As one evangelist said recently, we should be more in the business of breaking the chains of sin than splitting the hairs of doctrine. As a 23-year-old man in Jacksonville Florida, my life was changed when a woman simply prayed for me to “feel” God’s presence! Although I had been raised in an evangelical church in the Northeast, I told her that I had never felt the presence of God! When her short prayer changed all that, my life was set on a course of serving Jesus Christ. This led to the repentance which critics are saying is the missing ingredient, keeping them from calling what is happening in Ashbury Kentucky a true revival. However, several weeks later I ended a worldly relationship after weeping tears of repentance for hours, as that same Holy Spirit that touched me, led me to a godly sorrow for my sin.
Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you.” Matthew 5:44 (NKJV). We in the body of Christ understand that the only way that such love is even remotely possible is as God enables us by His grace through the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, it is a commandment that will just lead to repeated failure. Through this article, I want to call two of the largest bodies of evangelical believers in America to lovingly accept each other! The Baptists and the Pentecostals! What do we hope to gain shooting across the fence at each other’s doctrines and spiritual experiences? Have we gained converts? Or should we instead be asking how many have we lost? I have attended both denominations’ churches for most of my almost sixty years of following Christ. Our order of service is almost identical. However, we have differences of opinion on several experiences in the Christian faith. Behind the scenes, a doctrinal wrestling match rages which has lasted for over a century. What is saddest to me is that in my opinion, we do not realize that the very one we are wrestling with the most and offending the most could be God’s precious Holy Spirit! It is quite possible that we could grieve and eventually quench the Holy Ghost with such bickering and faultfinding. We need to walk humbly on the path that God has already set in motion!
We have come a long distance in a lot of ways here and other parts of the world and many do not even realize it. To my Baptist brethren, do you recognize that many of the worship songs you put up on the screen every Sunday to help you to enter into God’s presence were written and produced by Pentecostal people? Dear Pentecostal brethren, do you realize that the Baptists have been around four hundred and eleven years and have had a huge socio-economic impact on the fiber of our Nation? What more could be gained from studying and comparing notes concerning each other’s strengths?
Several years ago, it was reported that the Southern Baptist Convention youth leadership and the Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) youth leadership gathered to discuss a common problem. Why was it that as many as 85% of their youth were not attending church anymore after they finished college? To my knowledge, it was the first time in history that these two large denominations met to discuss anything in common. Some very good and helpful information was reported to have sprung forth from that meeting. Wouldn’t it be awesome if these two evangelical denominations could meet and discuss in calm loving terms a subject as important as a possible visitation of the Holy Spirit to America?
May God by his grace unite our hearts to embrace what only He can be doing in Kentucky and now other campuses. Not only the Baptists and Pentecostals but let’s all unite under God’s banner of this worshipful outpouring. What we call it could be splitting hairs but what it could accomplish is the breaking formally unbreakable chains. People are feeling the tangible presence of God for the first time! That is something to be excited about, not to criticize, and to trust God to mature it and use it for His glory!
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