January 29, 2014

Acts 19:6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Acts 19 is another “proof text” for the Pentecostal/charismatic movement, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Problems arise when we try to make religious experiences formulaic, because human religion is not the same as a relationship with the living God. Those who have reacted most strongly against the idea of a “second blessing” have done so largely in anger at the suggestion that their own experience was in any way deficient. Human pride is a strange thing! Humility is required to receive through the laying on of hands, and we don’t like to admit that someone might have something that we don’t. The thing is, everyone has more that they could receive from God, and any believer is eligible as a conduit of that blessing. It’s not a matter of one person being above another, spiritually speaking, but of both being available to God for what He wants to do in equipping and empowering. Every believer should be hungry for more of God: more depth, more power, more intimacy. When that is our heart’s cry, we will be open to whatever God wants to give us, however He wants to do it.

In my own experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, there was no prayer meeting and no hands laid on me. I had been seeking to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but I had so identified that with speaking in tongues, because of the books I had read, that I was effectively seeking to speak in tongues rather than seeking the Person of the Holy Spirit. A friend pointed out to me that we receive everything from God by grace through faith, so I needed to ask, trust God to be faithful, and thank Him, whether I experienced any “manifestations” or not. I tried that, sitting on the edge of my bed that night, and felt nothing, but I thanked God anyway. Two days later I abruptly realized that for the first time in my life I was talking to a total stranger about Jesus. Acts 1:8 came to my mind, and I knew that God had been true to His Word. A couple of months after that, a Pentecostal friend was mystified that I was evidently filled with the Holy Spirit, but didn’t speak in tongues. I told him what I had experienced, and he suggested that I again ask God in faith for a “prayer language,” if that was part of His best for me, because my friend felt I was hung up on the terminology of “tongues.” I tried doing that after going to bed that night, and strange words started running through my mind. I thought, “Is this tongues? Nah,” and I went to sleep. The next evening I saw my Pentecostal friend again, he took a look at me and said, “Speak!” and I spoke in tongues out loud for the first time. The whole point is that God isn’t limited to formulas. As a pastor, it is my heart’s desire that every believer have a relationship of great intimacy with God by His Spirit, whatever that means. It is not going to be the same for any two believers, but there are going to be points in common. I need to pray that all obstacles, and most especially pride, be taken out of the way, so that we may all be more and more empty of self to be more and more filled with God, for His glory.

Father, I remember how my father modified the words to a little chorus: “I want More of Jesus.” The original says, “And He wants more of me,” but my father changed that to, “So I’ll give Him more of me.” That is my prayer, for myself and for the believers here. Help us give You all of ourselves, so that You may fill and transform us as You desire, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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