We are happy to see our charismatic friends separating from the spirit of nominalism in the churches. However, it is disheartening to see their preoccupation with the seeming miraculous robbing them of "beholding the glory of the Lord" "with unveiled face" which comes by the study of and articulation in the "Word of God."

In connection with the creation of the earth, Genesis 1:2 says that "...the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The operation of the holy Spirit in the creation, though powerful, was a mechanical function; whereas, the operation of the holy Spirit in the Christian is not mechanical. Romans 8:11 says, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." The work of the holy Spirit in our bodies is powerful because it is far more than mechanical. It must contend with our free will. In 2 Corinthians 10:4 and 5 the Apostle describes one aspect of this work. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Also in Galatians 5:16-17 we read, "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other." The real power of the Spirit is not shown by its taking over a Christian and mechanically causing the speech organs to utter sounds that are even unintelligible to the speaker. Greater power is shown in the Spirit's ability to appeal to our free will daily and hourly to fully surrender self, self-will, pride, selfish ambition, wrath, strife, selfishness, uncleanness, envy, jealousy, etc. In their place the Spirit works jointly with our wills to develop in us "the place the Spirit works jointly with our wills to develop in us "the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, temperance." Gal. 5:22-23

A Spirit-filled Christian doesn't continually exuberate emotional joy. But he will possess the inner joy which is a fruit of the Spirit, though it might at times be alloyed with pain and sorrow. As the Apostle Peter so well stated in 1 Peter 1:6-7, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptation: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." Jesus, our example, had this inner joy, Hebrews 12:2-3, yet he was called "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." (Isa. 53:3) It is questionable how comfortable this "man of sorrows" would feel in some emotionally pitched charismatic services.

A Spirit-filled Christian is little interested in prayers for miraculous deliverance from pain, sickness, trial, sorrow, persecution. He has grown to realize that the Lord's way generally is not the removal, but strength to bear or endure the experience. As the Apostle Paul observes in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no trial taken you but such as is common to man but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tried above that ye are able; but will with the trial also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Note well the phrase, "God will not suffer you to be tried above that ye are able." Generally it is the immature Christian that needs miraculous deliverance, for he is not able to endure the experience. Whereas, the mature Christian needs only the help of the Lord and he is willing to endure or bear the experience because of the insights of the Spirit he will glean from it. Remember the Lord's answer to Paul's thrice-uttered prayer for the removal of his physical affliction, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor. 12:7-10) Notice it is in infirmity and not in the removal of infirmities that the Christian experiences the real power of Christ. It is in weakness that the Christian through the Spirit's working power becomes strong. Were the sky always without a cloud and the ocean without a ripple, the believer would not know so well the God with whom he has to do. As one mature Christian expressed it: "It is when the clouds are the darkest and the tempest the highest that the Lord's presence is most keenly felt through a realization of his tender, personal love. His grace to sustain and his presence to cheer amid life's deepest afflictions becomes memory's most hallowed resting places."

The Spirit-filled Christian is humbly concerned for his brethren. Many Christians lament that their charismatic friends sound like little children with new toys at Christmastime. How they glory and boast in their mechanical wonders. But what did the Apostle Paul glory in? "If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities." (2 Cor. 11:30) Paul lists the infirmities he gloried in. "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (2 Cor. 11:24-27) Why did Paul glory in infirmity? He gives us the answer in verse 29, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?" Paul gloried in infirmity because his infirmities enabled him by the Spirit's working to sympathize with his brethren in infirmity. The ripest saints, in whom we find the deepest sympathy, the most patient forbearance, and the most tender helpfulness and consideration, are those who have been through the fires of affliction and have been rightly exercised thereby.

What is a Spirit-filled Christian? The apostles before Pentecost possessed the mechanical operation of the Spirit whereby they could perform miracles of healing, etc. (Matt. 10:1-8) But certainly they were not then Spirit-filled. It was only after years of growth following Pentecost that the apostles could write the following Spirit-filled observations:

"And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us, God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:16-17) The Apostle John was not perfect or complete when he received the Holy spirit. But over a period of time his love was made complete or perfect.

"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But hi that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." 2 Pet. 1:5-9

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Spirit which is given unto us." (Rom. 5:1-5) Notice it is a period of time after we receive Christ (verse 1) that we have the necessary experiences to be filled with the Spirit. It should be readily apparent that the "fruit of the Spirit" (the growth of Christian graces) are of greater value than the instantly imparted "gifts of the Spirit."

Previous Chapter Next Chapter