In war, power displaces while authority replaces. This is also true of spiritual warfare on an individual, corporate and even regional level. The power of God displaces the enemy for a season, but what keeps him out of a heart, relationship or region is renewed obedience to God’s authority.
When one looks at baptism throughout scripture, a clear pattern emerges: the candidate is baptized in a substance and into an experience. Furthermore, baptism is always something that takes place after the fact; it seals what is already a reality.
(Acts 2:11-13 NASB) "Cretans and Arabs-we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine."”
On the day of Pentecost, the behavior of the newly-minted charismatics caught the attention of all who were present. But the response was not the same for everyone. Some were mystified that they were speaking clearly in many languages. Others were mocking their strange behavior.
This is always the case with an outpouring of the Spirit. Some will be mystified, others will mock. Some will focus on the supernatural element and be convinced of God’s involvement, others will be distracted by the human element which inevitably accompanies it and be convinced God has nothing to do with it.
Here is the catch for us modern Pentecostal leaders. If we attempt to adjust our methodology to be "unmockable", we will forfeit the very thing that mystifies and draws the rest of the crowd. The very phenomena that repulsed one crowd convinced another.
The Word has already set the parameters; the gospel of Jesus Christ is foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jew, but to those who believe it is the power of God. The message is clear: those who attempt to avoid the "foolishness" forfeit the power. They are two sides to one coin. It’s a package deal.
Could it be that inclusion of those elements He knew would offend were designed to confront the very thing which caused the fall of man in the first place? Scripture says the forbidden fruit was “desirable to make one wise”. It was Eve’s desire to be wise that hooked her; it would be her willingness to embrace the foolishness of the Gospel that would cut her free.
This desire to look wise, to be sophisticated, can dilute the Gospel. In fact, Paul says in I Corinthians 1:17 he refused to preach a “powerless cross”. That phrase, that possibility, should terrify us all. He is saying we can gut the cross of its power by attempting to sanitize it, cleansing it of its controversy, all to make us look wise.
The term sophistication comes from the word Sophia, the Greek word for wisdom. Sophisticated usually conjures up the image of someone who is wise to the ways of the world, who is classy and doesn’t associate with people below their class. This desire to appear sophisticated, to “look” wise, can actually create an aversion to the Gospel. This is a danger for preacher and parishioner alike.
This is not to say we are not to pursue wisdom. Wisdom is a treasure to be sought after. In fact, Paul tells us Jesus is the wisdom of God incarnate (I Cor. 1:30). The key is wanting to truly be wise rather than merely appearing so. Often true wisdom will take you down paths which temporarily cut across the grain of man’s opinion. And therein lies the rub. Will we follow God? Will we let Him have His way, regardless of how we appear? When God moves, will we be mystified, or will we be a mocker…and miss a move of God?