Table Charismata Matters

Friday, September 2, 2016

Duane Miller's Healing Caught on Audio Tape


The following audio is from a radio broadcast of Focus on the Family around 20 years ago. On it Dr. Dobson interviews Duane Miller about his sickness and how God healed him while he was preaching a sermon on God's sovereignty in healing. The actual healing was caught on audio tape and is played at the end of the interview.


See also my blogpost:

Testimonies of the Supernatural Among Respected Christian Leaders





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Prayer Possibilities by E.M. Bounds


The following is from chapters 4, 5 and 6 of E.M. Bounds' book The Possibilities of Prayer. I've collected links to all of Bounds' books on prayer HERE.


Chapter 4--Prayer-Its Possibilities


How vast are the possibilities of prayer! How wide is its reach! What great things are accomplished by this divinely appointed means of grace! It lays its hand on Almighty God and moves him to do what he would not otherwise do if prayer was not offered. It brings things to pass which would never otherwise occur. The story of prayer is the story of great achievements. Prayer is a wonderful power placed by Almighty God in the hands of his saints, which may be used to accomplish great purposes and to achieve unusual results. Prayer reaches to everything, takes in all things great and small which are promised by God to the children of men. The only limit to prayer are the promises of God and his ability to fulfill those promises. "Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it."

The records of prayer's achievements are encouraging to faith, cheering to the expectations of saints, and is an inspiration to all who would pray and test its value. Prayer is no mere untried theory. It is not some strange unique scheme, concocted in the brains of men, and set on foot by them, an invention which has never been tried nor put to the test. Prayer is a divine arrangement in the moral government of God, designed for the benefit of men and intended as a means for furthering the interests of his cause on earth, and carrying out his gracious purposes in redemption and providence. Prayer proves itself. It is susceptible of proving its virtue by those who pray. Prayer needs no proof other than its accomplishments. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." If any man will know the virtue of prayer, if he will know what it will do, let him pray. Let him put prayer to the test.

What a breadth is given to prayer! What heights it reaches! It is the breathing of a soul inflamed for God, and inflamed for man. It goes as far as the gospel goes, and is as wide, compassionate, and prayerful as is that gospel.

How much of prayer do all these unpossessed, alienated provinces of earth demand to enlighten them, to impress them and to move them toward God and his Son, Jesus Christ? Had the professed disciples of Christ only have prayed in the past as they ought to have done, the centuries would not have found these provinces still bound in death, in sin, and in ignorance.

Alas! how the unbelief of men has limited the power of God to work through prayer! What limitations have disciples of Jesus Christ put upon prayer by their prayerlessness! How the church, with her neglect of prayer, has hedged about the gospel and shut up doors of access!

Prayer possibilities open doors for the entrance of the gospel: "Withal praying also for us that God would open to us a door of utterance." Prayer opened for the apostles doors of utterance, created opportunities and made openings to preach the gospel. The appeal by prayer was to God, because God was moved by prayer. God was thereby moved to do his own work in an enlarged way and by new ways. Prayer possibility gives not only great power, and opens doors to the gospel, but it gives facility as well to the gospel. Prayer makes the gospel to go fast and to move with glorious swiftness. A gospel projected by the mighty energies of prayer is neither slow, lazy nor dull. It moves with God's power, with God's radiance and with angelic swiftness.

"Brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified," is the request of the apostle Paul, whose faith reached to the possibilities of prayer for the preached Word. The gospel moves altogether too slowly, often timidly, idly, and with feeble steps. What will make this gospel go rapidly like a race runner? What will give this gospel divine radiance and glory, and cause it to move worthy of God and of Christ? The answer is at hand. Prayer, more prayer, better prayer will do the deed. This means of grace will give fast going, splendor, and divinity to the gospel.

The possibilities of prayer reach to all things. Whatever concerns man's highest welfare, and whatever has to do with God's plans and purposes concerning men on earth, is a subject for prayer. In "whatsoever ye shall ask," is embraced all that concerns us or the children of men and God. And whatever is left out of "whatsoever" is left out of prayer. Where will we draw the lines which leave out or which will limit the word "whatsoever"? Define it, and search out and publish the things which the word does not include. If "whatsoever" does not include all things, then add to it the word "anything." "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it."

What riches of grace, what blessings, spiritual and temporal, what good for time and eternity, would have been ours had we learned the possibilities of prayer and our faith had taken in the wide range of the divine promises to us to answer prayer! What blessings on our times and what furtherance to God's cause had we but learned how to pray with large expectations! Who will rise up in this generation and teach the church this lesson? It is a child's lesson in simplicity, but who has learned it well enough to put prayer to the test? It is a great lesson in its matchless and universal good. The possibilities of prayer are unspeakable, but the lesson of prayer which realizes and measures up to these possibilities, who has learned?

In his discourse in John fifteen, our Lord seems to connect friendship for him with prayer, and his choosing of his disciples seemed to have been with a design that through prayer they should bear much fruit.

"Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

Here we have again the undefined and unlimited word, "whatsoever," as covering the rights and the things for which we are to pray in the possibilities of prayer.

We have still another declaration from Jesus:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

Here is a very definite exhortation from our Lord to largeness in praying. Here we are definitely urged by him to ask for large things, and announced with the dignity and solemnity indicated by the double amen, "Verily, Verily." Why these marvelous urgencies in this last recorded and vital conversation of our Lord with his disciples? The answer is that our Lord might prepare them for the new dispensation, in which prayer was to have such marvelous results, and in which prayer was to be the chief agency to conserve and make aggressive his gospel.

In our Lord's language to his disciples about choosing them that should bear fruit, he clearly teaches us that this matter of praying and fruit-bearing is not a petty business of our choice, or a secondary matter in relation to other matters, but that he has chosen us for this very business of praying. He had specially in mind our praying, and he has chosen us of his own divine selection, and he expects us to do this one thing of praying and to do it intelligently and well. For he before says that he had made us his friends, and had brought us into bosom confidence with him, and also into free and full conference with him. The main object of choosing us as his disciples and of friendship for him was that we might be the better fitted to bear the fruit of prayer.

Let us not forget that we are noting the possibilities of the true praying ones. "Anything" is the word of area and circumference. How far it reaches we may not know. How wide it spreads, our minds fail to discover. What is there which is not within its reach? Why does Jesus repeat and exhaust these words, all-inclusive and boundless words, if he does not desire to emphasize the unbounded magnificence and illimitable munificence of prayer? Why does he press men to pray, so that our very poverty might be enriched and our limitless inheritance by prayer be secured?

We affirm with absolute certainty that Almighty God answers prayer. The vast possibilities, and the urgent necessity of prayer lie in this stupendous fact that God hears and answers prayer. And God hears and answers all prayer. He hears and answers every prayer, where the true conditions of praying are met. Either this is so or it is not. If not, then is there nothing in prayer. Then prayer is but the recitation of words, a mere verbal performance, an empty ceremony. Then prayer is an altogether useless exercise. But if what we have said is true, then are there vast possibilities in prayer. Then is it far reaching in its scope, and wide in its range. Then is it true that prayer can lay its hand upon Almighty God and move him to do great and wonderful things.

The benefits, the possibilities and the necessity of prayer are not merely subjective but are peculiarly objective in their character. Prayer aims at a definite object. Prayer has a direct design in view. Prayer always has something specific before the mind's eye. There may be some subjective benefits which accrue from praying, but this is altogether secondary and incidental. Prayer always drives directly at an object and seeks to secure a desired end. Prayer is asking, seeking and knocking at a door for something we have not, which we desire, and which God has promised to us.

Prayer is a direct address to God. "In everything let your requests be made known unto God." Prayer secures blessings, and makes men better because it reaches the ear of God. Prayer is only for the betterment of men when it has affected God and moved him to do something for men. Prayer affects men by affecting God. Prayer moves men because it moves God to move men. Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.

That power is prayer, which soars on high,

Through Jesus to the throne;

And moves the hand which moves the world,

To bring salvation down.

The utmost possibilities of prayer have rarely been realized. The promises of God are so great to those who truly pray, when he puts himself so fully into the hands of the praying ones, that it almost staggers our faith and causes us to hesitate with astonishment. His promise to answer, and to do and to give "all things," "anything," "whatsoever," and "all things whatsoever," is so large, so great, so exceeding broad, that we stand back in amazement and give ourselves to questioning and doubt. We "stagger at the promises through unbelief." Really the answers of God to prayer have been pared down by us to our little faith, and have been brought down to the low level of our narrow notions about God's ability, liberality, and resources. Let us ever keep in mind and never for one moment allow ourselves to doubt the statement that God means what he says in all of his promises. God's promises are his own word. His veracity is at stake in them. To question them is to doubt his veracity. He cannot afford to prove faithless to his word. "In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began." His promises are for plain people, and he means to do for all who pray just what he says he will do. "For he is faithful that hath promised."

