In the quote above, Isaiah uses a Hebrew term that the translators render as "UNDONE" & the definition implies "speechless", -yet speechless cannot be the fullness of the definition (because he continues to excogitate – still speaks).
The next thing the prophet explains about his "undoneness" is that the reason for it is, "because I am a man of unclean lips". In other words, Isaiah is saying that his speech process is corrupt (& as a result he is unable to articulate the vision of God's presence in the temple perfectly (hence, undone). Undone. Imperfect. Incomplete. Lacking.)
What the man saw, he could not explain to anyone else in a way that would cause a change in the listener in the same manner that truly experiencing/understanding it would. Imagine: He's in the temple & has a vision of God that he realizes that he will be unable to articulate - hence he will fail to truly impact any lives with his testimony because the word of his testimony cannot relay the fullness of the vision itself. He realized even then what Paul later said to those in Corinth : "The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk - but power."
The remedy for Isaiah's issue with his language-flaw is explained: "Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this has touched thy lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." - v 6-7
The coal (which was heated from the same very specific fire that burned on the altar); --wasn't of any common flame. Application of the coal to Isaiah's mouth (or "peh" -also a Hebrew consonant), -took care of his foul speech issue.
And that's amazing - implications considered. It's also foreshadowing of something God was going to do with the gospel message & plan. Let’s move forward a millennia or so in the text -& see.
The book of Acts is unique as to the fact that it is the only book in the Bible to contain the actual sermons given by the apostles in preaching the gospel; --& it contains the detailed accounts about those people who responded in the affirmative to what they heard. That is important because nothing takes the place of actual examples when attempting to lay meaning to connected texts.
For instance, -which would you prefer: Somebody's written theory of how to build a fire without matches; -or an account that details precisely what somebody else did -in order to build that fire?
Theology like "The Romans Road" commonly used to describe "salvation" is mere theory - a combination of Scriptures used to explain what's espoused by the party using "The Romans Road analogy" to build some set of intellectual points about salvation via the Gospel.
Acts, however, contains the actual accounts of people being saved as they responded to the Gospel.
If "The Romans Road" salvation message was sound theology, -it should be in harmony with the Book of Acts. The problem is: It's NOT.
Let me be clear: Nowhere in the Book of Acts is there any example of anyone asking "Jesus to forgive their sins & be their Lord". Nowhere! The actual examples are quite different & far more life altering. So, in whom have you actually trusted? Let's find out.
According to the Scripture, there is one Lord, one faith & one baptism (Eph 4:5). Since God is not the author of confusion (I Cor 14:33), that consistency makes sense. The examples of people responding to the gospel message in Acts are found in chapters 2, 8, 10-11, 18-19. I expect that you'll read them to become familiar with these accounts.
I’m presuming that you’ve read the texts now, if not – go read them. Did you read them? Acts chapters 2, 8, 10-11, 18-19. Do not proceed, until you read.
The Apostles were picked by Jesus himself, and they were with Jesus continuously for the duration of his ministry. They had access to Jesus when nobody else did & when you read the 4 gospel accounts you’ll observe that they often questioned him privately about things he spoke of in public (in order to get deeper insight). My point is self-evident: These guys were the ones given more insight into God's plan than anyone else in Jesus's circle of contacts. And he prepared them for the mission before his ascension. God's plan wasn't 'half-baked'. It was meticulous and every contingency accounted for.
The Church age begins in the Book of Acts (not the Gospels - as the 1st 4 books of the New-Testament actually occurred in the Old Covenant -as Yeshua fulfilled the requirements of the law).
The New Covenant was ushered in -in Acts chapter 2. Among other details, the account records: "And suddenly a sound came out of the heaven, as being borne along by a violent wind! And it filled all the house where they were sitting. And tongues as of fire appeared to them, being distributed, and it sat on each one of them. And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave ability to them to speak." - Acts 2:2-4
Some observations are in order: An utterance given by the Breath/Spirit of God ("ruach hakodesh") is by definition - prophecy (even if in a foreign language). Un-interpreted, it is an "uttered mystery" & by its nature is among the least of the gifts of the Spirit according to the Apostle Paul.. However, when interpreted (understood by the listener/s) -then it is among the greatest of the gifts (as prophets are listed as second only to Apostles in Saul/Paul's explanation of spiritual gifts to the church at Corinth (I Cor 14:5)).
