Dead Religion vs. the Spirit of Life

Study by Patricia Backora

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (I Cor. 2:5).

On Fire for Jesus Without the Fire

One day a man hopped out of his car and stopped me at a corner as I was walking home from the store. He claimed Jesus had told him to turn his car around and talk to me.

He offered me a tract, but I said I was already a Christian. We got into a deep discussion and ended up disagreeing on some fundamental points. He debunked the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a delusion. He said tongues was “of the devil”, and let me know he had repented of being in the Charismatic Movement.

I told him God promised to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh in the Last Days, and I had received this Blessing more than thirty years before. He said the last days were in the days of the Apostles. Well, if these aren’t the last of the last days of satan’s rule on earth, then where else could we be on God’s time line? If anything, we’re much further into the last days than the original Apostles were! We certainly aren’t in the Millennial Age of Christ’s earthly Reign yet!

That confused guy quoted this Scripture to try to persuade me to disown the greatest Blessing I’d ever received since my conversion. He said that “when that which is perfect is come”, then the spiritual gifts will pass away. He also cited this one: Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is part shall be done away (I Corinthians 13:10). But his notion of “that which is perfect” was foggy. All he did was mumble: “Get out there and witness.”

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The High Cost of Ignorance

Get out there and witness. That’s all they told me in church when I was a teenager. I felt no reality of God’s power or Presence, and God seemed to me to be only a far-away Being I paid lip service to on Sundays and Wednesday nights. It wasn’t long before I lost interest. God seemed dead and far away before I received the fullness of the Spirit. In spite of the fact desperate prayer on my part had recently saved my little brother from dying of a sudden meningitis attack. My Sunday School teacher did her best to keep me on fire for Jesus, but my life was a bummer and will-power and promises to get on fire for Jesus always fell through.

As a rule, whenever I’d try to pray, I’d feel like a brick wall was standing between me and a closer relationship with God. I wanted to break through this barrier of ignorance, and I sensed that there must be more to the Christian life than making repeated trips to the altar to “rededicate my life”. My pastor hadn’t learned that secret either and so could not impart it to his flock.Thus, a gloomy cloud of doubts and pessimism about life in general hung over my head. I was depressed. My prayers were joyless rituals performed mostly at church to impress my church prayer group.

My early concept of God was shaped by well-meaning pastors and Sunday School teachers who left me with this impression because they knew no better: We are saved by grace (unmerited favor) solely to work for God, and that’s the Christian existence in a nutshell. We enjoy a momentary spiritual honeymoon with Christ at the time of our conversion. But after that we are demoted to being mere slaves who are banished from the mountain top down to the harvest fields so we can toil to show ourselves worthy of our free salvation. This little poem sums it up:

Brother, are you saved from sin?
Thank the Lord you made it in
Now you’ve made your choice for Him
Your honeymoon is at an end
Now there’s other souls to win
Lest you slip back into sin again.

What on earth are you waiting for?
Jesus sure can’t do no more.
He’s waiting on that Blissful Shore
Go get busy, serve the Lord
Get out there and bring in more
God is up there keeping score.

You gotta earn the grace God gave
Go and tell the lost today
Miracles are done away
Be realistic when you pray
God no longer heals today
Except through medicines you take.

So spread the glorious great glad news
Once you’re saved it’s up to you
To replenish all them empty pews
When people leave and there are few.

Christ can surely save your soul
But after that you’re on your own.

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Why I Know God’s Offer STILL Hasn’t Expired!

Fellow believers, we need God’s spiritual power as never before. Only a person ignorant of the awful shape Planet Earth is in could ever truly think that “that which is perfect” has already come! Demons STILL infest the air all around us, inciting sinners to blaspheme and commit abominable sins. Little children and women are STILL afraid to walk city streets. People are STILL subject to sickness and premature death. Crime STILL goes unpunished. Wars STILL rage. Wicked men STILL suck off the misery of the poor. Crooks STILL infiltrate all society, even religious organizations. Satan STILL deceives millions with a convenient, politically correct “gospel”, which is nothing more than a whimsical doctrine of “love” dispensing with Scriptural standards of morality. Satan STILL calls the shots in societal trends. Two thousand years of the Church Age has failed to stamp out sin and immorality in this world.

We do NOT YET see Christ face-to-face, but rather, see Him through a glass darkly ( I Cor. 13: 12). Our understanding of Him and our service for Him is STILL imperfect, because we STILL dwell in perishable vessels of clay. We have NOT YET been perfected into the glorious image of Christ, nor attained to perfection of wisdom and power. Though heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, we have NOT YET received our ultimate reward. Christ does NOT YET reign as King over this earth. He does NOT YET sit upon His father David’s Throne on Mount Zion, enforcing His righteous decrees. Rather, most of mankind STILL holds His Word in the basest contempt. This is a world at enmity with its Creator.

