I believe in the importance of biblical preaching and biblical doctrine. When I look around at so many churches, I see so much that is lightweight. So many churches fall into error, despite their keenness on expressing the power of the Holy Spirit, because their desire for the Holy Spirit and his gifts has not led them equally to desire the Scriptures which He inspired.
There have frequently been occasions when I have been in groups of Christians which includes both cessationists and Pentecostals. As someone of a biblical Pentecostal persuasion, it has often seemed as if we have been anxious to gain respectability among cessationists, in order to prove our “macho” doctrinal credentials. This has meant that in such joint meetings, we suppress our baptism in the Holy Spirit, in order to accommodate the cessationist brethren. In so doing, we have had the honest goal of not causing needless offense, even viewing the cessationists as weaker brethren. And in this process, we have given the impression that, as Pentecostals, we are basically the same as Baptists, but with a little optional extra – the baptism into the Holy Spirit. We are therefore Baptists Plus.
Such cessationists – who are often, though not exclusively, Baptist – themselves take a similar view with other Christians. For example, they know that baptism in water is not essential for salvation, but, rightly, maintain that it is necessary as part of our obedience to Christ. Therefore, they manage to maintain relationships in para-church groupings with Presbyterians. In no way would they suggest, however, that baptism were not necessary.
In the same way, we, who are biblical Pentecostals, understand that the Scripture teaches the importance of baptism into the Holy Spirit. As I reported in my blog yesterday, far from being unnecessary, the baptism into the Holy Spirit is the final of a four-step process of being born again. We should not deny this. We are too worried about offending our cessationist brethren. Should we not be offended on behalf the Holy Spirit that cessationists have decided that His work is irrelevant, or, worse, aberrant?
Therefore, we are not Baptists Plus, and should stop seeing ourselves as such. We, who have been baptized into the Holy Spirit, as the Scripture demands, are fully functional Normal Christians. It is our cessationist brethren who are aberrant. It is not that we have an optional extra; it is that they have missed out, often through deliberate choice, on a requirement of Scripture. We are not like them, with a bit added on. It is they who are a bit like us, but with something amputated. We are not Baptists Plus. They are Pentecostals Minus.