The Power to Deliver

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. (Acts 1:8)

Now that I have told you some of the disadvantages of living in the Kingdom of Self, let me also tell you about one great advantage.

The benefit of an egocentric lifestyle to King Self is that he becomes a lifelong devotee of power. It comes close to being an obsession with him. This obsession almost kills him, but God can also use it to lead the king to Himself.

King Self completely devoted himself throughout his life to acquiring power. From earliest childhood, he dreamed of controlling his world. Even supernatural power was called upon to support (but not control, thank you) the exciting destiny of himself as a god-king.

The results, we know all too well, were completely disastrous. It was because King Self was fascinated with his own power. He was right in that he needed power—but wrong in looking to himself as the source of that power.

This is the basic problem with all egocentrics: we lack the power to deliver ourselves from the power of evil. This is why we must turn away from the pseudo-religionists and the psychologists and turn to the God of all power.

This God—this God of all power—has a name.

He is the Holy Spirit.

Many egoists, when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, ask for and receive the Holy Spirit and His power. That old obsessive fascination with power now leads the weary egoist straight to the source of all power in the Holy Spirit.

So thank God for our power-hungry egoism! But praise Him even more that the Holy Spirit is today dramatically filling our need for the power to be delivered from the Kingdom of Self. God is again revealing to us that the Holy Spirit is abundantly powerful to bring us into the Kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Just look around and see what is happening today. The Holy Spirit is falling upon God’s people all over the world. A new Pentecost has come upon us as thousands upon thousands are receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

I rejoice to participate in the current charismatic revival.


Because I am a devotee of the divine person who possesses all power—the Holy Spirit.

I see the power of the Holy Spirit breathing the breath of life into mental patients who have surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I see the power of the Holy Spirit in that growing company of believers—Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Jews—so many of whom are obviously manifesting both the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

I see the power of the Holy Spirit all over the world— Indonesia, Korea, South America, Israel, Europe, even here in the Eastern United States where for so long we have lived in a spiritual desert.

A pastor friend of mine had for years been plowing the stony, spiritual soil of a number of churches in New York State. He came into contact with some turned-on charismatic Christians, receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some time after this occurred, I received a phone call from him.

“Earl, can you give me an appointment? I need to see you as soon as possible.” I receive many calls of this nature, so I pressed him a little to find out just how urgent his needs were.

“I need you to examine my head,” he said without any hint of embarrassment. “My church board is sending me to you to find out whether I am psychotic. You see, some time ago I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” and he went on to tell me how this had led to some grinding of the gears between the congregation and himself.

“Okay,” I said, “you come down tomorrow, but there is something I must tell you. We’ll have to find someone to examine my head, because I’ve also received the Holy Spirit.”

So the pastor came. I examined his head—thoroughly and seriously—because pastors can become psychotic like anyone else. I think I know a diseased mind when I see one, but this fellow simply did not fit the picture. He was a solid person, emotionally stable, and wonderfully loving toward the church board who was sure he was crazy. No matter how I looked at this man, he was an impressive product of God’s workmanship. After we had prayed together, we parted, praising the Lord for the power which had come into our lives.

It was the demonstrated power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals which first drew me to them. I was extremely suspicious of these people in my first contacts with them. Like many other Christians, I had stubbed my toes on the phenomenon of speaking in tongues. It almost turned me back to my traditional understandings, tame and unexciting as they were. But praise the Holy Spirit, He eventually got through to me with this wild gift of speaking in tongues, once I had the humility and obedience to ask for it. It is not this gift, however, nor for that matter any of the other eight charisms of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, which drew my interest. I was drawn to the Person behind the gifts. I am excited by the person of the Holy Spirit and His infinite power.

Only the Holy Spirit has the power to deliver us from our personal bondages. Only the Holy Spirit can lead us out of the Kingdom of Self into the Kingdom of God. Only the Holy Spirit can turn us away from pseudo-religion and humanistic psychology to become a new kind of people in the emerging church of today and tomorrow.

This is the day of charismatic renewal. I want to list a few characteristics which recommend this movement as an authentic work of the Holy Spirit in our day:

1. The charismatic movement correctly understands that God is performing miracles today. Most Christians, and I was among them, do not really believe that to be true.

