I remember a time when I used to scoff at those who were slain in the Spirit. Like the convinced skeptics on the Day of Pentecost, it gave me great pleasure to mock those who, in my experience, were speaking in an unknown tongue while eagerly waiting for a touch that would leave them reeling and rocking as if intoxicated. I also remember when I used to laugh at those ministers who, to me, resembled pompous, pedantic, self-righteous shepherds whose words seemingly were filled with fear and trepidation, as they uttered them while they simultaneously forcefully planted their hands upon accepting brows.
I also can remember a time when I, still firm in my convictions, especially while approaching a man of God who looked and behaved like the above-mentioned ministers, would not allow myself to be bullied into accepting the pushing and prodding others seemed to welcome so willingly. No way would I fall back and hit the floor. How funny and, more important, how uncivilized that was to me. So, unlike those who had gone before me, and those who would go after me, I refused to let some sweaty, boisterous, blustering person beat against my forehead, push me down flat on my back, and knock me into an unconscious state, as a result of my head connecting with the floor. Likewise, I also vowed not to let this man lull me into some kind of trance of sorts from his hypnotic vocal persuasion.
I also can remember, from my pre-enlightened days, how some individuals who, while allegedly under the Holy Spirit’s influence, often would mutter some unintelligible sounds. Back then, these speakers seemed to be doing a very bad job at conversing in Spanish, or French, or Japanese, or some God-awful language. As I look back, I now find that my prior ignorance of God in the person of the Holy Spirit, and how He manifests Himself, astounds me. For the Word of God always has reflected that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given for every person to take advantage of by using the Holy Spirit’s gifts for both collective and individual edification (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7). So, why did I see consenting to be baptized in the Holy Spirit like giving permission for an alien invasion?
Back then, little did I know about God’s Spirit being diverse, having many spiritual gifts, including those involving being slain in the Spirit and the infamous speaking in the tongues. Likewise, I did not know that many of these spiritual gifts also function as different ministries, producing myriad effects, and that both the ministries and the effects are co-joined so that they work through the one, same Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:6-11).
Before I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I could not understand that speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, and being slain in the Spirit, as crazy as they looked and seemed to me back then, were spiritual gifts that were just the tip of the iceberg. So, needless to say, where the gifts of the Holy Spirit were concerned, the only edification that I accepted back then was an understanding that some people have excesses that they need to curb.
My much later charismatic, Full-Gospel indoctrination, which taught me better how to worship and fellowship with God, and with my brothers and sisters in Christ, also taught me a thing or two about excessiveness. What I learned is that any person who wished to become submerged in the Holy Spirit ultimately would experience an immeasurable degree of God’s power, as demonstrated by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, infilling, and anointing. What I also learned is that since being spiritually anointed with the Holy Spirit is conferred upon Christians by God (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:21), then this anointing expresses the sanctifying powerful influences of the Holy Spirit upon Christians who are now priests and kings in the Kingdom of God.
Additionally, I learned that being Holy Spirit filled with God’s dunamis power would cause some phenomenal excessiveness that should not be curbed, because believers are not supposed to quench the Holy Spirit. Indeed, once believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit, His supernatural manifestations will far exceed those excesses I had believed some people needed to curb. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t say here that there is no way that the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power could be understood or received, if someone has even a modicum of unbelief!
My mind often goes back to the day when I woke up filled with much unbelief and disbelief. I was very troubled by many situations in my life, yet insatiably hungry for the promised new thing that God was supposed to do in my life. Throughout the morning on this day, I repeatedly compared myself to the father of the epileptic son, for I frequently found myself crying out to God: “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.”
It was later on this day, sometime in early evening, that God set me up so He could take me up higher in the Spirit. I remember sensing that I would be receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, so just before my friend came to take me to a meeting in which there were only Holy Spirit filled, tongues speaking, laying hands on, prophesying women, I silently prayed: “If becoming Holy Spirit filled means I’ll be speaking in tongues, then, please God, give me a full-blown language and not just a few syllables or a few words that I hear so many people repeating.” A few hours later, I was on the floor, lying flat on my back, slain in the Spirit, and talking to God in my native tongue of English, when one of the Lord’s prophetesses stood over me and said: “God said to speak in your heavenly language.” My full-blown tongues immediately flowed out of me, and I have been speaking in tongues ever since.