Unfortunately we have failed to lay ourselves out in praying. We have limited the Holy One of Israel. The ability to pray can be secured by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, but it demands so strenuous and high a character that it is a rare thing for a man or woman to be on "praying ground and on pleading terms with God." It is as true today as it was in the days of Elijah, that "the fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much." How much such a prayer avails, who can tell?

The possibilities of prayer are the possibilities of faith. Prayer and faith are Siamese twins. One heart animates them both. Faith is always praying. Prayer is always believing. Faith must have a tongue by which it can speak. Prayer is the tongue of faith. Faith must receive. Prayer is the hand of faith stretched out to receive. Prayer must rise and soar. Faith must give prayer the wings to fly and soar. Prayer must have an audience with God. Faith opens the door, and access and audience are given. Prayer asks. Faith lays its hand on the thing asked for.

God's omnipotent power is the basis of omnipotent faith and omnipotent praying. "All things are possible to him that believeth," and "all things whatsoever" are given to him who prays. God's decree and death yield readily to Hezekiah's faith and prayer. When God's promise and man's praying are united by faith, then "nothing shall be impossible." Importunate prayer is so all powerful and irresistible that it obtains promises, or wins where the prospect and the promise seem to be against it. In fact, the New Testament promise includes all things in heaven and in earth. God, by promise, puts all things he possesses into man's hands. Prayer and faith put man in possession of this boundless inheritance.

Prayer is not an indifferent or a small thing. It is not a sweet little privilege. It is a great prerogative, far-reaching in its effects. Failure to pray entails losses far beyond the person who neglects it. Prayer is not a mere episode of the Christian life. Rather the whole life is a preparation for and the result of prayer. In its condition, prayer is the sum of religion. Faith is but a channel of prayer. Faith gives it wings and swiftness. Prayer is the lungs through which holiness breathes. Prayer is not only the language of spiritual life, but also makes its very essence and forms its real character.

O for a faith that will not shrink

Though pressed by every foe;

That will not tremble on the brink

Of any earthly woe.

Lord, give us such a faith as this,

And then, whate'er may come,

We'll taste e'en here, the hallowed bliss

Of our eternal home.


Chapter 5--Prayer-Its Possibilities (Continued)


AFTER a comprehensive and cursory view of the possibilities of prayer, as mapped out in what has been said, it is important to descend to particulars, to Bible facts and principles in regard to this great subject. What are the possibilities of prayer as disclosed by divine revelation? The necessity of prayer and its being are coexistent with man. Nature, even before a clear and full revelation, cries out in prayer. Man is, therefore prayer is. God is, therefore prayer is. Prayer is born of the instincts, the needs and the cravings and the very being of man.

The prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple is the product of inspired wisdom and piety, and gives a lucid and powerful view of prayer in the wideness of its range, the minuteness of its details, and its abounding possibilities and its urgent necessity. How minute and exactly comprehending is this prayer! National and individual blessings are in it, and temporal and spiritual good is embraced by it. Individual sins, national calamities, sins, sickness, exile, famine, war, pestilence, mildew, drought, insects, damage to crops, whatever affects husbandry, enemies-whatsoever sickness, one's own sore, one's own guilt, one's own sin-one and all are in this prayer, and all are for prayer.

For all these evils prayer is the one universal remedy. Pure praying remedies all ills, cures all diseases, relieves all situations, however dire, calamitous, fearful, and despairing. Prayer to God, pure praying, relieves dire situations because God can relieve when no one else can. Nothing is too hard for God. No cause is hopeless which God undertakes. No case is mortal when Almighty God is the physician. No conditions are despairing which can deter or defy God.

Almighty God heard this prayer of Solomon, and committed himself to undertake, to relieve and to remedy if real praying be done, despite all adverse and inexorable conditions. He will always relieve, answer and bless if men will pray from the heart, and if they will give themselves to real, true praying.

This is the record of what God said to him after Solomon had finished his magnificent, illimitable and all-comprehending prayer:

"And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts that they devour the land, or if I send pestilence among the people; If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land; Now my eyes shall be open, and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever."

God put no limitation to his ability to save through true praying. No hopeless conditions, no accumulation of difficulties, and no desperation in distance or circumstance can hinder the success of real prayer. The possibilities of prayer are linked to the infinite integrity and omnipotent power of God. There is nothing too hard for God to do. God is pledged that if we ask, we shall receive. God can withhold nothing from faith and prayer.

The thing surpasses all my thought,

But faithful is my Lord;

Through unbelief I stagger not,

For God hath spoke the word.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,

And looks to that alone;

Laughs at impossibilities,

And cries, "It shall be done!"

The many statements of God's Word fully set forth the possibilities and far reaching nature of prayer. How full of pathos! Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Again, read the cheering words: "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."

How diversified the range of trouble! How almost infinite its extent! How universal and dire its conditions! How despairing its waves! Yet the range of prayer is as great as trouble, is as universal as sorrow, as infinite as grief. And prayer can relieve all these evils which come to the children of men. There is no tear which prayer cannot wipe away or dry up. There is no depression of spirits which it cannot relieve and elevate. There is no despair which it cannot dispel.

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great things and difficult, which thou knowest not." How broad these words of the Lord, how great the promise, how cheering to faith! They really challenge the faith of the saint. Prayer always brings God to our relief to bless and to aid, and brings marvelous revelations of his power. What impossibilities are there with God? Name them. "Nothing," he says, "is impossible to the Lord." And all the possibilities in God are in prayer.

Samuel, under the judges of Israel, will fully illustrate the possibility and the necessity of prayer. He himself was the beneficiary of the greatness of faith and prayer in a mother who knew what praying meant. Hannah, his mother, was a woman of mark, in character and in piety, who was childless. That privation was a source of worry and weakness and grief. She sought God for relief, and prayed and poured out her soul before the Lord. She continued her praying, in fact she multiplied her praying, to such an extent that to old Eli she seemed to be intoxicated, almost beside herself in the intensity of her supplications. She was specific in her prayers. She wanted a child. For a man child she prayed.

And God was specific in his answer. A man child God gave her, a man indeed he became. He was the creation of prayer, and grew himself to a man of prayer. He was a mighty intercessor, especially in emergencies in the history of God's people. The epitome of his life and character is found in the statement, "Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel, and the Lord heard him." The victory was complete, and the ebenezer was the memorial of the possibilities and necessity of prayer.

Again, at another time, Samuel called to the Lord, and thunder and rain came out of season in wheat harvest. Here are some statements concerning this mighty intercessor, who knew how to pray, and whom God always regarded when he prayed: "Samuel cried unto the Lord all night."

Says he at another time in speaking to the Lord's people, "Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you."

These great occasions show how this notable ruler of Israel made prayer a habit, and that this was a notable and conspicuous characteristic of his dispensation. Prayer was no strange exercise to Samuel. He was accustomed to it. He was in the habit of praying, knew the way to God, and received answers from God. Through Samuel and his praying God's cause was brought out of its low, depressed condition, and a great national revival began, of which David was one of its fruits.

Samuel was one of the notable men of the old dispensation who stood out prominently as one who had great influence with God in prayer. God could not deny Samuel anything he asked of God. Samuel's praying always affected God, and moved God to do what would not have otherwise been done had Samuel not prayed. Samuel stands out as a striking illustration of the possibilities of prayer. He shows conclusively the achievements of prayer.

Jacob is an illustration for all time of the commanding and conquering forces of prayer. God came to him as an antagonist. He grappled Jacob, and shook him as if he were in the embrace of a deadly foe. Jacob, the deceitful supplanter, the wily, unscrupulous trader, had no eyes to see God. His perverted principles, and his deliberate overreaching and wrongdoing had blinded his vision.

To reach God, to know God, and to conquer God, was the demand of this critical hour. Jacob was alone, and all night witnessed to the intensity of the struggle, its changing issues, and its veering fortunes, as well as the receding and advancing lines in the conflict. Here was the strength of weakness, the power of self-despair, the energy of perseverance, the elevation of humility, and the victory of surrender. Jacob's salvation issued from the forces which he massed in that all-night conflict.

He prayed and wept and importuned until the fiery hate of Esau's heart died and it was softened into love. A greater miracle was wrought on Jacob than on Esau. His name, his character, and his destiny were changed by that all-night praying. Here is the record of the results of that night's praying struggle: "As a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." "By his strength he had power with God, yea, he had power over the angel and prevailed."

What forces lie in importunate prayer! What mighty results are gained by it in one night's struggle in praying! God is affected and changed in attitude, and two men are transformed in character and destiny.


Chapter 6--Prayer Its Possibilities (Continued)


THE possibilities of prayer are seen in its results in temporal matters. Prayer reaches to everything which concerns man, whether it be his body, his mind, or his soul. Prayer embraces the very smallest things of life. Prayer takes in the wants of the body, food, raiment, business, finances, in fact everything which belongs to this life, as well as those things which have to do with the eternal interests of the soul. Its achievements are seen not only in the large things of earth, but more especially in what might be called the little things of life. It brings to pass not only large things, speaking after the manner of men, but also the small things.

