THERE’S MORE-GOING DEEPER WITH GOD
TABLE of CONTENTS
CALLED on the CARPET
TWO LITTLE BOOKS
OUT of DARKNESS and into the LIGHT
A TRIP BACK into DARKNESS
THE PRODICAL SON RETURN to the FATHER
HUNGRY and THIRSTY for MORE
A DAY to REMEMBER
THE FIRE FALLS at HOME
THE FIRE SPREADS
THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM that BELIEVE
AS the EAGLE STIRS her NESTt
A LIFE CHANGING DEACON’S MEETING
THEERE’S a MIRACLE in YOUR MOUTH
THEY SHALL CAST OUT DEMONS
THE VALUE of SPEAKING in TONGUES
SOME HONEST QUESTIONS & HONEST ANSWERS
H0W to RECEIVE the BAPTISM in the HOLY SPIRIT
OPEN UP…THERE’S MORE
The events that I have shared from my life in the following pages took place over thirty years ago. At that time, I wrote them down, planning to put them in book form and have them published, but somehow I felt led to wait.
Now that I am seventy four years old, I felt this would be a good time to put these writings together in order and say some things about them that I hope will help and inspire and encourage all who read these pages.
Some of the things, I should say most of, if not all these things would be seen by my brothers and sisters in Christ to be somewhat controversial, but I have found that almost all the major teachings from the Bible would wind up in that same category... controversial! There never was a more controversial figure in all of history than Jesus of Nazareth. All the major Christian leaders of history, beginning with Peter and Paul, were also labeled “controversial.”
We do not seek controversy, far from it. But we do realize that it is impossible to please all men and please God at the same time. I am confident that what I have written will displease some, but I am also confident that the majority of my readers will be blessed, enlightened, helped, encouraged, inspired, directed, refreshed, restored, revived and edified by reading my story.
In writing my story I have been specific to say that my first connection with the Body of Christ was as a member of a Baptist church. I still identify with my Baptist brothers and sisters, for I seek to identify with the entire Body of Christ. We may not see all things alike when it comes to our understanding of the Bible, but we are brothers and sisters in Christ, for we are all born of the same Father. Everywhere I go I teach people to repeat with me a Declaration of Unity. Read it out loud with me!
“I belong to everything that belongs to Jesus and everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to me.”
Since the primary message of this book is dealing with the experience called the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit I need to explain that the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to magnify and glorify Jesus Christ. The person who is filled with the Holy Spirit will definitely be one in whose life Jesus is preeminent. If the goal and delight of my life is not to exalt and magnify Jesus, I am not filled with the Holy Spirit.
There is no need to make a distinction between receiving and moving in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and receiving and moving in the constant power and presence of Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who reminded his followers NOT to go into all of
CALLED on the CARPET
“Pastor Bob, the deacons would like to meet with you at three this afternoon. We need to talk before the evening service. Can you meet with us at that time?"
"I’ll plan to be here at three, Sam!"
I was pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Home Gardens, California and I had just delivered a highly controversial teaching from the pulpit at the regular Sunday morning service. I had been pastor there for about a year and an active member for more than eight years, so I knew everyone in the congregation well and they all knew me. For that reason, I felt I could share my heart with them, even issues on which we might not all agree.
For several weeks I had been looking forward to sharing the message I had just preached, and finally, after meeting with my deacons on the previous Wednesday night, they had, with some reluctance, granted their approval for me to share with all our people what I had just preached from the pulpit.
But Sam had not attended that Wednesday night deacon's meeting, so the things he had just heard sounded too much like heresy to him. So he proceeded to call a deacon's meeting to inquire further into this "new doctrine.” Sam and I were actually very close friends, but I could tell by the sound of his voice that everything was to be very official at the meeting that afternoon.
My wife, Joni, and I rounded up our five kids, put them in the car and drove home for lunch. I was not hungry! The tension and uncertainty about that deacon’s meeting was all I could think about. I sat around the house and walked around outside, then decided to walk down to the church early and pray. As I walked the half mile from our house back to the church, the Lord encouraged me to hold fast to what I had preached in the morning service and not give in to the pressure to compromise my beliefs for the sake of unity or to save my own position as pastor of the church. He said he would stand with me and the outcome would be good for everyone. My faith was rising and I was excited!
I reached the small white frame building on Blair Street before anyone else arrived. I had always admired the quaint beauty of this little church building. It was actually a house that had been remodeled to serve as a church by putting a steeple on the front of the roof and making a few changes on the interior. It had always been kept tidy, clean and well painted. In the eight years that I had been there I had served as worship leader, teacher, assistant to the pastor, interim pastor, and finally as pastor.
The echo of my footsteps across the wooden floors of the entrance filled the quietness of the small sanctuary as I made my way to one of the soft, cushioned pews and sat down. I was alone with some time to think before
My whole family was going through some radical changes which were becoming obvious to some of the people of the church. For weeks I had known that I would eventually have to explain to them what it was that was causing such a stir in my family and in the lives of several other members of the church, and now that I had taken the leap and poured out my heart, I was being called before the leaders of the church to answer for what I had said. As I sat waiting for the others to arrive, I began to go over in my mind some of the events that had led up to this deacons’ meeting.
TWO LITTLE BOOKS
It all began with two little books. One was loaned to Joni, and the other was given to me at about the same time. Joni had just returned from a few days of rest on the beach with a close friend, Wanda Pettit. She called and asked me to pick her up at the Pettit's house and the first thing she said when she got in the car was, "You've got to read this book! It's like reading the book of Acts! How can people say that miracles don't happen today? Why don't these things happen in our churches?" I was surprised to see Joni so excited about a book.
"Where did you get the book?" I asked.
"From Vicki Amaon."
"Vicki Amaon?” I couldn’t believe it! Vicki and Gary Amaon were members of our church but didn't attend very often. When they did come it seemed to be more out of religious duty. I often wondered how many of us were attending church out of duty rather than out of a desire to attend. We all seemed to be deficient in the joy and enthusiasm that was so evident in the lives of believers in the book of Acts. But Vicki was different. She was so passive and disinterested that by comparison, the rest of us looked pretty much alive!
When she did attend services she would sit on the back row looking rather bored. She was polite and friendly, but it was obvious that her relationship with Jesus really needed a boost! It was painful to me as her pastor that there was too little life and power in the rest of us to help her escape her spiritual doldrums.
Suddenly there was an explosion of love, joy and power in Vicki. She talked about Jesus constantly. She had a mysterious glow and a magnetism about her that was vibrant and attractive. Suddenly she was no longer a spectator. She not only became faithful in her attendance at the Sunday services, but would also drive for miles to attend weeknight Bible studies and prayer meetings here, there and everywhere. She became active in witnessing to the unsaved as well as encouraging Christians by giving them books and articles that had helped her. In her zeal she had given Joni a copy of LIKE A MIGHTY WIND by Mel Tari, an account of some of the miracles that attended the revival in Indonesia in the late sixties and early seventies.
Joni's excitement about the book was contagious. I had just been preaching a series of messages on the need for supernatural power in our churches and in our lives. The Lord was working in Joni's life and in my life at the same time and about the same thing... miracles. Not a big thing, perhaps, for some Christians, but for a Fundamental Baptist pastor of a fundamental Baptist church, it stood before me like Mount Everest.
A transformation was also taking shape in my seventeen year old son, Bob Jr., and in the providence of God he would become a dynamic catalyst to spread the fire that God was now beginning to kindle in our midst, not only in our family and church, but also on his high school campus and beyond,
One day as I was taking him to work at the local McDonald's where he was assistant manager, he said,
I kept my eyes on the road ahead of me as I pondered the question further before giving my answer.
"Dad, whatever this girl has I don't have, and I don't think anybody in our church has."
I pulled the car into one of the parking spaces at McDonald's and we both sat quietly for a moment. "Bobby, just be careful and don't get involved in some kind of wild fanaticism or emotionalism." He waved as he closed the car door assuring me that I had nothing to worry about.
Bobby had never given us any problems as a teenager, but his walk with the Lord was pretty mediocre; at least it was before he met this “Dynamite Jesus Girl” at McDonalds.
Joni and I both had recently been concerned that he might even become a dropout from the church altogether unless he had some kind of spiritual breakthrough. He and I were having some problems just communicating with each other. We both seemed to feel awkward and ill at ease in our new role of relating to each other as two adults.
Joni and I had been blessed with five children and I had total liberty in all my dealings with them in their childhood, but Bobby was our first born and was now seventeen years old, so it was different with him now. I had longed for and prayed for a stronger relationship with Bobby that would include heart to heart talks like a father should have with his teenage son. So I felt good that Bobby was now reaching out to me about this girl who had made such a deep impression on him concerning his need for a stronger touch from God upon his life.
Now that he was showing a genuine hunger for spiritual things, I was not going to do or say anything that would discourage him. Something about this girl was making him hungry and thirsty for God and for the things of God, and I felt the Lord give me a gentle caution to keep my hands off the situation and let the Holy Spirit work. I was hopeful that God was answering my prayer for spiritual renewal for my son, and He was, but I was not prepared for the change that he was to experience in his life within the coming weeks and months. Nor did I anticipate the spiritual bomb that was about to explode in my own life!
As I drove back home from McDonald's I was deep in thought. What was God doing in my life? I felt a tremendous sense of expectation rising in me as I reflected on the events of the past few weeks.
First, Joni suddenly got all excited about a ministry of miracles, signs and wonders; then Bob met this girl at McDonalds whose testimony about the baptism in the Holy Spirit has definitely shaken him up!
Then there was the little book that Chuck and Yvonne Green had given me a few weeks before that I had just started reading, which had me completely absorbed. Chuck and Yvonne had been attending one of my Bible studies and one day he handed me a paperback entitled, "FACE UP WITH A MIRACLE" by
"This book will be a real blessing to you, Bob!"
"Thanks, Chuck! What's it about?"
"Oh, it's about a man who had an experience with God that opened him up to the realm of the supernatural. He has a tremendous testimony!"
I thanked him and started thumbing through it. In two or three minutes I could see that it was too Pentecostal for me. I was a Baptist; all my friends were Baptists; I was pastor of a Baptist church and I could not afford to get involved in controversies about such things as divine healing and speaking in tongues! I had already had an unpleasant experience concerning the Pentecostal question a few years before as a student at Howard Payne College in Brownwood, Texas. I just didn't want to go through that again, though in my heart I had often longed for more of God's power and secretly felt that the Pentecostal brethren had some truths that would help me if I were open to receive what they had to say. But at this point in my life, I was not open to that at all. I kept the book, but when I got home I put it in my bookshelf not expecting ever to open it again.
I was wrong. When God wants to get our attention He has ways and means. At our regular Wednesday night prayer meetings I had just started a series of teachings on demonology. As my primary resource material I was using a book by Merril F. Unger entitled,
Tom Hicks, one of my faithful members brought me a Guidepost Magazine with an article on deliverance. I had been careful in the selection of resource material that I used in my weekly teaching sessions on demonology. Merril F. Unger was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, a thoroughly evangelical and fundamental school, and was highly respected by Baptists in general.
The Guidepost article told about Don Basham who had the gift of d0iscerning of spirits and was able to cast out demons. As I read I was impressed with the fact that here was a man who was not just writing books about demons or teaching Bible classes on demons; he was in actual combat with demons! He had sought God and had received a gift to discern the presence of demons and the power to cast them out.
I finished the article and found myself admiring Don Basham, though I had never met him or even heard of him before... or had I? At first the name Don Basham didn't ring a bell. But a few days later as I was doing some work in my study, I leaned back in my swivel chair to rest and my eyes were directed up to the top of my bookshelf where I put books that I seldom used. My eyes fell on the name Don Basham! It was the same book that Chuck and Yvonne Green had given me several weeks before.
I grabbed the book and began to read. My whole attitude had changed. I was now willing to sift through any "Pentecostal" excess in order to find the secret of how Basham came into a ministry of getting people healed and released from demons. Now that I had gotten into the book, I had a feeling that it was going to have a strong influence on me for a long time to come.
As I rounded the corner on Blair Street on my way home from McDonald's, I decided not to go right home but to go by the church and spend some time reading more in Basham’s book before I went home for supper. Joni wouldn't be expecting me this early anyhow and I was eager to get back to the book.
All was quiet and deserted at the church. I had no staff since our church was not large enough to afford any paid staff other than a pastor. I unlocked the front door and went straight to my study, sat down in my leather swivel chair, picked up the book and started reading.
It all seemed so contradictory. Only minutes before I had cautioned Bobby not to get too close to "those Pentecostals" and yet here I was drinking in the writings of a man who was telling the story of how he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, began praying for the sick and witnessing miracles of healing which led eventually to becoming involved in a ministry of releasing tormented people from demon powers. One of the things that kept me going with the book was that Don Basham could not be “pegged” as a "Pentecostal." He was a member of a mainline denominational church.
As I read, I was amazed at myself. I could hardly believe how hungry and open I was to receive what I was reading! I was devouring this man’s story like a starving man. I found myself identifying with him in his quest for
They say that a hungry heart will open a closed mind, and I was definitely hungry for more of the power of God in my life and in my ministry. As I read on, this hunger became almost overwhelming. The more I read of what God did in the life of Basham, the more I became convinced that I too had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit some years before, but simply had not been taught how to walk in the fullness of that anointing.
A tremendous desire had been building in me for some time, and Basham's book was simply a catalyst to fan into flames all that God had been building into my spirit over the years. It was not just a desire to see God's power that burned within me. It was a deeper desire to know Jesus, and to be like Him, as well as to do the things He did.
Suddenly I could go no further in the book. I felt I would explode if I didn't do something to respond to the call I felt coming to me so clearly to cast off all restraints and begin to move out into the realm of miracles, signs and wonders like the book of Acts church did.
So I laid the book aside, stood up and walked to the middle of my tiny office. I lifted my hands to God in an attitude of surrender and began to worship God. What happened to me in the next few minutes was totally unexpected, but it became the touchstone of a chain of events that would lead me to this urgent meeting with my deacons and a series of miracles too wonderful for me to imagine at the time.
