Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Pentecost! Why the Charismatic Movement Freaks Out “Respectable” Evangelicals … (and What We Can All Learn)

Fired up by enthusiasm, the theology of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” is taking over the globe. But what is it exactly? (photo credit: Getty Images, Economist magazine)

Do you experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? Would you say that you live a “Spirit-filled” life? Do you long for the power of the Holy Spirit to permeate your Christian walk and witness?

Or does a lot of talk about the Holy Spirit give you the “heebie-jeebies?” Have you ever been to a church meeting, where you heard “speaking in tongues,” saw people “slain in the spirit,” or claimed “faith healings,” and you felt a little bit… er…. uncomfortable?

What are we to learn then from the miracle at Pentecost?

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).

My evangelical church has a wide set of backgrounds. Some have a Pentecostal or charismatic movement background, with positive views towards those experiences, bearing testimonies of the Holy Spirit working in incredible ways, that push us beyond rational, naturalistic categories. Others have had some exposure to such movements, but eventually left with a bad taste in their mouth.

Everyone else I know are in a group I call the “respectable” evangelicals. They generally maintain a low profile in church, though some will lift up their hands while singing worship songs, but not too high, less they feel self-conscious.

“Respectable” evangelicals are freaked out by “charismania.” They have heard of the abuse, ranging from phony faith healers to money-addicted, promoters of the prosperity gospel. There is now even this “New Apostolic Reformation,” whereby people think that God is restoring today’s church with real, live apostles, just like in the days of Peter and Paul, bearing all sorts of spiritual authority, that only the real Peter and Paul ever possessed.

It can be a real mess. Continue reading

Does Romans 8:26 Refer to a Private Prayer Language?

The "gift of tongues" as "groanings too deep for words?"

The “gift of tongues” as “groanings too deep for words?”

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26 ESV).

I remember the first time I ever heard people “speaking in tongues.” A friend of my father’s had invited my dad and I to attend a Full Gospel Businessmen‘s fellowship meeting. I was only about 13 years old and we had a very nice dinner with men dressed in suits and ties… and chocolate ice-cream for desert. Yum-yum.

But then the meeting took an odd turn when guitar-led singing soon began, and I started to hear some of the men around me saying some rather funny things. As they were singing, I could not understand what words they were using. It clearly was not English! Was it gibberish? I could not help but to look around the room, eyes wild open, trying to figure out what in the world was going on!  It was like something out of 1 Corinthians 14!

My dad and I had a rather quiet ride in the car going home that night. Now, you have to know my dad. He is not one for displaying emotion, being rather stoic in personality but always with something articulate to say. But the whole evening left my dad uncharacteristically speechless…. and it left me with a lot of questions.
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The Ascension Was Not Enough

Ascension of ChristHave you ever thought about the events that transformed the apostles from runaway associates of Jesus into witnesses willing to be martyred for his message? The ‘About’ page on the Veracity blog encourages readers to “figure some things out.” That’s precisely what the apostles did between Good Friday (on the eve of the Jewish festival of Passover) and Pentecost (during the Jewish festival of Shavuot). But what they figured out wasn’t good enough.

The apostles witnessed all the miracles of Jesus while shadowing him for three years, but when the Roman soldiers showed up in Gethsemane all they had processed during those three years was quickly abandoned. They distanced themselves from him. So much for being bolstered by intellect. Obviously they were focusing on self-preservation and avoiding the pain and suffering that was about to be inflicted upon Jesus—just like you and I would have done. They knew that Jesus was God and that he had the power to raise the dead. They were there for the miracles, the transfiguration, the raising of Lazarus.  Intellectually and experientially they knew—but they followed their feet.

Forty days after the resurrection, they witnessed the ascension. But as mind-blowing as that event must have been—particularly in the afterglow of the resurrection—it wasn’t enough to change the apostles from cowards to revolutionaries. Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem (for Pentecost, 10 days later).

This video from Glo Bible and our friends at Day of Discovery summarizes the events leading up to the ascension.

Jesus knew that his ascension would not be enough when he told the apostles beforehand, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  The anointing of the Holy Spirit wasn’t icing on the cake, and it wasn’t an unplanned or spontaneous result of all the teaching that transpired before Pentecost. It wasn’t an insurance run in case the apostles didn’t get it. It was a vital part of God’s plan, preordained, and God’s provision for equipping disciples.

Ray Vander Laan has an amazing lesson on Pentecost (on the Southern Stairs of Herod’s Temple). It is one of the clips from the Faith Lessons DVDs, that should be in your personal library. This is teaching as good as it gets, and you can understand why Ray gets choked up when he describes the significance of being on those steps.

So…after all they had witnessed in the 51 days after Good Friday, particularly the resurrected Christ and his ascension, the apostles still didn’t have what it takes. We may like to think that if we had seen the ascension we would have been fully convicted and empowered. But the truth is it takes more. It takes God with us, not merely God before us. God knew that. God knows that.

When Christ gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28, he commanded his disciples to go to all the nations and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The ascension was not enough. It took Pentecost. It takes the power and person of the Holy Spirit. Dick Woodward has a lot of teaching about the Holy Spirit, as does the Apostle Paul. If we’re going to get anywhere in our devotional lives, it takes the Holy Spirit. There are rich blessings behind the preceding two hyperlinks.

Why is it important to appreciate the ten days between Christ’s ascension and Pentecost? It gets to the heart of the Trinity, and understanding that God is manifest in three persons—and that we need the power of all three in our lives. It also clearly demonstrates God’s plan for us—we are not only his children, but his anointed children. Without that anointing, it’s not enough.

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