Monday, January 8, 2007

Cliche- "I have a personal relationship with God" Part 5

Christianity is a religion of faith. For starters, we worship an invisible God. Well, how do you know He exists if you cannot see Him? You cannot prove He exists (Oh, and by the way, this is true, you cannot prove, scientifically, that God exists. And Hey, you don't have to). It is a matter of faith.

Jesus died on the cross for our sins and bought our salvation. Well, this is well and good, but how do you know that what Jesus did was effective? It is a matter of faith.

Jesus is God! Super! but once again, you can't prove it. Christianity is a religion of faith.

A believer's hope for heaven is enjoyed by faith. The fact that we have the Spirit indwelling us is a matter of faith. The fact that we have been risen with Christ to walk in newness of life is a matter of faith.

Hope in the midst of fear and death is a matter of faith. Those of little faith certainly cannot be Christians.

What I have found in my walk with God is that my relationship with God is strongest when, like a child, I embrace the doctrinal truths of Scripture. The more I embrace doctrines like justification by faith alone apart from the works of the law, the closer my relationship with God becomes. It is not about merely observing biblical truth, but it is about embracing it--making it your very own.

Having a right relationship with God has very little to do with "feeling" His presence. It has very little to do with feeling and hearing and seeing spiritual things. It has everything to do with embracing spiritual realities by faith. Is your faith so small that you need to "feel" the presence of God in order to feel close to Him. When you go to church, do you need to "sense" the presence of God in order to have assurance that He is there? Is the Bible not enough? Or do you need glimpses of the supernatural to trust the things that the supernatural has already said in His Word?

I am not saying that God does not come in these supernatural ways. I am not saying that God will never let you "feel" His presence (whatever that means). But if your faith in Him is determined by how much you are experiencing these sorts of things then you are not basing your relationship with God on Scripture. Your relationship with God is to be based on faith, not experience. God is not near to me as my wife is near to me. I cannot see or sense His presence. Yet, I know He is near just as much as I know that my wife is near. How? Because I trust what God has said in His Word.

Do I have a vibrant relationship with God. I am not setting my self up as some sort of spiritual giant, but I answer with a resounding, "Yes!" I am close with God. I have a wonderful relationship with my Savior. Yet, I cannot say that I have experienced His presence in a physical way. I have never "felt" His love, in a physical way. Of course I have been very emotional in the presence of God, but this does not mean that I "felt" his presence.

This morning I read the book of Romans for my quiet time. I got to chapters 4-5 and was floored by the love of Christ to me as demonstrated by His death on the cross. I guess I could say that I "felt" the love of Christ. But I did not "feel" the love of Christ in the same way that I feel the love of my wife when I look in her eyes. I felt the love of Christ by faith. This morning I feasted on the love of Christ, and it was very fulfilling. But it was a feast of faith, not of sight.

We need to be careful how we communicate our relationship with God. It sets up unattainable ideas in the minds of other Christians. They feel unspiritual because they cannot say with complete honesty that they have "felt" or "sensed" the presence of God. When, in fact, those who say that they "feel" and "sense" the presence of God do not really feel and sense it in the way that we normally use these terms.

I have a wonderful relationship with God. I experience this relationship by faith. I embrace the fact that God is present and loves me by faith. I embrace these truths and make them my own, because God has told me that these things are true. He has told me this in His Word.

I will now share the most memorable experience that I have had with God.

I have been married now since May 27, 2006. In August, Kristal (my wife) started feeling sick to her stomach. She started becoming nauseous from the time she got up to the time she went to bed. We then decided to get a pregnancy test. For sure, she was pregnant! This was good news for the both of us. However, we were in for a ride. Kristal's nausea quickly got worse. Her pregnancy sickness lasted about 5 months (she is still feeling the after effects). She would lay on the couch all day long. Her diet consisted solely of Honey Nut Cheerios with extra honey.

She was absolutely miserable. At this time I was working 25 hours a week at a help desk, doing full time master's degree schooling, fulfilling the duties on an internship at my church, and doing all of the house chores that my wife was not able to do (all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping etc), and I, of course, had to spend time with her. The hardest thing about Kristal's sickness was the mental stress. Leaving the apartment every morning was difficult. Everything in me wanted to stay home with her.

When at work or school it killed me to know that she was home alone. Coming home was also difficult because I knew that I was coming home to a horribly sick person. There is nothing worse than watching the one you love the most experience such discomfort and pain for such an extended period of time. The hardest thing was knowing that she was much much more miserable than I. In this period Kristal and I had many sobering conversations about the sovereignty of God.

If God is in control of everything then He must be in control of this. Why then will He not stop the sickness? Many answer by saying that God is trying the best He can, but this definitely does not come from scripture as read in context. The Scripture does not present God in such a weak and impotent way. The Bible teaches that God is in control, and that nothing happens apart from His will. The correct answer is that God is in control and He is doing this for our good.

Oh, my friends, theology is so practical. Why is God continuing to let this sickness continue to make my wife miserable? Because He knows better than me. This sickness is actually what is best (in whatever way) for me and my wife. How do you know? Because God is good. Because God loves His kids. God knows what is best for me and my wife better than me and my wife do. This is a reality that God's kids need to embrace.

Where am I going with this? Kristal's sickness had gone on about 2.5 months or so and my Intermediate Greek and Elementary Hebrew midterm exams were about 3 weeks away and I had no time to study the entire semester because I was too busy taking care of my wife. I also had to preach and teach Sunday school that weekend. At this point Kristal was at her worst. To say the least, I was overwelhmed.