OUT of DARKNESS into the LIGHT
The experience I had with God in my office that afternoon actually started many years before with a very disturbing question:
We were living in Chester, Arkansas, a small town of about two hundred people in the foothills of the Ozarks. I had never seen such beautiful country before, with springs, and forests, and mountains and rivers. I was living in paradise!
I was born in Sweetwater, Texas. Most of my childhood was spent in Roscoe, a small farming community eight miles west of Sweetwater. It was flat Texas table land, so Arkansas was a very exciting place to me as an eleven year old boy! I had become aware of God at a very early age, but since my parents did not attend church very often, the only teaching I had about God I gleaned by listening to an occasional religious conversation among the adults. My theology was very simple: God is good and the devil is evil; some people are good and some people are sinners; heaven is for good people and hell is for sinners. So if you want to go to heaven when you die, you have to change your ways and start living right and being good. Then when you die if your good deeds outnumber your bad deeds, you will go to heaven. But if your evil deeds outnumber your good deeds, you will go to hell and suffer forever and ever.
Having accepted this view of things very early in life, I began to try to overcome my sinful habits. Aside from the fear of God's wrath, and suffering in hell forever, something in me yearned to know God personally and to know that I was pleasing Him in my daily life.
All of this was going on inside of me even as a very small boy.
As time went by, I discovered by experience that no matter how hard I tried I could not live a holy life. I would struggle to keep God on my mind, but sinful habits persisted in spite of everything. I was constantly under the guilt of my sins of cursing, lying, cheating, stealing, fighting, fussing and a host of other bad things, even as a small boy. I struggled to live a clean life, but I finally gave up in despair, concluding that I was one of those
But the question that screamed at me through the radio evangelist that day served to stir my heart again. The words
A few days after the radio incident, I was walking down the street of the little town of Chester, along with my older brother and some other boys, when we heard music and singing coming from a small tent on a vacant lot. Having nothing else to do, we walked into the tent and sat down near the back entrance. We were touched by the singing first and foremost, but also by the preaching.
We liked it so much that we went back night after night. I didn't know what was happening to me at the time, but the seed of God's Word was falling on fertile soil. The last night of the meeting I went forward and received Jesus as my Savior.
I couldn’t put it all into words at the time, but when I stepped out into the aisle and walked to the front of the tent that night I was confessing to God, to myself and to everybody in the tent, "God, I believe you love me and sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I receive Jesus into my life as my Lord and Savior. I renounce my sinful ways and from now on I want to walk in your ways."
I went home that night with a peace and an assurance in my heart that I never had felt before. My brother, Charles, two years older than I, also received Jesus that night. He and I were very close. We were always together in everything we did. In fact, I did not go forward to receive Christ that night until I saw him step out first.
The only connection we had to the things of the Lord after the tent evangelist left was the little song books that we sang from in the tent meeting. I would sing the songs over and over that we learned at the tent. One day I made a commitment to God that I would pray all the rest of my life and never say, “Amen” till right before I died; then I would say, “Amen!” It was my way of saying to God that I would never go away from Him, ever. I knew there would be many temptations to do bad things but God knew the desire of my heart. My desire was right, but I was to find that it was easier to make a promise to God than it was to fulfill it.
A TRIP BACK into DARKNESS
My brother and I had no follow-up teaching whatsoever. No one called on us or encouraged us to go to Sunday School or church, so we slowly began to drift away from the things we had heard at the tent meetings. One day I was alone in the kitchen when I saw a purse lying on the cabinet. Suddenly I was engulfed in an overwhelming temptation to steal the purse and take whatever money there was in it. But, I thought to myself, "I can't steal this purse. I'm a Christian now." Then I remembered a teaching I had heard, that a child is not responsible for his sins until he is twelve years old and I was only eleven years old. So I prayed a short prayer,
I felt doomed and condemned inside. I had sold out to the devil for an empty purse! If I had known then about forgiveness and cleansing I would not have wandered in sin for the next six years. But I was untaught in the Word of God and I was deluded by the enemy of my soul who was saying to me:
I followed the devil's advice and for six years I was out of fellowship with God. In times of quiet and stillness, especially at night, I would often hear that still, small voice telling me to get right with God, but I would ignore it. I had no purpose in life, no direction, and no real peace.
At the age of seventeen, I was working in the oil fields in Mineral Wells, Texas, when tragedy struck. I was still running from God and all my friends were unbelievers. No one knew that I had once received Jesus as my Savior.
My highest ambition at that time was to become a country and western singer and song writer. I was beginning to spend more and more time with country and western musicians in bars and dance halls in order to gain experience in country music.
One night while working in Mineral Wells, I was sound asleep in my apartment after a hard day's work in the oil fields, when suddenly I was awakened by a loud knock on my door. "Albert Fitts, you're wanted on the phone... long distance!" At that late hour somehow the owner of the apartment had thought he heard Albert on the phone instead of Robert, but I knew the call was for me. "I'll be right there!" I shouted. Fear was rising in my heart as I hurriedly dressed and made my way down the stairs to where the phone was in the hallway near the entrance to the apartment building. Long distance phone calls were rare in those days, especially in the middle of the night. I knew it couldn't be something good.
The landlord motioned toward the phone and then disappeared into his room. It was past midnight. "Bob, can you come home?" It was my brother Charles calling from San Angelo, Texas, about 200 miles away.
"I guess so, Bud. Why? What's happened?"
“Bob, Mother's been in an accident."
After a long moment of silence he said, with a tremble in his voice,
I lay awake for a long time that night looking out the window through my tears. A full moon lit up the night sky. Dark clouds raced under the moon, driven by balmy spring winds. It was 2 AM, May 10th, Mother's Day."
“Where is my mother tonight?"
The tragedy of my mother's death brought me to the realization that I was living life for self and was heading nowhere. I knew I had to change, but I didn’t know how? Over the years since I walked away from the Lord at the age of eleven, I had tried over and over and over again, and I just could not live a life of victory over sin. But I determined that night that I would find out what I must do to get right with God, and I would do it, no matter what it cost me.
THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS to the FATHER
When I arrived in San Angelo the next day, the person who comforted me most was my girlfriend, Joni Montgomery. She ran out to the car, threw her arms around me and we cried together. She and my mother had been close friends. Two years later Joni and I would marry and move to California.
Four weeks after the funeral, I attended a little Baptist church only a block away from my house in San Angelo. I was surprised to see that Thomas H. Harding, the man who had preached my mother's funeral, was the
Three days later on my way home after a date with Joni, I stopped my car at midnight and began to cry and pray as I fully yielded myself once again to Jesus after six years of sin and rebellion. The prodigal son was returning home to a loving Father who met him with outstretched arms.
I'll never forget the peace and joy that came to me in that divine moment! I felt like I had to go and tell the whole world, and I was certain that as soon as I told them they would all repent and take Jesus as Lord of their lives. I was to find, however, that it wasn't that easy to win others to Jesus. I found it hard to witness, especially to my own family.
One day Pastor T. H. Harding, we called him Brother T, a deeply spiritual man of God, asked me a question. He drove me home from church that day and before I got out of the car he said,
"I don't really know. I like to play the guitar and sing."
"I think we need to take you over to Brownwood to Howard Payne College and get you enrolled. God wants to use you in His kingdom. What do you think?"
"I'm willing to go, but I didn't finish high school, so maybe I won't be accepted?"
I had been in college only a few weeks when I knew God was calling me to preach. I couldn't believe it. Me, of all people! I was the most tongue-tied, shy, bashful, fearful, self-conscious, insecure person in all of Texas! The very thought of standing up before a crowd of people and speaking sent shock waves through my whole being.
But God had his hand on me and I knew it, so one day I went forward at the close of a service in my church in Brownwood and made it public that I was "surrendering to preach,” a term Southern Baptists use when one accepts and embraces the call to enter the ministry. The word "surrender" was used because it was commonly taught that if you could do anything else, don‘t preach! In other words, if the call of God to preach the gospel is not so strong that it is irresistible, then you're probably not called to preach, and you'd better not presume that you could preach. So stay out of the ministry if you can! It sounded reasonable to me.
For me, the call was strong enough, so I yielded, but I hoped it would be after my graduation, four years later, before I would have to preach my first sermon. My surrender was purely an act of faith and I knew God would have to work a miracle to make a preacher out of me!
It soon became known around campus that I had “surrendered to preach” and one day I was asked to preach at a youth rally. I felt a numbness envelope me. I accepted the invitation and began to cry out to God to empower me for this meeting. I had about four weeks to prepare and every day the thought of that youth rally left a feeling of nausea in the pit of my stomach. How could I ever do this? What would I say? How would I say it? "Lord, help me!"
HUNGRY and THIRSTY for MORE
At this time I was renting an apartment in the home of Mrs. Harlow, an elderly Christian lady in Brownwood. She had hired Mrs. Lilly Stout, a middle aged private nurse, to come in daily and help her with housework and cooking. Mrs. Stout was a quiet, Spirit-filled Christian who spent much time in Bible reading and prayer. At
I had never heard of this before, but the more I read and learned about it, the more firmly convinced I became that this was just the touch I needed to dispel my fears and enable me to preach. Mrs. Stout invited me to visit in her church and I attended several services with her. It was definitely a Pentecostal Church with a capital "P"! I saw much that I could not understand or accept, but I could not ignore this deep yearning and craving within me for more reality in the things of the Spirit.
One day as I was walking along thinking and praying about the youth rally, planning and rehearsing what I was going to say, I noticed a lady out in her front yard whom I had met in Mrs. Stout's church. I greeted her and we began to talk about the things of the Lord, when suddenly she said to me, "Young man, if you are going to be a successful minister of the gospel, you need to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit." We talked for a long time about this and my conviction and desire became even more intense.
I walked on with that those words throbbing in my mind,
That night I knelt by my bed and begged God to fill me with His Spirit. With agony in my pleading I found myself launched on a quest for the baptism in the Holy Spirit that didn't really find fulfillment for five long years. And it didn’t find total release until after I had become pastor of Grace Baptist Church more than twenty years later.
The youth rally only increased the intensity of my desire for the power of the Holy Spirit. The appointed day arrived, and I stood before the auditorium filled with young people and made an attempt to speak. It was a disaster! If ever a speaker struck out, I struck out that night! My talk must have lasted a total of ten or twelve minutes. I was totally embarrassed at my performance and I was sure that most of the kids were embarrassed for me. I had to confess, it was a miserable failure. When I left the meeting that night, I never wanted to stand before an audience again in my entire life…
Through most of my years as a college student I was still seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I would fast and pray and plead. I would read books and attend meetings and agonize, begging God to fill me with the Holy Spirit. At times I would spend a whole night in prayer. Finally one day, five years later, something wonderful happened. I was reading a book on the Spirit-filled life and something the author said turned a light on in my spirit. Suddenly I saw it. I wondered why I had not seen it before. In an instant I knew how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was a simple and yet a powerful revelation that effectively set me free from the torment and frustration of the chronic seeker. Here are the words I read that day:
"Just as you received salvation from the hands of a dying Savior, by faith; even so you can receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit from the hands of a living Savior, by faith.”
I put the book down and walked out the front door of our little apartment in Home Gardens, California with a clear understanding of what I had to do. From my house I walked into the hills nearby where I frequently went to pray. On my way to the place of prayer I said,
As I went I had a settled assurance that I was going to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, for now I knew how to receive this blessing... by faith. I climbed a hill we called, “Prayer Mountain” overlooking the community
I prayed a very simple prayer without trying to work up some kind of emotion or religious feeling. I said,
I arose from my place of prayer without having felt or heard or seen anything, but with a bed-rock confidence that, at last, I had definitely received it, whether I felt it or not. A few days later, while driving home from California Baptist College, the power and the presence of God came on me in a wonderful way and the glory of God filled my car. I said to myself,
I began to experience a measure of peace and power in my life, and I was excited! However, when it would ebb away, I didn't know how to regain it. For several years, off and on, I would experience brief touches of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, but I never dared to venture into the arena of the supernatural gifts as a part of my public ministry. This was strongly spoken against by the leaders of my denomination! There was just no place for spiritual gifts to function in our scheme of things, especially what was called, “the sign gifts.”
I kept quiet about my “tongues” experience. I didn’t share it with anyone. I felt that my best wisdom was to look to God to anoint me in the arena of preaching and teaching and leave the “sign gifts” to my Pentecostal brothers and sisters. But as the years passed by my desire to see God move among us in supernatural power increased. I was not seeing God's power released in my life like I felt it should be. I knew there was more in Christ than I was experiencing, so the message of Basham's book fell on fertile soil. I was ready to pull out all the stops and take the leap, whatever the cost.
One part of his book that spoke to me most powerfully was Basham’s search for the Spirit-filled life. He was a commercial artist working in a central Texas town. He and his wife were faithful members of a Christian Church. They sang in the choir and helped in other ways, but deep down they were not satisfied.
One day they went to the hospital to call on a friend who was scheduled for surgery the next day. Basham relates the following incident that changed the whole direction of his life. Here is his story in his own words:
After dinner we drove to the hospital to visit a friend who was awaiting surgery.
“She was admitted Wednesday and scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning," I explained. "She must be here." "Let me check the dismissals." The receptionist disappeared into a nearby office and returned with a list clipped to a board. "Here she is," she announced. "Your Mrs. Hollister has been dismissed."
"Dismissed? But she was scheduled for surgery tomorrow." The receptionist shook her head. "I can't help that, sir, the record is right here. Mrs. Hollister was sent home this morning."
We left the hospital and drove in the direction of Dorothy’s house.
"There's one way to find out,"
"Come in and let me tell you what happened."
"You know how ill I was when I entered the hospital Wednesday,"
"As much pain as I had," Dorothy continued, "I was ready to try anything. Besides, she is my neighbor and I didn't want to offend her."
