By Allan C. Oggs Sr.
We live in the most advanced stage of any people that has existed.
We are blessed with so much that often we forget just how big the blessings are.
We enjoy so many conveniences that other folk before us did not enjoy.
We live in a tremendous hour.
It is a great day to live.
It is an outstanding time for us.
I have all the respect for the stories told about how it was in the good old days, and I’m as much a romanticist as the next.
I can sit and listen to stories about forty years ago—about the kerosene lamps, and how Grandad used to keep me soulbound talking about the Indians and his bag of sugar; how when traveling in the wagon, and hostile Indians would come their way, they would always have a bag of cube sugar.
It seemed to sweeten up the relationship between them.
The Indians would eat the sugar, Grandpa would slap the old horse and away they would go.
It’s a thrill to hear about all the so-called good old days when Mama used to whip the children behind the old woodshed.
But I’m thinking now about the reason they had a woodshed; when they carried the wood and set it by the fireside.
All this is really nice to hear about.
Frankly, I’d rather flip the switch and enjoy the lights.
I’d rather somehow manipulate the thermostat and find a happy medium.
We enjoy so many things today, which proves to me that we are living in a tremendous moment in the history of man, not only in technology, but in the many other advantages we enjoy.
It has not been too many years ago that the health department would sneak out, grab the door and slam it shut.
Then they would plaster across the door of the house the word Plague.
The health officer would then run for his life, and the neighbors would stand across the street and down the block, and listen to what a plague would do on the inside.
You see, the household was supposed to be contaminated by a curse called the plague.
You could stand and hear people screaming, and you could hear the sounds of hurt, and finally, when it all got quiet, you knew what had happened.
The plague had taken another life.
They would then go in and drag out the dead body that this horrible sickness had claimed.
As it turned out, the plague was only a bad appendix, and what used to be called a plague is now considered minor surgery.
One is over the operation in a few days at the most.
Yes, this is a great time to be living.
Materially, in technology, and in knowledge, we are blessed in this affluent hour.
Not only do we enjoy trinkets and gadgets, but the church today is the visible proof that we are living in a spiritually great day.
It is called the dispensation of grace.
These are the days about which angels asked questions, and longed to look into.
But here we are, blessed to live during a time that church history calls the dispensation of grace. The age of the church, the time of the outpouring of God’s Spirit, the areas of history that God has reserved till the very last to bless, and to be such a vital part of.
I don’t know how you feel, but I feel blessed to be living now.
I like to feel the presence of God.
I like to know that He is not some mystical something that only a few can locate, hidden away somewhere in ritual and tradition.
What a realization that even someone like me can locate Him and touch Him when I find Him.
The Scripture passage I read from tells the story of great men and great women.
It says that Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice when he knelt there before his offering, lifted his face toward the heavens, and offered God a sacrifice of blood.
It pleased God that he should make this type of sacrifice.
Though his sacrifice could be called more excellent, and though he obtained a good report through faith, he died without receiving the promise.
The Bible also tells about a man who was so close to God that He set up a special arrangement to take care of his family.
Noah found grace in the eyes of God, but the Bible said that when Noah passed away, he had obtained a good report through faith, but received not the promise.
A woman used to walk down the street, and, as she did, the other town folk would begin to whisper.
You see, the Bible said this woman was a harlot, a woman of low repute.
She was the fountain head of so many rumors, and a great deal of gossip and whispering.
But Rahab took advantage of a spiritual opportunity when she put herself in the plan of God, and it paid off.
When Rahab died, all these women who had whispered and gossiped and hung over the back fence to talk about her, gathered around her grave, began to scratch their heads, and to speak about the great change the harlot woman had made.
For when Rahab died, she died with a testimony that she had obtained a good report through faith.
You talk about a change.
It must have been a tremendous change for a woman of the red light district, a woman who had caused so much scandal, to obtain a good report through faith.
But with all the advancements she had made, and with all the changes that had been instituted in her life, and though she glowed with a good report, she did not receive the promise.
For several hundred years, folk were looking for a time that their sins might be more than just rolled ahead.