It was 6:10 a.m. and I was on my way to the car because I was going to a Wednesday morning men's study breakfast. As I opened the car door I looked to heaven and said, "Why? Why God? Why won't you just heal her?"

All of the sudden I began to laugh. I should have been crying. I should have had a nervous break down, but no, I started laughing. I looked back up to heaven and started laughing. I said, "You are so stinking good! I wish I could see this situation from Your point of view. Even though I hate seeing my wife in such a state, I know that we are both in safer place here than any where else. No matter what happens, and no matter how long this lasts I rejoice in the work of the Lord. I cannot wait! I cannot wait to see what you are up to. I LOVE BEING A CHILD OF GOD! Nothing can touch me. Nothing can harm me. If God is for me, if God is for my wife, then who can successfully be against us. I AM CHILD OF GOD!"

I did not "feel" the presence of God that wonderful Wednesday morning, but, by faith, I enjoyed some wonderful fellowship with the Father. I knew that I was safe. I knew that my bride was safe. I knew that our baby (Jimmy Jr.) was safe. I knew, by faith, that God was in control. I still hated the thought of my wife being sick. I still hated the thought of leaving her alone. I so badly wanted to be there with her. I did want this, but I wanted what I had much much more. I would much rather have the knowledge of the goodness and sovereignty of God than physical health. Christianity is such a relational religion.

Do you want a personal relationship with God? Feast on the truth's of Scripture as read in context. Do you want fulfilling devotionals. Then study Scripture in context and embrace it. I love God! I enjoy a wonderful relationship with Him. This relationship has not grown as much through a whole bunch of introspective prayer times. The catalyst of this relationship has not been super duper long devotionals. This relationship has been fostered through obedience and trust. My friends, what happens when you no longer "feel" the Lord moving? What happens when you no longer "sense" his presence? First of all, when you no longer feel or sense these things does this mean that you are no longer spiritual? If you say yes, then show me, from scripture read in context, how you got that.

A right relationship with God can be enjoyed when you are up, down, cold, dry, tired, hurt, depressed, afraid, happy etc. It can be enjoyed and sustained while you are reading, praying, singing, listening to the radio, running, playing with your kids, doing the dishes, listening to a sermon, evangelizing, feeding the poor etc.

God loves His people. He wants His people to trust what He has said in His word. I am not saying that we should not seek the supernatural. But, the emphasis in scripture is simple belief. The emphasis in scripture is for believers to live an ordinary life while embracing the overwhelmingly wonderful doctrines of Scripture. The Spirit does work supernaturally. But the greatest supernatural work of the Holy Spirit is empressing biblical truth on the heart of believers to such an extent that they will put more weight on what the Bible has to say than on what their experience has to say. If anything is a work of the Spirit, believing the radical teachings of the Bible is it.

15 comments:

John said...

I agree with what you've said here. I've tried hard not to see my relationship with God as dependent on circumstances or spiritual experiences, and for the majority of my life I feel like I've had some success in that. Recently though, there have been many things that God has done for me in unusual and encouraging ways. Nothing miraculous enough to shut the mouths of unbelievers, but strong enough that I know it was my Father working, through the Spirit, for the Son. I can't help but be encouraged when God gives such manifestations (if that's even the best word to use). I think God designed it this way, don't you.

Ok, Here is my question for you, Jimmy. Honestly, I've been baffled before by the importance the bible does seem to put on experience. The first example that comes to mind is Paul's asking the Ephesian disciples if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. That is a question I've never asked anyone! Although in recent times I've tried to ask that question just in different language so as not to freak anyone out. Over and over (as Grudem is quick to point out) the bible affirms that miracles and "signs and wonders" are an attestation to spiritual reality. Paul even said that he came in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

I know my thoughts aren't organized, but I'd like to hear what you have to say on this. I know these two truths are compatible, but I'd like to hear you on this side of the coin. For my sake.

Jimmy Snowden said...

In light of your question: The Bible is HUGE on experience. Without experience there would be no Christianity. The question we need to ask though is how do we interpret our experiences? What is our foundation. A million different people can experience the same thing and come away with different interpretations. A million different people could experience God working as you have (as you stated in your question when you talked about the Spirit working) and could have interpreted it differently. Some people would have said, "That wasn't God, it was Satan." Others would say, "That wasn't God it was His Holy Angel." Others would say, "That wasn't God it was the food I ate." You said, "I know that it was my Father working, through the Spirit, for the Son." Now what gives you the right to say that? Do you have something in you that other Christians do not? How do you know it was from God? What if another Christian experienced the same thing and thought it was becuase of the food he ate? Would you consider him less in tune with the Holy Spirit even though there is no objective basis upon which to discern if what you experienced was really from God or not? Just some thoughts.

In regard to the manifestation of the Holy Spirit: What is the greatest manifestation of the Holy Spirit according Scripture read in context? Galatians 5 talks about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I think it would be safe to say that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are the manifestations that He is at work in the lives of believers. What are those fruits? "Love, joy, peace, patience..."

In 1 Thess where Paul says that the Gospel came in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." What is he talking about here. He is talking about how the Spirit convinced them of the reality of the Gospel so much that they recieved the Gospel in spite of great opposition. They recieved the Gospel with their lives on the line. This is the evidence of the work of the Spirit according to this passage.

