As I’ve mentioned many times, I used to be firmly entrenched in Pentacostal/Charismatic circles.  As Michael noted in his last post, that while non-Charismatics have an expectation for God to move in their lives, there seems to be a higher level of expectation amongst Charismatics.  I think that’s true and something that I actually applaud as evidenced in this post here that I did some time back, An Ode to Pentacostalism.  I think that is something I will always treasure and keep with me.

However, during my time as a Charismatic, it seems that this higher level of expectation always resulted in a quest for more.  We needed a greater happenings, more miraculous signs (not that anything I witnessed ever really qualified as such), more healing, more deliverance, more prophecies, generally a greater move of God.  Whatever was existent never seemed to be enough.   Since I served on the worship team for four years (keyboards/vocals), the expectation was that we would serve as the catalyst to make this happen, to “usher in the presence of God”, as was stated so many Sundays.   Naturally, one of my favorite “soft music” tunes to play was Michael W. Smith’s, More Love More Power.  Yes we really did need more of God in our lives and looked for it in external manifestations in order to affect an internal change.

It seems to me there remained a continual state of dissatisfaction that only more could fill.  And I have noticed that even in churches that do not necessarily carry the Charismatic label, but are very mainstream in their approach have fallen victim to the “more” mentality.   The desire for church growth translates into more people, bigger churches, and more programs.  To be sure, I had heard on several occasions that we know God is doing something when the seats start filling up and we outgrow the space.

But I wonder if the “more” mentality is an accurate reflection of the spiritual growth, deepened understanding and knowledge of Christ that the Biblical prescription for growth says should be ours.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that we should find superficial devotion and understanding unsatisfactory and that every day should be met with a quest for a deeper connection with God and a richer knowledge of Christ.  Not just to know, but to have that knowledge lived out in tangible ways.  But I question if the greater occurences we seek is symptomatic of a deeper spiritual quest or that fact that we just need more excitement in our lives.  Things get mundane and we get bored.

And I especially raise this question in relation to Charismatic leanings since it does represent, based on my experience, a desire for inward revival based on outward means.  Or sometimes it might just be the outward signs that point to the fact that God is up to something, that is demonstrated through a display of the sign gifts that many believe should be in existence everywhere today.  So this is not to question the validity of the gift, but the motivation behind seeing them displayed.  Are we earnestly seeking gifts to know Christ better and fulfill His program?  Because it seems to me that possibly by equating the need for these demonstrations necessarily implies that what we have is insufficient.   The Bible becomes a springboard to launch us into greater depths rather than being the instrument through which those greater depths are attained.

What is Sufficient?

One of the main reasons I stepped away from the Charismatic movement is that I began to see the transitional significance of Acts rather than it being the prescription that I had been taught.  I started looking at the occurrences in Acts in context of God’s overall program of redemption, for the Jew first and then the Gentile, that Christ initiated through the cross and His subsequent ascension into heaven.  I began to consider how the events displayed in Acts described what happened as this new way through Christ was introduced and the church implemented.  Even then, I wrestled with the sign gifts for a good while.

A consideration of this overall context and the descriptive narrative of Acts forced me to re-examine the teaching of 2nd baptism.  Undoubtedly the prima facie reading, when read in isolation, suggests this to be optional, that in Christ one would still have to obtain an additional empowerment, known as the 2nd baptism.  After all, this is what happened to them.  However, in light of the fact that what was equated with 2nd baptism (Acts 2:1-4), was really the first baptism as the church began, beginning with the Jews then incorporating the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-11:18).  After all,  the apostles had had Jesus with them, but He was going away with the promise of enablement for them to carry out His works and to testify of Him (John 14:26; 16:13-14).  It does seem reasonable the Spirit would empower in this way for the new introduction into how people would relate to God.  It also appears reasonable that although baptism occurred in manner in the beginning, when these passages are reconciled with other passages such as I Corinthians 12:13 and Galatians 3:27, it demonstrates an  instantaneous baptism by and indwelling of the Spirit for every believer; an inward renewal to affect an outward change.

That means when the Holy Spirit baptizes a believer into the kingdom, the believer gets the fullness of  the Holy Spirit; they get all the Spirit they are going to get.  So there is a sufficiency of the indwelling of the Spirit.  What then do we make of being filled with the Spirit?  More Spirit?  Being filled with the Spirit does not mean we get a greater degree of Spirit but rather allow the Spirit to have more of us.  It is wielding control to the Spirit, so that He who bears the presence of God and the testimony of Christ, my reign in us, affecting God’s agenda and not ours. It is like having two substances in a container.  You can’t increase the capacity of the container but you can shift the ingredients inside, so that by decreasing one, the other will occupy more space. Isn’t this why Paul says in Galatians 5:16-17 to follow after the Spirit, lest we be consumed by the desires of the flesh.  There is an indirectly proportional relationship.  The more of one you have, the less of the other.

