Two things I was sure of, the first being that I hoped I would never meet the “Holy Ghost” in the dark where all ghosts hang out and prowl. And secondly I hoped that He would never come looking for me for I surely was not going to go out my way to find Him.
I also remember feeling that I should always keep my head covered, for this “Ghost” I was told came down on people like a “Dove.” The dove thing never really registered with me, for given my terrifying misrepresentations of Him, I thought of Him more like a “Dive Bombing Bat” or a “Starving Condor” Who would sweep down on you all a sudden from nowhere.
God the Holy Spirit please forgive me! God the Holy Spirit please forgive us! Forgive me for depersonalizing You and phamtomizing You for so many years. Now I know that You are the most holy and loving companion that a child of God could ever have, and so the Apostle Paul blesses us in II Corinthians 13:14 with this most reassuring benediction,
of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
THE DISCOMFORTING COMFORTER
It is always more comfortable this way – predictability! That is, to have everything predictable including God. I mean, draw the lines for God, and put Him in a well-designed “Theological Box” so that He knows His perimeters. Particularly in Divine Worship Services, the denominational church has always tried to make the Holy Spirit wear the traditional “Sunday Straitjacket.” The problem is that while the Holy Spirit is called “The Comforter” (John 14:16 KJV), He can be very discomforting when it comes to predictability. He simply won’t stay in the box!
We read about the blessed Holy Spirit in John 3:8,
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do
not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is
everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
He is awesomely loving, kind and good, which is why the evidences (fruits) of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life are all so endearing. (Galatians 5:22-23) But He just doesn’t play by our rules? What rules? The rules that theologians and church folks have set for him for ages to this very day! But the problem is that we don’t rule the wind, the wind rules us. You can catch it and ride with it or resist it , but never rule it. The Holy Spirit is like wind that blows where it wills and can change its direction and force in a split second. Nor does He blow with the same force and in the same direction every time and in every place.
Nope! He comes and goes where and when and how He jolly well pleases. He draws His own paradigms, determines His own methodologies, sets His own time tables and wills His own actions and giftings in the lives of men. The last person who you would ever think would be drawn to Christ is, and the most unlikely person to make big waves for Christ turns into a gale-force preacher of the Gospel. I would liken the Holy Spirit more to a football than to a basketball. You never can tell which way He is going to bounce.
But isn’t that just like God after all? We read of God is the same terms in Ecclesiastes 11:5,
“But just as you do not know the path of the wind…so you do not
know the activity of God Who makes all things.”
Did the wise man say that we do not know the activity of God, just as we do not know the path of the wind? Yes, that is what He said. We do not know! Let that sink in deep. We design our theologies in such a way that we can understand God in every way. Remember this:
“THEOLOGY IS WHAT MAN SAYS ABOUT GOD, WHILE THE BIBLE IS
GOD SAYS ABOUT GOD.”
But the fact remains, half the time, or should I say most of the time, you just can’t figure what God is up to! Of course not, and it is time that we get this straight in our heads when He says in Isaiah 55:8,
my ways,’ declares the Lord.”
You see, we would like to cookie-cut God for every day and in every way. Even Pentecostals like me preach and predict like they have the Holy Spirit all cut and dried. But He is not a cookie-cutter God. He just will not behave like a good little cookie-cut God should. He is not a TV schedule where you can count on the 700 Club at 3:00 p.m. and Andy of Mayberry at 7:00 p.m. every day and night of the week. There is no “TV Guide” when it comes to God. You never really know what’s on his schedule. Sorry!
GOBBLE – GOBBLE – GOBBLE
We read Jesus words to Nicodemus in John 3:5,7-
“Truly, Truly, I say unto you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
“Do not marvel that I said unto you, “You must be born again.”
And then we read the words of Jesus to His disciples just before His ascension in Acts 1:5,8-
“For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit
not many days hence.”
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and
you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
I have noticed an incredibly troubling and astounding pattern which persists to this day when large segments of the Christian Church talk about the Holy Spirit. In particular when they discuss THE REGENERATING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT and THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! If you will, the Holy Spirit generated miracle of rebirth and new life in Christ, and the miracle of the infilling of the Holy Spirit for the power to witness for Christ! What do they do? They equate them! They make them synonymous! I run into this all the time. If you will:
“THEY TEACH THAT THE SPIRITUAL REBIRTH AND THE BAPTISM OF THE
HOLY SPIRIT ARE THE SAME.”
I run across this heresy again and again, and just this past week I received my copy of Midnight Call in which Editor Arno Froese in the ‘reader’s ask’ section told his readers that “Spiritual Rebirth” and “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” are one in the same. Astonishing! That is like telling Rembrandt that all of his paintings look exactly alike. I wouldn’t want these people being my surgeons, for all of my internal organs would look the same to them. So many people’s theology of the Holy Spirit is about as safe as flying defective passenger jetliners in Africa.
