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The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 14

With the coming of the Spirit to me there were some things that I immediately knew. I knew God had come to me. I knew I was a new creature in Christ. I knew my friends were not just friends but were true brothers and sisters. I recognised the power of evil. One a Saturday night I was volunteering at the Christian coffee bar in town (the same building that was my grandfather’s Bible bookshop previously) when three young adults came in and they started to talk to me. I remember they had been up on the Downs above Eastbourne and had been messing about with Ouija boards, and other demonic activities and were scared out of their lives. I remember talking to them and praying with them, etc, never having had any experience with that sort of wrong power or demonic activity previously. Intuitively I knew what was needed etc.

These were the things that I believe the Holy Spirit taught me, just like the promises in John’s gospel where John describes the activities of the Spirit when He comes.

I did however, have some nagging thoughts that troubled me. All the people I had been exposed to presented the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a second blessing after conversion, or being born again. I found this to be in conflict with what I read in the New Testament. I was not convinced. I did not voice this to anyone but I kept it hidden away in my heart.

I had many questions.

How was it possible to receive the Spirit at conversion but need to have a second experience later?

As the Spirit is God, and also a distinct Person, how can He have a greater or lesser part? How can He be received in part only?

I was even called to speak to an elderly man who was a leader of another church in town that was an Exclusive Brethren Assembly. He quizzed me for some time about my experience and theological understanding. I was 17 at the time! I don’t really know what his motivation was but the experience was quite daunting!

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 13

This stage of my life lasted for approximately nine months. I kept praying and seeking the Lord to be baptised with the Holy Spirit. I knew it was the Holy Spirit I needed but I couldn’t seem to find Him for myself. I kept on asking and asking to be filled with the Spirit and also to have the gift of tongues which I saw then as a key part of life in the Spirit.

It was after this time that the Lord spoke to me from

Luke 11:9-13.

So, I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

Or, if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Immediately I found faith in my heart! I had asked. I had kept on asking, knocking, seeking!

I knew that God was a true Father and because I had asked, He would give me the Spirit. Straight away I was aware that He had come. I had been on my knees alone in my bedroom and without any dramatic accompanists I had an inward awareness of His presence that was unlike anything I had experienced before. It was a new awareness of God.

About a week later, again, all alone in my bedroom, I began to speak in tongues. I found this to be a wonderful release, as I was able to worship the Lord in an altogether different level of experience. Speaking in tongues – a language unknown to the speaker – arises in the spirit of a person and because it is not understood in the mind it enables one to experience a deeper level of communion and liberty in prayer and love.

Similar experiences had been had by my friend Nigel Prentice and a few others. We used to go up into country, often on Sunday afternoon to pray and worship and move in tongues together. It was a wonderful albeit it short period in my life.

There was also a meeting held in Eastbourne in the home of Barrie and Gretel Guy, who owned a hotel on the sea front. I used to go there on my little Vesper, a small motorbike given to me by my Uncle Alan. These too were wonderful meetings as we had such expectancy discovering new things of God.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 12

It seems to me that the book of Acts supports a clear and definite experience of men and women receiving the Spirit in the context of the Biblical word, “believe”. In other words, men and women should believe to the receiving of the Spirit, as described in the verses following.

In Him (Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12.

Jesus said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. John 7:37,38.

There is undoubtedly truth in using these terms and I began to understand that it is important to use the correct Biblical language in the correct context if we are going to know the right Biblical experience.

So, I was hungry for reality. I felt a hypocrite although I was not knowingly living a lie. I just realised that my experience, and the experience of the church life I witnessed, did not seem to match up with what the New Testament exhibited.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 11

I also heard the Lord speak very clearly to me one year around this same period of time. It was during the church annual missionary conference. Mr Charles Marsh, a friend of my parents from Pakistan, was the speaker, and he preached on

John 20:21 “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you”.

I knew immediately that the Lord was calling me to some kind of ministry, although I didn’t know how that would work out, or what it would look like.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, I think the assembly took the view, along with other Brethren churches, that one receives the Spirit at “conversion”. This receiving seems to happen “automatically”. In other words, when one believes, the Holy Spirit comes but there may be no conscious experience of Him. However, because the Bible states the Spirit comes with conversion then it must be the case for all.

Conversion is a term used to describe an individual’s coming to faith. The word is used in Acts 15:3 when Paul passed through an area and described

the conversion of the Gentiles there”.