"I was startled and almost angry first,"
She paused and fumbled for a handkerchief to wipe at the tears which had suddenly appeared in her eyes.
We sat in silence for awhile with Dorothy smiling at us through her tears. Then slowly it dawned on us; we had come face up with a miracle! Here was the kind of experience which only happened in books or to strangers in far-away places, but not this time. This time it was close to home. We were face-to-face with living proof of God’s miracle-working power!
We drove home deeply moved by Dorothy's testimony. Didn't the Bible say somewhere,
A DAY to REMEMBER
As I read Basham's testimony there began to well up in me a powerful urge to throw off every yoke that was binding me to tradition and to begin to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit with complete liberty. I wanted to see more of the power of God in my own life. I wanted to see miracles of healing and deliverance. I had no scriptural reason to accept the teaching that in our day we have a different kind of Christianity than Paul, Peter, John and the early Christians had. And if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, we have every right to expect the same things to happen in our day as happened in their day. We are living in the same age of the same Church and the same Holy Spirit is still present to fill and empower God's people!
So I laid the book aside and stood to my feet there in my office, with no one there but Jesus and me. I lifted my hands and began to worship God in other tongues. Through the teachings of Basham’s book I had learned that after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I could pray in tongues anytime I wanted to. I didn’t have to wait
For some time I stood there praying in tongues with my hands raised to God. When I stopped and started to sit down and read some more of the book, it seemed the Lord spoke these words to my spirit, "No... Continue!" I obeyed the impulse and began again to pray in tongues, and as I continued, I began to experience God's presence and power! I felt that I was being lifted up into an atmosphere of the pure presence of God.
As this wonderful fountain from heaven kept pouring into my soul, I found myself taking deep breaths and pouring out my heart to Him in praise and adoration, both in tongues and in English. It was such a glorious experience that I did not want it to subside. At least I was determined that I would continue to praise until this fresh baptism was complete. It was such a powerful visitation that I literally staggered around in my study and I felt no shame. I knew by experience for the first time why the disciples on the day of Pentecost were accused of being drunk on new wine. I was staggering around my office like a drunken man!
In the midst of this powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was reminded of Charles Finney's account of receiving such an outpouring on the day of his conversion. In his autobiography he relates his experience on the day he received Christ as Savior:
“As I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; I do not know, but I should say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, ‘I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.’ I said, ‘Lord, I cannot bear any more!’ yet I had no fear of death.
How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir (for I was the leader of the choir) came into my office to see me. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, ‘Mr. Finney, what ails you?’ I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, ‘Are you in pain?’ I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, ‘No, but so happy that I cannot live!’ ”
As I thought of these same waves of which Finney spoke in his testimony, I remembered also in the biography of evangelist Dwight L. Moody how he had described his experience as waves of electric love, as he too had reeled under a powerful baptism in the Spirit while walking down a street in New York City. He had cried out to God for this blessing for a long time before he finally received it. After he received it he said his ministry changed overnight. He said that instead of scores of people being saved under his ministry, now there were hundreds. The same supernatural power attended Finney as long as he stayed under that anointing. The day he received his baptism he left the law profession and started witnessing for Christ full time. Almost every person he spoke to that day came under a powerful conviction of sin and gave their lives to Jesus.
Now I understood what these men had received and I wanted to receive the full force of it, so I just continued to praise God in tongues with my hands lifted to the Lord. I left my study and walked out into the sanctuary. I continued to walk up and down the isle of the sanctuary with my hands lifted up, speaking in tongues. I was glad no one was around to witness what was going on. I would have had a hard time trying to explain what was happening without using the word, “Pentecost!”
I continued in this way for several more minutes, then I felt the Lord spoke to me to stop speaking in tongues and begin to prophesy. It was like I saw a vision on the wall behind the pulpit. On the left I saw a desert wasteland and on the right side I saw a fruitful garden and I heard these words as I opened my mouth and began to prophesy. I knew it was a word from the Lord to me:
"My son, consider not the applause or the censure of men, for I have called you into a life of fruitfulness and you shall not fear man. If you are willing and obedient you shall eat of the fat of the land, but if refuse and rebel, you shall suffer loss. I am with you and as you follow me and learn to move out in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, I will multiply you exceedingly and you shall find fulfillment. But if you refuse to follow the light that I have shed upon your path, you will experience drought and a barren land with no water in it. Behold, I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it, for you have a little strength and have not denied my name. Go, therefore, and fear not to share with others what I have shared with you this day, for this is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing that I long to pour out upon my people, says the Lord."
As these words of admonition flowed from my lips, it was as if I were sitting by and listening to my heavenly Father speak to me using me as His messenger. I do not mean that I had no control of myself or of my speech. But as God put thoughts in my mind, I spoke them out and then found another thought behind that one until the message was complete. I felt strength flow into me through what God had spoken to my heart through that prophecy.
I discovered later in my study of these things, that in almost every instance in the Bible, when God would pour out His Spirit on someone, they would begin to magnify God and prophesy.
When I left my church that afternoon, I knew that I could not continue to conceal my belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit and in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit including the so-called "sign gifts" that my denomination had labeled... “no long necessary.”
My joy and excitement exploded! I felt like a new person. SUCH A REFRESHING! I knew that things would not be the same in my life and ministry after that wonderful outpouring. I knew that I would have to share with Bob Jr. what had happened to me, but at the time I didn't know exactly how or when. A few days later, while browsing in a Christian Book Store, I found a cassette tape by Don Basham on how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was a simple and powerful teaching that God had used to help many into the fullness of the Spirit. After I listened to it, I took it to Bobby and said,
He took the tape and set up his recorder by his bed to listen to it after he went to bed. The spiritual explosion that had just occurred in my own life was about to go off in Bobby's life.
THE FIRE FALLS at HOME
It was past midnight when I was awakened from a sound sleep by a knock on my bedroom door.
"I'll be right out."
"What did you do?"
"I spoke in tongues!"
The excitement in his voice was electric. It was obvious that he had had an overwhelming experience! We went into the living room and sat together for almost an hour and shared what we had both experienced with God. There was a warmth and understanding between us that we had not experienced before.
"Dad, I just followed the steps he outlined on the tape and did what he said to do and it happened. It was like Jesus was standing there! He was so real! I know it's real! Now I know I have the baptism in the Holy Spirit!"
Bobby shared excitedly with me his experience and I shared my experience with him and we rejoiced together.
This was a new beginning for Bobby. The following morning he was as radiant and excited as when we talked the night before. Unlike me when I first spoke in tongues and decided I would tell no one, Bobby had no problem openly sharing with anyone and everyone his experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. To him there were no controversial issues over doctrine. It was an experience of empowering so fulfilling that he could not keep it to himself. Before breakfast, during breakfast, and after breakfast he shared his enthusiasm and his joy!
"What can I do to get the baptism in the Holy Spirit?"
"Don't worry, Becky, you'll have your own baptism before many days."
I was no longer inhibited when speaking about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The dynamic transformation in Bobby's life came into our home like a steamroller and literally devastated all possible arguments against it. I knew that Becky, Joni, and eventually Debbie, Melanie and David would also receive this blessing.
I was already beginning to see the first fruits in my new attitude of openness concerning the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. The vision on the wall of the church and the prophecy I had received of the barren wasteland and the fruitful garden would not be easy to erase. I had determined to open up and begin to share. I had shared with Bobby and now I was seeing the beginnings of a fruitful garden right in my own home. I was overjoyed and full of anticipation.
As a father of seven children (five at the time) I am often faced with the importance of motivation in the lives of my children. I saw that there were many things they did because they were forced to do them, and there was much dragging of feet and grinding of teeth. I often thought how wonderful it would be if I could put the desire in their hearts to do the things I wanted them to do. I was amazed at the inward motivation God was giving to Bobby, not only in his relationship to the Lord but in all the relationships of his life. I was delighted with what I was personally experiencing through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but I was even more delighted to see what God was doing in my son, Bob Jr. And this was only the beginning. A fire had been kindled and was beginning to spread.
Almost daily Bobby would give me a report of the things that were happening on his High School campus as a result of this new and powerful anointing on his life. He began to pray that God would lead him to someone else at his school who had also received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Unknown to him, Wade Lachman, a spirit-filled senior, was praying the same prayer. So God brought them together and they began to have their lunch together in the band room each day. It was a time of sharing, prayer and Bible study.
In a few days, instead of the two of them there were three, then four, then seven, then ten and on and on and on. Each day when Bobby came home from school he shared with me how the interest was growing. One day the group was so large they couldn't all fit into the band room so they went out onto the grass right out on the campus grounds in the open.
By now they were being helped by Kurt Schroeder, a Spirit filled youth leader who was exceptionally talented in playing the guitar and leading in praise and worship, as well as in preaching. Sometimes more than one
Another spiritual explosion occurred when one of the youth leaders of the First Baptist Church, George Johnson, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a result of coming in contact with Bob Jr. and some of these "turned on" high school kids. George was a vibrant, enthusiastic young man who had a natural affinity to youth. Young people were attracted to him. George had received the Lord only a year or so before through reading a Four Spiritual Laws booklet given to him by his older brother. George had just gotten out of the Navy where he had learned to be totally committed to the ways of the world. Now that he was a Christian, he was just as eager to go all out for Jesus. So, what he saw happening among these high school kids attracted him immediately.
One night Wade and Bobby were over at George's house until after one o'clock in the morning. When Bobby came home he was brimming over with excitement. He came to my bedroom door again and woke me up to report that George had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. At that hour I was too sleepy to consider the significance of it all, but the very next day it began to sink in.
That was the day that had been set aside by George's youth group as a day to sell Christmas trees for a special project. George, Wade and Bobby were all working together on that project that day. I don't know how many trees they sold, but before the day was over five of the young people who had come to help sell trees had also received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit baptism became the topic of discussion in George's youth group and before long many of the young people in his group had received it and were “on fire for Jesus!” And the fire continued to spread. Out of all this emerged a gathering every Tuesday night led by the youth and directed by George Johnson. Over the weeks and months we kept getting reports of miracle after miracle in the lives of many, many young people as a result of that Tuesday night meeting!
One day as I was driving to the post office it occurred to me that this was the reason the early church in the book of Acts grew so fast. There were miracles happening constantly in the lives of individuals as they went about telling the good news about Jesus to everyone. The fire that fell on the day of Pentecost on the 120 spread rapidly as each individual began to move in the power of the Holy Spirit in his own circle of influence. The multiplication principle was at work as one life touched another and that life touched another and another. And it was all orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.
God was giving me the opportunity to witness firsthand the dynamic spiritual motivation of these newly saved, Spirit-baptized Christians, and I knew that this could only come from God! No amount of training would ever impart such fantastic spiritual drive and energy as I was witnessing. From that moment I knew that in our home Bible study groups which we called Disciple Groups, we would not only emphasize the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we would also give due emphasis to the exercise of any and all of the spiritual gifts that Paul mentions in his letters.
I knew this decision would cost me some very dear friends, but I had "launched out into the deep" and I felt confident the Lord would sustain me in this decision.
AND the FIRE CONTINUES to SPREAD
Jim Hood was pastor of a Baptist church in a neighboring city. We had been close personal friends for a few years and I had been instrumental in his becoming pastor of his church in Fontana. Jim is a human dynamo! He is loud and boisterous, very funny, and very friendly. You will always know when Jim Hood is around. He's always the life of the party and if there is no party yet, he’ll get one started! His specialty in ministry was door to
Jim was working with us helping start Disciple Groups in homes. At the time we were just getting started and our staff was very small. One day we were meeting for our regular weekly day of prayer and fellowship at my church. Jim was the first to arrive. The first thing he said to me was,
My defenses went up immediately. I recalled the first time Jim and I met a few months before. We were in a meeting just like the one set for that morning and one of the first things Jim said to me after we had been introduced was,
"How did you hear about Bobby, Jim?"
Joni told my wife Alice at the missionary banquet the other night."
"Let's go back to the kitchen Jim, and have a cup of coffee before the others arrive and I'll tell you about it."
As it turned out, I didn't have time to share it all before the meeting because people started to come in and we had to cut short our conversation. But two or three hours later, after the meeting was over and everyone left, Jim stayed behind. We stood in the kitchen and I explained to Jim what Bobby and I had experienced and what I believed the Bible taught about the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The more we talked and shared along these lines, the more excited we both became! As it turned out, Jim was not just mildly interested in these things but was deeply desirous of receiving the baptism himself. I discovered that he had been seeking it for several months. He was full of questions and I was eager to share.
"How can I get the baptism, Bob? I want it NOW!"
"Just sit right here, Jim.”
After I prayed I said,
Jim received the baptism in the Holy Spirit that day by faith and as he drove over to his church he began to praise God in other tongues. Jim told me later that many people had tried to help him receive the Holy Spirit but nothing happened, but that I had explained it in such a way that he was able to understand it and appropriate it by faith. I do not recall all that I explained to Jim word for word, but the essence of what I said to him is contained in a letter I wrote to another enquirer a few weeks later. A number of people have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit since then through reading copies of the letter. The letter in its entirety on how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit is now chapter 18 of this book.
Jim took off like a skyrocket! After a few months, he began to pray for the sick and see supernatural healings take place in his ministry. Others received the baptism in the Holy Spirit through his powerful testimony.
Again I was observing an overwhelming flood of joy and power in the life of one close to me. I was now in a place to see objectively the effects of this anointing and not just observe the effects of it in my own life. It has been a thrill to see Jim's ministry increase over the years since that time.
Jim is now eighty years old and still has the energy, stamina, and excitement that he had so many years ago when we first met. When I talk to him on the phone now, his voice is exactly the same as it was when we first met over thirty five years ago. He has lots of years behind him but he is still a young man!
Over the years he has been involved in many different ministries including starting churches, Bible Colleges, radio and television ministries and more. But the ministry that seems to be his strongest and longest is just going from door to door, talking to people about Jesus and leading them to put their trust in him. But after he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he added a new dimension to it. Now he often ministers in the power of the Holy Spirit to deliver healing to the sick in his door to door evangelism.
