A friend of mine recently joined my wife and me at our church, The Bridge Community Church in Folsom, and she has some questions. First, some background. The Bridge is affiliated with the Assemblies Of God, and is a Charismatic/Pentecostal church. My friend comes from a Church of Christ background, so naturally there will be questions. I always welcome the opportunity to talk about Jesus and about what I believe and I’m very pleased to see that a friend and relative is searching the scriptures for her answers. This reminds me of the Bible passage where Luke was talking about Berean believers and commend them because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17.11 WEB) So, let’s search the scriptures and see what we can find.
Her text asks me give her the “other side” of the points that Franklin G. Huling makes in an article posted on Wholesome Words. I can do this. I’m not planning on attacking this article, but simply answering the questions that it would raise for someone who has little or no experience in an A/G church. I will use his sub-headers as my points also, since my friend asked for my side.
It Is Not Scriptural To Tarry for the Holy Spirit.
Mr. (DR?) Huling spends some time pointing out that Pentecost is an Old Testament festival occurring fifty days after the Passover, hence the name referring to fifty. He’s right. The feast of Shavouth falls fifty days after the second day of Passover. It happens that this is the day Jesus decided to send the Spirit on the believers who were following His command to wait in Jerusalem for the Comforter. Why did Jesus choose this particular day? Sorry, but you’ll have to ask Him that someday because I have no clue. But I’m sure that in His sovereignty and wisdom there was a very good reason. It is pointed out that we no longer have a reason to wait or tarry for the Holy Spirit to come. I agree! All believers receive the Holy Spirit as soon as they become believers. To me this is something amazing and at the same time sad. Amazing that God will do this for us and sad that more Christians fail to take advantage of the resources that He makes available to us.
It is commented that in Acts 19 verses 1-7 that the “disciples” Paul met were not believers in Jesus. Matthew Henry as well as all of the other respected commentators of the Bible disagrees with this opinion. All say that these “disciples” were in fact, disciples of Christ. That they were baptized “into John’s baptism” is not really an issue since John was Jesus’ forerunner and himself proclaimed Jesus as Messiah.
It Is Not Scriptural To Seek the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I can see why he might say this. Nowhere does the Bible actually tell us to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of things that are not spelled out word for word for us because the writers assumed we would know them already. There may be a misunderstanding of term or “church words” here. I noticed at the very beginning of the article Mr. Hurling lumped a number of groups together into one pile, including an entire denomination, so I have to excuse his lack of understanding. It is plain that believers are “baptized” with the Holy Spirit upon conversion. This is fairly plain throughout the New Testament. One example is Acts 10 where the gentiles listening to Peter believed and immediately received the Holy Spirit, much to the amazement of the Jewish Christians present.
This last January, pastor Anthony Wood wrote an article titled, “Should Christians Seek Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” It’s short and to the point. I particularly like the final paragraph.
So if we are all baptized in the Spirit and have the full promise of God, why do certain people seem to have more of the Holy Spirit? The answer is that while there is one baptism, there are many fillings of the Holy Spirit. His filling depends upon a daily obedience to God’s Word and surrender to God’s way (Acts 5:32). If you’ve placed full dependence upon Christ, you are baptized with the Spirit. As you lay down your will and yield to God’s will, you’ll receive an ever-greater filling of the Spirit and His fruits in your life (Gal 5).
It Is Not Scriptural To Make Speaking in Tongues Evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
While I know that many, if not most, members of the Assemblies of God may not like my answer, I actually agree with Mr. Huling on this. Tongues is ONE gift, (1Cor. 12.4) and Paul makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit gives gifts as He will, for His purpose (1Cor. 12.11) . Lake Sawyer Christian Church has an excellent article about this. I do not agree that tongues is the end all/be all of gifts or that speaking in tongues is the evidence of having been filled. Having said that, I want to emphasize that I am not going to make an issue of it or break fellowship with anyone who does believe this. It’s not a matter of salvation and I won’t go further than this about it.
It Is Not Scriptural To Have Female Leadership in God’s Work.
It’s a shame, really, when people take one verse and make an entire doctrine out of it. I have heard this verse from 1Timothy preached until I am blue in the face, and it’s totally pulled out of context. There is an article in Fixing Her Eyes that does a very good study on this subject, using more that just one verse of scripture. I’ll quote a little of it here, but it is worth reading all of it. Melinda Cousins did some very good exegesis and research.
Verse 11, then, says that a woman should learn in quietness and submission. Verse 12 is translated by the NIV ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.’ This is the verse that has most often been used to say that women shouldn’t preach. The first thing I want to point out is that there is only one imperative in this verse, and indeed in verses 11-15 as a whole. In general terms, indicative verbs describe what is, infinitive and participial verbs are dependent on other verbs, and imperative verbs express prescriptions or commands. The single imperative here is about women learning. As a third person imperative, a literal translation might be ‘Let women learn!’9 From this imperative we can infer that perhaps women were not learning, whether someone was stopping them from doing so or it was something that had never been done. It was probably unusual in the culture for a woman to learn (remember the Mary and Martha story). So in its original context, Paul’s audience would have pricked up their ears at the command for women to learn. Then he says they are to learn in two ways: hēsuchia and hypotagē, translated by the NIV as ‘quietness’ and ‘submission’. The latter is translated just a few verses later (1 Tim 3:4) as ‘obedience’ and indicates the response to the teaching received, rather than to anyone else. The former is used again at the end of verse 12, notoriously translated by the KJV as ‘silent’ in these two places. But it has also been used previously in this chapter, back in verse 2, for the ‘quiet’ lives we are praying that kings will allow us to live. There, the KJV translates it as ‘peaceable.’ I find it interesting that the same Greek word in the same passage has been translated in different ways. Certainly we can do that; words can mean more than one thing and so we need to look at the context in which they are being used to understand their nuance. But it may also suggest that translations have been influenced by cultural assumptions or traditions as well. It is worth asking how Paul is using hēsuchia in this letter and chapter. ‘Silent lives’ in verse 2 would make little sense. Verse 2 seems to be a kind of shorthand for lives of being who we are called to be, living out and proclaiming the gospel. Similarly, I would argue that in verse 11-12 hēsuchia seems to indicate a heart attitude of quietness, peacefulness, holiness, and obedience. It is about the attitude towards learning – not jumping up and making a fuss, or asserting their authority, but learning in order to obey, live out, and pass on what is learned.
So, yes, I believe that a woman can be called by the Holy Spirit to preach, teach and even pastor.
It Is Not Scriptural To Teach That It Is Always God’s Will To Heal If There Is Faith.
I have seen instantaneous, miraculous healings. I have seen people healed, over time, often with doctor’s care but sometimes without, and I have seen people not get healed despite many devout believer’s prayers. I’m sorry that he worded his heading this way and then talked about healing, in general. So, no, I do not believe that the Bible teaches that God will heal everyone. Paul is a prime example of this. He had some physical issue, yet God told him that grace was enough.
As Mr. Huling mentioned, Paul left one of his associates who was ill, without healing him. It doesn’t say why this was done.
I do believe that we are commanded to pray for those who are sick (and /or injured) and that they will be healed. Every time? No. But God does heal.
I also believe John 14.12 is plainly talking about physical works. Do we see these things happening today? Not often, I’m sorry to say. Why? I can’t even begin to speak for God, who gives all gifts. But I can look around and see some possible reasons. First, please note that the majority of miracle healings seen today happen in third world countries. Believe it or not, there are actually places that don’t have the same level of health care that we enjoy here in the United States. Need could be a major factor. Faith could also be a factor. Way too many westerners rely on science and technology above God for everything.