. Right across the church Jesus’ passion for his Bride is beginning to be understood.
I’ve also discovered that I’m desperate to give this away. I haven’t had this appetite for ministry for years. I mean, I’ve always been enthusiastic but I’ve not had this passion before. I’ve just found that there’s a greater recklessness in me than there’s ever been before because God is coming upon us, and the joy of the Lord is coming on the church and Jesus is restoring his joy. And his laughter is like medicine to the soul.
In our church the people are getting freed and the people are getting healed. We’ve got people who have gone down on the floor and got up healed. Nobody ever knew they were sick and they got better without us even naming the words.
The Lord is coming with mercy and kindness.
The prodigal son went to look for parties but he discovered that the best party was in his father’s house. Isn’t that the truth?
My childhood years were influenced by an orderly and conservative Anglican tradition. Signs and wonders were not for today and any who spoke in tongues were considered extremists belonging to a strange cult. You could imagine the furore when the assistant rector spoke in tongues!
I was converted in 1966 and commenced attending the Salvation Army in 1972. At that time I gave little or no thought to the charismatic question, except that I noticed in my occupation as a funeral director that services conducted in Pentecostal churches were joyful.
My first serious encounter with the charismatic issue occurred during our first appointment in 1980. The Salvation Army was invited to share in an interdenominational campaign, with the key evangelist and speaker an Anglican priest. He was the rector of a rapidly growing church, contrary to the declining trends of other Anglican churches.
A team accompanied him and, as an ecumenical community, we welcomed them at a special tea. I spoke with several team members. One spoke to me concerning my own conversion and then asked me the question, ‘Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit?’
I had no idea what she was talking about and felt most indignant. My enthusiasm for the campaign dwindled because of the charismatic tone of this group.
As the week went on, I noticed a freshness and vitality about their Christian faith that I had rarely witnessed. They had something I didn’t have and I reacted with anger. I sought to find fault with them, an attitude which they responded to with love and humility.
I believed that divisions were caused by charismatic people. It was bad enough that the Anglican church had been infiltrated. Imagine my horror when I learned that there were charismatic Christians even in the Salvation Army!
In 1987 we reluctantly accepted an invitation for our corps cadets (youth Bible group) to lead a worship meeting at a neighbouring corps which had a strong charismatic flavour. Much to my surprise, the meeting was a delight to lead. The same freshness and vitality that I had witnessed in 1980 was present in that meeting. There was a real body ministry present in that corps.
I returned later to our own corps and sat in on a meeting. The contrast between the two congregations was clearly evident and for the first time I was confronted with the question I had so long wanted to avoid. These people whom I considered so strange had something that was lacking in my own Christian life and ministry and in the lives of Christians in general.
The years following were difficult for our family. By the end of 1990 I was broken both spiritually and emotionally. Yet again I was requested to lead a meeting of worship in another corps that had a charismatic emphasis. I had never felt so hypocritical in my life. Here I was leading worship of a group of people who had a love and passion for God that was absent in my own life.
Their faith was fresh and enthusiastic. That day was 7 July 1991 and later that evening I knelt down in our sitting room and asked God to make me clean. He answered my prayer! The purity and cleanliness of the Holy Spirit flooded through my innermost being to every joint in my body. I wanted to get up and skip and dance. I loved God and I loved everything around me.
That night I was baptised in the Holy Spirit. Almost overnight I found myself on the other side of the charismatic fence and the question took on a new dimension.
The division is sad and I am not so naive as to suggest that charismatic Christians have not contributed. However to blame charismatic people almost exclusively is, as I have discovered, inaccurate and untrue.
Many non‑charismatic Christians have claimed to be made to feel inferior, confused and hurt and I don’t doubt this to be the case.
The other side of the coin has been feeling shut out; accused of having an experience of the devil; being told I am a ‘weirdo’ ‑ and I have even had invitations to lead worship mysteriously withdrawn.
The charismatic question is more than simply the unwanted intrusion of charismatic Christians into the life and style of a non‑charismatic church. If we look at it in that light we tread on very dangerous ground as we are effectively limiting the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Every denomination has charismatic Christians who speak in tongues. So if we are serious in wanting God’s kingdom to be advanced, rather than divided, we need to understand the charismatic question rather than simply condemn it.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is one that raises many issues, such as full salvation, sanctification, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. The title we give it is not important; the experience is important.