A similar word occurs in Luke 22:32 when Jesus says to Peter

when you are converted, strengthen your brethren”.

There are many references to “conversion” being translated “turning”, “turnabout”, turn again”, “to bring back” etc.

Usually an individual coming to personal faith in Christ would be described in terms of them “being converted”, “giving their life to Jesus” or “inviting Jesus into their heart”. Conversion seems to be related to repentance which means a change of mind. It is this change of mind that results in a true conversion, a turning to God from idols as in

1 Thessalonians 1:9 “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”.

Conversion however is not the same as regeneration. A person may have an experience where they have a change of mind and come to an understanding of their need of a Saviour. This does not necessarily however bring a person into new life, where there is an inward working of the Spirit of God resulting in a person becoming a new man or woman.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 10

Soon after the opportunity at Capel I also accompanied Nick and Nigel to Chard to see what was happening there. The vibrancy of the worship was electric with songs being sung over and over again. The meetings had begun in a farmhouse owned by Uncle Sid and Auntie Mill Purse. The Lord had poured out His Spirit on them and people were being drawn from all over the UK and many from Scandinavia. There had been healings and remarkable things happening.

Another emphasis in those days, which were mid to late 60’s, was the association between the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Such a phenomenon polarised people and was potentially divisive in the way it was presented to many.

Nationally too, little was ever heard of the Holy Spirit. It was in the mid 60s that there was a move of God among Church of England churches and ministers. These were headed up by Rev Michael Harper, who founded The Fountain Trust, Rev David Watson in York, Rev David McInnes and others. Mrs Jean Darnell was a key figure also, having a gift of healing.

Outside of Anglicanism there were many from a Brethren background who were testifying to an experience of the Holy Spirit. These tended to link together initially, but soon became independent of denominational ties and started a new wave of churches. Our own church network has roots in these links.

Arising out of a new freedom of worship came a new hymnology. Dale Garrat from New Zealand brought new songs of Scripture verses put to music.

My heart was now set on course to discover what all these things coming together meant for me. I started reading every book I could find on the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and stories of the outpouring of the Spirit on communities etc. Eventually I gave up as they all seemed to be contradictory. I decide I would not read anymore and just concentrate on reading the book of Acts principally and then the rest of the New Testament.

Around this time, I had an accident causing me to lose my front tooth and risking the possibility of playing the trumpet again.

I also had a football injury resulting in me being told that I should not play contact sports again, so my enthusiasm for football was shattered too!

My life was being constrained by the hand of the Lord.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 9

I also remember a time with Nigel Prentice when he started to talk with me about things that were going on in his heart. He and Nick were both significantly older than me. I was around fifteen, Nigel would have been eighteen or nineteen, and Nick twenty-one or so. Nigel had told me of a meeting that was happening in Chard in Somerset where he had been with another friend and he had come back transformed. He was naturally a very shy quiet man, but now he was talking all the time about things God was showing him in Scripture etc. He testified to having been baptised with the Holy Spirit.

Another man – Neil – who was a friend of Nigel’s was a school teacher in town whose life had been turned upside down following a visit to Chard.

A further piece of the jigsaw for me was when I was invited to go to a conference at Capel Bible College, near Dorking in Surrey, the headquarters of the Elim Pentecostal Church, representing Eastbourne Youth for Christ. I think I was fifteen at the time. There I heard ministry from Denis Clark from South Africa and Campbell McAlpine from Scotland speaking about being baptised with the Holy Spirit.

Amazing as Edgmond Hall had been for me as a child growing up, I had never heard, as far as I can remember, the person of the Holy Spirit ever being mentioned. We had had ministry covering a wide variety of subjects but nothing on the person or work of the Holy Spirit. Looking back on it, it really seems quite unusual, and also concerning.

I think it was Watchman Nee, who on visiting the Brethren in the UK, remarked that “they had lots of light but little life.” This might have been a generalisation but it undoubtedly was true for many.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 8

My mother told me that my first response to the Lord was on 24th August 1958 when I was seven. Apparently, a preacher had been sharing about the second coming of Jesus and I was not certain if I was ready for His return. My mother led me to the Lord and told me how I could receive him. I was then presented with a framed quote of

Revelation 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hear my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me”,

written in beautiful calligraphy style letters by Mr Ransome Cooper, previously mentioned.