In Acts 2 - the languages of the event were indeed understood by most of the hearers as the text records: "And Jews were living in Jerusalem , devout men from every nation of those under the heaven. But this sound occurring, the multitude came together and were confounded, because they each heard them speaking in his own dialect. And all were amazed and marveled, saying to one another, Behold, are not all these, those speaking, Galileans? And how do we hear each in our own dialect in which we were born?" - Acts 2:5-8
And I want to point out - that principle of what Paul spoke of in 1st Corinthians (14:23) about men who don't understand the gift of tongues; --That very thing happened in this account in Acts 2: 'But others mocking, were saying, "They have been filled with new wine!' -Acts 2:13
In Acts 2:14 and on thru the chapter, Peter speaks to the entire crowd (over 3000 people). In that speech, he explains the life, death & resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus).
Then we get to the critical moment: "Now having heard, they were pierced through to the heart [fig., were greatly distressed], and they said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, "What will we do, men, brothers?" -Ac 2:37
That moment would not have been a good time to waste words; -And Peter did not.
Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." - Acts 2:38
Was that commandment solid - fixed for the entire age?
It is written: "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." - Ac 2:39
That's a complete temporal & geographic lock (Fixed as a covenant for all people in all places for all time [1-LORD, 1-FAITH, 1-BAPTISM]).
Act 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Verse 41 records that 3000 were baptized into the name of Jesus. Although we do not hear about the experience of each of these people as they received the Holy Spirit - the Scripture does fill in the details & what was commonly expected as you read the rest of Acts. So we will.
Now, let's move on from the Jews in Chapter 2, to the Samaritans in chapter 8.
Samaria was sort of - in between Judaism & non-Jews - in regards to their religious beliefs. Orthodox Jews generally considered those in Samaria as spiritually compromising mongrels. What we discover is that - God really is impartial.
It is written: "Then Philip went
down to the city of Samaria , and preached Christ unto them.
Pay close attention to the following
Read that last paragraph a few times. That last detail is there for a reason.
Consider carefully: Samaria accepted the message & was even water Baptized into the name of Jesus - but yet, -did not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit!
That detail flies in the theological face of many denominations. Many sects teach that when a person accepts the gospel, -they get the baptism of the Holy Spirit by default. The Scripture teaches otherwise. It is consistent theologically. Proceed, and I will show you.
See: That detail is highlighted in (2) other instances in Acts involving (2) other groups as well. That's (3) witnesses. They are written down for a reason! For “by the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall any matter be established”.
Back to the Samaria account: 'The Apostles laid their hands on the Samaritans, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon (the sorcerer) saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.' (Acts 8:17-19)
Here we find another amazing detail. A guy named "Simon" -who was a huckster/magician offered the apostles money so that he could give the Holy-Spirit by laying on of his hands. That detail makes a gigantic point about the infilling of the Holy Spirit (as well as telling you something about Simon):
It was a spectacle. One only needs to take a journey through the Scriptures & keep notes about the nature of the infilling & the effects documented by those experiencing it. It is called a “baptism” because of what the term “baptism” means: To overwhelm, & change the nature of. If someone says that a boat was “baptized by the storm” you can presume that it now more resembles a submarine. Scripturally, the event is connected with the concepts of death & rebirth into life. It results is a massive change in the psychology of the recipient. The immediate effects are compared with being drunk because there are similarities in mannerism due to a change in brain chemistry. THAT is what Simon offered money to do.
Consider: If the Apostles laid their hands on people & those people simply had a nice, quaint little feeling ... why would a huckster (one who had made his living doing magic tricks, creating spectacles & pretending to be a man of power) offer MONEY to emulate that? Simon already had the ability to lay his hands on people & have nothing remarkable occur! But had he taken such a low-key show on the road, -what do you suppose his profit would have been (and profit is what Simon was all about)!
Simon offered the Apostles money because people getting the baptism in the Spirit was a life changing event for the recipient with outward manifestations. It was NOT a mere peep with only a teary eye or two! And if you don’t understand this principle, -the Scripture makes it clear that you have not experienced the very pattern so clearly & repetitively laid down by the testimony of the Apostles themselves.
Next stop - the Gentiles. Gentiles (goy'm), were considered the furthest group from God's influence because they generally consisted of every bizarre belief system imaginable - many beliefs highly contrary to the actual nature & knowledge of God. However - there were Gentiles who knew something of the One True God (due to the influence of Judaism) & lived with that knowledge as the focus of their lives.
