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2003 Conversations


Joy Williams: Rooted in Grace (December 29, 2002)

Judy Rachels: Christmas gifts (December 22, 2002)

Ralph Carmichael: New music for a timeless message (December 15, 2002)

Roger and Greg Flessing: Media, ministry and society's ungodly messages (December 8, 2002)

Rick Salvato: Meeting medical and spiritual needs around the world (November 24, 2002)

Asa Hutchinson: Drug Enforcement's top officer (November 17, 2002)

Bill Bright: 'Not I, but Christ' (November 10, 2002)

Ray Berryhill: Living by faith (October 20, 2002)

Owen C. Carr: Reading through the Bible 92 times (October 13, 2002)

Curtis Harlow: Combating campus drinking (September 29, 2002)

Wes Bartel: Making Sunday count (September 22, 2002)

M. Wayne Benson: The Holy Spirit knocks (September 15, 2002)

Dr. Richard Dobbins: Understanding Suffering (September 8, 2002)

K.R. Mele: Halloween evangelism (August 25, 2002)

Roland Blount: God makes a way for blind missionary (August 18, 2002)

Cal Thomas: Finding a mission field (August 11, 2002)

Lisa Ryan: For such a time as this (July 28, 2002)

Dallas Holm: Faith and prayer in life’s toughest times (July 21, 2002)

Paul Drost: Intentional church planting (July 14, 2002)

James M. Inhofe: Serving Christ in the Senate (June 30, 2002)

Karen Kingsbury: The Write stuff (June 23, 2002)

Michael W. Smith: Worship is how you live each day (June 16, 2002)

Wayne Stayskal: On the drawing board (June 9, 2002)

Fory VandenEinde: Anyone can minister (May 26, 2002)

Thomas E. Trask: Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2002)

Stormie Omartian: Recovering from an abusive childhood (May 12, 2002)

Luis Carrera: Beyond the Shame (April 28, 2002)

Tom Greene: The church of today (April 21, 2002)

Philip Bongiorno: Wisdom for a younger generation (April 14, 2002)

Deborah M. Gill: Christian education and discipleship (March 24, 2002)

Norma Champion: Becoming involved in politics (February 24, 2002)

Steve Pike: A candid discussion about Mormonism (February 10, 2002)

Raymond Berry: More to life than football (January 27, 2002)

Sanctity of Human Life roundtable: Doctors speak out (January 20, 2002)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: Ministering in the military (January 13, 2002)


2001 Conversations

Pentecost Sunday

(May 19, 2002)

Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God, has spent a lifetime in Pentecostal ministry. Whether serving as pastor, district superintendent or from the Fellowship’s national offices, he has emphasized the need for Pentecostal believers to fully avail themselves of the gifts of the Spirit. He spoke recently with Scott Harrup, associate editor.

EVANGEL: Historically, what is Pentecost Sunday?

TRASK: Pentecost Sunday is the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Early Church believers. The second chapter of Acts records how the believers, in response to the command of Jesus, had remained in Jerusalem waiting for the power from on high He had promised. Christ’s fulfillment of that promise came 50 days following His resurrection. The believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit and experienced the power accompanying the Spirit’s outpouring.

EVANGEL: Pentecost Sunday is celebrated throughout the Christian world. What makes it particularly significant for the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal believers?

TRASK: There are many people in the church world who accept the fact of Pentecost as a historical happening but do not accept the fact that Pentecost is an experience for today. We in the Pentecostal church believe that every believer can and should be baptized in the Holy Spirit, should receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have embraced and are recipients of the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

EVANGEL: Could you describe your own baptism in the Holy Spirit?

TRASK: I was in youth camp when it happened. As a young teenager at the time, I was still learning to live consistently for the Lord. Following my baptism in the Holy Spirit, I found the enablement and the power to live for Jesus Christ and it was a great day and a marvelous experience. I would recommend to anyone and everyone to be a seeker of the Holy Spirit and a receiver of the Baptism He brings.

EVANGEL: How do you sense the Holy Spirit moving in local churches you visit?

