I am convinced from Scripture and from personal experience as a missionary evangelist that a preacher cannot effectively communicate the gospel without the help of the Holy Spirit, who both enables him to preach and illuminates the hearts and minds of his listeners. Likewise, all christians should depend upon the Spirit's help in their efforts to live the christian life.
I understand that most christians today either do not understand the moving of the Holy Spirit, or reject it outright. Ignorance and bad teaching can be excused, but some go as far as to ascribe the touch of the Spirit upon a minister's life to the devil. This of course is unacceptable from a scriptural standpoint, and is a dangerous position to hold.
On one hand, much error resides in the charismatic camp. The
animal church in Toronto is a glaring example of this; other examples would be the co-oping of the pentecostal message by the prosperity teachers, and the circus atmosphere of the charismatics. However, the existence of misguided or genuinely demonic manifestations, teachers and movements does not negate the fact that the bible lays out a sound foundation for the doctrine and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer today.
Let me first state that I do not believe in the concept of systematic theology, preferring rather to cling to biblical theology. Systematic theology is just that: someone's system of belief. I do not want some man's nor some denomination's idea of theology; I want to know what "/thus saith the Lord"/ (Isaiah 8.20) on any given subject. I have made many mistakes as well as a few false statements in the past, but my goal is to strive to understand the bible, and when shown by God or His messengers that I am in error or lack understanding, I am more than willing to admit such. I would hope that I do as well as Apollos in this regard.
I was saved (see MyTestimony) November 30, 1984 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA, and joined a southern baptist church soon thereafter. I faithfully attended that church until October of the following year, when the Lord moved upon my heart to begin attending Family Worship Center, Jimmy Swaggart's church. Please note that I make no apologies for attending Swaggart's church. In the mid-nineties I received a
license to preach from his credentials body, which I held for several years. Again, this causes me no grief to state this. I fully believe that God has used and is using him to reach millions of souls for Christ via the media of television, radio and print.
The baptist church I first started out in seemed a solid fellowship, but sometime in the summer of 1985 the pastor was apparently seduced by the movement led by John Wimber (I later learned that James Robison was responsible for introducing Wimber's false doctrines into baptist circles). Pastor Tom Denton brought that amalgum of false doctrine into the local assembly, and I and a number of fellow church members accepted it wholesale. During the following months, God began to speak to me, telling me that the doctrines that the pastor brought in to the church were wrong. I did not understand how this could be, since to my mind everything seemed to be backed up by scripture. However, my desire was unto the Lord, for it was He that saved me, not that pastor, church, nor denomination. When I ended up in Swaggart's church, my eyes were opened to the scriptures, and I quickly rejected all of the false doctrines that my previous pastor had instilled in me. To this day, I look to Swaggart's ministry as a bulwark of sound doctrine, standing against the tide of rampant apostasy.
My wife attended Swaggart's World Evanglism Bible College, but I did not take any classes there. I did study for about two years under one of the former professors of that school, Dr. Bernard Rossier, whom I hold in high regard due to his stand against worldliness. However, I feel that I received more than the equivalent of a college education by virtue of sitting under the pulpit minstry of Jimmy Swaggart for over 10 years. My love and understanding of typology came from listening to that man preach.
Update: In the last few years, Swaggart seems to have taken the doctrine of sanctification a bit too far. While I do not claim to understand all of his teaching on the subject, I can say that some of his statements trouble me. I pray that the Lord keeps him, and that he does not stray into full-blown error.
I do believe in and often practice
speaking in tongues. It is my conviction, however, that many people do not understand that gift, nor the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. I hope to briefly sum up my belief, and what I am persuaded that the bible has to say on the subject, below.
Acts 1.8 states that the power that we as believers are supposed to receive is meant to enable us to be witnesses of Christ throughout the entire world. Most christians would agree that there is only one way of salvation, which is through faith in the shed blood of Calvary. Furthermore, John chapters 14-16 go into great detail concerning the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit; namely that the Spirit does not go around mentioning Himself, but rather lifts up and glorifies Jesus Christ and the work that the Saviour did to redeem mankind.
