Not Yet Ready to Join

You all at Zion Pentecost Mission put a whole lot of emphasis on Holy Ghost Baptism and living a life of faith as led by the Spirit. I do believe there's more to our Christian faith, but I'm not sure I am ready to join a Pentecostal church, or want to see all that loud carrying on, and tongues in my church? Justin B. Curious.

Dec. 2010- updated December 2023

"...he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit."
Titus3,5 NRSV

"This is he who came with water and blood; and there is the Spirit to bear witness,  because the Spirit is truth. For there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood."  1John5,6-7. NEB

"For the love of God compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised for them." 2Corinthians5,14-15 NIV

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with the seal for the day of Redemption." Ephesians4,30 NRSV

William Branham comments on why some folks don't get sealed with the Holy Ghost: "You just went to the borderline and come back, lusting for the things of the world. You never went all the way over into Canaan, you see, across Jordan, the death of self. See?" Revelation Of The Seven Seals VGR, 2012 Jeffersonville In. p. 77  

Psalm104,3c-4 predicts Gift Of Spirit on Pentecost and thereafter too: "He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messenger, flaming fire His ministers." NASB

Living By Faith And For Our Lord Jesus Amidst Wordly Religions- Requires The Gift Of The Spirit 

Dear Justin:

Thanks for the question, you are certainly not alone in your curiosity about wanting more from God in your church.

Your desire is crucial, and will be answered by God Himself. Your desire for more of the actual Holy Spirit and also faith authenticity defines the essence of how the 150 year old Pentecostal gospel movement began again around the world in the late 19th century.

Justin open your arms and your heart and your spirit to Jesus in gratitude for what He did for you on Calvary and receive the promised gift of the Spirit. In Jesus NAME I pray.   

I don't use the phrase 'Pentecostal church.' It's not a church- it's the gospel movement back to the fullness of the bible and the bible's version of what our saving faith is. Zion Pentecost Mission is not aiming to be a 'Pentecostal church.' Nor do I aim to be a 'Pentecostal' Christian (even less a 'Charismatic'), or any denominational this or that. 

We Christians are all bible based, Word based Christians, from beginning to end, or not!

'Just a Christian' what a concept- and better yet- what a liberation from worldly man-made religious practices. 

Denominations, bless them Lord Jesus, and individual churches, sometimes reduce the Word based gospel and gift of the Spirit model, and then build a church business and marketing model writ large.

A bible based local church seeks to begin with the gift of the Spirit and the whole prophetic Word and counsel of God.

This gift of the Spirit is necessary to receive, live, and continue in Jesus' Word John8,31-32:

"Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth and the truth will make your free.' " 

So Justin it is right and biblical for you to seek more of God, who is Spirit, and from our one faith, our one Lord, our One Spirit, and the One God and Father of us all (Ephesians4,5).   

As founder of Zion Pentecost Mission I aim- by my personal faith- to be a bible based Christian who has been blessed by Pentecost, ie sealed and gifted with the Spirit (Acts2,39). With this primary blessing I teach the whole counsel of God. The promise of God's gift of the Holy Spirit is still operative today and it is a living promise to all faithful Jews and Gentiles (Acts2,39) - all the faithful in the world. 

Justin please don't ever allow yourself to get spiritually tripped up about tongues- even if church folks coach you to be all "superspiritual" on cue. What you need is a fuller understanding of the first Pentecost and more teaching about tongues and the whole range of other supernatural gifts that are received by personal faith according to God's Word.

The Word says tongues is the least of the Spiritual gifts (1Corinthians12,28). This is so because it is usually the most private of gifts in that its most common expression is personal praise tongues, which edifies just one person. And if if tongues is not the personal praise type and expresses a public prophetic Word to build up the church, this requires a separate interpretor of the tongues to reveal its message.

Edification of souls and the body of Christ, is the very purpose for these gifts cf 1Corinthians12,7. 

The Word also teaches that not all people who have the gift of the Sprit have the gift of tongues, just as all people with the gift  of the Spirit don't have the gift of healing. 1Corinthians12,30.

I don't argue with, or judge, folks who believe that personal praise tongues is the sign of baptism in the Spirit and salvation. As I read the bible, I do not I assess personal praise tongues to be the essential sign, or even the best biblical indication of baptism in the Spirit, as it is made out to be in some churches.

First Pentecost Gift Of The Spirit- Then First Particular Gift Of Spirit: New Language Tongues

God's gift of the Spirit was given to the Apostles at the first Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead. This gift of the Spirit then led to language miracle tongues (Acts2,1-4). The wind of the Spirit violently and audibly swept into the room and filled the entire house where the Apostles were assembled and manifested as divided tongues of fire which "rested on each of them:"   

V4 "All of them [not some of them] were filled with the Holy Spirit [ie gifted with the Spirit] and began to speak other languages [received the particular gift of Language miracle tongues], as the Spirit [just gifted to them] gave them ability." NRSV  

First they received the gift of the Spirit and then they received the exact and fitting new languages tongues' gift that they- as Jesus' prophetic-gospel apostles- specifically needed to start spreading the gospel of salvation in Jesus' Name in Jerusalem and also to spread it all across the Greco Roman world. 

God gave them the gift of the Spirit and then particularly new language tongues not because one gift- like tongues- with its three expressions- is the essence of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Again it was this particular languages gift of the Spirit, one of the three types of the tongues, that was the particular gift they urgently needed at the time of Pentecost to spread the gospel and found local churches.

My testimony about language tongues is that I can't say that God taught me instantly to speak Spanish fluently after I received the gift of the Spirit. But I can say that after I was given the the gift of the Spirit of God I could get into the pulpit and preach in Spanish as needed, even if it wasn't perfect! 

1Corinthians12,7-11 speaks of some of the other powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit such as wisdom, knowledge, healing or "great" faith. This latter gift is often neglected, and not discussed enough or sought after enough in relation to the other sometimes more popular gifts.

Following the Word, as inspired by the Spirit in the day and age one lives, and not turning back to sin, is the sign of being fully born again, of being sealed with the promised gift of the Spirit. (Ephesians4,30 above, and cf Branham quoted above):

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven [ie follows the Word as lived out in time, as helped by the gift of the Spirit]. 22 on that day many will say to me , 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.' " Matthew7,21-23 NRSV

Another indicator of having the gift of the promised Spirit are the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians5,22-23.

Do you still throw tantrums, and regularly cuss, and fuss, and fight, and get drunk?

Or are you peaceful and teachable? Are you or we hungry for the Word- occasionally more than say for your next well done pizza?

The fruits of the Spirit are evidence of the "gift of the Spirit." per Acts 2,39. Following the WORD (continuing in it John8,31-32) and having the fruits of the Spirit cannot be faked on a regular basis. These latter include "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."

1Corinthians2,14 also reveals how necessary the gift of the Spirit is to live for Jesus according to the Word:

"The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God [the Word, prophecy, faith in eternal life, miracles, healings, the need for perseverence etc] but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."

So we need the promised gift (Acts2,39) of the Spirit to accept all the Spiritual promises and challenges of the Word. Please also note well 1Corinthians2,14 promises us all the totally necessary bonus gift of discernment to "see" and hear and understand what is from the Spirit and what is not.   

Justin it's great that you want more of God's Spirit. Don't accept second best, or cheap imitations, or any fakery at all, or consider this gift just a temporary goal type of thing. "Many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew22,14

Press in with patience and faith to receive this life changing gift by applying your ongoing personal faith choices and committment unto living the whole gospel, and thus receiving your gift of the Spirit, without licentiousness. Before you receive this gift you might need to cut out some things in your life, or receive a healing of a life long hurt or something of that blocks your openess to receiving or containing the Spirit.

Ephesians4,30 tells us that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit and not to grieve the Spirit now contained in us. We can't have a broken heart or spirit and also be a sealed vessel-temple for the Holy Ghost to live. Remember our loving God is the potter- and we are the clay- he can mend and heal broken hearts, (that's what He came for! Luke4,18) and spirits and anything that frustrates us from receiving the promise of the gift of the Spirit of God, living by faith in us, and contained in us, unto the overflow of God's Spirit, whereby living abundant water flows out of each of us.

Before we can be sealed we must be healed!  

I don't know whether you need a healing or some other ministry before you receive the gift of the Spirit. But firstly agree with the Word about this gift and keep making the healthy, personal, bible based faith choices to receive it.

And you will get it. Then you will grow in understanding and have discernment, and thus the wisdom to fully accept all the Spiritual things that come from God- the Word, prophecy, eternal life, miracles and the rest of the supernatural and practical bible based building blocks of Spiritual righteousness that comes by living by faith and every Word from the mouth of the Lord.  

Volume In Church And Hearing With The Spirit  

As to folks carrying on in worship or occasional loud preaching or praise and prophesying or music in church- I'm guessing you don't mind some occasional loudness at your local high school football game, or at a NFL football game? Like when the quarterback calls an audible that results in a touchdown for your team? Or, when your team's coach yells to a defensive player, who might even be your child, from the sidelines not to miss an assignment?