How then could I ever have thought that God’s ways were so comical and unbelievably beneath my intellectual capacity? How could I ever have limited God to what I believed were His ways of expressing Himself, ways that were minus people sheepishly being slain in the Spirit and/or foolishly uttering meaningless sounds? How could I ever have thought that God could not work the same way in twentieth (and today’s twenty-first) century believers as He did during the Apostles’ day?
The old adage about ignorance being bliss is not absolutely true, and, as such, was not a credible excuse in my case. Whereas I once did believe wholeheartedly in this expression, I now, on a spiritual footing, have to disagree with those people who believe “ignorance is bliss” is a “wise” saying. Why? Well, first, let me say that even back then, I knew that it is written in the Bible that God’s people are cut off (they perish) because they have a lack of Godly knowledge and wisdom. I knew that because the Israelites rejected God’s wisdom and knowledge, and because they forgot His Law, that God in turn rejected them and forget their children (Hosea 4:6). Thus, not knowing who God is, not knowing His covenanted promises that He has made with His people, not knowing how He operates in His people’s lives, and not knowing how He expects His people to operate in this world, according to His Word, is ignorance that does not promote happiness.
Secondly, I knew that ignorance not only would destroy people, both physically and emotionally, but also it could destroy people spiritually, which, in turn, means that there could be an eternal separation from God. So, I knew that what people do not know about God could hinder their receipt of both His natural and spiritual promises and gifts, and that, ultimately, this lack of knowledge could impede their relationship with God; for sure, their ignorance could cost them their very lives!
It has been said that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. The moral that is in this saying is standing the test of time. Even believers who agree with this saying are motivated by this moral, which is: Seek that which you have been told is unattainable. However, isn’t it interesting to note, though, that the same fundamental truth, which operates in the aforementioned expression, also is operational in the spirit realm, but people would much rather go after that which the world says cannot be attained than opt to seek after that which God says they have, if they only believe.
The indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit are promised gifts for those sons and daughters who not only believe in the Holy Spirit but also who are willing to wait on Him (Luke 24:49). Moreover, being baptized in the Holy Spirit not only gives believers the fearless authority [exousia] of God (Luke 10:19a) but also the mighty power [dunamis] of God (Luke 10:19b; Acts 1:8). This authority and power enable believers both to subdue and to have dominion in this world (Genesis 1:27-28). Yet, for some reason, this kind of spirituality, regardless of the positive benefits of being able to put the devil in his place, not only is NOT sought after but also is a wasted Holy Spirit gift because, again, people are preferring to seek after the natural, physical world’s systems more than they are choosing to seek after the Holy Spirit’s mighty workings.
Thus, when people relinquish the spiritual side of their nature (character) to worldly understandings and acceptances (when they stop being Holy Spirit prompted, led and taught), this surrender becomes the primary reason why they definitely are wasting the gift of the Holy Spirit, for His power and influence would then be quenched (stifled), which I also had learned about but had misplaced my knowing with what I like to say was a temporary bout of selective amnesia. Nevertheless, the end result of wasting the gift of the Holy Spirit is that people, myself included, lose the effectiveness and fullness of God’s promises and gifts, which always have been yes and amen to those who believe (2 Corinthians 1:20). And, even more important, sometimes people lose their spiritual existences, as well as their physical lives, without being given the opportunity to re-adjust and re-focus on God’s promises and gifts.
Even though what always has belonged to God’s children and always has been theirs to obtain in the Spirit, I’m referring now to the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, the devil has perverted. Today, the devil’s perversions have been accepted as those things which are “true.” As a result, his alleged truths, which are really lies, have become fortified in the minds and hearts of skeptics, manifesting themselves as rejections of the Holy Spirit and His spiritual gifts, because the Holy Spirit and His gifts are viewed by the masses as being not only unattainable but also undesirable.
