Is THAT the Holy Spirit?

I had an interesting conversation with a former student last night in reference to Matthew 10:32-33.

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before
My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also
deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
His concern centered around a friend of his that wouldn't participate in the style of worship that he enjoyed. The student's style of worship is very emotional and extremely demonstrative. Lot's of shouting, hallelujahs, crying and jumping around. His friend, on the other hand, says "that's not for me!".

The student says that his friend is thus "not saved". His argument went something like this.

1) Matthew 10:32-33 says that we must confess following Jesus in front of other people, otherwise, if we are ashamed of Him, Jesus will deny that we are His before God.

2) The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Jesus.

3) If we reject the Holy Spirit, we reject Jesus.

4) Thus, Jesus will reject us before God.

5) Thus, we are not saved.

Now I love this guy. He's got a bright future and I want to help him as much as I can to get there.

The reason I bring it up here is that his misconception is a common one in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. And while such a misconception is sometimes amusing amongst laypeople - in my opinion it's not acceptable for leaders.

What's the problem? It's simple.

The student wants to equate human expressions (jumping, shouting, raising hands, etc) with the eternal Spirit of God - and that's just not valid. No one (in my circles!) would say, "God is...an emotion!". But we seem to be able to say just such a thing of the Holy Spirit.

He is, in effect, saying that if you don't worship in the style he approves of, then you are rejecting the Holy Spirit, and there's no place in the Kingdom for you!

These kinds of "invalid linkages" are downright dangerous. They divide people that may indeed have a strong desire to build the Kingdom. And worse, they create all kinds of noise for people trying to get in.

In short, this kind of thing is a huge distraction from the real issues involved in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Father, help us to tolerate and even encourage differences of style among your people so that we may focus on the real issues in extending your kingdom.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some things that come to mind... 1 Samuel Chapter 4. This is the pentecostal church. They work up the flesh to even shake the church, but they will be destroyed with Gods enemies.

I have been told that I am going to hell because I have not spoken in tongues. 1 Corinthians chapter 12-14 clearly states that tongues are not for everyone and there are divers gifts of the spirit for divers persons not everyone will have the same gifts.

The Lord our God is one Lord in Deutoronomy. Pentecostals say that Christ and God are the same person not two distinct different entities. They have not read the letters from the apostles where they specifically say Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Or even Jesus quoted 'The Lord said to my Lord sit at my right hand'... Or the book of Isaiah where God describes His servant and His purpose especially chapters 40-54.

Point... He says that his friend shall be denied before Christ because he is ashamed of His words, right? Why is he the one ignoring Christ words throughout the entire Bible that show that God and Christ are not the same person. Also in the New testament where Paul describes in detail not only are tongues not for everyone but he implores the people not to desire to speak in tongues but to Prophesy!!!

So your friend needs to read 1 Corinthians chapter 14 and see that if we come together and were all speaking in tongues that outsiders will not be convicted of their sins but will think they are nuts. Which is Denying Christ because it says right there in verse 23 of chapter 14 that not everyone should speak in tongues or speak in tongues at all unless there is an interpreter. So I would show my friend this. And he will somehow tell you that you are misinterpreting what is written becasause God has allowed them to be led astray.

Mike said...

Anon,

Thanks for your reply!

Check out Rev. 22:14-15.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.


Of course, we need to look at the context, which is describing the kingdom to come and our part in it.

John's words here echo the major thrust of the entire Christian story - that is, that God has made an agreement with mankind (a covenant) and by keeping our end of the agreement, we are allowed to partake of its benefits.

So the only reason I can see that you would not be able to "enter the city by the gates" is that, metaphorically speaking, your "robes aren't washed...".

Nowhere, as you point out, in the entirety of the Bible, is there any association between speaking in tongues, or any other manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and being "justified" or "saved" or "being able to enter the city".

They're just not the same thing, as you point out.

Now one thing to note is that actually only a minority of Pentecostals are "oneness" - believing God and Jesus to be the same entity. Many Pentecostals are trinitarians.

But my point to my friend is that whether you are a unitarian (oneness-orientation), or a trinitarian is irrelevant to the issue of whether worship style affects Kingdom membership.

My friend's argument is "non sequitur". That is, he illogically relates two concepts which are not at all related.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Just the other day, I was at a Pentecostal chapel service and a discussion was started concerning speaking in tongues. It was said by most people who commented that they believe that, like you said, speaking in tongues is not required for being saved. However,they did say they believed that when one is "filled with the Holy Spirit", they WILL speak in tongues, that it is one of the immediate evidences of being filled. When it was brought up about there being many different gifts of the Holy Spirit, and that not everyone has all the gifts, they proceeded to say that speaking in tongues as evidence of being filled is not the same as speaking in tongues as a gift of the Holy Spirit. I was just wondering what your view is on this and the scriptural backup you would use for it, because no one there ever seemed to have any really good backup for what they said, and I'm really confused about the whole issue. I myself am not Pentecostal, but I don't totally disbelieve speaking in tongues. I just have always been taught and believe that speaking in tongues is a gift, and is not for everyone. Any thoughts??

Mike said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for your thoughts and question.

Rather than answer it here, I wrote a new article entitled "The Holy Spirit from the Teleological Perspective".

You'll find it under the "Teleology and Worldview" section.

Thanks again!