Religion vs. the Spirit of Life
by Patricia Backora
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power
of God (I Cor. 2:5).
Fire for Jesus Without the Fire
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.
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 arent the last of the last days of satans rule
on earth, then where else could we be on Gods time line? If
anything, were much further into the last days than the original
Apostles were! We certainly arent in the Millennial Age of
Christs earthly Reign yet!
confused guy quoted this Scripture to try to persuade me to disown
the greatest Blessing Id 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
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High Cost of Ignorance
there and witness. Thats all they told me in church when I
was a teenager. I felt no reality of Gods 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 wasnt 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.
rule, whenever Id try to pray, Id 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
hadnt 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
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 thats 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:
are you saved from sin?
Thank the Lord you made it in
Now youve made your choice for Him
Your honeymoon is at an end
Now theres other souls to win
Lest you slip back into sin again.
on earth are you waiting for?
Jesus sure cant do no more.
Hes 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 youre saved its up to you
To replenish all them empty pews
When people leave and there are few.
can surely save your soul
But after that youre on your own.
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Why I Know Gods Offer STILL Hasnt
believers, we need Gods 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.
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 Davids
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.
to differ, but if this present rotten state of affairs is the perfection
Gods children are promised, and, as a result, God must divest
me of weapons I badly need to fight the devil, then Im in
battles to keep sinners in darkness and fights to keep Gods
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 Gods 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 hadnt 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 hadnt 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 dont even know Him? I pointed
out that only the power of the Holy Spirit had saved me from a lot
of desperate situations.
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 its a good thing for
me He didnt!
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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the Holy Spirit With Reverence!
this mans patronizing, disparaging repudiation of this Holy
Presence Ive cherished for 30+ years. Alas, here was one guy
whod rather bow to official denominational dogma than to keep
this most wonderful of all Gods 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 Jesuss day, who feared the ultra-religious
Pharisees might get them excommunicated for believing in Christ.
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
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. Im 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 youre able to whip yourself
up into a conniption fit, the holier you are. Ive 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 Gods 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).
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 Victors Crown by holding fast to the truth.
Safer by far to renounce forever wicked religious traditions which
attribute the wonderful work of Gods Spirit to the devil!!!
Pharisees addressed in Jesus scathing denunciations kept their
respectability but lost their own souls. Lukewarm clergymen
resist Gods 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.
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
man cited a couple of mistakes made by exercisers of spiritual gifts
in a Charismatic church hed once attended. He used that as
an excuse to dismiss the Gifts of the Spirit altogether. Gods
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 arent 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).
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 wouldnt forestall criticism. Jesus was altogether perfect
while He ministered on earth, but religious rulers still looked
for ways to discredit Him, and when they couldnt 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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Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water
wiser it is to receive Gods 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!
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, youre slighting
the Son. But the goal of the Holy Spirit is ever to glorify the
Son (John 16:13-14). No one thinks youre 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.
without power is feeble and little more than sweet sentiment that
cannot free satans captives. Its 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 wont
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 cant wait to
finish his insipid sermon and get home to his roast beef.
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Church Tradition Serves Men, Not God
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,
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 dont
expect ever to see answered. But that isnt 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.
are noted evangelists in America with impressive credentials, who
zealously seek the ingathering of souls into Gods 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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Baptism of the Spirit: Christs Final Promise
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
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 whod 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).
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
in Acts Chapter 1 Christ says:
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.
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 again to
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 Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the
9 And when he had spoken these things, while he beheld, he was taken
up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.
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 didnt 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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Water Baptisms and Holy Spirit Baptism
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 cant 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.
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.
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).
soldiers 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 dont receive the
power and wisdom of the mighty Holy Ghost, youre a dead duck,
waiting to be picked off on satans shooting range.
8: 14-17 also bolsters my belief that salvation and the Baptism
of the Spirit are two separate occurrences. It could hardly be plainer.
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:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might
receive the Holy Ghost:
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.)
17 THEN laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy
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? Whats 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 isnt
scriptural for people to be baptized to bear testimony to others
that they are born again BEFORE the fact, is it?
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!
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).
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 Johns 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 doesnt fill us with the power of God? Why keep
the carnal ordinance and discard the spiritual reality? My sneaking
suspicion is its 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.
to Peter, who is preaching to the Gentiles in Cornelius house.
He tells them of the wonderful works done during Christs earthly
ministry, which testify to His identity as the promised Redeemer.
Then it happens:
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all
them which heard the word.