All four Gospels record the promise that Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). Jesus himself promises that we will be baptised in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5), a promise not limited to the believers at Pentecost (Acts 8:17; 9:17; 10.44 and 11:16; 19:6).
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the activation and release of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer (Acts 1:8). The disciples received the Holy Spirit on the evening of the resurrection day (John 20:22). Likewise we too receive the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion (Romans 8:9; Galatians 3:2; 1 John 3:24). However, the Holy Spirit’s release in our lives, although possible and in fact desirable at the time of our conversion, is quite a separate experience.
Scripture indicates that the release of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer may be at the time of conversion (Acts 10:44) and also on later occasions (John 20:22; Acts 2:1‑4; 8:12‑17; 9:3‑19; 19:1‑6).
The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth testified to this fact in a letter to Dunedin Hall corps reproduced in a Christian Mission Paper in 1869:
I desire to give a few brief practical hints, and, first and foremost, I commend one qualification which seems to involve all others. That is the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost. I would have you settle it in your souls for ever, this one great immutable principle in the economy of grace, the spiritual work can only be done by those who possess spiritual power.
I would not have you think that I imagine for a moment that you have not the Spirit. By your fruits I know you have. No men could do the works that are being done in your midst except God was with them. But how much more might be done had you all received this Pentecostal baptism in all its fullness!
Experience in the last 300 years, with various revivals, testifies to baptism in the Holy Spirit being a distinct and separate experience and together with signs and wonders has been a common part of revival.
It is interesting to look at the growth, in the last 90 years, of the Pentecostal/charismatic churches which give particular emphasis to baptism in the Holy Spirit.
In the early part of the 20th century 34.4 per cent of the world population were practising Christians. Of this number 3,700,00 were Pentecostal which was less than one per cent of practising Christians.
In 1995, 33.7 per cent (over 1291 million) of the world population were practising Christians. However, significantly, of this number over 460 million (approximately one third) were Pentecostal/charismatics. Between 1980 and 1995 the worldwide number of Pentecostal/charismatic Christians rose from 158 million to more than 460 million (Statistics from David Barrett in World Christian Encyclopedia and annual reports in International Bulletin of Missionary Research).
In his book about religious beliefs in Australia entitled Many Faiths One Nation, Ian Gillman observes that in Australia the Pentecostal movement grew by 200 per cent between 1972 and 1984. He further noted that the growth in Pentecostal/charismatic churches between 1976 and 1981 was 87.9 percent, which is 75 per cent higher than the nearest traditional denomination.
These trends, I imagine, would be similar in other countries. As we ponder on these figures of fruitfulness for the Kingdom of God, the words of Jesus (Acts 1:5) promising the baptism in the Holy Spirit for all believers, need to be understood and appropriated.
Perhaps the most critical point is the assertion by many Pentecostals that the initial sign for being baptised in the Holy Spirit is to speak in tongues. From a biblical perspective, I believe there is overwhelming and compelling evidence that in the early church, the initial signs of baptism in the Holy Spirit was to speak in tongues (Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6).
Two other accounts do not directly indicate that they spoke in tongues ‑ Acts 8:17; 9:17. In the first account something observable happened, even though not the signs and wonders which occurred earlier in Acts 8:6,7.
According to many reputable Bible scholars this observable sign was speaking in tongues. In the account of Acts 9:17 when Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, although it does not say specifically that he spoke in tongues there and then, we do know that he did speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18).
With this Biblical perspective, what about today? Is it possible to be baptised in the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues? My own opinion is an overwhelming Yes!
Many Christians, spiritual giants with powerful ministries, have never spoken in tongues. I personally did not receive the gift of tongues until some months after the experience of baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Michael Harper shares this view and gives three reasons why people baptised in the Spirit may not speak in tongues:
Firstly, not knowing: I did not know how to speak in tongues. In fact, I believed the Holy Spirit spoke through me. I often had the urge to praise God with strange syllables but stopped myself because it wasn’t what I believed was speaking in tongues. When I finally discovered that I had to speak, the unknown language flowed.