I beg to differ, but if this present rotten state of affairs is the perfection God’s children are promised, and, as a result, God must divest me of weapons I badly need to fight the devil, then I’m in BIG trouble!

Satan battles to keep sinners in darkness and fights to keep God’s own children ignorant of their heavenly heritage. Christ never promised the Church would convert the whole world to holiness. Instead, Paul the Apostle warned that sinners would grow worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13); a prophecy which has indeed proven true.

That zealous salvation salesman said: “In order to get more of God’s Spirit you just keep on witnessing. Did Jesus ever say that? The Holy Spirit is a Gift, not wages for busywork done in puny human strength! That young guy hadn’t even known me for five minutes. He had no idea of all the fierce battles I had waged with satan over so many long years, all the many victories God had given me.Yet I could tell by things he said and the patronizing look on his face he even doubted I was even saved. After all, my views on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit differed from those held by his denomination. It was just like trying to get a happily married person to dismiss as delusion many years of wedded bliss already experienced. As if I hadn’t even met my beloved Savior for the first time. After all God and I have been through together, who was that guy man tell me I don’t even know Him? I pointed out that only the power of the Holy Spirit had saved me from a lot of desperate situations.

Jesus said in Mark 16: 17-18, just before ascending up to heaven: And these signs shall follow THEM THAT BELIEVE; In My Name shall they cast out devils;they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.

Notice. These signs shall follow “THEM THAT BELIEVE”. If this offer was to expire after the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles, surely Christ would have included that crucial clause in His will before His Ascension. But it’s a good thing for me He didn’t!

Saints, it makes no sense for a general to strip his army of their most effective weapons just when the enemy has brought out his deadliest nukes. This is an age of gross darkness, and I need every spiritual weapon I can get from God to win the victory.

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Treat the Holy Spirit With Reverence!

How horrible, this man’s patronizing, disparaging repudiation of this Holy Presence I’ve cherished for 30+ years. Alas, here was one guy who’d rather bow to official denominational dogma than to keep this most wonderful of all God’s Gifts_the precious Holy Spirit_if indeed he ever had this Blessing at all. How tragic, to want to please men rather than God (John 12:43). Just like the chief rulers of the synagogue did in Jesus’s day, who feared the ultra-religious Pharisees might get them excommunicated for believing in Christ.

How repugnant, to send the precious Holy Spirit packing in the name of church tradition. This very thing was done by ultra-religious Pharisees who were so hardened against Jesus’ miracles they attributed them to Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. They insulted the Spirit of the God they supposedly worshipped, rather than bend the knee to God manifesting Himself in the Person of Christ. How deadly dangerous to even countenance committing this one unforgivable sin! Jesus said to hold fast what you have, that no MAN take thy crown (Rev. 3:11). I pray with all my heart this guy said those things out of ignorance, and God can have mercy on his misguided soul. Many are bound by organizations of men and their dry, dead creeds which can never impart life to thirsty souls.

If you are faced with a choice of dumping dangerous denominational doctrine and debunking the Baptism of the Blessed Holy Spirit, consider this: It is trillions of times safer to acknowledge what you know to be true SCRIPTURAL evidences that the Spirit of God is at work among His people to glorify Christ. I’m not talking about swallowing everything you encounter in lively religious meetings, for people can and do stray into some pretty gross error. This usually happens in churches where the Bible is set aside in favor of emotional frenzy, and deluded souls think that the more you’re able to whip yourself up into a conniption fit, the holier you are. I’ve visited a few such churches. Almost no Scripture is read, and the congregation mistakes screaming, shouting, crying and jumping for divine visitation. All manifestations should be judged in the light of God’s Word applied correctly in context. It is true that you should toss out the rubbish, but the other side of the coin is this: Once there is absolutely no room to doubt that God is working in your midst, hold fast to that which you know to be of Him (I Thessalonians 5:21).

I write this in a spirit of godly fear. Far better to lose everything you have, your reputation, your friends, your family, even your earthly life, than to insult and alienate the only One Who can breathe eternal life into your soul and into the Word of God you read. Better to win heaven and the Victor’s Crown by holding fast to the truth. Safer by far to renounce forever wicked religious traditions which attribute the wonderful work of God’s Spirit to the devil!!!

Those Pharisees addressed in Jesus’ scathing denunciations kept their “respectability” but lost their own souls. Lukewarm clergymen resist God’s Spirit of Power because THEY want to be in charge of THEIR church, and keep the program running to plan, to bring in as many pew-warmers as possible.

Stephen rebuked his religious murderers for resisting the Holy Ghost (Acts 7: 51-53.). It is deadly DANGEROUS to reject the Spirit of Grace! How vain to cling slavishly to church doctrine which has a form of godliness, but denies the Power thereof (II Tim. 3:5). All the frantic evangelizing in the world will never undo the harm done by harboring such a shabby attitude toward the Spirit of the Living God!