I also find there is a sufficiency in Christ and it all starts with how God has made Himself known.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He [the Son] is the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:1-3, NASB)

The transition is remarkable.  God expressed Himself, He made Himself known to mankind through the prophets and through other vehicles such as dreams and visions, but now He is revealed in Christ.  Revelation is a tricky word I think and one that, in my opinion, has been overused, misused and abused.  We use it for any kind of discovery but I think that does a disservice to God’s revelation that He has purposed towards us.  It is up to the one revealing to provide disclosure and we see the summation of His revelation in Christ.  After all didn’t Jesus say, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father?  All things are summed up in Christ (Ephesians 1:10), all God’s purposes end in Christ (Ephesians 1:9; 3:11), all previous mysteries and plans are revealed in Christ (Colossians 1:26-27; Ephesians 3:5-6), and all instruction is for the purpose of completing every person in complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28).  We who claim Christ as Savior have been made complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).  That means He is all sufficient.  What further are we looking for?

So what does that mean for us today?  Does it mean that God is revealed in Christ and has left us hanging?  No, because God saw fit to breathe out His word to us through the pens of 40 authors that testifies of this revelation through 66 books of inspired writing.  As Geisler and Nix put it “the sacred Scriptures are expressive of the mind of God”…[they] are the God breathed revelation of God.”(General Introduction to the Bible, pg 34)  So inspiration, another misused word, means God-breathed and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that this revelation inscribed for us, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  This means it is sufficient.  This means the search for further authoritative instruction can end.  Christ sat down and sits at the right hand of God and we have His word.  But the word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and invigorates the Spirit inside the believer for daily communion, internal revival, infectious living and purposed ministry to be ambassadors of Christ to a lost and dying world and selfless servants to each other.

So we have sufficiency of the Spirit, sufficiency of Christ, sufficiency of the Word.

What’s Missing?

I contend that the insufficiency resides with us.  We are what is missing. It seems to me that if we have the everything we need sufficient for life and godliness, as 2 Peter 1:3 tells us, that the more we are seeking may not be found in greater external manifestations but a greater capacity for divine connectedness.  So maybe that means more surrender, more worship, more learning, more kneeling, more prayer, more giving, and more service.  We can’t get anymore of something we already have but I am assured each day that the Spirit can always have more of us in order to affect an external change through an inward renewal.  And that, I believe was the intention all along.

    86 replies to "A Theology of More"

    • Roger Sharp

      NICE JOB!

      Roger Sharp
      Confident Christianity

    • Leslie

      Great stuff. You nail it, Lisa!

    • Another great post!

    • djohn

      As i was reading this was all that kept coming to mind:

      “the more we are seeking may not be found in greater external manifestations but a greater capacity for divine connectedness. So maybe that means more surrender, more worship, more learning, more kneeling, more prayer, more giving, and more service.”

      great job! 🙂

    • EricW

      FYI – It’s Pentecostal, not Pentacostal.

    • rayner markley

      Yes, Lisa, I entirely agree. It’s our insufficiency that the Spirit is filling, even for those who believe they are receiving ‘more Spirit.’ Just a misunderstanding of what is actually happening. Now what does this mean for us? Maybe we are sometimes a little too complacent. Those who seek a second baptism are at least actively seeking.

    • Leslie

      Personally, just as being complacent is not being smart, seeking a second baptism is not being smart as well. For the simple reason that such a baptism is ‘non-existent’.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Rayner, that is a good point. I agree, we get complacent…bored and complacent. However, our seeking should be grounded in the reality of what we have. I think seeking an extra baptism undermines the work of the Spirit. I also think it creates a 2-tiered Christianity that is inconsistent with the witness of Scripture.

    • deborah donner

      lisa, thank you for that post. it’s spot on!

    • Lisa,

      Generally I love what you write. However here I take exception to some of your underlying premises.

      “One of the main reasons I stepped away from the Charismatic movement is that I began to see the transitional significance of Acts rather than it being the prescription that I had been taught…. A consideration of this overall context and the descriptive narrative of Acts forced me to re-examine the teaching of 2nd baptism.”

      I have heard on a few occasions that we should not “do theology” from Acts because it is “descriptive”, “transitional”, etc. So I guess we shouldn’t do theology from the Gospels either, because they are “descriptive” and “transitional”. Pastoral letters? Well they are certainly transitional between early church and established church.

      The fact is, those who think that we shouldn’t do theology from Acts are generally those who don’t like the theology that comes out of Acts.

      I have not yet heard a non-charismatic give a reasonable explanation for the early verses of Acts 19 where Paul expects some sort of visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit for those who have received it. Why did Paul expect this, and why don’t we today?

