Friday, July 23, 2010

Does The Church Have The Holy Ghost? It's A Fair Question.

Rev. B. H. Clendennen died in December, 2009, at the age of 86, after having spent the last 16 years of his life circling the globe, preaching and establishing his "School of Christ International" in more than 130 nations.

I was profoundly influenced by him from the age of 19, following my Bible College days. A close, personal friend introduced me to him in May of 1971, and Pastor Clendennen hired me on the spot to work with him in the ministry. We were kindred spirits. He and I were traveling companions in the ministry for almost three years, until after I married and entered into full-time preaching ministry of my own.

When I first went to work for Pastor Clendennen, he was pastoring a Pentecostal congregation of about 500 people in Beaumont, Texas. He needed a singer/musician to travel with him in crusades around America. He also gave me the task of being the Editor of his monthly magazine, which circulated to about 35,000 households. I was the Church pianist and the choir director. I produced scores of radio programs, and participated in the weekly television broadcasts. After a while, he made me his Associate Pastor, and I filled the pulpit in his absence, and helped tend to the care of the Church members.

In those days before Christian television networks existed, he expanded his ministry into about 30 radio markets and 150 television markets. We traveled 2-4 days every week, on average, to hold gospel crusades in cities across America. Every month, I personally edited and proof-read his articles for the magazine. I also edited literally hundreds of his recorded messages for publication.

Pastor Clendennen's preaching was heavily influenced by the writings of T. Austin Sparks. Sparks was a minister from England and Scotland who wrote prolifically in the early 20th century. Among his recurring themes was the subject of the enmity between the old man and the new man - the carnal mind versus the mind of Christ.

To this day, because of that teaching, virtually everything I know and believe about Christian living is challenged by the question, "Is this carnally-minded, or is this the mind of Christ?"

"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Romans 8:5-9.

I was convinced, early on, that God has no use whatsoever for the carnal mind. Pastor Clendennen convinced me in those days (as does the Bible) that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is absolutely necessary to the ability to do the will of God.

Without the Spirit of God dwelling in a man, it is impossible to please God. Therefore, every believer must be filled with the Spirit. Pastor Clendennen preached that without the Holy Ghost to quicken your mortal bodies, you would not go up in the rapture. I believed that then, and I believe that now.

I have lived to see Christianity supplant that vital truth. A huge percentage of the most influential leaders in Christianity today utterly deny the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

The classical non-Pentecostals like Billy Graham, W.A. Criswell, and Jerry Falwell were shameless to disassociate themselves from speaking in tongues. Today, Rick Warren, Charles and Andy Stanley, John McArthur and an endless list of highly influential Christian leaders have effectively re-written New Testament Church WITHOUT the baptism of the Holy Ghost and its evidence of speaking in other tongues. Even in the so-called Pentecostal denominations, only a small percentage of their membership actually speak in tongues.

I say, "Whoa!" Is there really a Church without the baptism of the Holy Ghost? Wasn't the early Church BORN on the day of Pentecost? Didn't the entire early Church speak in tongues? Yes, they did! Jesus said, "Ye shall speak with new tongues," (Mark 16:17).

Where is THAT message in contemporary Christianity? How is it that tens of millions of professing Christians are either completely illiterate about the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or they have been programmed to believe that it is either "of the devil" or is the behavior of lunatics?

Jesus commanded His disciples, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," (John 20:22). Now, at that particular time, "the Holy Ghost was not yet given," (John 7:39). But Jesus explained, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth," (Acts 1:8).

That was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in the Upper Room at Jerusalem, fifty days after Jesus died on Passover (and subsequently resurrected).

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance," Acts 2:1-4.

The true Church is Pentecostal. The true Church is filled with the Holy Ghost and speaks in other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance. The infilling of the believer with the Holy Ghost corresponds doctrinally to Jesus' resurrection from the dead. To receive the Holy Ghost is to receive eternal life.

Nowadays, we have hours of music, ten minutes of preaching, and nobody receives the Holy Ghost.

Imagine that Jesus, instead of commanding His disciples to "receive the Holy Ghost," had said (as does the largest association of Churches in Australia) that Churches should focus on having:
  • enjoyable, superbly run meetings that people enjoy and want to come back to, and which create ‘transcendence’ through music and the arts;
  • preaching that is relevant, practical and inspirational—that connects with my daily life and needs and struggles, and helps me to flourish;
  • a culture of activism, volunteer service, social action and community involvement.
I will not carry this any further for now. I will just land this plane by saying that it's time for Christianity to re-discover what Christianity really is, and what it really is supposed to be and do. Unless and until the modern Church receives the Holy Ghost - it's not the Church at all.

So, how does one receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost?

Peter answered that question in Acts 2:38-39.

"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. 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."

Receive YE the Holy Ghost.


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