This man cited a couple of mistakes made by exercisers of spiritual gifts in a Charismatic church he’d once attended. He used that as an excuse to dismiss the Gifts of the Spirit altogether. God’s people are still human. God looks on the heart, and He is compassionate enough to forgive our stumblings. Even those well-trained in the Word of God aren’t invulnerable to making mistakes, because no Christian can claim perfection until the day of his translation into immortality. But more mature believers tend to stumble less often, because the Word is a light unto our path and helps keep our feet from stumbling (Psalms 119:105).

Proverbs 14:4 tells us that if your oxen stall has no ox in it, its stays clean. But in precluding the possibility of mistakes by banning the Gifts of the Spirit, you reject the strength of the ox which gets the job done the way God intended. And even a perfect track record wouldn’t forestall criticism. Jesus was altogether perfect while He ministered on earth, but religious rulers still looked for ways to discredit Him, and when they couldn’t pin anything on Him they lied about Him, they were so eager to stamp out the Truth. The worst of these men attributed Jesus’ wonderful works to satan. In hating Christ, they hated God Himself, for Christ is the express Image of God the Father (John 14:9; 15:24; II Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).

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Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water

How much wiser it is to receive God’s spiritual gifts and grow in the use of them, than to reject them in the name of denominational doctrine and to hobble the Life of Christ in you, and to be helpless in the face of enemy attack!

Many have screwy notion that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are rivals for the affections of the saints, that if you seek the power of the Spirit and express love and gratitude to Him, you’re slighting the Son. But the goal of the Holy Spirit is ever to glorify the Son (John 16:13-14). No one thinks you’re slighting the Son if you praise and adore the Father Who sent Him, so why should you fear to love the Holy Spirit? God is a Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are all the same God.

Love without power is feeble and little more than sweet sentiment that cannot free satan’s captives. It’s like trying to row a boat with only one oar. You just spin round and round in mad circles as you strive to sell an anemic, politically correct Gospel with intellectual arguments alone. More often than not, your listener is one tough customer who can present 10,000 reasons why he won’t buy Jesus and why all Christians are hypocrites.
Unquestioning acceptance of dead doctrine not only hobbles the saints but robs God of His Glory before an unbelieving world. Many want to give God a makeover to fit in with their respectable churchianity. They want to keep him a quiet mascot smiling down on nodding parishioners staring hypnotically at a sleepy preacher who can’t wait to finish his insipid sermon and get home to his roast beef.

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Flawed Church Tradition Serves Men, Not God

Did Jesus’ offer of Holy Ghost power expire with the demise of the original apostles? Not one Scripture substantiates that false assumption. And nowhere does it say the offices of apostle, prophet, and teacher would be discontinued and only powerless pastors and anemic evangelists would remain to take up the slack! Anything which involves the supernatural side of God tends to be disparaged by nominal churches and hid beneath a bushel basket in hopes it will be forgotten about. It appears to me that a lot of church traditions serve the interests of men, not God.

Limiters of God give lip service to a respectable Sunday god who has retired from the miracle business; a god who sits with folded hands looking on helplessly as people pray prayers they don’t expect ever to see answered. But that isn’t my God!
Let skeptics beware, especially those who are deliberately shutting their eyes to the truth out of loyalty to denominational doctrine! I repeat, attributing the wonderful works of the Spirit of God to satan is extremely dangerous! I tremble for that man I met on the road and hope with all my heart God will have mercy on him for being a blind man led by the blind! God is stung by those Who treat the precious Gift of His Living Presence with such careless disdain. The Pharisees attributed the miracles of Christ to Beelzebub, chief of the devils, and they went to hell for it.

There are noted evangelists in America with impressive credentials, who zealously seek the ingathering of souls into God’s Kingdom. Yet they downplay, explain away, misinterpret, twist or sidestep those Scriptures which exhort us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Salvation from sin and that unique Baptism are lumped together as being the same experience.

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The Baptism of the Spirit: Christ’s Final Promise

Notice in Luke 22:31-32. Jesus and His original disciples were gathered in the Upper Room for the Last Supper, just prior to His trial and crucifixion. Jesus was about to warn Peter that he would deny Him three times. He says: “Simon, Simon, listen. Satan has desired to have you. He wants to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail: and WHEN YOU ARE CONVERTED (saved), strengthen your brethren.” The disciples had walked with Jesus for at least three years, but they had not yet been born again. Jesus had not yet offered up His life as an atonement for their sins.

For some 40 days after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus continued to make appearances to His followers in His immortal resurrected body. Immediately after Jesus’ execution, His eleven disciples (Judas had committed suicide), were hiding in a locked room, petrified that those same Jewish leaders who’d just murdered Jesus were out gunning for them. They were surprised when Jesus suddenly materialized before them without going through the door. Now Christ could do this because His wonderful resurrected body was not hindered by the laws of nature, or time and space. He showed the disciples the marks left in His hands by the nails, and the deep scar left by the spear which had been thrust through his side. Having satisfied His men that He was indeed the risen Savior Who possessed a body of flesh and bone, and not a mere apparition, he gave them the commission to preach the Gospel. Then He breathed upon His disciples and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost (John 20: 21-22).

