RevivalThe experience of the Spirit's infilling
Revival in the Christian church, or in the life of an individual believer, is usually always associated with some particular form of spiritual experience - an experience of the divine. This paper seeks the Biblical basis for this experience.
The touch of the divine
The touch of the Master's hand can be described as a decisive intensifying/enriching in the Christian experience of:
i] The Father - His love, sovereignty
ii] The Son - Personal closeness, friendship, saviour.
iii] The Holy Spirit - Indwelling presence.
There is a long history in the Christian church of those who have sought to heighten the experience of Jesus' presence through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. eg:
17th Century: Goodwin, "The Spirits Sealing"
18th Century: John Wesley, "perfect love," "entire sanctification", "Christian perfection".
19th Century: Finney, Asa Mahan, Simpson, Moodey, Torrey. "Baptism in the Holy Spirit", endowing the Christian with power for service.
20th Century: Keswick, "Filled with the Spirit" for victorious Christian living.
See the page on Spirituality
The Pentecostal/Charismatic teaching on the divine touch/baptism
Using Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 12-14 as norms (ie. the restorationist view), Charismatic theologians tend to center "on a conception of Spirit Baptism as an experience distinct from, and usually subsequent to, conversion, in which the person receives the totality of the Spirit into their life and is thereby fully empowered for witness and service. Until Spirit Baptism takes place, the Christian lacks essential resources which God has in store for them, therefore they are charged to seek this experience until they find it. When it comes thus to upgrade them, glossolalia occurs as an outward sign of what has happened. Since only hereby do they receive the totality of the Spirit, their experience as thus theologized, may properly be viewed as completing their initiation into Christ".
Such a view is difficult to established from Scripture as it is not possible to convincingly deny that:
i] 1 Cor.12;13 links conversion with Spirit Baptism. ii] Acts assumes that faith/repentance and the gift of the Spirit in fullness came together, Acts 2:38.
iii] Luke presents the disciples' two stage experience (stage 1, Luke, the ministry of Jesus; stage 2, Acts, the ministry of the Holy Spirit) as a unique experience that the apostles alone lived through.
iv] When Paul writes "do all speak in tongues?" he expected the answer "no".
v] Modern tongues are completely unlike Corinthian tongues which are more in line with tongues in Acts. The Corinthian tongues were used publicly and most likely had some type of language form (able to be interpreted, the speaker understood the tongue, it at least edified the speaker, 14:4, and the words used conveyed meaning 14:9-13). Modern tongues are for private use and are a non language vocal event with little opportunity for a valid interpretation.
In England where the reformed faith is strong and Wesleyan theology is weak, many of the leading Charismatics have not adopt a restorationist position. English Charismatics, particularly Protestants, tend to use the phrase "the release of the Spirit" to describe the Charismatic experience. It is a subjective realization, in a new and dynamic way, of the reception of the Spirit and incorporation into Christ which has already taken place in reality at conversion. "An intensifying of the sense of acceptance, adoption and fellowship with God which the Spirit imparts to every Christian and sustains in them more or less clearly from conversion on (cf. Gal.4:6; 3:2)." As such, this experience is one of many evidences that God gives his children to assure us that we are his. This is a much more acceptable way to describe the spiritual experience of God's divine touch in Christ.
The "reformed" circle's use of the phrase "release of the Spirit" is certainly better than "baptized with the Spirit" or "filled with the Spirit", both of which tend to be used of "regeneration" ("born anew") in the scriptures. The words are primarily linked to conversion. See the page on Spirit Baptism
Yet we should note that the term "filled with the Spirit" sometimes aligns with its Old Testament antecedents. On these occasions it is used of a post conversion divine presence in a particular ministry situation - a "filling" for that moment, ie. a "release" of the Spirit's presence within a believer to strengthen them for a particular task. The phrase is most often used in a preaching situation. "Filled with the Spirit he spoke......". All the prophets were "filled" and "spoke". Of course this is not a one off empowering for ministry.
Another way to understand the Spirit's infilling
Assurance is basic to the Christian experience. God has promised that he will persuade us that we are his children. This certainty of our salvation comes through the gift of the Holy Spirit, Act.2:38; 5:32; Gal.3:2. His presence in our life assures us we are saved, 1Jn.3:24. The Spirit is our guarantee, our earnest, Eph.1:4. He seals us as God's possession. Eph.1:13, 4:30.
The experience of assurance, of the gentle touch of the Spirit, is something open to all believers. The experience may be powerful, or very gentle. It may come in our seeking for His touch, or just happen in an unexpected way. For some believers the touch will be rare, for others it occurs frequently.
This touch of the Spirit in assurance may well be a better way of understanding the "filling" or "baptism" of the Spirit. It is certainly better than a restorationist view, and has better Biblical support for an "empowering for service" view.
The different ways we experience Assurance
i] The resurrection of Jesus, Acts 17:31.
ii] The scriptures, 2Tim.3:14.
iii] God's involvement in our lives. He keeps his promises, he intervenes, he empowers for ministry, he answers prayers, etc.
iv] Changes in our lives. We now love. These fruits of the Spirit assure us of our place in God's Kingdom.
On becoming a Christian we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we receive the Holy Spirit, who then assures us that we are God's. This inner conviction can be described Biblically in the following ways:
i] A sense of the removal of guilt, forgiveness, acceptance by God. ii] A sense of hope.
iii] A sense of trust. We believe that God will do as he has promised, Rom.4:21; 8:23.
iv] A sense of the fatherhood of God. The Spirit prompts believers to call God Father. He also bears witness in our inner being that we are God's children, Rom.8:15-17; Gal.4:6; Rom.5:5.
v] A sense of the active indwelling of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit, Jn.14:15-23.
vi] A sense of being filled with all the fullness of God as the indwelling Christ enables us to grasp the divine love more and more, Eph.3:16-19.
vii] A sense of joy through the Spirit who enables us to rejoice with a joy that is glorified, 1Pet.1:8.
vii] A peace that passes understanding.
So the infilling or baptism of the Spirit may best defined as an intensifying of the objective and subjective experience of assurance. Every Christian, from conversion on, will experience assurance through the indwelling Spirit. The intensity of the experience at conversion and during the Christian life will depend on a person's:
i] Understanding of scriptural truths
ii] Depth of response
iv] and the sovereign will of God
Why do some experience an intensifying at a particular time?
i] The Lord may be preparing a particular person for a time of pain etc. or a special ministry in the future.
ii] The Lord simply has chosen to do so.
iii] Because we have drawn near to them. Jam.4:8: Jer.29:13; Lk.11:9-13.
It is important to remember that not all will have a similar experience of the indwelling Spirit. There will be degrees of intensity. The Lord relates to each one of us individually and assures us of our relationship with him in a way that is best suited to our personality and the role he has prepared for us in this world.
The substance of an enhanced awareness of God in Jesus Christ, is an experience open to all believers, an experience which need not be understood within the framework of a second blessing theology of baptism with the Holy Spirit.
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