TRASK: Wherever the local church is open to the work of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit and there is a place given to the Spirit’s ministry, God is at work and, consequently, that church is alive and growing. The Scripture that we use as our Fellowship’s focus is Zechariah 4:6: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." It is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, who makes what we do to be blessed or anointed. Wherever there is an awareness and acceptance of the Spirit’s ministry, people are being saved, people are being filled, people are being delivered, and the needs of people are being met. It’s not through an organization or through a program that this happens.

EVANGEL: From a national perspective, what importance do you attribute to the Holy Spirit’s guidance when you meet with the Executive Presbytery and other Assemblies of God leaders?

TRASK: The Scripture says that the Holy Spirit would reveal, first of all, Jesus Christ. The Spirit also is able to give insight to us. That is where the gifts of the Spirit come into operation, such as the discerning of spirits, the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom. As a Pentecostal group of leaders who are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to guide the church, we rely on His ability to give insight into the challenges we face and into the possibilities surrounding different decisions. The Spirit is able to open up avenues of awareness that we would not have in ourselves. I have seen that again and again and am so appreciative of the Holy Spirit’s readiness to help us. When meeting with the Executive Presbytery, I have seen instances when a message in tongues and an interpretation gave guidance. More commonly, I see the word of knowledge in operation. The Spirit will use one of the presbyters to speak a word directly to a situation that brings resolution.

EVANGEL: Many non-Pentecostal Christians are mightily used by God. Does this fact weaken in any way the assertion that the Baptism is for all believers?

TRASK: None whatsoever. First of all, every believer, when he or she comes into relationship with Jesus Christ, receives the Holy Spirit. It is not proper doctrine to teach that a believer does not have the Holy Spirit unless he or she has received the Baptism. When you receive Jesus Christ, you receive the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is an established fact. When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, it is an added dimension of the third Person of the Trinity. That does not detract from those who have not received the Baptism or render Pentecostals as some kind of elite group within the church. The Scripture teaches that to whom much is given, much is required. The more we have of the work of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit and the knowledge of God, the more accountable we are to God.

EVANGEL: Some Pentecostals view the Baptism as the summit experience of their faith. Would you agree that the Holy Spirit wants to do much more than lead the believer into speaking in tongues?

TRASK: I understand why some believers would feel that their Baptism experience was a high point. But the danger of that is this: Simply because one has received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues does not give them a right or license to sit back and settle in spiritually. The Baptism should not become an experience of the past. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is given for the empowerment of the believer, according to Acts 1:8, to be a witness. The most effective witnesses today are men and women living Jesus Christ day after day in the work place or wherever their responsibilities take them. Speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence that one has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. But one should not stop there. The Baptism should be an entrance into life in the Spirit and the working of the Spirit and the use of His gifts.

EVANGEL: Some believers in our churches are content to agree with and observe the Baptism and the gifts of the Spirit without seeking those gifts themselves. What are they missing?

TRASK: They’re missing a marvelous opportunity for God to do a deeper work in their lives. It is unfortunate that some believers are satisfied with the dimension of God they have. The Early Church, before Pentecost, had a dimension of Jesus Christ. But Jesus himself said it was expedient that He go away in order to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Jesus recognized that these believers needed more of God than what they had. So He promised He would send the Holy Spirit who would give that added dimension and empower the believers and assist them. Christians who have not recognized their need for the baptism in the Holy Spirit are missing a wonderful experience in God. It is more than just speaking in tongues. It is a lifestyle.

EVANGEL: What do you want audiences to take away from viewing the Pentecost Sunday simulcast?

TRASK: I want them to recognize that the Baptism is a gift for today; this is a gift for every believer; this is a divine experience that will assist them in living the Christian life. They don’t have to live in their own strength but can live in the power of the Spirit’s might. I pray that God will create a hunger in those who have not received this Baptism and will renew a hunger in those who have been baptized in the Spirit but have not enjoyed the many benefits of living in the Spirit’s power in these challenging days.

EVANGEL: Anything else?

TRASK: I’m so grateful for our being a Pentecostal fellowship. I think many times we take for granted these blessings we have. I remember when I was pastoring I would have people come into the church and they would say, "Why didn’t somebody tell me about the Assemblies of God?" It was a day of discovery for them. I pray that this is a day of discovery for thousands upon thousands — both within and outside the church — that this gift of the Holy Spirit was given so that all believers might benefit in their walk with Jesus Christ.

 

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