My favourite song of the moment is a beautiful song recently written by Lex Loizides and the chorus goes;
"This is for me - this blood of Christ - washing all my stains, breaking all my chains;
This is for me - this death He died, taking all my sins and giving me a chance to live again".
Christian's aren't traditionally very good at what they see as "selfishness" in the Christian life. But there is a massive element of the good things God has for us that we will and do miss out as legalistic Christians if we cling to pious "humility" and not enjoy all He has for us. I've been thinking and writing a lot about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Charismatic Movement these last few posts - this was sparked by Stanley Jebb's recent blog (who again has written a post on cessationism not arguing from Scripture but from bad examples of excess).
My concern is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit has so become masked in debate that we have forgotten the pleasures that God has for us in this empowerment from on high. I want to quote some passages from church history (taken from Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones; "Joy Unspeakable") that reflect what happens to people in this encounter with God. Stanley Jebb cites excess as a reason as to why the genuine can't exist. Here are accounts of the genuine. Dr Lloyd-Jones explains why quoting from the past is of use;
"I want to show you that this is something which has been taught and recognised in the Christian church throughout the centuries and by men belonging to various and varied theological schools. This is what to me is so interesting and glorious about all of this. That it cuts right across the various theological distinctions such as Arminianism and Calvinism and so on".
Dr Ll0yd-Jones first quotes John Owen;
"When He so sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts and so fills them with gladness by an immediate act and operation ... then doth the soul even from hence raise itself to a consideration of the love of God ... filling it (the soul) with gladness, exultations and sometimes with unspeakable raptures of the mind".
He then quotes Thomas Goodwin;
"There is a light that cometh and overpowereth a man's soul and assureth him that God is his and he is God's and that God loveth him from everlasting ... it is a light beyond the light of ordinary faith".
He then quotes another Puritan - John Flavel;
"His thoughts (speaking of himself) began to swell and rise higher and higher till at last they became an overwhelming flood. Such the ravishing tastes of heavenly joys, and such the full assurance of his interest therein that he utterly lost all sight and sense of the world ... still the joy of the Lord overflowed him and he seemed to be an inhabitant of the other world, he many years after called that day one of the days of heaven".
There was a wonderful song sang at Stoneleigh Bible Week during the Toronto blessing years called; "Days of heaven". I never really understood it but I think reading this I do. The sealing or baptism of the Spirit is a foretaste of heaven - so much so that it is as if heaven has come to earth!
And finally Dr Ll0yd-Jones quoted from one of my heroes - Jonathan Edwards;
"As I rode out into the woods ... I had a view that was for me extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God ... which continued as near as I can judge about an hour; such as to keep me in a greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be full of Christ alone, to love Him with a holy and pure love, to trust in Him, to live upon Him".
Charles Simeon states; "To many, alas the sealing of the Spirit (or baptism of the Spirit) is mere foolishness but those who account it so speak evil of things they do not understand. Let us seek to experience it ourselves instead of censuring those who do".
I think that is suitably wise advice and a rebuke to those who seem to perpetuate a ministry of being "against everything". Yes there is error and yes there is excess. Yes people make mistakes and yes people fail. But that DOES NOT and CANNOT excuse abandoning and ignoring the very good gifts of God. They are real and they are genuine and free by grace. When was the last time you or I really enjoyed God? If you have to think then it's been a while and too long - particularly when it is His will and good pleasure to bless DAILY!