BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
Charismatic Christians concentrate heavily on what has become known as “baptism in the Holy Spirit”. Indeed, it is a cornerstone of their overall belief structure. My objective here is not to present in full what I think this means to them. Rather, I will refer to certain Scriptures which relate to the subject and let these, along with a few brief comments, make their own statement. Hopefully, both Charismatics (CM) and Conservatives (CS) will be open to this approach.
My observations have been that many CMs have their origin from the CS camp. A few are quite well-known, and some even appear to be respected by other CSs. This fact alone is insufficient evidence to confirm whether “baptism in the Holy Spirit” is a correct doctrine, but it should at least cause us to wonder why some CS brethren move to the CM group.
The point that appears most obvious about CMs (including those who have removed from the CS camp) is that they seem to increase in zealousness and at least appear to become more excited about the things of God. It seems fair to not discount this fact if we are to make an honest appraisal of the Spirit-baptism doctrine. If this is of God, obviously it’s a good thing.
Many would say that the move from the CS side to the CM side is nothing more than disenchanted people who are prone to thrill-seeking, believing that it is merely the hand-clapping, shouting, lifting-of-the-hands, etc., which draws them. This may be true in some cases, but there are other evidences in some CM camps that need noting: a seemingly-genuine love for one another; an intense burden for the lost; a hunger for preaching of the Word; and a new thirst for personal study of God's Word. Even if some of their theology is off-base (as is true of most circles), how do we interpret these positive realities?
As already discussed, twenty-eight years ago I experienced a secondary blessing of some kind (baptism, in-filling of the Spirit, call it what you will). This obviously provides strong reason for me to accept that there are sometimes supernatural acts of God upon believers after the new birth. I have not tried to force my experience on others, but I have discussed the incident with both laymen and ministers on both sides of the aisle. Conservatives often resist my testimony with doubt and unbelief; whereas, from CMs I'm more likely to hear "Praise the Lord, brother!" As you might imagine, this mixed response has been perplexing.
However, on some occasions a few CSs surprised me by rejoicing when they heard my testimony. Usually, these would identify with me by telling of some special, spiritual experience out of their own past which occurred subsequent to being born again. But they wouldn't call their experience “baptism in the Holy Spirit”. Their analysis of the incident would usually be along these lines: "I believe in one baptism, but many fillings". However, this explanation hasn’t squared well with the fact that some of these would also say this particular touch-from-God was unlike anything they had ever experienced. (Incidentally, the one-baptism they refer to here means being baptized into the body of Christ when one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. This, of course, is initial, spirit salvation.)
How about this as a possibility? Let’s assume the docrine is true, and that many conservatives have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Then, they either (1) may be confused because there is no one in their camp to adequately explain what happened to them or (2) they fear being condemned and cast from the “safety” of their denominational walls and therefore don’t speak of it. The former would more likely be laymen, and the latter would probably be leaders in the ministry.
The reader may wonder why I have remained in the conservative camp all these years, having experienced what I did 28 years ago. Let me address that.
I hold much higher priority on eternal security than I do on whether "baptism in the Holy Spirit" is the correct label to use for post-new-birth blessings. As already noted, many CMs have been deceived into believing that after being saved, one can reject God and therefore lose his heaven-bound destiny. However, I believe both positions — i.e., that one can lose his salvation and/or rejecting the Holy Spirit's “anointing-blessing” — are denials of the power of God. I find this dilemma frustrating, but up to this point have elected to stay in the CS camp, because I believe eternal security is a more important doctrine than how we define being empowered for Christian service. (Eternal security will be the topic of the next chapter.)
But the older I get, the more determined I am to study and express openly what I believe to be the truth of the matter: that both eternal security and subsequent “anointing-blessings” are God's doctrines, not man's. Thus, it behooves us to search the Scriptures to see if the Charismatics have anything to back up their claims.
We need to first look at some word definitions. The word chara has a very special meaning to me. The ship I was aboard during my Navy years was the USS Chara. The name was somewhat ironic because it was an ammunition ship! I say ironic since the meaning of this Greek word is 'calm', 'gladness', 'exceeding joyful'...especially in the midst of bad circumstances. (I guess "calm" was an appropriate term for my ship, since we had little fire power of our own. But on the other hand, we had great potential once the bombs and projectiles were delivered to the carriers, destroyers and battleships.)
The second pertinent word to our study is charis. The main translation here is grace. Strong's Concordance defines the word as 'graciousness', especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace, joy, liberality, pleasure and thank-worthy.
