17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:.(Rev 3:)
In today's episode we find Pastor Leo conversing with fellow pastor Daniel Palisades. Listen:
"I don't know quite how to explain it Leo. I know I've experienced something, something very important, but I just can't get it across to my congregation."
"You say you experienced something Daniel? What is it you've experienced that you're trying to impart to your people?"
"Well, you might think this odd Leo, but I think it was the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But that can't be because I was baptized way back when I was a teenager. And I know that when a person is baptized is when they are filled with the Holy Ghost."
"And what makes you think being baptized in water automatically causes you to be filled with the Holy Ghost Daniel?"
"Why, it's just a known fact is all. It's all through the New Testament, and besides, it's what I've been taught. I mean, it's the only way it can be. Don't you believe in the infilling of the Holy Spirit Leo?"
"Of course I do Daniel. But I certainly don't think a dip in the water is what gives us that infilling. I would like to know where in the Bible you see that water baptism gives a person such an anointing."
"Well, for one, Jesus received the anointing at His baptism. And we see other places where people received the anointing at their baptism. Where do you see otherwise Leo?"
"To begin with we see that the disciples didn't receive the anointing at their baptism, which was most likely also from John. And we see that the initial anointing was not at a baptism, but at Pentecost, having nothing to do with water whatever. These incidents in themself should be sufficient evidence that water is not the magic formula for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Besides Daniel, you mentioned Jesus at His baptism. But Jesus did not receive the Holy Spirit at that time, but He was filled with the Holy Spirit from His mother's womb, as was John according to Luke 2:15."
"You're confusing things Leo. All my life I've heard that baptism is when we receive the Holy Spirit. And now you're bringing in strange doctrines to counter a core belief. Please don't try to confuse me with rhetoric. Unless you have some hard facts to the contrary, which I'm sure you don't, let's get back to my problem, which is my difficulty telling my people what I've experienced, and how they need to experience the same thing I did."
"I haven't left that subject Daniel. But before you can tell others what you know you need to tell them, you first have to understand what it is you've experienced, and why you experienced what you did. You have this huge wall around you that you refuse to look over. But your answer is on the other side of that wall. If you were talking to a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness you would tell them they have to look over their wall in order to see the truth. And by the way, some of these groups also believe as you do about water baptism, and have been baptized as you have. But in your opinion they haven't received the Holy Spirit, which in itself voids your concept of water baptism. You've seen that inside the box in which you live you can't find the answer to your dilemma. This being the case, wouldn't it make sense to look outside your doctrinal box for the answer?"
"No, it doesn't Leo. But you're right on one count, I'm not finding the answer I'm looking for. So go ahead, tell me what it is you think I'm missing."
"Thank you. First, back to my point about water baptism. You might be able to explain away the things I've told you already, and you'll have lots of support by experts on the Bible to back you up. But consider this, in Acts 19 we see where Paul was talking to some new converts. He asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost since being baptized. Now I ask you, if water baptism is the means for receiving the Holy Spirit, why would Paul ask them such a question? Was it perhaps because they didn't exhibit signs of having received the Holy Spirit, just as you're recognizing something missing in your congregation that you hadn't been aware of until your own experience, long after you're baptism and training for the ministry? Interestingly enough, these men hadn't received the Holy Spirit, yet they were baptized....with John's baptism of repentance. It was the laying on of hands that gave these men the infilling, not the water."
"Point taken. I don't accept what you're saying yet, but I can see why you might believe as you do. What else do you have Leo? Anything?"
"I think so. Let's look at someone else who had an experience similar to your own...."
"Hold on Leo. I haven't even told you what my experience was, so how can you know someone else had an experience like mine?"
"I don't know what your experience was Daniel, but I suspect it was something like my own, which is why I understand what you're talking about. In the same way, because so many others, including your congregation for the most part, have not had such an experience, they can't understand what you're trying to tell them. And you can't tell them, because you've been teaching them what you've been telling me, and that is, they already have all they there is to have because they've been baptized. And this Daniel, is what's keeping you from understanding or accepting what I'm trying to tell you."
"I'm not blocking what you're saying Leo. I already said I want to hear what you have to say. But I will admit that my congregation listens to me in the same way they listen to a commercial of some kind, with maybe half an ear and no understanding at all. So go ahead and tell me who else had an experience like mine."
"First I'd like for you to do something for me Daniel."
"What's that Leo?"
"Uncross your arms from over your chest. You sit there like I'm throwing bricks at you, and you're going to make them bounce off you like they would Superman. You're as ridged as a post, both in your physical position and in your emotional. There's no way you're going to hear me if you don't let what I say sink in a little. Your congregation listens to you with sleepy eyes because they don't understand at all what you're telling them. You can't hear me because I'm not telling you what you want to hear. It doesn't fit your doctrine. But Jesus' doctrine didn't fit that of the church of His time either, and they received His message the same way you're receiving mine."
"Are you saying I'm a Pharisee Leo?"
"Of course not Daniel. I'm just saying you need to relax. It's your problem we're talking about after all. Don't you think it would be wise to hear what I have to say about it?"
"I guess so Leo. There, is that better?"
"Much. Now, to Paul. In the ninth chapter of Acts we see where Paul has a confrontation with Jesus. He saw a vision that told him he was going the wrong way with his religious zeal. Paul was not a Christian, nor did he want to be a Christian. And he certainly was not baptized a Christian when he had his vision. Was Paul baptized? Yes, but if you examine the seventeenth and eighteenth verses very carefully you might see an indication that Paul received the Holy Spirit before he was baptized."
"Ok Leo. Let's say you're right. I'm not conceding anything, but so we can move on, I get the point of your message. I can see how there's a remote chance that there is more to the infilling of the Holy Spirit than what I thought there was. But so what? What has that got to do with my problem of conveying this to my congregation? How do I explain it to them so they'll understand?"
"You can't Daniel. Not until you understand it yourself."
"Than why are we having this discussion Leo? What's the point of my sitting here listening to you blabber about things contrary to my beliefs if it's not going to help me with my problem?"
"Because you brought it up, Daniel, is why we've been talking about it. But until you decide to knock down the walls that keep you from seeing anything other than what your denomination tells you, you will continue to be blind to anything else."
39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. (John 9:)