Which sparks a question: If Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into His disciples at the time of their first encounter with Him after His Resurrection, then why this subsequent scenario: Ten days before the Jewish Feast of Pentecost and immediately before He went back to heaven, Christ gave parting instructions to His disciples: It is written that Christ must suffer and rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His Name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are all witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but you must first wait in the city of Jerusalem until you have received power from above (Luke 24:46-49).

And again, in Acts Chapter 1 Christ says:

Verse 4 And, being assembled together with them, (Christ) 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.

Verse 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Verse 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom again to Israel?

Verse 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.

Verse 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 Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Verse 9 And when he had spoken these things, while he beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.

The very last words Christ uttered on this earth before being taken up to heaven was His promise to send us the Holy Spirit. I should think the thelogians who debunk the Baptism of the Spirit would agree that the final words of Christ on earth should carry at least as much weight as everything else he said during His ministry. And Jesus didn’t restrict His promise to those disciples standing with Him on the Mount of Olives either, anymore than He limited salvation from sin to that particular group of disciples.

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Salvation, Water Baptisms and Holy Spirit Baptism

If salvation and the Baptism of the Spirit were one and the same blessing, then it follows that throughout the forty days the Resurrected Christ was among the disciples, they were still unconverted sinners, because they did not receive the Baptism of the Spirit until the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. But this just can’t be. Jesus had breathed the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the disciples immediately after His Resurrection many days before His departure date. The Holy Spirit simply does not dwell in the hearts of unconverted individuals! His Presence in a heart sanctifies it.

I firmly believe Jesus had earlier breathed His Holy Spirit into the hearts of His disciples to regenerate them spiritually to eternal life. When He did this, they were converted, for it was then the Holy Spirit entered their hearts by faith and imparted eternal life to men once spiritually dead ( see Ephesians 2:1). But Christ would not send them off to the mission field until they had first received the Baptism (total immersion into) the Holy Spirit, to empower them.

This can be likened to a soldier being inducted into the army. Once he is sworn in, he knows his duty is to fight to defend his nation. When we enter the Kingdom of God by faith, we receive the status of soldiers of the Great King (II Tim. 2:3-4).

But a soldier’s zeal is never enough to defeat an enemy stronger than himself. He needs weapons. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit empowers you, as a believer, to keep the Faith in an ungodly world and pray strong prayers in the Spirit which get the devil running when he dares to cross the Christ in you. If you don’t receive the power and wisdom of the mighty Holy Ghost, you’re a dead duck, waiting to be picked off on satan’s shooting range.

Acts 8: 14-17 also bolsters my belief that salvation and the Baptism of the Spirit are two separate occurrences. It could hardly be plainer.

Verse 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Verse 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

Verse 16 (For as yet He (the Holy Ghost) was fallen upon NONE of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Verse 17 THEN laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

By the time the apostles got to Samaria to check on the new believers who had received the Word of God, they had ALREADY BEEN WATER BAPTIZED in the Name of Jesus. Now, if salvation from sin and the Baptism in the Holy Ghost are synonymous terms and water baptism is the only baptism needful for believers, then why would the apostles have prayed for them to receive the Holy Ghost upon their arrival in Samaria? What’s more, if these people had been unconverted before the apostles prayed for them, then why on earth were they ALREADY water baptised in the Name of Jesus? It just isn’t scriptural for people to be baptized to bear testimony to others that they are born again BEFORE the fact, is it?

In Acts 10 we find the story of how God showed the Apostle Peter that salvation by grace through faith was to be offered not just to circumcised Jews but also to the Gentiles. God, in His mercy, went to great lengths to help a Roman centurion who tried to win His favor by showing acts of kindness to the poor, praying and fasting. So what did God do but send Simon Peter to the port city of Caesarea, headquarters of the hated Roman military! Talk about a good Jewish boy sticking his neck out to obey God!

You can read for yourself the fascinating account of how Peter is moved by God in a dream to overcome his racial prejudices, but for now the burning question is whether water baptism is distinguishable from the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Fire foretold by John the Baptist, the same Baptism Christ Himself referred to in Acts 1: 4-5. John the Baptist says to his listeners In Matt.3:11: I (John) indeed baptise you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (KJV).

John clearly draws a distinction between water baptism which he, as a man, is able to perform (which his repentant listeners had already received) and the Baptism of the Spirit, which only God in Christ can bestow.From John’s perspective, that Baptism of the Spirit and Fire was yet future and was to make its debut on the Day of Pentecost when the disciples were gathered in the Upper Room. If, as my critic insisted, the Baptism of the Spirit was only for that bygone era, then why do we still practice water baptism, which wets the body but doesn’t fill us with the power of God? Why keep the carnal ordinance and discard the spiritual reality? My sneaking suspicion is it’s because religious leaders feel threatened by the intrusion of the supernatural power of God into THEIR Church, so they want to keep a tight lid on what goes on.