The third word of importance is charisma. The most-often-used English equivalent is gift. According to Strong's, the broader aspect of charisma is 'spiritual endowment', 'religious qualification', or 'miraculous faculty'. Also noteworthy is the fact that this gift is free and based on no merit of the recipient.
Even though the word 'charismatic' does not appear in the Bible, we see its root in the word charisma. Actually, its meaning indicates that EVERY Christian is a 'charismatic' in his/her spirit man, although perhaps not always demonstrably and outwardly manifested. Therefore, we see in the mere definitions of chara, charis, and charisma much evidence of the very basis of simply being a born-again Christian.
From the new birth on, all Christians are favorably endowed by Almighty God. This is not due to any merit on the part of the believer. Thus, 'charismatic' is a useful and appropriate term to use relative to any Christian and, thus, ought not be limited just to those who believe in baptism in the Holy Spirit. I became a charismatic the day I was saved at age 12, not at my experience at age 44. So, for any Christian to deny that he/she is a charismatic is to deny the Christian faith itself. These are Biblical terms, not man-made doctrines.
Conservatives might agree that by these definitions and understood in the light of the explanation just given, that they could correctly be called charismatic, but still refuse to accept that baptism in the Holy Spirit is scriptural. So, we need to look at some Scriptures which relate specifically to this subject.
HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERMENT
We could start in many places but let's start at the beginning of the Church age. Jesus had just completed the ministry of His first Advent with His disciples and He made a promise about how He planned to favor them with power for ministry, similar to the way He had been empowered. Here's what Jesus said:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." "And when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." Acts 1:8&9.
It is very significant to note the timing here. This was the very last time the disciples saw Jesus on earth. Look at the next two verses: Acts 1:10&11.
"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven."
Jesus was leaving the earth to return to the heavenly Father. But He was also promising His physical return someday and that He was leaving the remainder of Church-age ministry in the hands of 'normal' human beings. Well, actually they wouldn't be exactly normal, for, according to Jesus, they would soon be receiving power from the Holy Spirit Who would "come upon" them. In verse 8, the purpose was also stated: they were to be "witnesses in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth". In other words, the Church was being born and Jesus was saying that future proclamation of the Gospel would go forth through them. The work would begin locally but would eventually reach all the earth. Now let's see when the Holy Spirit actually came.
"And when the day of Pentecost had 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. And there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:1-4.
It's important to realize that every one of these disciples were already saved. But they had not received full empowerment from the Holy Spirit until the Day of Pentecost. (The exception to this was when Jesus would 'breathe' on the disciples they could go out and do miraculous things similar to the way Jesus did.) But from Pentecost onward, believers would become supernaturally-empowered for Christian service, using the power that was "upon" them, much like Jesus had done from the time the Holy Spirit descended on Him.
The question arises as to whether every new believer receives the same kind of anointing (empowerment) as did the disciples who were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Let's start where the Bible does. The following verses provide the first hint about this:
"Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." Acts 8:14-17.
Here we have people who already believed in Jesus, been baptized in His Name, and yet had not received the Holy Spirit. This was after Jesus had ascended and after the Holy Spirit had been sent to the disciples at Jerusalem; but the Holy Spirit had not automatically come upon those Samarian believers. I find no Biblical answer as to why this was so. I suppose it was a matter of God's sovereignty as to when all things would best be fulfilled.
This we can say: when those who were already empowered by the Holy Spirit laid their hands on the Samarians, they received the Holy Spirit. But this doesn't mean that subsequent to this incident that the Holy Spirit empowerment must always come through the laying on of hands by Holy-Spirit-anointed Christians, as proven with the following Scripture. The apostle Peter was preaching in another place:
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision (the Jews) who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 'Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we?' And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days." Acts 10:44-48.
In the above three passages [Acts 2, 8 and 10], we find fulfillment of what Jesus had predicted in Acts 1:8&9 — that the Gospel would go forth first locally to Jews, then into the surrounding regions (Samaria etc.,) and finally into all the earth, pictured here in Acts 10 when the "Gentiles" (non-Jews) received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It's significant to note a difference in the above two situations in Acts 8 and 10: In chapter 8, those people had already been baptized in water in the name of the Lord Jesus. They were already saved but hadn't received the Holy Spirit. While in chapter 10, the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit before they had been baptized in water in the name of the Lord Jesus! Had God forgotten the proper order of His program of salvation? Of course not. The apostle Peter, reflecting and speaking later about the above incident, explained it this way:
"And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave them the same gift as He gave us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God? When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." Acts 11:15-18.