Temporal matters are of a lower order than the spiritual, but they concern us greatly. Our temporal interests make up a great part of our lives. They are the main source of our cares and worries. They have much to do with our religion. We have bodies, with wants, pains, disabilities, and limitations. That which concerns our bodies necessarily engages our minds. These are subjects of prayer, and prayer takes in all of them, and large are the accomplishments of prayer in this realm of our being.

Our temporal matters have much to do with our health and happiness. They form our relations. They are tests of honesty and belong to the sphere of justice and righteousness. Not to pray about temporal matters is to leave God out of the largest sphere of our being. He who cannot pray in everything, as we are charged to do by Paul in Philippians, fourth chapter, has never learned in any true sense the nature and worth of prayer. To leave business and time out of prayer is to leave religion and eternity out of it. He who does not pray about temporal matters cannot pray with confidence about spiritual matters. He who does not put God by prayer in his struggling toil for daily bread will never put him in his struggle for heaven. He who does not cover and supply the wants of the body by prayer will never cover and supply the wants of his soul. Both body and soul are dependent on God, and prayer is but the crying expression of that dependence.

The Syrophoenician woman prayed for the health things. In fact the Old Testament is but the record of God in dealing with his people through the divine appointment of prayer. Abraham prayed that Sodom might be saved from destruction. Abraham's servant prayed and received God's direction in choosing a wife for Isaac. Hannah prayed, and Samuel was given to her. Elijah prayed, and no rain came for three years. And he prayed again, and the clouds gave rain. Hezekiah was saved from a mortal sickness by his praying. Jacob's praying saved him from Esau's revenge. The old Bible is the history of prayer for temporal blessings as well as for spiritual blessings.

In the New Testament we have the same principles illustrated and enforced. Prayer in this section of God's Word covers the whole realm of good, both temporal and spiritual. Our Lord, in his universal prayer, the prayer for humanity, in every clime, in every age and for every condition, puts in it the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread." This embraces all necessary earthly good.

In the Sermon on the Mount, a whole paragraph is taken up by our Lord about food and raiment, where he is cautioning against undue care or anxiety for these things, and at the same time encouraging a faith which takes in and claims all these necessary bodily comforts and necessities. And this teaching stands in close connection with his teachings about prayer. Food and raiment are taught as subjects of prayer. Not for one moment is it even hinted that they are things beneath the notice of a great God, nor too material and earthly for such a spiritual exercise as prayer.

The Syrophoenician woman prayed for the health of her daughter. Peter prayed for Dorcas to be brought back to life. Paul prayed for the father of Publius on his way to Rome, when cast on the island by a shipwreck, and God healed the man who was sick with a fever. He urged the Christians at Rome to strive with him together in prayer that he might be delivered from bad men.

When Peter was put in prison by Herod, the church was instant in prayer that Peter might be delivered from the prison, and God honored the praying of these early Christians. John prayed that Gaius might "prosper and be in health, even as his soul prospered."

The divine directory in James, fifth chapter, says: "Is any among you afflicted, let him pray Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him."

Paul, in writing to the Philippians, fourth chapter, says: "Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." This provides for all kinds of cares-business cares, home cares, body cares, and soul cares. All are to be brought to God by prayer, and at the mercy seat our minds and souls are to be unburdened of all that affects us or causes anxiety or uneasiness. These words of Paul stand in close connection with what he says about temporal matters specially: "But now I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at the last your care of me bath flourished-again: wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect to want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

And Paul closes his epistle to these Christians with the words, which embrace all temporal needs as well as spiritual wants:

But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.

Unbelief in the doctrine that prayer covers all things which have to do with the body and business affairs, breeds undue anxiety about earth's affairs, causes unnecessary worry, and creates very unhappy states of mind. How much needless care we would save ourselves if we but believed in prayer as the means of relieving those cares, and would learn the happy art of casting all our cares in prayer upon God, "who careth for us!" Unbelief in God as one who is concerned about even the smallest affairs which affect our happiness and comfort limits the holy one of Israel, and makes our lives altogether devoid of real happiness and sweet contentment.

We have in the instance of the failure of the disciples to cast the devil out of the lunatic son, brought to them by his father, while Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration, a suggestive lesson of the union of faith, prayer, and fasting, and the failure to reach the possibilities and obligations of an occasion. The disciples ought to have cast the devil out of the boy. They had been sent out to do this very work, and had been empowered by their Lord and master to do it. And yet they signally failed. Christ reproved them with sharp upbraidings for not doing it. They had been sent out on this very specific mission. This one thing was specified by our Lord when he sent them out. Their failure brought shame and confusion on them, and discounted their Lord and master and his cause. They brought him into disrepute, and reflected very seriously upon the cause which they represented. Their faith to cast out the devil had signally failed, simply because it had not been nurtured by prayer and fasting. Failure to pray broke the ability of faith, and failure came because they had not the energy of a strong authoritative faith.

The promise reads, and we cannot too often refer to it, for it is the very basis of our faith and the ground on which we stand when we pray: "All things whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." What enumeration table can tabulate, itemize, and aggregate "all things whatsoever"? The possibilities of prayer and faith go to the length of the endless chain, and cover the unmeasurable area.

In Hebrews eleven, the sacred penman, wearied with trying to specify the examples of faith, and to recite the wonderful exploits of faith, pauses a moment, and then cries out, giving us almost unheard of achievements of prayer and faith as exemplified by the saints of the olden times. Here is what he says:

And what shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, of Barak, of Samson, of Jephthah, of David also; and Samuel, and the prophets; Who through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions; Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens; Women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.

What an illustrious record is this! What marvelous accomplishments, wrought not by armies, or by man's superhuman strength, nor by magic, but all accomplished simply by men and women noted alone for their faith and prayer! Hand in hand with these records of faith's illimitable range are the illustrious records of prayer, for they are all one. Faith has never won a victory nor gained a crown where prayer was not the weapon of the victory, and where prayer did not jewel the crown. If "all things are possible to him that believeth," then all things are possible to him that prays.

Depend on him; thou canst not fail;

Make all thy wants and wishes known:

Fear not; his merits must prevail;

Ask but in faith, it shall be done.





Saturday, October 3, 2015

Online Books on the Holy Spirit


I don't necessarily agree with the theology in each book. The following are just some online books on the topic of the Holy Spirit. Some of the authors are especially noteworthy like Gordon, Simpson, Murray, Torrey.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit by R.A. Torrey (here)

 The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit by R.A. Torrey

 The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by J.C. Ryle

 'The Holy Spirit' or 'Power from on High' VOLUME 1 by A.B. Simpson
 'The Holy Spirit' or 'Power from on High' VOLUME 2 by A.B. Simpson

Walking in the Spirit by A.B. Simpson (or here)

The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray

The Ministry of the Spirit by A.J. Gordon (here, here, here)

The Spirit of God by G. Campbell Morgan

Paul, the Spirit and the People of God by Gordon Fee

Gospel and Spirit Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics by Gordon Fee

The Holy Spirit in the New Testament by Arno Clemens Gaebelein

The Offices of the Holy Spirit by Dougan Clark

Office Work of the Holy Spirit by Henry Albert Erdmann

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by Samuel Ridout

The Holy Spirit And You by Frau Dr. Gertrud Wasserzug

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quotations on Faith


The following are quotations on the topic of "faith." Some are descriptions, definitions, examples et cetera. I haven't documented the authenticity of every quotation, but since the primary reason I quote them is to instruct and inspire, it is not really necessary to do so. This is especially true since faith is such a common subject of discussion that any quotes or conceptions from a famous person on faith may have been something he or she received and repeated from others (either verbatim or with slight modification). Also, I don't necessarily endorse a quotation "as is" without qualification. Faith is multi-faceted. A quotation on faith may address only one facet of faith without addressing other facets. In which case it might need to be balanced by other facets. The quotations below highlights different aspects and types (kinds) of faith. Since there are various senses of the word and/or concept.

I've described at least 15 types of the use of the word "faith" in the following blogpost:

Various Definitions of the Word "Faith"


Note too that I don't necessarily endorse the theological position of a person I quote. Not everyone quoted is (or was) a Christian or a genuine professing Christian (i.e. a person who professed to be Christian but didn't really possess Christ). In Christian theology faith is essential to receive salvation, please God, perform good works acceptable to God and especially in prayer. Justifying faith is non-meritorious. However, after one has been justified, faith (along with works) can be graciously meritorious for rewards. See John H. Gerstner's article "The Nature of Justifying Faith." What he says about post-justification works could also be said of post-justification faith. Related to faith are things like hope, trust, doubt, and unbelief. So, I've also included quotes about those type of topics.

Lastly, I recommend four more of my blogposts that are related to faith and one of my favorite books on prayer. 

  animated-arrow-image-0310Faith According to C.S. Lewis animated-arrow-image-0309

 
"Unveiling" The Hiddenness of God

 

Detecting and Finding God


George Mueller Quotes

These include quotes on faith in relation to prayer.