Back to Peter, who is preaching to the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house. He tells them of the wonderful works done during Christ’s earthly ministry, which testify to His identity as the promised Redeemer. Then it happens:

Verse 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Verse 45 And they of the circumcision (Jews) were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost (KJV).
Stop here a moment. Now WHO did the pouring out? Peter couldn’t do this! It was JESUS who poured out the Holy Ghost on these people. Jesus is the Baptiser spoken of by John the Baptist!

So what happens next? Verse 46 For they heard them SPEAKING WITH TONGUES, and magnifying God (see I Cor. 14:2, which plainly says that tongues are not used for preaching to men, but to speak mysteries to God). Then answered Peter,
Verse 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well we we?

That’s proof conclusive that water baptism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit are two separate events. Furthermore, it shows you can’t put God in a box. God can and does sometimes save and Spirit-baptize a person simultaneously. Peter shared the whole counsel of God with these people, for it never occurred to him to suppress the mighty works of God. God gave these people both blessings at the same time. These days, people often experience salvation from sin in one of the traditional church denominations, then if they ever learn about the Baptism of the Spirit, they can receive power from on high which equips them for Christian service and enables them to receive spiritual gifts (including tongues).

In Acts 19 Paul visits a group of disciples in Ephesus. By clear inference, they must be already saved to be Christian disciples! In verse 2 he asks them: have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost (KJV).

Here we have the same paradox not common to powerless churches: The disciples, who had earlier received John the Baptist’s baptism unto repentance, had heard of Jesus, but not the Holy Ghost! Yet God in His mercy has already enabled them to believe in Christ’s saving power. This is implied in verse 4 where Paul says: Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people; that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Verse 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Verse 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; AND THEY SPAKE WITH TONGUES AND PROPHESIED.

Notice, this particular group had ALREADY believed on Christ unto salvation. If any of them had died before the arrival of Paul, they would have doubtless gone straight to heaven. Though they had been baptized in water by John before Christ’s crucifixion, they received another water baptism as an outward testimony to men of their conversion to the risen Christ. Then Paul laid hands on them to receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which enabled them to speak in tongues and prophesy.

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The Truth Shall Set You Free
John 8:32

I got saved in one church at the age of twelve. It was two years more before I received water baptism in still another church which didn’t teach the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. I definitely did not speak in tongues or prophesy back in those days. I couldn’t have done it if I’d tried, and if I had, I would have been shown the door. When I received the Holy Spirit at the age of 19, I, who was extremely shy, not only spoke in tongues effortlessly, but did something no one told me to do: sang a lovely, fluent song of praise in tongues unto the Lord. Your body doesn’t get wet when you get baptized in the Holy Ghost, but I noticed one outward difference in myself and others filled with the Spirit: He imparts a vibrant sparkle to your eyes. When I look at photos of myself as a youngster, my eyes lack the lustre they have today.

God is a Gentleman. He won’t force us to receive any good thing against our will. And you can’t ask him for something you know nothing about. When I was twelve I went to a church that preached salvation and sanctification, but never mentioned the Baptism of the Spirit or being kept by the power of God. I was gloriously saved. I felt like an intensely bright fountain was washing my inward parts. It was so wonderful that I hated to leave the altar and go face a drab everyday world. But basic salvation from sin was ALL I could receive in that church. They knew how to bring me to Christ but from then on it was up to me to keep myself in Christ. Salvation was by grace alone, but I’d either sink or swim on my own merits. I must never again get mad, say a single cuss word, fight with my brother, or even have a single evil thought. I feared that if I made even one slip-up I’d be forever lost and couldn't ever repent again! The joy I’d known earlier was replaced with stark terror. The devil can easily defeat the people of God when they lack the knowledge of what God has provided for our victory (Hosea 4:6).

God will give you exactly what you ask for, based on what you’ve been taught and what you reach out to him in faith to receive. You must believe to receive something, but you must first hear about it before you can believe. The moment of my conversion was very beautiful, but it wasn’t long before I felt tarnished again just by being in a sinful world. My honeymoon with the Lord ended, because self-effort based on ignorance and emotion didn’t get me very far.

Seven years later I received a second Blessing from heaven-the Fullness of the blessed Holy Ghost. Right now, 3 decades later, my awareness of the wonderful Presence of God is every bit as strong as it was at that moment. How sad that many church groups would rather adhere to vain traditions of men than be equipped with spiritual power to overcome satan, their mortal enemy. Incidentally, my use of the lower case “s” is deliberate. By faith I see satan as God sees him_cut down to size by Jesus’ victory on Calvary. I consider him beneath a cockroach, unworthy to have his name capitalized.