You see, they would bring their sacrifice and their heavy hearts and condemned feelings, but all they could find in God was a promise that things could be, or might be, different tomorrow. There was never the sensation of sins being washed away; only the postponement of conditions in their lives.
It was told them this was the only plan for their dispensation, that sins might be rolled ahead, peradventure the Messiah might come that year, and everything would be all right.
There was no salvation in a name; in fact, they did not even know the name of God.
When they asked His name, they were told His name would be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, and The Prince of Peace.
He would be loved, worshiped, and adored.
Still they did not know His name.
They had no idea what a burden bearer was.
There was no such thing as casting their burdens on the Lord; leaving their sins upon him.
As a burden bearer, all they could look upon was a bullock.
There was no innocent sacrifice, except for a lamb.
There was no taking away of sins, other than upon the back of a scapegoat that was driven off into the wilderness.
These folks longed for the time, prayed for the moment, thirsted for the opportunity when some day the load of sin and the hysteria of an unknown future would all be dissolved, in a lamb that would be slain once and for all.
They were always looking toward the future.
An old prophet stood one day outside his tent flap and looked at a dreary, droopy-eyed population, for the Lord had invaded the land.
He had sent into the land an army of pestilence.
What the palmerworm did not eat, the locust came behind and ate.
What they left, the cankerworm and the caterpillar ate, until the vineyard was stripped of its foliage, until the grapes were no longer hanging heavy on the vines.
Apple trees had lost their leaves, the bark on the trees was stripped, and the apple trees stood blushing in their nudity.
It was a dreary thing to behold.
The old prophet Joel stood there and looked at the plight of man of that day.
He could sense the despondent, discouraged feelings.
He looked into the faces that had not only lost their glow but had lost their question.
They had even discontinued asking why or how long, but stood there without question or expression.
Eight hundred and thirty-three years before there was a church established, Joel looked at the droopy-eyed folk, and said, “Take a look around you, and allow what you see to register in your mind.
For after this, will God pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, and upon your sons and daughters; and not only upon the nobility, but even upon your servants and your handmaidens, will he pour out his Spirit.”
You talk about jubilation, you talk about turning the lights on.
Faces lit up, eyes began to twinkle, for again it was remembered that there would be a time when the great God of glory would pour out His spirit upon all human flesh.
I don’t know what really happened, but I like to think that old Joel went back in the tent with a whole lot of questions in his own mind.
He did not question the coming, but he no doubt wondered how men would act when the great Spirit of all ages would begin to course up and down inside of human beings.
Would they laugh or would they cry?
Would they sit still?
He thought, “I wonder just how they will act. I wonder what would be my reaction. I wonder what I would do if suddenly I felt the Spirit of God kiss my brow, and tingle down my spine, and warm my very being. I wonder how I would respond.”
Oh, there was excitement everywhere!
News spread everywhere that after this, God was going to pour out His Spirit.
Five years passed, ten years passed, fifteen years passed, and still this did not happen.
A virgin had not yet caused the star of Bethlehem to shine.
Angels had not sung the celestial song.
They were still waiting, for the manger was still empty, Herod had not yet been warned, everything was still in a state of expectation, for them nothing had happened yet.
About a hundred years passed, then another old prophet, who was so lonely for fellowship, sat down and said, “I’d like to talk to you Israel, but your tables are all messed up. They are filled with your own drunken madness. I can’t talk with you, and I can’t discuss doctrine with you; your beds are too short for you and your cover won’t cover you. The hypocrisy of your philosophy leaves you sticking out of both ends of your bed.”
Then suddenly Isaiah, with his keen vision, with his flowing penmanship, with a heart that was in tune with God, began to write.
He said, “Listen, it’s tough today, but let me tell you about tomorrow. There’ll be a time that, with stammering lips and with another tongue, God will speak to His people; and this is the rest that will cause the weary to rest.”
Seven hundred and forty-six years before anyone had ever received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah was rejoicing about it.
He said, “This is the rest.” When you really have the Holy Spirit bubbling in your bosom, a tranquility develops.