    • Phil McCheddar

      I find it very hard work to maintain fresh joy and gratitude to God for his gracious love and our redemption in Jesus Christ. Objectively it is the most amazing, extraordinary, breath-taking subject to think about. But having been familiar with it for many years I admit it has waned in its power to thrill and excite me. However, when I shut myself away from the world and spend unhurried time meditating and praying about this subject — recalling my sin & helplessness and God’s gracious initiative to rescue me and all the spiritual blessings that are mine in Christ — I usually find my heart is rekindled with sincere, ardent praise & thanksgiving, while all those other things in life that usually preoccupy my mind then seem less important than they were.

      But it is hard work and it requires self-discipline and mental effort which are contrary to the flesh. To get ‘reconnected with God’ would be much easier if I could just observe a miracle or two, or receive an instantaneous zap from heaven! But I do prefer the more strenuous method because of its power to transform me at a deeper level in the long run.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael, I appreciate that comment and I respect that there is a difference in how we approach this. If you are referring to the opening verses, I don’t see where Paul is expecting anything. Instead, he is asking if they have received the Holy Spirit. Their response indicates they have not. So perhaps this was Paul’s way of asking if they believed. The fact that manifestations appeared would be part and parcel of the signs and wonders, performed by the apostles to authenticate the gospel message.

      I maintain that Acts is a narrative and describes what happens. That does not mean there is not a theology of Acts that is applicable to us today. If anything, I believe it instigates the blueprint for carrying out Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8 and God’s plan to provide salvation to all through faith in Christ. Yet, there is a caution in replication as it centers around the acts of the apostles, who carried a special authority to bear witness to Christ. That is something that we cannot claim. In terms of the gospels, again a narrative and an example is provided. But all must be considered in context of the incarnation of Christ and His redemptive purpose for mankind. So again, I believe we proceed with caution in determining what is “normative” for us to do.

      You indicate that since this explains what happened that we should expect it, based on Acts 19. I would flip the tables, and ask why then do we not see this prescription in any of the letters? Instead, the focus of baptism by the Spirit appears to be how we live out life with one another and in devotion to our position in Christ.

    • Lisa Robinson

      EricW, I don’t know why I keep getting that wrong. I had spelled it that way before and was corrected. But I guess I was right the first time. Thanks.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I had the opposite experience to you, I grew up in a dispensational church, and became quasi charismatic through reading acts.

      A quick followup. Why does Paul ask the disciples he finds in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

      The only reasonable explanation that I can come up with is that Paul’s expectation was that there was some sort of experience of the Holy Spirit that Paul expected that the disciples would be able to recognize.

      Imagine if we were to ask the same question today of Christians. What would the response be? With the exception of the answer, “Yes, because my Pastor told me I did,” What other indications would a new believer have that he had received the Holy Spirit when he or she believed?

      Paul then baptizes the disciples, places his hands on them and they begin to speak in tongues and prophesy.

      If Paul was to re-ask them if they had received the Holy Spirit. What would there response have been? “Yes, because we spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

      Am I missing something here? Why does this look so different from our present experience? I admit that what I have expressed here does not look that different from a Pentecostal or even Christian and Missionary Alliance theology. But what does a Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian or Anglican do with these verses?

      This is a genuine question. Note: I am not saying that the answer is that all must “speak in tongues and prophesy”, but it seems that Paul expected some sort of outward or inward manifestation of the Holy Spirit that would let people know for certain that they had received it.

    • Jugulum

      Michael Bell,

      How about Rom 8:16? Or the fruits of the Spirit?

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael, is it Paul doing the baptizing or the Spirit? I admit this isolated incident does make the appearance that the baptism of the Spirit is a separate occurence. But I still maintan, that these folks were not believers. That’s why vs. 5 indicates, ‘when they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus’. This is the moment that I think they believed. Also, my problem then is what do you do with the verses I cited before in I Cor 12:13 and Gal 3:27, that indicates we are baptized into Christ? Does that mean some are and some aren’t? Does the Holy Spirit wait to be asked or is He the baptizing agent? And what do we make of the first gentile conversions in Acts 10:44-47, that indicates baptism occurred as they believed, which is followed up with 11:15, 17? The emphasis is not on manifestations of the Spirit but on the Gentile believers receiving the same gift as the Jewish believers. And isn’t that the point of Acts, to show God’s redemption for all, including the Gentiles since previously only the Jews were God’s chosen? Please understand, I am not trying to be divisive. But I do believe there is clear evidence that the work of the Spirit is complete when we believe. So I also am just asking the questions.

      Also, it wasn’t that I didn’t like the theology of Acts as was practiced in the circles I came out of. I just don’t believe that what occurred then provides a prescription for us today. You may feel differently.

