Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the
Assemblies of God, spoke with Hal Donaldson, editor in chief of the
Pentecostal Evangel, about the Holy Spirit and His work in believers
and in churches.
Evangel: When and where did you receive the baptism
in the Holy Spirit?
I received my Baptism at youth camp when I was about 13 years old. I
was struggling with stability in my Christian walk. The Holy Spirit
gave me the needed power and strength. Acts 1:8 says, "You will
receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my
witnesses" (NIV). That verse says that the infilling of the Holy
Spirit is to empower us to live out the Christian life. Having
been raised in a Pentecostal home, I knew the Holy Spirit was the answer
for the strength I needed, and I was not disappointed.
Evangel: How has the Baptism helped you?
Trask: Some in Pentecostal circles emphasize
tongues. Tongues is the accompanying sign that one has received the
infilling of the Holy Spirit. But the enduement of power for the believer
is absolutely critical. The Scripture says, "Live by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Galatians
The No. 1 way He helps is that He empowers us to
live above the lusts of the flesh.
No. 2 is the power He gives to live out the Christian
No. 3 is the ability He gives to pray in the Spirit.
Paul says, "The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that
words cannot express" (Romans 8:26). A prayer language is available
to Spirit-filled believers and is intended to be ongoing.
We can be led of the Spirit as a result of the infilling
of the Spirit.
Evangel: Some people question whether the Baptism
is for everyone.
Trask: The Scriptures show that it is. Act
2:6 shows the infilling of the Holy Spirit came upon those from different
nations. Throughout the Book of Acts, it happened on other occasions.
Through the years men and women, boys and girls,
of many denominations have been hungry for God and the Spirit has filled
them. He will not fill anyone against his or her will. "Blessed
are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be
filled" (Matthew 5:6).
Evangel: Some in Assemblies of God churches want
to receive the Spirits enduement of power, but havent. What
advice would you give them?
Trask: Continue to seek. The Holy Spirit
is a gift; you cant earn it. And I have observed that usually
a person is filled with the Spirit as he/she praises and yields.
James says, "The tongue is a small part
but it makes great boasts" (James 3:5). Probably the last part
of our anatomy that we yield is our tongue. He will speak through the
tongue the instrument by which God will indicate to us that we
have been Spirit-filled. We begin "to speak in other tongues as
the Spirit enables" (Acts 2:4).
Evangel: There are those who desire to see the
Holy Spirit move in a powerful way in their churches. What counsel would
Trask: The Spirit will never infringe; He
will never intrude; He comes when He is invited. The soil of ones
heart and the soil of the church a collective body have
to be prepared for the work of the Spirit. That results from intercessory
prayer, waiting upon God. Any church that wants to see the work of the
Spirit with signs following has to be bathed in prayer. Prayer creates
that atmosphere and prepares the hearts of Gods people for that
Ive never found a praying church that does
not have a powerful sense of the Holy Spirits presence in the
services. You cannot separate that. Jesus said to the early Christians,
"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised"
(Acts 1:4). Let the Spirit prepare the heart and the soil. There are
Some want the benefits and the work of the Spirit,
but they do not want to pay the price.
Evangel: What would you like to see occur in
every Assemblies of God church on Pentecost Sunday?
Trask: From time to time a Pentecostal church
needs to emphasize the person and work of the Holy Spirit, because new
people need to receive instruction. Opportunities need to be given to
pray with them to receive the Holy Spirit. I would pray that happens
across this Fellowship so literally scores will be baptized in the Holy
Spirit and those who have been baptized will receive a fresh infilling.
Out of that will come a powerful church, because it is "not by
might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord" (Zechariah
Our dependence upon the Spirit is absolutely essential.
Evangel: What in the church world today shows
the Holy Spirit is at work?
Trask: The prophet Joel says, "Afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people" (Joel 2:28). Peter restated
it in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). We are living
in the last days. One of the signs is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Ive been in countries in the last several months where the miraculous
is happening signs and wonders.
Another sign is the prayer movement across denominational
lines. Pastors and congregations that have been separated because of
doctrinal differences are now coming together. Diversity can have unity;
Also, people joining to pray for revival in their
communities is evidence that the Spirit of God is at work.
Evangel: Anything else?
Trask: God raised up the Assemblies of God
to be a Spirit-filled body to accomplish the mission of reaching the
world. The purpose for the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the outpouring
on the Day of Pentecost was to infuse the Church with such power that
it would take this gospel around the world. Having begun in the Spirit,
we cannot now revert to the flesh simply because we have learned some
things. The moment we take over, the Spirit takes His hands off.
God brings to my heart again and again: We must
be a Spirit-driven and Spirit-empowered church.