Secondly, fear: unfortunately tongues has been misused in the past as was the case with the Corinthian church. This has caused genuine fear in some people.
Thirdly, prejudice: some are blatantly against speaking in tongues. They hear negative things about it and so are brought up, as I was, to reject it.
I would add a further reason and that is there are many who are not personally opposed, and are happy for others to have the gift, but don’t wish to appropriate it for themselves.
Another very contentious issue is whether tongues is universal for all Spirit‑filled Christians? I believe that tongues, although not appropriated by all Spirit‑filled Christians, is an available gift. I base this on a number of reasons.
Firstly, it is a glorious gift that deepens prayer life and relationship with the Lord. I have also witnessed many answers to prayers in tongues. I find it difficult to believe that God would give such spiritual benefits to some and not to all.
Secondly, speaking in tongues and praying in the Spirit are clearly identified as the same in 1 Corinthians 14:2, 13‑18. There are a number of references in Scripture to ‘praying in the Spirit’ and each appears to point to a universal use of tongues, for example, Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20.
In the book of Acts where believers prayed in tongues after being filled with the Spirit, it does not say some prayed in tongues. It is more probable that all prayed in tongues.
Thirdly, the main biblical objection to the universal use of tongues, it is claimed, is found in 1 Corinthians 12:10 – ‘to another, speaking in different kinds of tongues’. On initial reading this would appear to be the case. The argument hinges on the different Greek words use for another.
In this passage the word ‘another’ appears eight times, but it translates two quite different Greek words. The Greek words are allos ‑ meaning ‘another of the same kind’ and heteros ‑ meaning ‘another of a different kind’. So the passage reads: ‘to another (allos) the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another (heteros) faith by the same Spirit, to another (allos) gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another (allos) miraculous power, to another (allos) prophecy, to another (allos) distinguishing between spirits, to another (heteros) speaking in different kinds of tongues, to still another (allos) the interpretation of tongues.’
For all gifts, except faith and tongues, Paul uses the Greek allos. For faith and tongues he uses heteros. No one would suggest that only some have faith because the gift of faith is different. Similarly, we cannot claim that because heteros is used, the gift of tongues is only available to some.
Likewise, there are two kinds of tongues. C. Peter Wagner describes these differences as private tongues and public tongues. Private tongues is a personal prayer language, whereas public tongues, which 1 Corinthians 12 speaks about, is one which can be used publicly with accompanying interpretation.
Finally, the aspect charismatic people must beware of is spiritual pride. We have been saved, and are what we are, purely by the grace of God and none of us, charismatic or non‑charismatic, has anything to boast about (Ephesians 2:8,9).
A timely warning was given by Charles Widdowson:
Don’t go overboard with the power and the gifts at the expense of the person and the fruit. I want to underline that in the early days of the charismatic movement in the late sixties and early seventies, all you heard about was the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. We heard very, very, little, comparatively, about Jesus and love. Now that has been balanced, I believe. We’ve got to keep our eyes on Jesus. We have the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love and nothing of the power is to be exercised apart from the fruit of the Spirit which is love.
I endorse these remarks. Any gift possessed and exercised without love amounts to nothing, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13.
Something of William Booth’s own attitude to gift of the Spirit can be gauged from the following letter, published in The East London Evangelist, 1 April 1869:
Letter from William Booth
TO THE BRETHREN AND SISTERS LABOURING FOR JESUS
in connection with the
Dunedin Hall Christian Mission, Edinburgh
BELOVED FRIENDS ‑ Though I have not been privileged to see you in the flesh, yet I have heard with great thankfulness from time to time of your work of faith and labour of love: and I rejoice greatly in the abundant blessing granted to your labours, and bless God for every brand plucked from the everlasting through your instrumentality. I earnestly pray that you may be made a hundredfold more useful in the future than you have been in the past. The work in which you are engaged is the most important that can engage the attention or call forth the energies of any being…
Success in soul‑winning, like all other work, both human and divine, depends on certain conditions… If you want to succeed you must be careful to comply with these conditions…
I desire to give a few brief practical hints…And, first and foremost, I commend one qualification which seems to involve all others. That is, the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost. I would have you settle it in your souls for ever this one great immutable principle in the economy of grace, that spiritual work can only be done by those who possess spiritual power. No matter what else you may lack, or what may be against you, with the Holy Ghost you will succeed; but without the Holy Spirit, no matter what else you may possess, you will utterly and eternally fail.
