Holy Spirit Baptism, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 25, 2020 0 comments

by Steve Risner

We began to talk about the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a normal part of the Christian experience last week. We discussed a little about the difference between the indwelling Spirit and the baptism in the Spirt, and that the baptism in the Spirit is separate from and subsequent to salvation. We referenced several passages of Scripture concerning the baptism in the Spirit and ended with an explanation for what the spiritual gifts are based on from Scripture. Let’s look at several more writings, as some suggest the Pentecostal movement is a recent thing. We’ll look at Church history and several things spoken of by early Church fathers and some pretty well-known Christians throughout history.

It seems in America that the baptism in the Spirit of God, commonly referred to as Pentecostalism, is a rarity these days. It seemed to be the normal Christian experience in the New Testament. Last week, we looked at why the only passage of Scripture I am aware of that is used to suggest the gifts of the Spirit have ceased actually has literally nothing at all to do with their claims. So, what happened? Why does it seem like these gifts aren’t in operation today? They are and very much so! The baptism in the Holy Spirit never stopped being a major part of believers’ lives. It’s less here in the States, but the Church in America is not a great example. There have been reports of prophecies, speaking in tongues, etc. throughout Church history. It’s not a new thing and was the normal experience for believers for a very long time. Let’s check that out.

In AD 150 Irenaeus said, “In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God.” He further said, “For some do certainly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe in Christ, and join themselves to the church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them and they are made whole. Yea, moreover as I have said, the dead have been raised up, and remain among us for many years." He also said, “For by these means we too have seen many persons freed from grievous calamities and from distractions of mind and madness and countless other ills, which could be cured neither by men or devils.”

It seems like in AD 150 the spiritual gifts were alive and well.

In about AD 250 Origen said, “They expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events ... the Name of Jesus ... can take away diseases.” Praise God this is still true! It sounds like the gifts of the Spirit were still operating in AD 250.

Clement of Rome, who died at the end of the first century AD said, “…men who have received the gift of healing confidently, to the glory of God.” This man, who may have known the Apostles personally, spoke of people operating in the spiritual gifts as they did in the New Testament.

In the 4th century, St Augustine said, “We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them in the laying-on of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues." This seems like the baptism in the Holy Spirit was the normal Christian experience and it was even expected. Some may argue that Augustine made it quite clear that he did not believe in the miraculous in his writings. This is true for the younger Augustine. However, later in his life, due to some personal experiences he had witnessing the gifts of the Spirit in action, he was convinced of the authenticity and need for the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts that accompany it.

The father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, wrote specific instructions, based on the writings of James the Apostle, on how to heal a man of some form of illness which he had witnessed in a friend’s life not long before. He had seen a friend operate in the gift of healing in this manner.

In the Greek Orthodox Church (the Eastern Church) we find speaking in tongues in monasteries all throughout the Middle Ages.

In the first half of the 16th century, St. Francis Xavier and St. Louis Bertrand reportedly spoke in foreign languages they didn’t know in order to minister to different cultures. There are numerus examples of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues in various parts of the globe (France, England, India, Russia, etc.) in just about every century since the 16th century.

The modern Pentecostal movement began in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901. This revival eventually spread to the Azusa Street outpouring that is more commonly known. In the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, as many as 1500 people from around the world would pack into a 40’ x 60’ barn to be part of the services. These services saw such a huge calling on missionaries and pastors that within 2 years, the movement had spread to some 50 nations! In the rest of the world outside of America, 1 in 4 Christians is Pentecostal. That translates into 1 in 12 people in the world being a Pentecostal Christian. I say this just to stress the fact that it’s not a weird offshoot or sect. It’s the norm around the world and this is one reason why other nations are sending missionaries to the U.S.!

From these examples, which are a sample, we see that from the first Pentecost in AD 33 throughout history, with the Apostles’ and the early Church fathers’ writings, up through the Middle Ages, and even into our modern times that the moving of the Spirit, the baptism in the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit are real and alive today. The Apostle Peter said it was for all believers, and that includes you and me! Jesus wants to empower you to be His witness. It’s the normal Christian experience and has been for nearly 2000 years. Be His witness.

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