Once again, we'll find that God doesn't show favoritism.
The bulk of this account is in Acts 10-11. I want to narrow the events down to the points of interest. The easiest way to summarize is to quote what Peter explained to the Jews (the believing Jews had serious questions as to why he had spent time at a "Gentile's home").
Here's what Peter explained in summary:
'"I was in [the] city of Joppa
praying, and in a trance I saw a vision: a certain object like a great
sheet coming down, being lowered by four corners out of heaven [or, the
sky], and it came to me, at which having looked intently, I was
considering [it], and I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the
wild beasts and the reptiles and the birds of heaven [or, the air].
"Then I heard a voice saying to me, 'Having gotten up, Peter, slaughter
and eat!' "But I said, 'Most certainly not, Lord! Because never did
any[thing] common [fig., ritually impure] or unclean [or, which defiles]
enter into my mouth.' "But a voice out of heaven answered to me a second
[time], 'What God cleansed, by all means stop calling common [fig.,
ritually impure]!' "Now this happened three times, and again all
[things] were drawn up to heaven.
Above, in Ac 11:15 where it reads, 'Spirit fell on them, even as [He] also [did] on us in [the] beginning'; --Acts Chapter 10 says (of the same account): "While Peter [was] still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all the ones hearing the word. And the believing ones from the circumcision were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and magnifying God." Ac 10:44-46. Question: How did the Jews know that these Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit?
Now, for those who insist that "speaking in tongues" is solely for ministering to people who speak different languages, -- they're going to need to explain why it occurred in Acts 10-11 with a small group & Peter.
And remember, Peter’s testimony of the event was that the sign of speaking in tongues was the key in understanding that the gentiles had received the same Holy Spirit as had the Jews. The space between Acts 2 (Jews receiving the Spirit) & Acts chapter 10, was about 10 years time. So for at least TEN YEARS, it was common place for the Holy Spirit to be poured out in the manner recorded in Acts 2. It never changes. 1-Lord. 1-Faith. 1-Baptism.
It is written: “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men - albeit to God; for no one understands him; --He utters mysteries in the Spirit.” –I Cor 14:2
Due to the nature of the Greek term that translates as “mysteries” in the previous quote, -it suddenly sheds light on a variation/foreshadowing of this manifestation in the Old Testament.
It occurs in multiple places –one such as when Hannah was in the Temple praying after fasting during the high-holiday.
It is written: “Now Hanna spoke in her heart, and only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Eli who observed her, -therefore believing her drunk (hello), said to her: How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you, of which thou hast taken too much. Anna answering, said: Not so, my lord: for I am an exceedingly anguished woman, and have drunk neither wine nor any strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” -1st Sam 1:13-16 See the pattern? Appeared drunk, moving lips, words undiscernable…
My next stop is Acts 18. As the point made in the text about the Samaritans not having the Spirit before the laying on of the apostles hands, -- here is another example of a similar thing. It is written:
'"Now a certain Jew, Apollos by name, an Alexandrian by race [or, a native of Alexandrian], an educated man [or, a man skilled in speech], being mighty in the Scriptures, arrived at Ephesus . This [man] had been instructed [in] the way of the Lord, and boiling [fig., being fervent] in his spirit he was speaking and teaching accurately the [things] concerning the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And this [man] began to be speaking boldly in the synagogue. But Aquila and Priscilla having heard of him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately."' - Acts 18:24-26
In this account, the man Apollos a feisty teacher - went into the synagogues & was teaching about Jesus - knowing only the baptism of John (that detail is there for a reason. Read on). But notice the observation in verse 26: "But Aquila and Priscilla having heard of him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more perfectly." If you start at the beginning of chapter 18, you soon find that Aquila & Priscilla were disciples of the Apostle Paul himself.
Why did this matter? Because by Paul's own testimony - the gospel he was preaching was the same as the Jews under Peter's teaching had been preaching; -& Paul testifies that the Gospel he preaches was given to him directly by Jesus in a vision (ref Gal 1:11-20).
So, when Aquila & Priscilla pulled Apollos to the side to explain to him the "way of God more perfectly", -the begging question becomes, "If Apollos knew the Scriptures, taught accurately about the messiah & knew the baptism of John; --Then WHAT was this guy missing!"?