    • Dave Z

      Got to agree with Michael Bell, Paul seems to indicate they have already believed and been baptized in water, but have not yet received the Spirit. I have not looked at the Greek.

      My journey has been similar to Lisa’s. I had some wonderful experiences in an AOG church early in my faith, but then saw that much of the C/P movement is just plain bonkers. I saw people being “taught” to speak in tongues – I mean taught how…”Just say these syllables and keep repeating.” And other goofy stuff.

      My wife and I also began to find the preaching no longer “fed” us. Still we stayed another year, because the worship was so great. And maybe that’s what I miss most – the worship and the deep expectation that God would move in our lives in a powerful way. There was an excitement and expectation that I miss in non-C/P churches. Church was exciting, and I looked forward to it all week.

      I long for the passion of those days at the AOG, along with the scriptural balance they had, but haven’t found it. But I think I am where God wants me to be. And it is not C/P. Still, I miss some elements.

    • Hi Jugulum,

      Thanks for the response.

      The fruit of the Spirit definitely shows evidence of the Spirit in the life of a believer. This is the primary thing that I look for in a Christian. But Paul asks “when you believed”. Do you expect someone who is a new believer to show spiritual fruit? Or is this something you look for over time?

      Romans 8:16 is a little closer to answering my question.

      “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

      I think that we need to look at this in the context of verse 8:

      “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. ”

      So my question would then become: Is this an immediate testifying or something that happens over time as we grow in Christ.

    • EricW

      A quick followup. Why does Paul ask the disciples he finds in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

      I’m reading Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek by Constantine R. Campbell, and what he writes about the Aorist Participle on p. 94 suggests to me that he would argue for Acts 19:2 meaning “Did you receive the Holy Spirit after you believed?”

      As he writes:

      The aorist participle semantically encodes perfective aspect. It is its aspect that leads to the aorist participle’s main pragmatic function in which it most often expresses action that is antecedent to its leading verb. That is, the action of the leading verb occurs after the action of the aorist participle.

      This is contrary to what I’d commonly be taught – i.e., aorist participles usually indicate something that occurs at the same time as the aorist finite verb.

    • Dave Z

      Jugulum posted as I was writing, and I have to agree with his points.

      Theologically, I did move away from the “tongues is evidence” viewpoint pretty quickly. Saw too many tongue-speakers doing unspiritual stuff and saw non C/P believers living lives of holiness and love. Settled on the fruit as the best evidence of being filled with the Spirit. Bottom line – anyone who is filled with the Spirit will show the fruit of the Spirit.

    • To Dave, Lisa, and Eric,

      I think that we could debate all day on whether or not they were believers. I have heard good arguments both ways.

      Whether they were, or not, does not take away from the fact that they could not confirm a receiving of the Holy Spirit. Again, ask yourself the same question that Paul asked them. What would you say?

    • Dave Z,

      I agree completely.

      But note that I specifically said that I was not looking for tongues evidence. I don’t want to turn this into a debate on tongues. I am however asking what evidence is there of the Holy Spirit when we initially believe that would lead Paul to ask that question?

      Some might answer that question with tongues. Are there other answers?

    • P.S. I have never spoken in tongues, and do not accept an initial evidence doctrine of tongues, so please don’t interpret my genuine questions as arguing specifically for tongues.

    • EricW

      My last statement was not exactly correct. I think I’d been taught or read that the aorist participle used with an aorist finite verb can indicate either simultaneous or antecedent action, and Acts 19:2 was a case where one’s theology can influence how one translates it. Campbell does seem to point toward it being antecedent action, though – i.e., receiving the Holy Spirit is subsequent to one’s initial believing.

      His book (c) 2008 by Zondervan renders obsolete or inadequate/simplistic most treatments and explanations of verbal aspect I’ve read in first-year grammars. While I’m finding it a bit difficult to undo the way I’ve thought or been taught about aspect so as to replace or inform it with Campbell’s discussions, I think it’s something I need to do. He upends the usually-taught meaning of the Perfect, e.g., which can significantly affect exegesis/translation/interpretation.

    • Dave Z

      All this brings up something I’ve thought about for years. If we view a second baptism as non-existent, as Leslie does, why does there seem to be so much more depth of experience in many C/P churches? Why was the worship so awesome in my old AOG church? I’ve almost never found that depth of passion in non C/P settings.

      I could tell story after story of hearing God speak to me in powerful ways, or respond to prayer in dramatic fashion. I had demonic encounters in which the name of Jesus had supernatural effect. I’ve had “words of knowledge” delivered to me that I’m convinced were from God. I’m not talking Benny Hinn stuff, these were in very personal settings.