With the gift of the Spirit you will also be able to hear (at just the right volume needed for you) the major Word based Holy Ghost audibles God calls in your life. These will ensure that you stay true to Him, to HIS Word and Spirit, in the grip of his salvation, so as to bear gospel fruit and finish the race of faith too.  

And yet truth be told, sometimes there is a real problem with "too loud" this or that in church- especially when this is not congruent with the Holy Ghost and our valid discernment. Sometimes 'too loud' means the acoustics of the church need to be improved or the greater difficulty gifted folks might have-who are still growing in their gifts- of playing drums or guitars. Whereas, thanks be to our holy and gracious music loving God- keyboards seem to consistantly please Him, and almost everybody else. So sometimes louder is just fine for keyboards.

As to proper sound in churches, there is also the need for everybody in a church to recognize that the Holy Ghost gift of tech-media production is also a great and necessary gift. This often hard to find gifted person is vital in today's modern churches, which need to recognize and insist on adequate modern production values, such as properly mixed sound at the right volume, in church media.

People sometimes leave churches and do not even know why. My theory, this is not gospel, is that it isn't necesssarily the quality of the music and preaching- but that almost everybody nowadays is used to good production values- and at the very least- they want to hear clearly and comfortably.      

New Things In Church?

I also detected a hint in your question that you might not be ready for some "new" things in church. But bear with me- I suppose your work and your family require that you know and learn new things all the time- to say keep your job, and help your employer survive, and thus to help you raise up your family? Good parents keep parenting when new things happen in their lives families, so wouldn't good bible based Christians keep faithing when new things happen in their lives and churches?

Jesus said to his first disciples Peter and Andrew 'come and see' how he lives. So perhaps, He will also tell you to "go and see" how good local churches do church- who take both the Word and the Spirit seriously- and where the Holy Spirit is usually present. (Not always perhaps!) But it's a joy to show up in a church where our God, who is Spirit, is consistantly present.

Further as to volume, why should an occasional little higher volume or an occasional new thing like praise tongues really bother you? If it's good enough to be in the bible, which forbids that we forbid tongues (1Cor.14,39), well then brother, I reckon it's good enough to be in your church too. That being said, all the post Pentecost realities- like tongues, and all manner of prophecy, and healing can be done inside and outside of church worship service time in a proper and orderly fashion as the church learns to be practically and Spiritually guided by God (1Cor. 14,40).

(And sensitive matters of deliverance and healing can always be attended too- in a safe, accountable, and confidential manner, after services, and these are best done by a trained folks who are part of an experienced team.) 

The Pentecostal-gospel movement (it's not a church!) is built on the bible faith and practice of the first Apostles and the initial Jewish-Christian gospel movement begun at Pentecost. This gospel movement, with Holy Ghost fire, was meant to sweep the whole world within forty years. Then Jesus would come back (Mt.24,34;Mark13,30;Lk21,32).

Just Forty years! That's how powerful and fast acting this fiery gospel Spirit was that came down at the first Pentecost. 

This Pentecost Spirit was necessary and normal for the healthy faith life of the first local churches of the New Testament.

For example, in Ephesus per Acts 19,3 these committed and faithful folks had never even heard of the Holy Spirit, let alone recall receiving it as a gift at first faith, or having been baptised in it. The ignorance of this gift promised to all according to Acts2,39 is sometimes, or even often, still evident today.

So Paul made the church at Ephesus understand that this gift was necessary and to be sought after, and then received with dispatch.

Moreover, this gift was not just to be received in Ephesus in the earliest days of the church, it was also to be sought and maintained and heard about and received all throughout Asia Minor, in each local churches as evidenced by Revelation2-3. These chapters teach us that as these churches grew older each faced its own particular challenges. The risen Jesus, as discerned by John The Revelator, the prophet-pastor in time of crisis like Daniel of old, wanted the Spirit, and thus the Word, to be lived and maintained in each of the seven  churches of Asia Minor.

This is a good and ongoing lesson for all churches throughout the ages of the Christian gospel movement. We know Jesus wanted the faith and Holy Spirit given and maintained then and there at Ephesus, and we know He wants the very same for us in our present day. We know this by the fact that as the risen God-man He walked in the midst of each of the churches then and there in and around Ephesus, as he will do even today in our churches- wherever two or three who have saving faith are gathered in His Name. Matthew18,20; Revelation2,2.

Don't you see son of man? Don't you see woman of God?

Having seen Jesus with his own gift of the Spirit, John the Revelator tunes in to Jesus' prophetic Word and guiding presence for excercising his prophetic ministry for each local church at Chapters2 and 3. Then John wrote down and shared the spiritual state of each church with it according to the gentle but firm Spiritual encouragement and words of Jesus, not to mention a correction or two.

Wouldn't we rather seek and receive the gift of the Spirit and then be gently encouraged, and corrected now and then by our merciful God living inside us, whose voice we recognize (John10,27), than reproved and rebuked by negative and corrective circumstances and consequences that sometimes visit those who have distanced themselves from God, His Word, His Spirit, and voice. 

The particular words and encouragment and corrections of Revelation2 and 3 demonstrate that each church throughout every age needs not only to maintain the Holy Spirit in it, but also hear and see and respond to what the Spirit is saying right then and there- so as to gain practical and wise direction from God himself, for gospel fruitfulness, and for perseverance in trial, and to finish the salvation race.  

The precious gift of the Holy Spirit and the prophetic Word heard at the first Pentecost and in the local churches of Asia Minor and elsewhere in the New Testament define the initial Christian Gospel movement, and still can and should define our faith norms. God hasn't changed. He is just as mighty and miraclous and loving now as He was then.

The Gift of The Spirit Founds Local Churches

This gift of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel Word founded the local churches then, and does so now in or own day too. These are the two most basic requirements that make individuals and families group themselves into a church congregation- personal faith unto the gift of the Holy Ghost and accepting the Word in the local community as received by the Spirit. Only with the gift of the Spirit can the gospel Word be lived out and biblically based and thus rightly organize itself and spell out the Spiritual norms of the local church, and thereby help each and all in the congregation in his or her individual faith lives.

Praise God Justin for your hunger and thirst for the gift of God's Spirit. Be encouraged in the the enduring gospel Word, and the Spirit, which light God's path for each of our lives and churches.

Right From The Start Christianity Faced Great Challenges To Keep The Apostolic Word And The Gift Of The Spirit

But bible based and Spirit led Christianity- right from the start- was faced with great challenges. This Pentecost empowered gospel movement, peopled at first by predominantly Jewish believers, soon lost its welcome in Jerusalem as a result of the Jewish-Roman conflicts between 66 and 134 AD (which Christians were not keen to participate in). These ongoing conflicts caused many Jews, including Christian Jews, to be exiled from Judah and Israel.

So Christianity, relatively early in its history, had to soon plant itself outside of the relative comfort of initially being one of many Jewish sects, and thus worthy of the freedom of religion that was customarily given by the Roman Empire to the Jews, who had ably carved out this exception around the Greco Roman World.

But as Christianity grew and aged a bit, it was clear from say 1Peter2 that it was to be a new Spiritual house, or Spiritual temple, ie living stones- both Jews and gentiles- built on the risen cornerstone of the risen Jesus. This was a new and prophetic gospel people was defined by the fact that they had personal faith, salvation, and the gift of the Spirit in them, not by whether they had a physical building or were a powerful institution, but by the Word and Spirit they were God's gospel house with the risen Jesus. In this gospel house, what we call the "church", and outside of it too, they were all called to announce the wonders of our gospel of salvation to all the nations and peoples of the world (1Peter2,8-9).

Despite this robust and stirring and unifying new constitutional theology of one new gospel people- Jew and gentile- at 1Peter2- as Christianity became more and more peopled by non Jewish folks, and grew increasingly distinct from Judaism, it was increasingly challenged and faced with the occasional hostility, and competition, among the various gentile adherents of the whole Pantheon of Greco Roman religious expression as it grew and departed from the synagogues and ventured out on its own. 

What happened in this challenge?

In short, Christianity and its feldgling Jewish-gentile mixed local churches were gobsmacked by the varied and entrenched worship of false gods of the Greco Roman world. This was a religious world peopled and often organized by particular male and female priesthoods with well established and entrenched religious operations within the religious marketplace and territories of the Roman empire.

And of course we can't fail to mention that the Roman Caesars, as the Republic fell in 42 BC, now considered themselves divine and wanted to be called "Lord." Caesar "Augustus" (formerly Octavian) meant "honored and worshipped one."  His father Julius Caesar was declared enthroned in heaven with the gods, deified after he died! So, Caesar Augustus was the worshipped son of a deified one, ie the son of god, who saved Rome from constant civil war, and thus was also known as savior  too! see Ray Vander Laan

And as you know Justin we Christians already have our only one Lord and Savior, and His NAME is JESUS. And even before the divinized Caesars there was also Dea Roma divinizing Rome and her culture. In time the whole empire was effectively divinized with its proud and lofty Pax Romana and its military sense of conquering, its extensive legal prowess and public works projects, and its athletic amusement contests at the Colliseum or Forum that could end with death- just as the Caesar decreed. 

