Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where Pneumatology Gets Real ...

The three quotes that I posted on "Underlined Bits" from Gordon Fee's latest book (here, here and here) all centred around the concept of the Spirit within us crying out "Abba! Father!". It was Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones who made clear the explicit relationship between this crying out and the assurance of our salvation with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I've noticed that this sort of preaching has died down and the charismatic focus on the baptism of the Holy Spirit is more concerned with a "coming down of power". This of course is true and quite right.

But a recent event made me realise how important it is to revive a discussion concerning the link between the cry "Abba!" and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Ern Baxter saw the same relationship and said here;

"The Holy Spirit is much more than we have generally concluded. His coming was the result of Jesus' sacrifice before God. One of the reasons why the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the whole matter of the Holy Spirit has been so fiercely contested 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 the Presence of God.

When God baptises you in His Holy Spirit, you have received a bell-like communication that Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, has accomplished His great priestly work. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a peripheral experience for a few freaks. It is the very 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 to give him experimental evidence that the legal work of the Cross is real".

The recent event that made me re-consider this was the distressing news about hearing of a number of young people who seemed to have backslidden and walked away from the church they were involved in. I don't know if they have rejected the Lord, but something has driven them away from church.

It reminded me of an account that David Holden spoke of at "Together on a Mission 2006" last year. He was asked by a pastor for help with the young people in the pastor's church. Apparantly they were uncontrollable and many different gimmicks had been tried - such as pool tables, chill out lounges, bars etc (not that there is anything wrong with those things in themselves). Dave Holden turned to the pastor and said; "Well have you introduced them to the Holy Spirit?". The result of that story was that the pastor came back joyfully to Dave Holden saying that the young people were now deeply involved in church life and were at the front of the church worshipping passionately.

My heart aches for these young people who are disillusioned with the church. I know how they feel. What they don't need is legalistic, heavy-handed church leaders imposing ultimatums or throwing them out of church. What they need is to be introduced to the Holy Spirit! What they need is to be baptised in the Holy Spirit! What they need is to know the Spirit within them crying out "Abba! Father!". What they need is to know a heart-throb within them knowing that their great High Priest is standing before the Father interceding for them and communicating His love to them!

I would recommend Jesse P's marvellous post; "Leading children in the baptism in the Holy Spirit" and I will also be eager to hear what Terry Virgo has to say at the seminar I will be going to at Brighton in two weeks time on the subject; "Leading people into the baptism of the Holy Spirit". It is a message that I have no doubt I will be transcribing in full as soon as possible. But I think the challenge facing particularly those of Third Wave persuasion is something that Jesse wrote in his excellent paper on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

"The Third Wave position while not at all cessationist concerning the spiritual gifts ... has not shown itself to be quite as prolific as the traditional Pentecostal view in producing churches that are able to maintain a robust pneumatology and a distinctive charismatic experience over a long period of time".

Dr Lloyd-Jones would say; "Got it all? Got it all? Well if you have it all then where, in the Name of God, is it?". Let us hold our theological positions on this matter but if that theology isn't transmitting into life in our churches and changed lives among our people then something is wrong. Let us commit to seeing the baptism of the Holy Spirit - the sealing of the Spirit - the assurance of sonship come flooding into these young people's lives and set them on fire for God - ready to go to the ends of the earth to die for their Lord!

PS: On that note, I am quite excited to announce that Scott and I are starting up a new blog. It's called "On Eagles Wings" and it is exclusively about worship. I am very careful to note that I am not a worship leader or a musician nor am I a theologian - so if you want or expect something of that calibre then go elsewhere to Bob Kauflin or something. We are simply worshippers and we want to see the bar raised in our corporate settings of worship. We want, like Kathryn Kuhlman, to be able to turn and smile and say; "He's here - we can go now". The first few posts are clips of You-Tube that I have discovered and have been tremendously moved by. I don't quite know how it's going to progress over time but I hope to use it as a personal treasure trove of forms of media that move me and stir me to worship God.

You will notice on the side-bar that I have put the awesome amazing song "Draw Me Close to You". Remember that whole debate? Well I still love it - it's still my favourite song - and the setting was Stoneleigh Bible Week 1998 led by the awesome Kate Simmonds. Enjoy it as you read through the blog!


James B said...

Absolutely Excellent post. Yes - theology needs to get practical. I think that the Third Wave doctrine developed out of a fear of the excesses perceived in the charismatic movement so Wimber and others developed their "time bomb" theology where we "get it all" at conversion and then it is released experientially later - but as Jesse Phillips argues so well in his paper - that is doing an injustice to the book of Acts.

On the other hand as those who hold to subsequence we mustn't build our three tabernacles and rest secure and happy that we have "got it". Because for us personally there is more to get!! And there are other new converts who MUST receive their inheritance.

An important call.

Anonymous said...

The issue of backsliding is a difficult one. I think you are right to mention distinguishing between the two. Indeed there is a walk away from the Lord - an apostasising - but also a walk away from belief in and attendance at Church. Some theologians might question whether the one and the other are linked. I believe John Stott calls an unchurched Christian an "abomination" or something to that effect.

But I'm not so sure. I have encountered many genunine believers who love God with all their hearts and desire to attend a family of churchues where they will be welcomed, loved and protected - however experience has upset, hurt and weakened them. As you say - what they need is love care and support from church leaders. Not a harsh suspension of their membership.

But let us not forget that often the context is a great deal of counsel and support prior to this final step. Let us not be too harsh on these leaders!!

A good thought-provoking post. The gauntlet has been laid down again! Very well Third Wavers - if the BHS occurs at conversion then are you praying for your young people to be gloriously filled with the Spirit of God in power? If not - why not?

Dr S A J B.