Another Question

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In my previous article I addressed three questions raised by our local Friday Ladies Group and in this post I address another question.

‘A few years ago, after the service, I went up to the front and one of the Elders prayed for me and I received an anointing by the Holy Spirit.  The elder kept repeating “Let it come” and I went down … Is ‘slain in the Spirit’ the correct thing to say?  He said I would be able to talk in tongues which I am able to do.  It was a fantastic experience.  However.  so many negative things have happened to me since.  Does Satan try and get to one more after an anointing as I feel as though I am being severely tested – more so than before.  I have not had the desire to attend Church or Friday Ladies Group or any social occasion.  There have been times when I have made up my mind to attend a particular event and something always happens to prevent it.  I appear to have developed a mental blockage.  How can I overcome this?’

This actually consists of three related questions, so I will separate them and respond to each in turn.

(a) Being slain in the Spirit:  You won’t find this expression in the bible but it is often used by Pentecostals and Charismatics to describe the experience of being overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit. What they mean by this is the phenomenon of falling to the ground usually in response to someone praying for them to receive God’s power. This is why the experience is also often referred to as ‘falling under the power’. This is a complex subject and I will not be able to discuss it fully in a short article such as this, so I will, in the main, just give my understanding.

When a person is born again his/her dormant/dead spirit comes alive. This is an act of the Holy Spirit, but it does not necessarily entail empowerment. Shortly before ascending into Heaven, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Then Luke records that in that same period between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5). Luke expands on this a few verses later when he records Jesus as saying, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” ( Acts 1:8).

In these two events, we have a type of model of what we should experience, that is:

  1. Rebirth of the spirit and a separate and logically subsequent
  2. Infilling of spiritual energy.

The day of Pentecost experience was intense and overwhelming for the first disciples and it often is for those receiving the infilling of the spirit, especially for the first time. A reasonable analogy is what often happens if someone comes into contact with an electricity source – they shake and fall to the ground overwhelmed by the surge of power going through them. Falling ‘under the power’ is neither normative nor always evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, and shamefully, some ministers fake this phenomenon or attempt to help the person to ‘receive’ by shouting, pushing, or strongly encouraging the person to fall to the ground.

Paul reinforced what Jesus modelled when he asked a group of disciples in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). They stated that they had not and, after explaining to them the difference between John the Baptist’s immersion and the baptism associated with the rebirth experience, he baptized them in water. The account continues with the words: ‘When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied’ (Acts 19:6). This both connects the receiving of power from on high/infilling of spiritual energy/empowerment by the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands and with the manifestation of tongues and prophecy.

I have written about this HERE

(b) Speaking in tongues: Pentecostals make an error of logic when they claim that speaking in tongues is the only definitive indication that a person has been ‘filled with/by the Holy Spirit’. It is certainly a common manifestation when a person receives spiritual power, but the passage from Acts that I have already cited includes prophesying as another manifestation. The apostle Paul does not appear to have spoken in tongues when he was born again (Acts 9:17-19), yet years later he declared that he spoke in tongues more than other believers (1 Corinthians 14:18). The logical error of the Pentecostal position is that while tongues are certainly one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, they are not the exclusive evidence that someone has received power from on high.

Another misunderstanding of scripture and of confused logic is the Charismatic teaching that there are two types of tongues, one being the evidence of spiritual baptism and the other a gift of the Spirit that when accompanied by the gift of interpretation substitutes for the gift of prophecy. When the first disciples received power from on high on the day of Pentecost, they rushed out into the street speaking in tongues. However, these were not words articulating the Gospel in different languages, nor were they words of prophecy, because the Acts account described them as ‘declaring the wonders of God’ (Acts 2:11). In 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul wrote that ‘anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit’. On the Day of Pentecost the sceptics present claimed that the disciples must have been drunk because they did not perceive the utterances as human language.

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul used the following words to describe tongues: ‘pray’, ‘praising God’, ‘giving thanks’ and in vs 2-3 he wrote that ‘anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God (while) anyone who prophesies speaks to men’. Tongues are prayers, praises and thanksgiving to God while prophecies are words spoken from God to believers. In a congregation, tongues need to be interpreted or else they will be unintelligible to others. They are not a form of prophecy requiring the gift of interpretation of tongues to be intelligible.

I have written about this in a short book titled ‘The 9 Spiritual Gifts & How to Find Your Ministry’ that you can obtain at Amazon.

(c) Testing:

While it is true that Jesus was tested directly after the Holy Spirit anointed him at his baptism, it is not true that the one always follows the other.

Jesus’ testing in the wilderness was directly related to his anointing as the Son of Man. The three tests (Matthew 4) were:

  1. Will you use your power to satisfy your needs, will you use it to aggrandize yourself,
  2. Will you use it to obtain authority over men, or
  3. Will you use it to serve mankind to your Father’s glory?

No, my experience and the example of the Lord Jesus tell me that the Holy Spirit imparts his anointing to enable us to overcome trials and to minister to others – how else would Jesus, as a man, survive in the wilderness for 40 days without eating anything?!

The lack of desire to go to church services or other Christian gatherings has probably got more to do with depression than testing. When we are depressed we often avoid company, become critical, and just have little energy or desire to do anything. The lady who posed the question received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit during a church service and the best place to seek additional energy for life and ministry is often a church service. So perhaps she simply needs to just decide to go and when there ask for hands to be laid on her.

 

Do you have a question or opinion? Post it here or on my facebook page and I will endevour to respond here or privately.

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Christopher Peppler

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2 thoughts on “Another Question”

  1. Pingback: TruthTalks: Another Question - Truth Is The Word

  2. Thank you Chris, as always you have explained this so well. I have a friend here in Plett who is a newish Christian and feels that she “hasn’t quite made it” because she has not been given the gift of tongues, despite praying for this. I will show her your article.
    Blessings and love to you and Pat.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.