Looking back and learning more about the seductive Pantheon of Greco Roman gods- all the claims of these false religions and their customary military type parades and powers and politics and civil servant specialized priesthoods we might be struck by all that local bible based Christianity faced and had to deal with and overcome, not to mention martyrdom. I am also struck that the power and breath of Roman Empire politics and religious expression in the empire- all of which seems to thrive on and is still with us today according to the age upon age fascination with worldly power, and spectacle, and self glorying parades (not to mention sin) amidst the pomps and dramas and admixtures of politics and religions and culture(s) of the Greco Roman world.

Oh my- it's amazing any semblance of fledgling biblical and Spirit gifted Christianity in the local church survived, or survives, up to and in our present age!

It was sort of like the early centuries of Christianity in the Greco Roman world and its empire was akin to the time of the book of Judges when Israel entered the promised land. It was a mighty spiritual lift over hundreds of years to avoid- and not accomodate or facilitate- Canaanite pagan religious practices that could have wiped out the faith of God's chosen people.

But praise Jesus this fledgling intial Christian people, knowing not much more than salvation is from the Jews, and that Jesus was Lord, somehow survived because they had the gift of the Spirit and our one gospel Message: 

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved." ESV Acst4,12

New Testament Also Introduces Us To Our Battle To Keep The Gospel Word,  And The Gift Of The Spirit,  And The Local Church 

The New Testament itself introduces us to the fact that Christianity right from the start was in fierce competition with the religious systems and idols of the Roman empire.  At 1Corinthians15,32 Paul states he "fought with beasts at Ephesus" (1Corinthians15,32) ie the beastly ungodly pagain religious stronghold of Artemis and her Epehesian Artemesion Temple ("one of the seven wonders of the world"). This temple sold a profitable shapely idol of their goddess (Acts19,35). Paul's Apostolic preaching of the true revelation of our one Lord, one baptism and one faith, seriously upset the pagan civic and religious economy of Ephesus. This ungodly Artemesion led stronghold could have steamrolled local Christianity in Ephesus if that local church didn't hold on tight to their precious gift of the Spirit and the saving gospel Word of God.

Similarly, the same Apostle Paul also prophesies as he left Ephesus of future "savage wolves" who would come into the flock and not spare it. Were these folks Juidaizers, who more or less wanted all gentile male Christians to be circumcized, as in Galatia, sent from Jerusalem spying on their freedom? See Galatians

Or, were these future gentile leaders untethered to the prophetic Jewish scriptural roots and instead gentile hierarchical lords that Jesus told his twelve Jewish apostles not to be:

 "But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant..." MATTHEW20,25-26 NRSV 

Savage Wolves: Hierachical Gentiles Or Legalistic Jews: 

"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." Acts20,28-30 NIV

John the Revelator at Revelation2,6 seemingly picks up what right where Paul was prophesying about in the future to the church at Ephesus!  And then later at Revelation2,15 to the church at Pergamum as well. 

At Revelation2,6 he is speaking of the controlling deeds done by Nicolaitans. Nicolaitan is a (gentile) Greek rooted word (like the Greek name "Nicholas") meaning to dominate, to conquer and control. In the Greco Roman religious context it suggests a civil servant type of religious expert who officially rules and ministers on behalf of a state-empire religion. As to Christianity the first controlling deed was perhaps who could adult baptise in the first 100 years of the church, an issue that continues to be a controversial topic for some churches even today.

And then at Revelation2,15 John refers to and prophesies about the present and future controlling doctrines of  the "Nicolaitans"-  something like who got to lead the Lord's supper may have come up, or who got to preach as the centuries passed and Christianity became the official church of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century. Then the practice of infant baptism- which was sporactic in the third and fourth centuries- became the Roman centered doctrine and norm by the fifth and sixth century. 

Practice and Doctrine of Infant Baptism Distanced Christinaity From The Spirit  And The Word And The Local Church And Made It A Roman Institution  

Institutional based Infant baptism and doctrine disregards the prophetic written Word and the gift of the Spirit and the local church focus and practice of the New Testament. It changed Christianity from bible based salvation built on a demonstrated personal and repentant faith expressed by covenantal adult water baptism to the institutionally decreed salvation and gift of the spirit by infant baptism. Its practice and doctrine exalted the institutional official priesthhood of the church in the specialist civil servant mode of the Greco Roman political religious world and obscured the universal gospel priesthood of all Christians (1Peter2,5 and 9) announcing the gospel wonders of salvation by faith to all the world. Only this latter bible based priesthood fulfills Exodus19,5-6 which reveals that God always wanted all his people to be holy and faithful priests which is fulfilled in the universal gospel priesthood of Christianity, in the local church, both Jew and gentile, of 1Peter2,5 and 9. 

This new Priesthood of all adult baptized and Spirit gifted is called on to offer living or Spiritual sacrifices (1Peter2,5), such as adult baptism and the Lord's Supper and also the spiritual sacrifice of announcing Jesus' miraculous wonders and saving deeds 1Peter2,8-9, ie preaching the gospel which Paul describes as his "priestly service." Romans15,16

These claims and the biblical, and constitutional promises of 1Peter2, such as the gospel priesthood of all who are adult baptized, are clearly not just promises made to Jews or gentiles in the early church, but to all people, for all time, and are also built upon our one saving personal faith in Jesus and the promise of the gift of the Spirit at Acts2,39 to all. 

It is by our personal saving faith that brings this gift of the Spirit that we become living stones in the Spiritual Temple that is the Christian house, the temple, the church. This is not firstly an institution accomodated to the Greco Roman religious fashion, as inherited by the Roman Catholic church, and not a building either, but a new priestly gospel people made holy by the gift of the Spirit promised to all.

This gift of the Holy Spirit to all follows up on the salvational promise to Abraham at Genesis 12,3 that all the nations, the gentiles too, would be saved through Abraham, through his example of personal faith, through a like same faith in our one God of Israel, whose Son was Jesus, incarnated in flesh, king of the Jews, who also by personal faith, now rules, and will rule in the Kingdom even better than did Abraham of old.

This bible priesthood both Jew and gentile wasn't cultural appropriation by us gentiles from the Jews. Not at all- for we are not ever to forget that salvation is of the Jews. John4,22 We also don't forget Paul reminded gentiles for all time at Romans11,17 that we gentiles are a wild grafted in branch to their salvation tree. But our mutual story of salvation is one and the same- written by God's grace and built on the personal faith of each of us, and by God's gift of the Spirit and salvation, to all of us.  

But the local church and the gift of the Spirit and salvation by personal faith bases of the New Testament got all turned around by accomodation of Greco Roman religious customs and values and forms and governance models and priesthoods. The gospel house of Christianity, and the living stones and gospel priesthood of 1Peter2, got seduced, swept up and replaced by the hierarchical, political-cultural, gentile religious and political practices of the Greco Roman world, which thrived in empire and was centered in Rome.

This rapid turn from the New Testament practices and promises was also built up on the notion that the Apostle Peter, sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew10,6) actually pastored there. Yet we know from Acts that it was the Apostle Paul, who actually got there, to assert his legal rights to be tried there for making a ruckus after allegedly bringing a gentile into the Temple, among his fellow co-religionists back in Jerusalem.

Moreover, Paul  makes no mention at all of Peter ever having been to Rome. But he does say at Romans15,20 that that he doesn't like to build on what another [apostle] planted. This very likely means that Paul wouldn't have gone to Rome if Peter had founded that local church. Likewise, we also learn at Acts19,21 Paul must go there, as compelled and constrained by God and because he must impress his Apostolic teaching as the Apostle of the gentiles, (Romans11,13; Galatians2,7 and 1Timothy2,7), since Rome was the center of the gentile Roman empire. It had not received his Word based, Spirit led, prophetic Apostolic teaching and preaching, which was his gospel bible based priestly service. Romans15,16

This is the central story and theme of the entire book of Acts- Paul had to go and then actually got to Rome where as Apostle to the gentiles, he confirms once and for all the everlasting gospel of Jesus for the benefit of gentiles and the posterity of Christianity. 

Yes at 1Peter5,13 Peter sends his parting greetings from "Babylon"- but nothing in 1Peter suggests this sign off is used here as a synonym of pagan Rome and its Empire hostile to Christians, or as a semi secretive term, as in the book of Revelation. Nothing in 1Peter demands that Peter, or Silvanus (1Peter5,12) his scribe, to write in code. Thus, this "Baybylon" sign off is more likely a referance to Babylon in the Nile Delta of Egypt, or in the South of Mesopotamia, which is roughly across the Arabian desert. 