I really do not know how to deal wtih Acts. I really do think that the Ephesian disciples are quite different from us today. I am not one to say tongues is a dead gift, but I am one to say that tongues does not validate a profession of faith. It did in Acts though because the Jews were not about to believe that the Gentiles were brought into the fold of God's sheep, and something as miraculous as tongues would convince them that they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

I am not at all against the idea of believers seeking spiritual manifestations. I am against them making that the mark of how spiritual they are, because they Bible clearly does not make that mark of spirituality. I am against them making it the end all be all of being a Christian. I pray that the Lord would give me the great blessing of speaking in tongues (whatever that is, i'm not sure), but I do pray for it. I pray that the Lord would make Himself visible. But I strive for unity and love and obedience much more. I strive for evangelism much more.

These wonderful manifestations of the Spirit are important, but they are sovereignly brought. Humans cannot call them down (necessarily). Rich communion with God is had by focusing on the cross and obedience.

John said...

Okay, another angle. What if someone didn't have much experience in their life at all with God? They affirm all the truths of the bible, and even understand them better than most, but haven't ever necessarily felt themselves to be born again, or had what you might call an "encouter with God."

What then?

Jimmy Snowden said...

Well, never in the Scriptures do you see experience being a evidence of salvation. The evidences laid out in the Scriptures are the fruits of the Spirit, obedience to God's word, love for God, and love of the brethren. Experience surely does play a part in a believers experience, but it is not an evidence of their salvation. Those who cannot say that they have never "experienced God" in a super duper real way are not unsaved necessarily. Once again it is important to remember that words like "experience" or "feel" can be so misleading. Have I ever "experienced" God? I don't know. What do you mean by experience?

What I meant when I said without experience there would be no Christianity is that the great bulk of Christianity has to do with experience. Heaven is an experience and it lasts forever, and it is reality. Christians really do experience pain and suffering, but they have the hope of better experiences etc.

John said...

Not to equate assurance of salvation with evidence of salvation, they are different, but you would at least agree that assurance of salvation often seems grounded in part on experience, correct? I'm thinking in particular of the baptism/filling/"sealing" of the Holy Spirit.

I guess if someone told me that they believed everything in the bible to be true, but yet never had a time in their life where they felt reality from God or some kind of born-again experience, (the situation, I was trying to frame in my previous post) I would share their concern and advise them to seek some type of experiential assurance from the Holy Spirit. I don't think it is God's will to have assurance and hope apart from all experience. I'm not saying they aren't saved, but I am saying it's a problem, and goes against the will of God for the Christian life.

Jimmy Snowden said...

I do see what you mean John. If a person has never "felt" like a Child of God, there would be a problem. However, if someone were so convinced of the truth and reality of the cross that they would risk their life for it, but cannot say that they have ever had a born again experience, what basis do we have of saying that they are missing something? The circumstances in Acts where they recieved the Holy Spirit cannot be treated as universal Christian experience. They are unique. It was the beginning of the inclusion of the Gentiles.
I am not necessarily disagreeing with some sort of second work after salvation. I would really like to search some more verses on it. You got any? But one thing is this, I do not think that there is a formula to bring it on, therefore how are you going to advise one to seek for it? I also do not think that it can be nailed down exactly to what that second work is and/or what it looks like when it happens.
If someone is convinced of the Gospel from the Holy Spirit, to the point where they would risk their life for it and yet had not experienced some born again experience, what would you tell them to do? Seek a second work? "Well, how would I do that? Where from the Scriptures can you show me how to get this second work? And how will I know when it comes? How will I be able to distinguish this second work of the Holy Spirit from a highly emotional prayer etc?" Just some thoughts.
I am really enjoying this dialogue.

Joe Schmoe said...

I will admit that I haven't read this whole discourse in full, but I can't hold my initial thoughts...

God made us relational creatures with emotional ties to people. It is ludicrous to say that those emotional ties apply to earthly relationships, but not to the one with the Creator of emotion.

Sure, it's wrong to depend solely on emotion as a meter for our spiritual health. However, it is also wrong to assume we can have a vibrant relationship with God that is based entirely on fact and no feeling.

Since you used the marriage analogy, I'll take it further...

If I don't FEEL like my spouse loves me today, I shouldn't assume that is a fact. If I don't FEEL like being loving today, I shouldn't act on that lack of emotion in a negative way. If these feelings are lacking for a season, it's normal. Relationships ebb and flow. My relationship with God is no exception.

However, it is wonderful when I FEEL emotionally connected to my spouse. It is not wrong for me to desire and pursue that kind of connection. When we are in a season where we do not "feel" connected emotionally, I miss it and long for it. We talk about it and look for ways to foster it.

I would suggest that if we don't pursue the emotional connection, we are in danger of joining the ranks of those who stay together because they have to, but whose relationship is horribly empty.

There is quite a difference between knowledge and intimacy. You can imagine how intimate you might feel with your wife if there was cognitive knowledge of her love for you without any "sense" or "feeling" of emotional connection. God made you this way. Doesn't He intends for us to experience relationship with Him in at least as dynamic a way as we do with our spouses?

This goes against everything I've been taught all my life, but I have to admit that "personal relationship by faith, not emotion" seems like an oxymoron to me.

I think a lot of the argument here is about semantics. Your devotion-time experience of being overwhelmed by God's love for you was an emotional one in which you sensed or felt something emotional. That is different than other times when you read about God's love and knew it cognitively and accepted it by faith.

Jimmy Snowden said...

I agree with you that we cannot leave emotions out of the picture. Emotions have a huge part to play in the Christian experience. One who does not love God with emotion has issues. But, how are these emotions brought forth? How do we get these emotions to the surface? What I am saying in these posts is that one of the greatest ways to get these emotions and to know God is through simple trust in what He has told us in the Bible. Of course knowledge (doctrine) does nothing for us if that is all we are relying upon, but what I am speaking against is the modern over emphasis on emotion apart from doctrine. Doctrine and knowledge are not the sole foundation of a healthy relationship with God. I have not said this in my posts. But you cannot have a correct relationship with God apart from doctrine and knowledge.

