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[Please Refer Parts 1 & 2 for Background]


E.g. John the Baptizer was ‘filled with the Spirit’ from his birth: Lk. 1:62-80. Saul of Tarsus was ‘filled with the Spirit’ when Christ revealed himself to him on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians: Acts 9:15-19. I’ve already described my own conversion experience which seemed to coincide with my ‘baptism of the Spirit’ and call to preach the Good News of the Kingdom. Some friends and I formed a ‘gospel team,’ preaching and testifying (Salvation Army style) on the city square, witnessing to folk in restaurants, etc: one restaurant-encounter led to the conversion of a young jockey who joined our team. We were as raw as anything, but God seemed to over-rule our immaturity and bless our efforts anyway – he definitely has a sense of humour!

Listen to Dr. Graham Scroggie (1877-1958)[theologian and pastor of Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and Spurgeon’s Tabernacle in London] addressing his students: ‘I know that there is a first filling of the Holy Spirit which constitutes a crisis in the life of a man or woman, and life after that can never be the same again. It came to me twenty four years ago. Though I look back with deepest regret over much failure during these years, I know that, in a little room in our home, standing on the edge of Epping Forest, East London, God filled me with His Holy Spirit, and made Christ Master for the first time in my life. Life has never been the same since. May this not be your hour of first experience, as that was mine? You know that God is willing, but, are you?’ [as we can’t contain wind in a box (Jn. 3:5-8), neither (I submit) can we biblical terminology]


Events | Rembembering George Whitefield

The baptism of the Spirit is not a self-promoting, grand-standing, ‘feel good’ experience as so often peddled from post-modern platforms! I recall one very sincere church member who was forever trying to palm off her ‘baptism of the Spirit with tongues’ experience on my wife and others, whether interested or not. One day in her enthusiasm she volunteered to help me with our outreach to the very poor in a nearby shanty-town. She accompanied our little team but couldn’t wait to get away, never volunteering again. I’m not sure how she missed the simple promise of Jesus in Acts 1:8, ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth!’ (NIV) (cf. Mt. 28:16-20) [1]

We’ve already seen the role of the early disciples in extending Christ’s kingdom wherever they were and went. Church history since then is replete with outstanding examples of evangelism and mission. One could point to the 1860’s awakening under Dr. Andrew Murray (1928-1917) in the Western Cape (S. Africa): it started with a rushing wind and simultaneous prayer of the youth in a church hall – soon many of them made themselves available for mission wherever God should call them. Adults left for countries in Africa, especially Nyasaland (Malawi) – my wife’s distant forebears were part of that movement. Add the evangelization of the early 1900’s Boer POW camps in India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Bermuda, St. Helena Island, etc, which in turn spawned missionary volunteers to other parts of the world. Murray’s books on prayer, revival and mission are influential to this very day, all over the world.

I’ve just re-read the 500+ page ‘The Journal Once Lost,’ extracts from the diary of Dr. John Sung (1901-1944), a US chemistry PhD and outstanding evangelist to China and S.E. Asia. ‘Born again’ and powerfully ‘baptized with the Spirit’ in 1927 while in America, he returned to his native China to preach and train up gospel-teams by the hundreds in order to win his nation to Christ. Though suffering a serious post-operative ailment all his life, he prayed for the repentance, healing and exorcisms of tens of thousands wherever he went. Some were even raised from the dead after he laid hands on them.

