Loving God, Equipping People, Mentoring Leaders, Reaching Nations
I belong to what is known as the Spirit-filled or Charismatic side of the Christian faith. Pentecostal and Full Gospel are other words among many to describe us. We are the ones who believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as a second experience after salvation. (see Acts 19:1-7) It is in this experience and encounter where a born again believer receives power (Acts 1:8) and the gifts of the Spirit are released (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
But here is where the problem lies. Most Spirit-filled believers exercise the gifts within the four walls of the church building ministering to other believers. This was never to be the primary purpose of the Baptism, the power or the gifts. Yes, Paul goes on the explain how some of the gifts are to function within the worship service – especially the gifts of prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues. But look at several of the references where Jesus spoke about the Baptism. In Luke 24:49 where Jesus tells the belivers to stay put until they have this promise and “not to leave home without it.” Leave home to do what? Well, that is answered in Acts where Jesus states: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be My witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). There it is! The power they were to receive before leaving home was the power needed to witness in the world. Not in the Church.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are to enable believers to witness about the resurrected Jesus Christ in their daily lives as they release power and the gifts to impact the lives of non-believers. The baptism and the gifts are witnessing tools that we need before we go out on the streets and into the coffee shops to share about Jesus. They will back up our words and witness so that we can fully proclaim the Gospel with “words and through the power of signs and miracles” as Paul did (Romans 15:18-19).
This really hit home this past summer as I was preaching the morning sessions of a week long camp. The evening speaker did an excellent job of proclaiming the Baptism and the gifts the night before. Everyone was pumped and excited about the Baptism and the gifts. I mean excited. The most life I had seen all week – even more than in my own morning sessions.
The next morning I mentioned how dynamic the previous evening service had been and everyone came alive once again. Excitement ruled! Then I had them turn to the verse from the previous evening – Acts 1:8 – and simply asked what the purpose or focus of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the power was to be. Obviously they saw it – to be a witness. Things quieted down considerably. Then I asked if they had been witnessing to non-believers over the past few weeks. Dead quiet. Finally I asked if they had ever led someone to the Lord since meeting Him themselves and being baptized in the Holy Spirit? Everyone was, by this time, looking down at the floor. It’s a gift I have, a spiritual gift – of being a wet blanket!
Folks, let’s do as Jesus did and obey what He said to do …. witness to others regularly as part of our daily life. It’s not just an add on feature one night a week as part of a church program. It is a way of life – daily life! And, let’s expect the power and gifts to be there and released as we witness. Jesus promised they would be – so let’s believe Him. Makes for a great adventure and a truly living and dynamic faith.