John said...

You said: "The circumstances in Acts where they received the Holy Spirit cannot be treated as universal Christian experience."

Acts 2:38-39
Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."

I would say from this that it has to be universal Christian experience, but the manifestations will differ. It may even have to be at the time of conversion, but I guess I'm not totally sold on that yet.

And honestly, this verse (Acts 2:38-39) has made the issue inescapable for me. I never realized how needed this experience was (filling with Holy Spirit) until I listened to Charles Leiter and Mac Tomlinson on the issue. There are some important distinctions to bring out at the onset however.

First, this probably should not be termed a "second work." The filling and baptism of the Spirit are equated in Acts (contrary to some Pentecostal thought). This is seen in 11:15-18 when Peter says that he and the Gentiles shared the same experience, sometimes called filling, sometimes baptism. But once this is established it is clear that this filling happens over and over again in the Christian life. Numerous times God sees fit to fill Paul and others with the Spirit for his purposes. It doesn't change their standing with God, it is rather something of a temporary blessing and empowerment. Though we are born again by the Spirit, and are to walk and live and pray in the Spirit, this seems to be different. This comes and goes. It's not just a one time "second work." And if I understand Acts 2:38-39 right, the gift is this temporary filling of the Spirit. This experience should happen to all believers it would seem at conversion (more on that if you want it). Not to mention that "second work" is probably not the right term for this, because it doesn't bring you onto some new plane with God. Essentially, you are still the same as before and after the Spirit comes upon you.

When someone then professes to believe the truths of the gospel and yet doesn't have peace or assurance (and never has) there ought to be a questioning as to what really happened in their life. Did God fail to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that different manifestations occur when someone is filled with the Spirit. Speaking in tongues seemed to happen a lot in Acts, but it wasn't the only manifestation, and many times it didn't happen at all. What these manifestations will be then I certainly am no expert to say. More mature, experienced Christians could probably speak better on this. But there ought to be some kind of experience.

Your right there isn't a formula, but what I have told people to do is pray and ask God to testify to their spirit (by his Spirit, Rom. 8) that they are a child of God, however he might be pleased to do it. They need assurance, and in part (especially in the beginning of a Christian life, which I keep trying to stress) assurance that comes from an encounter/experience with God. If you can't pray for it, what else can you do! I would lay hands on the people (like Paul did) if I felt God wanted me to and it would do any good, but unfortunately for me I don't seem to have that type of apostolic (and cohorts) type of power. At least not yet! But just because there isn't a formula doesn't mean it's not necessary.

----

I think all of this is taught especially well in Eph. 1:13-14 where it talks about being "sealed" with the Spirit. That is, we bear the impress of supernatural and divine activity, and because of this our promised inheritance in the future is made all the more sure, and pressing on seems worth it and real.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Jimmy Snowden said...

I have looked over the Scriptures given from Acts and Ephesians. I have listed my conclusions below. I have tried to address most of what was in your response. Sorry this is so long. My comments after ever section of scripture are in bold. At the end of the all of the scriptures I have a whole bunch of conclusions. I hope I understood what you were saying.

Acts 1:

4And while staying[
1. a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Making a distinction between John’s baptism with water and Baptism of Spirit (Pentecost). Speaking mainly to Jews. This has not yet happened yet.

Acts 2:
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
1. 1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."
Peter's Sermon at Pentecost
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17"'And in the last days it shall be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,and your young men shall see visions,and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants[c] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
Happened to the Jews. The evidence that the Spirit fell on them was speaking in tongues and prophesying, dreams, and visions. This happened after they believed. Does not say that they recieved the Spirit, just that the Spirit fell upon them and that it was poured out. Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit, this was the fulfillment of that promise.

Acts 2:
29"Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
"'The Lord said to my Lord,Sit at my right hand,
35until I make your enemies your footstool.'
1. 36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The evidence that the Spirit had been poured out was what they saw that day (i.e. supernatural tongues, prophesying etc.). They will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Will they also receive the manifestations that came with the coming of the Gift in such a manifest way? Doesn’t say. But they will receive the Holy Spirit. Is this after or before they get baptized and repent? Could go either way. Either way it was promised to them. He is not telling them to go seek it out, he is telling them what will happen if they believe, repent of their sins, and get baptized. Says nothing about laying on of hands. It seems from the context to be suggesting that they will get the same gift of the Holy Spirit that the Jews had just got.

Acts 4:8
5On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well. 11This Jesus[
1. a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Seems very unlikely that filled with the Spirit here has the same idea as that of Acts 2. Seems more to be that the Spirit was giving him utterance as Jesus promised before his death (Mark 13; Luke 12). The evidence of his being full of the Spirit here is that he spoke with boldness about the cross of Christ.

Acts 4:31
23When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[
1. c] said by the Holy Spirit,
"'Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed'[d]--
27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants[e] to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Seems to be the same as the last verse. The evidence of being full of the H.S. is bold proclamation. Not the same as Acts 2.

Acts 6:3, 5.

1Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[
1. a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." 5And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
8And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11Then they secretly instigated men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." 12And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13and they set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us." 15And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Can it be narrowed down to what “full” of the Spirit here can mean? Seems to mean though that he was empowered to do supernatural things. It also seems to mean that he was empowered by the Spirit to boldly proclaim the Gospel in the face of persecution.


