The new section on the witness of the Spirit is below Chapter 11.

CHAPTER 11 FROM:

NOW! FAITH

(A SOJOURNERS GUIDE TO THE FOURTH DIMENSION)

 

Our ministry is very much about the present ministry of the Holy Spirit so I have included a few chapters here for doctrine purposes in seeking to explain what has been happening in India. The whole book can be purchased via the RESOURCES Main page.

 

Chapter 11: The Promise of the Father

 

The promise of the Father is the full ministry of the Holy Spirit including receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit is a legal event and the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a power event.

 

Receiving the Holy Spirit

 

When two parties agree to the terms and conditions of a contract and intend to be bound by them, they place their seal (or signature) on the contract. As discussed in chapter 2 when we are born again, we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. God places His seal on the contract of our adoption papers (Rom 8:15) and our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev 21:27) “…the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His.” (2 Tim 2:19) The Holy Spirit is received by believing. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Eph 1:13) Receiving the Holy Spirit is the foundational experience for an enduring relationship with God. “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, … 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:19-22)

 

Pastor Allan Meyer once said “for a person to be secure in their faith at least one meaningful encounter with God is required.” We need to “…taste and see that God is good.” (Psalm 34:8). Some people say they won’t believe in God unless they see Him. However, when God the Son came in the flesh, people still refused to believe in Him. There is no difference today.  Even though God the Holy Spirit walks with us in all His proof testifying about the Father and the Son, some people still refuse to believe Him. The Pharisees during the time of Jesus failed to recognise His ministry and the Pharisees of today fail to recognise the full ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Namely, the second part to the one promise of the Father_ the baptism in the Holy Spirit as discussed in the next few chapters.

 

“All evidence to the contrary, we continue to sin against Pentecost, continue to attempt to explain away the disruptive descent of the Spirit. And you know why? The Acts 2 threat that one Sunday we might all gather here in our bolted down pews, with our smug reasonableness, our bourgeois respectability, only to be grabbed by our collective collar, shaken up, thrown into confusion, intoxicated, is not a suggestion we welcome. Most of us come in here to be confirmed in what we think we already know; not to be dislodged, led by the Spirit into terra incognita we do not know. But be careful. As you come to the table today, with hands open, maybe even minds open, be careful. The wind blows where it will (John 3), God’s Spirit will not be housebroken by us, and your soul might catch fire, even yet, even here.

 

I would hate to see nice, respectable people like you with mortgages go out of here drunk.

 

No I wouldn’t.”

 

Truth Aflame Larry D Hart 2010 Quoted from William H Willimon dean of the chapel at Duke University

 

Separability vs Non-Separability

 

Important theological and experiential issues should be fought out no holds barred in the ring of theological debate. So I ask you to use your independence skills (outlined in the previous chapter), as I set before you two theological positions concerning the separability between receiving the Holy Spirit and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

 

Non-separability: Is the theological position that believes the baptism in the Holy Spirit is received when we are saved and that there is no second separate experience. Many evangelical churches hold this view. This position argues there is no distinction between the act of receiving the Holy Spirit and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Holders of this view believe the Holy Spirit baptism is received when we first believe.

 

Separability: Separability is the theological position of saying that receiving the Holy Spirit and the baptism in the Holy Spirit are mutually exclusive from each other. In other words take place independently and are not the same thing. Many Pentecostal churches hold to this view.

 

If receiving the Holy Spirit is independent from the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is possible to be born again without being baptised in the Holy Spirit. Are there two separate gifts to be received as part of the one promise of the Father?

 

After persecution took place in Jerusalem, Philip preached in a Samaritan town baptising those who believed. Peter and John were sent to see what was happening and find that the Samaritan believers hadn’t yet received the Holy Spirit. “For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:16-17) If the Samaritans had already believed, why then did Peter and John need to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit? This passage of scripture demonstrates the separability between the two gifts to the one promise. The new believers received the first gift_ the seal of the Holy Spirit when Philip preached to them and they believed. They received the second gift of the baptism in the Holy Spirit when Peter and John laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit “fell” upon them. The chapters between Acts 2 - 8 are silent about the term “fell” upon. A realistic assumption is that Peter and John must have seen the Holy Spirit “fall” upon people since the time of Pentecost observing this hadn’t happened to the Samaritan believers. “Fell” upon, isn’t clearly defined anywhere within the book of Acts or elsewhere in the bible. The definition of the Greek word fallen is- “to embrace (with affection) or seize (with more or less violence; literally or figuratively): - fall into (on, upon), lie on, press upon.” From this definition we should be able to picture what was happening. If you press on something heavily enough it will fall to the ground. I have witnessed people fall to the ground many times in response to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, this hasn’t happened to me yet. Have I been baptised in the Holy Spirit? Absolutely, I’ve just never fallen to the ground. God does things His way and not according to a set formula.