When I am in California, I often spend several days in the home of Jim and Alice Hood. Almost without exception, the first thing I hear early every morning is Jim Hood walking down the hall outside my bedroom door, praying in the spirit.
THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM that BELIEVE
The day after the outpouring I experienced in my office, I received a call from a lady who had visited in our church several times.
"Pastor Fitts, I'm terribly worried about my mother. She has sugar diabetes and a heart condition and is right now suffering with chills and fever. She goes to the hospital tomorrow for a series of tests. I'm afraid she'll never come back from the hospital. Will you please go to her house and pray for her?"
I assured her that I would and hung up the phone. I bowed and prayed:
"And now, Lord, ...grant unto your servants that with all boldness we may speak your Word, by stretching forth your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done in the name of your Holy Servant, Jesus”
I had come to the conclusion that some people will never believe in Jesus unless they see evidence that He is alive, and I had finally come to the point to be willing to lay everything on the line to prove in my own life and ministry that God is still a miracle-working God. I was fully persuaded that if the Apostles and early believers needed miracles to confirm the ministry of preaching the Word, I needed them too, for there is as much doubt, skepticism and unbelief in the world today as there was in Jesus’ day.
When I arrived at the home of Mrs. Martin, she was sitting in a rocking chair covered from head to foot with blankets to keep her warm. She was suffering a chill. I sat and talked with her for a few minutes and then I read to her
As a Baptist preacher I had often prayed for the sick, but it was, in most cases, simply a verbal agreement that God is able to heal a person if it is his will. At other times I would pray that God would grant skill and knowledge to the doctors and nurses. Or I might pray for the medicine to work or the surgery, or the therapy. At best my prayers had been a strong crying to God to heal and in some cases I did see my prayers answered, thank God!
But this was different. I was going to lay hands on Mrs. Martin! I was going to pray and believe God‘s word that she would recover and the Lord would raise her up! When it came time to pray I still didn't have the boldness to lay hands on her, so I prayed standing behind her chair and holding my hand about an inch above her head, claiming by faith the promises I had read to her and thanked God for the answer. I felt nothing and as far as I knew, she felt nothing. I assured her that God would answer our prayer and then I left.
The next morning my phone rang early. It was Mrs. Martin's daughter and she was excited!
The next day the doctors did notice an improvement and it wasn't long before this dear lady was able to be up cooking and doing her housework again. This was the beginning of many remarkable and miraculous events that kept occurring as I continued to walk and pray in the Spirit. I felt as if I were walking on the water with Jesus, like Peter.
We started a Saturday prayer time at 6 A.M. in my church for those who had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and wanted to be in a charismatic prayer group where the gifts of the Spirit are welcomed. The group was always very small.
One Saturday morning three other brothers and I were praying and I felt strongly impressed that there was someone present with pain in his body and that God would heal him if we prayed in faith. I was very hesitant to speak up and tell what I felt in my heart. I didn't know if this was my imagination or if it was a "word of knowledge" from the Lord, but I felt strongly that this impression was from God and that I should speak it out. So with fear and trembling I said,
One of the men said,
One night I told my story of how I came into the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Trinity Missionary Church in Corona, a neighboring town. Pastor John Amstutz had been a great help to me in the things of the Spirit. He had been walking in the fullness of the Spirit for many years. I shared some miracles that had happened since I started moving in the gifts of the Spirit. I told of praying for my eight-year old daughter, Melanie, who had a painful wart on the bottom of her foot. We had to take her to the doctor only a few weeks before to have it cut out. One day she said, "Dad, I have a wart on my other foot now." Knowing by experience the power of God to heal, I just laid my hands on the wart and commanded it to dry up in the name of Jesus. A few days later Melanie said,
"Yes, I do!"
After I shared Melanie's healing at Trinity Missionary Church, Mary Ann Bryant, a young college student came up and asked me to pray for her foot. She had a large cluster of painful warts which had been on her foot for a long time. Her pastor and I laid hands on her head and prayed the prayer of faith The next time I saw her she smiled radiantly and said,
One Friday night I was teaching in a home prayer group when the phone rang. The hostess left the room to answer the phone and in a few minutes she returned with an urgent prayer request.
We immediately gathered in a circle. The hostess sat in a chair in the middle of the circle. We had her to "sit in" as an intercessor and we all laid hands on her in behalf of the sick baby. Just before we prayed, I felt impressed to check my watch to see what time it was. I said to the group,
The next day I received a call from the hostess.
"No, I didn't. What happened?"
The mother and father of the baby came to our Prayer Group the following Friday night and brought their baby. They had heard that we had prayed for her and wanted us all to have the joy of seeing our "answered prayer." She was indeed a beautiful healthy little baby girl! I was beginning to see the prayer of Acts 4:29-30, the prayer of the early church for miracles, signs, and wonders answered in my own ministry and I was thrilled! Miracles were beginning to happen in all areas of my life, not just in healing.
About this time I experienced a remarkable guidance. I had an appointment to meet with a fellow worker at Melodyland Christian Center near Disneyland in Anahiem, CA. I had not left home as early as I had intended in order to be there in time. The person I was to meet had told me on the phone that they were always prompt in all appointments and very much appreciated this in others. As I traveled along the freeway glancing at my watch I knew that I could make it in time only if I could go directly to Melodyland, without having to stop to enquire for directions since I had never been there before.
I prayed and asked God to get me there on time, and just as I pulled off the freeway and stopped at the traffic light, it seemed the Lord said to me,
Several times as we drove along, I was tempted to turn and go a different direction but the Lord kept saying, "Follow that car." In less than ten minutes I was driving into the parking lot of Melodyland Christian Center right behind the car the Lord told me to follow. I made my appointment on time and had experienced a miracle of God's guidance in the process. As I drove into that parking lot my heart was bursting with praise and worship, knowing that the same miracles of guidance that the early Christians experienced are still happening today!
As time went by and miracles increased, I knew I could not continue in this kind of ministry much longer within the structures of my Baptist church unless God did a remarkable miracle, which, by now I was convinced he was well able to do!
I longed to stay on as pastor of Grace Baptist Church, but I knew I would have to share with the people about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts before long. There was no way around it. Already people were talking among themselves and it was only a matter of time before I'd be in a serious confrontation with my deacons if I didn't do something.
I had begun to attend a charismatic prayer group every Thursday night in Riverside led by Tony Alward, a young prophet from Pastor Leonard Fox's church in San Bernardino. I was amazed at the anointing that was upon the life of this young man. He would prophesy over individuals with amazing accuracy. God seemed to just open up the lives of the people before him as he faithfully ministered deeply edifying words from God to the people as the Lord directed him.
One Thursday night, during the time that I was struggling about how much to share and when to share with my people at Grace Church, Tony called me out to give me a word of prophecy. As he prayed over me, he saw in a vision that I was going around and around a bush. Then he saw me plowing a field neatly laid out in straight rows. As I was plowing carefully down the rows suddenly I stopped, made a ninety degree turn, and started to plow right across the nice neat rows.
He didn't know what the visions meant but I did. God was speaking to me that I had beat around the bush with my people at church long enough about my true convictions concerning the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, and that it was time to share my whole heart with them even if it meant taking the risk of plowing right across my neat theological rows that I had been so careful to stay within before. I went home that night with complete assurance that the time had come to bring everything out into the open with the people of Grace Baptist Church.
As I prayed for guidance, the Lord led me to read an article by Larry Christensen on the "Unanimity Principle" that he used in leading his church into the supernatural dimension a few years before. He was a Lutheran pastor who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and had been able to lead his people into the charismatic renewal by that simple principle. The essence of this concept was to proceed on all major decisions only after all of his leadership was in harmony with the decision.
After reading this article I decided to call my deacons together and tell them plainly of my experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and ask them to stand with me as I taught a series of messages on the subject to all our people. I planned to teach a series of five messages on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. I assured the deacons that I was not going to do anything more than share my own convictions and that it would be fully in accord with the New Testament.
They finally agreed, though some seemed to have some misgivings about the matter. Sam was not there, but he had been somewhat inactive for a time, so I did not consider his absence that night as being a major problem. I didn't even feel impressed to call and talk to him privately about the matter, though we were very close friends and spent lots of time together because we served together in a hospital ministry. Subsequent events seemed to prove that I made a serious mistake. I did not follow the "Unanimity Principle" very well at all!
AS the EAGLE STIRS her NEST
Ern Baxter was a personal friend of mine. I met him a few years before he passed away. He was a masterful and eloquent preacher! One of his most famous sermons was called, “On Eagle’s Wings.” Here is the introduction to that message, which spoke to me about what God was doing in my own life at this time: "All eagles begin as eaglets and before these unseemly, squalling fledglings take their place with royalty, they must be trained in the ways of the king of birds. This little verse is the Flight Training Manual of student eagles and earthbound Christians.
Picture with me two little eaglets snuggled cozily in a down-filled nest, high on an eerie ledge on some remote mountainside. Everything is just wonderful; mother eagle sallies forth daily and brings back choice tidbits for those ravenous appetites. During the cold, mountain nights she settles over the nest and the eaglets snuggle securely under those warm, soft wings and look out at the stars not very far away. They are newly born and
One day Mom eagle begins to act very strange. Rather than landing on the nest she hovers momentarily, beating the air with those great wings. As Junior watches her, he thinks, "Mom sure has powerful wings!" That is exactly what Mrs. Eagle wants Junior to know.
Then she does something downright crazy. She grabs a piece of the nest and drops it over the side of the cliff. Then she returns for another chunk, and another, and another. The little eaglets are beginning to think Mom has lost her marbles! By now the framework of the nest is pretty shaky, and that nice soft down that made Junior feel so secure is at the bottom of the canyon.
Can you see what the mother eagle is doing? She is preparing her young for the first stage in eagle training. After our Lord received the Holy Spirit and the declaration of His holy Sonship, the Scripture says that He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. I have written in the margin of my Bible at this point, "Is this standard operating procedure?" I believe that God's mode of operation is to begin to confront us as soon as possible with the necessity of maturing into something other than nest-bound believers.
Interestingly enough, the discomfort of our bewildered eaglets has been deliberately caused by the one who loves them most. How often when we have a streak of trouble do we cry out, "The Devil is attacking me!" Are you positive it is the Devil? Maybe the One who loves you most is stirring up your nest.
Like many believers, the little eagles conclude that standing on that windy ledge is at least tolerable and they can make the best of it. But dear old Mom has more in mind than just a nest stirring. She catches one of the little fellows in her powerful beak and nudges him toward the edge. The poor little guy wonders what is happening now. His little heart is beating faster and faster, and as he is pushed closer to the edge he thinks, "No, it can't be!" But it is!
With one final push he starts to plummet toward the bottom of the canyon. He is sure this is the end. Then out of nowhere there is a swoosh of Mom's mighty wings and Junior is heading for the safety of the ledge on her powerful back, quite relieved. The first time God kicks us out of the nest and catches us before we hit bottom, we gasp, "Oh, thank heavens! I was sure God had let me down that time."
Back on the ledge, our would-be king is just getting over being dizzy, when Mom starts pushing again. "Not again!" he moans, as he starts his second tumble.
Little eagles are gangly creatures, wobbling shakily on untested wings. But each desperate plunge brings a little more mastery of his wings. One day he spreads those wings and rather than falling, he finds himself rising up and up and up, riding the mighty air currents far above his ledge home and the nest that confined him. No longer a fledgling begging for tidbits, he is learning to become one of the eagles. He will be a king! Our divine right is to reign in life! This is our inheritance."
As I sat waiting for the deacons to arrive for this special, urgent meeting, I felt that God was stirring my nest by leading me to share about my experience with the Holy Spirit.
I had been somewhat tense as I sat through the morning worship service, knowing what I was to share in my message. But I had prayed much about it and was confident that God was leading me to open my heart fully to my people in hopes that the move of God's Spirit would bring renewal to our church. I simply shared my testimony of how I had sought for and finally received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and how I had recently been fully persuaded that, as a church we need to make room for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to flow in order to help more people, and win more people to Jesus.
The people's response was good. Everyone seemed excited, except some of my deacons. Sam was present and very much interested in what I had shared, but I was certain that his interest was not to come along side of me or to agree with me in what I had shared.
A LIFE-CHANGING DEACON’S MEETING
The sound of footsteps and voices in the foyer interrupted my thoughts and brought me back to the issue of the present moment. It was 3:00 PM and the deacons were arriving on time. One of my deacons, Finos Massey, was very supportive and stood with me, but the other three were there to challenge what they had heard in my morning sermon. Finos had attended full gospel churches in his past and had no problem with any of the things I shared that morning.
After a minute or two of small talk we got down to the matter at hand.
"Yes, I understand that I am to answer your questions concerning what I shared in my message this morning."
"Bob, do you feel that the experiences recorded in the Book of Acts, such as what happened on the day of Pentecost are for Christians today?“
"Yes, I believe that everything that was happening in the primitive church could and should still be happening now. As a matter of fact, there are many churches in every country of the world in which these things are still happening. Pastors and spiritual leaders are discovering that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, when properly exercised, are not repulsive or damaging to the Body of Christ but are given for the edification of the church. I do not believe that the Book of Acts is transitional. If it were, how could we use anything recorded in the book of Acts as our pattern for faith and practice if it does not apply to the present time?"
"Are you suggesting that we do not receive the Holy Spirit when we believe? It seems to me you're teaching a 'Second Blessing' experience which we as Baptists do not believe or teach."
I continued with my explanation,
One of the deacons said,
I answered, “I Corinthians 12:13
"But the baptism by Jesus with the Holy Spirit is something different - it’s an experience, and a person will know whether or not he has received it. It does not refer to his being in Christ, but rather to whether or not he is filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit as believers, which clearly infers that not all believers are filled with the Spirit, though they are certainly born of the Spirit and indwelt by the Spirit.
The men were quiet as they listened to my answer, so I continued to explain my position.