Acts 7:55
54Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 57But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[
1. b] at him. 58Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
This certainly cannot be recurring of the Acts 2 event. “Full” of the Spirit here has little to do with supernatural gifts. It has to do with bold proclamation of the Gospel and full confidence in the faithfulness of God.

Acts 8:16 Baptism

14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19saying, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall[
1. c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." 24And Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
Gentile Converts. The apostles saw a need for others to receive the Holy Spirit (for the Spirit to fall on them). Their baptism preceded their receiving the Spirit. The laying on of hands is what God used to give them the spirit. Does not say what happened when they recieved the Spirit.

Acts 9:17
10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." 11And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." 15But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." 17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened.
Baptism came after recieving the Spirit. The evidence of being filled with the Spirit is not here spelled out. Says nothing of speaking in tongues. Maybe the evidence of it is getting sight back. Paul was a Jew.

Acts 10:47 BaptismGentiles Hear the Good News
1. 34So Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles
44While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47"Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

They received the Spirit before baptism. The manifestation of their receiving the Spirit was speaking in tongues. Similar to that of Acts 2. Gentile Converts.

Acts 11:16 Baptism

1Now the apostles and the brothers[
1. a] who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3"You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them." 4But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' 8But I said, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' 9But the voice answered a second time from heaven, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.' 10This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.' 15As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" 18When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life."

This baptism of the H.S. seems to be an indicator that they had been granted repentace-that they had been saved. This says nothing about what they did or what it looked like when they were baptized, but it is possible that they likened to the Acts 2 experience (vs17), but maybe not because it says “when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and they surely believed in the Jesus before Acts 2. This had to do with Gentile believers.

Acts 11:24
19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists[
1. b] also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Once again the evidence of being “Full” of the Holy Spirit is bold proclamation of the Gospel. This was after he had believed and been baptized.

Acts 13:9
4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time." Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Being “full” of the Spirit seems to have something to do with judgement and boldness. Doesn’t seem to be the same as Acts 2. Paul is a Jew. This is after baptism, belief. He has already been filled with the Holy Spirit on a previous occasion.

Acts 13:52
48And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

As seen in many of the occurences before “filled” with the Spirit happens in the midst of persecution (with Paul on the two previous accounts and then with Stephen). It could be argued that the evidence of being full of the Holy Spirit is joy in the midst of persecution.


Acts 19:3-4 Baptism
Paul in Ephesus
1. 1And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5On hearing this, they were baptized in[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7There were about twelve men in all.
Dealing with Gentile Believers. Recieving the Spirit happened after baptism. Was received by the laying on of hands. Receiving the Spirit was manifest by tongues and prophesying. They were baptized by John’s baptism. This seemed to not be enough because they were baptized again. They already had faith before they received the Holy Spirit.


Conclusions from the Book of Acts:

a. The evidence of the Spirit falling/baptism in Acts 2; 10:47; 11:16 and 19:3-4 was supernatural activity (speaking in tongues, prophesying etc.).

b. There was no supernatural manifestation of their recieving the Holy Spirit in 8:16, but it is definitely not out of question to reason that it was the same as Acts 2.

c. The evidence of the Spirit falling in Acts 4:8, 31; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9, 52 generally has to do with empowerment to preach the Word of God boldly in the face of persecution.

d. The evidence of being Full of the Spirit in Stephen's case was supernatural ability and boldness of speech with the Gospel (Acts 6:3-5).

e. The evidence of Paul's being filled with the Holy Spirit is not explained. Did he speak in tongues at that moment? We simply cannot know.


Conclusions from the Book of Acts:
1. I do think it would be difficult to prove that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit are the same in every instance. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit are the same in some instances, but not in all instances. The receiving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2; 10:47; and 19:3-4 (This could also be the case in Acts 8:16, but not as clear as the previously mentioned verses) seem to be somewhat the same. The event in Acts 2 happened to Jews while the other 3 instances happened to Gentiles.

2. It seems that the occassions with the Gentiles was a one time happening. "Did you recieve the Holy Spirit when you believed?" This language communicates the idea of a one time experience. What would have happened if they had said, "Yes we had recieved the Spirit?" Would they have told them, "Well then you need to seek it out again, because this is a reoccuring thing in the life of a believer." Or would they have said, "Oh good, because if not then we would have laid our hands on you so you could recieve it." I think they would have said the latter of the two. I do not think that it is right to consider this something that a Christian ought to seek if he has not yet experienced it. We must also remember that the recieving the of the Spirit in Acts 2:38 is promised. It is not set out there as a goal. Peter is telling them what will happen when the repent and get baptized. Why then did this not happen in the case of the Gentiles? Because of the historical circumstance. The Jews were very skeptical about the idea of Gentiles being children of God.

3. This baptism or filling in the book of Acts is sometimes something that happens over and over, but not in every case. To say that the instances in Acts 10:47; 11:16 and 19:3-4 happen over and over would be pouring way to much into these verses.

4. In all of this I am not saying that the Spirit does not continually act and empower people throughout their entire Christian life. As seen clearly from Acts 4:8, 31; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9, 52 the Spirit empowered them to boldly proclaim the Gospel. The Spirit also empowered Stephen to do the things that he did. What I am saying is that we must not take the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit to always be a recurring experience in the life of a believer.

5. If the Baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit are seen as the same in every instance in Acts one would have to say that being empowered to boldy proclaim the Gospel in the face of persecution would be just as much of an evidence of being baptized or filled with the Spirit than some spiritual experience. It seems to me a stretch to equate the boldness of speech passages with the more supernatural Acts 2 type passages. They all refer to being filled or Baptized by the Spirit, but they do seem to be different. The main difference is that one happened at the beginning of their Christian life and the others happen throughout the life of a believer.

