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A large proportion of the division suffered by the One Body of Christ, is centered on who is representing Christ, and who is not; who is doing so less, and who is doing so more. And there are many theories which violate each other. There are two large categories though. One category is the longstanding fighting pile of intellectuals, who claim that God is to be attained by "systematic theologies", huge collections of human logic, the theories being that if they get it right, they get God, and eternity. The other category is those who demand evidence in the form of one or more specific miracles. There has been quite the fighting pile of these, too; some demanded dancing in their churches, others still demand the passing out of snakes, and still others make claims about falling down temporarily senseless. And there are certainly many, who say that unless a person emits sounds from their mouth which have no known meaning to them or most people around them, that person must not be considered to be of Christ, must not be thought to have Christ alive within them.
The folks who demand recognition of their particular personal experience, often have in mind a number of statements in Scripture associated; but there is no Scripture which is holy, which justifies that a human being demand respect for his or her personal experience. There is no Scripture which is holy, in which it is written that everyone inhabited by the Spirit of God will be uniform in any way except obedience to Christ the Lord. And there is no Scripture which is holy, which contains a statement from God suggesting that single moments of immediate personal experience, are good reason for us to demand anything from any human beings, let alone to claim an overwhelmingly superior knowledge of the salvation of God.
The Father in Heaven is much bigger than this. We must remember that He is far bigger than any of us, that the only limitations in His Will are the ones He has stated Personally. We must remember that He is larger than any of can possibly imagine. We must strongly resist the terrible temptation to shrink His ideas to fit ourselves.
It is one thing to say, "I spoke in tongues when I was baptized in the Spirit" but quite a different thing to say "everyone who is baptized in the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues." Stated from the opposite direction, there is no inconsistency between the statements "Joe spoke in tongues when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit" and "Mary was baptized in the Holy Spirit 80 years ago but has never spoken in tongues." One person's individual experience simply cannot be relied upon as proof that every other Christian's experience will be the same.
On both sides of some discussions, we are reminded that "God is no respecter of persons," and the voices add, therefore must treat all identically. But it is we who "must" do things sometimes; there is nothing that God "must" do, and unless we lie to ourselves and anyone else that asks, it is clear and present that God does not treat all identically. All food that anyone eats, is because God feeds them, according to God; and He does not feed everyone identically. Likewise to all things that a man or a woman has!
And in the Scripture we likewise have it very clear. God did not treat Moses identically to Aaron. He did not treat John identically to Matthew. God does not respect persons. He does not consider the favor of the powerful or the recognition of any human celebrity. He does not let us earn anything before Him, and He loves us, but does not respect us, because He alone is deserving of glory, and honor. God recognizes that we are many individuals, understands the differences between us, gives us individually and differently what He decides that we need, and apportions different responsibilities and gifts to each of us, according to His desires for us and for His world, this world, which is His footstool.
Jesus promised that we would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5). Paul commanded that we be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18). So whatever it means to be "baptized in" or "filled with" the Spirit (a question discussed on a later page), these are universals, things God wants to be a part of the experience of all of his children. There is, however, no particular reason God should prove His activity, or the work of His Spirit, in my life in whichever way He proves His work in yours.
And indeed, it is a great method against the self-deception and self-exaltation of sinful man and woman, for God to vary His ways. Anyone can fall down; anyone can babble; anyone can dance, or smile, or laugh, and feel blissful feelings while so doing. But only God can take a sinful man or woman and make her or him better, more loving to his and her neighbors, more helpful to His purposes, over times long and short.
NEXT PAGE: What is the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
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