"These differences of opinion," many say, "are no longer important."
During the past few centuries doctrinal issues exercised the minds of the most learned theologians; they changed the course of nations, spawned new religious communities in distant lands and governed the behaviour of literally millions of Christians all over the globe. In those days the word doctrine was on every responsible churchman's lips and each group did its utmost to explain its beliefs to others, fully convinced that only by practising the truth as they understood it was salvation assured. Yes, 'doctrine' used to be an important consideration in times past. It was the navigational chart by which each group steered its course towards the spiritual Kingdom of God.
But the scene has changed: 'doctrine' has fallen from favour and now only a few church-goers, by comparison, speak of it. Today there is another word on the lips of many. It is the word 'experience.' It tells of supernatural happenings so overwhelming, so exciting and apparently fulfilling that no attempt to describe them we are assured can succeed, because they must be experienced!
"Never mind your doctrines" they say "I know. I've had this marvellous experience, and it makes no difference what you say or write or do because I know from experience."
And what is this 'supernatural experience' which has overtaken the church, causing it to abandon the tried and tested path of doctrine? It is called by those who have had it: the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the living reality to which Water Baptism points. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, in short, is the Main Baptism - the REAL THING!
But even though Water Baptism is only a 'symbolic ceremony' we can still learn a lot from it about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, just as an engineer can learn a lot about a machine by studying the designer's blueprint. So let us first turn our attention to that 'ceremonial blueprint' and see what we can learn about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Upon doing this we find that when the repentant believer goes through the waters of baptism he/she figuratively declares to the world two important objectives.
|Colossians 2:12||Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.|
13: And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
These two objectives, we repeat, both find fulfilment in the life of a believer who is Baptised in the Holy Spirit. They are no longer a figurative exercise as they were in Water Baptism, but a real, recognisable fact in the Spirit-Baptised believer's life.
When we look more closely at those two ceremonial features, we find that they tell quite plainly of these two things.
|Romans 8:7||"The carnal mind is enmity against God: |
for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be."
Because of this fact (that the carnal mind cannot be subject to the law of God) the carnal mind must be slain: for it cannot be made holy. This slaughter of the carnal mind is accomplished by the Spirit of God. The believer's sinful nature - the "old man" as one Scripture calls it - is to be slain and buried at baptism.
In Water Baptism this death and burial of the carnal nature is only
figuratively expressed when the repentant believer is placed under the
water, buried in the "watery grave" so to speak. But in the Baptism of the
Holy Spirit this death and burial of the sinful nature really takes place.
It is no longer a symbolic exercise, but a recognisable reality - a
visible fact. The believer is literally purged of sin by the Holy Spirit of
God. His old sinful nature is slain and buried. In other words, he does not
sin any more. He has finished with sin forever because his old sinful
nature is no longer alive. He is, in fact, no more capable of sin than a
buried corpse is. His carnal, sinful nature is now dead and buried - so it
cannot sin any more. We repeat: he does not sin any more!
Consider this verse:
|1 John 3:9||"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."|
|Luke 3:7||Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?|
8: Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance,...
9: And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
"Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire."
The Saviour expressed the same thought when he said:
|Matthew 7:15||Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.|
16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17: Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19: Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
|Acts 1:4|| And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.|
5: For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7: And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
When we broadly consider this matter of supernatural power we find that it manifests itself in a variety of ways (Mark 16:17-18). To mention a few:
The power mentioned in Acts 1:8 was an entirely new kind of power. It was the power to witness of the resurrected Saviour on a supernatural scale.
"Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Indeed, when they received this new kind of power - the power to witness effectively - they turned the world upside down. Within a few years the gospel penetrated areas where even a thousand miracles would have gone unheeded. What they received on that Day of Pentecost was the great power of the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of the spiritually blind, to unstop the ears of the spiritually deaf and to raise the spiritually dead. This is the power the Spirit Baptised believer is promised in Acts 1:8 - the power to witness with spectacular results, the power to do the spiritually impossible!
That kind of power had never been known before. It was new.
The supernatural power conferred on a believer at the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, in short, is not to be confused with the power to do physical miracles. It is the power to witness of Yeshau and to produce supernatural results just as they did in the early days of the Christian era.
Here is a further word of instruction about supernatural power.
Supernatural power at its lowest level (the power to do physical miracles) is not confined to the Christian Church. It is found in most religions, pagan and otherwise. In India, Africa, China and the Middle East, yea in almost all the nations of the world, there are heathen spiritual leaders who possess miraculous powers; and, believe it or not, many of them speak in tongues. Like the magicians of ancient Pharaoh they are well able to duplicate most of the miracles done by the prophets of God. (Exodus 7:11,22)
Because of these facts we conclude that the commonly know expressions of supernatural power (miracles, healings, tongues etc.), wonderful though they may be, should NOT be taken as a unique sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. For we know very well that spectacular miracles are often done by heathen religious leaders. We also know that their powers do not emanate from Yahweh the Holy One of Israel. And because of this fact we should not accept something as from God simply because it is accompanied by a miracle.