A house church member has just given me South African-born Dr. Michael Cassidy’s amazing story, ‘Footprints in the African Sand.’ It includes the account of his God-given passion for the cities of Africa, during the 1960’s. I was privileged to meet up with him and his team during a mission at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg in the late ’60’s. Since then I’ve heard him speak at many key conferences. Author and speaker, John Ortberg, has written of him and his teams, ‘Perhaps no other mission agency has had the impact AE has had in the cities of Africa.’ Among other things, Michael and AE were instrumental in the prevention of a bloody civil war in South Africa during the critical first democratic elections of 1994. [2]

In the late 1980’s God led an American named David Bliss to read the works of Andrew Murray. God burdened him to visit South Africa and in particular the town of Wellington where Dr. Murray preached and pastored for many years. David decided to establish a missions training centre in Wellington, in order to stir up Murray’s lost message of prayer, revival and mission. In those days of segregation he befriended a isiXhosa-speaking pastor-intercessor from the Transkei, David Mniki. Together they made a formidable team. We decided to host a missions conference in Port Elizabeth, called ‘Bless the Nations’ (cf. Gen. 12). The conference took off, regular ‘concerts of prayer’ for world missions were held, and a small ‘missions school’ for church members was established which I was privileged to head up. This stir of the Spirit led many congregations in our area, including my own, to instigate short term mission visits in South Africa and beyond. God started to raise up some of the congregational members to undergo further training to serve locally and in Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Thailand, Japan, Peru, etc. Some are still serving in those distant countries. Those annual missions conferences continued for over twenty years, a few years ago taking on a condensed shape but continuing to mobilize folk for missions locally and abroad.


If you’re looking for a quick formula, I’m going to disappoint you, but there are some guiding principles. Ds. Riekert Botha, heading up a Bible School in the Western Cape, suggests that the baptism, biblically and historically, has happened in three major ways…

First, through corporate prayer, as illustrated in the Upper Room (Acts 1:4-5) and on the day of Pentecost itself (Acts 2:1-13). Two other great servants of God who have confirmed this approach were Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), New England Congregational theologian and revival preacher, as well as Charles Finney (1792-1875), American Presbyterian and ‘father of modern revivalism.’

Second, through Spirit-anointed preaching: ‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers … were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles…’ (Acts 10:44-45/Peter at Cornelius’ house). “‘As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said, ‘John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 11:15-16/Peter at Caesarea). During Englishman George Whitefield’s (1714-1770) powerful preaching in Cambuslang, Scotland, the open air scene was like that of a battle-field, with some 40,000 people lying or kneeling on the ground, crying out to God for salvation.

Third, through the prayerful ‘laying on of hands’ (Acts 8:14-17). The apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria: ‘When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simple been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.’ We read of a similar happening when Ananias ‘laid hands’ on Saul of Tarsus, who became the great apostle Paul, sent to the Gentiles (Acts 9:11-19). [NB, in our own time we need to be discerning as to who lays hands on us because of the explosion of charlatan preachers, so-called ‘prophets’ and peddlers of occult spirits. Know the character and fruits of your local leadership/community (Gal. 5:22-25)]. One of our house church members was sharing with my wife how, when visiting a little Anglican Church on the beautiful Southern Cape Coast, she went forward for Communion. The visiting preacher gently laid his hand on her head and asked God’s blessing on her. Immediately, it was as if an electric current ripped through her body. She understood it as her baptism of the Spirit, receiving the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 12) at a later point. She has become one of our most mature members, with wonderful gifts of compassion and intercession!

Why do we extend our hands when praying over? | The Feast Posh


In closing, I leave you with the words of C.S. Lewis. Christianity ‘is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into the hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be), is I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling. In plain language, the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: is holiness here? Does my conscience move me toward this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular doorkeeper?’ When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house” (‘Mere Christianity’).


[1] Regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit and ‘speaking in tongues,’ I refer you to F.F. Bruce’s commentary on ‘The Acts of the Apostles,’ Tyndale Press, p. 82. Therein he distinguishes between the glossalia of Acts 2 and that of 1 Cor. 12-14. What is quite interesting is that, during the 1960’s Indonesian Revival on the Island of Timor, ordinary unschooled island folk were heard in gatherings to speak in French, German and Hebrew (Mel Tari/‘Like a Mighty Wind’).

Years ago I heard the account of a Russian fisherman, seriously injured on a trawler off the coast of Namibia. A local padre was asked to visit him. They spent many hours conversing, the fisherman in Russian, and the padre in English. Supernaturally, they could understand one another through that extended interchange. They shared the Good News and prayed together. The sailor’s serious injury was healed and within days he was able to return to his craft and beloved family.