      In short, there was a power that was active in a way that I miss today. I try to satisfy myself with the theory that God was acting in a more dramatic manner to establish my faith in those early days. Kind of like Acts, but in a personal way. Once I was grounded, that direct interaction was not so critical. To borrow a concept from C.S. Lewis, God held my hand as I took my first steps, but let go as I learned to walk on my own. But I don’t find that theory to be completely satisfying.

      Or maybe this is a different discussion. I don’t mean to hijack the thread.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael is right. This discussion should not be a debate about tongues. I personally believe that there will never be resolution on that point anyway, so let’s not go there.

      The issue however, is the role of the Spirit and when do we receive Him.

      Eric, I don’t have my greek text with me but I’m pretty sure I will be consulting it when I get home and touching base with my greek prof 😉

    • Sherry Nolte

      Thank you for your post. I Like you have also struggled with understanding gifts and the baptism of the Holy Spirit and what it really means. I do want to say that although what you witnessed in the Charismatic churches you attended is true for many of the churches that believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and gifts it is not true for all of them. I attend a charismatic church. They do not stir up the presence of God, but they do allow freedom for the Holy Spirit to move. That means that sometimes we do not follow our planned schedule. We have on occassion spent our whole service praying for the sick or repenting as a body. It is a glorious time when the Holy Spirit moves.
      You said..
      However, in light of the fact that what was equated with 2nd baptism (Acts 2:1-4), was really the first baptism as the church began, beginning with the Jews then incorporating the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-11:18).

      I am trying to understand what you mean by 1st and 2nd baptism and that Pentecost was the 1st baptism.
      I have been taught there is 3 baptism
      1)a water baptism in which we all agree on. This baptism testifies that we have repented of our old life, died to self and we are raised to a new life.
      2)There is a baptism into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (One Spirit) when we believe..1cor 12:13. I think we all agree to this as well.
      3)There is a baptism of the Holy Spirit by Christ Himself Mt 3:13,Mk 1:8,1Jn 1:33. This one is not agreed on. This one began on the day of Pentacost and was prophesied. This baptism causes us to change completey inside and we see the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control) grow in us abundantly. We have new abilities and gifts that we use to encourage and help the body. This is when we experiece the benefits of being Baptized in the Holy Spirit. I believe sometimes we recieve this without asking and sometimes we need to ask for it.
      Also, I find it interesting that Jesus did not water baptize anyone? Jn 4:2 (Side thougtht)
      1 Corinthians 10:1-4 says
      For I want you to know brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For the drank from the rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
      Are you saying that no one who believed had been baptized into the body by the Holy Spirit? Not the Apostles or other believers, even our forefathers? It seems by this above passage although just a shadow of what was to come there was a 1)water baptism, 2) and a baptism into the body (Moses being a type of Christ)
      The 3rd baptism does not come until Pentacost…
      As I study this I believe I cannot take the easy way out and just say there is no baptism of the Holy Spirit. I feel it is important to lay aside our own ideas and even experiences and establish a foundation of truth from the word.

    • Dave Z

      Michael, regarding your specific question, I’m not sure I can put myself in their place. If Paul asked me that question, I’d go to NT scripture, which they did not yet have. They didn’t even know there was a Spirit.

      I agree the evidence of a transformed life plays out over time, and it does seem clear that tongues, at least sometimes, was seen as an initial evidence of the Spirit, as with Peter and Cornelius and the subsequent testimony to the church. So there is good argument that Paul was looking for such evidence.

    • Jugulum


      On the fruit of the Spirit: Hmm… You may be right that the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t fit the context–it would seem to be something immediately recognizable.

      I definitely agree that in Rom. 8:16, Paul was addressing the life of believers, not something that occurs at conversion. He didn’t have conversion in mind, so we should be careful about how we assume it can be applied.

      It could, like you say, refer to a testimony of the Spirit that comes from seeing the Spirit’s work in our lives. That would be a more “objective” kind of evidence–visible to those around us. Or it could refer to an inner awareness–which would be more “subjective”.

      Since Paul said that the Spirit bears witness “with our spirit”, it sounds like a more subjective thing.


      Hmm… About whether Paul was talking about an immediately-recognizable experience at conversion: Maybe not. Paul asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

      He didn’t ask, “Were you immediately aware of the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So maybe they could have answered–assuming they were theologically aware of the Spirit’s role–with something like, “Yes, Paul, we did. We have seen the fruit of his work in our lives.”

    • Jugulum

      More generally on Acts 19:2.

      I understand why you ask the question, Michael, but it’s really difficult to base our theology of conversion experiences on what happened with these disciples of John.

      We’re not talking about people who heard the gospel of the crucified & risen savior, and believed, and were baptized, but hadn’t yet received the Spirit. We’re talking about people who had not been baptized in the name of Christ! They had believed John the Baptist’s message, but they had not been baptized into the body of Christ.

