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Some Personal Experiences

There are some who say that everyone who is brought to Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the life-giving Blood of the Lamb, are brought through the same three steps, or five steps, or ten steps, in a particular order, every time. But we find that the Lord has said, "Everyone who is not against us, is for us." We find that the Lord is loving and communicating in a much broader fashion, than has often been suggested. Here are some examples to which we testify.

Angelia Crawford

I was baptized at the age of seven at Faith Bible Baptist Church, a very conservative congregation in Valley Center, Kansas. Speaking in unknown tongues was never taught and I was completely unaware of the practice as a child. To this day I have never attended a charismatic or Pentecostal church, although I have family members and friends who are members or pastors of charismatic or Pentecostal churches. Some can speak in tongues, while others do not.

When I was in high school, I was in the school's choir. An all-community Thanksgiving service was held at the local United Methodist Church and the choir sang. After a prayer, two men towards the front of the pews stood up. One said something in an unintelligible language, while the other interpreted it and then sat down. That was the first and only time I have witnessed first-hand glossolalia-speaking in unknown tongues. I do not remember what it was that was said or interpreted.

Although I have never done it personally or been a part of a denomination that emphasizes it, I do not deny that the Spirit gives some the gift of tongues. I also believe that water baptism is a sacrament commanded by the Lord and we, in obedience, should be baptized. I also believe in the Baptism of the Spirit and I believe that it can come at any time. Some receive it simultaneous to confession and water baptism, some at a later date. As a person of faith who has been greatly and beneficially influenced by the teachings of John Wesley, I have come to an understanding that salvation is a process, one that God begins even before we are aware and continues until we reach our bodily death and go on to be with Christ in perfection. I feel that while on this planet, salvation is a journey, not a destination.

While I have never uttered anything in a strange tongue, the Lord has done a bit of loosening of my tongue for the edification of the Body. My spiritual gift is the gift of teaching. This particular gift has been recognized by many who have come in contact with me and I am confident of this gifting by the Spirit, a gifting that is solidly found in Scripture. The power of understanding and knowledge that came over me in 2001-2004 I can only attribute to being baptized by the Holy Spirit. It was a special and memorable and incredible time with Christ's Holy Spirit that empowered me. It happened both in an instant and over the course of those years, and still continues, although not as forcibly as that initial period of baptism. It is not of my own natural abilities, although I do have natural abilities, given to me by God through both my DNA and my upbringing, which combined with my giftedness in the Spirit, edifies the Body of Christ that I am a part of. It is something I take great joy in and do with all soberness of mind.

Ian Johnson

Even if I didn't understand the logical problem involved in insisting that my experience, or "our" collective experience, must also be everyone's experience, my experience is not the average or normative Pentecostal experience. I received salvation in a Charismatic-leaning Disciples of Christ Christian church on December 26, 1971. That church taught that all of the gifts listed in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 are still in use today, and it taught our need for the filling of the Holy Spirit, i.e., the day to day, moment by moment control by the Spirit in our lives. But I cannot recall ever hearing any teaching on the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" as a one-time, post-salvation experience. Indeed, as I recall, although the denomination with which that church that church was affiliated taught that the Holy Spirit was received at the time of water baptism and the great emphasis of that church was on obedience in water baptism, the pastors of that particular congregation were somewhat vague on the question whether the Spirit was received at salvation or at the time of baptism. However, the teaching of that church clearly was not that the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" is a separate post-salvation experience.

It was while I was a member of this Charismatic church which had no emphasis on Spirit baptism that I first found myself, in about 1973 or 1974, praying in a language I did not recognize. It frightened me, to some degree, and I didn't do it very much, because I understood at the time that tongues were only supposed to happen in church meetings, when scheduled as part of the meeting by those in charge (which messages in tongues never were, because they were too divisive) and with an interpreter present. I first saw a tract about the baptism "of" the Holy Spirit after I moved to Ames, Iowa in 1976. But in Ames I associated with a Baptist church that taught that most of the gifts of the Spirit died with the Apostle John, and I did not seriously consider the Spirit's work again for the next 9 years. From 1985 until 1992, I learned gradually about God's love and the work of His Spirit.

Jonathan Brickman

I was baptized in Second Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. I was told by some that speaking in unknown tongues is always done by those whom the Lord has taken to His side. I was told by others that the Lord does what He wills, because He is Lord. So I sought Scripture, and I found many interesting things. I found that it is indeed "some" who are given to speak in unknown tongues, and that the word "all" is never so used in that context. I also found that the Lord has given us in a peculiar way to those who need us; and it appears that many in this world today do not accept the Word of God from a mouth that has never been given by His Spirit to speak in unknown tongues. As a result, in His profound way, He has given me only occasional and specific words in unknown fashion, and only privately, where the many whom I love to whom He has given no good reason to respect unknown tongues, shall not consider me performing self-glorification. I benefit infinitely from His work in me, and He does not cause me to be unprofitable towards many. Today, because of this work of God among others, I am welcomed by many rather different peoples whose devotion is to the Lord Jesus and His Father in Heaven and His Holy Spirit, and for this and far more I am most grateful.

Narration is by Jonathan Brickman. The rest is written by authors cited.

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