Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two kinds of Christians

Those of us who believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as an experience one can have subsequent to the New Birth (salvation) are often accused of making two classes of Christian - one superior to the other. It is argued that there cannot be two classes of Christians, one having this Baptism and the rest lacking it. That would put some Christians above others.

Now I will admit that some Pentecostal Christians do think that they are superior to others, but I have found that this disease affects Christians of all sorts. Some think because of their denominational affiliation or their doctrine or whatever it is that they are somehow better than others. This is spiritual pride and it is odious no matter who has it. Also, I must add that some have had a superior attitude against Pentecostal Christians because we do strange things like speak in tongues and worship God very loudly. (I personally am not all that loud.)

I must address, however, the complaint that God could not possibly have this separate Baptism in the Holy Spirit since it would actually divide Christians into two categories. This assertion, though, betrays a basic misunderstanding of what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is for. It is not to make one holier and more spiritual (despite what the church at Corinth thought).

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the manifestations of the Spirit (1 Cor 12) are for power to minister. Jesus explains this in Acts 1:5,8, "You shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit ... you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be my witnesses." So it is for power to be a witness and not for personal holiness.

Does that make two classes of Christian? It does not. Otherwise, we would have many classes of Christian since their are different ministries and different levels of power and anointing given to those ministries. Take evangelists, for example. Obviously, Billy Graham has greater power to minister than most ministers, even other evangelists. Does that make him a higher class of Christian? Certainly not, though some Christians might think of him that way. And we often do that with ministers of the gospel in general. We put them in a different class, in our own minds, because of their ministry.

But if you talk to those ministers then you will find that they are no different from the rest of us. They have the same struggles with the world, the flesh and the Devil that all of us do. They just have power to minister to others and a greater responsibility because of that ministry.

So I hope that we can decide these matters on scriptural grounds and not on arguments based on our general sense of what we think that God does or does not do.

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