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble! Nothing more or less than a whole bunch of “Gobbledygook!” “Gobbledygook” is nonsensical language. Just a bunch of bogus mumbo-jumbo! This is the blue ribbon of “Gobbledygooks.” So often, religious folks sound like a “Bunch of Turkeys” when they are talking about “Heaven’s Dove.”
Who in their right mind, let alone their right theological mind, would use “Calvary” and “Pentecost” interchangeably? Who would even try to get away with synonymizing “Passover” and “Pentecost” (Feast of Weeks). The former is where Jesus Christ poured out his blood to cleanse us from our sins, and the latter is where Jesus Christ poured out the Holy Spirit to make us mighty warrior-witnesses for Him. To synonymize them is like saying “Lambs” and “Doves” are the same species from the same genus. Gobble! Gobble! Gobble! Just more “DyGook!” More “Turkey Talk!”
It really doesn’t make any difference what baptism we are talking about, whether “Spirit Baptism” or “Water Baptism.” I mean to say, ask any godly mother if “Giving Birth” to her four children was synonymous with seeing her children “Water Baptized as Believers” or “Baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Go ahead and ask her, that is if you want to be verbally undressed. Child Birth, Water Baptism and Spirit Baptism being used interchangeably? Are you kidding? Gobble, Gobble, Gobble! I dare you equate her “24 Hour Plus Labor-Room Festival Of Pain” with “Her Children’s Water and Spirit Baptisms – Festivals Of Joy and Empowerment.” Ten excruciating centimeters of dilation for baby ejections I am told allows for no synonyms or equals on the face of the earth. Not even close! I can hear her say, “Watch your tongue Turkey!”
So too, the “Rebirth by the Holy Spirit” and the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” are two supernatural and gloriously distinct miracles in the journey of the Christian life! John 3 and Acts 2 are as distinct as “Calvary“and the “Upper Room.” No Gobbledygook possible here!
“THE FIRST BEGAN YOUR ETERNAL LIFE AND THE SECOND COULD
END YOUR EARTHLY LIFE.”
For when we are told by our Lord in Acts 1:8 that we shall be His witnesses, the word “Witnesses” is the Greek noun “Martus” from which we get the English word “Martyr.” To witness for Christ is to be called to die for Christ if needs be. Jesus did not say, “You might be my martyrs.” Nor did He say, “You could be my martyrs.” He did say, “You shall be my martyrs.”
You see, when we are baptized-immersed in the Holy Spirit’s “Dunamis,” which is the Greek word of our English word “Dynamite,” it is then that we become outgoing “Dynamos” for Jesus. Jesus just explodes out of our lives and out of our mouths. We can’t help it! Satan hates us! And as far as many people around the world feel, they hate us like Christ is hated by them, and the only good “Martus” in their eyes is a dead “Martus.”
But for the essential “Martus” (notice the “Us” in Martus):
“DANGER AND DEATH NEVER ABSOLVES US FROM DUTY.”
A “Martus” or “Witness” for Christ truly is one who is empowered by the Holy Spirit both for the active obedience of witnessing and the passive obedience of dying. They are one in the same. But for the one who has not received the supernatural empowering of the Holy Spirit:
“WHEN IT IS NOT SAFE TO BE RELIGIOUS, THEIR RELIGION IS
THEN TO BE SAFE.”
MY REBIRTH AND MY SPIRIT BAPTISM
I don’t remember being born, but I surely know the awesome experience of being born again and living and growing to this day in the born-again life. When I came out of my mother’s womb, I was not only a purple midget physically, but I was a dark-hearted hellion spiritually. I was like all of us initially, and that was my Mr. Hyde side was undetectable in my miniature Dr. Jekyll disguise. But the Bible tells me that I was born dead, dead in sin that is. Not only born dead, but deadly! The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 2:1,
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins….”
When it comes to conception in mother’s womb, we are all by nature spiritual misconceptions. It wouldn’t take long after my entrance into this world but that laser-death rays began to shoot out of my eyes which fried those who didn’t immediately meet my demands or encroached upon my stuffed animal menagerie.
Have you ever as a parent said to your child or children, “You must be born again?” We can as godly parents do all the right example setting, Biblical principle imparting and praying, but our children must be born again. We can put them over our knees and try to pound the little demons out of them, but that only works until the next lashing. We can try to grind them into submission with those long, boring lectures which have their place, but something much more radical is needed. Hillary Clinton tells us that in raising a child, “It takes a village.” The way things are going in the world today villages corrupt children, not convert them. We know better! It doesn’t take a village, it takes a supernatural miracle. Or as the old hymn puts it:
“IT TOOK A MIRACLE OF LOVE AND GRACE.”