So the Roman institutional and provincial territorial church model, complete with later powerful Christian converts from the the Roman political-cultural-religious world, some of whom quickly became bishops, solidified itself by competing with and gaming (cf Allen Brent) and adopting or accomodating itself to the secular Roman Empire's hierarchical systems and structures and political and religious territorial jurisdictions and systems of power, prestige and worldy influence.

And thus our biblical faith norms of adult full immersion water baptism unto receiving the gift of the Spirit (Acts2,38-39), and the centrality of the local church as governed by the Word and the Spirit, was more or less eventually overwhelmed by the norms of Greco Roman religious-political-cultural-territorial institutionalism.

How could this happen? It happened, generally speaking, because any local church, and any church system, even a small church or a local church can start in the Spirit and end in the flesh within decades, let alone after martyrdom and conflict and competition and poverty. As Paul admonished the local church in Galatia: "Are you so foolish? After beininning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?" Galatians3,3 (NIV) 

Two Central Historic Happenstances Distract From Word And Gift Of Spirit And Local Church 

Speaking more specifically, there were two central historic happenstances that decidedly took the Pentecost inspired Christian gospel movement away from the Word and the gift of the Spirit and the local church.

Firstly, as the secular Roman Empire began to wane, the emperor Constantine in the beginning of the fourth century wanted to solidy his power in Rome, and more importantly to buttress his newly minted Eastern power base in his namesake new city of Constantinople founded in 330AD. So he decided that the Christian church, having well competed and gamed with the religious and political powers of the secular Roman empire, would serve his present political purposes and become the official religion of a hoped for more unified Empire.

So he made peace with Christianity, and flattered it with free public buildings, and as time passed our biblical and Spirit gifted faith became more and more co-opted from its Spiritual and biblical and local roots. And Greco Roman based Christianity- having been somewhat poor and long suffering and occasionally martyrific in relation to the Roman empire- apparently welcomed this.

This is often still presented as some sort of victory for Christianity!

But in hindsight, any remnant of biblical Christianity by the early fourth century did not have the strength, or the Holy Ghost gumption, or the cautionary practical ddiplomatic or prophetic foresight, to refuse Constantine when he crashed what was meant to be biblical Christianity's separate Holy Ghost and Word based party. 

So, as the official religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity soon forgot that Jesus said "render unto to Casear that which belongs to Caesar, and to God that which belongs to God." Luke20,20-26. This meant very simply put- don't sell out, stay separate, don't become a statist or imperial institution. 

Christianity had drifted from the Word, and the local center of biblical practice, and the gift of the Spirit as its bases. Thus, Roman centered Christianity became fixed on its worldly, centralized institutional model that quickly became the norm of all Christianity.  

The whole bible teaches us that no empire and no state religion has ever accepted the Word and Spirit of God as given by the God of Israel per his two testaments! None of the empires that ever persecuted the people of God ever merited, or has had, or ever will have, the right to crash Israel's or our Christian bible faith based Holy Ghost and Word based locally constituted assembly- not the Assyrians, not the Babylonians, not the Greeks, not the Roman empire, not the final ungodly and new fangled confederated nations empire that will groom and then debut its future incarnate-like Satan, as visible Antichrist, in the last days.

This visible antichrist at the head of a final false political-religious empire will happen right after us bible faith folks- still wth the gift of the Spirit and our personal saving faith- get raptured! Praise God for the rapture! We'll be gone and safe. And then the seven year tribulation starts.  

The whole Judeo Christian bible teaches that the faithful prophetic people of God are a free people (Isreal dwells alone! Separate from the nations) and an anointed people and a Holy people- ie a separated unto God for his use and in service to Him. Even our "Zion" millennial Kingdom will be separate and locally based in Israel according to the written Word..

Ongoing Faith Freedom Requires The Gift Of The Spirit  

Part and parcel of our faith freedom (for freedom Christ set us free) Jesus gained for us by dying and rising is that we as God's people seek and reach out and faithfully grasp by faith the fullness of the Spirit that was promised to us by Jesus' Word, and by Jesus' shed blood, of our man-God-Savior and Lord Jesus, the shed blood of the Word made flesh, of the same incarnate God of Calvary who promises us all the gift of the Spirit at Acts2,39.

This gift of the Spirit is the gift of all gifts, the surpassing gift, the gift of God, who is Spirit, living in us, God Himself to each of us and in us forever! Yes the Spirit shows us, demonstrates for us the fullness of salvation in His Name, while we journey with and for and unto Him! And HIS Kingdom. This is a gift without any comparable measure!  

The second historic happenstance that derailed Christianity from the Word and Spirit and local Church model is, as we mentioned a couple times, is infant baptism. Infant baptism is nowhere in the bible. Adult biblical baptism, full immersion, is in the New Testament. The Jews in Jerusalem in Judah, some possibly expecting their messiah, and some seeking washing from impurity, had been practicing adult baptism for at least 200 years. John's baptism was a repentance baptism for His Jewish compatriots, but since Jesus rose adult baptism in his Name is more than just a repentant act of faith. Adult baptism is a personal act of faithful covenantal love and service, and as such is vitally related to the gift of the Spirt (Acts2,39)- which we will address further in a bit.

Do You Have Your Infant Baptism Certificate?    

I am going to make a parallel between one's certificate of Roman empire citizenship and Christendom's infant baptism citizenship certificate when it became the custom and doctrine of the fifth and sixth century.

I think we can all follow this teaching about infant baptism, and then you can decide for yourselves just how much you think infant took Christianity away from the local church model, the gift of the Spirit and the Word of the bible.  

As to Roman citizenship- we might remember that Acts22,21-29 is about the ruckus that was created in Jerusalem after some non Christian Jewish folks from Asia Minor, who likely knew of Paul's successful efforts there, then saw Paul back in the Jerusalem, in the Temple. So they create a ruckus by saying at Acts21,28 that Paul brought gentiles into the temple, which he didn't, which would have profaned the Temple. So they want to kill him on this pretext and lie.

So, the Roman soldiers try to protect Paul's life and start to bring him to their barracks. But Paul convinces his leading soldier protector to allow him to preach to his own people who are just about to kill him. Paul tells them that he is a "true born Jew" from Tarsus in Cilicia, and that he is well-trained up in the law of the Jewish faith, and even in fact studied under the leading Rabbi Gamaliel. Then the ruckus gets hot again when he tells the story of his conversion and that Jesus was sending him to the gentiles, to non Jews. As Paul relates this latter material the Jewish crowd starts to again threaten and shout him down and wanting again to kill him.

So the Roman soldier loses patience with Paul and ties him up to be be lashed. So Paul reminds him and this retinue that they can't flog him because he is a Roman citizen and hasn't been found guilty of anything. The Commandant Roman Soldier tells Paul that he paid a lot of money to get his Roman citizenship, but Paul says he was born a Roman citizen (v.28), meaning his parents were citizens.

If your parents were Roman citizens you were automatically a citizen. It is not this way in the good old USA. You can become a citizen of the good old USA by merely being born here. But that's not the way it was in the Roman empire, your parents had to be citizens.

As a Roman citizen Paul had certain cradle to grave rights and benefits, such as the right to have his ruckus case in Jerusalem heard in Rome. This suited him well because as the Lord's Apostle to the gentiles he wanted to bring the gospel there. And by his arduous and perilous journey, and his portentious and blessedly ambitious writing of Romans, he showed how serious he was in confirming the one true gospel in the city and empire that very well could have obliterated Christianity, but for God's grace.

Paul recogizes that his critics are having a tough time accepting the demanding weightiness of his letters in the face of unimpressive physical speaking presence (2Corinthians10,10). But in Romans he brought a gospel message that was a theological masterpiece, real serious, real provocative, to a place and a posterity that really really needed to hear it.

Reading the introduction of Romans I am convinced that Paul's desire to especially preach the gospel in Rome was put in his heart by God. It is my assessment of Paul's introduction to Romans that Paul sensed- by the Holy Ghost- what God already knew. It was here, in the center of the Greco Roman world that the gospel of universal salvation could, but for God's grace, be stopped or obliterated, or even irreparably changed. I don't think Paul had the book of Revelation in his spirit about the history of the true faith winning in the end against the last wordly Babylonian-"Roman" interation of empire and religion as John the Revelator clearly did. But I think in his spirit Paul knew Rome was the stronghold of strongholds, Ephesus on steroids, though he had no reason to get all apocalyptic about it in detail as yet, as John the Revelator did some time later.

So in his long introduction in this book of Romans, Paul interestingly speaks of humanity's "wickedness that has always stifled the truth." Romans1,18. 

In the bible what goes with truth most often? Spirit! No doubt Paul knew for example that the Spirit of the local church of say Phillipi, after hearing him preach the gospel, and the spirit of Rome when he arrived there as a prisoner were different and different in scope and scale as well.