“John the Baptist said, 'I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’
They again questioned me,
The questions went on and on. There was a noticeable agitation at one point when one of my deacons said,
We went on and on covering the same ground over and over for nearly four hours. The main bone of contention was speaking in tongues. Tongues somehow seemed, in their minds, to be beneath the dignity of intelligent people. Most of us had been taught that tongues passed away with the apostles of Christ, and that if anybody had such an experience now it must be either a delusion or a work of the devil.
The deacons finally gave me their verdict,
"I am not seeking to force any of the spiritual gifts. I believe we all recognize the need for God's power in operation in our personal lives and in our church, and as long as we are afraid of spiritual gifts and resist the Holy Spirit, we will certainly not see God's power released in our midst as it should be and could be. I sincerely believe it is my duty as pastor of this church to preach the whole counsel of God, and seek to build up the people to a point of maturity where they themselves will be equipped to do the work of the ministry. I frankly do not believe this will ever be fully realized apart from a proper emphasis on all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe we will only hinder the work of God among us if we reject any of the gifts of the Spirit, no matter how controversial they may be. However, due to the conflict of your position and mine, I agree with you that I should resign as your pastor. I will explain the situation to the people in my final message tonight.”
We left the church only a few minutes before the evening service was to begin at seven thirty. As I drove home quickly to get ready for the evening service I had a tremendous sense of relief and release at what had just happened! Finally it was all out in the open about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. I did not have to keep these things hidden any longer. I didn't know what I was going to say to the people that night, but I knew God would give me the words.
I was excited and full of confidence that night as I stood up to speak after the praise time. The church was full. Many young people had started to attend because of the excitement of the move of God's Spirit. I simply read I Corinthians chapters 12, 13 and 14, and briefly explained all three chapters. I could sense that about 99 percent of those present were in full agreement with what I was teaching.
God gave me a tremendous release in the Spirit to bring a clear teaching on spiritual gifts without lambasting and berating the leaders of the church for asking me to either shut this teaching down or get out. It was not two rival parties throwing rocks at each other that night. In fact there was a spirit of excitement! Instead of an atmosphere of animosity, anger and bitterness, there was a spirit of love and acceptance; of giving each other space to disagree on a highly controversial issue.
After I explained why I was resigning as their pastor, there was a time of hugs and tears as we said our goodbyes that night. It was not an easy matter for me and my family to leave the people of Grace Baptist Church. We had been together for nearly ten years in the work of the Lord and we all loved each other. However, I knew God had a ministry for me in a setting where I would be free to move in the gifts of the Spirit which I had quenched, almost completely for nearly fifteen years. God was leading me out into a new ministry, trusting Him to meet the various needs of the ministry and a family of seven.
After the service ended and we were all dismissed, four young people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit out in the parking lot, as George Johnson and some of the young people ministered to them.
The drama, the adventure, and the excitement were enough to carry me on the crest of a wave for days and weeks, but I was to find that I would be entering new arenas of warfare that I had never faced before. I had a lot to learn and it would not all be easy by any means, as I would soon discover.
THERE’S a MIRACLE in YOUR MOUTH
It was a difficult time in our lives, being cut off from nearly all the friends we had, but the Lord led us to join the fellowship of Trinity Christian Center of Riverside. Don Stout was the pastor. He was a humble man and was being used of God especially in a ministry of teaching God's Word and praying for the sick. There seemed to be a steady stream of miracles, especially in divine healing, connected with the ministry of Trinity Christian Center. These miracles were most notably present during a Prayer Clinic held every Wednesday morning from 10 AM till noon. God was giving us great favor and a multitude of new friends. We were overwhelmed with blessing! God had planted us in that fruitful garden I had seen on the vision on the wall a few weeks before.
Soon I began to minister as an Associate Pastor of Trinity Christian Center. God was building into my life many new truths such as spiritual authority, the Lordship of Christ, true discipleship, and more. For years I had emphasized
When I began to see the authority of the believer and actually saw other Spirit-filled Christians moving in that dimension, I was encouraged to start using my spiritual authority and boldly commanding things to happen in Jesus' name and expecting them to happen. Jesus spoke to a fig tree and it withered. He said,
Jesus answering said to them,
One lady gave us her testimony of how she experienced the reality of this commanding power. Each morning as she drove to work she passed a pornographic movie house. She was grieved in her spirit and felt a strong desire rising within her to see this movie house closed. One morning as she drove to work, she had to stop at a traffic light directly in front of this pornographic movie house. She turned and looked directly at the building and spoke, "I curse you in the Name of Jesus!" The very next day when she went to work, much to her surprise and joy there was a "CLOSED" sign on the front of the theater!
Upon hearing this testimony, another Spirit-filled lady in a nearby town said,
A lady stood up in one of our prayer clinics and shared with the group that both movie houses in her city had recently begun to show X-rated films. This was apparently a new policy, because films of this nature had not been shown there before. We all joined hands in agreement according to
A few months after I experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my office at Grace Baptist Church, we were conducting a weekend of evangelism on the beaches in Venice, California. We were training young men how to witness from door to door, and on the beaches. We had five or six counselors with us to help in training and in supervision. Jim Hood was one of the counselors due to his vast experience in door to door evangelism. Among these counselors was a young man, Bob Ford, whose testimony and ministry was beginning to attract attention at TCC, especially his ministry in healing the sick. Bob had a large family and worked as a salesman making a good income. In our sharing times together I learned that his job was very demanding, requiring sixty to seventy hours a week, leaving him very little time to be involved in the work of the Lord.
Bob shared these things with me one afternoon, and I kept thinking about his situation. The following day as I was driving to an appointment it occurred to me that I could take authority over this situation in the Name of Jesus, and it would surely change. Suddenly it was as if God dropped a ton of faith into my heart and I spoke it out with great intensity as I drove along the freeway, "In the Name of Jesus, I loose Bob Ford from the grinding bondage of a job that requires so much of his time, into a fulltime ministry in the Word. Satan, I bind you from
I was surprised at the boldness and authority with which I spoke! I believed, however, that the situation would change. That was on July 8th. Through a series of special miracles in Bob's life, he resigned his job on August 8th and stepped out into a faith ministry, looking to the Lord to supply all his needs and the needs of his family. Neither of us remembered about the one month time limit until we stopped and figured out the dates several months later. It was exactly one month to the day when Bob was released to have more time for his ministry of healing the sick in Jesus' name and teaching the Word of God.
A few weeks after the Venice witnessing mission, Bob was appointed as an intern pastor at Trinity Christian Center, and later was sent out to start churches in the state of Idaho, which he did for many years.
A few days after the weekend at Venice, Gary Amaon, the husband of Vicki Amaon, was sharing with me that he felt God was calling him to spend more time in the work of the Lord. He had a supervisory job that required six days a week and about twelve hours a day, a situation much like that of Bob Ford. After we had talked awhile, the same burden that I felt for Bob Ford a few days earlier came upon me for Gary Amaon. We knelt in prayer and by faith we released him to have more time with his family and more time to serve Jesus.
"Gary, within three weeks I believe we will see your job situation change,"
I was beginning to move in the midst of a dynamic and powerful creative force... the force of faith! It was not a magic formula giving believers the power to conjure up any and everything they wanted and speak it into being no matter what, but as we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4).
About this time, our oldest daughter Becky celebrated her sixteenth birthday. She said to me,
Becky was a junior in high school and she wanted to get a job that would give her extra high school credits. In order to do this, she needed to have a job by January 28th. In our prayer time we prayed,
The next day she went out and began to make applications for employment. Her faith was severely tried as the deadline of January 28th neared, but we continued to praise the Lord, by faith, for the answer. On January 20th, one of her teachers told her to apply at the local newspaper office. She did and she got a job. It was exactly what she wanted and was within walking distance of her school. How beautifully God works! I began to see that I had the authority to speak out in faith and expect results.
Too often I had prayed and asked Jesus to do what He had given me the authority to do. Jesus said,
I was not aware of it at the time, but God was preparing me to enter into the most formidable arena where the command of faith would be all-important, the arena of bringing release to those tormented by demons.
IN MY NAME THEY SHALL CAST OUT DEMONS
The things I had read in Don Basham’s book about casting out demons were still burning within me! As
I was already experiencing the last part of that passage where it says,
I began to read books and hear tapes on the subject of demons and deliverance from their torment. The book that helped me most was another one by Don Basham entitled
After experiencing such a release in my own life through self
"Who are these young men waiting for?"
"I thought they were waiting for you?”
I walked up to them and asked,
I could hardly believe I heard him right.
"We need to be delivered. We've been on hard stuff and we both want deliverance,"
Later on, Paul Bush, one of those young men, came to church and I led him into the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He said,
The other young man spent a few weeks in a rehabilitation center and lived a real testimony for Jesus before he left and went to Northern California. A few days after I began to minister in deliverance, a friend called me long distance who I hadn't heard from for more than a year. I could tell from the beginning of our conversation that he was under heavy oppression.
Only thirty minutes before I had been in prayer and the Lord said,
Imagine my excitement to receive a call like this after being into this fast for less than an hour! I knew this man's deliverance was certain. After talking to him and praying with him, I took authority over a spirit of confusion and a spirit of infirmity and commanded them to leave at once. Immediately there was a deep sigh of release on the other end of the line and then a welling up of praise to God as this brother experienced a deliverance from tormenting spirits.
To speak directly to evil spirits and command them to leave in Jesus’ name was something new and strange to me, but I knew God was leading me to enter this arena of spiritual authority. I was seeing longstanding, deep-seated psychological problems dissolve before me eyes as I obeyed this calling to cast out demons in the name of Jesus.
Our eleven-year-old daughter, Debbie was delivered instantly from a spirit of fear that had tormented her for over a year.
Our little five-year-old, Judy, who just could not stop sucking her thumb, was set free instantly from that binding habit through deliverance after we had tried everything we could think of over a period of two years to break her habit of thumb-sucking. When we dealt with the problem as a need for deliverance from a compulsive spirit, she stopped sucking her thumb the very same day.
A lady in Monterrey, Mexico was set free from smoking cigarettes instantly when I commanded the compulsive spirit to leave her. She was smoking as many as four packages a day, and had tried for years to break the habit without success. It took only a few minutes to get her free, through dealing with a tormenting spirit. The ministry of deliverance, while it was setting people free from bondages, was also an area of great controversy. The old question, “Can a Christian have a demon?” had to be dealt with, and that was a hard one. We finally decided that we’d begin every session by discerning whether spiritual oppression or bondage was present. It did not matter if we were dealing with a Christian or a non-Christian. If God revealed the problem to be demonic, that is the way we would minister. We took some flak, but we also set a lot of people free from some horrible torment.
We even discovered that a lot of sickness and disease was a matter of dealing with demonic spirits, such as the lady who was bent over for years and could not straighten up. Jesus cast out a demon and she was free to stand up straight again! We are in good company when we begin to cast out demons. Jesus Christ is recognized as the greatest teacher, preacher, and worker of miracles who ever lived, and he made no
It is helpful to keep in mind that it was Jesus who prophesied that we would cast out demons the same way he did, through the word of faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit. He said,
When I receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was taught that once you receive it, you've got it, and you have it from then on, all the rest of your life. I was told that there is only one baptism in the Holy Spirit and that if you've ever had it, you've still got it. "One baptism, many fillings" was what I was taught. This meant that I could be filled again and again, but I could only be baptized in the Holy Spirit once. I was left with the conclusion that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was different from the subsequent fillings and the baptism could never be repeated, but the fillings could be repeated. I could only be baptized in the Spirit once, but I could be filled over and over.
But as I studied the scriptures and the lives of anointed men of God, I began to see something altogether different. Over a period of several years, it became clear to me that although the presence of the Holy Spirit within us is constant and unchanging, the infilling or anointing of the Spirit upon us can and does change. It is not constant.
This truth became clear to me along three lines. First, I saw it in the scriptures; second, I saw it in the lives of Spirit-filled men of God; and third, in my own experience.
The New Testament makes no distinction between being baptized in the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit. In
Later on, in Acts 4, they were all in prayer again crying out to God for miracles of healing and signs to be wrought. The Lord answered that prayer by "filling" them all again just as they had been filled on the day of Pentecost. I am certain that what happened to the 120 people in the upper room on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, happened to them again in that prayer meeting recorded in Acts 4. The word "filled" is used in both instances.
To me it was exciting to discover that we can be baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit more than once. I had met so many people who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and had spoken in tongues, but who had cooled down to a doleful lukewarm-ness and who could only sadly reminisce about the "good ol' days" when they received that glorious outpouring called “the baptism in the Holy Spirit.” It was as if they were breathing out a sad lamentation, "Oh, if it could only happen again!" The Lord was showing me that it could happen again and again and again! The very same experience that happened to me the first time I was filled (baptized) in the Spirit, can happen to me over and over again.
There are three instances where this experience is referred to as a baptism. In each case it is almost the same words spoken by different individuals:
THE WORDS OF JESUS
THE WORDS OF PETER
THE WORDS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Some of the other terms that are used referring to the baptism in the Holy Spirit are: "filled,” "receive,” "come upon,” "anoint," "be endued," and "pour out.”
The word "filled" is also used in
The first question Paul asked of the twelve disciples he met in Ephesus was,
Everyone who has had experience in ministering under the anointing, also knows what it is to minister without the anointing. Recently I was ministering in a large church in Mexicali, Mexico. For weeks the Lord had impressed me to minister healing to the sick in all my public meetings, so I called for all those to stand who had pain in their bodies. Eleven people stood. I asked them to come forward and I ministered to them. I did not lay hands on them. I simply rebuked the pain in Jesus' name. Then I asked,
That night in my motel room I was confused and depressed. That happened in a Friday evening service. I was under a cloud of doubt all day Saturday. Then on Saturday night God spoke to me in a dream. He said,
On Sunday morning, the first thing I did after I had made my bed and got dressed, was the exact same thing I did that day years before in my office at Grace Baptist Church. I just lifted my hands, closed my eyes and began to worship God in the Spirit. Instantly I began to feel the impact of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Waves of that power came over me and over me until I knew that I had received a fresh baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I was confident of God's presence and power as I awaited my turn to speak in the Sunday morning service. The praise and worship was anointed, and there was an air of excitement and expectation everywhere. I stood up and said, "There are some of you here this morning who are suffering pain in your bodies. I believe the Lord will heal you if you will come and receive the laying on of hands for healing right now."
