The Pentecostal Movement
I welcome the Pentecostal visitation of the Spirit of God that has
become a mark of
our time in religion. I believe Pentecostal visitation to be not the
whole council of God,
but part of the council of God. I believe it is for the larger and purer
part, a genuine visitation of the
religious Spirit of Christ as seen previously in The Acts Of The
Apostles in the New Testament. The
Apostolic Age is not dead, as some dogmas suggest, it never dies. It
only sleeps. Some flames in the church
burn low for a time, then they are reborn.
Why do I believe it is really from God? Because it is genuine, an expression of a valid way of God as seen acting in scripture. Why do I believe it to be genuine? Because it is ironic, as God is ironic when HE often answers man with the Spiritual and mysterious, rather than the literal and the legalistic. God who is a Spirit answering in the Spirit has the true ring of the spiritual God who gave us Jesus Christ, His Son, to preach the spiritual kingdom of God.
At the time of Christ the Jews wanted a secular, literal, Napoleonic type messiah. The answer of God was spiritual. The answer was a non-soldier, a man of peace, Jesus, who preached for people to repent because a spiritual Kingdom of God had opened. A spiritual leader afire, not a literal soldier king, had been sent. Everything a spiritual Kingdom of God stood for as an answer was, since it was a time of legalistic religion lost in a literal thinking time, the exact opposite of what the Jews wished. The Jews wished a literal messiah. They got Jesus, a spiritual answer, and could not believe it. They were astounded.
But God gave the world a spiritual answer. The Jews did not get a literal Messiah of God, to fight with, and overcome the Romans. Instead God sent a spiritual Kingdom as His answer. He sent the world a spiritual religion as the answer. The true ways of God are higher and more mystical than our thinking. But by the fact the answer is ultimately spiritually determined and therefore mystical and eternal, we see the spiritual marks that demonstrates the irony of God.
Once again our faiths are in a sad time of legalism, in formal religion and literalism in the hopes of Godís answer to manís problems. But once more the Lord has given, affirmed a Spiritual Answer. He has pushed the Mighty and the literal off their seats, and the current, the literal, the too liberal, the overly rational, the rich, He has sent empty away. The Pentecostal Wave of fire, flames and fervor are true Apostolic Signs. The Pentecostal movement demonstrates again the true irony of God as the spiritual rises as the answer to diluted liberalism, legalistic literalism of doctrine, dogmas and hierarchy, and falsely oriented living.
The Pentecost in religion today says the world will be saved and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. It is not to be saved by rationalism or reason, or pseudo-scientific religion, or mere intellectual consent to doctrine or dogma, or by obedience to religious rules of discipline, or submission to church hierarchies. While all these things may sometimes help in some pious efforts, it is by and through experiencing the grace of God in the interior person and interior life, that the confused and the sinners shall be drawn up joyfully to God. And I say, ďPraise God,Ē we shall be drawn up to know and feel moments of grace. We are being saved and sanctified by the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.
God is a Spirit, as the Shorter Catechism says, and His answer is the Spirit. Our spirit calls to His Spirit. He declares to us through spiritual signs, spiritual preaching, and Holy Spirit fire the rededication and rediscovery of the Apostolic Spirit to be a great sign of faith to this Age. We are re-affirmed in Christís Spirit. The Church is reaffirmed in the Apostolic Spirit of God.
l am not Pentecostal but I respect them and do not doubt their validity in Christ. I praise more quietly and with less exuberance, but more reserve, but all that is genuine does not have to be alike. It is not unanimity of methods or unanimity of intellect that should hold Christís church together, but unanimity of love generated by Christ. As different trees have different colors in different seasons but have one common denominator, the earth, so churches and faiths have different markings but all grow from being buried in one common denominator, God. And while the varying colors of trees may not be uniform, they may make a better vision for being complementary in color if seen from a distance. We tend to see close up. God is more likely to see from a distance. So the changing colors may seem a flaw close up to some who may tend to deplore them. But God from a greater distance may enjoy a complementary vision of them that those too close may not be aware of. So we should consider not what looks good to us, but what may look best to God and please Him..
Therefore do not object if the Pentecostal movement does not appeal to you. A color that does not appeal to you nevertheless may bring out the picture elsewhere. The Pentecostal Churches fill a great need in serving all the needs in the Kingdom of God as well as preserving the right total balance. Allow them to be different from you. Be glad they are there. They fill a need long unfilled: the need for a more emotional and fervent spirit-filled Christianity. I rejoice in the joyful noise they make unto the Lord. Thank God they are there.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.