Why I’m Pentecostal: The Impact

[Make sure you read the background and change posts first.]

Being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” is not a panacea for your spiritual ills and human failings. You don’t suddenly stop struggling with the fleshy side of who you are. Nothing stops that but death. But that second baptism does jolt your life.

Now, let’s stop here and clear a few things up. The gifts of the Spirit are weird, yes—at least from our perspective. But they aren’t unintelligible—they clarify. He points us to Jesus; He inspired the Bible to be written and opens it up on this end as well; and He charges up our worship like a Red Bull.

He does not do things that lead people away from Christ—ever. He keeps things nice and tidy. He’s done with the Bible. And He does not inspire anyone to hang out with poisonous snakes. (He gives us wisdom to not be dumb, after all.)

Since my second baptism, the Spirt most often shows up in private moments to talk to God in a way that He understands, but I don’t. I never know when I’ll start or when I’ll stop. That’s up to Him. I can throw myself in fervent prayer all in English for an hour—and that’s all there is. Or I can have Him spark something when I had no other intention than falling asleep. It’s His leading, not my urging.

I’ve also been given one—and only one—interpretation of what someone else said in a language I’d never heard before. In fact, while the person was speaking, I kept my head down, hoping not to be noticed—like you do in a class when you don’t want to be called on. But I got called to bat, and the interpretation rolled out before I could even think.

As for miraculous healing, that’s also a single incident. A friend who’d suffered from epileptic seizures suddenly stopped having them—and hasn’t since we prayed for her. Given how bad they were before, I was pretty stunned. It was like brain surgery without the scalpel.

But for the most part, my post-Holy-Spirit-baptized life has been more of a private transformation. Slowly, I’ve had courage wired into me. I don’t really think about it unless I consider where I started. But when I do, I see how God’s taught me to master that manual transmission in my spiritual life.

And that’s where I am.