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 couldnt
do this! It was JESUS who poured out the Holy Ghost on these people.
Jesus is the Baptiser spoken of by John the Baptist!
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?
proof conclusive that water baptism and the Baptism of the Holy
Spirit are two separate events. Furthermore, it shows you cant
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).
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).
we have the same paradox not common to powerless churches: The disciples,
who had earlier received John the Baptists baptism unto repentance,
had heard of Jesus, but not the Holy Ghost! Yet God in His mercy
has already enabled them to believe in Christs 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.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord
Verse 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost
came on them; AND THEY SPAKE WITH TONGUES AND PROPHESIED.
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 Christs 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
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Truth Shall Set You Free
saved in one church at the age of twelve. It was two years more
before I received water baptism in still another church which didnt
teach the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. I definitely did not speak
in tongues or prophesy back in those days. I couldnt have
done it if Id 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 doesnt 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.
a Gentleman. He wont force us to receive any good thing against
our will. And you cant 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 Id 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 Id be forever lost and couldn't ever repent again!
The joy Id 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).
give you exactly what you ask for, based on what youve 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 wasnt 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 didnt get me very far.
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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Ask the Father
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 Lukes 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?
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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Anointing of Fire
Jeremiah 20:9; 23:29; Matthew 3:11; Acts 2: 1-4
had to face life in a world like this (let alone serve the Lord
in it!) without the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, Id be in
pretty sad shape. If I honestly thought Gods anointing of
power is not for today, I wouldnt even bother to pray, Id
feel I was wasting my breath! Id 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.
Jeremiah knew what the anointing was, and it didnt 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 didnt flock to his seminars,
because his prophetic warnings didnt 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.
didnt 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 werent
coming in by droves, and he didnt 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.
were held to todays standards of success, his
ministry would be judged an abysmal failure.
wouldnt 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).
didnt 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 GODS doing, and Jeremiah couldnt keep
a lid on it. That holy anointing on Jeremiahs life wouldnt
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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Bypassing the Natural Mind to Access the Mind of the Spirit
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).
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. Its one example of that
which is lightly esteemed in mens 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.
one of those who didnt 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 didnt care two cents about
me anyway. My sights were set strictly on the things of Gods
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 didnt 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.
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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of Speaking in Tongues
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.
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.
why would Paul the apostle waste the Lords 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.
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.
in Acts 2:1-11 when the Spirit-baptized apostles spoke in foreign
languages theyd 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
theyre being sent to, as a common language is still essential
for personal interaction.
are of enormous benefit to the believers 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).
I might feel a deep burden in my spirit and not even know what its
about. It is then I will direct my heart heavenward and pray as
the Spirit gives me utterance. I dont worry that I dont
know exactly what Im 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. Thats 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!
of praying in tongues is that the inner man feels refreshed afterward,
as if its 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. Thats great news for those who hesitate to pray
in tongues privately or exercise the Gift of Tongues in church because
it doesnt sound fluent enough. The world pokes fun at stammering
or any kind of weakness whatever. But in Gods 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).
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, Pauls 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 mustnt 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 cant defeat you
altogether, hell try to at least achieve a measure of victory
over you. If he cannot prevent you from believing in Gods
existence, hell try to keep you from appropriating the Cross
of Christ, and its many benefits. Ive found that the greatest
weapon satan possesses against the born-again believer is to get
him to doubt the truth of Gods Word. If you are saved, hell
try to keep you ignorant of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. And
if you already know about this Baptism of Fire and havent
received it yet, the devil just might lie to you and go so far as
convince you hes the author of it, just to keep you in a defeated,
Beware. Ive been scuttled by the devils lies before,
and its like falling into a deep pit thats hard to get
out of. Old Sluefoot is one crafty old snake. Even if youve
already received the Holy Spirit, hell try to whittle away
your confidence in the power of God little by little till youre
only a vestige of the man or woman of God you ought to be. I should
know, Ive 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 cant put God
in a box. Im fully aware that countless saints have
prayed for miracles of healing and didnt 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 dont know, and I wont
know the answer till my understanding is perfected in heaven.
Still, its 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 peoples emotions in miracle meetings.
Ill name just two of many such miracles in my own life. The
first I recall happened right after Id received the Baptism.
I owned a pair of glasses but didnt 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.
Id 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
One day we all went to a carnival on my husband Toms day off.
Im 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 hed
care to join me on it. No thanks, he said, hed just stand
down below and watch me.
Suddenly I got cold feet. I decided I didnt 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 mustnt 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.
Its 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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