Thursday 1 August 2013

Yes I Am 24 - Union Reality and The Charismatic

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 24

A question that will arise in many minds is whether what millions today speak of as "the baptism in the Spirit" is the same experience as this second crisis of faith of which we are speaking. By "baptism in the Spirit" I mean the most amazing phenomenon of living Christianity today - an experience of the Spirit, usually accompanied by speaking in tongues, commonly called "pentecostal" and nowadays "charismatic." It is amazing, because what was once regarded as some weird manifestation confined to a far-out group of people called Pentecostals, who were often given a contemptuous title such as "holy rollers," has now burst through into all the denominations of the church, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, with such dramatic effects that they are welcomed as new quickenings of the Spirit by some... and opposed as dangerous or even demonic extravagances by others. But it is certainly widespread enough today for this question to be asked.

The first Pentecost, forty days after Christ’s ascension - an event He had told His disciples to await as "the promise of the Father" and taking the form of their "receiving power after the Holy Ghost has come upon you" - came with electric effect on those waiting 120. Outwardly it was a rushing mighty wind and cloven tongues as of fire, and inwardly an upsurge of the Spirit which caused them to speak in other languages. Although not in such a dramatic form as that first Pentecost, many thousands of Christians today bear witness to a like experience - usually accompanied by the speaking in other tongues and resulting in a radical change of life and a new enthusiasm for Christ by its recipients. But while this was the great transforming event of the early church and by it the Holy Spirit was experienced in His power, it did not by itself establish in them this total inner knowing of the risen Christ as their permanent Indweller, as the One who so replaced them that they could say with Paul, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

Paul himself was filled with the Holy Ghost at his conversion, when Ananias laid hands on him; but it was only later, after three years alone in Arabia, that he had that "Christ in you" revelation about which he wrote to the Galatians in such absolute terms that to preach any other gospel would be anathema.

And still more strikingly is this plain with Peter, whom we might almost call "Mr. Pentecost," for he had been the spokesman for the disciples at Pentecost. Yet years later, when he visited the live, mostly Gentile church in Antioch, what he still lacked surfaced in public form. This church had such freedom from the do’s and don’t’s of the law that Peter, though at first enjoying it with them, panicked and drew back from this new-found liberty. A group of Jewish Christians claiming to represent James, the head of the mother church in Jerusalem, had come, saying that such liberty was license, and calling on those who were circumcised to make a stand in opposing it. Peter was so frightened by this delegation that he, with others, even including Barnabas, cut himself off from such free fellowship as eating with the Gentiles.

And what did that expose in Peter? Paul told him of his hypocrisy, and it was serious enough to necessitate making a public stand against Peter. What a crisis, a historic moment in the infant church! So Paul "withstood him to the face," and what he told Peter was his revelation in Arabia which included this famous Galatians 2:20 - reality that the Holy Spirit was not only a power as experienced in the baptism of Pentecost, but the actual indwelling Christ Himself replacing Peter in his inner center.

And the evidence that Peter did not yet know this Total Truth was plain for all to see. If Peter had known not only the power of the Spirit but the living Christ within, replacing himself when these Judaizers came to rebuke the "lawless liberty" within the Antioch church, Peter would have recognized his human fear as just an external temptation, such as we all have. He would have known how to replace that outer invasion of fear by the reality of Christ within him confirming the new freedom. But God used this negative situation to bring out this glorious "identification truth" for all the centuries. For it was then that Paul spoke the great Galatians 2:20 inspired word, and in effect said to Peter, "Peter, you don’t yet know this. I didn’t either, until years after my baptism in the Spirit it was revealed to me in Arabia. You, Peter, are crucified with Christ... and instead of being your old, fearing self, you now have Christ Himself in you. He has replaced your human fears by confirming in you the liberation He has brought to us all from those old Jewish legalisms. If you had known this you would have stood firm with us all, even against the Jewish leaders. Learn that, Peter."

From all this we learn a lesson of fundamental importance. It is a glorious experience when God confirms His presence in us by His gifts of the Spirit, as He did at Pentecost. This is a gracious manifestation of the Spirit as power, and produces such marvelous effects on us that at first we may think we now have all. But in fact, that first impartation of power has to be inwardly expanded... through our personal pilgrimage in the delusion of self-effort living in Romans 7, and then through the wide-open gateway into the full freedom of Romans 8. Then He is known and established in us as the living Person He is, not merely manifested in power. By Him living His own total overcoming life in us, we are adequate for every situation.

Therefore those who have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit - with the sign or gift of tongues, or other gifts - have been highly privileged in this great steppingstone into Christ as all in all. We can then expand that great primary experience into its full reality by moving in by faith into the "Christ is all and in all" of Colossians 3:11. Today I often find that those who have had a charismatic experience more readily respond to the revelation of the total Christ-union-and-replacement reality than do those who are inclined more to the objective relationship with Christ, as apart from us in His risen and ascended position at the right hand of God. Though they know and love the Lord, they’re often fearful of and cautious about too close an approach to Paul’s mystery, "hidden, but now made manifest to His saints,... which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Some even label it as some form of "mysticism," dangerous and fanatical.

For myself, as I have many world-wide contacts with God’s people of all nations, I cannot conceive how any of my evangelical brethren really oppose as of the flesh or devil all these mighty world-wide manifestations of the Spirit, call them Pentecostal or charismatic. I cannot see how any honest person can attribute the experience of all these we meet with, these who so fervently love and worship Jesus in charismatic assemblies, to being erroneous and warn against them. To me it comes close to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

For myself, I esteem my Pentecostal brethren as better than myself and rejoice in fellowship with them as part of them, as I also do with all who preach Christ, whatever lesser differences of interpretation we may have. So when any of these brethren take a position that "you ought to have what we have," I say, "You may be right; pray for me. But I can receive and experience only what the Holy Spirit Himself confirms to me and works in me."

But divide from any? No. We are already one in Christ and we bless each other in the name of the Lord. Wisdom is justified of all her children.

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