I was baptised in water by immersion as my faith grew. I think I was fourteen at the time. It was around this time that I became conscious of the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I had sincerely believed and had been baptised but I was acutely aware of struggles in my walk with the Lord. I had outbursts of temper, unclean thoughts, and unsure of my experience of the Lord. I also was aware of a desire to worship and to know the Lord much more intimately. At this point I am so grateful for the friends I had around me. There was a boy at school who was a prefect, an amazing sportsman representing the county in football and cricket, and yet had an open testimony of knowing Jesus and sharing about him fearlessly. I was so challenged by his life. I found out he came from an Elim Pentecostal church. That gave me a few problems, because when post used to come through my parents’ letterbox from ministries that referred to the Holy Spirit or miracles, and healings etc, they would immediately bin them.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 7

Family life with my sister Joy, and our cousins, was fun and we realised later just how fortunate we were living under the Downs in a house looking out over the town as far away as Dungeness Power Station, about forty miles on a clear day.

Sundays were always special. My parents ran an open home on a Sunday for any girls who had nowhere to go to. They could come to our home for a meal, fellowship and a sing around the piano. There were two teacher training colleges for girls in town, some of whom came regularly, and often nurses from the local hospital, including some from abroad, in particular, Austria.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 6

Junior school was marvellous! We had four houses; Scot (red), Shackleton (blue), Rhodes (yellow) and Livingston (green). All of these men were explorers that captured the minds of young men with a sense of exploration and fascination. I was honoured to be Captain of Livingston. School experience was incredibly diverse, active in all sports, and numerous extra curricula activities including musicals, flower shows, etc. I loved it all! When I left for grammar school, I had the honour of being presented with a gift to the boy who had contributed most to the school during the course of his time there. It was a copy of the recently produced New English Bible. My name was added to the Honour’s board in gold letters in the hall, eventually being destroyed, I think, when the school relocated to a different area of town.

This life style fitted around a demanding school setting. Eastbourne Grammar school arranged for the top one third of pupils to complete their O levels as they were called then in four years rather than then five. This meant, at that time, that students might get good marks for their University entrance but might need to upgrade one or two subjects to secure their place. The third year in the sixth form enabled us to continue study of perhaps, just one subject, and use much of our time to make a contribution to the school by way of leadership and other responsibilities. I was House Captain and Deputy Head Boy that year.

So, life was very full. I look back now and am amazed at just how full it was on so many levels!

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 5

The church was also keenly involved in missionary work overseas. There were two annual missionary conferences in the church, the second being for the ladies of the church. My father and mother both had years when they organised these conferences as missionary secretaries, drawing on people from all around the world when they were on home leave. Often my parents would provide hospitality for them. There was one couple, Ian and Brenda McCulloch who were serving in Argentina and a single lady called Irene Wade who was in Brazil. These were sent out from Edgmond Hall.

My mother kept an autograph style book in which she asked every missionary who came to our home to write in it. John 3:16 in the language of the people group where they worked.

There was a rich supply of ministering brothers in the meeting. Much ministry was open and spontaneous, especially on the Sunday morning meetings. Teaching meetings shared with prayer times were arranged for midweek. Annual conferences were arranged for study of key subjects by itinerate speakers, especially on the second coming, the tabernacle including a scale model, and other such themes. I was “encouraged” to attend the midweek meeting regularly from about the age of thirteen or so. Prior to that there had been a children’s meeting during the week that drew large numbers.

Dad was the “starter” for the Sunday morning meetings. The old organ that had to be pumped up by foot pedals to produce sounds was not used on a Sunday morning for the breaking of bread service as it was considered to be too worldly. Instead when a hymn was requested my dad would start the singing by humming out the start! An organ was however allowed in the rear hall for other meetings which I always struggled to understand as there seemed to be two rules applying! After a few years an electronic organ was purchased and used for all the main meetings.

Games evenings and walks for the youth fellowship on the beach, the Downs etc, were all great fun, especially for one like me who was so sporty and energetic.

I also took part in the Young Sowers League. This was a study of books in the New Testament involving reading and writing out answers to questions and quoting the Bible reference. There were different levels of reward, leading up to a New Testament, then a Bible and lastly a Topical Bible Concordance. This took me years to complete but I managed to in 1965, aged fourteen.