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Terry Virgo Interview (part 3 of 3)

Terry Virgo continues to take questions from the floor, beginning with his answer to a question about baptism in the Spirit...

Life Long Grace: Dave Bish interviews Terry Virgo (part 3 of 3)

Photo: Harri Guyer, Relay Exeter


  1. I recall a discussion on this topic back here:

    Correct me if I've wrong, but he seems to be denying the DB - "The Holy Spirit lives in all those he has regenerated. He makes them increasingly Christlike in character and behaviour and gives them power for their witness in the world."

  2. Why did no-one ask him the obvious clarifying question about the work of the Spirit in regeneration, or whether or not there is any sense in which he'd say people 'have' the Spirit upon conversion. That would've been extremely helpful.

  3. I've transcribed what Terry said in answer to the question "Terry could tell us more about what it is to be baptised in the Holy Spirit?" and put it online here:

    I'll be cleaning it up a bit and reposting it on later on today, but I thought I'd put the raw version up now in case anyone wants to read it / quote it.

  4. Scott, I really don't think that was being denied.
    Pete, A clarifying question could have been helpful. Sorry!

    I think the issue is do we have all we can of the Spirit's work at conversion, is there growth and does that come from God's work in us... Seems to me to be in the category of Colossians 2:6-7, Christ is all and yet there is depth and height to be had in the Christian life, which comes from the Spirit's work in us. Do we say that it's an addition?

    We begin with the Spirit, and go on with the Spirit - but its oversimplistic to say that we experience all of that automatically from the outset...

    Likewise, from elsewhere in the conference - it seems that some Christians only believe Galatians 3:26-27 and miss 4:6-7 and so are miserable pigs, dressed in righteousness and called to fly but inside they remain as pigs... when we're meant to be new creations... we might say that getting the 'new creation', filled with the Spirit of the Son' side of things is only about understanding and learning something new, but isn't that actually about the Spirit's work in us?

    What I find helpful is that Terry here describes a gift of grace, not a reward for the 'spiritual' or keen, simply that God would give his Spirit, 'baptising' us in him as a gift... and then we can speak of ongoing fillings with the Spirit.

  5. Helpful comments Dave.

    I don't think I have a problem with talk of ongoing fillings/ empowerments/ outpourings. But baptism? I'm not sure, perhaps the bible usage isn't monochrome, but 1 Cor 12:12-13 seems fairly conclusive, and the link there with union with Christ/ membership of his body is significant. Same with talk of possession/ reception of the Spirit - needs to be clear how this doesn't mess up Romans 8:9 - though again I'm open to accept that the bible's use of terms is not as monochrome as ours can be.

    I'm not sure I fully understand what you're saying re. the Galatians passages, not having been at the conference. Are you saying that some Christians don't understand/ believe/ live out the reality of Galatians 4:6-7, or that some actually don't possess what it talks about i.e. the Spirit within them crying 'Abba Father'? Or some combination of the two? Because it seems to me that Paul's assumption is that the Galatians possess the reality of these verses (they ARE sons and therefore God HAS sent the Spirit into their hearts) yet don't think and live that way consistently. [Though, to address the actual point you make, I obviously agree that all Christian progress is about the work of the Spirit in us].


  6. Scott, I found it helpful to look at Rob's transcript. It's clear(ish) there that Terry's emphasis is on the Spirit given in empowerment, hence why he starts by talking about the way the Spirit came upon prophets and judges in the OT. This at least allows for the possibility that he holds to some sort of in-dwelling by the Spirit of all who are regenerate.

  7. With reference to Galatians - that people don't live in the reality of having the Spirit, they have the Spirit - since all believers begin with the Spirit (ch3) but not living in that.

    Its helpful to have some flex in our terminology because it doesn't seem that the same language is used consistently by the NT.. context determines the meanings.

    Power to live and contribute to the life of the church does seem to be the main issue, along with experience of the gospel-given relationship, status and identity that we have, which is available to all, but perhaps not all seem to have.

  8. I have been informed that the earlier link I posted has stopped working.

    I've now tidied up the transcript a bit and added some commentary over on my blog:

  9. David Parry helpfully linked to which is a summary of a sermon Terry gave. I think this summary is a helpful clear explanation of what Terry thinks (see my post for links to the sermon itself).

  10. Pete, maybe I'm slow, but it seems in that transcript he rejects the view that says a person has the indwelling Spirit from conversion and then later there is a 'second-stage' recieving.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Mr Bish - when Terry says "So yeah it's possible for people to receive the Spirit immediately and spontaneously but it's not automatic. Do you understand what I'm saying? From the book of Acts you cannot argue that receiving the Spirit is automatic with conversion in the sense that we're talking about, it just isn't. So the position which maybe John Stott would hold or has held, I can't see it stands up to these verses. Although I think he's wonderful." do you think he might mean that someone might become a Christian but not have the Spirit (having not received it), and so one might be a Christian without having the Spirit live in them?

  13. Probably talking in terms of receiving the empowering of the Spirit... but equally our common language doesn't fit a lot of the sequence of things in Acts...

  14. I think you're probably right, but I wish he'd been a bit clearer. It's not the language of Acts that's my issue, it's the language Terry used himself here :-)

    I don't want to beat him up about it though - he was asked to speak off the cuff about a contentious and difficult to explain issue, it's not really fair to critique him on the exact words he used, I doubt he imagined anyone would make a transcript and look at what he said in that detail!

    Also clearly God is doing great things through New Frontiers - I don't want to end up as one of those Evangelicals who spends most of their time policing the perfect doctrinal correctness (as they see it) of everyone else.

  15. I read a comment the other day bemoaning how newfrontiers had found its way into the evangelical mainstream... I'm like, who set you up as the police, who let you define who's in or not, and on what grounds might newfrontiers not belong... So easy to be pharasaical from every direction, which isn't to say doctrinal correctness doesn't matter - it massively does, but just perhaps 'mainstream evangelicalism' might be a bit off in places... :)

  16. Scott,

    I agree that's the way it initially reads. I guess what I'm saying is, given the fact that

    a. I presume he had to sign a DB


    b. He really does seem to understand the 'receiving' as being to do with empowerment


    c. He wasn't asked, nor was he answering specifically with regard to the issue of conversion

    I'm willing to read him charitably. More clarity would be nicer.

    But then I'm not the doctrine police, nor am I UCCF, so it's their job and not mine to sort those things out. That said, as a pastor involved in student ministry who supports UCCF locally here in Sheffield I have a secondary vest interest in what's going on at Forum etc., so I like to keep in touch with these things.

  17. I guess the other thing here is that if we're prepared to say it's not a denial of the db, which he will have signed to speak at the conference, then it's a comment on an issue on which there is difference and room for difference, and it is ok to do that.


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