READ: Psalm 117, Zephaniah 2, John 21, 1 Thessalonians 3

PENTECOSTAL PRIDE

There are two equal and opposite errors about Pentecostal praxis: one is being proud that you are Pentecostal, and the other is pride in not being Pentecostal.

Proud of Being Pentecostal. Pride and Pentecost are mutually exclusive. Spirit empowerment is the lifeline of the weak. We seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit because we are dependent on the Spirit’s help. We cannot be who we need to be or do what God needs done without the empowerment of the Spirit. I am Pentecostal by desperation, not because I applied to join some elite fraternity. Because Pentecost empowers the weak to witness, it must necessarily be approached with humility. Pentecostal pride is at best pride in being humble (which is still pride) and at worst condescending and pompous. Zephaniah encourages God’s people to seek humility (2:3) and warns them that pride and arrogance always lead to destruction (v. 10). Proud Pentecostals are not filled with the Spirit; they are merely filled with hot air.

Proud of NOT Being Pentecostal. Is it something to rejoice in that we allow God to control our minds but not our tongues or emotions? Yet those that disdain Pentecostals for excessive emotion or ecstatic speech have missed the forest for the trees. The cardinal doctrine of Pentecostalism is subsequence: MORE of Jesus! Ongoing encounters of Jesus, repeated fillings of the Spirit, more of the Father, more of the Son, more of the Spirit. Pentecost is about hunger and desperation and being so determined to press in for more of Jesus that neither your dignity nor the scorn of others retards your efforts–and yes, fillings of the Spirit always affect the tongue. The book of Acts is unrelenting on this point: bold speech, prophetic words, speaking in tongues, vigorous defense of the gospel–these all are the normal evidences of the filling of the Spirit. Who in their right mind (or spirit) would be proud of not being desperate for Jesus?

One of the tragedies of the Pentecostal movement is that pride on both sides has grieved the Holy Spirit. Those that have experienced ongoing fillings of the Holy Spirit should be the most lowly on earth, for those very fillings indicate an absolute helplessness in the natural. We need the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit because we are worse off than our brothers and sisters, not because we are better. Humility attracts and woos; pride repels. Pride also repels the Spirit. Let us not live life unfilled with the Spirit because we were too lofty to look and live foolishly desperate.

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