Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Seminar 1 on Holy Spirit - Terry Virgo at TOAM 07!

This was the second year that Newfrontiers have run the "Training Track" form of seminars that run from 09:15 to 10:45 on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The concept is that rather than attending different seminars each day, the delegate has the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject of their choice. My friends Pete, Malcolm and myself all decided to go for the Training Track; "The Holy Spirit and Church". Scott went to the "Understanding Islam" track and Nicky went to "Prophecy". It was excellent because we all met up in the main sessions and were able to share what God had spoken to each of us.

Training Track 1 for our stream was Terry Virgo on the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". I must admit this was one of the main prompts for me choosing this particular stream. As regular followers of this blog and the "Spirit of God!" blog will know - the issue of the Baptism of the Spirit is one that is important to me because I have seen it battled over again and again - and I have also seen it downgraded again and again with a subsequent loss of charismatic life.

I am not going to present my notes in full for two reasons. The first and most important is that my notebook with all my sermon notes from Brighton was stolen from my bag today while I was out today shopping along with some other valuables. Let us hope they cause the thief to be saved! But the other is that Andrew Fountain has written up an excellent summary on his blog - go visit it. What I do want to do is to bring together a number of resources that really emphasise the importance of not forgetting this doctrine.

  • Much of the material Terry Virgo presented in the seminar, he brought to the Stoneleigh Bible Week 1999 - the transcript of which is here.

  • My US friend and theologian Jesse Phillips has made available his thesis from his hard work at the SGM Pastor's College. It is entitled; "Subsequence; a biblical-theological defence of Pentecostal pneumatology" and in my view a landmark study.

  • Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached a monumental series of sermons at Westminster Chapel which are now in the volume "Joy Unspeakable". The key sermon in this series dealing with the question of "When" the baptism of the Spirit occurs is here. Dr Lloyd-Jones presented five proofs as to why the baptism of the Spirit must be subsequent to conversion and regeneration. 1. The Old Testament saints. He said that they are as much children of God as you and I yet they had not been universally baptised in the Spirit. 2. The Apostles Themselves. Dr Lloyd-Jones argued that it must be clear that they were born again prior to Pentecost. 3. The Apostle Paul. He points out that Ananias did not instruct Paul on the way of salvation but simply laid hands on him to receive the Spirit and be healed. 4. Apollos and Cornelius. Dr Lloyd-Jones accepted that the baptism of the Spirit can and should occur virtually simultaneously with conversion. The Holy Spirit is sovereign. 5. Ephesians 1:13. The believing is the first step in the process but being baptised in the Spirit is something that of necessity does not occur at the same time.

Dr Lloyd-Jones conclusion;

"The Scriptures that I have adduced to you show quite clearly that to say, as so many have said and are still saying, that every man at regeneration is of necessity baptised with the Holy Spirit, is simply to fly in the face of this plain, explicit teaching of the Holy Scriptures".

The main reason I appreciate Terry Virgo's seminar was the explicit linking of the baptism of the Spirit with the releasing of new converts in our churches. We are not defending this doctrine simply because of orthodoxy's sake! We are defending it because firstly we see it clearly in the Word of God. Terry took time to go through each of the classic positions held on this;

1. The Evangelical view: You have it when you become a Christian
You gradually mature into the fullness of the Spirit
Usually held by cessationists

2. Second Blessing: Surrendering, Lordship, often associated with Keswick.
Often the idea of emptying so he can fill it
Lay it all down and he will fill you
Similar to old Wesleyan teaching on the coming of the Spirit
There is a passion for a coming of the Spirit to cleanse, burn out all sin and sanctify
William Boothe said “You must get the fire”

3. Pentecostal teaching: Acts 2—you wait
They would have tarrying meetings

4. A Release of the Spirit (John Wimber)
It is like a time bomb. You have it essentially at conversion, but it manifests later.

But he then took the time to go through each one and demonstrate why they do or do not hold up to Scripture.

1. If you get everything at conversion, it makes Paul’s question to them a nonsense.
Nowhere in the Scriptures does it say you gradually get filled with the Spirit
God can sovereignly do what he likes, so it is quite possible for people.

2. The idea that it is a later blessing you need more maturity for does not fit with Cornelius or Paul.
Like saying “go and fight with all your might, and if you do well, next time you can have a gun!”

3. A strong emphasis on tarrying until you speak with tongues
This was dynamic at the start of the movement, but later people could go to tarrying meetings for years.

4. The idea of the “release of the Spirit” is not what we find in the Bible.
It wasn’t that they hadn’t yet released the Spirit.

My former pastor used to emphasise that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a "Gateway - not a Goal!". Dave Holden's second seminar that I will attempt to cover soon begins on the foundation that the majority of the congregation are baptised in the Holy Spirit. Once we begin to see that spiritual gifts being manifest in our churches is NOT optional, that the life of the Spirit must begin right - and that is as Dr Ern Baxter put it;

"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".

This seminar was a crucial part of the conference and demonstrated Terry Virgo's wonderful apostolic gift to impart the Holy Spirit.

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