Well, let's keep reading to find out!
"And it came about that while
Apollos was at Corinth , Paul, having gone through the higher country,
came to Ephesus , where there were some disciples: And he said to them,
Did you get the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said to him, No,
we have had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Then he asked, What
sort of baptism did you have? And they said, The
baptism of John” (Just as Apollos). “And Paul said, John
gave a baptism which goes with repentance, --telling the people that
they were to have their faith in him who was coming after him, -that is,
Once again: We find about a dozen guys - called disciples (so you know these guys spent time meditating on the Scriptures) - who were baptized by John the Baptist who told them to put their faith in the one who'd come after him. Paul explains that this coming faith was about & in Jesus. These Disciples were then ReBaptized into the name of Jesus. And when the Holy Spirit filled them – can you guess? Indeed! Speaking in tongues & prophesy was the manifestation! It's one more example in the text of people who's heart was in the right place -- and although they knew about the messiah & repentance -- they did not have the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Hello…
And those consistent examples should be a lesson to every serious Christian about the NATURE of this covenant - as it is recorded repeatedly in Acts & absolutely consistent among the (3) groups the Scripture highlights to represent the spiritual condition of the entire world before becoming Christian.
Now, for those who insist that "speaking in tongues" is solely for ministering to people who speak different languages, -- again - they're going to need to explain why it occurred in Acts 19 with a small group of disciples & Paul.
According to the Scripture, there is 1-LORD, 1-FAITH & 1-BAPTISM. We know from these examples what these things consist of as detailed in the text. If your belief system doesn't fit this pattern, -- then are you ready to say that the Apostles of Jesus were wrong?
Any different pattern from the (1) consistently given - makes another “faith”, and ergo: Somebody must be in error.
According to Paul, “we were all baptized into 1 body & given the 1 spiritual drink”. In celebrating Passover (communion), that drink is symbolized by wine. Remember the comparison some people made in Acts 2 about those filled with the Spirit? "But others, making sport of them, said, They are full of new wine." -Act 2:13
Even Peter recognized the similarity and explained to those who didn't understand: "For these men are not overcome with wine, as it seems to you, for it is only the third hour of the day; But this is the thing which was said by the prophet Joel; 'And it will come about, in the last days, says God, that I will send out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will be prophets" -Act 2:15-17b
Ironically & quite prophetically (in a negative sense) - there are many churches today that use preserved grape-juice instead of natural wine - for their "communion" services. In keeping the alcohol out -- they miss one of the key points about why WINE was chosen as the symbol of Messiah's blood! According to Moses' Law, "The life of the creature is in the blood" –Lv 17:14. And about Christ, the Scripture says that "The 2nd Adam became a life giving Spirit" 1 Cor 15:45! Which is why Yeshua (Jesus) said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” –Jn 6:53 Do you see the obvious symbolism? The symbols of Blood=Wine=Spirit have huge implications.
I was raised in a religious sect (denomination) that denied that these Acts-type-spiritual manifestations still happened today. And I believed the lie. Until it happened to me! Years of independently studying the Scriptures made it all clear, -- because contrary to what some people say, - the Scriptures are, indeed, rock-solidly cross referenced on these things & even warn us about people who have a form of Godliness, but deny the power of God. In other words: Watch out for the falsehoods of watered-down, powerless-gospel "churches". And unfortunately -- that description applies to a vast number of them today & millions of "Christians" who are not where God wants them to be as to the vitality of their Spiritual health.
Indeed: They err, -not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. An Old Testament prophet warned of this trend when he prophesied: “Thy silver is turned into dross: thy wine is mingled with water.” – Is 1:22. When you consider that it is also written: “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver: The heart of the wicked is worthless.” –Pr 10:20. Dross in a silver-tongue yields a corrupted message & an impotent result of a watered-down spiritual life.
One common false teaching is: the Bible is the "Perfection" (spoken of in 1st Corinthians 13) -that will lead to the end of spiritual gifts. If that's so, which Bible is the PERFECT translation for all languages everywhere? I use many translations because I know just how two-dimensional any translation can be. I.E: Exodus 32:32 in the oldest most reliable manuscripts contains unknown characters that CANNOT be translated (but none-the less -- it is ironically, prophecy about this very subject)! It is clear to me that no written translation of the Bible can be PERFECT; and that the perfection spoken of in the end-text of 1st Corinthians 13 - is the perfection of the fully realized & established Kingdom of God & recreated earth (after all -- you'll no longer need healing when nobody is ill)! Always read the text/s in context.
