For the third session at Strange Fire, John MacArthur introduced his good friend R.C. Sproul. Because of issues with his health, Sproul was unable to travel to California, so instead he sent along a video message. And his task was to speak about Pentecost.
He began by saying, “I want to look specifically today at the redemptive-historical significance of Pentecost.” We’re aware that the modern Pentecostal movement began at Azusa Street and that it occurred outside of the mainline denotations until the middle of the 20th Century. Then it moved into Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, etc. circles. Initially when it came into these various denominations there were several attempts to assimilate the theology into their creedal foundations. At the same time, Pentecostals were gathering their beliefs into a creed, which became Neo-Pentecostal theology.
One of the most significant aspects of this theology is the idea that it is normal or even normative for people to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit after their conversion. It is admitted that some people can have conversion or regeneration simultaneously with their baptism by the Holy Spirit, but in the main there is a time difference between original conversion and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is this particular point I want to address today.
The fundamental weakness of Neo-Pentecostal theology is that it understands the original Pentecost differently than the apostles, and that it considers this Pentecost too lowly. The significance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit has to do principally with the Holy Spirit empowering Christians for ministry. When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit he was promising power and strength.