“As a Spirit-filled movement, we will consistently minister the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and teach and encourage believers to fully express the gifts of the Spirit in their daily lives. We totally submit ourselves in obedience to the Spirit’s use of our lives and His miraculous works in our day.” —Foursquare’s Global Distinctives
I am the (grand)son of two rich traditions in Christ’s church: my father’s parents were Bible-teaching Evangelicals, emphasizing centuries-old creeds, articulated doctrines and careful Bible study; my mother’s folks were Bible-expounding Pentecostals, emphasizing present-day manifestations of the Spirit, miraculous evidences and inspired preaching.
Because my mother was exposed too many times to well-meaning but poorly trained efforts to cast out the demons that made her stutter (a shame she carried most of her life), my parents stayed away from “Spirit-powered” types of ministry. Growing up in church, I heard the pastor read 1 Corinthians 11 prior to communion each month—but never once did the reading stray even one verse into chapter 12: “Now concerning spirituals, I do not want you to be unaware.” (“Spirituals” is usually translated “spiritual gifts,” but “gifts” isn’t in the original.)
In 1973, while an undergraduate at UCLA, I unintentionally attended a Pentecostal church on Pentecost Sunday because it was the only ride I could catch to church. That’s a wild combo for someone who knew next to nothing about the baptism with the Spirit! Sure enough, the pastor offered prayer for anyone to be baptized with the “Holy Ghost.” I prayed earnestly; the prayer team pressing unrelentingly down on my head prayed earnestly, but nothing happened.
Neither before nor after my failure to speak in tongues, did anyone give me a Bible explanation about what it means to be “filled”; or how speaking words given to us by the Spirit is following the pattern of Jesus, who spoke words given to Him by the Father (John 14:10); the Spirit follows the same pattern, speaking words He hears from Jesus (John 16:13). A key aspect of being Christ-like is speaking words that don’t come by our “own initiative” (John 8:28).
Incomplete Bible study (Moses stuttered), left my mother feeling unsafe, and lost her from what could have been her ministry portion. It delayed my exposure to things of the Spirit.
So, since that 1973 Pentecost (and several months later when the Spirit gently transposed words from the spiritual dimension into syllables and sounds I could utter with my lips), I’ve been passionate about explaining from the Bible what it means to be empowered as Jesus’ witnesses after we get baptized with the Spirit (Acts 1:8).
I think we get misled by our English understanding of power and witnessing. Receiving “power” is not like being given a stand-alone battery pack or a concentrated dose of dynamism to use however we desire. It is, instead, a heighted ability to perceive what Jesus is doing and saying.
Before testifying to others, we must first “witness”/observe something, and Spirit-empowerment capacitates us to better behold “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard” (1 Cor. 2:9, NASB). From the spiritual realm, the Holy Spirit passes Jesus’ works and words to us by transforming those “works” into a form we can grasp with our natural faculties. What the Spirit reveals we can then duplicate in our world.
Spiritual takes on a simple meaning—supernatural words and works, from the invisible/intangible realm, translated by the Spirit into expressions, understandings and promptings we can speak/do in the natural arena. It explains spiritual language (speaking as the Spirit gives us utterance) and spiritual gifts (knowing, declaring and doing things disclosed to us by the Spirit).
Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered, Spirit-filled essentially mean following Jesus’ pattern—not acting on His “own initiative,” but doing/saying only what He first witnessed in His Father (John 5:19,30; 8:42; 12:49 and 14:10). As a Spirit-filled movement, The Foursquare Church teaches its members to set aside their natural abilities and initiative, to speak and act, instead, by revelation and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Global Distinctives, agreed on by nearly 240 leaders at the 2012 Global Summit, are six unifying principles that bind our whole Foursquare family in doctrine and culture.
Read more stories on how people live out our Foursquare Global Distinctives.