In Regard to Ephesians 1:13.

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love
5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
15For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,
16do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.


1. First of all it is important to point out that this verse is not necessarily saying that the "sealing" occures after believing. In fact, the grammar of this passage prefers simultaneous action (the beleiving and sealing happen at the same time).

2. "Sealing" most likely refers to ownership. The Holy Spirit of promise is that which gives us assurance that we are God's adopted kids and therefore we have a hope of heaven. The Spirit is that which identifys us as being owned by God.

3. Nothing in this verse indicates the necessity of spiritual experience. "Sealed with the Holy Spirit." This means that our being identified as God's possession is that we have the Spirit. Not necessarily that we have spiritual experiences, but rather that we have the Spirit. Nothing from this verse indicates that "sealing" is something that happens often. In fact he seems to be speaking of something that has already happened.

3. Nothing in this verse communicates that we are to seek this "sealing" out if we have not yet experienced it.

4. Lets for a moment entertain the idea that the sealing of the Holy Spirit is an experience. What would be the evidence that you have been sealed? What would be those signs that you are God's? Well, look just at vs 15, "for this reason I too, having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus whcih exists among you and yor love for all the saints." In the context, if anything were to be showing the evidence of the work of the Spirit in showing that you are owned by God, it would be faith in the Lord Jesus and love for all the saints.



Overall conclusions: What I see in the Scripture is an emphasis on simple faith in the promises of God. If one is going to tell someone that they need to have a spiritual experience after they have already repented, believed, and been baptized I would really really go the extra yard to make sure that that is what the Bible teaches before I put that burden on them. Honestly, I do not see this necessity from the Scriptures. I see a lot being read into these passages. However, this study was very fruitful for me, because I now do have a much more vibrant understanding of Acts. But I am not convinced that these experiences should be sought out as some sort of necessity.

I definitely do not know the entirety of the position. I would like to look further into it, because the book of Acts does seem to have a lot to say about works of the Spirit. I am skeptical about seeing the filling and baptism of the Spirit as being the same thing in every instance. I am also skeptical about Ephesians 1:13, and using it as a verse to call those who have already repented, believed, and been baptized to seek some spiritual experience.

Jimmy Snowden said...

I have looked over the Scriptures given from Acts and Ephesians. I have listed my conclusions below. I have tried to address most of what was in your response. Sorry this is so long. My comments after ever section of scripture are in bold. At the end of the all of the scriptures I have a whole bunch of conclusions. I hope I understood what you were saying.

Acts 1:

4And while staying[
1. a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Making a distinction between John’s baptism with water and Baptism of Spirit (Pentecost). Speaking mainly to Jews. This has not yet happened yet.

Acts 2:
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
1. 1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."
Peter's Sermon at Pentecost
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17"'And in the last days it shall be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,and your young men shall see visions,and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants[c] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
Happened to the Jews. The evidence that the Spirit fell on them was speaking in tongues and prophesying, dreams, and visions. This happened after they believed. Does not say that they recieved the Spirit, just that the Spirit fell upon them and that it was poured out. Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit, this was the fulfillment of that promise.

Acts 2:
29"Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
"'The Lord said to my Lord,Sit at my right hand,
35until I make your enemies your footstool.'
1. 36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The evidence that the Spirit had been poured out was what they saw that day (i.e. supernatural tongues, prophesying etc.). They will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Will they also receive the manifestations that came with the coming of the Gift in such a manifest way? Doesn’t say. But they will receive the Holy Spirit. Is this after or before they get baptized and repent? Could go either way. Either way it was promised to them. He is not telling them to go seek it out, he is telling them what will happen if they believe, repent of their sins, and get baptized. Says nothing about laying on of hands. It seems from the context to be suggesting that they will get the same gift of the Holy Spirit that the Jews had just got.

Acts 4:8
5On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well. 11This Jesus[
1. a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Seems very unlikely that filled with the Spirit here has the same idea as that of Acts 2. Seems more to be that the Spirit was giving him utterance as Jesus promised before his death (Mark 13; Luke 12). The evidence of his being full of the Spirit here is that he spoke with boldness about the cross of Christ.

Acts 4:31
23When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[
1. c] said by the Holy Spirit,
"'Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed'[d]--
27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants[e] to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Seems to be the same as the last verse. The evidence of being full of the H.S. is bold proclamation. Not the same as Acts 2.

Acts 6:3, 5.

1Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[
1. a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." 5And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
8And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11Then they secretly instigated men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." 12And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13and they set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us." 15And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Can it be narrowed down to what “full” of the Spirit here can mean? Seems to mean though that he was empowered to do supernatural things. It also seems to mean that he was empowered by the Spirit to boldly proclaim the Gospel in the face of persecution.


Acts 7:55
54Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 57But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[
1. b] at him. 58Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
This certainly cannot be recurring of the Acts 2 event. “Full” of the Spirit here has little to do with supernatural gifts. It has to do with bold proclamation of the Gospel and full confidence in the faithfulness of God.

Acts 8:16 Baptism

14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19saying, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall[
1. c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." 24And Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
Gentile Converts. The apostles saw a need for others to receive the Holy Spirit (for the Spirit to fall on them). Their baptism preceded their receiving the Spirit. The laying on of hands is what God used to give them the spirit. Does not say what happened when they recieved the Spirit.