To be accepted as a unique sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, supernatural power must be a witnessing power, witnessing of Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel with Apostolic effect. But because this sign is so difficult to assess, we only consider it when it is accompanied by those first two signs:
These, then, are the signs of a valid Spirit Baptism. If even one of them is missing in the life of someone who claims to have been Baptised in the Holy Spirit, you can be sure that you are not seeing the genuine article.
In the Christian Church he speaks through the mouths of the false prophets who blatantly reject the commandments of the Most High. They not only disregard the Law of God, but claim that it is obsolete; and proudly parade their supernatural gifts as evidence that what they say is correct. We are given a preview of the Lying Spirit at work in the experience recorded in 1 Kings 22. Read that whole chapter over a few times and you will realise that you are in fact looking at a dramatised prophecy of the greatest deception that this old world has ever witnessed. It is a symbolic prediction which is coming true in our day. There you will see how:
|1 Kings 22:19||And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.|
20: And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
21: And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
22: And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
|1 Corinthians 10:11||"Now all these things happened to them as ensamples (that is, they were types, illustrations, figures) and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the end of the world are come."|
Did you notice that? This ancient experience is an 'example,' a 'type,' an 'illustration,' a 'figure' of a great spiritual deception scheduled to come upon this world in the end-time. That time has already begun. So let us examine this matter further.
|Matthew 7:21:|| Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.|
22: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The answer is: They are "workers of iniquity."
What is this thing called 'iniquity' that it can invalidate the powerful arguments these believers put to Christ; who disqualifies them from entering the Kingdom of Heaven? The answer is:
Iniquity is deliberate, persistent sin, a wilful refusal to acknowledge sin and obey the Law of Almighty God! Iniquity is an absolute rejection of Yahweh's commandments. Iniquity is disobedience of the worst kind, an act of spiritual rebellion so deep and so deluding that it even contemptuously dismisses the charge that it is wrong.
These persons are guilty of iniquity. To be sure they profess Christ. Indeed with their wonder-working powers they are usually the leaders in this field. What is more, in Christ's name they have cast out devils and have done many wonderful works. It would be foolish to suggest that they would use these arguments if they hadn't done these things. Yes they have done them all. But it avails them nothing. The Master still refuses them entry to the Kingdom. Like unproductive trees they are hewn down and cast into the fire.
Again we ask, Why?
Because they are blatant sinners who refuse to recognise and obey the Commandments of the Most High. They are wilfully and persistently disobedient. They are guilty of iniquity. Moreover, they have allowed their tongues to become the channel for the Lying Spirit and have taught and practised lawlessness to their own ruin. To be sure they can do miracles: but that counts for nothing when weighed against their iniquity. Oh what a terrible scene is here portrayed. Can you begin to understand it?
Pause awhile and consider so great a deception! Who are these people anyway? What do they call themselves? By what denominational name do they go? There must be many of them and they must be able to work miracles for the Master to say:
Once more we ask - Who are these people?
There is only one answer to that question and if you spend some time really thinking about it you will realise that it is the only answer that presents itself. And that answer is this.
These deluded souls are none other than the wonder-working Charismatic Christians who are currently claiming to have that supernatural experience called The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yes, believe it or not, these miracle-working believers are the only ones in the whole of Christendom who fit that prophecy. No other Christian group can possibly claim such powers as these people can.
We do not.
And what will happen to these deluded souls? Are they forever lost because in their eagerness to be Baptised in the Holy Spirit they have allowed themselves to be tricked by the Lying Spirit?
We are happy to say that many of them will realise their error and like king Jehoshaphat of old cry out to Yahweh before it is eternally too late. (1 Kings 22:32) Yes, many of them will repent, they will "wash their garments," that is they will begin to obey the commandments of the Most High. (Revelation 7:13-17, 22:14) But many others like Ahab and Jezebel will not. They will continue in their lawlessness and perish in their sins.
In other words, every believer who enters the Kingdom of Heaven is going to
be Baptised in the Holy Spirit. The old carnal nature, the one that we are
all born with, the nature that is inherently hostile to the commandments of
the Most High, will be slain; and in its place the Messiah will give us a
mind like his own and write on it His Father's Law. We will then be totally
obedient sons and daughters of God, not because we have to be, but
instinctively. This glorious prospect is guaranteed in these words:
|Hebrews 8:8|| For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:|
9: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
This experience is, in fact, the climax of the New Covenant when the whole Family of the Most High will assemble at Mount Zion to His Law inscribed on the tablets of our souls. In this Covenant Yahweh's commandments will be inscribed on our minds, etched by the divine hand into our spiritual 'hardware' (to use a computer term) for all time. We will then be absolutely holy people in every thought, word and deed. Yes, the Messiah is going to personally Baptise in the Holy Spirit every believer who is going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And he will do this in his own time; so wait for it. He has scheduled himself to slay our sinful natures, which in varying degrees are at enmity with the Law of his Father. And in the place of our sinful rebellion he will put total obedience.
This experience is the true Baptism of the Holy Spirit and when we
experience it, we will never sin any more! And then this text will apply
even to us:
|1 John 3:9||"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."|
The False Prophet
The Gift of Tongues