New DVD Teaching on Spirit Baptism

Our long awaited DVD teaching on Spirit Baptism is here!


Perhaps the most thorough teaching on the subject that we have yet done.

This resource  is designed with small groups in mind, but can also be watched in its entirety. Includes a leader’s outline for small groups.

Click here for more info.

 

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost?

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost?

I recently had a person ask me, “Are the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost two different beings? You get the Holy Spirit when you are saved, but you get the Holy Ghost when you speak in tongues, right?”

This question highlights how much confusion there is about the ministry of the Spirit in general and, within that confusion, the significant amount of it that is caused by misunderstood or poor terminology.

Though the questioner raised several points needing clarification, I want to speak to the terms “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit.”  A word of warning; this may rattle some deified tradition, but to me, accuracy is always more important than maintaining the status quo.

You have probably noticed that modern English Bible translations do not use the term “Holy Ghost;” and that for good reason. The King James Version (KJV) was translated originally in the year 1611; this version used the terms Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost interchangeably in the New Testament and used the term Holy Spirit soley in the Old Testament. 

In the Old Testament–which was written in Hebrew, the term ruach (meaning spirit/Spirit, breath or wind) is translated as “Spirit/spirit.”  The only time you’ll find the word “ghost” in the KJV Old Testament is the phrase “give/gave up the ghost”, speaking of someone dying.  This phrase is a 1611-era figure of speech that is substituted by the translators for the actual Hebrew verb, gava, which means to die or breath your last breath.  There is absolutely no usage of the word “ghost” in the Hebrew Old Testament.

In the New Testament–which was written in Greek, the term pneuma (also literally meaning spirit/Spirit, breath or wind) is used exclusively to speak of God’s invisible Spirit, the third Person of the trinity.  

The Greek word for “ghost” is phantasma, meaning “ghostly apparition.”  Phantasma is used twice in the Greek New Testament–both times speaking of being frightened by what the Disciples thought was at first sight a “ghostly apparition”,  namely Jesus walking towards them on the water (see Matt 14:26 and Mark 6:49).  They were literally afraid of what they thought was an unholy ghost!

Though the KJV inconsistently renders pneuma as both Ghost and Spirit, the original is clearly, consistently intended to read as “Holy Spirit”.  No place is this more evident than in Acts 2:4, where the KJV translates the one word, pneuma, as both Ghost and Spirit within the same verse! This perhaps demonstrates the superstition of the era in which this version was translated, but also our need for modern, reliable Bible translations and scholarship.

I am not intending to blast the KJV as being full of errors or hurt those who have been strengthened by reading God’s Word in this translation.  I am trying to clear up a 400 year old misunderstanding that has potentially caused many to fear the ministry of the Paraclete who desires to help us, not scare us.

There is definitively no usage of “Holy Ghost” in the original Hebrew or Greek Bibles.  Simply put, biblically, there is no such being as the Holy Ghost.  Both the Hebrew term ruach and Greek term pneuma are rightly translated as Spirit, not Ghost in modern English translations.

Both the biblical terms for spirit center around life and action, not death and fear–as phantasma, or ghost, implies. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Life, not the spirit of death, a phantasm or phantom.

I pray that our practice of sometimes holding tradition over truth will be challenged–because in this case, the mistranslation of Ghost has likely encouraged many to have additional superstitious fears about a ghostly apparition instead of desiring the Holy Spirit’s practical, desperately needed ministry.

So how about letting the term “Holy Ghost” give up the ghost?

How Tongues Speaking Fits into the Big Picture

Here is an excerpt from our most recent article in the Enrichment Journal entitled, “A Thirty-Something Minister Looks at Initial Evidence.”

To read the entire article, click here.

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Did tongues speaking suddenly show up out of nowhere? Is the Book of Acts our only basis for understanding and teaching on the subject?

A brief survey of the Acts accounts reveals that speaking in tongues is the biblically mentioned sign in the three detailed accounts (Acts 2,10,19) and is the most likely sign in the two nondetailed accounts (Acts 8, 9) as well. The only consistently repeated sign of Spirit baptism in Acts is tongues speaking; any other conclusion is synthetic. But what about the bigger picture?