The Life of Prayer by A.B. Simpson




"God is, if I may so say, at the command of the prayer of faith; and in this respect is, as it were, under the power of his people; as princes, they have power with God, and prevail."
- Jonathan Edwards

"Faith in prayer has great power with God, a kind of command over him; it holds him to his word; it will not let him go without the blessing; nor let him alone till he has made good his promise; nor give him any rest, day nor night, till he has fulfilled the things to come concerning his sons."- John Gill Commentary on Isaiah 45:11
"Hope is a sort of universal blessing, and one of the greatest which God has granted to man. To mankind, in general, life would be intolerable without it; and it is as necessary as faith is even to the followers of God....Hope stands justly among the highest mercies of God."
- Adam Clarke in is Bible Commentary on Rom. 8:25

"When a heathen king objected to the missionary's testimony concerning the one living and true God, that he could not see Him, and therefore could not believe in Him, the missionary took the king into the courtyard, and asked him to look intently upon the sun, which was burning in high noon; and when the monarch replied that the attempt would blind him, the missionary answered, "If you cannot look even upon one of His servants without being dazzled by his brightness, how could you endure looking upon Himself?" "
- W. Pakenham Walsh, The Angel of the Lord, p. 2

"If I was a believer, I would not feel [that] God owed me an explanation. I'm not one of those atheists who thinks you can go around saying...complaining. I mean, if you make the assumption that there is a deity, then all things are possible. You just have to be able to make that assumption."
- atheist Christopher Hitchens in his debate with William Lane Craig at 2:19:55 into the debate.

"The true secret of pleasing God is to trust Him, to believe in His love to us, to be artless children, and to count ourselves beloved of God."
- A.B. Simpson in Wholly Sanctified

"Believe that God hears, and will in due time grant, believe his love and truth; believe that he is love, and therefore will not deny you; believe that he is truth, and therefore will not deny himself."
- Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments

"Remember, also, that God delights to bestow blessing, but, generally, as the result of earnest, believing prayer."
- George Mueller

"I do not remember who it was, I think it was one of the Wesleys, who said that more men are ruined by despondency than by presumption, that they give up because they do not believe things can be better, therefore they live through their lives in humdrum, half-hearted fashion, and by and by die, never having accomplished the thing that they desire."
- Charles A. Blanchard in Getting Things from God page 269

"Faith is not passive. It is stepping out on the promises of God."
- Tony Evans

"I believe in Christianity as I believe in the sun- not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
- C. S. Lewis

"Every man lives by faith, the nonbeliever as well as the saint; the one by faith in natural laws and the other by faith in God."
- A.W. Tozer

"Faith in faith is faith astray."
- A.W. Tozer

"No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief."
-John Calvin

"Hope is the oxygen of the soul"
- anonymous

"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you cannot understand at the time."
- Oswald Chambers

True faith is not a leap into the dark, it's a leap into the light.
- anonymous

"A man who has faith must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool."
- G.K. Chesterson

"That is why daily praying and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed."
- C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity book III chapter 11

"Faith is R.I.S.K."
- John Wimber [Attributed to Wimber, though it's not clear he claims to have originated the saying. Most likely it was a popular saying in his theological circles]

"Don’t be afraid to take a big step.You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps."
- David Lloyd George

"Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see."
- William Newton Clarke

"Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God--
Naught else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
HIS WORD SHALL STAND FOREVER!"
- attributed to Martin Luther

"Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will."
- Abraham Lincoln

And to the faith that knows it gets what it asks, prayer is not a work or a burden, but a joy and a triumph; it becomes a necessity and a second nature.
-Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, 31st Lesson

"A faith that hasn’t been tested can’t be trusted."
- Adrian Rogers

"Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.' "
-Andrew Murray

"A guilty conscience is one of Satan's great weapons against the children of God: faith can only be bold as the conscience is clean."
- Lilian B. Yeomans

"Faith hears the inaudible, sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible."
- Corrie Ten Boom

"Faith has never yet outstripped the bounty of the Lord."
- Pope Gregory the Great

"We are what we believe we are."
- C.S. Lewis
"Faith is a living deliberate confidence in the grace of God, so certain that for it one could die a thousand deaths, and such confidence and knowledge of divine grace makes us joyous, intrepid, and cheerful towards God and all creation."- Martin Luther
Other versions:
"Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace. It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times."
"Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor  that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it."
"Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake."
- Martin Luther

"[P]rayer may be bold and free. We need not hesitate to imitate the sublime 'cheek' of the child who is not afraid to ask his parents for anything, because he knows he can count completely on their love."- J.I. Packer, Knowing God, chapter 19, p.192

"Faith is a voluntary act of trust in God."
- McCandlish Phillips, The Spirit World p. 184

It is as impossible to separate works from faith as burning and shining from fire.
- Martin Luther from the Preface to his commentary on Romans.

"Not while we are in this life will we move beyond the necessity of living by faith. Therefore, so long as we live, we will be vulnerable to the satanic argument that our only course is to despair, that faith in an unseen God is foolish."
- Dave Breese, His Infernal Majesty p. 81


"The further we get away from our mother's knees, the further do we get away from the true art of praying. All our after-schooling and our after-teachers unteach us the lessons of prayer. Men prayed well in Old Testament times because they were simple men and lived in simple times. They were childlike, lived in childlike times and had childlike faith."
- E.M. Bounds in Prayer and Praying Men

Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance before he goes to the university of election and predestination.
-George Whitefield quoting John Bradford

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
- Helen Keller

"If we would pray aright, the first thing we should do is to see to it that we really get an audience with God, that we really get into His very presence. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite consciousness that we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him."
-Dr. R.A. Torrey

"Faith takes God without any ifs. If God says anything, faith says, "I believe it"; faith says, "Amen" to it."
– D. L. Moody

"Real faith rejoices in the promise of God as if it saw the deliverance and was enjoying it."
– F. F. Bosworth

"Faith’s role is to grasp that which appears impossible or strange to human eyes."
– Andrew Murray

"Faith can only operate where the will of God is known."
– Keith Butler

"Faith is more than agreeing with God’s Word – faith is acting upon that Word."
- Col Stringer

"Unbelief [in God] was the first sin, and pride was the first-born of it."
-Stephen Charnock
"Faith is an action, based on a belief, supported by confidence."
- R. W. Shambach

"Believe that when you come into the presence of God you can have all you came for. You can take it away, and you can use it, for all the power of God is at your disposal in response to your faith."
- Smith Wigglesworth

"His favorite and almost his only subject was faith. No matter what the text, we all knew where he would arrive."
- Donald Gee about his friend Smith Wigglesworth

"There is not a thing that isn’t opportunity to the man of faith."
- Smith Wigglesworth

"No wavering. This is the principle: He who believes is definite. A definite faith brings a definite experience and a definite utterance."
- Smith Wigglesworth

"Faith is not the price that buys God’s blessing, it is the hand that receives His blessing. The price was paid for us by Jesus Christ on the cross"
– Joyce Meyer

"Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so."
- David Brooks

"The important thing is not the size of your faith – it is the One behind your faith – God Himself."
- Oral Roberts

"Faith is the spark that ignites the impossible and causes it to become possible. When a person's faith is activated, it sets in motion supernatural power that enables that person to do what he normally would never be able to do!"
- Rick Renner

"Is there any reason why you should not have faith in God? Has God ever broken one of His promises? I defy any infidel or unbeliever to place a finger on a single promise of God ever made and failed to fulfill."
- D. L. Moody

"Faith is the hand with which we take from God. When we have met all the conditions and taken what God is offering us, we must believe that we have that thing."
- C. Nuzum

"I believe that there is nothing impossible with God and that He is still God Almighty.  And always remember, no matter what those problems are today, as long as God is still on His Throne hearing and answering prayer, everything will come out all right."
- Kathryn Kuhlman

"I don't respect people who don't proselytize. I don't respect that at all. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.... How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"
- atheist Penn Jillette

"Lastly: In what a melancholy condition are those who do not believe there is any providence; or, which comes to exactly the same point, not a particular one! Whatever station they are in, as long as they are in the world, they are exposed to numberless dangers which no human wisdom can foresee, and no human power can resist. And there is no help! If they trust in men, they find them "deceitful upon the weights." In many cases they cannot help; in others, they will not. But were they ever so willing, they will die:"
- John Wesley sermon 67 On Divine Providence

"I believe in the infallible book, in the last analysis, because 'of the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the word in my heart.' "- Cornelius Van Til


No human being can explain in the sense of seeing through all things, but only he who believes in God has the right to hold that there is an explanation at all."
- Cornelius Van Til


I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else."
- Cornelius Van Til

"The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope."- Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller in their book The Meaning of Marriage"You know however that our duties by no means depend on our hopes of success, but that it behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results."
- John Calvin, letter to Philip Melanchthon, March 5, 1555 (Jules Bonnet, ed., Letters of John Calvin, vol. 6, p. 158).

