“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 the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
In January of 1973, while pastoring a Baptist church on the edge of Cleveland, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. At that time, my dad was pastoring a Baptist church in West Tennessee, my younger brother was preparing to go to Union University to prepare for becoming a youth pastor in the Baptist denomination and my older brother was pastoring a Baptist church in Clifton, Tennessee. I will never forget the weekend I went home to share the news with my parents and the conversation that followed. The direction of my life was forever changed. I cannot imagine my life without the level of intimacy with God that began at First Assembly in Cleveland over forty years ago. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit must not be regarded as an insignificant “option” for believers today. The perilous and perplexing times we live in demand a strength, wisdom and discernment that only comes by living a spirit-filled life. Post modernists would have us believe that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not relevant to today’s culture. How is anything that God gives ever NOT RELEVANT to any person regardless of gender, generation, country or culture? To believe that, one must totally deny the scripture which declares: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off”.
The absence of preaching and teaching on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit defrauds people in the pew of that which God intended His people to have in living a Spirit-filled life. According to Acts 1:8, the Holy Spirit gives us power. Through faith in the shed blood of Jesus as the atonement for our sin, we have forgiveness of sins, strength and authority to overcome our adversary the devil. The Holy Spirit empowers us for service. In fact, those that are truly walking and living in the fullness of the Spirit will not be passive, apathetic, and lethargic when it comes to serving the Lord. To take it a step further, Acts 1:8 declares: “…..and you shall be witnesses..”. A church comprised of believers that are walking and living in the fullness of the Spirit cannot be and will not be indifferent to those in their family and community that are unsaved. Statistics show that there are over 3 million people in Mississippi that claim no religious affiliation whatsoever. I can’t speak for the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterians or Church of Christ---but God is stirring the heart of this church, the Assemblies of God in Mississippi to preach the Gospel, win the lost and disciple the saved.