Many make mistakes here. Aroused by the inward urgings of the Holy Spirit, they endeavour to comply with the call which comes from the word and the necessities of their fellow men; but being destitute of this power, they fail, and instead of going to the Strong for strength, they give up in despair. Again aroused, again they resolve and venture forth, but having no more power than before, they are as impotent as ever. And fail they must, until baptised with power from on high.
This I am convinced, is the one great need of the Church. We want no new truths, agencies, means, or appliances. We only want more of the fire of the Holy Ghost. …
O what zeal, what self‑denial, what meekness, what boldness, what holiness, what love, would there not be? And with all this, what power for your great work? The whole city would feel it. God’s people in every direction would catch the fire, and sinners would fall on every side. Difficulties would vanish, devils be conquered, infidels believe, and the glory of God be displayed…
You do desire to see signs and wonders wrought in the name of Jesus. To see a great awakening among the careless crowds around you…
This baptism then, is your first great need. If you think with me, will you not tarry for it? Offer yourselves to God for the fullness. Lay aside every weight…
Hold on! Though your feelings are barren, your way dark, and your difficulties be multiplied, steadily hang on the word of God.
Expect the baptism every hour; wait if he tarry. ‘This kind goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting’; and the Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to his temple.
I have more to say to you, but must wait another opportunity. Yours in the fellowship of the Gospel.
These are strong words. Every Christian today needs this baptism in the Holy Spirit. We must, if we are serious about the kingdom of God, teach this to our people and pray for revival power to return to our church communities.
Renewal in the Church
by Stan Everitt
Lieutenant Colonel Stan Everitt wrote as the Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army, South Queensland Division.
God’s Holy Spirit is being
poured out upon his people
‘In the last days I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.’
I am not sure if these are the last days, but I know God’s Holy Spirit is being poured out upon his people, bringing new life to the individual and eventually to his church.
Looking back on thirty years in ministry, there is no doubt in my mind that we have entered a time of spiritual renewal which, I believe, is but the beginning of a mighty worldwide renewal. As I see it, the priorities of many Christian are moving on to Bible study, prayer, and concern for the unconverted. This is happening amongst my own people as they become aware of the fact that the promise given so long ago is for each of them as individual people.
The testimony of a new Christian strengthened my belief that the Spirit of God is at work when I heard her say, ‘Knowing nothing about the Holy Spirit, I was nevertheless made aware of a new overwhelming sense of God’s presence, bringing a peace that I have never known before.’
While the organised church becomes more and more caught up in discussion on doctrinal matters and liturgical processes, individual church members are responding to the challenge of the Holy Spirit to strengthen their own faith, and in doing so, being able to communicate better with needy people in the community who are hungering for the Word of God.
As a believer, there is no doubt in my mind that the true worldwide church of God (whatever tag sections of it may wear because of traditional and doctrinal stances) will never be abolished. The true church in many developing countries founded upon the risen Lord is growing by thousands every day and is yet to have its more glorious era, as the name of Jesus is uplifted.
Although there are signs of corporate renewal, most churches in the so-called western countries, particularly in Australia, have become so much like the organised religion of Jesus’ day that our effectiveness in the community is minimal.
One gets the feeling that a monumental percentage of the clergy’s time is spent on administration and, in the light of eternity, things that are so insignificant. This is at the cost of deepening one’s spiritual life and the pastoral ministry to our people and the needs of the community.
All is not lost, I believe, but it seems that in so many places the individual Christian, often without any help from the pastor or priest, is setting the pace in areas which should be the concern of the organised church, and areas in which Jesus would be ministering if he were here in person.
In conclusion, I make a plea that we, as church leaders, might humble ourselves in God’s presence, and pray that the promise made so long ago might become a reality in our lives, making us more dependent upon the Holy Spirit than upon the organisation and ritual of the structured church of the ’90s.