Twenty three people stood and made their way to the altar. I laid hands on each one and rebuked the pain in the name of Jesus. Then I asked,
I am persuaded that there is so much more of the depth, and riches and power of God’s anointing than any of us has ever experienced. It has been a rich and rewarding experience in my life to go deeper and deeper, not only in my inward walk in the Spirit but also in reaching out to preach, to heal and to deliver under the power of a fresh anointing.
In the years since that initial baptism in the Holy Spirit, I have been privileged to help others into this wonderful experience of empowering and have seen their lives dramatically change, almost overnight!
The move of the Holy Spirit is growing in power and intensity all over the world. According to church history, the power of the Holy Spirit seems to have come upon the church in waves down through the centuries. The church experiences a time of mighty outpouring and then goes through a time of dryness and decline. Then another wave rolls in! This is not the plan of God, nor is it his intention. The words “revival, revive, revived, or reviving” are not found in the New Testament. It is not the plan of God! The word revival means to bring back to life something that has died. It speaks of a decline. So we come up with the thought, “Another Wave Rolls In” as if God in his sovereignty plans these things and sends them upon us from time to time. This is not the case!
If we would continue to put the proper emphasis on the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a normal and regular part of the ministry of the church, there would be a continual and ongoing River of Life flowing worldwide as the Church, the Body of Christ, takes the gospel to all nations. God’s perfect will as to the flow of His life in the church is not an occasional wave of the ocean, but rather the powerful and constant flow of a river! The life of Jesus is the pattern. Jesus never needed to have a revival for he never experienced a decline. This is His will for us!
We should be as zealous as the early church was to make sure that everyone who receives Jesus and is baptized in water in the name of Jesus also receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This was the practice of the early church. Consider the following:
THE VALUE of SPEAKING in TONGUES
When you stop to think about it, isn’t it strange that we even have to make a case for whether or not there is any value in a gift that comes from the hands of our Father, God? Would God ever give us a bad gift, a gift that would be detrimental to us and not good for us? All the gifts of the Spirit listed in the New Testament, including speaking in tongues, are God’s idea, not man’s idea. We dare not look down on or treat with contempt any of God’s gifts. But because the gift of tongues has become a center of controversy, and because tongues seem to have become a divisive issue as to their value or importance, I have included below some things to consider concerning the value of speaking in tongues. These are from the writings of Paul in chapter 14 of his letter to the Corinthian believers. So let us see what value the Word of God places on speaking in tongues. We can group all Paul has to say about the value of speaking in tongues around the following ten words:
EXPLANATION COMMUNION INTERCESSION EDIFICATION SUBMISSION SUPPLICATION DETERMINATION
These are all found in I Corinthians 14 with the exception of the first one, which is in chapter 12:1
What value could there possibly be in speaking a language, even if it is supposed to be a form of prayer, if you don't know what you are saying? This question only arises in the minds of those who suppose that something only has value if it can be understood and explained. How could anything have value if it is not reasonable, logical, and explainable?
We are not unwise to embrace and enjoy such things, for if we did not, we would not participate in electricity in its mysterious workings, or fly in a supersonic jet, or enjoy the song of the mockingbird. We may even find it hard to accept our physical bodies, so magnificent in their capabilities and functions that the Psalmist cried out,
Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the meetings on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California at the turn of the last century, there has been much discussion among theologians and among Christians in general about the validity of speaking in tongues. None of the spiritual gifts have caused as much excitement and aroused as much controversy as speaking in tongues.
Some are calling this phenomenon, "The Tongues Movement." It is no surprise due to the powerful impact speaking in tongues has on people, whether they believe in it or not! Almost any of the other spiritual gifts Paul mentions in his first letter to the Corinthians are easier for the average Christian to accept than speaking in tongues. I think it will help to recall a prophecy Jesus gave about these strange and unusual tongues. We cannot deny that, for many, it is easier to receive the words of Jesus on this matter than the words of Paul or anybody else. Consider the following words of Jesus:
Why should it be thought strange for Jesus to prophesy something that actually came to pass and is recorded for us in the book of Acts, in the writings of Paul, and in the annals of church history? Some might say, "But Jesus just said
Nearly all of these things that Jesus predicted in Mark 16 took place in the life of one single follower of Jesus... the apostle Paul. In Jesus' name he cast out demons, he spoke with new tongues, he picked up a deadly viper
The words of our Lord Jesus on the subject of unknown tongues are very important, and we cannot afford to ignore what he said about this. He said all these things would happen, and they did happen, and they are still happening today, including speaking in tongues.
Let’s look at Paul's letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, and see what he says about the value of speaking in tongues. If speaking in tongues has no value whatever, it should not be done anywhere in the Body of Christ ever! Why should we keep up a practice that is very controversial and troublesome while it has little or no value? On the other hand, if the Word of God clearly teaches the value of this practice and actually encourages it, we can’t lightly pass it off as a form of religious stupidity.
We need to keep in mind that Paul wasn’t intending to tell the Corinthians that they shouldn’t be speaking in tongues, for he specifically states the very opposite position in
Whatever my view of speaking in tongues, it should not come in conflict with that of the apostle Paul; how can we receive any of his counsel as the word of God and the will of God for us, if we cannot accept what he says to us concerning spiritual gifts? We cannot pick and choose which parts of Paul's writings are from God, and which are his own ideas.
When I speak in an unknown tongue I am speaking to God and not to men. I am communing with God in the spirit. I am saying something to God that he understands, though it is a mystery to me. Paul gives another name to speaking in tongues in
If all the books in Christendom were brought together with each topic in a separate pile, do you know which topic would have the biggest pile? The topic of PRAYER! Go to any library and find the religion section and see what topic has more books. Prayer will usually always win that contest!
Prayer is the channel of our access to God. We come into the Kingdom of God through prayer. We ask for and receive things from God through prayer. We praise the Lord through prayer. We keep up a constant communion all through the day by means of prayer. The fact that Paul calls speaking in tongues PRAYER is no small matter!
Conclusion: There is value in speaking in tongues because there is value in prayer.
In verse 14 Paul says that when he prays in an unknown tongue his understanding is unfruitful. He did not know what he was saying, but he was confident that God knew, for he used the word "mysteries." This word in the Greek speaks of secret things that are hidden to the eyes of some but revealed to others. Jesus said,
There are many such things in the Kingdom of God that are hidden from the eyes of the proud and arrogant, but revealed to the humble, the broken, and the child-like. Some of the best gifts God has for his children are passed over by the masses because they are not willing to stoop low enough to pick them up.
The evangelist Dwight Moody said he used to imagine that the best God's best gifts were the ones you had to climb the highest to get. He said the longer he lived, the clearer it was to him that the best gifts are the ones you have to stoop the lowest to obtain.
"The mysteries" here in verse 4 sometimes refer to prayers that we pray in the spirit for others, when we do not know what to pray for in our own language. We see this more clearly in Romans 8:26,
How often this prayer language has helped me while praying for our children and grandchildren! I know that when I call their names out before the Lord and pray for them in the spirit, I am interceding for them for just what they need, because the Holy Spirit knows and will use me to bring that very thing before the throne of grace for them. You may say, "But how do you know you are praying for just the thing they need at that moment?" I know by faith in the Word of God in
When I speak in an unknown tongue I am building myself up in the spirit.
If you have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can speak in tongues any time you want to. The next time you begin to feel down, depressed, worthless, worried, fearful, anxious, or troubled, by faith open your mouth and begin to pray. Go ahead and pray with your understanding, don't stop till you also pray with your spirit! You will begin to experience the strength there is in this gift to bring you personal edification. It will build you up in your faith.
The first is shared by
If indeed one speaks to God and edifies himself when he speaks in a tongue, how can this be used therapeutically? A case in point concerns a 22-year-old woman named Sarah, who was diagnosed by her psychiatrist as being catatonic schizophrenic for the past six years of her life. The psychiatrist had recommended to Sarah's mother that the state mental hospital be considered because of her hopeless prognosis. Sarah came to me heavily medicated and sat in waxy rigidity as I viewed her the first time in my office waiting room. I introduced myself and extended my hand to greet her, but she sat like a statue and stared blankly through me. Her mother told how, as a 16-year-old, she was an outgoing young lady, who was Spirit-filled and had a lovely singing voice. She explained, in front of Sarah, how a friend had betrayed her at age 16 and how this had triggered the onset of her depression and catatonic reaction. She had not spoken a word in six years!
I sensed that though there was no outward sign, Sarah was nonetheless hearing all that was said. I saw her for weekly sessions for six weeks, trying everything I knew to get a response, but to no avail. On the seventh visit, I asked the mother to allow her daughter to sit alone in the counseling session with the door cracked so she
I began speaking in a soft tone,
I began singing quietly in my prayer language and was aware that Sarah remained unresponsive. This continued for about 20 minutes as I became absorbed in singing prayerfully.
I opened my eyes and realized that Sarah was still sitting in silence; however, I sensed a breakthrough was at hand.
We sang continuously for about 15 minutes and then just sat in the awesome silence of the presence of the Lord. Finally, I said cautiously,
Dr. Clark Peterson of Tulsa, OK is a brain specialist and was doing research on the relationship between the brain and praying in tongues. He made some amazing discoveries. Through research and testing, He found that as we pray in the Spirit (our heavenly language) there is a specific activity that begins in our brain. As we engage in our heavenly language, the brain releases two chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost in the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly, this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and we don't use it. It is only activated by Spirit-led prayer and worship. We need to pray in our prayer language more that we ever have before.
The second instance where speaking in tongues proved to be of great value as an edifying, empowering experience was in the life and ministry of
I sat down and they laid their hands on my head saying over and over again in pidgin English, “Now you begin speaking, now you begin speaking, now you begin speaking.” But nothing happened; they thought I was going to burst into the gift of tongues and it had not worked. The idea of a new language in which you could speak fluently and express all the thoughts of your heart to God was wonderful. But I thought that it was something that you had to be rather advanced and spiritual to get. I shut my mouth firmly. If God was going to give me this gift, then He was going to do it, not me. But they kept saying, "Now you begin speaking, now you begin speaking.” I was acutely embarrassed and began to get cross with them. I felt hotter and hotter and more and more uncomfortable; here I was not speaking in tongues and they were going to be so disappointed that nothing had happened. Eventually I could not stand it any longer, so I opened my mouth to say, “Help me
She goes on to tell how she expected more power and miracles in her walk and her ministry, but was deeply disappointed: I was still rushing round the Walled City, going to some kind of Christian meeting every night, trying with every ounce of my being to help people, but nobody seemed to have been helped. I felt cheated.
Then I met Rick and Jean Willan, a young American couple who were new to the mission work in Hong Kong. I went to see if I could be of some help to them and the very first question Jean asked me was, "Do you pray in tongues, Jackie?"
I was shocked by Jean's American forthrightness. No English person would be that direct. “Well, no actually. I haven't found it that useful. I don't get anything out of it so I've stopped.” It was a relief to discuss it with someone. But Jean would not be sympathetic, “That's very rude of you,” she said, “It's not a gift of emotion. It's a gift of the Spirit. You shouldn't despise the gifts God has given you. The Bible says he who prays in tongues will be built up spiritually, so never mind what you feel, do it!”
Then she and Rick made me promise to pray daily in my heavenly language. They insisted that the Holy Spirit was given in power to the Early Church to make them effective witnesses to the risen Christ. Then to my horror they suggested we pray together in tongues. I was not sure if this was all right since the Bible said that people should not all speak in tongues aloud at the same time. They explained that St. Paul was referring to a public meeting where an outsider coming in would think everyone was crazy; we three would not be offending anyone, and would be praying to God in the languages He gave us.
I could not get out of it. We prayed and I felt silly saying words I did not understand. I felt hot. And then to my consternation they stopped praying while I felt impelled to continue. I knew already that this gift, although holy, is under our control; I could stop or start at will. I would have done anything not to be praying out loud in a strange language in front of strange Americans, but just as I thought I would die of self-consciousness God said to me,
After we finished praying Jean said she understood what I had said, God had given her the interpretation. She translated. It was beautiful; my heart was yearning for the Lord and calling as from the depths of a valley stream to the mountain tops for Him. I loved Him and worshipped Him and longed for Him to use me.
It was in a language so much more explicit and glorious than any I could have formulated. I decided that if God helped me to pray like that when I was praying in tongues, then I would never despise this gift again. I accepted that He was helping me to pray perfectly. Every day--as I had promised the Willans--I prayed in the language of the Spirit. Fifteen minutes by the clock. I still felt it to be an exercise. Before praying in the Spirit I said,
I had let God have a hand in my prayers and it produced a direct result. Instead of my deciding what I wanted to do for God and asking His blessing I was asking Him to do His will through me as I prayed in the language He gave me. Now I found that person after person wanted to receive Jesus. I could not be proud. I could only wonder that God let me be a small part of His work. And so the emotion came. It never came while I prayed, but when I saw the results of these prayers I was literally delighted!
Everything Paul has to say about speaking in an unknown tongue puts this gift in a very good and positive light. The only things he says that may seem to be of a negative nature about speaking in tongues is when he is admonishing those who do so to make sure they do it at the right time and in the right way. One translation of
At the close of each of Paul's letters he usually gives many admonitions to the saints of things to do and things not to do. If I truly believe the New Testament is the Word of God, I will not be quick to disqualify any one of these admonitions as simply something the apostle Paul said. I will receive it as something the Holy Spirit is saying to me through Paul, and that I need to submit to what he is saying because it is not from Paul, but from our Lord Jesus himself.