But truth be told Paul did respect the Roman legal system and his Roman Citizenship. He had confidence that he would prevail in his legal matters and have his opportunity to preach the gospel.    

Roman citizenship in the Republic and then the empire was a prized possession, as it still especially is in the Western European nations, which generously take care fo the health and welfare of their citizens. In the Roman Republic citizenship grew out so to speak from the city itseff, ie Roman men could exercise the highest rights granted by citizenship, which was to vote, and to own property make contracts and so on. Sometime later on citizenship was offerred to partially integrate military allies or one time foes of Rome who made peace treaties with her. Part of the secular genius of the Roman Republic and empire derived from the rights and responsibilities and the state grant of citizenship. Citizenship was a great forward step in civilzation and law. It began with the started Greeks I believe. Paul was very happy to invoke it. It provided him with the right to have his case heard in Rome, and escape the grave harm threatened in Jerusalem- even death at the hands of his religious enemies.

Judicious administration of citizenship in the secular Western Roman empire, and in the republic before ther empire, was one of the reasons that the empire lasted over 500 years before it ended in 476 AD. It provided cradle to grave rights and repsonsibilities to those who had it.

So we can all follow this parallel. Roman citizenship saved Paul's life. It organized the institution of the empire and brought stability and wealth to the republic and then later to the secular Roman empire. Likewise, infant baptism fully organized the institution of Roman Christianity, and birthed Holy Roman Empire Christianity. This was a brithing away from local Christinaity, away from the gift of the Spirit, away from the Spiritual borthing of adult baptism, and away from the New Testament and its prophetic Jewish roots.

Infant baptism brought Roman Christianity and the later Holy Roman Empire (inaugerated in with the coronation of Chalemagne in 800 AD by Rome's religious leader) stability and wealth and made it a territorial church of Roman political-religious provinces. And it also gave Rome based Christianity a similar cradle to grave system of institutional church administration that now included its very own non bible and non Spirit based, and non personal faith based institutional ability to give the gift of the Spirit and salvation at infant baptism.

In infant baptism, the institutional Roman church decreed for itself the power to grant the Spirit and salvation of God that only God gives by grace by way of personal faith. The Roman institution was really only giving its institutional claim to adminster salvation, whereas  it is the God (who is Spirit) of the bible and Jesus Christ Himself who administer salvation after personal repentant faith whereby God Himself imparts His Spirit and salvation- according to the pattern and witness of His written Word.     

There was nothing in church or secular history more detrimental to the biblical model of local Christian faith- with the accompanying gift of the Sprit and the prophetic Word- than the false security of the cradle to grave Roman institutional based salvation-church citizenship, and later Holy Roman empire citizenship, as infant baptism.

Given that infant baptism is not in the bible and requires no personal faith at all, it is not hard to conclude that it was and still is the quintessential doctrine of Christendom, decreed at the convenience of men for the sake of their institutional religious power and wealth. The Holy Roman Empire was soon fully born out of this very institututional non biblical rule.

(As the saying goes "hatch" - infant baptism, "match" - marriage and "dispatch" - funeral.)   

Infant baptism- practiced by both many Protestant chrurches and by all Roman chruches up to our present day- also obscures and ignores- the vital and clearly written biblical personal faith-covenantal link between adult water baptism and the promise of the gift of the Spirit of Acts2,28. 

Why don't we all just humble ourselves and go back to getting salvation the way God says in His Word? Praise God hallelujah.   

In other words Justin, you not having the gift of the Spirit yet could be related to whether or not you have been adult water baptized with personal faith. Many Protestants up to this very day also practice infant baptism and also became state churches too. And thus infant baptizing Protestant churches also have similar pettifogging and non biblical doctrines as Rome about the gift of the Spirit and the Word in relation to infant baptism. These Christendom Proestants also built up- right from the start- similar hierarchical official state institutionally, and politcally based territorial religions with it.

And you might appreciate this- when it comes to the gift of the Spirit amidst the Protestant Reformation some Protestants were Anabaptists, rebatizers, like me today. They realized the need for adult baptism even after the bible and Spirit fail of infant baptism, and then they were sometimes martyred and hated by both the state church Catholic infant baptizers and state church Protestant infant baptizers. 

But Acts2,38-39 definitely links the adult water and the Spirit baptism. It says "repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and your children, and to all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God may call.' NEB     

Infant baptism also sapped the covenantal personal saving faith of adult baptism. It became the new certificate for church citizenship and citizenship in the Holy Roman Empire- as if this church citizenship granted salvation and the gift of the Spirit when we know by God's Word and Spirit that it doesn't.

How could infant baptism ever have been proposed? I don't or bet on anything, but I'll say this: 10,000 people could read the New Testament a thousand times and I don't assess that even one of them would have come up with the idea of infant baptism.   

Lets go a little deeper. Here's how it happened. Augustine was from Roman Northern Africa, Thagaste (now Algeria). He was a well studied man of modest economic background in the Greco Roman world. He lived from the mid fourth century into the fifth cnetury- 354 to 430 AD. So he lived and died before the secular Western Roman Empire fell in 476 AD. He was a Roman citizen who repented in 387AD, and got adult baptized, having been befriended and helped by Bishop Ambrose of Milan. He was ordained a priest four years later.

But he apparently had a pretty fearful view about our all good God, who is Spirit. He couldn't reconcile the goodness and mercy and justice of God as to infants who hadn't been baptized. I suppose Augustine- being a relatively new convert- didn't realize that God's Word is sufficient for our salvation and for our understanding of Him too.

And yes there are three New Testament passages that refer to household, or family baptisms, whereby adults and children get baptized at the same time- Acts16,15 and Acts33,1 and 1Corinthians1,16. 

But the New Testament does not ever say or countenance infant baptism. Children can repent and have personal faith.

Now Augustine wrote some big books and became this church's "expert" on original sin. Apparently, he was more convinced of humanity's original sin than humanity's original blessing. This was a time when all the intellectual grandees like Augustine really went all out trying to explain the Trinity and other doctrinal topics and matters and spent way more on studying certain popular subjects rather than studying the whole bible. One of the reasons this was so was that having a whole bible yourself, or easy access to one, was not likely at all. Well Augustine he was no intellectual slouch, and he decided to take on the issue of original sin in relation to infant baptism. What does the bible say about thinking ourselves wise? I'd say mayby he started to obsess about what happens to the souls of infants who die without baptism? I am guessing this is because he was a Manichean philosopher prior to becoming a Christian. It was a Parthian (now Iran) religion founded in the third century after Jesus that believed in strict dualism of good and evil, material world evil, and spirit world good.

But we are co-heirs of the Jews and we know right from the book of Genesis that we are made in the Spiritual image and likeness of Jesus. (Genesis1,26-28) And material creation, and Adam and Eve in their bodily forms, are also "good" in the garden, and God is there too as the Tree of Life. And as the ruler of the garden, He made one rule which Eve and Adam sure could have obeyed.

As made in God's good Spiritual image, by personal and repentant faith in Jesus, this Spiritual image in humanity starts to shine again and then Acst2,39 and 1Corinthians6,19 gives us the confidence to know that we can also contain him inside our bodies, our temples, as Christians. And also learn and learn many good things about him and how to serve and love him and neighbor from the Word. Our word based faith and His gift of the Spirit truly can bring back the full Spiritual image and likeness to God in us. 

And that's way way good! This is the best humanity we can and will ever be- that is- God lives in us.

So why would we get hung up like Augustine apparently did on the morose topic of original sin and infant baptism? Infants grow up, have personal faith according to the Word and their Godly Spiritual image is restored by the Spirit.

Someone should have said "Br. Augustine. Trust me. God has it all figured out."

Or someone else accurately told him "Br. Augustine this is not your problem!"

Or, "Don't you think God would have put infant baptism in the New Testament if he wanted us to baptize infants?" 

But mayby there was nobody around his intellectual circle that had a complete copy, or accurate copy or had read the whole bible, and who could study the books they had with rigor and in the original languages in which they were written. As we noted it was a time when all the grandees of the church were caught up in the intellectual study of dogma, making creeds, and studying Greek philosophies, and other topics, but very few, precious, save like Jerome could bear down on the rather prosaic task of systematically studying the whole scripture.   

Now the Catholic church had plenty of folks- like the teacher Tertullian- who right away, when the issue first arose in about 206 AD said "No" to infant. Because it goes against the whole turn of New Testament salvation by personal faith. What's "new" in the New Testament is not more rituals and more laws like those in the Hebrew Scriptures, but personal adult faith, and a new circumcized and repentant heart that now has God, who is Spirit, in it.