I have discovered that presenting a broader biblical context than merely presenting the Acts narratives enables people to see the subject in a more personally imperative light. The more Scripture we use, the more hunger we will generate. Along these lines, the following concepts offer some teaching angles to consider.

Two common stages in biblical Spirit-empowering narratives
Looking at what people experienced in other biblical Spirit-empowering events helps us frame a broader context for Spirit baptism. What happened to people when the Holy Spirit came upon them before the Day of Pentecost?

The overwhelming response to the Spirit’s empowering in the Old Testament was spontaneous prophecy in the speaker’s native language. In fact, these occurrences frequently displayed a two-stage process:

The Holy Spirit came upon the person, and
The person gave witness with sudden prophetic speech.
Examples of this common two-stage pattern include: Numbers 11:25; 1 Samuel 10:6,10; 1 Samuel 19:20; 2 Samuel 23:1,2; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 15:1–7; 20:14–17; 24:20; Isaiah 59:21; 61:1; Ezekiel 2:1–7; Joel 2:28,29; Matthew 12:18; Luke 1:67–79; 4:14,15; Acts 1:8; 2:4; 10:44,45; 19:6.

These two common stages follow through to the New Testament fulfillment of both Moses’ desire (Numbers 11:29) and the direct oracle from God (Joel 2:28,29) that first, the Holy Spirit would one day come upon all of God’s people, and second they would give prophetic witness.

Even Jesus reiterated this theme when He prophesied that the Holy Spirit would first come upon believers; and, second, He would empower them as vocal witnesses (Acts 1:8).

NEW Holy Spirit DVD Curriculum for KIDS!

A brand new DVD curriculum about Spirit Baptism for elementary-aged kids is now available from familyactionagents.com.

It is loosely based on our children’s book, “Kid Power!”, and contains six interactive 20-30 minute segments suitable for children’s ministry, small groups or family time.

Inspector Clueless leads the way to a biblical understanding of the Holy Spirit’s power with great special effects and practical teaching metaphors designed to help kids understand and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit: Our Super Power” is now available for $39 and includes DVD, book and leader’s guide/script.

Click here and scroll to the bottom left to find a preview video and ordering information.

Teaching Helps on Spirit Baptism as a Separate Event After Salvation

Here is the latest installment in our series of articles in the Enrichment Journal: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201002/201002_119_HS_Separate.cfm

This article deals with some practical teaching helps to frame Spirit Baptism as a post-conversion anointing experience.

Please take in the EXCELLENT article by Dr. Edgar Lee in the same issue; he is regarded among the top Pneumatologists in modern Pentecost and it is an true honor to have my little article appear next to his! You can read his work here: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201002/201002_112_Bapt_Holy_Spirt.cfm

Yet another interview…

Interview with Steve Pike (Church Multiplication Network) about church planters/younger pastors and the Holy Spirit.

Tim Enloe from Church Multiplication on Vimeo.

FIRE BAPTISM? Ouch!!!!!

The last post generated a great question from Diane,  “What about the Baptism of Fire?”

Is there a separate experience for believers known as the “Baptism of Fire” or does it speak of:

1.  the trials believers will inevitably face or 

2.  the tongues of fire on Pentecost?  

There are two references in the scriptures to “baptize with the Holy Spirit AND FIRE” (Matt 3:11, Luk 3;16).  Only John the Baptist uses this combination and it is a prophetic declaration about how people can recognize the Messiah; He will accomplish these acts (whether they are two distinct events or one event marked by two descriptions, phases or facets).  

I think the two possible definitions mentioned above are very plausible, but let me add a third which seems to follow John the Baptist’s flow of thought.  Let’s work through  Luke 3:15-17:  

15   Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ,     

SUMMARY: IS JOHN THE MESSIAH?  

16  John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

SUMMARY: “NO, THE MESSIAH WILL DO THINGS I CANNOT DO; HE WILL BAPTIZE (IMMERSE) IN PEOPLE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND FIRE.”  

17  “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”      

SUMMARY: “THE MESSIAH WILL DIVIDE THOSE WHO ACCEPT HIM (WHEAT) FROM THOSE WHO REJECT HIM (CHAFF);  THE WHEAT WILL EXPERIENCE FAVOR WHILE THE CHAFF WILL EXPERIENCE JUDGMENT FIRES.”  