None of God's gifts are to be despised! They are all good. No, they are not just good, they are GREAT! Do not reject ANY of God's precious gifts! We will never know what we have forfeited if we do. It has been my observation over a period of many years that those who are not open and receptive to the gift of speaking in tongues are usually not open to any of the other supernatural gifts. On the other hand, those who begin to move in the gift of speaking in tongues are usually active in other spiritual gifts, such as prophecy, word of knowledge, healing, exorcism, the prayer of faith, and flowing powerfully in other gifts of the Spirit as well.
Conclusion: There is value in obeying a clear word from God even if it is given in the form of a wish.
The Greek word translated supplication simply means "a petition, a request, or a prayer.”
"When I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays . . ."
Does this kind of prayer have value? Yes, indeed! Prayer is the most powerful force on earth. And this kind of prayer is the most powerful and effectual of all since it is not mixed with my finite notions and feelings. It is perfect since I am motivated wholly by the Spirit of God.
When Paul said,
When I pray, I come before the throne of God to make requests for myself or others, depending on the mercy of God and his love and power to grant my requests.
One may say that the disadvantage of praying in this way is that we do not know what we are praying for, and therefore we cannot know if or when the desire is granted. When I give myself to the Holy Spirit to be used in intercession, I must also give up my right to know all the good that is accomplished through my prayer ministry. I can simply pray believing that I am praying in the will of God, and that I am not only praying for needs all over the world, but that I am also interceding for the needs of my own family, friends, ministries, churches, jobs, and everything else that pertains to my daily life.
Sometimes I will pray in the spirit holding certain needs before the Lord. While I am praying in tongues, I am at the same time thinking about the urgent matter that I want to lift up to the Lord. I have found this to be a very effective and delightful way to pray. And I also believe these prayers have been answered over and over again. For example, if my son has had an accident on his job and is recovering in the hospital, I will hold the need for his healing before the Lord as I pray with my spirit.
The experience of Jackie Pullinger confirms this also. She testified that before she would begin her 15 minutes of praying in tongues each day, she would confess that she did not know what to pray for or how to pray, but she also asked the Lord to lead her to people who wanted to hear the good news of God's love. This was precisely what the Lord began to do in her ministry. So it is good to hold before the Lord some need or desire and pray in your prayer language about it. You do not know what you are saying, but you do know what you are praying, and you can know when God answers that prayer.
Let us also continue to pray in tongues when we do not know what we are saying or what we are praying for. The Holy Spirit will use us to pray for all saints, as well as for all our own needs and concerns.
Conclusion: There is value in Sprit-directed prayer even when I do not know what I am saying or what I am praying.
The King James version uses the word "understanding" instead of the word "mind."
Notice the expression,
God does not gauge the sincerity of our prayers by the amount of feeling we are able to generate. The one thing that makes prayer work is faith, not feeling, and faith comes through hearing from God. Praying in tongues is no more an exercise in emotion than in any other type of prayer. This is one of the hardest lessons I ever learned about walking in the Spirit. I can decide to pray with my spirit or I can decide not to pray with my spirit. It is a matter of the will and therefore it is a matter of faith and has nothing to do with the realm of the emotions.
Some think that when a person speaks in an unknown tongue he is caught up in some kind of ecstasy and has no control over himself. That was my thinking for a long time. With all my heart I wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to have the power of God on my life and ministry, especially when I would see how wonderfully God used those who were filled with the Spirit and moved in spiritual gifts. So, I began to seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit at the age of seventeen.
Five years later I was still seeking. Then one day God got through to me with these words from a little book whose name and author I do not recall:
"You can receive the full blessing of Pentecost just as you received Jesus as your Savior, by faith. My battle ax is
For the first time in all those five long, weary years of begging, crying, praying, pleading, fasting, reading, tarrying, seeking, knocking, asking and asking and asking, the light was finally turned on in my spirit. Now I knew how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I could take it by faith just like I took Jesus as my Savior, by faith.
I laid the book aside and walked to a mountain near our home where I used to go and pray. On my way to the place of prayer I said,
When I arrived at the top of the mountain I knelt down and prayed,
At that moment I knew God had heard my prayer, and that I had received by faith what I had asked for. I had a settled assurance that the transaction had been completed. I had received it even though I did not speak in tongues, or fall down, or cry, or laugh, or leap, or dance, or go into a trance, or see heaven opened, or anything at all out of the ordinary. One thing I did have that I never had before. I had confidence. I had a rock-hard, settled, solid, certainty that I had taken the gift from the hand of my Father by faith and that I did not have to ask for it again. I now had the blessing. I had it by the surest evidence of all . . . by faith! And the Lord
A few days later I was alone in my car on my way home from classes at California Baptist College in Riverside, California. As I began to pray and commune with the Lord, I felt such a surge of joy and a powerful sense of God's presence that I burst out in praise to the Lord, but not in my own language! I was speaking in tongues for the first time in my life!
Now, I was a member of a Baptist church at the time and as far as I knew, all my friends were opposed to speaking in tongues or any of the so called "sign gifts" so I did not tell anyone that I had had an experience of speaking in tongues, not even my wife, Joni. She had developed an unfavorable opinion of Pentecostals and was not very open to anything that could be labeled "Pentecostal.” So when I had this powerful experience, I decided not to tell her or any of my friends about it. In a sense I became an "underground Pentecostal."
From time to time when I was alone and this wonderful feeling of joy in the felt presence of God came over me, I would begin to speak in other tongues. I felt that it would be wrong for me to do this without this high level of emotion. I thought it would be sacrilegious. It just would not be right if I simply decided to speak in tongues and did it. It had to be initiated by the Holy Spirit, and I reasoned that when I felt God's presence strong enough it would be okay to speak in tongues. I thought that if I did it without this special sense of God's presence it would just be me and not God at all.
This was about as far as I went for the next 12 years, with very little growth in understanding about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was attending a fundamental church of the Regular Baptist denomination at that stage of my life and such things were totally out of the question. If I had openly tried to move in such manifestations, I would have been invited to leave and go to another church.
Then, through reading the book,
I was pastor of a fundamental Baptist church at the time. I was sitting in my office reading Basham's book, when there began to well up in me a powerful urge to throw off every yoke that was binding me to tradition and to begin to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit with complete liberty. I wanted to see more of the power of God in my own life. I wanted to see miracles happen. I had no scriptural reason to accept the teaching that in our day we have a different kind of Christianity than Paul, Peter, John and the early Christians had. And if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, we have every right to expect the same things to happen in our day as happened in their day. We are living in the same age of the same Church and the same Holy Spirit is still present to fill and empower God's people!
So I laid the book aside and stood to my feet there in my office, no one there but Jesus and me. For some time I stood praying in tongues with my hands raised to God. When I stopped and started to sit down and read some more of the book, it seemed the Lord spoke to my spirit two words, "No . . . Continue!" I obeyed the impulse and began again to pray in tongues, and as I continued, I began to feel something. I felt that I was being lifted up into an atmosphere of the pure presence of God.
I felt like a vessel being filled with the water of life. It was like the breath of God blowing upon me, refreshing me down into the depths of my being. It seemed that God had opened the windows of heaven and poured out upon me an ocean of pure love, joy and power! The room was filled with the awesome presence of God!
As this wonderful fountain from heaven kept pouring into my soul, I found myself taking deep breaths and pouring out my heart to Him in praise and adoration, both in tongues and in English. It was such a glorious experience I did not want it to subside. At least I was determined that I would continue to praise until this fresh
In the midst of this powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit I was reminded of Charles Finney's account of receiving such an outpouring on the same day that he received Christ:
"As I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me like immense wings.
“No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; I do not know but I should say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more! Yet I had no fear of death.
"How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir (for I was the leader of the choir) came into my office to see me. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, 'Mr. Finney, what ails you?' I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, “Are you in pain?” I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, “No, but so happy that I cannot live!”
As these same waves of which Finney spoke in his testimony were washing over me, I remembered also in the biography of evangelist Dwight L. Moody, how he had described his experience as "waves of electric love" as he too had reeled under a powerful baptism in the Spirit while walking down a street in New York City. He had cried out to God for this blessing for many months before he finally received it. After he received it he said his ministry changed overnight. He said that instead of scores of people being saved under his ministry, now there were hundreds. The same supernatural power attended Finney as long as he stayed under that anointing. The day he received his baptism he left the law profession and started witnessing for Christ full time. Almost every person he spoke to that day came under a powerful conviction of sin and gave their lives to Jesus.
Now I understood what these men had received and I wanted to receive the full force of it, so I just continued to praise God in tongues with my hands lifted to the Lord. I left my study and walked out into the sanctuary. I continued to walk up and down the isle of the sanctuary with my hands lifted up, speaking in tongues. I was glad no one was around to witness what was going on.
I continued in this way for several more minutes, then I felt the Lord spoke to me to stop speaking in tongues and begin to prophesy. It was like I saw a vision on the wall of the church behind the pulpit. On the left I saw a desert wasteland and on the right side I saw a fruitful garden and I heard these words as I opened my mouth and began to prophesy. I knew it was a word from the Lord to me:
"My son, consider not the applause or the censure of men, for I have called you into a life of fruitfulness and you shall not fear man. If you are willing and obedient you shall eat of the fat of the land, but if refuse and rebel, you shall suffer loss. I am with you and as you follow me and learn to move out in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, I will multiply you exceedingly and you shall find fulfillment. But if you refuse to follow the light that I have shed upon your path, you will experience drought and a barren land with no water in it. Behold, I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it, for you have a little strength and have not denied my name. Go, therefore, and fear not to share with others what I have shared with you this day, for this is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest and this is the refreshing that I long to pour out upon my people, says the Lord."
As these words of admonition flowed from my lips, it was as if I were sitting by and listening to my heavenly Father speak to me using me as His messenger. I do not mean that I had no control of myself or of my speech.
I discovered later in my study of these things that in almost every instance in the Bible, when God would pour out His Spirit on someone, they would begin to magnify God and prophesy.
When I left my church that afternoon, I knew that I could not continue to conceal my belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit and in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit including the so-called "sign gifts" that my denomination had labeled . . . “no longer
My joy and excitement exploded! I felt like a new person. Such a refreshing! I knew that things would not be the same after that wonderful outpouring. I knew that I would have to share with Bob Jr. what had happened to me, but at the time I didn't know exactly how or when.
A few days later, while browsing in a Christian Book Store, I found a cassette tape by Don Basham on how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was a simple and powerful teaching that God had used to help many into the fullness of the Spirit. After I listened to it, I took it to Bobby and said, "Bobby, now I know that there is a baptism in the Holy Spirit and it is scriptural to call it a baptism. You've got to hear this tape!"
He took the tape and set up his recorder by his bed to listen to it after he went to bed. The spiritual explosion that had just occurred in my life was about to go off in Bobby's life.
I had often wondered why our church took such a strong stand against miracles. We were very vocal and outspoken that the Bible is the Word of God, and that all the miracles in the Bible really happened just as they are recorded, but we taught a dispensational theology which affirms that miracles are no longer needed and that it would be wrong to seek miracles or signs of any kind in our day. The scriptural texts that were used were the ones where Jesus scolded the Pharisees for asking for a sign saying,
The fact that Jesus and his disciples and the early church moved and ministered in a powerful miracle working ministry didn't seem to carry any weight at all. We were never taught to pray the prayer of the early church:
As I read the book by Basham, my desire to see the miracle working power of God demonstrated in our church became the cry of my heart. My great desire was not to speak in tongues. It was for power to witness, to teach, to preach, and to evangelize in the power of the Holy Spirit. I really didn't care whether I spoke in tongues or not. On the other hand, I didn't want to miss out on anything God had for me.
The other thing that troubled me about not speaking in tongues was the fact that all who received that blessing in the book of Acts spoke in tongues or prophesied as soon as they were filled with the Spirit. I did want to receive the Holy Spirit in exactly the same way they did, so that Satan would never be able to say to me, "You didn't receive the same experience the early Christians did. If you had, you would have spoken in tongues as they did." It was obvious that speaking in tongues was a part of the experience of the early church whenever the filling of the Spirit is recorded in the book of Acts.”
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to
No, I did not, but I received it two days later after I believed I had received it. The reason I had not received before is because I had never exercised my faith to receive. I had to stop the endless cycle of asking, begging, pleading, and never believing His promise. When I asked and then followed the request with a simple
Later, when Peter was explaining to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem how the Gentiles had received the gospel and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit he said:
As Peter stood there in the house of Cornelius and witnessed this outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles that had interrupted his sermon, he thought of Jesus' words, and he understood them for the first time. He said, "Then I remembered." He had already connected the words of the prophet Joel with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in the upper room for he quoted them to the skeptical crowd that day:
Someone may object to the thought we can all speak in tongues, citing Paul’s word, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”
Throughout the fourteenth chapter of I Corinthians, Paul is trying to encourage the use of spiritual gifts for the edification of the whole Body of Christ. He is very clear that it is through the use of these gifts that the Body builds itself up as every part does its particular job. When we come to these verses we see the same emphasis. Paul is concerned that spiritual gifts be used to help others. At the same time he is revealing to us some of the purposes of the gift of tongues and they are all very positive. For example, in the verse above Paul says that the one who speaks in a tongue is blessing or praising God and that he is giving thanks "well" (acceptably or admirably). This reveals to us that when we are praying in tongues we are at times praising and giving thanks to God in a praise-worthy manner. The error that Paul is correcting is not that of speaking in tongues; it is speaking in tongues at the wrong time and in the wrong place.