 

The two gifts received by the disciples were given on different days, for different reasons and with different declarations. They received the first gift of the seal of the Holy Spirit on the first day of the resurrection when Jesus breathed on them. The second gift of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was received on the day of Pentecost 49 days after they received the seal of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:3-5) Peter declared on the day of Pentecost this was the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy. (Acts 2:16) Jesus didn’t make this declaration when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on resurrection day. Jesus gave the reason for the second gift as empowerment to witness. (Acts 1:8) and once again He didn’t make this statement when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the first day of the week. If the disciples received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on the first day of the resurrection, Pentecost would have been unnecessary. Both biblically and logically speaking you can’t baptise what hasn’t been born. Therefore it follows before you can be baptised in the Holy Spirit you must be born again. The bible provides clear evidence of these facts for those willing to trust God and simply receive the two gifts to the one promise. Christian life is all about relationship with God as our Father who is only too willing to give us the good gifts of His kingdom. To me, there is a clear scriptural distinction through the timing differences of the two events of receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit (the born again experience) and receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit (an empowering experience).

 

More differences between the two gifts to the one promise can be seen by the way that the disciples used them. When the disciples received the seal of the Holy Spirit they went fishing and caught nothing (John 21:3). A contract with a seal on it may entitle us to go fishing but we can’t catch any fish with it. We need to have the right equipment to catch the fish. In complete contrast on the day of Pentecost 3,000 people added to the believers (Acts 2:41) when they fished for men and caught abundantly. Like Jesus they commenced their ministry after being baptised in the Holy Spirit. This shows two very discernible differences between the two Christian experiences. Could the same be said about today’s disciples? Evidence for this could be seen by the number of believers in the churches of people having the different views. Empirical studies have been completed and you should draw your own conclusions.

 

The full availability of the Holy Spirit couldn’t come until Jesus had finished His earthly ministry and had departed to the Father. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) On the day Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after His resurrection, He commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, saying they would be baptised in the Holy Spirit “not many days from now.” (Acts 1:3-5)

 

When I visualise Jesus breathing on His disciples I find it difficult to see this as a type of baptism. Water baptism completely envelops a person. When the disciples were baptised in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they were surrounded by a mighty rushing wind. In that instance, like water baptism, the wind completely encompassed them about. Now which experience sounds more like baptism to you? Was it the first experience of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them, or was it on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon them? The baptism in the Holy Spirit is about the entry into a new dimension of boldness fuelled by the power of God through the miraculous. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) What happened when the disciples were baptised in the Holy Spirit? “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4) Why didn’t the disciples speak in tongues on the first day of the week if they had been baptised in the Holy Spirit? What is your conclusion, doesn’t the evidence speak for it-self?

 

John the Baptist said this about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mat 3:11) Acts 2 mentions tongues of fire above their heads agreeing with the prophecy of John the Baptist. Tongues of fire didn’t rest on the disciples when they received the Holy Spirit on the first day of the resurrection. Being “baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire” could mean two separate baptismal events as expressed by Spirit and fire. However, fire is a refining work and the Holy Spirit baptism is also a refining action. More than likely the scripture has a dual meaning, given that all the original disciples bar John gave their lives for their testimony. Their martyrdom was a baptism of fire. People use this as an idiom today likening it to a first time initiation event. To me it seems reasonable to conclude that the scripture has a dual interpretation. Neither can be excluded within the context of the events that took place.   

