Churchwatchcentral has several contributors writing under the same anonymous pseudonym churchwatcher, but, despite disclaimers, they believe basically the same nonsense and produce some incredibly inaccurate theology.
One of their recent articles has a go at their usual target the NAR, which is not the New Apostolic Reformation discussed by C Peter Wagner, but a counterfeit derived from the very vivid imaginations of the churchwatchcentral ‘team’.
Lately they’ve had a big hang-up over the baptism with the Spirit, and have posted a difficult to follow article that essentially nominates the baptism as cultic, demonic and devilish. Here’s what they write:
These cults promote a baptism that is simply demonic, enticing believers to engage in the world of the supernatural and doctrines of demons. The kingdom they are inviting you to participate in is the kingdom of darkness, promising powers to make people ‘little gods’.
They take this false baptism from passages such as Acts 1:8, Acts 2, John 3 and Acts 19:2-6, claiming that Jesus’ disciples received this ‘second’ baptism (being clothed with ‘power from on high’) in Acts 2 and claim that Acts 19:2-6 is an example where believers received this second baptism when Paul ‘placed his hands on them’ to receive this second blessing. Never mind that the spirit behind this doctrine is perverting the teachings of the Holy Spirit by twisting His Words, these people are baptized into is an anti-Christ and devilish spirit, who then in turn claim that discerning Christians are operating in the flesh and categorising them as religious and dead (unlike them).
The reason why people buy into this lie is that they are driven by the flesh and are power hungry.
Strong language indeed, but they seem to be rejecting the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as prophesied by John the Baptist and referenced by Christ Himself to His disciples.
And the motives they give for those who are encouraging the baptism with the Spirit are that they are flesh-driven and power hungry, promoting a demonic baptism and doctrines of demons, inviting people to participate in the kingdom of darkness. Heavy accusations.
So let’s take a look at what they are claiming and match it against scripture, which should always be our measure. Let’s be discerning, and test the spirits behind these accusations to see whether they are of God.
Is talk of the latter rain Biblical?
The so-called ‘cults’ they are referring to are the Latter Rain movement of the 1940s, the charismatic movements of the 1970s, and their version of the NAR, which, as stated above, is a perversion of the actual New Apostolic Reformation, which is an observable phenomenon not a movement or organisation.
In fact, C Peter Wagner, in the book that proposed the New Apostolic Reformation, ‘Churchquake’, only mentioned the Latter Rain twice, once in reference to the AOG in the US which decried the movement’s doctrine, and secondly in reference to the progress of an Australian AOG church that taught on the former and latter rain prophecies in scripture, which is quite common in Pentecostal theology.
The latter rain is actually mentioned eight times in the Bible, and sometimes in a prophetic sense as a time of blessing on the earth, including at Joel 2, from wence comes the prophecy fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.
It’s not our subject today, but the latter rain was mentioned in churchwatchcentral’s preamble to the passage quoted above as being taught amongst the so-called ‘cults’ they are discussing. Clearly, though, Wagner had no connection to the Latter Rain movement, and only briefly referred to it in passing as a historical fact.
Scripture on the baptism with the Spirit
So, now, let’s look at the scriptures provided by churchwatchcentral as being associated with demonic teaching. How is the baptism with the Spirit a false baptism as they claim? Does the Bible mention the baptism with the Spirit, and in what context? Can a person receive Christ, be baptised in water, and be filled with the Spirit subsequent to this baptism?
Acts 1:1-8 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The direct audience is the apostles. He is following on from Luke’s report in his gospel, in which Jesus told them to go nowhere until they were endued with power from on high.
Luke 24:49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
The Promise of the Father, then, is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Through this baptism they would receive power from on high to be witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth.
The word for witness is martys, which means ‘someone who gives evidence’, ‘a witness’. They would be empowered to give evidence of Christ to the unsaved world. What kind of evidence? Evidence of the continued work of Christ through His Body of believers.
The outpouring of the Promise
Then we fast forward to the Upper Room, where the apostles and disciples waited upon the Lord until the Holy Spirit outpouring came. There were 120 in that room, men and women, apostles and disciples, believers all. What happened on the Day of Pentecost in that Upper Room takes us to the next part of the story.
Acts 2:1-4 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
They were all in one accord in one place. The Promise of the Spirit came upon them. They were baptised with the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, and they all spoke in tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
There is no doubting what the baptism with the Spirit is. It is the Promise of the Father. It is the outpouring of the Spirit. People heard the disciples, who were not known linguists, magnify God in different languages. They thought, because of the loudness and joyfulness of the outpouring, that these people must be drunk, but Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells them, and us, what this outpouring is.
Acts 2:14-21 Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’
This outpouring has never ended. Cessationists struggle with this, but there is no reason to believe that the outpouring has stopped. It began on the Day of Pentecost and will continue until Jesus comes for the Church. Peter, again, tells us this. After he preached, several Jews came to him to ask what they should do to be saved.
Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
The Promise of the Spirit is for all are called by the Lord, all who are near and all who are afar off – unto the uttermost, in distance, and in time, until the Lord comes again. To gain the full context, pease read the whole of Acts 1 and 2.
The continued outpouring upon the Gentiles
Again, in Acts 10, the continuing outpouring comes upon the Gentiles. Peter has a vision in which God tells him that just as eating formerly forbidden food was now made viable, so He was opening the gospel up to the nations – those who were not Jews – so that they too could be saved, and filled with the Spirit, receiving the same Promise of the Father.
Again, Peter goes to the household of a Roman centurion and, as he begins to preach the gospel, the outpouring of the Spirit comes upon the hearers.
Acts 10:44-48 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured on the Gentiles also. How did they know? They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. They had, Peter said, received the Holy Spirit. Now they would be baptised in water for the remission of sins, and as disciples, but they had first received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, being the Promise Jesus gave, having been baptised into Christ through faith in Him.
Subsequent baptism with the Spirit
Then we come to Acts 19. Here we have an account which reveals a subsequent baptism.
Acts 19:1-7 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.
They were baptised in the name of Jesus, then, when Paul laid his hands on them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues.
The baptism with the Spirit is Biblical
So what the charismatics, and, incidentally, almost all of the Pentecostal ministries, teach on the baptism with the Holy Spirit is completely Biblical. There is much more scripture than this, but simply using the verses quoted by churchwatchcentral in context with the rest of scripture it has been simple to show that there is a baptism with the Spirit, it was prophesied, it was fulfilled, and it is continual until the Lord comes for the Church.
What churchwatchcentral says, when they call this teaching demonic, of a perverse spirit, devilish, and a false baptism, is on risky spiritual ground if they are wrong in their judgment against those they accuse. Jesus called attributing a work of the Holy Spirit to demons an unforgivable sin.
Matthew 12:31-32 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Their questioning of Pentecostal and charismatic ministry’s motives, when they say they are teaching this because they are being ‘power hungry’ is a complete misrepresentation of what is actually sound doctrine according to the scriptures presented here.
Charismatics and Pentecostals are not ‘twisting’ the Holy Spirit’s words at all. They are reading, studying, believing and following the words of Christ Himself and applying His teaching to their situation, as all godly disciples should.
I’ll leave the reader to discern for themselves whether the churchwatchcentral doctrine is accurate or error, but, according to the very scripture they produced they fall short of what it actually says.