Tree of Life Church, London

Water baptism and Spirit baptism

The Baptist church I went to was lovely, friendly and had a large youth group.  I was still reading the Bible huge chunks at a time.  My life had changed dramatically: I had stopped swearing, and the love and joy I had was obvious to all.  It was so obvious to my younger brother he became a Christian just a few months later.

However, there was one thing I was still doing: drinking to excess.  Sometimes I would go out at the weekend and get drunk.  On occasion I went to church with a hangover.  People would always say the same thing to me: "Don't get drunk on wine!"  I would tell them that I am Scriptural because I never touch wine... it was beer and whiskey that led to my drunkenness!  I look back at this time of my life with regret - I was very immature and I simply did not see my drinking as a big deal.

My first week at the Baptist church was in March 1993.  The second week I was there, during the sermon, something strange happened.  I was sitting there listening when suddenly it was like I was not in the room.  I was in the throne room of God.  I could hear and see heaven.  I knew I was still in the church but it was like I was not in the church at the same time.  The Lord was there.  I couldn't look at him, but I knew he was there.  I heard the angels singing and shouting praises to God, and I saw them standing in a position of awe and wonder.  I felt the same awe and wonder.  The Lord spoke to me and said that the United Kingdom needed men to step forward who were deliverers and prepared to speak the truth no matter the cost so that the UK could be free.

I hadn't yet read Isaiah, but in hindsight, Isaiah outlined my feelings of inadequacy and inability after seeing a very similar thing.  I said to the Lord that I had nothing to offer that I was a wretch and a sinner.  All that the sense of the Lord's glory did was made me feel a distinct lack of my own glory.  The Lord told me that He wanted me to be one of those men.  He told me that I did not have to bring Him anything, but I did have to let go of everything I held dearly.  He did not want me to bring Him hands full with offerings, but empty hands that He could fill with His power.

I said I would do it no matter the cost, if He promised to never leave me on my own.  At that moment, my senses were back in the church building and the preacher was finishing his service.  He had somehow started talking about Moses and said that the Lord wanted people to respond to Him like Moses, and that if anyone wanted to become a Christian come forward.  In my immaturity and lack of assurance,  I went forward to become a Christian.  Looking back, the coming forward was symbolic of accepting the call of God on my life. 

You would think such a supernatural experience would have stopped me drinking, but it didn't.  I didn't feel like I could share my experiences with family or my new church family, so I kept them to myself.  I didn't want people thinking I was mad.  I knew no-one who claimed they had heard God speak to them.  The Baptist church, although at the time I didn't know the word, was cessationist.  They did not believe in the healing power of God, they did not believe God spoke apart from the Word.  They loved the Word, they loved each other, and they loved evangelism.  Yet, every time I read the Bible I saw healings and miracles, people hearing God speak, praying and seeing answers.  I saw a great difference between the Bible and what I heard and saw at church.  Sadly, their teaching was starting to infiltrate me, but I was also starting to realize that there was something wrong.  That church should be supernatural.

The church agreed to baptize me in December of 1993.  In November, two weeks before I was due to get baptized I went out and got very drunk indeed on a Saturday night.  In the morning, I thought people are going to tell me "don't get drunk on wine" because there was no mistaking I had been drinking.  I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to get water baptized.  So I thought I needed to find the verse myself.  So there I was, with a killer hangover, flicking through the Bible trying to find this verse.  Now my youth group (I was helping lead the group) had saved up their money and just bought me a huge concordance, the kind that you would need a fork lift truck to carry around.

I finally found the verse in the concordance and got my Bible open to Ephesians 5.18:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

I read the verse again and again, and started to cry.  In the last six months, I had been told "don't get drunk on wine".  No-one had ever told me to "be filled with the Spirit."  As I read those words, I had such a longing in my heart, like nothing I had ever felt again.  God, I cried, fill me with the Spirit and I will never get drunk again.  It was like the words were six foot tall in the Bible.  For the next two weeks, that was my only prayer: "Lord, I want to be filled with the Spirit, fill me with your Spirit."

The night before I was due to be be baptized, about a dozen other people were going to be baptized as well.  (The church did have a wonderful outreach program - I remember doing door to door and street work with them.  I think a few charismatics could do with spending some time learning how to evangelize from the Baptists!)  Some of the people getting baptized were a couple of years older than me, and were university students.  They were having a party and I was invited.  Several people had traveled some distance to watch the baptisms so most people stayed over night.  I decided to stay over as well, and went to sleep about midnight.

At 2 am, I was woken up by someone I had never met.  His hair was all over the place and he seemed very intense.  He reminded me of videos I had seen of the musician Keith Green.  He told me: God told me to wake you up and pray with you that you would get the gift of tongues.  Now, I had heard enough sermons against tongues that I did not want to pray with tongues.  I was such a confused mess: I knew God could speak clearly to people, I wanted to see Him heal the sick so badly, but I was flippant and immature, and I didn't want to speak in tongues.  It just seemed to have no practical value.

So I sent my mysterious visitor away and went back to sleep.  Thirty minutes he was back.  "God won't let me sleep" he said, "until I pray with you." "So, you won't let me sleep!" I said and tried to go back to sleep.  I must admit my curiousity was piqued.  I was starting to regret my harsh manner, what harm could it do to simply let him pray with me?

Thirty minutes later he was back.  He looked at me and said "I want to pray with you that you would be filled with the Spirit."
Filled with the Spirit!  Yes, I really wanted that.  I said "why didn't you say so?" and I, not knowing anything else to do, knelt at his feet.  He placed his hands on my head and started to speak in tongues.  I had never heard someone speak in tongues before.  It sounded Oriental, and the heat coming from his hands was remarkable.  I knew this was real and I knew this was God.  I remembered Acts 2.4 where the disciples had been filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues.  I wondered why I hadn't realized that if I was filled in the Spirit I would speak in tongues before.

I started to speak in tongues.  It was a totally different tongue from the one my crazy prophet was speaking in.  I spoke in tongues and he spoke in tongues.  After about fifteen minutes, I stood up.  I was full of the Spirit.  I put my hands on this gentleman's head, this person for whom I will always be grateful for his humility, obedience and perserverance.  Then I prophecied over him.  Then he prophecied over me:

"Today the fuse of a huge bomb has been lit.  It will take years for the fuse to burn, as the Lord uses your life to prepare you for the explosion that He wants you to be in the middle of.  But do not be discouraged if it tarries, for the explosion will come and this nation and many nations shall never be the same again."

The next morning I was water baptized.  While I was being water baptized the power of the Holy Spirit fell on me that I could not stop shaking and I could not speak.  They tried to interview me, but I could not speak the words.

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