  

The first mention about the pouring out of God’s Spirit is found in Joel as was interpreted as being fulfilled in part by the book of Acts. Although King David says to the Lord in Psalm 46: “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.” It doesn’t mean that God didn’t fill people with His Holy Spirit, just that a major out pouring into the lives of believers became available after Pentecost. I note that the bible doesn’t mention that David spoke in tongues although it doesn’t say that he didn’t. In Acts 2:14-21 Peter interprets Joel’s Old Testament prophecy: “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

        17 ‘ And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
       That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
      Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
      Your young men shall see visions,
      Your old men shall dream dreams.
       18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
      I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
       And they shall prophesy.
       19 I will show wonders in heaven above
      And signs in the earth beneath:
      Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
       20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
      And the moon into blood,
      Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
       21 And it shall come to pass
      That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
      Shall be saved.’[b]        

  

Interestingly, Peter seems to recognise the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy as a consequence of what took place on the day of Pentecost: speaking in tongues; tongues of fire resting upon them and the other physical events surrounding him on that day. It is important to note that Joel doesn’t specifically use the words ‘baptise’ in the Holy Spirit, but “pour out” instead. But this clearly means the baptism in the Holy Spirit as it follows the order of events that Jesus said would happen in the book of Acts. In a sense this has an even stronger association with baptism as a vessel is needed to hold that which has been poured out and filled. From this comes the term Spirit filled_ the born again spiritual man is like a glass being filled with the living water of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for baptism means to be imbued with, or every fibre soaked. On the day of Pentecost the disciples were totally externally and internally imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

To conclude that receiving the Holy Spirit described in John 20 is the baptism in the Holy Spirit requires ‘blinker’ theology refusing to accept the obvious. Some race horses are given ‘blinkers’ so that other horses won’t distract them. As Christians we need to get from the bible the things God has put into it and remain focused about the truth of the gospel. Are you using your independence skills to evaluate these things? Do you still love me? Has your theological position changed? Have you been influenced by any bias? Two distinct and separate gifts were given to the disciples on separate days; with different declarations and for different reasons. Do you see any pattern of separability here? Or is it just me? If you are using your powers of independence, impartiality and comprehension, I trust that you can see that the points raised carry an overwhelming burden of proof as to the separability of the two experiences. If you don’t I can only pray that God will remove the scales and blinkers from your eyes enabling you to see.

 

Here is an interesting theological test for your beliefs. Read the book of Acts as if for the first time and as if you were a non-Christian and answer this question. What do people do after they receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Is there any other conclusion than they spoke in tongues and witnessed with signs and wonders following? You can’t conclude from the book of Acts that there is any difference today because there is no mention anywhere that it was dispensational, or for that time only. Does this test change your theological position?

 

“The Holy Spirit has long been the Cinderella of the Trinity. The other two sisters may have gone to the theological ball; the Holy Spirit got left behind every time. But not now. The rise of the charismatic movement within virtually every mainstream church has changed that.”

McGrath, Alister. Christian Theology: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. 240.

 

52 WESLEYAN STANDARD SERMONS:

SERMON 10: WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT

Note: I have used Wesley’s sermon as the source of my inspiration.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom 8:15-17)

 

Of our own spirit:

Our conscience testifies that we are a son of God. (The witness about our own righteousness could be deceptive if on its own. Therefore it is subservient in its importance to the witness of the Holy Spirit)

 

Of God’s Spirit:

An inward impression upon the soul, whereby the Spirit of God witnesses directly to our spirit, that we are a child of God.

We cannot know God’s pardon until the Holy Spirit witnesses to us about God’s love. It is a twofold witness where the spirit of a man agrees with the testimony of the Holy Spirit. At this point it is important to understand that the Holy Spirit is God with us today. Only an intelligent being can bear witness, so the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force as some cults would have us believe. He shares co-equality with God the Father and God the Son. He is no less God than God the Father and God the Son. Not that there are three separate God’s. They play a role in every action of God from the creation of the world to mankind’s resurrection on the last day. God is the alpha and the omega or the beginning and the end.

The witness happens when the Holy Spirit gives us a sure confidence that we are saved from our sin and have been reconciled to God’s favour. It is like a light has been switched on for the first time as our burden of sin and guilt is lifted. In an instant, the weight of sin is gone as our spirit becomes born again. When sinners are convinced by the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ died for them and that He rose from the dead, and is Lord of their life, we have a saving faith by which we are justified or pardoned. Having received the witness of the Spirit we can intimately call God our Father as we have become His adopted child. How does the Holy Spirit bear witness that we are children of God?

It isn’t our obedience to the Laws of God that make us a son or a daughter. Sonship is a positional relationship rather than conditional. Of ourselves we could never be obedient enough to earn the love of God. We love God as our Father, so we choose to be as obedient as we can, but that obedience doesn’t make us his child. Even if my own son is disobedient towards me, he doesn’t cease to be my Son. He has the position as my son through our relationship and will always have it as long as he calls me father. A sign of the witness of the Spirit is our passionate pursuit not to offend the Holiness of God, “as it is written, be holy, even as I am Holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) A son of God will constantly examine him-self to see if any sin is in him. He will then repent and follow even harder after God. These too are evidences for the witness of the Spirit without being the witness itself. Our obedience to the law isn’t the condition for receiving the witness.