So what do we have here? The Holy Spirit came upon believers sometimes before and sometimes after water baptism. The following conclusions seem clearly implied: belief in Jesus is primary for salvation; baptism of the Holy Spirit (however defined) is always secondary to belief in Jesus; and water baptism shows one's identification with Jesus.
First, belief in Jesus is absolutely required to become saved. It's important to see in verse 18 that God-granted-repentance is part of the gift of faith in coming to new life in Christ. Secondly, baptism of the Holy Spirit conditions one to live the Christian life to its highest potential. It provides the boldness to speak the Gospel message to others with power and conviction. Thirdly, water baptism neither saves nor provides power, but is an act of obedience which does present a picture of salvation based on one’s identity with Jesus. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is pictured by total-immersion water baptism. Also depicted here is the death of the "old man" and birth of the "new man" of the new believer in Christ Jesus.
THE GREAT COMMISSION
We have briefly looked at the Biblical account of the beginnings of the Church age. It was forecast by Jesus in what has become known as The Great Commission:
"And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized [into the body of Christ] will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe; In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." Mark 16:15-18.
Some conservatives dislike this passage. A few even question whether it is Scripture, not being found, they say, in the better ancient manuscripts. I don't accept this position. I believe Jesus said it. And I believe, at least in the early Church, these supernatural abilities followed those who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Recall that Paul was once bitten by a very poisoness snake and remained unaffected, which amazed the onlookers. (Acts 28:3-5.) And some recovered from illnesses, even death, when the apostles spoke healing words to victims. (See Acts 9:32 and following verses.) Whether this kind of protection and power is still available today to Christians is also argued among charismatics and conservatives.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF TONGUES
I won't attempt to cover all the reasons God gave various kinds of tongues, but we must at least touch upon the subject. If you look at Acts chapter 2, it's very clear that those in the upper room were given the supernatural ability to speak and understand foreign languages. The purpose there is clear: the first coming of the Holy Spirit was on the Day of Pentecost, a time when many people from near and far were present to participate in the festivities associated with that Feast day. Luke even names many of the different peoples who were there:
"And they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, 'Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?" (others speaking of the disciples who had just been filled with the Holy Spirit.) "And how is it we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our tongues the wonderful works of God." Acts 2:7-11.
Here again we find the Bible interpreting itself. The first appearance of tongues in the New Testament were actual foreign languages of those visitors from the surrounding areas. What is the meaning of this? We must go to the Old Testament to find the answer to this question.
Here's the setting: After the great flood that destroyed the whole world (except for Noah and his wife, plus his three sons and their wives), the earth was being repopulated again. A man by the name of Nimrod was leading everybody into a way which he thought would prevent God from ever destroying mankind again. We take up right there:
"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech." (In other words, everybody wrote and spoke one way. Remember this very important fact.) "And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly, And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar (for water-proofing). And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth (as happened to their evil forefathers in the old world).
"And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be withheld from them, which they have imagined to do. Come, let us (note the plurality of the Godhead) go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from there upon the face of all the earth; and they ceased building the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel, because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth, and from there did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." Genesis 11:1-9.
Now that's a big mouthful of Scripture, but it's needed in order to fully and adequately explain this matter of the disciples of Jesus speaking in tongues (multiple languages) on the day of Pentecost.
The first noteworthy thing here is the fact that prior to the Babel incident, everybody on this earth spoke and wrote one language! And the better they understood one another, the more likely they would be able to accomplish any task set before them. God understood this, of course, and for that very reason came down from heaven, 'confused' their tongues (in other words, gave them different languages), and then dispersed the people from the region so that they would not be able to continue the project Nimrod had in mind.
Now from then (approximately 2144 B.C.) until Pentecost (approx. 29 A.D.), we have little record of how our various languages came about. But no matter what part of the world you live in or come from, the language you write and speak is rooted in what occurred around 2144 B.C. This was also true of all those referred to in Acts chapter 2 right after the coming of the Holy Spirit.
THE ANTITHESIS OF BABEL IS PENTECOST
Why did God allow the first disciples of Jesus to be able to speak in foreign languages? The answer is very clearly given us in the passages already quoted. All we have to do is use a little logical Bible-sense to figure it out.
All the way from Babel to Pentecost, God was building His 'tower' to heaven, while mankind was 'blowing it' on every front in his humanistic endeavors. But God was determined to save His people from their own devises and futile, self attempts at manipulating their ultimate destiny. God painted His picture from Genesis to Malachi, through the patriarchs, national Israel, the giving of the old Law (the 10 commandments), and especially through the prophets-of-old and their predictions of a coming Savior Who would eventually bring deliverance to humanity.