Throughout history, even to this day, there have been those who have claimed Christ as their personal Savior, but they have not entered into God’s promised perfect rest (total reliance upon God, His Will, His Patience, His Peace, His Joy, His Love, His Gifts, and His Promises) primarily because they didn’t combine God’s Word with faith (cf. Hebrews 4:1-11). Consequently, believers’ inability to know who God is and their inability to trust in all of His promises and gifts have developed from their inability to choose to exercise their faith by believing fully in their God who will do a new thing in their lives. Because of their unbelief (void of faith), their human spirits and their souls have become closed to what God says to do, which is to trust in Him and in His power and in His might. Failure to trust (have faith in the new relationship with God) will make both God’s promises and their faith useless or meaningless. . .to no effect (cf. Romans 4:13-14), i.e., NO REST!
Fortunately, there will come a time when, like with me, every man, woman, boy, and girl will have to confess that he or she also remembers a time when he or she forsook the totality of the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Everyone will then recall a time when, like me, he or she referred to the actions of Spirit-filled believers as stupid, unnecessary, and unrealistic. Also, there will come a time when, like me, everyone will remember how he or she refused to accept the whole truth, which is that God wants ALL of His children to believe and trust in ALL of His ways of manifesting His promises and gifts.
Moreover, just like I did, people will remember when they looked with unbelief and distrust on those who appeared to be in some sort of a trance, when really these seemingly unconscious individuals merely were slain in the Spirit. Unbelievers, like I was, also will remember having a suspicious, dubious attitude toward so-called babblers of unintelligible speech, professors of healing and prophetic gifts, discerners of diverse spirits, workers of miracles, professors of faith, interpreters of tongues, and spreaders of the Word of knowledge and wisdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10), each, by the way, is a Holy Spirit-filled gift.
However, for some of those once scoffers, ridiculers, refusers, and unbelievers who have become confessors, it might be too late to rectify their folly. They might not have any time life in this life to be given another opportunity to live in the fullness of God’s rest, promises, and gifts, which include being Holy Spirit filled and ALL that this “being filled” entails.
Once again, it is written that He made known to true believers the mystery of His Will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:9). But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why I procrastinated and fought against what God wanted me to know about Him and to receive from Him. The thought of how long it took me to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit often saddens me, yet I am joyful and blessed that God gave me another chance to learn these mysteries about Him, and another chance to receive His power and authority. Now, I live to help others avoid living the same lackadaisical, unfulfilled existence I experienced before receiving the initial Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Those who, for whatever reasons, refuse to accept the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, refusing, as well, to covet the gifts of the Holy Spirit, are analogous to the Israelites in the story of the twelve spies sent to Canaan, in the following respect. Even though God had promised this lavishly rich land to His people, promising them as well that NO nation could defeat them as long as they kept His Word and trusted and believed in His promises, instead of choosing the good report from the two spies, they chose to accept the evil report from the ten spies. Thus, by accepting the evil report, the Israelites (like present-day scoffers, ridiculers, refusers, and unbelievers), by default, rejected the report of the Lord, which in the Israelites’ case, was given by two true believers, Joshua and Caleb (Numbers chapters 13 and 14).
Furthermore, those who provoked God with their unbelief and distrust, both in Him and in His ways, did not enter in to the fullness of God’s promises. They were cut off (they perished) in the wilderness. Similarly, rejecting who God is by rejecting the gift of the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a willful avoidance and/or denial of the truth about God’s promises and His gifts (not only in respect to the Israelites but also in regards to today’s scoffers, ridiculers, refusers, and unbelievers). If God’s truths and promised gifts are avoided and/or denied for too long, or too often, the end result, for many, could be eternal destruction.
Knowing what I know now, I am able to enjoy the mysteries involved with being Holy Spirit filled. I am positive that God takes great pleasure in revealing Himself to me, and I take great pleasure in receiving His truths. For me, the knowledge of the totality of the Godhead, especially the mighty workings of His Holy Spirit, make all the difference in my relationship with God. Yielding myself to the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit is God’s Will that has become a way of life for me. My choice is not to have it any other way. So, in all things, I will choose the report of the Lord.