Thursday, December 29, 2016
Are You a Continuationist or Are You a Cessationist?
29 December 2016: Mindful in the extreme of this sensitive subject matter, the intent is to wade gently through it so as to not cause any major ripples. At the same time there is a compulsion to put this before as many as will read it.
Have you ever wondered why the current church, the bride of Christ, does not exhibit the same incredible spiritual empowerment of the Holy Spirit as manifest in the very beginning of our faith, such as those things recorded in the Book of Acts and other inspired works? Have you ever prayed on this? For myself, the answer is 'yes' to both questions.
Going back as far as I can recall, the teaching has always been that God hates sin. He loves the sinner, but hates sin. In no way can He abide with or by the defiling filth of sin; his absolute unblemished holiness is the perfection of perfection. It is sin that has always and will always separate the unredeemed human being from Him. It is the saving grace of the Blood of the Lamb which redeems us and provides the aspiration toward achieving a holiness like Him, to live re-born to be like Him, to be Christ-like and without sin.
And in our redemption through the Blood of the Lamb we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, because in that moment we are blameless, sinless. That is how and why the Holy Spirit, God, can be within us. Yet the Christian is able capable of sin; we have an inherent sinful nature as sons of Adam. So when the Christian inevitably does sin does the Holy Spirit, being an integral part of God, depart from indwelling the human being in that moment?
When a discussion of this crops us I will invariably bring up the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit upon salvation in Christ Jesus, and another experience which is a baptism in the Holy Spirit and the special gifts that come to the individual with that baptism. Trust me on this, I know many Christian brethren who will turn up their noses and deny such a thing exists; they will claim that such 'quackery' is the realm of Pentecostals and Charismatics and other assorted 'holy rollers' and snake handlers who get carried away in or with excessive worship, and so on and so on. I happen to know different from direct experience, a baptism in the Holy Spirit is the ultimate in unique Christian experiences; there is nothing like it and nothing will alter the truth I adhere to about it following my experience.
But to get back to the central point, if a Christian sins, does the Holy Spirit depart because He can no longer indwell where sin is resident once again? Could this be the reason why the incredible spiritual empowerment that once was so prevalent in the Church in ancient times is now-a-days not so evident? If so, then how ill-equipped are Christians living in sin to fight against the dark forces spoken of by Paul in Ephesians 6:12? Very ill-equipped if biblical reason is applied.
Be mindful, no position is being stated or taken here, and I am as far from anything dogmatic on this as one can be. Yet it was at this point recently when I became aware of a debate within Christendom on this very subject, and the debate is encapsulated the title above. I came upon an entry in the GotQuestions.Org website dealing with this issue which reignited interest in the theological issues at the heart of it. I suggest a reading of the linked article if this subject holds any interest for you. Based upon my own experience with a baptism of the Holy Spirit I have to say that I am a little more than partial to the Continuationist view, but I am praying the Lord through His Spirit to guide to a doctrine to adhere to.
One thing I am absolutely sure of it that when the Lord pours out His Spirit upon all Israel it will be for them and those they encounter exactly as its was in the days of the Lord's Apostles.