One of the greatest blessings in my own experience with the gift of tongues is that of being released so completely from having to form reasonable, logical, and sequential words and being set free to sing and pray to my God without being hampered or hemmed in by anything. I am free to wing my way to the heights of glory in a language that flows directly from my spirit, led by the Spirit, through my mouth and out to the heart of God! When I pray with my spirit, I am fluent! As one who struggles with words, it is no small blessing to suddenly become fluent! When I pray with my spirit, I do not stagger or stutter or bog down for loss of words. Some prayers are too heavy for words! They cannot be carried on the backs of any language! They can only be expressed in the language of the Spirit of God Himself! This is where tongues enters the picture. This is soaring in the realm of spiritual power that can devastate strongholds, uproot, pull down, and destroy demon fortresses, and establish the Kingdom of God in the earth.
There is a difference in feelings and words. Some feelings are very hard to put into words. Have you ever felt this overwhelming love for God and longed for the words to express that love? That is the time for bursting forth from the depths of your spirit in a language that God understands because He is the one that enables us to speak it out.
One day I was praying for my missionary friend, Hobart Vann. I asked the Lord to show me what to pray for. Then I said,
Over a period of time the Lord began to show me why we have to pray before He can work. He reminded me that he had given to Adam the commission to "take dominion" over all of creation. We were created in the image of God with power to co-labor with Him. He gave us the privilege of using the word of faith to create and to form and to reform things in this world. He also made us free moral agents with the right to choose to love and obey Him, or to disobey and walk away from Him. If it had been otherwise, we would have no power of choice. We would have been like robots, programmed to love God, and therefore it would not be love at all
This is why He put the tree in the garden. If there had not been a choice to obey or disobey, there would have been no possibility of functioning morally in a moral universe. God considered it worth the risk to make man with this capability because otherwise we would have been just so much machinery and not children of God.
But how does this enter into the realm of prayer? Prayer is man's invitation to God to come and work with him. It is also God’s invitation to man to come and work with Him. God's wisdom says that He will not overrule in the affairs of men unless someone invites Him to do so. Satan stole man's dominion and became "the god of this world." Adam forfeited all of his dominion to Satan, but when Jesus came, he took it all back and once again delivered it into the hands of the people of God, the church. Jesus said,
Paul spoke in tongues a lot! No one could say what he said unless he spoke in tongues a lot. He was confident that no one in the Corinthian church spoke in tongues as much as he did. Not only did he make use of this gift more than anyone else, he was thankful that he did. Paul thanked God that he spoke in tongues! Does that say anything to us as to what our attitude should be toward those who speak in tongues a lot?
This passage also gives us instruction as to when and where Paul spoke in tongues so much. It was in his personal devotions to God in his private prayer life. He said that when he was in the fellowship of the saints in church, he would rather
Can I identify with Paul in my attitude about speaking in tongues? Am I thankful that I speak in tongues? Do I speak in tongues frequently? Or is this something that I do very infrequently? And if you do speak in tongues a lot, do you feel good about that? I believe one of the reasons Paul was such a dynamic and fruitful man of God is because he constantly edified himself spiritually by praying in the Spirit. As I have said earlier, it has been my observation over many years of ministry in the Body of Christ that those who pray much in the Spirit are usually also flowing powerfully in other spiritual gifts. This is not to say that speaking in tongues is the cornerstone of all the gifts, or the most important one. But to disqualify or despise one of the gifts of the Spirit, the only one that we can use continually, anytime day or night, may be the reason why some of the other spiritual gifts are not operating in our lives.
Moreover, as we consider what Paul said about tongues in First Corinthians fourteen, how can we neglect this gift and ignore the values that he places on it? Obviously, Paul did not write this chapter to extol the virtues and values of speaking in tongues, but rather to explain more fully the place that spiritual gifts have in our lives, and how they are to be exercised both in private and in the public gatherings of the Body of Christ. He begins his teaching on spiritual gifts in verse one of chapter twelve with the words,
Let's take an overall look at Paul's wisdom and insight about speaking in tongues:
Jesus prophesied that tongues would be one of the signs that would follow those who believed in Him and who would go into all the world to fulfill the Great Commission:
All the signs mentioned in Mark 16 are said to be active in those who believe, and who are actively carrying out the command of Jesus to preach the gospel to every creature; not just those who believe in Jesus as the Savior, but those who also believe what He said about these miraculous signs. In Jesus' name they would cast out demons. This is one of the signs that would convince the unbelievers that the God we serve is the true God. Just as Elijah was used of God to demonstrate the awesome power of the presence of God, so are we called to go forth with a message and a demonstration of the power of the living God whom we represent. In Jesus' name they would lay hands on the sick and they would get well. This is happening with more frequency as the church is being brought back to the basic simplicity of the early church. It is not insignificant that the words are so constructed in Mark 16. This is actually saying that when we speak in tongues, we do so in Jesus' name! Jesus said,
When we think of signs, in New Testament language, we are thinking about supernatural manifestations that give authenticity to a person or a message. Consider the following passages:
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know."
It is clear from the above, and many other passages of scripture, that speaking in tongues is a supernatural sign, and not just a God-given ability to learn a foreign language, as some have thought. While that is definitely an accomplishment, it does not fit the New Testament definition of a sign that follows those who believe.
The first time tongues were a sign for unbelievers was on the day of Pentecost. When all the believers in the upper room began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them, it was the sign that drew the people together and amazed them and piqued their interest, giving Peter a wonderful opportunity to preach Christ to them, resulting in the conversion of about three thousand people:
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language . . . Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?’”
There have been many instances in the history of missions, especially since the Azusa Street outpouring in Los Angeles in 1904, of Spirit-filled believers who have spoken in tongues and were understood by those who
HONEST QUESTIONS and HONEST ANSWERS
In verses four through seven, he defines love, the God kind of love called agape, or supernatural love. Then in verse eight, Paul contrasts the eternal nature of love with the temporal nature of such gifts as prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. The key words are "now" and "then". Those who hold that spiritual gifts ceased when the final books of the New Testament were written say that the "now" was in the days right after the ascension of Christ when these gifts were still needed to confirm the power of the gospel, and the authenticity of the message and the messenger. But the “then” refers to now, when there is no more need for such authentication, since we now have both the Old and the New Testaments. To them the "then" came on the day the church declared that the canon of scripture was full and the Bible was complete. That interpretation does not fit the context of what Paul was saying. He was simply saying that there are things that run their course and are no longer needed and there are things that will endure forever. Love will endure forever and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit will come to an end . . . when? Read the rest of the passage:
Apparently there were some who had been filled with the Spirit who were not exercising the gift of tongues. Just as you can be born of the Spirit without being filled with the Spirit, you can be filled with the Spirit without speaking in tongues. You can be a Christian without exercising any of the supernatural spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in this chapter. But the very point of this book is to help awaken the Body of Christ to the need to build itself up through exercising spiritual gifts, as well as using spiritual gifts to win the unsaved to Christ. Paul said in
Can you believe that if you ask, you will receive? In the Kingdom of God we are required to believe. We cannot escape this one simple responsibility. If we cannot believe God, we cannot receive what He has to give. We cannot even receive the gift of salvation apart from faith. If you have already exercised faith to be born again, you know how to have faith to be filled with the Spirit and to speak in tongues, as well as to function in other spiritual gifts. The currency of heaven is faith. Do we trust God? If we trust Him, we can count on Him to fulfill His Word to us.
This has happened from time to time down through the history of the advance of the church into all the world. It has always resulted in the melting of hard hearts and a wonderful opening up to hear the word of the Lord, often resulting in the conversion of the unsaved.
Don’t despair, but trust that you have received what you asked for from the Lord. Like this woman, most people find their prayer language “fills out” as they keep using it more and more.
HOW to RECEIVE the BAPTISM in the HOLY SPIRIT
For those who have not yet received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the following is a simple explanation of how to receive it by faith.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a definite experience in which the Holy Spirit, who is already dwelling
In order to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit it is important to understand the following:
We receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the moment we receive Jesus as Savior. But the infilling is different from the indwelling. Jesus had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit from the day of his birth. He was Spirit-born in the womb of Mary, but he was not Spirit-filled until the day he was baptized by John in the Jordan at the age of thirty:
The Spirit of God
Jesus did not perform even one miracle until after the Holy Spirit came upon him when he was baptized in the Jordan. As it was with Jesus, so it is with us. The baptism in the Holy Spirit releases us into the realm of miracles through the gifts of the Spirit. All the miracles Jesus performed occurred as he exercised the gifts of the Spirit. He did not live and minister as God in the flesh. He lived and ministered as a man, born of a woman, born of the Spirit and filled with the Spirit. Because of that, he expects us to live and minister the same way he did, in the power of the Spirit, through spiritual gifts.
In Acts chapter eight the Samaritans had been baptized in water after having believed in Jesus, and yet they did not receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit until Peter and John laid their hands on them and prayed for the Spirit to come upon them in power. Receiving salvation and receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit are not the same experience. The gift of the Spirit and the gift of eternal life are two different gifts.
Paul received Jesus on the road to Damascus. He often referred to the Damascus Road experience as his conversion experience. However, he did not receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit until three days later when Ananias laid his hands on him and said:
Also in Acts 19:1-7 it is clear that these disciples in Ephesus had not received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, although they were believers and were called “disciples.” If one receives the fullness of the Holy Spirit automatically when he/she receives Jesus, Paul would never have asked these 12 believers if they had received this blessing. When Paul discovered they had not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit, he first baptized them all in water in the name of Jesus. Then he ministered to them the Baptism in the Holy Spirit:
After you pray, begin to thank Him that He has heard your prayer and that you have received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Receive it by faith! It is not enough to pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some pray for years and do not receive it because they do not take it by faith and thank God for it. Pray the following prayer sincerely from your heart and receive it by faith now:
Do not seek to have an emotional experience.
And now, as an expression of your faith that God has heard and answered your prayer, just begin to praise the Lord, but not in your own language. The experience of the apostles on the day of Pentecost can be yours, too. Simply open your mouth and begin to praise God and trust him for a language unknown to you, a language of the Spirit that is perfect praise to God. I encourage you to do this for several reasons:
• You are offering perfect praise to God in the Spirit.
• You are cooperating with God in a miracle. As you begin to speak, the Spirit will give you utterance.
• It will be a means of personal edification to you.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit will bring many changes into your life:
• Your works and your words will lift up the name of Jesus.
• You will have a greater desire to read the Bible.
• You will feel more love for others.
• You will begin to experience miracles.
• You will minister in the Holy Spirit's power.
• You will have a new power in witnessing for Him.
• You will be used of God in spiritual gifts.
In the original language, the admonition of
OPEN Up…THERE’S MORE!
Looking back over the years back to the day I first heard about the baptism in the Holy Spirit; how I sought for it for five years; how I finally received it by faith and then began to experience miracles and supernatural manifestations of God‘s presence and power; how I drifted back into formalism and legalism; how God once again made me hungry to experience the miracle power of God and then gave me a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I have learned some precious truths! But perhaps the most basic truth of all my discoveries is contained two simple words:
No matter how much we experience in Jesus or how long we have walked with Him in the Spirit-filled life, still There‘s more! There will never come a time in this life or in the world to come when we can sit back and sigh and say,
There is always the challenge and the thrill of going further with God. There is so much more! We could cry out as did Paul,
No matter how far I have gone with God, I can always look around me and see someone who has gone a little deeper with God, and experienced more intimately the fellowship of Jesus. This is so exciting to me to know that there is more in Jesus than I can ever receive! Praise the Lord! There is more of His power than I have ever witnessed. There is more of His knowledge than I have ever learned... His infinite love... His surpassing wisdom... His marvelous grace! There is so much more that from the depths of my spirit I can hear the final lines of the Hallelujah Chorus...
One of the meanest tricks of the devil is to get one of God's children to the point where he thinks he's got it all together. There is a subtle frame of mind that slowly settles down over the believer after he's been a Christian for awhile - an attitude or feeling that, "Now, I've read all the books, heard all the big name speakers, and I guess I've reached a plateau of maturity where things will be pretty much the same from here on.” They have long since forgotten the excitement and thrill of their first discoveries in Christ, and have settled down into a routine sameness. A cooling down has set in, but... there’s more!
A chaplain in the armed forces was reasoning with a soldier who claimed to be an agnostic.
"What kind of an agnostic are you?"
"I was not aware that there were different kinds,"
"I don't understand,"
"What percent of total knowledge do you possess? Would you say that you possess ninety percent of all acquired knowledge?"
Then the chaplain drew a wedge in the circle representing one tenth of the circle. Then he pointed to the space representing the remaining nineteenths of the circle and asked,
Dear reader, is it possible that these “charismatic” experiences could exist in the remaining percent of the circle for those who may be saying,
I may know Jesus as my Savior and never know Him as my Healer. I may know Him as my Peace and never know Him as my Wisdom. Jesus has more than 300 names in the Bible and each one denotes another aspect of His ministry or His relationship to us. I am convinced that in heaven we will discover that he has more than 300 names!
It is like the Israelites, to whom God gave all the land of Canaan but then said,
If my experience in Jesus is confirmed by God's Word, then I am on solid ground. Since the day that I opened up my life to the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit, I could not possibly recount the marvelous ways in which Jesus has revealed Himself to me. However, I expect the future to be even more exciting and fruitful and blessed than the past or the present!
This whole matter of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts goes far beyond spiritual “goose bumps” and the excitement of witnessing miracles. Much more is at stake.
A casual reading of the life of Jesus, the book of Acts, and the history of the Christian movement speaks loud and clear that the best method of all for evangelizing the lost is miracles of healing and deliverance. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard church planting movement, had a special name for it. He called it “Power Evangelism.”
Just today I was reading the DAWN Ministries newsletter sent out from the founder of DAWN, (Discipling Whole Nation),
“I was documenting and analyzing the very rapid growth of the Foursquare Church in the Philippines. While their leaders had never studied Church Growth strategy, they were growing 36 times faster per foreign missionary than any comparable group! What they did have was prayer for the sick, prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit, prayer for provisions, conversions, and rapid growth.”
The primitive church could not have made the advances they made without miracles, especially miraculous healings. Let us open ourselves up to more of the presence and power of God. Let us pray daily the prayer of the early church, which God answered for them on a daily basis and will do the same for us!