"To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, "I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge"
-Ravi Zacharias

I would rather believe for something great and receive half of it, than to believe for nothing and receive all of it!
– Joel Osteen

"I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar."
- atheist Friedrich Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols

Purpose gives birth to hope and instills the passion to act.
– Myles Munroe

"You get faith by studying the Word. Study that Word until something in you "knows that you know" and that you do not just hope that you know."
- Carrie Judd Montgomery

"As prayer without faith is but a beating of the air, so trust without prayer [is] but a presumptuous bravado. He that promises to give, and bids us trust his promises, commands us to pray, and expects obedience to his commands. He will give, but not without our asking."
- puritan Thomas Lye in "How Are We to Live by Faith on Divine Providence?" Taken from Trusting God: Even When Lift Hurts by Jerry Bridges page 108 which itself takes it from Puritan Sermons 1659-1689, Vol.1 p.374

"Trust...[uses] such means as God prescribes for the bringing about his appointed end...God's means are to be used, as well as God's blessing to be expected."
-Thomas Lye

"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."
-Augustine

"Faith is the bird that sings while it is yet dark."
-Max Lucado

By faith alone can we become righteous, for faith invests us with the sinlessness of Christ. The more fully we believe this, the fuller will be our joy. If you believe that sin, death, and the curse are void, why, they are null, zero. Whenever sin and death make you nervous, write it down as an illusion of the devil. There is no sin now, no curse, no death, no devil because Christ has done away with them. This fact is sure. There is nothing wrong with the fact. The defect lies in our lack of faith.
- Martin Luther
By faith only therefore we are made righteous, for faith layeth hold upon this innocency and this victory of  Christ. Look then how much thou believest this, so much thou dost enjoy it.- Martin Luther, A Commentary on Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, printed 1832 edition, p.219, translated by Erasmus Middleton



More quotes will be added periodically.

The Presuppositions of Science

Faith According to C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

The following excerpt is from C.S. Lewis' classic book Mere Christianity book 3, chapters 11 and 12.

C.S. Lewis understands that the word "faith" is used in Scripture and theology in different senses. The following definition is one of many legitimate senses and types. I've outlined some other definitions in another of my blogposts. Lewis' definition here could fall under #15 in my list. I've emphasized some passages by coloring the text in red and sometimes placing them in bold as well.


11. Faith

I must talk in this chapter about what the Christians call Faith. Roughly speaking, the word Faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses or on two levels, and I will take them in turn. In the first sense it means simply Belief—accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people—at least it used to puzzle me—is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue, I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue—what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad. If he were mistaken about the goodness or badness of the evidence that would not mean he was a bad man, but only that he was not very clever. And if he thought the evidence bad but tried to force himself to believe in spite of it, that would be merely stupid.

Well, I think I still take that view. But what I did not see then— and a good many people do not see still—was this. I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. I start thinking I am going to choke, and I am afraid they will start cutting me up before I am properly under. In other words, I lose my faith in anaesthetics. It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. It is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other. When you think of it you will see lots of instances of this. A man knows, on perfectly good evidence, that a pretty girl of his acquaintance is a liar and cannot keep a secret and ought not to be trusted; but when he finds himself with her his mind loses its faith in that bit of knowledge and he starts thinking, "Perhaps she'll be different this time," and once more makes a fool of himself and tells her something he ought not to have told her. His senses and emotions have destroyed his faith in what he really knows to be true. Or take a boy learning to swim. His reason knows perfectly well that an unsupported human body will not necessarily sink in water: he has seen dozens of people float and swim. But the whole question is whether he will be able to go on believing this when the instructor takes away his hand and leaves him unsupported in the water—or whether he will suddenly cease to believe it and get in a fright and go down.

Now just the same thing happens about Christianity. I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in. But supposing a man's reason once decides that the weight of the evidence is for it. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true. And once again his wishes and desires will carry out a blitz. I am not talking of moments at which any real new reasons against Christianity turn up. Those have to be faced and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments where a mere mood rises up against it.

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods "where they get off," you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.

The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?

Now I must turn to Faith in the second or higher sense: and this is the most difficult thing I have tackled yet. I want to approach it by going back to the subject of Humility. You may remember I said that the first step towards humility was to realise that one is proud. I want to add now that the next step is to make some serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues. A week is not enough. Things often go swimmingly for the first week. Try six weeks. By that time, having, as far as one can see, fallen back completely or even fallen lower than the point one began from, one will have discovered some truths about oneself. No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist. Very well, then. The main thing we learn from a serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues is that we fail. If there was any idea that God had set us a sort of exam, and that we might get good marks by deserving them, that has to be wiped out. If there was any idea of a sort of bargain—any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debts so that it was up to Him, in mere justice, to perform His side—that has to be wiped out.

I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam, or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up. They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded! In fact, of course, He knows all about this. One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam, or putting Him in your debt.

Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to its father and saying, "Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present." Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child's present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. The man is awake now. We can now go on to talk of Faith in the second sense.

12. Faith

I want to start by saying something that I would like everyone to notice carefully. It is this. If this chapter means nothing to you, if it seems to be trying to answer questions you never asked, drop it at once. Do not bother about it at all. There are certain things in Christianity that can be understood from the outside, before you have become a Christian. But there are a great many things that cannot be understood until after you have gone a certain distance along the Christian road. These things are purely practical, though they do not look as if they were. They are directions for dealing with particular cross-roads and obstacles on the journey and they do not make sense until a man has reached those places. Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings which you can make nothing of, do not worry. Leave it alone. There will come a day, perhaps years later, when you suddenly see what it meant If one could understand it now, it would only do one harm.

Of course all this tells against me as much as anyone else. The thing I am going to try to explain in this chapter may be ahead of me. I may be thinking I have got there when I have not. I can only ask instructed Christians to watch very carefully, and tell me when I go wrong; and others to take what I say with a grain of salt— as something offered, because it may be a help, not because I am certain that I am right.

I am trying to talk about Faith in the second sense, the higher sense. I said last week that the question of Faith in this sense arises after a man has tried his level best to practise the Christian virtues, and found that he fails, and seen that even if he could he would only be giving back to God what was already God's own. In other words, he discovers his bankruptcy. Now, once again, what God cares about is not exactly our actions. What he cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind or quality— the kind of creatures He intended us to be—creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add "and related to one another in a certain way," because that is included: if you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another. And as long as a man is thinking of God as an examiner who has set him a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain—as long as he is thinking of claims and counterclaims between himself and God—he is not yet in the right relation to Him. He is misunderstanding what he is and what God is. And he cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy.

When I say "discovered," I mean really discovered: not simply said it parrot-fashion. Of course, any child, if given a certain kind of religious education, will soon learn to say that we have nothing to offer to God that is not already His own and that we find ourselves failing to offer even that without keeping something back. But I am talking of really discovering this: really finding out by experience that it is true.

Now we cannot, in that sense, discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't." Do not, I implore you, start asking yourselves, "Have I reached that moment?" Do not sit down and start watching your own mind to see if it is coming along. That puts a man quite on the wrong track. When the most important things in our life happen we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, "Hullo! I'm growing up." It is often only when he looks back that he realises what has happened and recognises it as what people call "growing up." You can see it even in simple matters. A man who starts anxiously watching to see whether he is going to sleep is very likely to remain wide awake. As well, the thing I am talking of now may not happen to every one in a sudden flash—as it did to St Paul or Bunyan: it may be so gradual that no one could ever point to a particular hour or even a particular year. And what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.

I know the words "leave it to God" can be misunderstood, but they must stay for the moment. The sense in which a Christian leaves it to God is that he puts all his trust in Christ: trusts that Christ will somehow share with him the perfect human obedience which He carried out from His birth to His crucifixion: that Christ will make the man more like Himself and, in a sense, make good his deficiencies. In Christian language, He will share His "sonship" with us, will make us, like Himself, "Sons of God": in Book IV I shall attempt to analyse the meaning of those words a little further. If you like to put it that way, Christ offers something for nothing: He even offers everything for nothing. In a sense, the whole Christian life consists in accepting that very remarkable offer. But the difficulty is to reach the point of recognising that all we have done and can do is nothing. What we should have liked would be for God to count our good points and ignore our bad ones. Again, in a sense, you may say that no temptation is ever overcome until we stop trying to overcome it— throw up the sponge. But then you could not "stop trying" in the right way and for the right reason until you had tried your very hardest. And, in yet another sense, handing everything over to Christ does not, of course, mean that you stop trying. To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ. I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. A serious moral effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw up the sponge. Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of that Faith in Him good actions must inevitably come. There are two parodies of the truth which different sets of Christians have, in the past, been accused by other Christians of believing: perhaps they may make the truth clearer. One set were accused of saying, "Good actions are all that matters. The best good action is charity. The best kind of charity is giving money. The best thing to give money to is the Church. So hand us over £10,000 and we will see you through." The answer to that nonsense, of course, would be that good actions done for that motive, done with the idea that Heaven can be bought, would not be good actions at all, but only commercial speculations. The other set were accused of saying, "Faith is all that matters. Consequently, if you have faith, it doesn't matter what you do. Sin away, my lad, and have a good time and Christ will see that it makes no difference in the end." The answer to that nonsense is that, if what you call your "faith" in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not Faith at all—not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him.