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Just Ask the Father

In Matthew 7: 7-11, Jesus gives us an insight into the generous nature of our Heavenly Father. Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks shall the door be opened. What man is among you, who, if his son asks you for bread, would receive a stone from you instead? Or, if he should ask for a fish, would receive a snake from you? If you, then, being sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?

This same discourse is also related from Luke’s perspective. Jesus names one specific Blessing we ought to receive from the Father. If human fathers would not be so depraved as to give evil things to their children who petition them for good things, surely we can trust God to be true to His promises and to His loving nature and meet the deepest needs of our lives. In Luke 11:13 Jesus promises the greatest Blessing of all: If you then, being sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask them?

God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift ( James 1:17). He baptized me into the Holy Spirit when I asked Him, after I heard and believed the Scriptures shared with me by new Spirit-filled friends and the pastor of a bible-believing church. Since my Baptism, He has given me some of the nine gifts of the Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12:8-10. He will give such wonderful gifts to any Spirit-baptized believer Who asks Him.

We may face difficulties in this world, but God is still on the Throne. When we are armed with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and hold fast to our faith in our triumphant Redeemer, we will ultimately see God give us the victory in every situation of life.

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The Anointing of Fire
Jeremiah 20:9; 23:29; Matthew 3:11; Acts 2: 1-4

If I had to face life in a world like this (let alone serve the Lord in it!) without the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, I’d be in pretty sad shape. If I honestly thought God’s anointing of power is not for today, I wouldn’t even bother to pray, I’d feel I was wasting my breath! I’d just do like I did as a child in church who had a deep longing for heaven instilled in me by Sunday School stories: obsess about how wonderful it must be to finally die and go there!
If God has ceased to flex His muscle on our behalf, the New Life in Christ is impossible to aspire to in this world, and our hope in Christ must be put on hold till we check out of here and retire to a better one.

The Prophet Jeremiah knew what the anointing was, and it didn’t turn him into a rich, popular televangelist. He was put under immense pressure by apostate officials of Israel to tone his delivery down a little, so as not to rock the boat. People didn’t flock to his seminars, because his prophetic warnings didn’t leave them with a warm, fuzzy feeling. This man of God forced people to confront their sin of gross idolatry. He told them to expect some pretty heavy penalties for forsaking the God of their fathers.

Jeremiah didn’t like the way his unpopular message of judgment made him a social pariah. His listeners hated him for proclaiming that ungodly Babylonians would be used by the God of Israel to punish His own people for turning their backs on Him.

Jeremiah really felt the heat. He wondered if he ought to take a break from breaking the bad news. After all, converts weren’t coming in by droves, and he didn’t seem to be connecting with anyone except a very few sympathetic friends who felt sorry for him. His ratings plummeted. The kitty was bare. His critics offered him a stark choice: Put a softer spin on his delivery and airbrush his image or face the ax.

If Jeremiah were held to today’s standards of “success”, his ministry would be judged an abysmal failure.

But God wouldn’t let His messenger suppress His warnings in time of national emergency. Jeremiah speaks of his struggle to keep quiet in Jeremiah 20:9: Then I said I will not make mention of him (the Lord), nor speak any more in His name. But His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay (hold it in any longer).

Jeremiah didn’t have to whip himself up into a beach-storming zeal to go undertake a great challenge for God. If it had been left up to him, he would have gotten as far away from his very unglamorous (and dangerous) calling as possible. The motivation and zeal within this prophet was GOD’S doing, and Jeremiah couldn’t keep a lid on it. That holy anointing on Jeremiah’s life wouldn’t let him rest till he allowed God to speak some pretty heavy things through him to grab the attention of reprobates and sinners in Israel.

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Tongues: Bypassing the Natural Mind to Access the Mind of the Spirit

No other point of theology seems to pose more of a stumbling block to seekers of the Baptism of the Spirit than speaking in tongues. Why? Because speaking in tongues is an ability imparted by the Holy Spirit, Whose understanding is infinitely superior to human intellect. The fallible human mind falls far short of the Glory of God. Speaking in tongues bypasses the intellect altogether, and thus we do not know what we are praying when we exercise this gift. Tongues is a supernatural Gift of the Spirit, exercised at the will of the speaker as the Spirit provides the utterance (Acts 2:4). This heavenly speech is unintelligible to the speaker, but understood by God (I Cor. 14:14).

People of great accomplishment or intellectual ability sometimes have a harder time receiving tongues because there is no room for human pride in the exercise of this gift. It’s one example of that which is lightly esteemed in men’s eyes confounding things highly esteemed in the sight of men (I Cor. 1: 25-29). Ironically, it is the very simplicity of moving in the Gift of Tongues which humbles human pride.