We were told that the age of miracles ceased when the New Testament canon was completed. I was content to let it go at that until my investigation of God’s miracles of healing through Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, Alfred Price, and others showed the falsehood of that position. The Holy Spirit is obviously very eager to demonstrate His miraculous power among His people. I have come to understand that the only barrier to His miraculous work among us today is our unbelief—that is, we don’t believe the Holy Spirit can and will work miracles today. As Matthew says, “He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58).

How we need the Holy Spirit to perform His mighty works in our mental hospitals. We do not need more hospital beds, more psychiatrists, nor staff, nor money, no, not even more chaplains. We need the Holy Spirit to resurrect the mentally ill from these medical centers called psychiatric hospitals.

2. The movement of the Holy Spirit accurately discerns the spiritual nature of our basic problem in life.

Most charismatics, following the teaching of that most unusual Chinese Christian, Watchman Nee, affirm the biblical teaching that man is composed of spirit, soul, and body. Modern psychology ignores man’s spirit, because the behavioral scientists are so completely absorbed in the study of man’s soul (intellect, will, and emotions). We are encouraged to develop our soulish powers by which to assert our mastery over life. Watchman Nee correctly discerned that this is the very worst mistake man can make. What we need is not soul-development but for our dead human spirits to be brought to life and joined by the Holy Spirit. We cannot really be helped until we are born of the Holy Spirit. Once our spiritual need is met by the Holy Spirit joining Himself to our spirits, a sure foundation for emotional health is laid.

What this means is that the problem with man is basically spiritual rather than psychological or genetic or environmental. We are human spirits who need the Holy Spirit. When “he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Corinthians 6:17), the basic life-problem is solved. How simple!

3. Another thing that should commend the charismatic movement to us is the way Spirit-filled Christians are learning to submit themselves to temporal authority out of obedience to God.

I had opportunity to study firsthand the charismatically oriented Community of Jesus in Orleans, Mass. The Holy Spirit has gathered a dozen households who have agreed to live in the Light in a fellowship of love and discipline. The Community is structured so that each member is subject to another member as a means of actualizing his obedience to Christ. New members are quickly assimilated, responding as they do to that most important fruit of the Holy Spirit: love. I was struck by the presence in the members of an authentic freedom (not to mention their joy and peace) in Christ which was given to them through submission to fellow Christians and ecclesiastical authority.

Other groups of charismatic Christians throughout the country are forming themselves under the discipline of the Holy Spirit. So far I have heard of the Hallelujah Community in Augusta, Georgia, the Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas, and the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The latter is made up of about forty residential households, two-thirds of which are Roman Catholic families.

A Roman Catholic priest at the Seventh Annual International Conference on Charismatic Renewal reports how the Holy Spirit brought him into submission to God:

The charismatic experience has completely changed my church politics and my national politics. I began to understand why it is that the Scriptures enjoin us to be submissive to those in authority over us. Now I’m totally in support of those in authority who minister order to the nations. Without that order, there’d be chaos and destruction.*
*Father Schiffmayer in Newsweek. June 25, 1973, p. 85b.

I rejoice that people as diverse as Roman Catholics (many of whom were beginning to defy ecclesiastical authority) and Baptists (many of whom rejected eccelesiastical authority) and brand-new converts (who had totally ignored ecclesiastical authority) are able to relate obediently and gladly to their various authorities for no other reason than that Jesus asked them to do this. There is a new voluntary submission among these people of the Holy Spirit, not only to ecclesiastical authority but to all legitimate temporal authority.

4. One of the greatest contributions so far of the charismatic movement has been its serious recognition of the reality of Satanic power. Nowhere else do we find the presence of evil spirits taken with such seriousness as among these Spirit-filled Christians.

If anyone doubts that our struggle is “against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12), let him read Mike Warnke’s book, The Satan Seller (Logos, 19731. Mike Warnke was a high priest of Satan, wielding that supernatural power which Satan gives to those who serve him. Mike was delivered from this power, receiving first Jesus Christ and later, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

As I look around, I do not see any groups other than the Pentecostals and the charismatics, who understand that each of us is involved in a great cosmic battle between the powers of Satan and Jesus Christ. The people of the Holy Spirit understand this and do not hesitate to exorcise evil spirits in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of His blood. Thank God we have again discerned the Enemy—Satan!