The Bible really seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"—which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions: but the second half goes on, "For it is God who worketh in you"— which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. I am afraid that is the sort of thing we come up against in Christianity. I am puzzled, but I am not surprised. You see, we are now trying to understand, and to separate into water-tight compartments, what exactly God does and what man does when God and man are working together. And, of course, we begin by thinking it is like two men working together, so that you could say, "He did this bit and I did that." But this way of thinking breaks down. God is not like that. He is inside you as well as outside: even if we could understand who did what, I do not think human language could properly express it. In the attempt to express it different Churches say different things. But you will find that even those who insist most strongly on the importance of good actions tell you you need Faith; and even those who insist most strongly on Faith tell you to do good actions. At any rate that is as far as I go.

I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.




Monday, June 22, 2015

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Doctrine of Subsequence



I have been a theological continuationist (AKA continualist) regarding the charismatic gifts of the Spirit for over 25 years. For most of those years I've been willing to accept the label Charismatic (despite its often negative and misleading connotations) partly because I wasn't aware of the term continuationist till the 1990s (at which point I welcomed it). But in all that time, I had never completely settled on the topic of whether the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion or subsequent to conversion. I would flip flop back and forth from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurring at conversion or subsequent to it. Though, I always leaned toward it being subsequent. However, lately I've started leaning toward it being at conversion. As I understand it, among continuationists, it is believed there have been three waves of the Holy Spirit in modern times.

1a. The First Wave Classical Pentecostalism
1b. The First Wave (simply) Pentecostalism [what I'll call (*basic*) Pentecostalism]


2.   
The Second Wave Charismatics


3.   
The Third Wave

Classical Pentecostalism and (basic) Pentecostalism share a common history. While (basic) Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement (in general) agree in their denial of the Classical Pentecostal position that the necessary and sole physical evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues, along with the continued ability to speak in tongues throughout one's Christian life. The Charismatic movement (broadly speaking) and (basic) Pentecostalism are open to the possibility that the subsequent baptism of the Holy Spirit may manifest in ways different from speaking in tongues. Though, all three agree that Spirit baptism is distinct from and SUBSEQUENT to conversion (even if immediately afterward). The doctrine of SUBSEQUENCE is the key distinctive and difference between those three groups and Cessationists and Third Wavers. Ironically, Cessationists and Third Wavers agree that Spirit baptism occurs at conversion, but disagree on whether the charismatic gifts are still in operation. While Third Wavers, (basic) Pentecostals and (many) Charismatics agree that speaking in tongues is not the necessary initial evidence of Spirit Baptism or that it results in the lifelong ability to speak in tongues [contrary to Classical Pentecostalism].

This blogpost deals with the key and pivotal issue of whether the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is SUBSEQUENT to or CONCURRENT with conversion. If the latter, then that also refutes the position that tongues speaking is the initial evidence of Spirit baptism. Otherwise, no one who hasn't spoken in tongues could be saved. Something which even Classical Pentecostalism denies. Though, the heretical sect of Oneness Pentecostals do deny the salvation of those who haven't spoken in tongues. They also heretically deny the doctrine of the Trinity and affirm a form of "works salvation."

In this blogpost, for simplicity's sake, I use interchangeably phrases like "baptism OF the Holy Spirit," "....IN the Holy Spirit," "....WITH the Holy Spirit," "....BY the Holy Spirit" et cetera. Besides, I'm not convinced that the distinctions made by subsequentists on the differences in those phrases is actually Biblical. In my limited studies, I get the feeling that those who actually know Koine Greek dismiss those distinctions, and usually it is those who don't know Koine very well who advocate such distinctions.

What got me doubting the doctrine of subsequence include the following resources and reasons:

- Undervaluing Pentecost by R.C. Sproul (video message)
Though Sproul is a cessationist, he makes some good standard points arguing for Spirit baptism being concurrent with conversion. Ironically, this video is from the 2013 Strange Fire conference which criticizes continuationism. Another example of irony is that if Sproul's points are correct, then the examples of subsequent Spirit baptisms in the book of Acts were for the sake of affirming the unity of believers. Whereas the modern doctrine of subsequence often results in a division in the church doctrinally (between those who subscribe to it and those who don't), as well as a division of claimed experience (the "Haves" who have allegedly been subsequently Spirit baptized after conversion and the "Have Nots" who are thought not yet to have been). Not to mention the division that can arise between subscribers of Subsequence. Those who have an elitist attitude because they are among the "Haves," and those who have an inferiority complex because they're still among the "Have Nots." Even among cessationists, some of them can look down on subsequentists as being deceived and/or doctrinally naive. Or even being (likely or actually) unsaved.

- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit by R.C. Sproul (audio message that's an older and more succinct version of the lecture above)


- The materials of Wayne Grudem and Sam Storms who are Calvinists and continuationists like myself, yet deny subsequence.

See their books. Also their online materials like:

- Baptism of the Holy Spirit Part I by Sam Storms
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit Part II by Sam Storms

- "Be Filled With The Holy Spirit" Eph 5:18 video message by Wayne Grudem

- Dr. Wayne Grudem Resources on the Charismatic Gifts

- The materials of well known and highly regarded Pentecostal New Testament scholar and exegete Gordon Fee. Despite the fact that Gordon Fee grew up as a Pentecostal and continues to identify as a Pentecostal, Fee nevertheless denies all three distinctives of Classical Pentecostalism.

Sam Storms nicely sums up the three elemental distinctives of Classical Pentecostalism:
First, there is the doctrine of subsequence. Spirit-baptism is always subsequent to and therefore distinct from conversion. The time intervening between the two events may be momentary or conceivably years (nine years, for example, in the case of Paula).

Second, there is an emphasis on conditions. Depending on whom you read the conditions on which spirit-baptism is suspended may include repentance, confession, faith, prayers, waiting (“tarrying”), seeking, yielding, etc. The obvious danger here is in dividing the Christian life in such a way that salvation becomes a gift to the sinner whereas the fullness of the Spirit becomes a reward to the saint. But all is of grace. All comes with Christ.

Third, they emphasize the doctrine of initial evidence. The initial and physical evidence of having been baptized in the Spirit is speaking in tongues. If one has not spoken in tongues, one has not been baptized in the Spirit. According to this view, Paula was certainly saved when she accepted Christ at church camp. But she wasn't baptized in the Spirit until college, the proof of which is her experience of speaking in tongues for the first time when her friends prayed for her.
[Again, surprisingly, Pentecostal scholar Gordon Fee—who is highly regarded even among cessationists—rejects all three Classical Pentecostal distinctives!!!]

- The materials of John Wimber. Apparently, for the majority of the latter part of his ministry he denied subsequence and affirmed the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion. [See this video starting at 33:40 for about 15 minutes]


Wimber stated:
At this point in time I have come full circle from an evangelical theology of filling of the Spirit, through an experience and a theology that embraced what we would call classic Pentecostal... now I've come back to a place where I think I started theologically, but I've added a dimension of experience.
and
My perception is that every born-again Christian can manifest any gift that he wants to, because with the coming of the Holy Spirit you have the Source of all gifts.
and
I had to get to a point where I understood that all the gifts were available to me....But I'm convinced at this point at times that all the gifts are available to every Christian....But in any case, I believe all the gifts are available to everyone. And that any born again Christian can learn to manifest them all. Release them all. Of course, they come by the Holy Spirit. He's the resource. And He will initiate. But all you have to do is be receptive. "Lord I don't know what this person needs, but I want you to give it to me to give to them." All I am is a conduit. All I am is a messenger. I don't send the messages. I don't send the blessings. I just deliver them. As God gives them to me, I give them away.
While I agree with Wimber that any Spirit Baptized Christian can potentially exercise any spiritual gift, I reject Wimber's view that (essentially) denies people are given and assigned specific spiritual gifts which they will be able to operate in better (and with greater efficiency) than other gifts. Wimber's view doesn't make sense of many passages. For example, 1 Cor. 12:14-26 and Rom. 12:4-8. Given Wimber's view, there would be no possibility for people to sinfully boast on the one hand or feel inferior on the other.

I eventually had to ask myself the following questions and try to give honest answers.

Where in any of the New Testament epistles is there evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit being subsequent to conversion? [The prooftexts used in Acts to support subsequence have been answered by both cessationists and Third Wave theologians in my opinion.]

Where in any of the epistles are there described Christians who have not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit or who are still waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Of all the places in the epistles where an apostle addresses sanctification or is dealing with sin within the Church does not an apostle bring up the issue of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and counsel local church leaders to make sure everyone in their congregations has been baptized in the Holy Spirit (especially those Christians who are morally struggling or are new believers)?

How could Paul [in Rom. 8:9] so nonchalantly say in passing that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ if he was aware that some people in some local churches are still waiting and tarrying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit? All the while knowing that people would interpret not belonging to Christ as being unsaved.

