Not Yet Ready to Join
You all at Zion Pentecost Mission put a whole lot of emphasis on Holy Ghost Baptism and living a life of faith as led by the Spirit. I do believe there's more to our Christian faith, but I'm not sure I am ready to join a pentecostal church, or want to see all that loud carrying on, and tongues in my church? Justin B. Curious.
Dec. 2010, Dear Justin:
Thanks for the question, you are certainly not alone in your curiosity about wanting more from God in your church. Your desire is crucial, and will be answered by God Himself, and it defines the essence of how the 150 year old pentecostal movement began around the world.
As to folks carrying on, I'm guessing you don't mind loudness at the ball game. And I suppose your work and your family requires that you know about new things all the time, for their survival, so why should a little higher volume and some new stuff like tongues bother you? If it's good enough to be in the bible, which forbids that we forbid tongues (1Cor.14,39), well then brother, I reckon it's good enough to be in your church. All the Pentecostal realities- like tongues, and all manner of prophesy and healing can be done inside and outside of worship in a proper and orderly fashion, as the church learns and is guided by God (1Cor. 14,40).
The Pentecoatal movement, which is built on the faith and practice of the first Apostles and the initial Jewish/Christian movement begun at Pentecost, has defined the growth and dynamism of the entire body of Christ as far back as John Wesley- with his warmed heart, prayer groups, bible studies, "street" preaching and the direct personal experience of God by all people.
The fruit of Wesley' faith populism, no check that, the fruit of Jesus' faith populism is based on His promise that the Spirit would teach all people all things (John 14,26). This has a meaning for you Justin. It means God is trying to teach you the importance of baptism in the Spirit. Why would God want to teach you this?
Because it is folks who seek and receive baptism in the Spirit who will be best prepared to persevere unto salvation (Revelation, 1Th.3,4), and will be best able to live by faith and pass this down in their families (Psalm 78,6). And moreover, God is looking for folks right now prepared to understand the speeded up prophetic developments in our world, such as the rebirth of Israel, to understand and fight the widespread apostasy and darkness even in the present "Christian" church (cf. Isaiah 60,2), to discern the false gospel that preaches only comfort and ease that is now right before all our eyes. God wants you Justin to see clearly now, to rise and shine and be able to live your life with a faith that makes a real difference for you and for others around you.
I'll pray right now- May God bless your desire unto it's fulfillment (Psalm 37,4), unto your reception of baptism in the Holy Ghost, that your church comes alive, and you and it are reborn in one Spirit (1Cor.12,13). In the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
I am going to just quickly define some major terms so you won't think I'm fudging as to scripture. Pentecostals are just like other bible evangelicals in that we are under the authority of scripture, but we also believe it takes the inspiration of God to fully understand scripture, and preach and teach it. Scripture is living and active and sharper than a two edged sword, it's not just the word of God written down, it is the word of God speaking to us (revealed) today. It's God's spoken word that still creates and parts the waters of our lives today (Psalm 33,6-7), so all of God's word, both written and spoken (John 6,63, what's difficult and what's easy) requires a like living and active power and faculty to hear it, receive it, continue in it, and live it (John 8,31)- and that like power and faculty is fully gained by baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Church is the assembly of God's Holy universal priesthood (1Pt.2;5,9), His called out ones, His qahal in Hebrew, ecclesia in Greek, the assembly of the reborn, who belong to the kingdom of God (John 3,5-8), who announce Christ's wondrous deeds (1Pt.2,9).
To be reborn and become part of Christ's body the church requires both water baptism and Holy Ghost baptism (Acts 2,38-39). These two are always vitally connected in scripture, though the order in which they happen is not important (Acts 10, Acts 19). Justin you may have had water baptism and professed and even repented, as best you know how, but like the folks in Ephesus at Acts 19, you are missing something, and you know it.
Holy Ghost baptism was the explicit promise to everybody in all the world at Pentecost, for all time (Acts 2,39). Holy Ghost baptism comes with a sound (John 3,8), which is tongues (see also Hebrews 4, it is our first taste of rest here and now, and see also Acts 3,19 where it personally begins a time of refreshing, which will come upon the whole church in these latter days). Tongues are of three types: an unknown individual praise language which builds up the individual (1Cor.14,2); an unknown langauge used by God to build up the community that is received by interpretation (1Cor.14,5); and the gift of speaking already known languages to spread to the gospel (Acts 2,4ff).