And then one day, that supernatural miracle happened to me when I painfully and shamefully realized what a Mr. Hyde monstrosity I really was. The Holy Spirit revealed to me the real me, not the varnished one. Not pretty! It was ugly. Like the prodigal son, I came to my senses, but only I had been knocked senseless by Satan and sin for many years. It was the Holy Spirit denuding my true, rotten self before my very eyes. And not only that, but the Holy Spirit should be even more that Jesus alone could kill the savage beast in me. You don’t tame the beast, you have to kill it by applying the cross of Christ to it daily. So I asked Jesus to forgive my beastliness and conquer and kill the monster in me. It is when:
“THE SINFUL NATURE THAT I WAS BORN WITH WAS TRIUMPHED OVER
BY THE RIGHTEOUS NEW NATURE THAT I WAS REBORN WITH
IN CHRIST BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
Suddenly I had no more rivals or combatants. Just folks that I now wanted to love, share with, and bless. I knew the change was real when I found that now I truly enjoyed listening to some other family’s kid play his piano recital. I went from lust to love, from greed to give, and from earth to Heaven. It was a genuine other-worldly experience though it took place on planet earth. No gobbledygook here! Out and out miraculous! I still am still as amazed and awed as Nicodemus was when Jesus told this venerable, old religionist, “You must be born again.” And Nicodemus responded with those incredulous words in John 3:9,
“How can these things be?”
To old Nicodemus I say, “I don’t understand how it can be either, except to say that it can be, and that in my heart it did happen”
Furthermore being born again in Christ by the rebirthing power of the Holy Spirit is a must for every man. (John 3:7). Why? Because by birth, we all have the potential in us to take on the image of Bernie Madoff! Only by rebirth can we take on the image of Jesus Christ! There is no other way to get from evil to good, from hate to love, and from Satan to God. Listen:
“WE CAN NO MORE SIN OUR WAY INTO RIGHTEOUSNESS THAN
AMERICA CAN SPEND HER WAY OUT OF DEBT.”
Or to put it another way and from a most important perspective, no one is born into the family of God by family bloodline. Everyone must be born again into the family of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. When it comes to the miracle of rebirth with a whole new nature in Christ, you must subtract Dad and Mom from the picture. What they had passed unto them and what they passed on to us was the depraved Adamic nature. Sad to say and it sounds severe, but it is oh so true that there is no spiritual glory in our hereditary succession. Only the Holy Spirit can pass on to us the glorious righteous nature of the Second Adam when we repent and believe on the name of Jesus. Either we press this, or we might just as well throw away the Gospel mandate of rebirth.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit was no less distinctively supernatural or dramatic in my life. The first evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as we have seen is the power to witness about Jesus Christ to those lost in darkness and sin. No more two-way small talk for the “Spirit Baptized Christian.” Relationships and communication are no longer confined to weather and politics. When I received my personal Pentecost, no waitress in a restaurant, no manager of the service department at a car dealership, and no neighbor down the street escaped my Holy-Spirit empowered tongue for Jesus. You shall be my witnesses! Your tongue also gets baptized in the Holy Spirit. Day and night difference, even as it was for the disciples of Christ and the rest of the 120 in that “Pentecostal Upper Room.” They now took to the streets and the only way they could be silenced was to kill them.
And contrary to “Non-Verbal Evangelism” which is also known these days as “Servant Evangelism,” there is no such thing as “Non-Verbal Witnessing.” Truth is:
“EVEN AS FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD, SO WITNESSING
WITHOUT WORDS IS DEAD.”
But that wasn’t all that the Spirit Baptism did to and for me. The 120 were in the upper room in a ten day prayer meeting waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. My wife and I prayed and fasted all day and all night before the Holy Spirit came upon us. You have to fervently desire the Spirit Baptism, even as you must fervently desire to be saved. There is no such thing as casual Christianity, casual rebirths, or casual Spirit-baptisms.
In college I majored in Greek and minored in philosophy and logic. Everything that happened in my upper room experience was totally unphilosophical and seemed completely illogical. I was also given a vision, the first in my life ever! (Acts 2:17) I literally saw Jesus ride up my driveway on a donkey with bulging saddlebags draped over either side of the donkey. I asked Him what those bags were filled with, and He said to me that they contained gifts of the Holy Spirit for His church. (I Corinthians 12:12) The Holy Spirit also gave me a new prayer language that I had not majored in at college (I Corinthians 14:14). Sure saves on tuition! And He gave me the gift of the discernment of spirits (I Corinthians 12:10) which I found out later, and which is a heavy gift to bear. I don’t share this to be braggadocia, but only to say that none of this came from being born again, and every bit of it and more came from being Baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit Baptism opens the door to the supernatural giftings of God. The gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:1-11) are not gobbledygook, but what critics say about them is gobbledygook. There were repercussions, as I was driven out of my church fellowship all because the Holy Spirit was being His flamboyant self, and because He had taken me beyond Calvary to Pentecost! I wouldn’t trade any of it, including the gift of tongues, for all of the nonsensical gobbledygook in the world. Again I repeat, speaking and praying in tongues is not gobbledygook, but what unbelievers say about it is gobbledygook!