[2] Michael graduated from Cambridge University and Fuller Theological Seminary in California. He has written many books, of which I’ve read most.


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We’ve already explored this in the life of Jesus: see my previous post and Lk. 4:1-2a, 14-22.

We now turn our attention to the Apostles. Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin, ‘the church board’ of that time. This august body is severely rattled by the apostles’ bold proclamation of Christ and healing of a crippled beggar at the temple gate. In response to the Sanhedrin’s charges and full of the Holy Spirit, Peter let loose: “‘Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, I’ll be completely frank with you – we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one you killed on the cross… by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole… Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can saved, only this one!’ (Acts 4:8-12/MSG). The clergy are transfixed by the apostles’ boldness and certainty. Their fascination deepens when they realized these two were ‘mere laymen’ with no formal education. “They warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John spoke right back, ‘As for us, there’s no question – we can’t keep quiet about what we have seen and heard!’” (v. 18-20). After prayer with their fellow-disciples, ‘the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence… The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them…” (v. 31).

Back to the present. Many in the Body are concluding, against this backdrop of Acts, that a large majority of Western Christians have been ‘saved’ but manifest little, if anything, of the primitive Church’s assurance, confidence and joy in the Holy Spirit. How many of us can whole-heartedly sing ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!?’

I recommend three remarkable scriptures as a kind of test-case. First Eph. 1:13-14, where the Apostle Paul is carried away with the saints’ ‘Spiritual Blessings in Christ’ (v. 3ff): ‘It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of salvation), found your home free – signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life!’ (MSG). Second, 1 Jn. 5:13-15, where the Apostle John revels in the life of the Son, ‘My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence…’ (MSG). Third, 1 Pet. 1:8-9, ‘You (the persecuted believers of Asia Minor) love him, although you have not seen him, and you believe in him, although you do not now see him… you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express because you are receiving the salvation of your souls…’ (GNB). C’mon, let’s be honest, where do we witness this today?? Give me an African-style worship any old day – even in dire poverty, believers express their joy in the Lord, their bodies moving and faces shining!) [1]

This is not mind-less enthusiasm. Take the example of Blaise Pascal, the 17th century French genius, mathematician, inventor (of a crude but working mechanical calculator in his time) and philosopher.

Blaise Pascal - Biography, Facts and Pictures

Raised a Roman Catholic, Pascal came to an intellectual faith in God. After suffering the loss of his father, he sought a more vital faith in God. He set aside a day to seek him. Nothing happened all day. He prepared for bed, and then it happened beween 10:30 pm and 12:30 am. He penned in his diary, ‘FIRE! GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and of the learned. Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace. GOD of Jesus Christ, my God and your God. Your God will be my God. Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD. He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel. Grandeur of the human soul. Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. I have departed from him: They have forsaken me, the fount of living water. My God, will you leave me? Let me not be separated from him forever. This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one who sent, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified. Let me never be separated from him. He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel. Renunciation, total and sweet. Complete submission to Jesus Christ and my director. Eternal in joy for a day’s exercise on earth. May I not forget your words. Amen!’ He sewed these notes into his jacket-hem, where it was discovered after his death. Our experience of the Spirit may be very different, but have we encountered the Lord in at least something of this dynamic and intimate way, bringing us his glorious assurance, power and joy??