From this brief analysis, it appears to be a two sided experience for two separate groups of people: those who accept the Messiah and those who reject the Messiah.    

Verse 17 is the key to understanding this concept.  Matthew’s account (3:11-12) verse 12 is almost identical to Luke 3:17; the same two sides to the coin are presented.  Those who accept the Messiah will experience Spirit Baptism; those who reject him will experience fire baptism.  

This seems like the most logical explanation in context.

Fire baptism for me?  No thanks!

For Pastors: Leadership of Public Vocal Gifts

This post is for those in Pastoral leadership or for those who lead a small group or Bible study. These are comments to get your thinking processes going about the administration of public Spiritual gifts.
Let me know what you think; click HERE to leave a comment.
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As in every aspect of spiritual leadership, the leader sets the tone for those they lead. The administration of supernatural vocal gifts is no different; the leader sets both the spiritual and communal climates in which the gifts will (or will not) flow, steering the direction of the group they oversee. Over the years I have witnessed leaders over-correct and create a climate of fear or under-correct and create a three-ring circus. Once again, balance and Spirit dependence are the critical issues.

As a general rule, it is more common to be in an environment where more gifts need to be manifested than less. This single fact should change our approach from one of pre-correction to one of cultivating an openness to the gifts. Perhaps our teaching shouldn’t begin with all of the corrective measures of 1 Corinthians 14, but instead with the enabling tone of chapter 12 first, “let’s learn about how these gifts can build us up.” Why vaccinate the whole group for a disease that only a few unteachable ones will ever catch? After the climate of openness is set, then progress to teach about divine order.

SETTING THE CLIMATE FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO THE GIFTS
A practical starting point is to be more entry-level in our approach. Many are afraid that a public utterance in tongues will freak out the visitors. An easy solution is to simply commentate and explain what is happening. “The Bible tells us that God sometimes speaks to us through prophetic gifts; what we just heard is a public gift of tongues. You can read more about it in 1 Cor 12. The Bible instructs us that we are to now wait for someone to tell us the meaning through another gift, interpretation.” Seizing corporate teachable moments can do more than preaching a 10 week series; but don’t neglect to offer biblical teaching from an enabling perspective as well.

SETTING A CLIMATE FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE THE GIFTS
Seizing the moments can also facilitate helping our people enter into a new realm spiritually. “While we wait for the interpretation, God may desire to use someone who has never been used this way before. If you have ever desired God to use you in this way, why not invite Him to do it now? If you sense the Holy Spirit moving on you, ask Him if He wants you to speak out and give the interpretation today.”

A simple welcoming of the gifts to flow in your pastoral prayer each service opens people’s hearts to being used. “Holy Spirit, we welcome your supernatural gifts to flow in this service. As you desire, would you enable some who have not yet experienced your gifts to beautifully experience them today?”

SETTING THE CLIMATE FOR THOSE WHO ARE ABUSIVE OR NEED CORRECTION
As leaders, we define the culture for the expression of spiritual gifts; fear or openness. Avoid public correction unless you know from the Spirit that it is absolutely necessary, because harsh public correction will create a corporate fear of humiliation.

If you do sense that correction is necessary, ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, he’ll give it to you. I have a pastor-friend who was having some challenges with uncorrectable, unsubmitted people arrogantly abusing the vocal gifts. Though he was tempted to call down fire from heaven upon them, he prayed earnestly for a peaceable answer. A short while later, he was visiting a shut-in who had been a spiritual pillar of the church, delivering the previous week’s recording of the church service for her to listen to. As they visited, this saint asked a beautiful question, “Pastor, when I listen to the church service tapes, I can surmise that some utterance gifts are happening at times—but I can’t hear what is being said. I love the moving of the Holy Spirit and wish there was some way that I could hear these gifts on the tapes.” God had sent the answer! The next Sunday morning, the pastor told his congregation about his conversation with the saintly shut-in, asking if those who were sensing a gift bubbling up would move to a microphone near the front. The people understood his rationale and it immediately put an end to those unaccountable manifestations. He also remarked that many people in the sanctuary later positively comment that they could now hear the utterance gifts clearly over the PA system—for the first time.