So, where does that leave many people: Unfortunately -- that leaves a huge number of well-intentioned people calling themselves Christians - who are devoid of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Once upon a time, I was one of them. Lots of my friends now share the same general testimony -- as, -after I had my experience, -- I told my friends & family. And just like in Jesus's day -- it was the so-called "religious leaders" who dissuaded some people from pursuing this deepening in the walk with God. Those who did ask, seek & knock - now also know why.
Here’s another line of insight. It’s an explanation of one of the biggest mysteries in the Scripture. In Exodus 32, there is an anomaly at verse 32 in the most reliable Hebrew texts. English versions read like: “But now, if you will forgive their sin -- but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.". I draw your attention to the extended hyphen: That hyphen is printed in the place of “mystery” characters that cannot be translated because nobody knows what they mean. This anomaly is a great mystery to the Jews and, if it is an error in the text –it represents a theological disaster. The accurate copying of a Torah scroll is one of the most serious undertakings in Judaism. So to this day, those unintelligible characters are faithfully copied –but nobody knows what they mean!
From a purely pragmatic engineering standpoint: If a person is speaking in a language that they don't know; - The event implies that there is an independent program (engram) running on their neural-net (infrastructure of their brain) that is so different - that it even thinks in terms of another language. That surely makes Paul's quote, "But you have the mind of Christ", - suddenly very germane.
The Scripture contains some very serious & dire warnings about so-called mentors who shut up the kingdom of God from men who would normally enter! It is a form of rebellion that substitutes the full gospel message with the teaching of repentance as if repentance was Jesus' primary message (Repentance was John the Baptists message -- to prepare the way for Jesus)! And the problem with disciples of John the Baptist isn't that they're not nice people -- because many seem to be. The problem with disciples of John the Baptist is that -- despite their repentance from sin/s, -they're NOT in discipleship with the Spirit of Jesus! John the Baptist’s disciples are “undone”. Repentance alone is not the fullness of the gospel message. And the half-gospel pervading many “churches” - is simply the result of a lazy, corrupted, watered down gospel message. After all, the Scriptures I've covered are all there for a reason - written down as examples. Sectarian bias is the only reason they are so often disregarded.
And I think therein lies the stronghold. You see, "idolatry" is simply putting something or someone else ahead of God. Since the Scripture is extremely clear on the plan of God & the commonality of the infilling of the Holy Spirit with the manifestations of prophesy & tongues -- I can only conclude that people who reject that pattern -- do not experience the infilling of that Spirit -because repentance is a prerequisite. And in their case -- it's often the need to repent from a subtle form of idolatry: idolizing either men or tradition or sectarian heresies that deny the need for OBEDIENCE to the Gospel.
I once heard a man who earned a PhD from a world renown seminary say that the Apostle Peter was wrong in Acts. There is no shortage of self professed religious experts who want to dismiss Peter and ultimately the rest of the message as well. After all: People getting filled with a Spirit that somewhat resembles drunkenness is so “undignified”. PRIDE was Lucifer’s downfall, too.
Many people have said that they simply don't understand the need for this sort of "Spirit filling experience". I'm not surprised that they don't understand. The Scripture itself says that you won't understand such matters until you have it! It is written: "But a natural [or, unspiritual] person does not receive the [things] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know [them], because they are spiritually examined." -I Cor 2:14 See, you won't understand why you need to go down that path until after you've been! This is precisely why FAITH is required. Obedience without knowing "why" will actually lead to understanding why!
Ironically then, this comes down to an issue of faith -- the very thing that many people who speak against what I have shown in this document - say a person must have to be "saved". Indeed. So why is it that they see the clear pattern established by the Apostles of Jesus & rationalize it away as somehow not applying to them today? The answer is ironically obvious: They don't believe the Gospel’s power. They have a false variant of it -one that leaves their disciples’ luke-warm, undiscerning & spiritually powerless. Most such groups also deny ALL forms of spiritual “sign” gifts in the contemporary. And the Scripture warns of that trend in the most dire language. It is written: “…holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away.”
