Dr Platypus, Darrell Pursiful, linked to my last post on speaking in tongues and also gave a link to an older post of his, Filled with the Spirit. That post gives, it seems to me, some very sensible teaching on what baptism and filling with the Holy Spirit really means. But I am not entirely convinced by the distinction he tries to make between pleroo and pimplemi.
Darrell brings up the old chestnut that encouraging the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit, especially speaking in tongues, is in fact encouraging emotionalism. But those of us who have experienced these gifts in our own lives know very well that they are not just matters of emotionalism. Yes, human emotions are affected by the touch of the Holy Spirit, often leading to releases of tears or laughter, and to joyful praise and worship. For some people the Holy Spirit brings release from years of oppression and suppression of emotions, and healing from depression. When the pressure is released the emotions bubble over, like the froth from a newly opened champagne bottle. But in the bottle there is not just froth, there is the beautiful new wine of God’s presence, which is clearly felt and known by those whom the Holy Spirit touches.
Anyway, what Darrell says is true of most churches in western countries, except for some extreme Pentecostal and charismatic ones:
Some will wonder about the danger of emotionalism if such experiences are encouraged. To that I would say that there are no doubt many spiritual dangers facing the churches of which I have been a part for the past forty-some years, but unrestrained emotionalism has rarely been one of them! Rather, the danger for most of us in our relationship with God is not emotionalism but the lack of emotion. Every loving relationship involves emotions. There must be more than emotion—things like friendship, communication, honesty, trust, and so forth—but if I never showed emotion toward the people I love, something would be missing.
Meanwhile there is an amazing revival going on in Lakeland, Florida, led by Todd Bentley. Apparently there have been meetings there every night for more than a month, with wonderful miracles happening. This has been showing on God TV (late every evening here in the UK), and also as live streaming from this site, with (rather poor quality) recordings of previous meetings available at all times. Christian leaders from all over the world are flying to Florida to catch the fire from this revival. I have just been watching some of this – the evening meeting from 5th May, starting after the “worship” about 90 minutes into the four hour broadcast and listening for about 40 minutes.
Now Todd Bentley, a tattooed former drug dealer from Canada, is not everyone’s style. He is certainly very different from the other preachers from British Columbia I have mentioned here recently. His preaching is not classic expository preaching, and I’m sure he makes no claim that it is. He is quite deliberately appealing to his congregation’s emotions rather than to their intellects. Not everyone likes this, I know. I have seen some really rather ridiculous criticism of what is going on in Lakeland. But it should be clear from watching it that people are being touched by the power of the Holy Spirit and their lives are being changed. I believe this is God’s work. If others are not convinced, they should at least follow Gamaliel’s principle in Acts 5:38,39, and remember what happened to those who opposed Moses.
Google found for me an excellent post on the subject by John Allister, who quotes Greg Haslam quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Here is part of John’s post:
But just because we have the Holy Spirit, that does not mean that we have the fullness of experience of the Holy Spirit.
And if someone asks “Surely we got it all automatically when we believed?” Dr Lloyd-Jones replied “If you have got it all, why are you so unlike the New Testament Christians? Got it all? Got it all at your conversion? Well, where is it, I ask?”
Filled with the Holy Spirit by Greg Haslam in Preach the Word