Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Being filled with the Holy Spirit

We were presented with a very interesting series of questions this week in Principles of Theology. See how you would answer them.
What is your view regarding the topic of Baptism in the Holy Spirit? Specifically, (1) Is it a work of grace distinct from and subsequent to regeneration? Why or why not? (2) Is tongues the initial evidence of Baptism in the Holy Spirit? Why or why not?

My response is below

I am divided on the issue of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I have experienced this and it has been beneficial in growth in grace, particularly as a relatively new believer. Jack Hayford’s interpretation of the scripture is one I agree with regarding this being a work of grace distinct from and often subsequent to regeneration.

Throughout the book of Acts, in particular, we see the infilling of the Holy Spirit as a separate work. Passages such as Acts 8:14-16; 9:16-18; 10:44-45 and so on speak of this as a separate experience for believers besides the apostles. Some may contend that this was limited along with miracles to the early church, but we are told, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching” (2 Tm 3:16). Acts certainly includes “all.”

I also have some of the same concerns expressed by Wayne Grudem. There has been too much evidence of a “them and us” attitude toward those who have not experienced this work in their lives. There are many fine godly believers who have not been baptized with the Holy Spirit per se (at least not in charismatic or Pentecostal terms), but are certainly filled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit and have a walk with God that I admire. The two tiers, two categories systems are very destructive to the work of God in his church.

As Grudem stated,

Therefore, it is appropriate to understand filling with the Holy Spirit not as a one-time event but as an event that can occur over and over again in a Christian’s life. It may involve a momentary empowering for a specific ministry (as…in Acts 4:8; 7:55), but it may also refer to a long-term characteristic of a person’s life (see Acts 6:3; 11:24). [1]

Tongues can be, but does not necessarily have to be the initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In scripture, there are other evidences. The gospel accounts of Jesus being filled with the Spirit did not result in tongues. In Luke 1:41-45, Elizabeth blessed Mary upon her infilling of the Spirit. Zechariah prophesied according to Luke 1:67-79. In Acts some of the other manifestations are powerful preaching (Acts 4:31), wisdom, maturity and sound judgment (Acts 6:3), powerful preaching and testimony while on trial (Acts 4:8) [2] as well as other evidences.

The bottom line is following Jesus and being conformed to his image in every way possible. “So these are the terms by which a person can receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit: obedience, humility, purity, and receiving: wanting God’s will, wanting God’s way, wanting God’s nature, and wanting God’s fullness.” [3]

A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance expressed in the song, “Himself”:

“Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone.” [4]

“Himself alone” [5] says it all.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 782.

[2] Ibid., 784.

[3] Jack W. Hayford, Grounds for Living: Sound Teaching for Sure Footing in Growth & Grace (Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 2001), 166.

[4] A. B. Simpson, “Himself,” Online: http://online.auc-nuc.ca/alliancestudies/ahtreadings/ahtr_s3.html [12 June 2007].

[5] Ibid.

The Bible. New International Version.

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