      I think you’re right that Paul’s question demonstrates that there is a way for us to be aware of the Spirit’s presence in us. But it doesn’t teach us what that looks like, or that it must look like a distinctively charismatic/pentecostal kind of thing. I’m not sure it even teaches that it will be an immediately-felt Spiritual Experience, like charismatics are looking for when they pray for the fire of the Lord to fall.

      From this point… I want to look at what the Scriptures say when they’re directly teaching about conversion. And I don’t know of any such teaching that points in a distinctively charismatic direction.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      A nice follow up to CMP’s last article. 😉

      However, in light of the fact that what was equated with 2nd baptism (Acts 2:1-4), was really the first baptism as the church began, beginning with the Jews then incorporating the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-11:18).

      Wasn’t the Ethiopian eunuch the first Gentile to come to Christ (Acts 8:26f)? I believe Acts is an outworking of the thesis in 1:8, but unfortunately that thesis is not filled out in such a neatly boxed manner. Don’t forget that Paul received the Spirit a few days after his conversion (Acts 9:17-18). So here is another Jew with a ‘delay’, and this after the first Gentile (Ethiopian eunuch) had come to Christ and before the second group of Gentiles came to Christ (Cornelius and household). Acts 1:8 is not being worked out in a neat package, but it is being worked out.

      Being filled with the Spirit does not mean we get a greater degree of Spirit but rather allow the Spirit to have more of us.

      When one is filled with something, don’t they usually receive more of what they are being filled with? When you fill up a half-empty glass, aren’t you putting more water into the glass? We couldn’t say that the water is getting more of the glass, right? Rather the glass is receiving more water.

      No doubt we should decrease and He should increase, as you state. But in our decrease, isn’t He increasing? Thus, it seems more in line with saying we are receiving more.

      Now, I completely understand and agree with you that charismatics and Pentecostals can fall into revivalism. I am an adamant believer that any ‘ism’ is unhealthy. We can get so wrapped up in these things, which is unhealthy. And even non-charismatic, evangelical churches can get caught up in this kind of stuff in the obsession with number growth, getting more people in the door. It’s not about numbers with lights, cameras and action. It is about pursuing Christ with a holistic understanding of what He has done through the cross and resurrection.

      But, we do live in this tension of the ‘already, not yet’. This is very important to keep in mind. The kingdom is here, but not yet fully. Hence, Jesus exhorts us to pray, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ His kingdom has come, has broken into human history, but not yet fully. His will is being done in His sovereign work and through His ekklesia, but not fully.

      Thus, in regards to our experience of God by His Spirit, we have received from Him. But we obviously have much more to receive from Him. Call it illumination, if you will, but we need more and more understanding. And we need the Spirit to come and fill us regularly. I don’t think this regular filling is on a 24-hour basis. It’s down to His sovereignty. But no doubt we are encouraged to seek Him, be filled continually, so that we can be utilised by the King.

    • ScottL

      Just a couple of more thoughts:

      God expressed Himself, He made Himself known to mankind through the prophets and through other vehicles such as dreams and visions, but now He is revealed in Christ.

      Interestingly enough, though we read that God had chosen to speak by His Son in the last days (Heb 1:3-4), people kept penning Scripture after the Son came and the kept having dreams and visions. Actually, Acts 2:17-18 makes it clear that dreams and visions are part of the prophetic community of Christ’s body for the whole of the ‘last days’. And the last days are the period between the first advent and second advent of Christ. That includes now. And knowing God has spoken by His Son in these last days, which includes today, we can be encouraged with the words of Rev 19:10 – ‘For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ The goal of prophecy, then and today, is to point us to Him. And that is beautiful and awesome.

      So inspiration, another misused word, means God-breathed and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that this revelation inscribed for us, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. This means it is sufficient.

      I think that, in being honest, we have to qualify the word ‘sufficient’. This word does not mean that we need nothing else but Scripture, as we would all agree. Scripture is an amazing gift from God, but He has other gifts, and of course these other ‘spoken’ gifts are not to contradict the revelation of Scripture. But thankfully God still has other graces and gifts to give us, even in the midst of also having Scripture. If Scripture is all-sufficient, then do we need a teaching gift? Of course. The same can be said of exhortation, mercy, prophecy, shepherd, word of knowledge, etc.

      So we need to qualify the sufficiency of Scripture. It is the sufficient redemptive revelation of God as summed up in Christ and the new covenant. But, knowing the Spirit gives my wife or I a specific revelation about some of the people we shepherd does not cut away at the inspired revelation of Scripture. But we need such to get on with God’s call in our lives. And I suppose the body of Christ needs such on a continual basis. And those who know the Scripture more and more will have a solid foundation for learning to hear from the One who indwells and empowers us.