– 2Ti 3:5
How serious is this to the salvation of each person? It is written: "but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His." -Rom 8:9b
"My life changed dramatically when I responded to the Gospel
Remember that I pointed out that 'Speaking in Tongues" is a variant of the gift of Prophecy. In his letter to Corinth , Paul pointed out that they shouldn't forbid speaking in tongues -- but he encouraged them to prophesy instead (because the former generally builds up the speaker, but the latter builds up all the hearers). It's been my experience & observation that people who have the Spirit - prophesy continuously in their conversation without even being conscious of it. They discover this themselves when they find themselves among other/s who have a "message" in the discourse of dialog that has astonishing similarities & contextual 'gap-fills' as recent thoughts & theological concepts they've been considering for themselves. And I mean that these similarities, - in ideas, analysis & thoughts, - are so lock-stepped that people who've heard "person-A" speak are completely aware of the similarities upon hearing "person/s B" speak. It far surpasses mere statistical probability & tends to happen with great frequency among those with the Holy Spirit; --especially apparent to those who know the Scriptures & can compare what they hear with them.
If you recognize this trend in your own life, as well as other Spiritual gifts & connected experiences occurring, -then it's possible that when you received the Spirit - prophecy was the result (but because it was in your own language - you may simply not have recognized it for what it was). In such cases, I'd petition God to validate your position in the body with a manifestation in your personal prayer time. It's written that God is no respecter of persons - hence what is so clearly evidenced in the book of Acts should be readily available to you too. Ask, seek, knock. This issue is too fundamental to the fullness of your Christian walk to ignore.
This (common messages/themes occurring via multiple unassociated sources) is one of the primary ways of how the Body of Christ (real Church) can recognize who is truly among them in touch with the Spirit's leading. As it is written: "Two or three persons may prophesy, and everyone else must listen carefully." -I Cor 14:29 Why must everyone else listen carefully? Because there will be others who have had extremely similar recent thoughts/impressions -IF the person "prophesying" is excogitating from the Spirit's leading.
That principle applies only to those groups who HAVE THE OPERATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! The sad fact is that we live in a day & age where people who do not have the Spirit are in positions of leadership in many so-called "Churches". And that, is - quite frankly - an abomination. And many of these groups are gigantic -because the "Jesus" they "serve" requires little in the way of true holiness (separation unto God in areas of life that truly matter), -but often seem preoccupied with powerless regulations; -The keeping of which are of no significant consequence in this present age). Churches without the Spirit (an oxymoron) are often like social clubs -generally all too concerned & motivated by theological minutia & sectarian programs - than they are the actual leading of God & walking in truth (truth being -what is actually true & not necessarily sectarian-dogma or popular group social beliefs).
False religion has a version of "spirituality" that rarely intersects nor confronts the real world. It esteems imagined "rules" & "regulations" that have no real impact whether they are obeyed or not. It rarely recognizes gross evil, and when somebody points it out, -it is either ignored or downplayed (instead of being exposed & repented - as the Scripture commands). False religion leans heavily on the "world system" & tends to pander to the edicts of government -no matter how lawless (as long as capitulating keeps up appearances, -creates no public scandal & makes no waves in the proverbial "church-program").
Do you think that Rome was throwing Christians to lions because the Christians sucked-up to government edicts (or was it because the Christians were not filling the Roman treasury with incense-taxes when government decreed incense needed to be burned daily while confessing that ‘Ceasar is God’!)?
The "church" that existed comfortably beside slavery in the 19th century United States would be another.
More recently: The "church" that openly existed in Nazi Germany would be another bad example.
In the Gospel of Matthew (4:9), Satan laid claim on the KINGDOMS of the world (a claim Jesus did not rebut). If Satan has claim on the Kingdoms of the world (governments) -then who really has the final claim on ALL government authorized corporations?! The church should never incorporate because it is a well settled matter of law that what the State creates – it regulates. This is also why it was illegal to incorporate any church in the early history of the United States. The founders knew that government –by its very nature- has no place overseeing any aspect of Christ’s assembly. “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” –Lk 16:13
Those who have studied FUNDAMENTAL LAW immediately recognize the warnings Paul gave in Romans Chapter 1 about those who “exchange the glory of God for that of beasts” as being the precise legal analog to what happens when people petition to become “incorporated” under the rule of government. This same sin, ironically occurs when people ask government for a “marriage license”. In such cases, -a new legal entity is formed - where government has the superior power to regulate matters, and a corresponding number is issued in conjunction with the “name” of the new entity (see Rev 13). Got abomination?