How could Paul say what he does in 1 Cor. 12:13 without creating similar confusion? ["For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body---Jews or Greeks, slaves or free---and all were made to drink of one Spirit."- 1 Cor. 12:13]

If the reference to "drink[ing] of one Spirit" in 1 Cor. 12:13 refers to Spirit baptism, then wouldn't the spiritual drinking in 1 Cor. 10:1-4 be referring to the same thing? If so, then the typology would imply that all Christians would be Spirit baptized with the same universality under the New Covenant as the Israelites were "baptized" under the Old Covenant.

1 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.- 1 Cor. 10:1-4
Just because this passage says they drank of Christ doesn't preclude the possibility that the typology refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit since He is the "Spirit of Christ" (cf. Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11). Besides, the doctrine of circumincession or perichoresis would also allow for the typology to refer to Spirit baptism.


How could Paul say [in 1 Cor. 12:3], "Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit," if he knew that not everyone saved is baptized in the Holy Spirit?

It seems to me (and to other Third Wavers) that all these questions and the problems I've posed are easily answered and solved if baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs concurrently with conversion. In other words, these problems quickly disappear if we simply removed the assumption of the doctrine of Subsequence. In fact, such questions are actually nonsensical given a Concurrence view of Spirit baptism. Such problems are unnecessary and only arise from the mistaken notion of Subsequence.

Was the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts chapter 8 baptized in the Holy Spirit? There's no evidence he received a baptism of the Holy Spirit that resembled the one that occurred at the day of Pentecost (or like that of the Samaritans) before or after he was water baptized, even though it was the Holy Spirit Himself who directed Philip to share the gospel with the eunuch in order that he might be saved. Contrary to Classical Pentecostal expectations, it appears that before anything else could be done the Holy Spirit transported Philip away from the eunuch in order for him (Philip) to minster to other people at a distant location. This makes sense if upon conversion the eunuch had immediately received the baptism of the Holy Spirit without the need for any extraordinary supernatural manifestation or having hands laid on him by Philip or an apostle.

A similar instance is related in Acts chapter 2 when Peter preached to a crowd of thousands.
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.- Acts 2:37-41
Notice that Peter promised that reception of the Holy Spirit would be included in their conversion (v. 38). Yet in verse 41 three thousand are said to have been converted THAT VERY DAY. If they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit that day and spoke in tongues (or experienced some other manifestation(s)), that would have been an amazing miracle that would (almost) certainly have been recorded in Scripture. Just imagine 3,000 people speaking in tongues simultaneously (or near simultaneously) in one day. That would have been more memorable and more noteworthy than the speaking in tongues that took place earlier in the day that caused a commotion. It's true that the (approximately) 120 disciples may not have all spoken in tongues all at once since it was as the Spirit gave them utterance. But it caused enough of a commotion to attract the attention of many Jews. How much more would 3,000 converts speaking on tongues (in waves or in turn) or some other supernatural manifestation do so? I've repeatedly mentioned "some other manifestation" since the doctrine of subsequence allows for 1. the Classical Pentecostal view of the necessity and sole evidence of Spirit baptism to be tongue speaking, and 2. a doctrine of subsequence that doesn't require the manifestation to be tongue speaking but can be some other experience or manifestation of a spiritual gift.

Some might object and argue that when it says that all were baptized that it doesn't necessarily mean all 3,000 were water baptized that very day. The logistics of baptizing 3,000 people in one day would be very daunting. These objectors may argue that the statement they were all baptized describes what eventually happened in the coming days. Therefore, (the objectors would argue) maybe many of the 3,000 were eventually baptized in the Holy Spirit with some supernatural manifestation sometime soon after that day of Pentecost. That's true that the baptisms may have taken a few days to complete. But by the same token, would not Luke have described how many of the 3,000 people who were converted that day were subsequently and eventually baptized with the Holy Spirit with with some supernatural manifestation? Especially since it was the greatest mass conversion recorded in the book of Acts. How many of those 3,000 successfully received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with some  evidence? And how many continued day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Many modern subscribers and advocates of the doctrine of subsequence waited years to finally be "baptized in the Holy Spirit" (or what they believed to be the baptism of the Holy Spirit). While other Christians are still waiting for it, or had lived and died never having received it (or so they thought).

Luke doesn't record how many easily received the subsequent baptism of the Holy Spirit or the controversy, commotion and tension that would have erupted by the fact that some people had difficulty or failed to receive Spirit baptism. As is the case in many modern denominations and local churches that believe and teach the doctrine of subsequence. Assuming that the experience of modern advocates of subsequence parallels that of the Apostolic church, why didn't Luke, Paul, John or any of the other apostles discuss the problem of the "Haves" and the "Have Nots" regarding Spirit baptism? Surely, if such a problem occurred, then the New Testament would have addressed it and given instructions to facilitate and quicken the reception of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Modern subsequentists write entire books on what are and how to fulfill the conditions that are conducive towards receiving Spirit baptism.

Again, the theory that best explains what's recorded in Luke in this incident is that the 3,000 were baptized in the Holy Spirit upon their conversion and were assumed to have been so Spirit baptized by everyone (including in the minds of the apostles and original disciples). That they were Spirit baptized that day regardless of whether they had (that day, or some future day) spoken in tongues (or exhibited some other manifestation) as evidence of the subsequent second work of the Holy Spirit.

Notice too that in his sermon Peter quotes the book of Joel which prophesied that God would pour out His Spirit upon "ALL FLESH." This was obviously understood to have been fulfilled in the Church. All flesh doesn't include non-Christians. Presumably, this pouring out of God's Spirit upon "all flesh" refers to (and is synonymous with) the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:4 with Acts 2:33).  Yet, if the doctrine of subsequence is true, then there will always be instances of genuine born again (regenerate) believers who have not yet had the Holy Spirit poured out upon them. Many of them are still waiting, or don't even believe in such a second work of the Holy Spirit (e.g. cessationists who reject it). In which case, Joel's prophecy fails. How so? Because Joel prophesied ALL BELIEVERS (i.e. "all flesh") would be Spirit baptized. Both men and women, young and old. But the teaching of subsequence IN FACT (i.e in practice) denies the perpetual actuality that ALL BELIEVERS would in fact be Spirit baptized. Subsequence makes it potential, but never actual. At least not for any long period of time. Imagine the hypothetical scenario that a minute ago every true believer received the subsequent baptism of the Holy Spirit. If 10 more converts to Christianity were added soon afterwards, it would cease being the case that all Christians had the Holy Spirit poured out upon them until everyone of the 10 new converts were baptized in the Holy Spirit. It's logically possible that one or all of the 10 would fail to receive Spirit baptism for many years afterwards (just as it is the case in virtually all modern subsequentist churches). So, despite the hypothetical that hundreds of millions of Christian are now Spirit baptized, 10 new converts not being Spirit baptized would nullify Joel's prophecy.

John Piper noted:
Acts records at least nine other conversion stories, but never again mentions a two-step sequence with tongues (8:36; 9:17–19; 13:12, 48; 14:1; 16:14; 17:4, 34). This shows how difficult it is to establish a norm from the way things happened back then.

If the two-step Subsequence view is true, then Jesus' promises of the Holy Spirit as the water of life in John 4:10, 14 and John 7:37-39 aren't yet true of those not yet Spirit baptized. Yet, there's no reason to assume that Jesus is referring to a subsequent work of the Holy Spirit in those verses. Jesus' only conditions were to simply come, ask and believe. Nor would the promises in Rev. 21:6 and 22:17 be dependable despite the fact that they state one can receive the water of life FREELY by merely coming. The implication being that it is relatively easy to receive the water of life.

Someone holding to the Subsequent view of Spirit baptism might say that these are merely referring to being Born in the Spirit that comes with initial salvation. However, Jesus' description of receiving the waters of life seem to better fit with Spirit baptism because of Jesus' language of the abundance of overflowing water. The Lord says, "The water that I will give him will become in him a SPRING of water WELLING UP to eternal life." And, "Out of his heart will flow RIVERS of living water."

So, on account of all the things I've mentioned above, I've now tentatively concluded that the distinction between being 1. Born in the Spirit and 2. Baptized in the Spirit is a distinction that's not actually found in Scripture. It's a theological distinction created by well meaning Pentecostals and (many, not all) Charismatics that's not actually an inference derived from Scripture (deductively or inductively) .

If Subsequence is a false doctrine, then how should continuationists interpret the claims of subsequentists of having received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit some time after their conversion? The answer would seem to be that what actually occurred was a present filling of the Holy Spirit rather than their misinterpretation of it being their initial Spirit baptism. That at that time they actually received the kind of filling that Paul encourages us to seek after on a continual basis (Eph. 5:18). Some even translate Eph. 5:18 as, "be being filled with the Holy Spirit." Or ""Be ye, being filled with..." or "keep on being filled with..."