When I was seminary, I did not have the full gift of the Spirit, and I brought up what I thought was a good question, in my still somewhat unSpiritual mind anyway. It was 'can God be more merciful in salvation than his Word reveals?' And it was me sort of obsessing about the the clarity and severity of God's Word while Augustine seemed more intersted in the big intellectual topics of the day. Theoretically, of course God could be more merciful than his word! But His Word is not all theoretical. It is not primarily intellectual. It is not something to be toyed with by theories and philosophies world weary stinking thinking and questions that are already answered by the bible, no matter how smart we are! It is something written and to be obeyed and studied to show ourselves approved. So I have long since learned and happy to learn that my theoretical question if answered in the affiirmative, makes God capricious, which God isn't. He's all good and always good and his written Word is always sufficient and right. We know this firstly and lastly by reading and studying accurate and complete translations in languages we can understand.  

My question was errant because it was also trying to find a loophole, mayby Augustine was looking for a loophole for infants. But God is not angry with infants, nor did God inspire the New Testament teaching on baptisms as if he were a person who had relatively recently exited out of dualistic non biblical mindset like Augustine. And instead God wants adults to repent and live by faith and get adult baptized and receive the accompanying gift of the Spirit. We modern humans have the clear opportunity to study the whole word (Notice Nehemiah8,18: post exile Israel wanted to hear the whole law of Moses read to them over seven days!) rather than trying to find some tricky question or difficult issue or topic that in effect tries to cross examine God, as if God would back off his Word, and then agree with us, at one of our questions!

We humans can't just decree salvation and the gift of the Spirit the way we say rather than the way it is written. We Christians are like Israel of old, we are also a people of the book. We can joyfully also say 'it is written!' These are to my ears three of the most beautiful words I have ever heard or utterred. It is written. And as such His Word is perfect, complete, sufficient, not theoretical, and so sufficient, and it imparts a liberation of our minds and spirits. The higher-Spiritual consciousness given us is not built on presumption and human intelligence but on personal repentant faith in Jesus and a healthy reverence for the Lord and respect for His Word which is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs9,10 

As such, His Word doesn't need our theories and hypothetical questions and improvements. All we need to know, as mere humans, of God's Word is written and understandable by us upon our diligent study.  

Adult faith baptism- it is written! It is written that the gift of personally repentant baptismal faith is connected to the gift of the Spirit for everybody. Why are we being so stubborn against adult baptism? I don't get it my friends! Is it because Roman and Protestant Christendom churches have largely built their very institutions on it and now don't want to correct themselves by following the complete Word, which we now all have, and now have all studied?

When something is written in God's Word- praise God- it is eternally settled- no theories needed! No more doubtful questions. His Word is like He is- always just, always good, always edifying, always right, and always sufficient for our instruction and practice, even if it may not suit our institutional business plan. But what matters is the savation of souls and the receipt of the Spirit and the biblical model of a healthy local church.  

It is written! 

All you and I need to know about adult baptism is in the Word. Matthew29,19; Acts 2,36-39, the book of Acts. Romans6-8. Adult baptism in all these scriptures is also related to the gift of the Spirit. Salvation happens according to his Word, and water baptism is according to his Word is a personal faith choice, the right choice, and Acts2,36 says it something we all "must" do.

Augustine's theology about infant baptism was wrong. Smart guy. It was a "good" idea, but not a God idea.   

I am guessing Augustine was sincere, but once we go from teaching bible doctrines to our good ideas sincere or not, we are messing up! And we can't just blame Augustine or any institution for our infant baptism when we now know better now as adults.

So Augustine's original sin fears, and no infant baptism, gripped Christianity and then infant baptism divorced the entrance into the Christian community from its most essential personal faith covenantal aspect. Likewise it effectively divorced much of Christianity from the freedom and actual receipt of the Spirit that is given to repentant and personally faithul adults upon their adult full immersion baptism. Don't be afraid Justin, don't be proud or loyal to non biblical teaching, be faithful- just start your present biblical faith like they did again in Ephesus at Acts 19- ADULT FAITH BAPTISM, PRAYER FOR THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT RECEIVED IN THE ONE FELL SWOOP OF BIBLICAL SALVATION like in the book of Acts.

Infant also baptism obliterates this one fell swoop biblical salvation by personal faith- profession, repentance, adult baptism and gift of the Spirit all of which require personal faith.  

So what happened back in fifth and sixth century? 

The church empire outlasted her seductive mentor the Roman secular empire. Roman Christianity won her battle with the secular empire, but it lost its struggle to stay in the Spirit, in the Word, and to stay separate-holy- and local, and became another cradle to grave institutional political and religious empire, which by accomodating the secular empire's customs and culture literally ruled the world for the next thousand years.

Infant baptism in the fifth and sixth centuries and beyond provided the nascent Holy Roman Empire religious empire with the one thing it lacked before it could truly succeed the Roman Empire, the cradle to grave church salvation and citizenship certificate of infant baptism. This baptism wasn't Word or Spirit, but 100 percent instutional decree mode. Seemed like a good idea. Too bad it isn't salvation! 

But in fact it was the way The Holy Roman Empire conquered and ruled, as the successor church who fashioned a white horse which and picked up governing where the defunct Western political empire left off.

Some day when you have a quiet moment and check out Revelation6,1-2. Remember this the book of Revelation was written by God's wisdom and decree and it unveils the mysterious twists and turns of church and secular history, and the endtimes too, and all the struggles of us Christians to live by the Word and with the gift of the Spirit as we saw from Revelation2 and 3.


"The I saw the lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, 'Come!' 2 I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer." NRSV

Who or what is this horse? Horses in the bible are instruments of war, not pets. It's a white horse- white is good and peaceful and clean and victorious. Who is riding the horse? Some man with a bow- so it's apparently a peaceful man, ie he doesn't have a complete weapon, but a man on a military horse because horses are for war and conquering.

And the rider has a bow? What use is a bow if you don't have some type of arrows handy?

We are talking Justin about you receiving the gift of the Spirit Justin and you are saying you want this? It sure would come in handy discerning this scripture!

What or who is the rider? Well he's given a crown, presumably, after he has conquered some lands or some people.  And to conquer he has to use that bow, by finding a new "arrow" every time he "shoots." He's not just going to "shoot" one time- he came out conquering and to conquer, to conquer again and again, not just once.

Soon as the Holy Roman Empire succeeded the Roman Empire- there's some sort of conquering going on, but it was mostly Spiritual.

Have you ever been sitting in a packed church, or city council meeting, or a corporate board, or amidst the power brokers of a business or an educational institution. Have you ever participated in a family summitt or say intervention, or seen any decision making body, or even before a lone CEO, or pastor, make an important decision?

The decision maker(s) will be dressed in their most righteous attire and tell you thay have diligently listened for years (and perhaps decades and centuries) to the wisdom of all the prophetic and visionary types and high integrity types who have fought for some necessay progressive change vitally needed for the health of the organization.

And then the spokesperson for the group gets up says, in essence, we are going to do just what it has always done because 'that's our tradition.' Change and progress is not going to happen.

Like try a secular court or something if you want progress. 

If you have experienced something like this- you are well on your way to understanding Revelation6,2.  

The spiritual "arrow" of institutional based infant baptism was "shot" in the fifth-sixth century, and some of the faithful who knew at least some of the whole gospel story and Pentecost and who had to some degree experienced the power and efficacy, of adult water baptism and the gift of the Spirit and the Word passed down in the local church, and who may have even had a stray biblical manuscript about Pentecost and adult baptism, probably felt spiritually conquered on the day and age the doctrine of infant baptism spiritually conquered.

And infant baptism becomes the quintessential institutional making policy of Roman Christendom and the later Holy Roman Empire in 800 AD even though it isn't in accord with the Spirt, or the Word, or the local church model of the New Testament.

And as good religious folks get accustomed to these worldy political-religious territorial institutional "arrows," and perhaps the majority say "it's not really a big change. And we have confidence in our institution- it's the oldest church there is! (No the local churches in the New Testament Bible are the oldest churches in Christianity, and they were not in any way Roman at all.) 

And then these good folks in time get to feeling religiously "patriotic" about their institutional church too, soon to be Holy Roman Empire. So infant baptism, what a a great institutional idea! Let's sign everybody up at brith! How easy is that!

This is spiritually conquering.

Now this rider in Revelation6,2 is not Jesus. Jesus at Revelation 19,11 comes to judge the earth at the end of the seven year tribulation. He is just in war and judgement. He's not a conqueror- HE is always a liberator! Oh glory.   

(Now consider Matthew16,26 if you will: "What, then, will anyone gain by winning the whole world and forfeiting his life." NJB This white horse institution what did it win by infant baptism. It won some sort of future prize, the prize of becoming the successor empire, the Holy Roman Empire, Lord of all!)   