God imparts his love to his people in abundance! There is a difference between a light drizzle and a mighty down-pour. The apostle Paul writes to the Roman believers concerning the peace, joy and hope following on their ‘justification by faith’: 5:5, ‘And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us!’ (NIV) This ‘love’ refers in the first place to the love of God for us, not our love for God. It refers to our sense of God’s love for us as his people. Paul probably had in mind Is. 44:3, ‘For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants…’ (W. Sanday & AC Headlam, ICC). The image is that of a cloud-burst, a flash-flood, in a desert-place. I recall a vivid childhood experience of mine, aged 5/6. My father, a police officer, had to write an exam in the nearby Karroo town of Cradock, a very hot and arid part of the East Cape. I begged him to take me along. Providentially he didn’t. Along the way, crossing an absolutely dry river bed, he was caught off guard by a wall of water from a cloudburst in the mountains. This flash-flood carried our family car down-stream for quite a way. He managed to escape – I would have drowned. I have an old photo of the family car sunken in the sand with just the roof protruding. That’s what a flash-flood can do, it’s something overwhelming and unforgettable. Some time or another, perhaps in different ways, every true believer will sense such a flood of God’s love in Christ poured into his/her heart by the Spirit! Have you known that, my friend? [2] [PS, this encounter is not to be confused with the ‘filling of the Holy Spirit’ as commanded in Eph. 5:18ff. The latter, and the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ described in Gal. 5:22ff, refer more to a slower process-experience, as we daily submit ourselves to Christ’s lordship. The Romans experience indicates something that happens to us, even unexpectedly, once-off or from time to time]

The great 19th century American evangelist, DL Moody, having found Christ by faith, desired ‘something more’ from God. One day in NY City he felt so overwhelmed by God’s love, that he felt he would explode – his mind and emotions just couldn’t cope with the glory of God’s love out-poured!

A century earlier, the English evangelist George Whitefield’s journal reveals that, one night, after just six minutes of his preaching, a man in the audience cried out, ‘He has come!’ The people praised God all night. Whitefield went home at midnight and wept at his own vileness and, on the other hand, God’s everlasting love for him.

For the encouragement of the more ‘average believer,’ here’s a little sample of my own experience of God’s gracious Spirit many years ago. I grew up in a very nominal Christian home. In my early teen years I became restless under a creeping awareness of God’s holiness and glory. I began to seek God in a very childlike way. I felt strongly that somehow I needed to please my Maker and earn his favour. One day, on an errand to the corner-store to buy bread, as I was returning home, the truth broke on me in an absolutely overwhelming way. God brought to mind a verse that I had read but not grasped, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…’ (Eph. 2:8). I tell you, I went home ‘walking and leaping and praising God!’ On my arrival, after contemplating God’s revelation to me, I felt totally immersed in the Spirit’s love and power. At age fourteen, I knew, simultaneously with my new birth, an unmistakable call to Christian ministry and preaching the Word. Besides my Bible, I started reading two books: James Hudson Taylor’s epic biography ‘The Man Who Believed God,’ and ‘Teach Yourself Preaching!’ (Since then I’ve often joked that the latter didn’t help my preaching much). With some new-found Christian friends, we started a Sunday School of sorts in a very poor area. My friends and I felt the Lord’s anointing as we reached out to others in different ways. Sadly, at High School, I lost the plot somewhat amid academic and sporting achievements. Following High School I started out on a career as Chemical Engineer. However, within my first year, I was powerfully reminded of my call to ministry. After three years of secular employ and study, I undertook four years of theological training and then went on to pastor four congregations over a period of thirty eight years – until God sovereignly called me out of the institutional Church fourteen years ago. I now teach and strive to enact the kingdom among the poor and via ‘organic house churches,’ roughly patterned on Acts 2:42. Over the years I’ve been privileged to witness to the Gospel on all the continents of the earth, Antarctica excepted, brrrr! Be encouraged, my fellow-pilgrims, what God’s done for others he can do for you!

Please join me again for PART 3 of this series and see Footnotes and hymn below the pic…

GOD IMAGES - These images show you who God really is


[1] In his book, ‘Joy Unspeakable,’ Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones relates the story of a sceptical woman invited to a packed croft meeting during the Hebrides revival: she could only peek through a window, but the sight of a radiant child’s face shining with the glory of God led to her immediate conversion!

[2] Do yourself a favour and listen to the 1904/5 Welsh revival ‘love song’ attached below, first in Welsh and then in English.