    • cheryl u

      ScottL and all,

      I have heard that verse in II Timothy 3 used before to say that we do not need any of the gifts like prophecy anymore because the Scripture is sufficient. There is a way I have come to understand this that I find helpful in this argument. I mentioned it above but didn’t go into detail.

      Part of what that verse says that Scripture is profitable for is teaching. Now if it teaches us about prophecy and the other gifts, tells us how to use them, and to desire them, we are in no way going against the sufficiency of Scripture by using them, are we? We are only following that all sufficient Scripture in it’s teachings to us in the same way that we would follow it’s teachings on prayer, meeting together with other believer’s, etc. I have never heard anyone before argue that we don’t need to pray because the Scripture is sufficient, or we don’t need to meet with other believers because the Scripture is sufficient, have you? Why do we artificially separate out some of the gifts, (but not all), and say we do not need them anymore because the Scripture is sufficient? That makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Cheryl, its not about replacing the gifts but about presenting a completed revelation. So the gifts that are revelatory in nature, meaning those that would testify to God’s revelation in Christ, are the ones that would not be needed with a completed canon.

      Scott, I need some time to read all that. Phew!

    • Lisa Robinson

      As a follow up to that question about separating the gifts, think about what transpired when the church was implemented. All there was were witnesses to Christ’s resurrection and apostles to bear witness to Him. There were no authoritative writings for life in Christ, only OT Scripture.

    • Lisa writes:

      “Cheryl, its not about replacing the gifts but about presenting a completed revelation. So the gifts that are revelatory in nature, meaning those that would testify to God’s revelation in Christ, are the ones that would not be needed with a completed canon. ”

      So which gifts would those be? Is healing any more of a revelatory nature that preaching for example? Where is the biblical support for gifts ceasing with a completed canon. It seems that scripture is much more likely to support them continuing until the return of Christ.

      I have been refraining from saying this all afternoon, and forgive me if I am wrong. I was under the impression from Michael Patton that Dallas had changed from the Dallas that I knew of when I was a kid. Your arguments make me think that I was wrong in that assessment.

    • cheryl u


      The revelatory gifts, as they would be used today, would not add to the revelation to who Christ is and what He has done. They would be more along the lines of directions (prophecies or words of knowledge) for specific people or peoples. That type of revelatory gift is seen at work in the book of Acts. Do you not think any one can ever benefit from a specific piece of infomation from the Lord? I certainly do and I see no reason for them to have to stop because the canon is complete. We are talking about two different things here altogether.

    • I would like to take back my last comments about Dallas. They were not very charitable.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Cheryl, Michael, you are right. In some cases the line is fuzzy and I think we can argue until the cows come home. I would however, draw that line at prophecy since I believe that prophecy is speaking for God in an authoritative manner. So even in the NT, where we see prophecy occurring, I believe it was for authoritative purposes. But I hold that loosely, I am not 100% convinced. I do see your point and of course we need edification today. I would not deny that. Most certainly the Spirit inside communicates and provides direction and edification. I have experienced that many times in my Christian life. But I don’t know that we can call that prophecy.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael, no offense taken. Not everyone is like me. In fact, I was surprised at the diversity of thought when I got here.

    • cheryl u


      Just a quick question. I am not sure at all that I am following your line of thought regarding prophecy today. You say you draw the line there because you believe that prophecy even in the New Testament was someone speaking authoritatively for God. Why don’t you believe that can happen today? For instance there was the prophet in Acts that spoke of a coming famine and the believer’s decided to send aid to those in Jerusalem because of what he said. (I hope I have the details correct–I’m working strictly from memory at the moment.) Is that what you call speaking authoritatively for God? And if that is what you are referring to, why do you not believe that can happen today?

    • Lisa Robinson

      Cheryl, a prophet is one who speaks on behalf of God. According to the passage I cited in the post, Heb 1:1-2, God made himself known through prophets but now makes Himself known through the Son. This is how He has spoken. If one comes today, and says he is speaking on behalf of God, it negates Him speaking through the Son because that would be saying He needs to speak in addition to the Son. The Son sat down, which I interpret to mean there is nothing further to say with authority.

      But again, we do have the indwelt Spirit, that conveys the presence of God and testimony of the Son. It is reasonable, I think, that the Spirit will lead, guide and direct us but that is not the same as one speaking on behalf of God because it does not carry the authority of the Lord. The Word of the Lord is authoritative, previously delivered through prophets and now in speaking in His Son, is what Scripture is.

