Sunday, April 15, 2012

Second Blessing

1 Cor. 12:13 - For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit.

Gary was alone when I entered the Oak Street Bible Shop. “Joy and Sue are out shopping,” he said. “They went to get some lamps and white curtains to brighten the place up a little. Joy said it gets so dark in here in the winter."

"They're getting along better now," he continued. "Sue is learning to assert herself and get respect, and Joy has softened up a lot. She is beginning to realize she is not as perfect as she thought. It's nice to see."

"Care for some coffee?” he asked. “All I have is instant.”

“Is there any other kind?” I said.

He got out two old fashioned cups, filled them with water, and put one of those little electric coils into one cup. Then he carried some books to the corner where Glen liked to read his prophecy books.

"Glen has already been in," he said, as he began to fill in the empty places on the shelves. "He found the Clarence Larkin books that Sue put there yesterday. He was so happy to see them. He had asked us to see if they were still available and Joy found out they are still being published."

"Larkin was amazing," he went on. "He was a real pioneer in teaching prophecy. He was born in 1850 and died in 1924. He was a mechanical engineer and manufacturer before he was ordained a Baptist preacher. He wrote wonderful books on Daniel and Revelation and illustrated them himself. He drew those detailed dispensational charts that show the different ages and how the church fits into God's plan.

"He was all alone in an age when that kind of study was severely criticized. But he was so kind he never had a harsh word for anyone. He thought we shouldn't fight with other Christians."

Gary had filled the gaps on the shelves with more of Larkin's books. "Joy bought extras," he smiled. "She figured Glen would scoop them up."

He looked over at the little end table where the coffee cups were. There was a patch of fog on the window above the cup with the coil in it. He switched the coil to the second cup. “Help yourself,” he said.

I walked to the window and looked outside. The flower garden had died down except for the bronze colored mums. They were tough. Frost didn't bother them. I had my coffee black with no sugar.

"Speaking of Glen", Gary began, "you know he has really changed from his old life. He had a rough past. It comes out in his language once in awhile, and he slips back into how he used to talk. He told me how he used to fight over everything and he had to win, physically or in arguments. He would never back down. ‘I've creased a few skulls,’ he once told me. ‘Only I'm not proud of it.’

"Jesus took a beating and let them kill Him and he did it for us. He didn't resist when He said he could have called down an army of angels to fight for Him.

"Glen told me how patient Glen was now. People would come to him with the most ridiculous ideas and he would just listen as polite as he could be. He could cream them with a few words, but he always let them talk and have their say.”

Gary's coffee was ready now and he joined me in sipping it from the old china cups.

“I saw Glen demonstrate his patience the other day,” he told me. “Irene, from the Presbyterian Church he used to go to, came in. She heard him speak just as she was about to walk right into him.

"‘Hi, Glen, how do you like my new eyes?’ She was squinting like she was going snow blind.

"He looked at her and said ‘Contacts?’"

"‘No,’ she said. ‘God has given me brand new eyes, just like he promised in the Bible. A bunch of us from the church went to a special meeting. They held it in a high school gym because so many people wanted to come. We wanted to receive the second blessing, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We did, and it was wonderful! The man leading it was so wonderful, he was so Spirit-filled,’ she gushed.

"‘He read from the book of Acts about Pentecost and asked if we didn't want that experience too. Of course we did, that's why we were there. So he began to pray. He kept on praying and some people started speaking in tongues. After awhile he asked if anyone needed to be healed and I held up my hand. I told him I wanted to have my eyesight restored. I used to have perfect vision, you know. A couple of other women said they did too and he had us come up front. He told us the healing was already ours; all we had to do was claim it! He said "Why don't you show you have faith that God wants you to be healed; put your glasses on the floor right now and step on them!"

"‘Well,’ said Irene, ‘I didn't want to show lack of faith, so I dropped my glasses on the floor and really crunched them. They were custom frames too.’”

“What did Glen say to her?" I asked Gary. "did he call her doctrine 'name it and claim it'?"

“’Blab it and grab it’ is what I've heard him say, in the past. But that day he was as patient as could be. She was standing there, still squinting at him, and he said, ‘Irene, I'm surprised to hear that all these years you haven't been a Christian. I thought you were a born again member of the church.’

"She was so surprised, she didn't say anything. ‘Because every Christian receives the Holy Spirit when they are born again. Do you think you have the Holy Spirit and some other Christians do not?’

"Then Irene thought of a reply. ‘Glen, haven't you read in Acts about the believers receiving the Holy Spirit after they had believed for some time? That's what we did. We already believed and then we got the Holy Spirit later. That's why it’s called a second blessing.’

"Glen said, ‘You must be referring to Acts chapter 19 where Paul at Ephesus met disciples who had never even heard of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). They had been baptized by John the Baptist. This is a special time in the early history of the church. But now that the Spirit has been given, all believers receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment they believe. Early believers, even the disciples of Jesus, had not received the Holy Spirit yet.

"'There is an exception, in John 20:22 where it says And when he had said this he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit. But when the New Testament speaks of the Spirit being given, it speaks of a different giving than in the Old Testament. When David was anointed, the Scripture says Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. 1 Samuel 16:13.’

"‘From that day forward,' quoted Irene. ‘Doesn't that mean the Spirit remained with people in the Old Testament days also?’

"‘Read on,’ said Glen. He was using a little book that looked like a New Testament, but contained the whole Bible. 'Verse 14,' he continued, 'says But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.’

"‘Well,’ said Irene, ‘maybe Saul was a special case, but the Bible never says the Holy Spirit ever departed from David.’

"Glen answered, ‘David never assumed that God could not take his Holy Spirit from him. There was no promise then as there is now. In Psalm 51:1 David says to God, Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. David knew this could happen. But, today, Christians are sealed with the Spirit and can't be lost, no matter what.’

"‘So what's different about today?’ Irene persisted. ‘What has changed?’

"‘Look, Irene,’ Glen said, ‘I'm not sure any of us understand exactly how this all works in God's plan, but in the Gospel of John 7:39 it states, For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. The glorification of Jesus in heaven after He ascended to the father changed a lot of things. That is why the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until the Day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Spirit was given and He stays with us always. Pentecost was fulfilled. There was no repetition of Pentecost year after year. Read the prayer of Jesus in John 17. Jesus spells it all out.’

"Irene was not convinced; she refused to believe she had not received new eyes."

Gary concluded his story. "Glen just smiled at her. He told her, ‘Nice seeing you Irene, let me know when you're ready to leave, I'll help you to the door.’ Glen really has matured. He used to be so self-centered, and now all he does is talk about other people and try to help them."

I had enjoyed this time with Gary. I felt more admiration for him than I ever had before.

“You've matured a little yourself, my friend,” I told him.

No comments:

Post a Comment