I’m one of those who didn’t find human pride an obstacle in receiving tongues. I had been so badly treated in school there was no room to be proud of anything except the fact I had a cup with lots of room for God to fill up with more of Himself. When I received the Baptism at the tender age of 19, I was totally disgusted with the ways of the world. I loathed the idea of living out my life to impress a world full of phony entities who didn’t care two cents about me anyway. My sights were set strictly on the things of God’s Eternal Kingdom. The day I received the Baptism of the Spirit was like heaven itself to me. After I prayed for the fullness of the Spirit I sang in tongues to praise the Lord Who offered me true dignity as a child of God, as one whom others had striven to rob of dignity. My soul was lifted up with unutterable joy. And my only regret was the Lord didn’t also lift me up off my chair to be with Him in heaven. Any believer who knows he is dead to a dead world wants all the life God can pour into him or her.

I still find some areas of moving in faith a great challenge, but praying in tongues is as simple to me as breathing. You simply will yourself to pray in the Spirit, and He supplies the words (Acts 2:4). Those who possess a natural eloquence in speaking or praying will probably find speaking in Tongues a much more humbling experience than I did. Rather, I find it very liberating.

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Benefits of Speaking in Tongues

Some will use I Cor. 14:19 as an excuse to dismiss tongues altogether. This verse reads in the KJV: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice (Italicized words supplied by the translator) I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

But when applying Scripture, verses must not be yanked out of their context. How could these critics gloss over the preceding verse, verse 18, which reads: I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all (Paul speaking). And he clearly says in verse 39: FORBID NOT TO SPEAK IN TONGUES.

Now, why would Paul the apostle waste the Lord’s time doing something he thought was unimportant? And if he were debunking tongues, why would he contradict himself in I Cor. 14:39 by telling Christians not to forbid each other to speak in tongues? Rather than banning tongues, he was trying to show the Corinthians that tongues had a very important place in the devotional life of a Christian, both in his private prayer life and within the context of the use of the Gift of Tongues, exercised in the congregation. But if someone were, say, to burst out in tongues while the minister was delivering a sermon, that would only create confusion and prevent people from understanding the preaching of the Word. Bursting out in tongues at the wrong time in a church service is disorderly conduct, though there is ample liberty to exercise tongues in your own private prayer closet. Verse 40, the final verse of I Cor. 14, says that all things are to be done decently and in order.

All of I Cor. Chapter 14 is devoted to an explanation of how to correctly exercise the the gifts of prophecy and tongues in a church setting. In that part of a charismatic church service set aside for the Spirit to speak to the congregation through the oral gifts, tongues are to be exercised with the expectation that an interpretation will follow (verse 27-28). The Gift of Tongues, when followed by interpretation, will bring edification to those present. Paul speaks of tongues as being a sign to unbelievers (verse 22). I have heard of incidences where people heard God warning them to repent, not in the natural language of the speaker, but in their own native tongue, often a very obscure language.

It happened in Acts 2:1-11 when the Spirit-baptized apostles spoke in foreign languages they’d never learned before and Jewish proselytes from all over the known world heard the wonderful works of God proclaimed in their own tongues. That is a miraculous phenomenon, rather than being the product of years of laborious language study! Even in that case, the believer does not understand what he is saying when speaking in tongues, and the content of the message is not governed by his intellect. The Gift of Tongues does not make it unnecessary for missionaries to study the native languages of the countries they’re being sent to, as a common language is still essential for personal interaction.

Tongues are of enormous benefit to the believer’s prayer life. In the natural realm, we are limited by our own intellect, insofar as expressing ourselves is concerned. But there are times our communion with God transcends the depth and range of our natural language and vocabulary. The ways of the Spirit are a deep mystery, and He could be offering up a petition for some situation you know nothing about. Our natural minds are not always aware of matters which need praying for, either in our own lives or those of others. Except in the case of the Gift of Tongues with interpretation, tongues are directed toward God, not men (I Cor. 14:2; verses 14-15).

At times, I might feel a deep burden in my spirit and not even know what it’s about. It is then I will direct my heart heavenward and pray as the Spirit gives me utterance. I don’t worry that I don’t know exactly what I’m saying, because the Holy Spirit knows better than I do what the Father needs to hear concerning a situation which may not even be at the forefront of my consciousness. The Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot even be uttered (Romans 8:26-27). Our understanding often fails, but the mind of the Spirit is always perfectly attune with the will of God. That’s part of the reason I disagreed with that fellow I met on the road when he insisted that the Gifts of the Spirit are “done away” because “that which is perfect” is already come and there was no further need for them. How absurd, to think our own natural knowledge and power to present accurately our petitions to the Father is as perfect as that of the Holy Spirit!

One benefit of praying in tongues is that the inner man feels refreshed afterward, as if it’s just had a good spring cleaning. Often I have felt oppressed, discouraged or weary and a few minutes of praying in tongues has driven those feelings away. Isaiah 28:11-12 speaks of unknown tongues and the stubbornness of unbelievers who hear them: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he (God) speak to this people. To whom he said, this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. That’s great news for those who hesitate to pray in tongues privately or exercise the Gift of Tongues in church because it doesn’t sound fluent enough. The world pokes fun at stammering or any kind of weakness whatever. But in God’s book, tongues can even come with stammering! Not only that, God delights in using weak things to confound things idolized by the world, so that there can be no room for pride or boasting (I Cor. 1:25-29).