Acts 9:17
10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." 11And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." 15But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." 17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened.
Baptism came after recieving the Spirit. The evidence of being filled with the Spirit is not here spelled out. Says nothing of speaking in tongues. Maybe the evidence of it is getting sight back. Paul was a Jew.

Acts 10:47 BaptismGentiles Hear the Good News
1. 34So Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles
44While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47"Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

They received the Spirit before baptism. The manifestation of their receiving the Spirit was speaking in tongues. Similar to that of Acts 2. Gentile Converts.

Acts 11:16 Baptism

1Now the apostles and the brothers[
1. a] who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3"You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them." 4But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' 8But I said, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' 9But the voice answered a second time from heaven, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.' 10This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.' 15As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" 18When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life."

This baptism of the H.S. seems to be an indicator that they had been granted repentace-that they had been saved. This says nothing about what they did or what it looked like when they were baptized, but it is possible that they likened to the Acts 2 experience (vs17), but maybe not because it says “when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and they surely believed in the Jesus before Acts 2. This had to do with Gentile believers.

Acts 11:24
19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists[
1. b] also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Once again the evidence of being “Full” of the Holy Spirit is bold proclamation of the Gospel. This was after he had believed and been baptized.

Acts 13:9
4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time." Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Being “full” of the Spirit seems to have something to do with judgement and boldness. Doesn’t seem to be the same as Acts 2. Paul is a Jew. This is after baptism, belief. He has already been filled with the Holy Spirit on a previous occasion.

Acts 13:52
48And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

As seen in many of the occurences before “filled” with the Spirit happens in the midst of persecution (with Paul on the two previous accounts and then with Stephen). It could be argued that the evidence of being full of the Holy Spirit is joy in the midst of persecution.


Acts 19:3-4 Baptism
Paul in Ephesus
1. 1And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5On hearing this, they were baptized in[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7There were about twelve men in all.
Dealing with Gentile Believers. Recieving the Spirit happened after baptism. Was received by the laying on of hands. Receiving the Spirit was manifest by tongues and prophesying. They were baptized by John’s baptism. This seemed to not be enough because they were baptized again. They already had faith before they received the Holy Spirit.


Conclusions from the Book of Acts:

a. The evidence of the Spirit falling/baptism in Acts 2; 10:47; 11:16 and 19:3-4 was supernatural activity (speaking in tongues, prophesying etc.).

b. There was no supernatural manifestation of their recieving the Holy Spirit in 8:16, but it is definitely not out of question to reason that it was the same as Acts 2.

c. The evidence of the Spirit falling in Acts 4:8, 31; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9, 52 generally has to do with empowerment to preach the Word of God boldly in the face of persecution.

d. The evidence of being Full of the Spirit in Stephen's case was supernatural ability and boldness of speech with the Gospel (Acts 6:3-5).

e. The evidence of Paul's being filled with the Holy Spirit is not explained. Did he speak in tongues at that moment? We simply cannot know.


Conclusions from the Book of Acts:
1. I do think it would be difficult to prove that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit are the same in every instance. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit are the same in some instances, but not in all instances. The receiving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2; 10:47; and 19:3-4 (This could also be the case in Acts 8:16, but not as clear as the previously mentioned verses) seem to be somewhat the same. The event in Acts 2 happened to Jews while the other 3 instances happened to Gentiles.

2. It seems that the occassions with the Gentiles was a one time happening. "Did you recieve the Holy Spirit when you believed?" This language communicates the idea of a one time experience. What would have happened if they had said, "Yes we had recieved the Spirit?" Would they have told them, "Well then you need to seek it out again, because this is a reoccuring thing in the life of a believer." Or would they have said, "Oh good, because if not then we would have laid our hands on you so you could recieve it." I think they would have said the latter of the two. I do not think that it is right to consider this something that a Christian ought to seek if he has not yet experienced it. We must also remember that the recieving the of the Spirit in Acts 2:38 is promised. It is not set out there as a goal. Peter is telling them what will happen when the repent and get baptized. Why then did this not happen in the case of the Gentiles? Because of the historical circumstance. The Jews were very skeptical about the idea of Gentiles being children of God.

3. This baptism or filling in the book of Acts is sometimes something that happens over and over, but not in every case. To say that the instances in Acts 10:47; 11:16 and 19:3-4 happen over and over would be pouring way to much into these verses.

4. In all of this I am not saying that the Spirit does not continually act and empower people throughout their entire Christian life. As seen clearly from Acts 4:8, 31; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9, 52 the Spirit empowered them to boldly proclaim the Gospel. The Spirit also empowered Stephen to do the things that he did. What I am saying is that we must not take the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit to always be a recurring experience in the life of a believer.

5. If the Baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit are seen as the same in every instance in Acts one would have to say that being empowered to boldy proclaim the Gospel in the face of persecution would be just as much of an evidence of being baptized or filled with the Spirit than some spiritual experience. It seems to me a stretch to equate the boldness of speech passages with the more supernatural Acts 2 type passages. They all refer to being filled or Baptized by the Spirit, but they do seem to be different. The main difference is that one happened at the beginning of their Christian life and the others happen throughout the life of a believer.

In Regard to Ephesians 1:13.

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love
5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
15For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,
16do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.


1. First of all it is important to point out that this verse is not necessarily saying that the "sealing" occures after believing. In fact, the grammar of this passage prefers simultaneous action (the beleiving and sealing happen at the same time).

2. "Sealing" most likely refers to ownership. The Holy Spirit of promise is that which gives us assurance that we are God's adopted kids and therefore we have a hope of heaven. The Spirit is that which identifys us as being owned by God.

