The power of Pentecost
Zollie Smith, pastor of Eternal Life Christian Center in Somerset, N.J., is an executive presbyter of the Assemblies of God and president of the AG Black Fellowship. He spoke recently with Managing Editor Ken Horn about the impact of the Holy Spirit on his life and the life of the church.
PE: How did you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
SMITH: I grew up in the Church of God in Christ and was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 14. We had what were called tarrying services for the purpose of seeking the infilling of the Holy Spirit. At 14, some other students and I fasted by day and tarried by night for two nights. I remember mature members of the congregation praying with me and saying, ÒJust keep calling on Him, Son. Call out to Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.Ó I remember being filled with the Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, and falling to the floor. It was quite an experience, but very fulfilling and rewarding.
PE: What does it mean to be Pentecostal?
SMITH: It simply means that they are people of the Spirit. Those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit are under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals are baptized in the Holy Spirit for the purpose of being empowered witnesses of Jesus Christ to the world. Pentecostals are one with God through His Spirit in fulfilling the ministry of reconciliation.
PE: Could you talk more about the Holy SpiritÕs mission of reconciliation?
SMITH: Without the Spirit of God we have no connection with God. So the indwelling of the Holy Spirit allows us to have this connection with His Son and, of course, with the Father. We develop this oneness that connects us with His heartbeat, His vision, which is to reconcile men back to himself, for He is willing that none should perish. So what it means to be Pentecostal — the importance of the Holy Spirit to the church — is that it allows us to be in one accord with God and united in reconciling the world back to Him.
PE: How do you emphasize the Holy Spirit in your church?
SMITH: We stress that it is essential that everyone be baptized in the Holy Spirit. We have a members class and a new converts class that both address the importance of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We have altar calls where we encourage individuals to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
PE: Should churches as a whole emphasize the gifts of the Spirit more?
SMITH: God spells out in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 the ministry of reconciliation that He has given the church. The gifts and the demonstration of the SpiritÕs power are a part of that ministry. When we are striving to reconcile, to make disciples, there is automatically a demonstration of the SpiritÕs power. We donÕt have to manufacture it; we donÕt have to try to create it. We simply allow the Holy Spirit to be in control — He is the One who performs the miracles, signs and wonders. His position has not changed. If the Spirit is not functioning as freely, it is not the Spirit but those whom He must work through. When He is quenched, grieved or no faith is present, there will be no supernatural manifestations.
PE: What would you say to the Pentecostal Evangel reader who is not convinced that he or she needs the Baptism?
SMITH: Whatever God has ordained and put in place, we as His saints should want what God desires for us to have. If He wants me to have the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which He does based on His Word, I should desire that. It is a gift. All we have to do is ask of Him to receive it (Luke 11:13). We all need the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit to be GodÕs children.
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