"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Realizing the different approaches to understanding the role of the Spirit in the life of the believer and the Church, how has your faith tradition or religious background shaped your understanding of pneumatology? What might your faith tradition have to offer to others outside with regard to the person and work of the Holy Spirit? What might you be able to learn about pneumatology from other faith traditions?
The topic of pneumatology is very exciting to a Pentecostal believer. This subject is where the “rubber meets the road” for us. The Pentecostal denominations take the role, person, and power of the Holy Spirit seriously; but also hold ourselves accountable for our life decisions as well. The doctrines connected with pneumatology is what sets us apart from the other Evangelical denominations, otherwise we would just be Wesleyans. Even with those differences, the Pentecostal churches see other denominations as God’s people as well and we view them through the love that Christ commands. Lyle Story says it best when he mentions, “Love is the evidence of the sanctification, made experimental through the Holy Spirit.” First and foremost, we are the adopted brothers and sisters in Christ. Our second and third order doctrinal differences should never supersede importance over love.
My faith tradition and religious background view pneumatology as essential to the life of a believer. Without the work of the Spirit in our life, we are dead spiritually (Colossians 2:13). Scripture tells us that we must be “born of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5). We also believe in the full power of the Spirit by recognizing His authority in matters regarding gifts, healing, sanctification, etc. For us, healing and gifts are not just for yesterday’s church, but todays as well. The Word says that God never changes (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8; Numbers 23:9) and if we believe in an infallible Word, we must accept this as truth. Many times, this discussion brings about as our lecture notes describe, “a point of contention due to distinct understandings of the operation of the gifts of the Spirit and continuation or cessation of miraculous activity.” This is true if not just simply for the fact I have been verbally beaten down multiple times over these views. However, I hold on strongly to my convictions because it is more than a view, but also my lifestyle. God has done great works in me including an ever more increasing sanctification and baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is nearly impossible to convince someone differently about something once they have truly experienced it. You could talk until you are blue in the face, but in the end you simply cannot talk the “fruit” out of my life. Those overwhelming feelings that sweep across you when the Spirit comes upon a person is hard to explain with words, but they describe it best in Acts 2:2 when it says, “the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting”. I hold true to the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) teachings regarding the Spirit which includes the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced through the Speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance”. I would also like to point out that many traditional holiness churches get categorized together with the Charismatic groups; however there are very big differences. True Pentecostal believers emphasize the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, which results into a holy lifestyle by default if the person lives the way the Word teaches. Many charismatic churches seem to deemphasize the sanctifying part, resulting in a blessing only mentality. This turns in to an emotional response service that looks only for the “rush” that the Spirit brings with it. This is where you often see the services with people faking the baptism and slapping peoples jaws in the name of teaching others how to speak in tongues. I have been a part of both sets of belief systems and I prefer the traditional Holiness doctrines. This is the only way that perseverance can be assured. Stay close to the Father and He will guide you into the “narrow” way.
I am sure that there are principles regarding pneumatology that I do not yet know. If I did, I would most likely already be working on learning them. What I do know is that there are areas in my relationship with God that can be improved upon as is true with any believer. One thing that sticks out to my wife regarding my relationship with God is what she calls my “John Wesley” condition. Whether it is my name (which coincidentally happens to be my first and middle names) or circumstances regarding my child-hood; I feel the burden of my unworthiness. While I know that salvation comes by faith, I feel that I find myself working to please God by default. Maybe this is simply because it is the way I share my love and gratitude for the work of Christ, but my wife sees this as eerily similar to the inner spiritual struggles that Wesley often battled which were mentioned in various letters that were wrote. I pray that one day I may find the answer to these questions I seek and it may come by the advisement of another faith tradition. Until then, I will do all I can for the Lord in the faith that I will soon hear, “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
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 Story, J Lyle. "Pauline thoughts about the Holy Spirit and sanctification: provision, process, and consummation." Journal Of Pentecostal Theology 18, no. 1 (2009 2009): 67-94. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed June 1, 2017). http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f8b2f5f7-9ad2-435e-a141-dc5d395f7787%40sessionmgr4010&vid=1&hid=4213
 Grand Canyon University, “The Doctrine of the Christian Life.” (lecture, Christian Doctrines, Grand Canyon University, February 16th, 2017).