ON THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Letters to a local pastor on the requirement of the desperate asking, knocking and searching necessary to receive the true, full baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Been wanting to respond to your teaching Tuesday night on the baptism of the Spirit. Just getting to it now.
I was late and didn’t hear your whole presentation. But you were saying something about the law not being involved. But in that you seemed to also be saying that nothing is required except to receive; that is, that no endurance of any kind through prayer or otherwise is required. I may have missed something earlier so I don’t know if that is fully accurate.
So here is what I wanted to say, and see how this measures to the whole of what you were conveying.
We come at the end of a long line of restoration relative to Spirit Baptism. We have what scriptures show us about this together with what 250 years’ restoration shows us among those who labored before us to enter into and understand this spiritual reality.
When we look at all of that, we find that there are definite factors that affect our receiving of the Holy Spirit such that it is more than a matter of just choosing to believe to receive. There are factors of timing, readiness and openness that affect our capacity / ability to receive as well as the nature of what we receive of the Spirit. (I felt you certainly hit it on the head when you spoke of the qualifier of surrender. That is an immensely important key factor.)
But when I look at the scriptural teaching, history and the modern history, it seems very clear to me that receiving the fullness of Spirit’s baptism is tied to a certain readiness through prayer in a way that believing for salvation itself is not. Jesus told us to “believe” in Him to be saved. But he told us to “ask” for the Holy Spirit. The believers themselves had to pray for the Holy Spirit to come and/or those with apostolic authority had to ask with them and for them for the Spirit to come. There are very few real exceptions to this.
turn raises the nature of asking—what is involved in asking?
Is it just a once off request to be filled with the Spirit,
or is there more? Based on how Jesus described the nature of
asking, there is usually more to receiving anything in
prayer than making a once off request.
And this is what we see in the modern restoration as well. The Holy Spirit was finally released back to the church because of the importunity of prayer and of the search for that elusive “second blessing” beginning with Wesley and the early revivals and right up to the night in Topeka when the tongues outpouring was finally released out of a prayer movement birthing the Pentecostal movement.
In view of all this, I would have to conclude that if there is no real search having prepared the heart and undergirding an expectancy for receiving the baptism of the Spirit, then either the Spirit will not come, or if He does come, He will not last in the life of the receiver very long or make more than a superficial dousing through His anointing rather than a truly saturating immersion. And I think that a lot of what people have called being “baptized” with the Spirit has been little more than a superficial dousing. And in other cases, I feel that people have received nothing more than a transference of someone else’s anointing under the influence of a meeting that was never really their own true baptism—the way Saul did in Samuel’s presence.
In saying that we must have a readiness to receive through an earnest search for more of the Lord, I would disavow any concept that we can somehow “earn” our way into the favor of God to receive the Spirit. Any such concept would indeed be “law.” We can’t set a clock to practice some regimen that will produce the receiving of the Spirit. But still, the hunger has to be there, and it needs to be more than a child’s minor “tummy pain.” It is those who “hunger and thirst after” the Spirit’s righteousness that will be filled. And it has been in reward of that hunger that the Spirit baptism was restored to the church.
The only other thing I wanted to say is that when the Spirit comes, He comes according to what we are able to receive of Him or want to receive of His character and nature. There is an inwardly transformational aspect to the Spirit’s baptism, and a more surface anointing aspect that has nothing to do with our transformation. In the 18th and 19th century, the Spirit was received primarily for His transformational baptism. There were (almost) no tongues associated with this or other supernatural gifting except for healing. In the 20th century, that converted over to receiving the Spirit’s baptism primarily for His anointing outpouring, beginning with the Pentecostal movement and tongues, and later with the charismatic movement, all retaining the healing as had been previously, etc.
That switch over to a tongues-based definition of Spirit baptism created huge division in the church at that time. And it is perpetuated in Pentecostal teaching to this day. But people were baptized by and taught on the baptism of the Holy Spirit for decades before 1901 without ever speaking in tongues. But we suffer from our ignorance of history. What I believe God wants to do is to teach us from history so we can assimilate the fullness of all that He has wanted to bring to a fully believing / receiving church of both the transformational and anointing elements of the Spirit’s Baptism. My own heart has been dedicated to that search for 30 years.
Anyway, these are thoughts I wanted to share with you about this important topic. I look forward to what the Lord is wanting to do in our own midst in this day to bring us a yet more full rendition of the Spirit’s baptism.