Cumulative Conquering Wordly Spiritual "Arrows" Of Revelation 6,2 

1. Roman church becomes official religion of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century;

2. Church is the Kingdom of God.  Augustine again- early fifth century Don't mind those pesky Jewish roots and the prophetic Hebrew Scriptures speaking of Israel being 'born again in a day' (Isaiah66,8,1948) and the Zion Kingdom, and the Revelation 20 millennial kingdom for Israel and all the faithful and all that, because our institutional church is the kingdom of God! And because well the Roman empire was divine, and well dea Roma still resonates with us, and in our Greco Roman culture we believe in apotheosis (divinization) of the greats among us living and the dead, and since we declare so many great Christians canonized saints, why would we be shocked by the non biblical notion that the Christian Church is the Kingdom of God? (NB as I have taught previously in modern days the official Roman church has backed off to a significant extent from the idea that it is the Kingdom of God, which firstly belongs to millennial Israel. But after almost 1600 years of teaching this doctrine it is still clung to and errantly taught by some Catholics and Protestants in forms not much altered from the fifth century);  

3. Then infant baptism fifth and sixth century. If the church is the Kingdom of God, ie the church is divinized, (and not the reward to faitfhul Israel and faithful Christianity post worldly judgement by Christ and all His Holy Ones, Jew and Gentile), surely it can decree infant baptism gives the Spirit and salvation;

4. The Roman church leader crowns the first Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne in 800 AD and the Roman Church also then crowns its leader 858AD;

5. Must Confess to priests: worked out 8th through 12th century, as if after infant baptism, one repents to a man of the church, leaders in the Kingdom of God, rather than to God and Jesus Himself in adult baptism;

6. Mandatory Celibacy, a "doctrine of demons" per 1Timothy4,1-3, makes this man made priesthood more manageable and more loyal to Rome rather than to one's local Bishop and family. It was sporadically decreed by squeamish leaders, and practiced in Monasteries from the fourth century. Then to keep Roman supremacy and Romann unity of the Western church in the face of the Split of the Eastern Church from Rome in 1054 AD, it was made mandatory for all priests in the 12th century

7 Transubstantiation, a new philosophical word, made dogma in 1562. This is the claim that priests by repeating words certain words re-present Jesus in bodily pre-Calvary in his physically incarnate form, which no longer exists (Jesus has only a Spiritual body now post resurrection cf 1Corinthians15,40). This was done to slow Protestant exodus of the Reformation;

8. Infallibility of the Vatican State Church and Leader, 1870 in the face of Modernism and Shrinking Vatican State European political power base;   

9. The attempted "cancelling" of leaders and future leaders for whom some biblical teachings still resonate and validly inform some church practices (1990ff);   

All these above listed acts solidify the non biblical institutional bases of the The Roman Church at the expense personally repentant faith, adult baptism, the gift of the Spirit, the prophetic Word, and the local church model of the New Testament.        

Were You Infant Baptized Justin?

Justin you may have been infant baptized, but now is the time for you to get your adult baptism and put on a white robe of your own choosing. Yes Justin bring your own saving and obedient adult faith, and get washed by the everflowing Spiritual blood of Jesus (John19,34). Oh Glory come to the River Jordan! Come to the everflowing refreshing water, the spring of life who is Jesus, and by your faith and His blood, He will wash you free and clean!

And then you will get your Holy Ghost baptism too, and be led by the Spirit, and see your worship and faith and love for God perhaps get a little louder, and better, and more winsome of souls, and more gospel oriented.

And rivers of living water will flow from your heart too. John7,38

Christian pastor and man of God John Piper also says no to infant baptism, just like Tertullian in 206 AD. Piper properly notes that the entire personal saving faith requirement of biblical salvation gets turned around by infant baptism. 

Adult Baptism Is Personal Faith

Dear blood bought people of God don't let anyone ever tell you that getting baptized is not a personal act of your very own faith! It is exactly your own personal faith and exactly your own personal covenant per the Word of God and Spirit of God. To say it is not personal biblically obedient faith is either some sort of Spiritually cramped and reduced bible look at adult water baptism, or an over reaction to the charge of sacramentalism from fellow Protestants. It also makes light of Jesus' own example of adult baptism to which he applied his own personal faith- not for forgiveness of any sins- but for strengthening and further revelation of his identity in faith to his faith followers, all of whom are likewise to be baptized to be strenghtened and edified by their own gospel identity and calling by receiving and "seeing" the promise of the Spirit descend on them too.

This is not 'just a ritual' and not 'just a symbol.' It is the act of personal faith whereby we come into a full faith contractual covenant with God to follow and obey and worship and serve Him and His gospel. It is also- as we just proved through Acts2,38- the normal gateway to baptism in the Spirit, although if God wants to give us baptism in the Spirit before adult water baptism, that's in the Word too. Acts10 

Infant baptism and adult baptism have nothing in common but water! 

Infant baptism makes the actual faith repentance to Jesus an after thought, and salvation a work of man, and in effect (I am not impuging Augustine's individual motivations) institutional political and religious statecraft.

All Christendom churches need to turn back and explicitly shake off this wordly spirit of infant baptism and other worldly accomodations, and wholly turn back to the Word and get the gift of the Spirit back into their churches, and help people live in the faith and freedom promised by the Word as delivered by the Spirit of God, not as decreed by any church in infant baptism or confession to priest, or any other such institutional decrees.

John Wesley Brings The Word of The Reformers To Life And The Recognizable Holy Spirit Back Into Ministry

Don't lose hope Justin! After 1000 years of the Dark Ages the history of the gospel lightens up, and the Spirit and local church came back to life in the Reformation that spanned the 12th to 16th centuries.       

But praise God that the 18th century was especially blessed with another Christendom cast off, John Wesley (1703-1791),  with his warmed heart, his prayer groups, and bible studies, and his "street" preaching. Thereby, Christianity entered an age whereby the Holy Spirit was no longer just another church word or a recited term of a recited creedal dogma. In this time the gift of the Spirit slowly but surely became the reality of the Pentecostal gospel movement in the late 19th and into 20th century which now had the Word of the bible in their hands and the gift of the Spirit in their hearts. This gift has allowed millions of Christians to appreciate God manifesting Himself on earth, and in our local churches again bringing freedom and joy back into them, whereby we can worship God in the same fiery Spirit of the Apostles and the 3000 adult baptized did on the day of Pentecost.

Nicolaitan Stronghold Of Controlling Deeds And Doctrine Begins To Crack

This manifestation of Jesus and His word was not going to be able to be shut down and controlled by the religious spirit that persecuted the Prophets of Israel, or the Prophets of God's gospel House, Jew and gentile, and our risen Prophet and Savior Jesus, and those with the gift of the Spirit, from time gone by, and times in the future, and in the present. Praise God. 

The Word of the Reformation and the Anabaptists, and the faith and Spirit of God demonstrated by John Wesley and many others too, and the rebirth of the Pentecostal gospel movemant meant Christianity might still contend with the control and conquering issues of legalists and Christendom and false apostles in whatever Christian churches. But we know now that Christianity will never again be without the bible in our hands, the gift of the Spirit in our hearts. These make us all  capable of bible based faith choices as to where and how we as the blood bought gospel people and gospel preaching priesthood and House of God (1Peter2,) should worship and follow our one Lord Jesus and our Father God.

Praise God for both this ability to live by faith and our increasing awareness that we live in a day every bit as challenging as the initial Christians in the first, second and third centuries. But take heart, though similar challenges as in the early centuries present themselves,  we now know better, from church history, and from the complete Word that our salvation message and personal saving faith must remain focused on Jesus, on using the gift and power of the Spirit, and not on any claimed denominational religious institutional power of humanity's own making: 

"There is no other name by which man can be saved." Acts4,12.

Oh glory- and praise God that we are heirs of the Jews, heirs with our brothers and sisters who wrote and read and preserved and protected all but one of our prohetic books of the New Testament bible.

The fruit of Wesley' faith populism, no check that, the fruit of Jesus' faith populism is based on the promise of the Word that all the faithful are fitting vessels and temples for the Holy Spirit gift. And yes this unlimited and sublime teacher, the Spirit, will teach us all things (John 14,26). This has a meaning for you Justin. It means God is trying to teach you the importance of baptism in the Spirit, which fills you and then teaches you the meaning of the Word, and heals you and guides and consoles you.

Spirit Needed To Persevere And Understand Speeded Up Scripture Based Prophetic Events 

It is folks who seek and receive the promised baptism in the Spirit who will be best prepared to persevere unto salvation, to finish the race (Revelation, 1Th.3,4). And will be best able to live our bible faith and pass this down in their families (Psalm 78,6).

And moreover, God is looking for folks prepared to understand the speeded up prophetic developments in our world, such as the rebirth of Israel, to understand and fight the widespread church apostasy and darkness and unrepentant thinly veiled licentiousness in the present "Christian" church: ("see Isaiah 60,2). He wants to give people his gift of the Spirit especially to be able to discern the false gospel from the true gospel, the former firstly preaches comfort and ease, but the true gospel witness preaches a readiness and eagerness to follow Jesus, come what may, and to rejoice that he has called us to represent him and preach and love his word and Spirit, come what may. 