By the Day of Pentecost, God's work was completed. The predicted Messiah had come — Jesus of Nazareth — and He had done His work: laying His life down as a ransom for all who would believe in Him. He became the sacrificial Lamb of God, Who would take away the sins of the world. He had been crucified, died, and was buried. But He had arose from the dead to become the resurrected King of all creation, especially for those who believe in Him. To cap it all off, Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples just as He said He would.
What better way to prove that God's plan of salvation had finalized, than to allow Jesus' disciples to speak in any language they chose to, in order to preach the Gospel to anyone who would listen to them. The speaking in 'tongues' as described in Acts was an explosive, spiritual reversal of what God had done at Babel. Therefore, Pentecost could aptly be called the antithesis of Babel — God showing the world that finally the true way to Him had come through His Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing like it had ever occurred before. It was, and is, a great sign to the nations of the world that God is truly and ultimately in control of all things.
Here's the rationale of how my discovery relates to the subject of speaking in tongues. All our built-in traits were put there by Almighty God. We still have in us the remnant of the 'confusion' [call it genetic en-coding] that God put in those people at Babel. And when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples of Jesus, God supernaturally removed that confusion (at least temporarily) and gave them the ability to overcome the block which was previously in them. All new Christians experience this freedom to a degree. When the Holy Spirit comes at the new birth, there is an immediate God-knowing inside the new believer. I believe everyone who has ever received the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" has in some measure experienced supernatural revelation. Is it always manifested by speaking in tongues? Many CMs would definitely say "yes". I do not accept this answer. Let me show you why.
The apostle Paul addresses tongues in several passages. You should read them all. Let's look at one in particular:
"Now there are diversities of gifts (charisma), but the same Spirit.”
"to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues."
1 Corinthians 12: 4&10.
This scripture clearly indicates that not all new Christians receive the gift (charisma) of speaking in tongues. Just as clearly, not all receive all of the other gifts. However, it is proper to seek any or all the gifts:
"Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however in the spirit he speaks mysteries." 1 Cor. 14:1&2.
Up to this point in my presentation, we have seen that initially tongues primarily referred to the ability for believers to speak in foreign, human languages [in order to make the Gospel known to the unbelieving world]. But now, Paul throws us a curve by saying that speaking in a certain kind of tongue is really reserved for talking to God! Was Paul himself confused about tongues? And did he deny using tongues? Well, certainly not. Look at this verse:
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal." 1 Cor. 13:1. And further:
"I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all:..." 1 Cor. 14:18.
In the setting where the above two verses are found, the apostle Paul is addressing some of the problems in the Corinthian Church, part of which had to do with order in the Church. He neither condemns or disallows speaking in tongues. Rather, he goes on to explain the proper procedure for doing it, referring both to the speaker in tongues and to an interpreter of those tongues. In other words, sometimes not everyone could appreciate what was being said if one was speaking in tongues, but if God was in it, He would also supernaturally-gift some other person to interpret the speaker.
There is a difference between believers speaking to unbelievers in foreign languages than believers speaking 'God-language' to God. Notice again in 1 Corinthians 13:1 above that Paul said he spoke in tongues of "men" and "of angels". He is obviously making a distinction between natural and supernatural tongues, i.e., human and non-human beings [invisible angels]; both are in view here. To say otherwise is simply to deny what these Scriptures plainly say. There’s no room for opinion here. And it doesn’t matter whether we like the idea of tongues or not. It's a matter of receiving or rejecting Biblical proclamation.
1 Corinthians 13:1 clearly states that there are angelic tongues. This also is not an interpretation. That's a simple statement of fact. And although some Christians may refute it and/or would prefer to have no part of it, Romans 8:26 also speaks of God's personal language:
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
I believe this verse means that the Holy Spirit interprets the intent of our hearts when we pray, and then ‘re-submits’ it to the Father in a language far above our natural understanding. We can't naturally "utter" the Spirit's "groanings" because we don't have this language in us. However, I am persuaded that when we yield ourselves over to the Holy Spirit totally and completely, His "groanings" may be received by the spiritual new man within us. And if we will allow it, I believe at times His groanings may even manifest themselves from our anointed spirit out through our mouths. This is an "of God" act. It is probably what Paul had in mind when He said in 1 Corinthians 14:2 that the particular tongue he was talking about there was intended to be spoken to God alone.
