Alphagramma
Alphagramma
 

THE BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT (And The Gift Of Tongues)

   
 

Kinross Christian Fellowship

Chapter 1

The Church as Jesus intends it to be.

If one were to look through the windows of a Christian Church, of whatever denomination, one should expect to see a radically different lifestyle. The truth, sadly, is what one often sees is merely a reflection of the life outside; the windows are mirrors, very nicely decorated with pleasing formulae and traditions, but still mirrors; mere, shadowy reflections of the world as ministers and elders try to adapt the church and themselves in order to conform with modern trends and changing cultures. The Gospel is radical, adaption or conformity is not in its genes. What is missing?

The Church is, by definition, not just a social institution, it claims to meet the spiritual needs of its members, and this sets it apart from any other organisation. People should be able to look at the Christian Church and see God at work, both in the Church as a whole, and in the lives of its individual members. Sadly, what is often seen is close to a mockery of what God, our Father, intended for His children. (And this sorry, sorry state of affairs is emphasised as we see the influence a godless, political regime is having on the church generally.) I ask again, What is missing?

Here is a rather silly yet effective allegory. Imagine if we went into a restaurant and were served sawdust carrots with our meal. We would instantly complain. But the manager explains, Of course you’re right, they look like carrots, they have the right colouring, but we make them of sawdust. Real carrots vary too much in quality, sometimes they are tender, sometimes tough. You can’t rely on them! The quality of my carrots never changes, they always look and taste the same. The explanation would probably not satisfy us. Yet this is how some of us prefer our Christianity; safe and secure, following a familiar pattern with no hidden surprises; but sadly only an imitation, a poor imitation, of the real thing. Too many of us are afraid to be totally involved in New Testament Christianity which means living a voluntary, Holy Spirit controlled life (which incidentally requires a little more than lifting our arms in worship). The result is that outsiders - or those searching - look within the Church and instead of being attracted to a living Church, see a sub-standard version and are understandably discouraged. To attract people to Jesus, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him the fullest influence in our lives - He must take His rightful place!

I asked the question, What is missing? Billy Graham once said, ‘I believe the greatest need of the Church of Jesus is for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Everywhere I go, I find God’s people lack something. Many of us say that our Christian experience is not all that we expected, we have recurring defeat in our lives and as a result across the country from coast to coast there are hundreds of Christian people hungry for something they do not have. I am persuaded that our desperate need is not a new organisation or a new movement - and not a new method. We have enough of these. I believe the greatest is that men and women who profess the name of Jesus Christ be filled with the Spirit. We are trying to do the work of God without supernatural power. It cannot be done! When God told us to go and preach the Gospel to every creature and to evangelise the world, He provided the supernatural power for us. It is more powerful than atomic power ..... it is more potent than any explosive made by man. Do you know anything of the power of the Holy Spirit?’ Billy preached this message nearly sixty-five years ago, in 1949, in Los Angeles. It has lost none of its truth and none of its power.

R.T. Kendall, a contemporary preacher, teacher and theologian said this in a radio broadcast, If the Holy Spirit were removed totally from the church today, 90% of the work of the church would go on as if nothing had happened. (Reading this as I finished typing the quote I was overwhelmed, not with indignation, but a deep sense of sadness. It made me wonder just what the Holy Spirit Himself must feel at this rejection.)

The Holy Spirit was once described as, The forgotten member of the Trinity. Nowadays the statement is less true - thankfully. Over the second half of the last century there was a considerable resurgence of interest in the Person of the Holy Spirit, and the interest is growing as we move into the second decade of the Twenty-First century - although sometimes not always in the most favourable way. Nevertheless, it is vital to the life of the Church, and vital to the life of each one of us, that we listen to the Holy Spirit, and heed His guidance in every part of our lives. The consequences of refusal may be devastating, probably a descent into the abyss of apathy, and impotency.

The last three or four generations have been privileged to witness a remarkable world-wide outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, it didn’t just happen. Throughout various periods of Church history, the LORD has restored to His Church doctrines which had become almost submerged as Christians left their ‘First Love’.

You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:3-5

In the sixteenth century there was the very important revival of Justification by Faith (as opposed to earning our way by rules or traditions), and in the same century a group called Anabaptists rejected infant baptism and began to baptise only believers. The Tsunami was gathering momentum and today we are riding its crest. It is an exciting time to be Christian. It is also becoming a dangerous time to be a fundamentalist Christian. Perhaps no death threats yet but we are becoming increasingly marginalised (even by churches), treated with derision, a humorous subject for stand-up comedians - and it is only the beginning.

Under the teachings of the Puritans and people such as Wesley, the seventeenth century brought a new emphasis on the need for holiness of life. In the following century missionary vision experienced a new impetus, and during the nineteenth century there was a revival of Scriptural teachings on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and The Gifts of The Spirit. In each case the LORD has used men and women to bring to light not something new, but something which is as old as the The New Testament!

Without exception, serious and unremitting opposition has always confronted those who have sought to share their new understanding of the Scriptures. We should be grateful to those who at great cost, even unto death, have been used by the Holy Spirit to retain and present The Truth.

And be prepared to do the same.

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