Our willingness to pursue the fruits of the Holy Spirit is another evidence that the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit is within us. Once again it isn’t the witness itself but comes after having received the witness. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23) The fruits demonstrate that we are a child of God. The word witness means testimony or record. The Holy Spirit testifies that we are the children of God and that our names are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life. If we have the testimony of the Holy Spirit, as a consequence of having it, the fruits of the Holy Spirit must be working in our life. The testimony must precede any fruit which springs forth from it. It is more a logical conclusion to be drawn rather than proof that the testimony is there. In some ways it is similar to faith without works is dead. Again the logical conclusion is that works flow from faith as the initiating cause. The testimony as the initial cause will naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit. It is a conjoint testimony in that you can’t have one without the other. You can’t say ‘oh I have my own testimony that I am saved,’ without knowing that the Holy Spirit testifies of the same and vice-a-versa. The Holy Spirit testifies directly to our spirit that we are a child of God. Our lips might declare that we are His child, but our life is a demonstration of it. Our life’s work and character show others in search of God that we are His children. Such a witness can significantly influence the entry of others into the kingdom of God.

In the instant that we receive the witness of the Spirit, we are also sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[b] is the guarantee of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:13-14) The seal of God isn’t the witness, but comes as a consequence of having the witness within. It stands as proof that we are the sons of God. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” (2 Tim 2:19)

The word witness means testimony or record. The Holy Spirit testifies that we are the children of God and that our names are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life. All who are convinced of sin and have felt the wrath of God upon them, cannot be satisfied by anything less than a direct testimony of the Holy Spirit, that He is merciful to their unrighteousness and remembers their sin no more. The seal of God’s Holy Spirit upon us is the proof of our salvation until the day of our redemption. It is God’s seal upon our adoption papers.

You can describe what the witness is, but for each person it is a very personal experience. It is an instantaneous affirmation by the Holy Spirit that we are God’s child, but there will be other times in our Christian walk when He affirms this truth. I am constantly interacting with my children in ways in which they know that I am their father. Our heavenly Father is no different and it is one of the things that I enjoy most about our relationship. When I have my heavenly Father’s approval, it’s like He is shouting out to me and to the world- this is my adopted Son and in him I am well pleased. What I’m about to say now runs completely subservient to the initial witness of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit can also testify that we are children of God in tangible ways. Without tangible ways it is like having a form of godliness without the power of it. This form of testimony can have a danger that it is nothing more than vain imagination. None-the-less when it is genuine it is very real. The testimony that I refer to, flows from a relationship with the Holy Spirit as He affirms us as we walk with Him throughout our life. Once again it is an extremely personal involvement of His presence with us. It happens when the Holy Spirit comes upon, or falls upon us as mentioned in the book of Acts.

I was having a meal in the home of Christian friends in Manipur North East India. My friend Minthang prayed before we ate and said: “Heavenly Father, bless my brother Colin,” instantly, I felt an incredible warmth come over my entire body starting at the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. For many hours afterwards, my body tingled with what had happened.

I remember praying 40 hours for Saudi Arabia to turn to Christ. I had lost my focus in my Christian walk and I wanted to get it back so I recorded the exact time that I spent praying each day to make sure that I had reached the 40 hours. On the last day I was praying in an Anglican Church in Box Hill watching the time approach in that last hour of prayer. When it finished the same experience as with Minthang happened once again.

I was on a missionary trip in Rwanda Africa and I was at a secondary school. I still had a few days left and was expecting more ministry after this, but it didn’t happen. God knows. As I was leaving the classroom, I had the sensation of walking into an invisible cloud and when I came out the other side, once again the same experience happened. It felt like my whole body was on fire with a tingling sensation. My face felt on fire and it remained for a few hours. The three examples were direct witnesses of God saying well done my adopted son. I am pleased with you. It is an amazing privilege of sonship.

If you haven't had a similar experience to me it's o.k. Allow God to take you on a journey. As I said before the witness of the Holy Spirit in us is a very personal thing. Our personal experience is always subservient to the Spirit of God anyway.

And so today I would like to offer everyone here the opportunity to become an adopted son of God. Say this prayer after me and then I’d like to come forward and I will pray for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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