This is a vital point: the Holy Spirit enables christians to live the christian life, and to gather in the harvest of souls. Those are His two main functions in this world. He testifies of Christ and the blood that Christ shed for the remission of sins, He convicts of sin, He helps us to understand the scriptures, He gives us power over temptation and besetting sins, etc. He also gives us supernatural power to preach to sinners, while He convinces then to forsake sin, self and Satan, and brings them to the decision point of following Christ in the way. In short, Christ is the mediator of the covenant between God and man, but it is the job of the Holy Ghost to work directly in the hearts of men, testifying of what Christ has done for them.
But how does all of that relate to speaking in tongues, or any of the other charismatic gifts? I maintain that any true gift or ministration of the Holy Spirit will always lift up Jesus. Tongues, prophecy, divine healing, words of knowledge, or any other work of the Spirit, if these works are truly of God, will always bring the persons involved closer to Jesus Christ, as He is proclaimed in the Holy Bible. Any drawing of attention to the Spirit Himself is not scriptural, with the exception of the acknowledging of the fact that He is the one speaking (this is brought out in Acts, Revelation and other places, e.g.
now the spirit speaketh expressly to the churches).
Neither is any glorification of the flesh ever a mark of the Holy Spirit's work. This immediately rules out all of the prosperity teachers that claim that God speaks to them, giving them supposed
rhema (new revelation) that no other preacher has ever brought out and cannot be found in the pages of the bible. These false prophets feed on the promotion of self, yet the bible specifically says that we as ministers should decrease, so that Christ can increase (i.e. as we humble ourselves, Christ can more clearly be seen in us). Certainly the fame of the Apostles went abroad, but their message, nay, the pouring out of their lives, was dedicated to the preaching and magnification of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not their persons. They loved not their lives unto the death. That is the mark of the moving of the Holy Spirit in a person's life:
May all self be slain, my friends see only Thee.
I am thrilled to be able to state that the Lord called me to preach right after I was saved. I have ministered in four foreign countries so far, mainly focusing my efforts in Haiti, West Indies. Haiti is a difficult place, yet I am honored that the Lord called me to serve Him there.
My message is Christ and Him crucified, and risen again. I preach the cross as the solution to the problems of man, eschewing the psychological way. Mainly I preach from the Old Testament, bringing out some type or symbol, or some message from the Law or the prophets. At times I will take my text from the New Testament, but mostly I end up in the New Testament after laying a foundation for my points in the Old.
I preach repentance and forsaking of self, and I often will expose or discuss the errors of some false doctrine, if the text I am preaching out of directly addresses that particular heresy.
However, I am often impressed to preach sermons about the Holy Spirit and His work in the hearts of men. No one knows when Christ will return, but that day is surely coming, and the Lord continually impresses upon me the need of preaching the gospel before it's too late. It is imperative that as many believers (and preachers) as possible are empowered from on high, for without the power of God in a minister's life, it is very difficult to reach the lost.
Would God that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them (Numbers 11:29).
Towards the end of my time in Atlanta, and during the year or two after my return to Louisiana, God opened the scriptures to me. I cannot confess that I didn't understand the bible before this, but God somehow gave me a command of the word of God that I did not have before. Certainly I don't know what every passage in the bible means, but for the most part, I can read a passage and it instantly falls open before me. For instance, I see the types in the Old Testament plainly, and likewise in the gospels the fulfillment of prophecy in the life of Christ is very plain before my eyes. I suppose that this is related to the ability and calling to be a teacher of the word of God, but I do know that I now understand the bible a lot better now.
Please understand that I am not saying that God is giving me any new revelation, for that is certainly not the case. There is no new revelation to be had. What I am saying is that the scriptures have become a wellspring of truth to me, and I seem to have a God-given ability to teach out of the bible with practically no effort. Perhaps this is what God meant when he said that the Spirit would fill our mouths when there was need of speaking His word.
The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:4-7).