The New Testament records various kinds divisions or distinctions in the Apostolic church. Some were problematic and others were real but resolved by the Gospel. Yet, the New Testament doesn't record a division of the "Haves" and the "Have Nots" regarding those who had successfully received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and those who had yet to receive it. This is assuming that not everyone in the 1st century church easily and quickly received the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as it is the admitted experience in the case of modern groups who subscribe to subsequence. Here are a list of various divisions or distinctions within the Church specifically described in the New Testament.

- There was the distinction between Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, males and females ( Gal. 3:28). These distinctions are said to no longer matter (at least) with regard to salvation (Gal. 3:28b-29; Eph. 2:11-22).

- Acts 6:1 describes a dispute that arose among Hellenistic Christians and Hebrew Christians because the former claimed their widows were being neglected in the daily distributions.

- 1 Cor. 1:10-16 describes the divisions within the Church because some were followers (or "fanboys" to use a contemporary term) of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas or some other leader.

- The book of Galatians describes the division between the Galatian Judaizers and those who maintained Paul's gospel of grace.

- Luke 9:49-50 describes a distinction between those 1. who followed Jesus and His immediate disciples and 2. those who didn't yet were able to successfully cast out demons.

- The book of Acts describes the distinctions between 1. Jewish Christians, 2. Samaritan Christians, 3. Gentile Christians who were formerly "God fearers," and 4. Gentiles who were formerly pagans.
With all the above divisions and/or distinctions in the Church mentioned above (and more could probably be listed), why did no New Testament author record the division and distinction between those who had already successfully received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and those who hadn't and were still waiting/tarrying for the baptism? A reasonable answer is that there was no such division because they didn't believe in the doctrine of Subsequence which grounds and forms the basis for such a division/distinction.

It also seems to me that all the waiting/tarrying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit that goes on in Subsequentist circles doesn't comport with the Lord Jesus' statement in Luke 11:11-13 (cf. Matt. 7:9-11 which has "good things" for "Holy Spirit").

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"- Luke 11:11-13
Like the passages on receiving the water of life/living waters, the Lord here makes it appear that the reception of the Holy Spirit is a relatively simple matter. A matter of simply asking. Yet, that's not the experience of many Subsequentists who exert much effort (sometimes for years) trying to attain the spiritual high of what they think is Spirit Baptism. Subsequentists focus on evidence and experience rather than focusing on the exercise of faith [read as "focusing on God's faithfulness"] that leads to evidence and experience. Faith doesn't look to itself to see if one has faith (or enough faith). Faith looks to God's faithfulness to His promises. Genuine faith fixes it's gaze on the adequacy of God's faithfulness rather than on one own self, or the adequacy or inadequacy of one's faith.

Some may argue that Luke 11:11-13 actually supports Subsequence since Jesus refers to the people who are asking as already being God's children. However, that's an anachonistic interpretation of our Lord's words. Retrofitting post-Ascension apostolic theological terminology and categories to our Lord's statement. A statement that itself might be tweaked by Luke to be make more applicable to post-Ascension/post-Pentecostal Christians. So, we can't derive too much theology from the statement. The statement as found in Luke is consistent with increased additional filling with the Holy Spirit. It's also consistent with a request for true conversion. How? In our theological precision we rightly point out that only genuine Christians are the children of God. However, the Lord was speaking to mostly Jewish believers who were already in the Mosaic covenant. In which case, there was a sense in which Jesus could legitimately say they were already God's children. While at the same time encouraging them to become (the true) children of God. This is why Jesus was able to indiscriminately tell His hearers to consider God as their heavenly Father (e.g. in the Lord's Prayer) without always qualifying it with the statement that only true believers are the true children of God.

I'm convinced that what made this issue so difficult for Christians to agree on is that the topic deals with the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit which requires the use of different distinctions and senses which include the visible and the invisible activity of the Holy Spirit along with the degrees of activity of the Holy Spirit. With the ontological/metaphysical presence or absence of the Holy Spirit. Also with the metaphysical and ontological mechanics of the activity of the Holy Spirit versus the experiential and phenomenological activity of the Holy Spirit as it affects our psychological state, character and the gifts of the Spirit.

Given the fact that most denominations affirm (and are in agreement with) a rejection of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, it is the belief of historic branches of Christianity to say that without the grace of God no one can come to God. It requires some sort of initiating grace. For example, for Catholics they have the concept of operating grace. For Arminians it's prevenient grace or enabling grace. For Calvinists it's sufficient grace or efficacious grace. This means, that before anyone can accept the gospel, the grace of the Holy Spirit must already be working on a person.

Then there's the fact that under the Mosaic Covenant some people were believers in the true God and were saved by God's grace by the Holy Spirit even though the New Testament contrasts the coming of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant to be so much better and fuller that by contrast Old Testament saints didn't have the Holy Spirit.

Then there's the distinction between the Holy Spirit gracious activity among Old Testament saints for their salvation and the Holy Spirit's gracious activity among Prophets, which differed from His activity among Priests, which differed from His activity among Kings.

Then there's the activity of the Holy Spirit convicting the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).

Then there's the Lord's statement in John 14:17 where He states regarding the Holy Spirit, "...for He dwells WITH you and will be IN you."

Then there's the level of the Holy Spirit's presence that's referred to in John 20:22 that states, "And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

That reception of the Holy Spirit in John 20:22 is distinct from the Church's reception of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost itself.

Then we have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit upon different groups (as R.C. Sproul explain in his lecture above). That is, the different objects of activity of the Holy Spirit.

Then even among believing Christians there's the Holy Spirit's effect on one's character in sanctification (i.e. the FRUITS of the Spirit).

Along with the the Holy Spirit's effect on the ability of Christians to perform supernatural feats (i.e. the GIFTS of the Spirit).

Then there's the activity of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Something which most everyone agrees is distinct from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is true whether one is a Calvinist or an Arminian, cessationist or continuationist. And whether one believes regeneration occurs after, or is (or can be) simultaneous with, or even before conversion. Calvinists for example, believe regeneration occurs before conversion.

And though saved for last, we have the foundational and primary (in the sense of "first") activity of the Holy Spirit in creation and in creation's preservation/conservation/sustaining (Job 33:4; Ps. 33:6; 104:30).

Notice how I've listed about 14 or 15 or 16 (depending on how one counts) distinctions regarding the Holy Spirit's operation and activity. Is it any wonder that Christians can disagree with each other on the topic of the Holy Spirit? Such disagreements often occur because of an overly dogmatic and/or overly precise theology of the Spirit's activity and presence. When the Bible's descriptions aren't exhaustive or philosophical, but often metaphorical and phenomenological. We get into trouble when we try to tease out of Scripture more than is actually there.

Scripture uses spatial metaphors to describe spiritual relations. Since the Holy Spirit is immaterial, He is physically illocal. He doesn't have extension in space or time. Yet, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is, in some sense, omnipresent everywhere (Ps. 139:7). Similarly, the doctrine of God's immensity refers to how wherever God is, all of God is there present. God is never partially present anywhere He's at. Yet there's also a sense in which the Bible describes the Holy Spirit as being specially "within" believers.

This is why it can be said that even non-Christians "have" the Holy Spirit because as the omnipresent God, "in Him we live and move and have our being" in some metaphorical (maybe even metaphysical) sense.


Above I listed many different senses of the Holy Spirit's activity and presence for another final reason. Namely that:

The debate about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit boils down to two things:

1. an over emphasis and fixation on the Bible's metaphors of activity, presence and timing.

2. More importantly, a neglect of the actual personality of the Holy Spirit. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not about timing, presence, volume, amount or physical distance/nearness. It's about RELATIONAL distance or nearness. Just as two human beings can be relationally and emotionally near despite their physical separation, so the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a matter of PERSONAL ACQUAINTANCE with the Holy Spirit and His acquaintance with and love for us. That kind of acquaintance that goes beyond the propositional and refers to an intimate loving knowledge.

"But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God..."- Gal. 4:9 "But if anyone loves God, he is known by God."- 1 Cor. 8:3
"...you only have I known..."- Amos 3:2;
; "...Adam knew Eve..."- Gen. 4:1"...I never knew you..."- Matt. 7:23; 
 This is also why the the continual infilling of the Holy Spirit involves fellowshipping with Him (2 Cor. 13:14) and not grieving/vexing Him (Eph. 4:30; Isa. 63:10). That's what "walking" in the Spirit means (Gal. 5:16, 25). "Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?"- Amos 3:3.



Having made the above conclusions regarding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I do think that Christians ought to continually seek to be repeatedly filled with the Holy Spirit as Paul instructs in Eph. 5:18. That we must not let our belief (and knowledge if true) of Spirit baptism having been concurrent with our past conversion to lead us into a spiritually apathetic state. But rather press on to greater and fuller empowerment for holiness an service. See for example, an excellent introductory lecture on being filled with the Spirit by Wayne Grudem below.

"Be Filled With The Holy Spirit" Eph 5:18 video message by Wayne Grudem

Wayne Grudem deals with the issue of subsequence in chapter 39 of his Systematic Theology

Gordon Fee deal with the issue of subsequence in chapter 7 (starting page 105) of his book Gospel and Spirit in Hermeneutics