------ Original Message ------
Sent: 3/19/2016 11:29:29 AM
Subject: On the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - Follow Up
Just some follow up thoughts to what I wrote you last night about this. These are thoughts about where I have come from and where I am at in my walk in the Lord.
My life has been one of constant desperation in search for the Lord. I turn 60 this year. I have been living under a state of desperation like this since I was 12. So that no sooner do I seek and eventually find the Lord in one area, than that I have been goaded into desperation for finding Him in another unfulfilled area in my life. I have had little respite from this. And I am still this way.
This has meant that I do not know how to seek after the Lord or to pursue Him over some mountain in my life without desperation. And everything I have received from Him therefore, and which I in turn have imparted to the body of Christ, has come out of such desperation.
That is also how it was with my coming into the Holy Spirit out of fundamentalism. I was in a desperate place amidst a desperate search for more of the Lord when He finally came to me as an infilling of His Spirit 8 years after my conversion. I didn’t ask for the Holy Spirit because I didn’t know that I could or had to. Everything I had ever been taught was that I already had all of the Holy Spirit one could ever have.
Yet despite this, in my desperation, He rose up from within me as a living well. My interior life was transformed in an instant and I now knew what it meant to actually experience Jesus within me, flooding my being as a Living person.
For me, that baptism was a sanctifying infusion. It did not come with any outward manifest sign gifting. What I received was what the pre-1901 generation saints received when they were baptized with the Spirit and which has since come down to the church in what is known as the “deeper life.” But going on from there, my heart was again not fully at rest. I was convinced that there was still more, simply because of all the charismatic phenomena of the day.
And so in further desperation I searched and searched to know the truth about tongues and the other outward gifts. And I wanted everything God had for me. And after 9 more years of “search,” I finally received my prayer language. And I went on into deliverance and the prophetic ministry as well!
My point is that everything I ever received from God after my conversion, I received by desperate search. And so that has greatly shaped my perspective on the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
At the same time, I do recognize that there are some things that come more easily to some than to others in the Spirit. I also recognize that as a general outpouring of rain, the Spirit falls upon all kinds of ground, both prepared and unprepared. He falls on ground where the soil has been turned over in desperate search. And He falls on hard unbroken ground where there has been little or no search. Yet the results are totally different.
To baptize means to saturate. Only that ground which has been turned over can be saturated. But if He falls on hard ground, it doesn’t mean He hasn’t been poured out, but does mean it only results in “run-off,” not saturation. Because of this, I believe that many (really most) people who “receive” the Holy Spirit merely with “the evidence of speaking of tongues” have not truly been “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. (This would even have applied to the Corinthian church and people in the early church like Ananias and Sapphira). That is a distinction that has not been made in classic teaching on the baptism of the Spirit. Yet I think it is a critical distinction that needs to be taught.
Most “receiving” of the Spirit in the last few generations has not produced true saturation in holiness, but only superficial run-off of sign gifts where the ground has otherwise brought up thorns and briers fit to be burned. That is the sad legacy of the charismatic and faith movements (and is why classic Pentecostals held some disdain for charismatic experience).
That kind of “receiving” without real transformational baptizing into inward holiness as characterized the Corinthian church is why the idea of any subsequent baptism of the Spirit to conversion is mocked in the fundamentalist realm. That is even the reason why I Cor. 13 had to be written. Paul was telling these people that for all their anointed gifts, they did not really know the inner transformational love aspect of the baptism of the Spirit which he describes in Eph. 3:16-19. (This was the aspect that was primarily taught and believed in before 1901.)
So I say all this to add more light and context and to hopefully qualify more perfectly all that I said in the previous “treatise.”
You see that I am passionate about this subject (really, prophetically zealous). It is because so much of my lifelong desperation has been built around the discovery of the truth concerning these things. Some 20+ years ago I wrote a book about this discovery called The Transformation and the Anointing: Reconciling God’s Two Great Works of Salvation in the Earth Today. And I once taught a Bible college course based on this. I encourage you to read this book at any time, if only to better understand who I am and where I come from in the Lord on all this.
I remain in the Lord’s service to this body in anyway that will help bring perfection to all of us in this ongoing search for “more” of the Lord. And I want to hear more about your discovery regarding the Spirit’s Baptism, seeking to perfect our own alignment of understandings…..
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