You must be born-again. Jesus was clear when He said it to Nicodemus that night. Nicodemus had told Him that he and the other leaders knew that Jesus was sent by God because of the miracles. It is not enough to know that Jesus was sent from God. It is not enough to know the facts about Jesus. James, the “brother of the Lord,” said it this way: “even the demons believe – and tremble,” (James 2: 19). Knowing the facts, and believing the facts, is not what Jesus meant when He said, “you must be born-again,” (John 3:3).
Faith is essentially three things:
(1) Assent: we are to know the facts and give mental assent to them. In the pages of the Bible we find the God-inspired accounts from those people who knew Jesus. These eyewitness, and almost eyewitness, accounts give us sure records of what the Lord said and did (Acts 1:1).
(2) Trust: we are to trust Him personally on the basis of the facts. The call of the Gospel is not only to know the details, but to believe that they are true. The details are rooted in Jesus. The Gospel calls “all people everywhere to repent,” and “believe the Gospel,” (Acts 17:30; Mark 1:15).
(3) Spiritual Sense: we are alert/awake to the spiritual realities around us. Jesus continually admonished His disciples to “stay awake,” and to “watch,” (Mark 13:37). He continually says, “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” (Matt. 11:15; Rev. 2:7, 17, 29). There is a spiritual assurance, joy, and alertness that God gives those born of the Spirit by faith in Christ.
Being Evangelical calls attention to the inner spiritual life each person needs to cultivate, based on the historical acts of the Lord Jesus as recorded in the Bible. It calls attention to the pastoral role of the clergy to help believers bear fruit. The objective realities of Jesus’ ministry, both then and now, become inner subjective realities for us by the “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” (Rom. 8:16, ESV).
“Behold, I am sending the Promise of My Father upon you. Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from high,” Jesus said (Lk. 24:49). Luke opens Acts with Jesus’ words again about the Spirit coming in power to Confirm the Church. The dynamic of spiritual empowerment comes directly from the Throne of God. Holy Spirit power blew into the Church like life-giving wind, recalling His movement over the waters of creation, re-creation after the Flood, dividing the Red Sea, and who can forget the wind breathing into the valley of Ezekiel’s vision?
The wind of God energized the people of God to do the work of God. It is the expectation of Jesus that each believer wait in his own upper room for power from on high. Being Charismatic means the full yielding up of our being to the immediate Presence of the Spirit. This is how He speaks and how we hear. His nearness presses in upon the believer, sanctifying, healing, delivering, calling, and restoring. His glory rushes through the bones like fire, burning to be loosed in prophetic utterance. His river gushes up from the inside, bubbling out in tongues. His paintings break in upon eyes gifted to see visions and hearts to dream dreams. His energy sends tremors through hands that heal and drive out demons.
What whispers of God are yours that He longs to breathe into your being? Turn your heart to Him, listen, wait, and pray. Trust that He who began a good work in you when He washed you in Baptism and fed you in Eucharist will finish the work. He will anoint you with power to make His Kingdom known through evangelistic witness, holy living and generous love. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit!”
‘Sacrament’ is the English for the Latin ‘sacramentum,’ translated from the Greek New Testament’s “mysterion.” Since we do not have space for a lengthy word study, ‘sacrament’ captures the essence of Baptism and Eucharist (the two Gospel sacraments) better than ‘ordinance,’ because these are more than just rites to be observed. Baptism is union with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Eucharist is the continual feeding from the Tree of Life.
Some of the irony is that Pentecostals have a very strong sacramental experience. Think about the anointed prayer cloths, the laying on of hands for healing, and the fervent belief that an anointed Word changes things! Surely, since the Holy Spirit has used these means to make Christ known, how much more those things which Christ commanded?
When you get a chance, pour over Romans 6 for Water Baptism. Look at 1 Corinthians 11 for Eucharist/Lord’s Supper. Meditate on these texts. Listen to the Word as you immerse yourself in the Scripture.