Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spirit Baptism vs Fruit of the Spirit

This is a comment I put up on a Christian forum in a discussion regarding the gift of tongues.

just in case it needs clarification - it was not necessary for Jesus to speak in tongues and besides, nobody did before Pentecost (at least not in the sense we see it in Acts 2. Of course there was prophetic/spirit inspired speech in Judaism and acts of esoteric speech in other religions prior to Pentecost, but something new happened at the Pentecost event) - at Pentecost a new age of the Spirit was begun and as Jesus said at the end of Mark - with the coming of the Spirit, people will speak in new tongues, cast out demons (notice no one could but Jesus prior to Pentecost) lay hands on the sick and see healing, etc. When Jesus said the disciples would do greater works than he did, it was a reference to Pentecost and that "greater" meant not more miraculous but greater in extent, or in terms of geography since Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost in Israel. We, the people of God are to do greater works than Jesus in seeing God's salvation to the ends of the earth.

I disagree with the notion that tongues makes one more spiritual than another who may not yet speak/pray in tongues. Evidence of one's spiritual maturity is not tongues (or the lack thereof) but rather evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

Also, there is no direct correlation between spiritual ministries (or gifts) and the fruit of the Spirit, per se. Certainly the fruit may be affected by one's reception of Spirit Baptism (as in possibly somewhat accelerating their development, with the right heart and attitude of humility and repentance before God) but not the other way around. Spirit Baptism is charismatic empowerment for witness to Jesus in he world in both word and deed. The fruit of the Spirit indicate one's spiritual maturity in Christ and takes time and effort (continual submission to the Spirit) to develop in the heart and life of the believer.

This is why I believe we often see so much disconnect between those folks who may have the Baptism of the Spirit (as seen in Acts 2:4ff) yet display little evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (spiritual maturity) and those who have great spiritual maturity (fruit of the Spirit) and yet may not have the Baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2:4ff).

Again, tongues are not an indicator of spiritual maturity but rather the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

I do agree with Ezra [username on the forum], love is key. This is why the "love" chapter (13) is put in between 12 and 14. Without love, the gifts most likely won't be used and applied properly in a congregational setting. Love is to be at the heart of functioning in Spiritual ministries (or gifts). I use the term "ministries" because they are to empower and build up others, not exalt the self, which tends to happen when we use the term "gifts", it puts the focus on the individual instead of the congregation.

Hope this helps.

Feel free to comment, I am still in process with all this in terms of trying to explain it in a way that is true to the Bible.



At 7:48 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I agree with you. Thanks for posting this.

One small quibble: before Pentecost the disciples (70/72, not just 12) WERE able to cast out demons "in [Jesus'] name", as is clear from Luke 10:17. That is because, as I see it, the new age of the Spirit began not at Pentecost but at Jesus' baptism. Before Pentecost it usually affected only Jesus, but even then others were able to cast out demons in Jesus' name. The story of the sons of Sceva, Acts 19:13-16, shows that effective casting out of demons depends not on the person casting out being Spirit-filled but on the use of the name of Jesus.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Brian said...

There is a rebuttal to this post here:


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