In I Cor. 14:21-22 Paul himself refers back to Isaiah 28: 11-12 when he teaches that tongues are a sign to the unbeliever. Despite the wondrous mysteries proclaimed by the Spirit, Paul’s own nation was largely deaf to the Gospel.Let God Be God

Beware of limiting the Holy One of Israel. When you “take the promises of Scripture with a grain of salt”, God automatically becomes smaller in your estimation and the devil looms larger in your consciousness. This robs God of glory in the sight of those you hope to see converted.

One of the signs of the Last Days is that men would “have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5). We mustn’t ever harbor doubts that God is the Lord and He changes not (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17). Such double-mindedness is contrary to true faith. A double-minded person clings to the outward form of religion but has divested God of His power and has no real assurance that his need will be met as a result of his prayer. James says of the double-minded believer: “Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord (James 1:7).

Oh, but satan is very crafty about it. If he can’t defeat you altogether, he’ll try to at least achieve a measure of victory over you. If he cannot prevent you from believing in God’s existence, he’ll try to keep you from appropriating the Cross of Christ, and its many benefits. I’ve found that the greatest weapon satan possesses against the born-again believer is to get him to doubt the truth of God’s Word. If you are saved, he’ll try to keep you ignorant of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. And if you already know about this Baptism of Fire and haven’t received it yet, the devil just might lie to you and go so far as convince you he’s the author of it, just to keep you in a defeated, discouraged state!

Beware. I’ve been scuttled by the devil’s lies before, and it’s like falling into a deep pit that’s hard to get out of. Old Sluefoot is one crafty old snake. Even if you’ve already received the Holy Spirit, he’ll try to whittle away your confidence in the power of God little by little till you’re only a vestige of the man or woman of God you ought to be. I should know, I’ve seen some dark days of testing where my faith in God was put under fire by the devil, and I was sorely tempted to question whether God could bring me through to victory.

I never forgot one wise old maxim: “You can’t put God in a box”. I’m fully aware that countless saints have prayed for miracles of healing and didn’t seem to get them in this world; no, not even when they went to healing crusades and felt like they had all the faith in the world. Yet, strangely enough, some unconverted individual would stroll into the same meeting, then go on to be healed without any faith at all on his part, just a willingness to hear the Word and give Christ a chance. Why such paradoxes sometimes occur, I honestly don’t know, and I won’t know the answer till my understanding is perfected in heaven.

Still, it’s erroneous to say “miracles are done away” and “God helps those who help themselves”. God expects us to live in a responsible way, but our own strength and wisdom are inadequate to handle each and every situation which pops up in the course of a lifetime. Things happen which are totally beyond of our own knowledge or control and God must either intervene or tragedy results. There are less conspicuous miracles, not just the kind that stir people’s emotions in miracle meetings.

I’ll name just two of many such miracles in my own life. The first I recall happened right after I’d received the Baptism. I owned a pair of glasses but didn’t like to wear them all the time. But the bright sun was too strong for my eyes. I felt the urge to put them on because of their plastic clip-on sunshades. I’d barely had them on when a rock slammed against one of the sunshades. It had been propelled by a riding mower working on the road bank. That prompting from the Holy Spirit saved me from serious injury.

One day we all went to a carnival on my husband Tom’s day off. I’m not much into such activities anyway, I just enjoy going places with him and sight-seeing. But I noticed a sky-glider ride and thought it might be fun to try it out. I asked if he’d care to join me on it. No thanks, he said, he’d just stand down below and watch me.

Suddenly I got cold feet. I decided I didn’t want to have to go looking for Tom in the big crowd after the ride was over. So he and I just looked on while the next batch of riders went up. The ride had barely started when the cable line snapped. People screamed. At least three of the little cabs fell on top of exhibit tents. Two people died in that awful mishap. I felt terribly sorry for them, but still I trembled in relief that God had prevented me from getting on.

The Holy Spirit is not an optional accessory easily dispensed with by people content to escape hell by the skin of their teeth. He is the very Life of God Himself dwelling in us. We need Him not only as the One Who has drawn us to salvation in Christ, but as our Comforter and Empowerer. We mustn’t ever grieve or hinder Him by resisting His wonderful power in and through us. Millions barely give lip service to His reality. How foolish to think you can dispense with the God of power and live a godly life in your own strength. In a world like this we need all the help we can get. It’s a dark, perilous place where satan lays snares to catch us in our weaknesses. As Christians we would often feel utterly alone and helpless without the Presence of the Comforter within to reassure us God loves us and we are on the winning side.


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