I realize there are already excesses in the charismatic movement. Some leaders see every form of mental illness, for example, as an evidence of demon possession. On that basis, all that the suicidal person needs, is to have his evil spirit exorcised. But the problem here, it seems to me, is not with the treatment—for some suicidal persons, I am sure, are demon-possessed—but with the diagnosis, or as we would say, the discernment of spirits. The Holy Spirit’s gift of discernment (as to whether one is possessed or not), rightly used, will bring us to a more balanced understanding and practice. One of the sanest books I have read on this subject is Michael Harper’s Spiritual Warfare (Logos, 1970).

As a psychiatric chaplain, I want to add that the understanding of mental illness in terms of a spiritual warfare makes far more sense to me than all these psychological theories, the number of which is rapidly becoming legion. The highly questionable theories of Sigmund Freud and the arrogant plans of B. F. Skinner, to cite just two examples, require a faith and trust so great that I must beg off because of my unbelief. It is more than can be asked, I feel, of any man. Lords of humanistic psychology, help thou my unbelief! Accuse me of intellectual and idealistic sloth, but I find myself with faith sufficient only to believe the biblical teaching about God, man, and the devil. The Bible, it seems to me, not only explains the human problem better, but also gives us a proven method to handle the deepest human maladies through spiritual means.

5. The twentieth-century Pentecost we are experiencing is the more irresistible because it works at making things more simple. Now, I am sure there are a number of charismatics around whose theological efforts would contradict my statement, but nonetheless, I sense a refreshing tendency toward simplicity in understanding the Christian way and its implications.

It is so easy and tempting to work in the direction of complexity. Egocentrics love to make things intricate and hard to understand. Spirit-filled people work hard at making things simple. That’s what Jesus did. He spoke so that children could understand him while the learned became confounded.

Charismatic Christianity, with its emphasis on simplicity, is what my patients basically need and want. One of my patients put it very clearly when he said, “I usually do my thinking in the pit of my stomach. I got no time to read books and attend classes when my depression closes in on me. It takes all the strength I have just to keep my mind fixed on the Lord.”

Thank God for Spirit-filled Christians who are trying to keep things simple.

6. The neo-Pentecostal movement in Christianity is marked also by a new expectation of Christ’s imminent return. This is a needful emphasis in our chaotic world but no less as a word of hope in the world of the mental hospital.

There is so much in the lives of our hospitalized people which must await a meeting with Jesus Christ before any remedy can be found. Who but Christ can sew up the deep psychic wounds of a schizophrenic? What hope is there for a water-brained alcoholic, other than the hope of Jesus’ return? When a retardate finally realizes that he is never going to leave the hospital to live at home with his family, what else can I point him to, other than the present comfort of the Holy Spirit and the future return of Jesus to set things right?

There is hardly a charismatic leader around who does not believe that he will within his lifetime see the return of Jesus.

Proximately, we work for the renewal of broken persons and the social structures in which we live, but ultimately, our hope is in being rescued from this chaotic world-order which is increasingly fit for burning.

I sense so keenly in these last few moments of our fellowship the need for us all to receive and remain open to that Divine Person, the Holy Spirit. “Be filled with the [Holy] Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), says Paul. Let these simple words come true in our hearts.

Holy Spirit: Descend upon us anew and fill every room in our hearts. All our hope is in You. We invite you to work in us and through us into all eternity. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

We are witnessing a twentieth-century Pentecost.

God is now filling us with His Holy Spirit once again.

The People of the Paraclete are becoming Spirit-empowered, Spirit-disciplined and, most importantly, Spirit-led.

Praise the Lord!

There is nothing more to say.

Praise the Lord!

Back To Chapter 1

Kingdom of Self back cover

Copyright © 1974 by Logos International
185 North Avenue, Plainfield, N. J. 07060
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-89494
International Standard Book Number.
0-88270-068-5 (Hardcover)
0-88270-062-6 (Softcover)