Have your leadership create a biblical policy to help those who are abusive in the gifts. Perhaps first a gentle visit after a service with a few elders. Second, if things don’t change, a visit with the pastor and the first group of elders followed up with a nice but firm letter recalling the conversation. If that doesn’t work, an official discipline and forbiddance of the offender to use vocal gifts for a set time. If the person arrogantly disregards the discipline and blurts out again, the only option is public correction—but with an adequate explanation telling of your church’s procedure. “We never correct this way publicly unless the person has disregarded our set disciplinary process.” While severe, this should stem off a culture of fear for those who humbly desire God to use them while, at the same time, reinforce the shepherd’s nature of the pastor—protecting the flock from harm.

"Helping Others" book is now available

The new compilation book, “Helping Others Receive the Gift” is now available.

This unprecedented resource features insights about ministering the Spirit Baptism in a variety of contexts and age groups.

You can click here for more details and for ordering information.

Pentecostal: What’s That?

“Pentecostal.” What in the world does that word mean?

The general, street-level understanding of “Pentecostal” can mean anything from toothless Appalachian snake-handlers to traditional Evangelicals with energetic worship music in their Sunday services. Vipers to verve–that’s a broad spectrum.

One thing for sure, hardly anyone seems to know what the word means anymore–not even many who wear the label themselves.

I’m going to quickly pare down the range of possibilities by eliminating the non-Classical groups such as the snake-handlers (herpetological Pentecostals?) and other fringe groups; let’s focus on those with orthodox, Evangelical commitments at their core.

A common answer to this question is that a Pentecostal is an Evangelical who speaks in tongues. That Pentecostals believe in tongue speaking there is no doubt; but what else really distinguishes us from our Godly, Evangelical brothers? In fact is the distinction really necessary at all?

The possibility of the distinction being merely theological has rapidly diminished over the last decade as the number of functional cessationists begins to near extinction; even Dallas Seminary admits those who speak in tongues now–a tremendously gracious and brotherly move on their part. But is the difference really just tongues? If so, the popular Campolo book, “How to Be Pentecostal Without Speaking in Tongues” should be canonized or at least apocratized (made that word up myself).

I don’t believe that theology alone is the main factor that defines “Pentecostal.” I believe another factor is mostly to blame; the IMPLEMENTATION of our faith is the key difference–the practical, not the theoretical. How we “do” our faith is significantly different. Our desire to experience colors every practice of our Christianity because only knowing is not enough for us. We don’t want to be able to just talk with or about God; we want to dance with Him!

I am not to saying that our Evangelical brothers are less spiritual or less Christian or less anything; I do not believe that. I simply mean that we approach our faith with a different set of expectations, so therefore, our reference points are different.

Let’s look at a couple of areas of practical contrast. Our worship involves our mind, body and spirit. Even the starchiest Pentecostal denominational executive can’t help but to sway to the music of the Teen Challenge Choir–even if the sway is off-beat. Pentecostals don’t view physical responses to their faith as shameful or negative. In fact, to some, the more gymnastic the response the better!

How about our style of prayer? Corporate concerts of prayer consisting of believers of all levels of maturity raising their physical voices to their Father; not one qualified leader prayer while other listen, but the sound of many voices at once. Some stand, some sit, some kneel, some bury their faces in the carpet while others pace the floor and wave their hands; yet all unconcerned about the breaking of protocol. Everyone wants to get in on the action.

Even the idea of testimony follows this line. Again, experience and interraction are central to the Pentecostal worldview. How about the miraculous? That’s our favorite dish! We read biblical accounts of miracles and then step out and believe God for the same thing to happen today. We take very literally the promised of divine intervention and get alarmed when we haven’t experienced that intervention recently.

I once heard Dr. Gordon Anderson, president of North Central University in Minneapolis, say that Pentecostals believe in a “very present God;” that’s well said. We desire and expect Him to be active in our daily lives, but especially in our times of corporate worship.

This little post certainly cannot fully define what the word means–so I need your help.

What does “Pentecostal” mean to you?

I’d love to hear from you.