As I pointed out previously, -often the “church” preaching about repentance has a serious need, itself, to repent of some very serious sins. Its preachers talk about “not being conformed to the world system” – and then they conform to those very world systems. The paperwork trail they have voluntarily created testifies against them. Such “leaders” are the very men the prophet testifies against saying: “His watchmen are all blind, they are all ignorant: dumb dogs not able to bark, seeing vain things, sleeping and loving dreams. And most impudent dogs, they never had enough: the shepherds themselves knew no understanding: all have turned aside into their own way, every one after his own gain, from the first even to the last.” – Isa 56:10-11
Many such “church” leaders will, in a knee-jerk, reject the previous few paragraphs - without taking even a single minute to investigate the well-settled underscoring principles of law; --And will, instead, continue to do what they have been doing and promote the very things that I have just pointed out are grievous sins. And so the Scripture is fulfilled that says: “Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” –Rom 1:32
This is also the reason why Christ stands and knocks at the door of the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3. He knocks at the door because he is outside and does not have a proverbial key to get in. He does not have the proverbial keys because he is not listed as an officer of the incorporated church. Neither can He be because He lacks a Tax-ID number –which the state requires of ALL officers of all corporations it creates. See Revelation 13:17.
As pointed out: In Matthew 4, Satan lays claims to all of the Kingdoms of the world. Yeshua did not rebut the point. Satan also offered Jesus “splendor” if he would prostrate himself before Satan. Jesus refused. Today, most churches accept Satan’s offer – incorporating for some perceived “tax advantage” or “limit of liability”. They bow before the state in order to gain some imagined privilege – and in doing so, -enter a covenant that is by its very legal nature, -antagonistic to the fundamentals of faith in God. And the great irony is that men who commit these egregious sins want to tell others how to live a “holy life”! “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” – Yeshua
I have digressed into this subject matter because REPENTANCE is a prerequisite for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. So many people in so many churches have never had this necessary experience because they need to repent of idolatry – worshipping the name of a denomination/sect – an organization that has, -in many instances taken a stand against Godly principles while claiming to uphold them! As it is written: “Those men are not true apostles---they are false apostles, who lie about their work and disguise themselves to look like real apostles of Christ. Well, no wonder! Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light! So, it is no wonder if his servants disguise themselves to look like servants of righteousness.” – 2Cor 11
Beware of those carrying the message that: "You must become on of them in order to have atonement with God". That message is often delivered subtly and it is a gigantic lie. It is often, the presumption established by denominal “churches” –evidenced by their unwillingness to fellowship with other groups of “Christians”. It shows who they really are: Sect followers. Idolaters.
So, where can I go to fan my smoldering flax into flame?
Generally, you'll find concentrations of Spirit-filled people in “Pentecostal” & “Charismatic” groups. By estimate – about a billion+ people have had this experience. But sadly, that observation doesn't mean that you'll find lots of accurate theology in such (and this document is not written to convince you to join any specific "body of believers"). Any such long-term association is going to be your hard decision. The point I'm making in this paragraph is to suggest where a person might go to experience the Spirit Baptism via the laying on of hands.
This amazing change in a person’s life begins by the baptism of the Spirit and a continual mindset of renewal in obedience to the gospel. It is the same Spirit that motivated Yeshua to throw over the tables of the money-changers & clear the temple & the same that took him to the cross, & then back to life!
Theologically speaking, spirit-filled groups that adhere to an Acts-2 model (particularly attentive to verses 38-39) are a decent place to begin your energized Christian walk in the Spirit’s baptism. How long you remain with any group will depend on a number of factors - such as how accurate they are theologically & your own growth in the Scriptures (either approving or disapproving what that body in general will believe & do).
Theological errors tend to compound quickly into destructive doctrines; -- & sadly, too many people play "follow-the-leader", & not enough Theological -Apologetics are used to develop/argue sound beliefs around the weightier matters. As a caveat: Such groups may be nice places to visit, but you'll not want to live there.
When such doctrines begin to falsely condemn, demean & dismiss the importance of members of the church body – it’s time to leave a copy of this document & find an exit.
Keep the priority things as priority. Be filled with the Spirit because it is by that that you can do the will of God. You can't be led by the Spirit without having His presence in you! Anything less is evidence of another gospel & a work of inequity.