Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Holy Spirit and Electric Shocks.

I actually quoted this when I summarised Spurgeon's sermon on; "Have you received?" a few blog entries ago, but this quote is worthy of repeating because the point is vital;

"Now I come to notice that this question is assuredly answerable. 'Have ye received the Holy Ghost?'. The notion has sprung up, you cannot tell whether you have the Holy Ghost or not; but you can. Give a man an electric shock and I warrant you he will know it. But if he has the Holy Ghost, he will know it much more".

There is a school of thought going around that receiving the Holy Spirit can be unconcious and simply happens automatically at conversion. It seems that C H Spurgeon and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones would both strongly disagree with that. Note this is not a question of "when" receiving the Holy Spirit happens - it's a question of "what". Theologian J D G Dunn argued strongly against the 'second blessing' theology of the Pentecostals but interestingly enough argued that receiving the Spirit however must be experiential just as Richard Gaffin wrote that we should "know" for sure these things.

One of my favourite sections in the book I have just transcribed on the "Priestly Clothing" is where Dr Ern Baxter begins to examine the golden bells that lined the bottom of the High Priest's robe. The typology he brings out is breathtaking. Here's a sample:

"What are the golden bells? Well when the high priest came in once a year – he came all the way in and came into the Holy of Holies. And he came in with blood for the entire nation, which on the Day of Atonement would be a symbol or any other time, when Aaron would come in. When Aaron came in, if his offering was not acceptable to God you’d hear no noise. And you had good reason to believe that God had not accepted the sacrifice for the nation and that the high priest was dead. But as the high priest moved around putting the incense on the altar and scattering the blood on the altar and so on, the people could hear the bells and they knew that their high priest was alive.

Do you remember before Jesus went away, He said to His disciples – I want you to go to Jerusalem and tarry there until I send the promise of the Father? And they went and they were daily in the Temple praising and glorifying God. And when the Day of Pentecost had come they were altogether with one accord in one place and there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind and it filled all the place where they were sitting and cloven tongues as of fire sat on each of them and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. What happened? They heard the bells of the High Priest acceptable offering in the Presence of God."

Baxter then goes on to speak of the assurance that the baptism of the Holy Spirit brings:

"I believe that one of the reasons that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and indeed the whole matter of the Holy Spirit has been so bitterly fought and contested even by people who should know better is because the Holy Spirit is the communication of God to men concerning the work of Jesus Christ in God’s Presence[1]. And when God baptises you with the Holy Ghost you’ve received a bell-like communication from the Holy of Holies that Jesus Christ our great High Priest has accomplished His high priestly work of presenting His blood to the Father on our behalf.

And I don’t believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is some kind of fanatical peripheral experience for a few … freaks. I believe it is the normal experience of every child of God. Every child of God has the right to the evidence of the golden bells of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in his life to give him experiential knowledge in his own experience that Jesus Christ is alive and well in the Presence of god and that He accomplished the work that He went to do and He sent us back the high priestly message – “The blood has been accepted – the blood has been accepted[2]”.

And when I’m worshipping God in the Spirit and I’m speaking in an unknown tongue and I’m edifying myself and entering into the Person and work and ministry of the Holy Spirit for me personally I am not only celebrating that as a blessing but I’m celebrating that as a declaration of the great fact of Jesus Christ continuing work in the Presence of God for me on the basis of His precious blood that I have been accepted in Christ – I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption and the Holy Spirit is sounding in my heart the happy bell-like sounds that my redemption has been accomplished and that my high priest is doing His work and that I am accepted before the Father! And that’s what the Holy Spirit means to you as well as to me".

[1] Could this indeed be the primary reason for receiving the Holy Spirit in this sense? Dr Lloyd-Jones certainly would agree according to his sermons on Romans 8 and “Assurance”. He would call it the highest form of assurance one can receive. Thomas Goodwin, the great Puritan called it; “The next step before heaven”. Even the famous cessationist scholar Dr Richard B Gaffin said; “Not to experience the Spirit in a vital, transforming and thus powerful way is not to have the Spirit at all”. He said this in a conference in Seoul, South Korea to a Conference of Reformed Churches on the “Challenge of the Charismatic Movement to Reformed Churches”.
[2] Again ringing the bells.

No comments: