This post comes at the end of a lot of struggle in both the cognitive and experimental parts of my faith, I do not feel that I am where I would like to be with having read the books I would like to read on this subject (William Tabernee’s “Imaginative History” Prophets and Gravestones would be a chief one) I find however a desire to fly my colours in a sense. I am both a Renewed and Reformed Baptist.

What do I mean? Both Renewed and Reformed should rightly not be thought of as end-goals in and of themselves but rather as with ecclesia semper reformanda est so too ecclesia semper renovar est. That is as we say that the Church should always be reforming, so too should it be in a continual state of renewal. The fount of our life as the Church should be God himself, as Paul quotes the pagan on Mars Hill; “In Him we live, move and have our being.” This is the especial ministry of the Holy Spirit, communicating to us the benefits of Christ’s death.

So why do I want to claim both Renewed and Reformed as modifiers of Baptist? Simply because that is where I find myself, I cannot agree with most of my Reformed counterparts that the Spirit has dramatically changed the way he acts following the close of the canon of Scripture. On the other hand I completely agree with them that, yes the canon is indeed closed. Some questions arise from these two beliefs, the first being “What of prophecy?” This would again fall into the category of “I haven’t read as much as I would like.” Yet I am quite willing to put forth a tentative answer on this by pointing to the unlettered prophets such as Micaiah son of Imlah, (1 Kings 22:7-8) he had a reputation for speaking the words of God, yet we only have a portion of his prophecies recorded for us and those as a part of historical narrative, the reason for this is clear the Holy Spirit deemed them not profitable for “doctrine, reproof, etc.” (2 Tim 3:16) Enscripturation/Inspiration must be separated from Prophecy if we are to have a sound understanding of Prophecy in Scripture.

I don’t believe a consistent hermeneutic applied diligently to Scripture will result in cessationism, it comes from the importation of a life that does not expect God in tangible ways and an attempt to make such a life the expected norm for the Christian life. Yet we live as more than conquerors, enlivened and empowered by the Spirit’s indwelling presence, yet we need not and should not go to the Corinthian excess we see in so many churches that are a part of the Renewal (Charismatic) movement. This is written against explicitly in 1 Corinthians 14, and 2 Corinthians 10-13. Simply put, if we elevate flashy shows of God’s power over His working in our lives for the Glory of the Kingdom we will depart from the true faith for a form of triumphalism which neglects the pain of the Cross, that pain which we are to become identified with, even as the pain which we bore Christ too identified with us on the Cross. We die to self in humility in imitation of Christ in order that as we are also unified with Him in His death we might also be united with Him in His resurrection life.

The Christian life is more than immortality, so often Christians live as if their best life is still to come and that they need just potter through this one, while our “best life” as it were is still in eschatological hope, we can experience it breaking through in the here and now, that is fundamentally what the Cross and Pentecost are about! The outpoured Spirit dwelling within us gives us assurance of Salvation, but He is also working in us to empower, embolden, conform us to Christ and He does this in part through what I used to call Temple Experiences, what the Renewal tradition called/calls Baptism in/by the Spirit, and what is probably more Biblically termed Filling with the Spirit, and would agree with such as Wayne Grudem and R.T. Kendall that as a part of Sanctification it can happen continuously throughout the life of the believer.

Matt 28:16, the disciples went…
This is a gathering of the fledgling Church to receive her reason for being, so what is it?
First the basis of her constitution; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Christ our King and saviour is victorious, it is from this basis that we strike out, consist and have our unity as the Church and we are given our function;
“Go therefore…” this function is not given to a mere select group of the Church, but to the Church as a whole, if we as the Church are not going then do we continue to be the Church?
“Make disciples…” Again this is a function of the Church, we need to be as a community making disciples, who are we making disciples of? This is supplied next; “of all nations…” the Psalmist cries “let the nations praise you O God” We the Church need to be going, we need to be making disciples, so often we the Church neglect these, we stay, we leave disciple making to a select few, we do not have the national scope of bringing Kingdoms to their knees in submission to Christ. “Baptizing them…” We in the west have all but given up on this, no longer is Baptism the ritual of Christian initiation but altar calls we work people emotionally to the point of making a confession of faith and do not disciple them, let alone baptise them! What use is it for us to get them to confess that Jesus is Lord but that the next day they turn around and do not know why or what the consequences were to their confession; “No longer are they their own, they were bought for a price.” If Christ invested so much in us, should we not invest so much in them for whom He died?
How should we baptise them? We baptise them in union with God, as he has revealed himself, trinity in unity and unity in trinity “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is not the end of our responsibility to them as the Church; “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” So as they are joined into the Church they also need to be Going, they also need to be discipling, they need to have a vision for the nations to come under the sovereignty of God and they need to be baptizing others. And finally the most precious promise, the one that should comfort us; “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” this should not only comfort us but hold us to the high standard of Christ, He is with us and calls us, prompts us to Go, disciple, and baptise!