      The question remains of what to do with guy in Acts delivering a “prophecy” to Paul. And what do we make of I Cor 11 and 14, where clearly there is prophecy going on. Is everything said being said on behalf of God OR does this speak to a different type of prophecy? I’m inclined to believe that the prophecy that was going on during this time was serving the function of what we now have as Scripture. But we are not told what they were prophesying and I will not make a solid argument through silence. Honestly, the topic of prophecy in Scripture and the propheticity of Scripture is one I plan on doing a lot more studying on. I’m far away from having any concrete answers.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Scott, yes I contend that there was continued manifestations of outward workings. That is part of my conclusion. They were needed to bear the testimony of Christ. What was the apostolic authority about and why does Acts repeated associate the signs and wonders with the apostles? Again, it was for the testimony of Christ, which the authors of the NT penned as inspired writings.

      In terms of Rev 19:10, ‘the testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy’. Yes, I agree. But is that spirit of prophecy carried out today through prophetic utterances or is the spirit of prophecy imbedded in the written testimony of the revelation of Christ, breathed out by God through His authorized agents. Consider what 2 Peter 1:19 says about the prophetic word made sure.

      Honestly, what prompted me to write this post is that I always get the sense of full continuationists that we who don’t hold to this view are missing out on something, that somehow what we have is insufficient. My contention is that what God has intended for us to have, He has provided and it is sufficient. If people believe that tongues and interpretations and prophecy needs to happen now, that’s fine. But not practicing such gifts doesn’t detract from what cessationists or even the “qualified” charismatics like me maintain. It is not my position really to tell continuatists to cease and desist but I’d really like continuationists to stop telling cessationist they need to get on board because they are missing out on something.

    • cheryl u

      Yeah, Lisa, there was the guy that gave the prophecy to Paul and there was the prophecy about the famine coming. What do you do with that? There is no way one can equate that with the canon of Scripture type prophecies and there is no way those people would of had the information they did without the prophecies being given. Although in Paul’s case, if I remember correctly, it wasn’t new information but confirmed what he already knew. Maybe it was more for the benefit of the rest of the folks with him than it was for Paul. But even if the canon had been complete at that time, they certainly couldn’t of opened the Bible and been told there specifically about Paul’s upcoming imprisonment or that there was a famine coming.

      If you want to call that a different kind of prophecy, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But I just don’t see how it can be ruled out that such things still happen because we now have the full canon. They couldn’t of been known then if they had the full canon without these direct prophetic words from the Lord and they still couldn’t be now. And yet God seemed to believe they needed to know these things, or else why did He give them? Are we so different today that we don’t need them now?

      If you don’t believe in these types of things any more, that is truly up to you. But I simply can not agree with you on this one.

    • cheryl u

      P.S. Lisa,

      Something to think about. You said, ” I’d really like continuationists to stop telling cessationist they need to get on board because they are missing out on something.”

      I am not telling you to get on board. If you are right, you are not missing out on anything. However, if continuationists are right, you are missing out on a gift God gave us. Since He only gives good gifts and gives nothing without a purpose, then you would be missing out on something, right?

    • rayner markley

      A lot has to do with personality, IMO. Some people are comfortable with those outward signs and displays. If they find blessing in that way, I would not criticize it. But I myself am uninterested in such behavior, particularly in tongues, which serves no useful purpose that I can see.

      By the way, tongues (glossolalia), healing and prophecy all occur in non-Christian traditions and practices also. If they are evidence of the Holy Spirit, they are not unique evidence of such.

    • Rayner,

      I think it is important to be “interested” in whatever God might have for us. Otherwise we are quenching the Spirit.

      Scripture tells us to more earnestly desire the greater gifts, but that doesn’t preclude desiring all the gifts.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Cheryl, I appreciate that. But please know that I have spent years listening to so called tongues and interpretations and prophecies. Heck, I even spoke in tongues or at least what I thought was tongues. I can honestly say, based on experience, Scriptural discovery and my past 3 years in non-charismatic (not anti-charismatic) churches, I have not missed a thing. In fact, in retrospect, I’d say the subjective nature of gifts probably lent more confusion, than anything. When people say “thus sayeth the Lord”, do you really know its from God? There have been times when what was said rung true but the generic nature of the “word” ,it probably would have been no different than if someone simply stated that they sensed the Lord saying X, without all the theatrics. In fact, I’d say that is a safer thing to do than to presume words on the Lord, just in case we get it wrong.

      The Holy Spirit is alive and well and provides edification and divine direction in various packages. And yes, even insight into a particular situation, that there’s no way you would have known otherwise except the Spirit reveal it. And to reiterate my post, we are the ones that need to take heed to His control.

    • Lisa Robinson

      I just wanted to add a quick note thanking you all for a civil discussion. This is a topic that can become quite heated and I appreciate the irenic interaction here.

    • I was just thinking of complimenting you for the same thing Lisa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.