There's some working definitions for a sound biblical orientation. Not goofy at all, and they even go back to the Hebrew scriptures, as you will learn as you further study. And besides, no church is goofy proof, because it's got human beings in it. But better a church that has the Spirit in it and in it's people. And when it occasionally acts in the flesh, it just moves on quickly. Better this sort of loud "Pentecostal" church than one that doesn't have the Spirit in it, or its people (Ezekiel 9-11), which camps out in the flesh, and then quietly complains about how little God (don't blame Him!) feeds them. Blessed are those like you who are hungry...
Please pray on 2Cor. 8,10-11. Paul advises the church at Corinth to act on a God inspired desire similar in magnitude to yours. This desire had been on their heart for over a year. It wouldn't go away. I would guess that your desire for more from God and of God, your 'this is it?' frustration with churchianity- has been on your heart for way over a year.
The desire in Corinth was to give to the poor saints, the anawim, in Jerusalem. But they procrastinated, and all the Macedonian churches had already made their gift- though the very idea originated in Corinth.
Justin, it's time for you to take the next step, and make an act of faith towards your baptism in the Spirit. As a great preacher once said, "faith is 90% courage and ten percent trust." Faith is confidently acting on the promises of God, again and again, like Abraham, even when we don't know where we are going. Yesterdays faith, yesterdays profession, yesterday's church attendance (hey it's Monday) does not bring you any closer to God today. Faith is a verb. You are a participle, a faither, or not. Yesterday's gone, Justin, today is the day of your salvation.
You have both the inspiration from God and the promise of God that Holy Ghost baptism is for you; "The promise that was made is for you and your children, and all those who are far away [us non Jews], for all those whom the Lord is calling to himself [You]." (Acts 2,39)
Your desire is an inspiration from God, and such just don't go away. It has been my experience, and the bible teaches too, that God repeats himself again and again (like little kids or us pastors), so you need to pray with all your heart for the baptism in the Holy Ghost. You need to ask God to reveal if anything needs to be cut out of your life. You need to pray for God's healing. You need to tap into a church or some mission, or some man of God that can guide you towards receiving all that God has specifically promised you.
Listen to the preaching of folks who have been baptized in the Holy Ghost, perhaps even some preaching right on this site. Find written sermons by John G. Lake, or Smith Wigglesworth, and devour the word and it's teaching. Read them again. Listen again, and again (I used to have short wave radio on, with preaching through the night for several years). Start to hear and follow the logic of the Bible and the Spirit of God. Study to show yourself approved. Get in a quiet place where you start hearing from God for yourself. Pray every day, for everything you need, and the desire of your heart, for baptism in the Holy Ghost. Ask specific questions of God and don't back off until you get your answers. Delay doesn't cut it. Quibbling with naysayers around you doesn't cut it. Don't put your eyes on the gifts, or God's servants, or their personalities, or on tongue talking. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and your goal, God in you, the hope of glory, baptism in the Spirit! Praise God, I almost went to preaching...
You are on track to more fully serve and obey God, and there is great peace in that: "Not my will but your will be done..." Surrender to this inspiration Justin, to know Him yourself, to have Him teach you all things, for scripture to come alive..not just more babysitting lessons.
Millions of people have been right where you are and millions have pressed in and refused to accept anything less. And as you know in your spirit man millions more have stepped back into their comfort and fear. It's your choice, your life. Forward or back? Promised land or your present desert. Are you going to line it up with the fullness of God's word or not?
Give up your own will brother, die to yourself! Die to what your unquiet flesh thinks church should be. So Christ can live in you. "Not I who live, but Christ living in me..." That's something to get excited about, right here, right now.
Holy Ghost Baptism is the next Reformation of the church Justin. And it won't be legalistic either. Don't miss it, just because it's not too popular, just because all sort of folk want no part of it. You're onto something great, go for it.
Hope this helps, forgive me if this isn't quite gentle enough. Bro. Tobin