MY “BAPTISM” IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
I wrote previously about an experience I had 28 years ago which may have been my baptism in the Holy Spirit. It occurred 32 years after I was saved and was perhaps the most extraordinary experience of my entire life. I still recall it almost as vividly as things I did yesterday. It was supernatural, and awesome. In a vision-dream, my spirit left my body on the bed and I went to the roof of my house. (As I recall, I could see my body still on the bed.) While strongly sensing the Lord's presence, Godly thoughts sprang up in my mind. When I attempted to speak those thoughts, a language I have never heard came out of me. Every time I would try to speak, the same thing happened. Finally, I just let it come. When finished, I descended back to my bedroom and fell into a peaceful sleep.
After many years of thinking about that experience and relating it to Scripture, I now believe that what I heard were the "groanings' of the Holy Spirit and that His words flowed through my spirit and out of my mouth. At the time, I knew virtually nothing of these things nor of the vast array of disagreements in the Church on the subject (which was probably to my advantage). Of course I can't know this for sure, but if I had known then what I know now regarding the conflict about tongues, praying in the Spirit, etc., I might have resisted God exercising His power in my life, and thus, perhaps missed out on that special "encounter" (and other experiences that were later to come). The historical, biblical evidence indicates that God often touches some of those He has called to a particular ministry when they are yet in a state of minimal biblical and spiritual knowledge. I certainly met this novice qualification.
Based on discussions with other “conservative” Christians over the years, I think that some of them have gotten nearly to the point of complete yielding to the Holy Spirit's control, and at the last moment, resisted. The reluctance was probably due to fear rising out of teachings they had already embraced which were contrary to this kind of experience. Consequently, perhaps unwittingly, these believers had quenched the Holy Spirit.
SUMMARY OF PART II
I do not mean to imply by my stand on baptism in the Holy Spirit that all Christians are not Spirit-baptized into the body of Christ. This occurs at the moment one truly trusts in Jesus as Savior. (See Eph. 1:13.) And one’s spirit salvation is never improved beyond this new birth. But this baptism is different from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a believer for empowerment to minister.
Admittedly, there are some unanswered questions here. Why doesn't God make it simple by baptizing every believer in the Holy Spirit at the moment they trust Jesus as Savior? And why doesn't everyone immediately and clearly manifest the same spiritual gift in order to show undeniable evidence of what just happened? Some CMs would say here that everyone baptized in the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues. But as we have already seen clearly, the Bible doesn't teach this. 1 Cor. 12:30.
I don't have the answers to all these questions. But surely all of us can agree that not all Christians have equally-strong zeal for the things of God to be manifest in their lives. There are many reasons for this, such as the presence of unconfessed sin, refusal to turn away from certain sins, living with an attitude of unforgiveness, unwillingness to serve, etc. But I'm convinced that one reason for the lack of Godly-burning evidence in Christians is because of not having had the Holy Spirit poured "upon" them. Perhaps even you haven't received this blessing because of some area of your life that you haven't given over completely to God. Please don't misunderstand me, there are dedicated, strong-in-the-faith, Spirit-filled Christians whose walk with God seemed to just develop slowly and methodically through the years without ever having experienced the explosive kind of outpouring of the Spirit that I've been discussing. What I am trying to convey, though, is that in some instances, my own case included, God at sundry times and places does dramatically empower His servants in the manner I have been describing.
Perhaps some of us are simply so hardened-of-heart that we must have the big "splash" (no derogatory intent by the use of this word) to get us going in the right direction. I can definitely attest that this was once true in my own life. But I can also honestly witness that God's power did indeed become evident the moment I sincerely laid my life on God's altar for 'repair and restoration'. I had no expectation or training as to what happened. Not to set myself up as a judge, but some of you may need the same experience. Maybe for some of you, it would be good to close with this prayer:
"Heavenly Father, I lift up my brothers and sisters in Christ to your throne of grace. If they need it, I ask You, Lord, to open the eyes of their understanding regarding the fullness of what You have in store for them. I make no pretenses of superior, intellectual knowledge, but base my request here solely on the revelations You have shown me in Your Word and confirmed by the reality of the experiences You have given me. Grant them a heart that rests completely in the accomplished work of Christ. And now, O God, I ask you to fill to overflowing with the Holy Spirit every yielded, Christ-seeking person that hears this word, so that he or she can be free and empowered to do the work you have called them to do. In Jesus' mighty Name I pray. Amen, and Amen!"