3. Nothing in this verse indicates the necessity of spiritual experience. "Sealed with the Holy Spirit." This means that our being identified as God's possession is that we have the Spirit. Not necessarily that we have spiritual experiences, but rather that we have the Spirit. Nothing from this verse indicates that "sealing" is something that happens often. In fact he seems to be speaking of something that has already happened.

3. Nothing in this verse communicates that we are to seek this "sealing" out if we have not yet experienced it.

4. Lets for a moment entertain the idea that the sealing of the Holy Spirit is an experience. What would be the evidence that you have been sealed? What would be those signs that you are God's? Well, look just at vs 15, "for this reason I too, having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus whcih exists among you and yor love for all the saints." In the context, if anything were to be showing the evidence of the work of the Spirit in showing that you are owned by God, it would be faith in the Lord Jesus and love for all the saints.



Overall conclusions: What I see in the Scripture is an emphasis on simple faith in the promises of God. If one is going to tell someone that they need to have a spiritual experience after they have already repented, believed, and been baptized I would really really go the extra yard to make sure that that is what the Bible teaches before I put that burden on them. Honestly, I do not see this necessity from the Scriptures. I see a lot being read into these passages. However, this study was very fruitful for me, because I now do have a much more vibrant understanding of Acts. But I am not convinced that these experiences should be sought out as some sort of necessity.

I definitely do not know the entirety of the position. I would like to look further into it, because the book of Acts does seem to have a lot to say about works of the Spirit. I am skeptical about seeing the filling and baptism of the Spirit as being the same thing in every instance. I am also skeptical about Ephesians 1:13, and using it as a verse to call those who have already repented, believed, and been baptized to seek some spiritual experience.

John said...
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John said...
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John said...

I think you might be confused about what I'm saying in regard to the filling/Baptism in the Holy Spirit. But I also think we would currently probably disagree even if you did understand me. Maybe sometime I'll have more time to hash it out with you. That wasn't initially my intent to post. I think it's too big to talk about via blog (at least for me). :)

But! I may have just now realized where we are diverging on the other stuff. Okay, to clarify even more. You said earlier:

"If a person has never "felt" like a Child of God, there would be a problem. However, if someone were so convinced of the truth and reality of the cross that they would risk their life for it, but cannot say that they have ever had a born again experience, what basis do we have of saying that they are missing something?"

I'm talking about the first person you mentioned, not the second. This puts me in agreement with you (I think). I'm not talking about going around on a witch-hunt to those who already have assurance from God and asking "Have you had this certain kind of experience?! No?! You better fear then! You start making something happen!" I would only appeal to this sort of thing if someone came to me who was struggling with assurance and claimed to know the truth of the bible, but without ever feeling it become real in their life and heart. And I've had this happen. This is not hypothetical. Christianity minus any type of divine experience. To me (and I know you too) that spells trouble.

Any clearer? Any disagreements still? This was what I hoped you would say is part of the balance experience vs. raw faith in the Christian life.

By the way, I'm stilling waiting on an email from you as to how things are going there. I "wish" the best for you and Kristal.

Jimmy Snowden said...

Thank you for clarifying. Even when I wrote that stuff on Acts I was a little unsure. Sorry about the long scripture references. That is what I was using as my help when I was going through the passages and I was too lazy to delete it before I posted it. But seriously, longer scripture references are a sign of godliness (just kidding).
In regard to your response. I agree, I think I communicate it differently. What I agree on: If someone claims to be a Christian but has no reality to their faith, they have problems. True simple faith brings about reality. I think this can be seen from the content of this blog (in my example with my wifes sickness and how the Lord gave me the assurance of His good, sovereign hand). A Christian who doubts their salvation surely does need assurance.
What might need to be clarified: How does this assurance come about? How should we counsel people who lack assurance and reality? I would tell them to "repent and believe." I would tell them to repent the best they can and believe the best they can. I would tell them to rest in Christ-to trust solely in the cross. I would not tell them to seek a born again experience. For me, I cannot nail my conversion down. All I know is that one day I just knew I was a child of God, and I knew because of simple faith in the Scriptures. I didn't have an experience. If someone would have said, "Do you feel like a child of God," I probably would have been confused. I would have replied, "I know that I am a child of God. I know there is a Heaven and I know I'm on my way."
I know of some people (my pastor's son for example) that grew up under solid teaching and wanted to be a Christian but just knew that they weren't. They so badly wanted it. Then one day, out of no where, the lights turned on. For others (such as Caleb Y. at HLG), they think they are a Christian. Then a few months later they realize that they were decieved and actually became a true believer somewhere between the present and a few months ago.
Surely, these instances may all be considered "experiences," but the way I have always considered a conversion experience is where something supernatural is taking place (don't get me wrong, regeneration is supernatural, but I am talking about a Paul experience). These questions of "feeling" and "experiencing" have always been so troublesome for me in my walk with GOd because I never equated simple belief with "feeling." What I see in most true conversions is simple belief. They just believe the message of the cross and they know they are converted and on their way to heaven. Asking them if they "feel" like a child of God can be so confusing. Maybe I am just too picky, but I know how much it confused me in my relationship with God. I know that people often times do not equate supernatural with feeling, but whenever someone asks me questions of feeling. I always want them to explain what they mean. Does this make sense? I do not think we disagree on this. We both agree that a person without reality is in trouble. But I think we communicate it differently. I communicate it out of fear that others might have the same anxiety that I used to always have, therefore I stay away from words like "feeling," and "experiencing." I resort to words like faith, reality, and biblical assurance. I think you use these three words to, you just throw faith and experience in the mix (which is fine).