Justin God wants you to see clearly now, and to do that you need your own Holy Ghost blessing and discernment, so you rise and shine as a man of God and be able to live your life with a faith that makes a real difference for you and for all others around you.

I'll pray right now- May God bless your heart's desire unto its fulfillment (Psalm 37,4), unto your reception of baptism in the Holy Ghost, unto you Justin being a bible based man of God with the gift of the Spirit. That the church where he worships would come alive with the Word and Spirit, and you and it are fully reborn in one Spirit (1Cor.12,13). In the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

Justin, we have provided in this teaching an answer to your hesitance to join church that puts its emphasis on following the Word and being led by the Spirit. We have used sound biblical principles, and cited many relevant scriptural texts, especially Acts2,39 about the fullness of rebirth with the gift of the Spirit. Here's one more, if you can stand it, and then we can both move on down the gospel road.

Mere Seed Faith Not Enough

1Peter1,23 speaks of faith as an imperisable seed. I love this Word. At first faith you and I were reborn with a seed of salvation. But you and I may not be farmers, but we both know, perhaps by trying to plant a garden, that seeds die all the time in nature and in agriculture. We also both know the parable of the seed that fell on good, or rocky, or thorny soil whereby this seed dies in any soil that is not good. Matthew13,3-9.

In this parable Jesus is trying to get the large crowds to hear his eternal gospel salvation message, that it must be planted deeply in them and get so rooted that it would not only not die, but also break out of its limited seed shell salvation and bear fruit, 100, 60 or 30 fold. The purpose of our being reborn is not just to be a saved seed that might die, but to break out of our seed shell and bear gospel fruit, and live now and forever. Yes we plan to live now and forever with the overflowing gift of the Spirit of our well watered souls, souls that have been made "good" soil by acting on the promises of God in personal faith, folks born again by the water and the Spirit (John3,5) which always loosens our lips to spread our soul winning gospel.

I hope none of this teaching strikes you as goofy, like the clanging cymbals, or foreign to the Spirit and the Word. But Holy Ghost wisdom suggests to me that no church is goofy proof, because it has got us human beings in it. So if any Word and Holy Ghost fueled church occasionally does clang and drift from the right Spirit, it just moves on quickly back to the discerned and blessed fullness of the Spirit, back to the Word, and bible based worship. Better this whole gospel-teachable church blessed by Pentecost than one that doesn't have much of the Holy Spirit in it.

Watch out and pray for weak or no Spirit churches-Ezekiel 9-11 teaches us that the Spirit can leave any church or temple at any time, and thus that means that perhaps he has already left your church or your individual temple?

But blessed are those like you and blessed are the churches who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of the Holy Ghost, we shall have our fill!

Many are called but few our chosen, those who press in by ever increasing faith receive all that God has for them, including the sublime gift of the Spirit. 

When you have a quiet moment please pray on 2Cor. 8,10-11. Paul advises the church at Corinth to act on a God inspired desire to realize, and act upon, their generosity, which is similar in magnitude to yours Justin. This desire had been on their heart for over a year. It wouldn't go away. I would guess that your desire for more from God and of God, and your 'this is it?' frustration with churchianity and pastorianity- has been on your heart for way over a year.

The desire in Corinth was to give to the poor saints, the poor ones, the anawim, the first Jewish faithers, the Ebionites in Jerusalem. But they procrastinated, and the Macedonian churches had already made their gift- though the very idea originated in Corinth.

Justin, your desire for more of the Spirit started with God and you. So it's time for you to take the next step, and make an act of faith towards your baptism in the Spirit. As a great preacher once said, "faith is 90% courage and 10% percent trust." Faith is confidently acting on the promises of God, again and again, like Abraham, even when we don't know exactly where we are going. Yesterday's faith, yesterday's profession, yesterday's church attendance  does not bring you any closer to God today. Faith is a verb. You are a participle, a faither, or not. Yesterday's gone, Justin, today is the day of your salvation.

You have both the inspiration from God and the promise of God that Holy Ghost baptism is for you; "The promise that was made is for you and your children, and all those who are far away [us non Jews], for all those whom the Lord is calling to himself [You, gentiles]." (Acts 2,39)

Your desire is an inspiration from God, and such fierce desires just don't go away. Press in Justin- Get your blessing! Insist on it!  Perhaps you have met a trusted bible based Christian pastor who is already been baptised in the Spirit who would pray for you.

You might also need to ask God to reveal if anything needs to be cut out of your life. You also need to pray for God's healing if you need that. You might need to tap into a church or some mission, or some true man of God, or a tried and true woman of God working with her pastor, that can guide you towards receiving all that God has specifically promised you and all of us.

Listen to the preaching of folks who have been baptized in the Holy Ghost, perhaps even some preaching on this site. Find written sermons by John G. Lake, or Smith Wigglesworth or others of proven faith and study, and devour the word and its teachings. Read them again. Or, listen again, and again (I used to have short wave radio on, with preaching through the night for several years), learn to hear and follow the logic of the Word and Spirit and salvation and how the inspired words and concepts of scripture go together and how this "logic" is revealed and released with the grace and freedom and firm and gentle and loving Spirit of God. 

Keep studying the Word to show yourself approved. Get in a place and mindset where you start hearing from God for yourself. Pray every day, for everything you need, and the desires of your heart, for baptism in the Holy Ghost. Ask specific questions of God and don't back off until you get your answers.

Delay in your total committment to God doesn't cut it. Hanging out on the wrong side of the river Jordan with with naysayers and quibblers about the gift of the Spirit doesn't cut it.

Don't put your eyes on the gifts, or God's servants, or their personalities, or on praise tongues, though God might well give you that particular gift right after he gives you the supreme gift of the Spirit itself.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, and your goal, God in you, the hope of glory, baptism in the Spirit! Praise God.

You are on track to more fully serve and obey God, and there is great peace in that: "Not my will but your will be done..." Surrender to your inspiration to receive the gift of the Spirit Justin, to know Him yourself, to have Him teach you all things, for scripture to come alive in your own life.

Millions of people have been right where you are. It's your choice, your life. Forward or back? Promised land or your present desert.

Millions of people have fought this same good fight of faith and have recieved the joy of the Lord that no one can take away. 

Seed faith or a fruitful overflowing faith?

Let's all line it up with the fullness of God's word, and get the fulness of his promise- His very Spirit, the fullness of it! Praise God!

Give up your own will brother, die to yourself! Die to what your unquiet and your limited fleshly way you think church should be. So Christ can live in you! "Not I who live, but Christ living in me..." Christ in us is way more than a mere seed! 

Holy Ghost Baptism is the next Reformation of the church Justin. It won't be without some basic bible doctrine, but it won't be legalistic either. Don't miss it, don't give up on it just because it's taken for granted and not sought after by every Christian. You're onto something great, go for it.

Get your adult full immersion water baptism too- if you don't have it already.

And you can also pray along these lines for the gift of the Spirit before or after your adult water baptism: 

"Lord Jesus I repent of all my sins and lay down my life in service to you and you alone. I won't take them back. I accept you as my Lord and savior now and forever. Forgive all my sins and restore any harm done by them or any sins done aginst me. Wash away all my sins in your precious ever flowing blood. Make me a new creation as your Word promises.

And Lord God and Father, I am choosing to be your faithful son. I open my heart to you and I invite your Holy Spirit to live in me. I ask this in Jesus Name by my faith in YOU and your Word. In Jesus' name I ask you Father God to clean my whole heart, to restore a right Spirit in me. To Spiritually clean my mind, my body and soul, my memories and emotions, my past and present relationships, clean and heal all of them! I also ask you Father God to put the mind of Christ in me and on me, and I ask you in Jesus Name to make me a temple of the Holy Ghost as your WORD says. I ask in faith Father God that the Holy Spirit fills in all spaces and places in me that you have made clean by your grace, by the utmost fullness of the gift of your Spirit. I ask You to heal me up and seal me up, and give me the fullness of freedom promised by your Word. I thank you for making me worthy by faith. I accept all the Words and blessings and the gift of the Spirit you are speaking over me now, and in the future, and for as long as I live." In Jesus Name I pray."


Yes Brother Justin- our faith is based on the Word and Praise we are led by the Spirit. The Word and the Spirit lead us. The Love of God compels us to be led by the Spirit. 2Corinthians5,14-15 tells us this love compels us to die to ourselves and, to live for Jesus and his gospel purposes, and to live as redeemed ones, the set free ones, men and women of God, who live and are led by faith as led by the Spirit of God, light and truth, in us, a light and truth promised us all.

Glory! Yes and Amen! His everflowing adult baptismal spiritual blood and water cleanses (Mt.19,34) us unto the gift of the Spirit.

And Spirit gifted means Spirit led! Kind and good shepherd Jesus lead us on! Amen 

Hope this helps, Justin. Forgive me if this isn't quite gentle enough.

Br. Tobin

Contact us if you need prayer for this gift of the Spirit.