Nothing except music ranks as high on the list of hot controversy among Christians as discussion of the Holy Spirit. At one extreme, some relegate Him to a non-person, a mere force, while at the other extreme, some idolatrously worship Him instead of Jesus Christ. Numerous other errors fall somewhere in between.
I am as excited as anyone about the wonderfully mysterious workings of the Spirit. I can say without hesitation that obedience affords me His leading, guidance and direction in even the smallest details of my life, so much so that the results have at times taken my breath away. But these are realities I experience in my spirit, not my flesh. I cannot control the Spirit by petition or presumption. I am in awe of the Spirit, no doubt about it.
But I tell you, regarding this topic, I will risk any friendship or any reputation I hold; I will chance offending absolutely anyone; I will walk a lonely walk if necessary to guard my spiritual integrity. I will not abide by the misinformation and false teaching that abounds regarding the operation of the third person of the Godhead, God the Holy Spirit.
I’m not a stranger to the claimed wonderful evidence of the working of the Spirit in the life of the Body. But I asked the Lord, over twenty years ago, to set my feet on the right path to know what is truth and what is error about the highly important doctrines of the Holy Spirit. And, as a result, I’ve rejected nearly everything that is commonly believed and practiced by those who claim they are Pentecostal, Full Gospel, Charismatic or any other name by which these souls want to label themselves. I’ve studied, and waited and prayed; I’ve marked and highlighted and come to informed conclusions in my research of some of the best teachings on the Holy Spirit. What I know is true is that literally millions of words have been written about the Spirit that are nothing but the imaginations and tradition of men (and women).
Suffice it to say, I may not go so far as to call myself a cessationist, a stance taken by some claiming the gifts of the Spirit have entirely ceased in the Church age. But I’m pretty close to saying that almost everything I see and most of what I hear amounts to nothing more than hocus pocus and wishful thinking. I have not come to my informed understanding quickly. As an example, in the late 70′s I remember my first ‘up close and personal’ encounter with what teacher Donald R. Hubbard refers to as “ecstatic speech”. I attended a Women’s Aglow meeting in Cedar Rapids, IA. Believe it or not, the speaker made known it was her intention that day to ‘teach us how to speak in tongues’ in case we didn’t already enjoy this necessary spiritual experience. Teach? I think not. The Sprit has not sub-contracted to anyone, farming out His methods. As another example, several years later I remember standing in a revival where an international evangelist was filming a ‘meeting in the spirit’ program to export for African evangelism. My husband I were deep in prayer while the call for Holy Spirit power to anoint the service was well under way. Sensing we were among charlatans and many who’d been duped, we prayed for confirmation of the source of this ‘power’ being called down. Sure enough, the power made itself known. After about thirty minutes of musical mantra mania and ecstatic speech, suddenly the lights went haywire; bulbs popped everywhere; and the system crashed. The show was not going to go on. We had trouble holding back our near laughter. We graciously waited for an exit and did not return to this group. To this day, I accept no experience that attempts to validate the often bizarre characteristics of what I rightfully recognize as works of the adversary. I’ve been in many meetings, respectfully waiting and sincerely believing the Lord would engage or disengage my spirit as He chose. I’ve come away from all of this the same way I did in the late sixties when I remember I could not successfully become hypnotized at a sorority and fraternity function. (There is the peer pressure to be like everyone else.) I was an oddball –not able to succumb to the hypnotist. I didn’t get to go forward to cluck like a chicken and enjoy the laughter, but I believe the Lord was protecting my mind and spirit then, just like He protects me from familiar spirits who would love to ‘lay hands on me’. A controversial stance, yes. But the Holy Spirit cannot be acquired, controlled or caught for show. He restrains everything that would divert attention away from giving glory to Christ alone. Lady Lydia