I am sure that you remember attending a service when you were bone weary and tired.
I can remember a time or two when I have gone to the pulpit so weary and tired that I wondered if I could do anything at all.
Suddenly, at such times, you could feel something begin to work with you and then work in you and work through you, and then all weariness was gone and you would stand, feeling strong. You might be mind weary, you might be soul weary, or you might be physically weary; but Isaiah said that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is something that will make your weary soul rest, and will make your weary body rest.
Isaiah got all excited, but the experience was not for him.
All these folk had good reports, but there was not much of a postscript on the end of their report. They had glowing reports, but they died without the promise.
Hundreds of years passed.
Everybody was a prospect.
Everyone was an adventurer looking, but with no one finding.
Several hundred years passed, and a preacher appeared out in the wilderness.
He was unorthodox. He was so unusual and dogmatic.
He did not go downtown to preach, but his message was so controversial that downtown came to the wilderness to hear it.
He ate locusts and wild honey.
Such an unusual diet.
His language was aggressive and strong.
He stood in the wilderness and preached the message of repentance.
He was straightforward.
His message declared, “Clean up your life, because the king is coming. You had better straighten up, fix up and clean up, for the king is coming.”
Though his message was plain and strong, to the point, and a demanding one, multitudes began to follow the preaching and the precepts set down by one John the Baptist.
An easy way, if not the easiest way, out was a straight way, and none could preach it any straighter than John the Baptist.
I don’t know where it was or just when it happened, but evidently it was during a baptismal service, for John was preaching repentance, and baptizing unto repentance.
He stood there knee-deep in the old muddy Jordan, baptizing folk by the score, declaring, “I baptize you unto repentance.”
As he baptized, maybe he overheard a group of followers say, “Listen, we had better build us a temple or a building or a tabernacle, to let John be our preacher and our leader.”
I don’t really know what was the stimuli, but John spoke up again, very loudly.
He said, “Folk, whatever you do, don’t let the churning of Jordan fool you, and don’t let this sea of faces get next to you, for all I have to offer is baptism unto repentance.
The only message I have to preach is to quit your sinning and turn your back on ungodliness. Turn your back on unrighteous-ness, and clean up your lives.
There is one coming after me whose shoes I am unworthy to unlace.
He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire, and it won’t be many more days.”
Joel had talked about it.
Isaiah had spoken of it.
Men had dreamed about it, and now John said, “It is just about to happen. Not many days hence, and it shall come to pass.”
Just about that time, John’s “cousin” across town began to preach.
Naturally He was more than just a “cousin,” for His voice had a certain sound.
He had an earthly mother, but the Spirit of the Almighty God had stirred conception in the body of a young virgin, and she had brought forth a son.
Do you know what I like about this?
Jesus Christ preached the experience of receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
This was not just John’s message, but Jesus Christ preached that men would be filled with the Spirit of the Almighty God.
He stood at the well watching them come for water to drink, and leave, and then return again for more.
The tongue that was so wet and refreshed when they left, but He noticed that they would so often come back again, dry and thirsty.
Jesus stood one day at a great feast, and said, “Let me tell you something. I notice that you are here at the well often to quench your thirst. If you drink of the water that I have to give you, there will be something set up on the inside of you. If you drink of the water I have to give you, out of your bellies shall flow rivers of living water.”
The Bible said he was speaking of the Spirit that they that believe on Him should receive.
Jesus Christ preached the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
He stood one day (it seems that it may have been some kind of a parents’ gathering, but we do know there was a group of fathers there), and said, “Men, I’d like to ask you a few questions. If your son would ask you for a piece of bread, would you give him a stone?”
These men were indignant.
They thought, “What do you think we are? Beasts? Of course, we would not feed our children a stone for bread.”
Jesus said, “Well how about this? If your son would ask you for a fish, would you give him a serpent? If he asked you for an egg, would you give him a scorpion?”
They all said, “Oh, No! Not on your life! We love our children. You know we would not endanger their lives.”
He said, “All right. You that are of the earth, and you that are related to the earth, if you know how to give good gifts, how much more will your heavenly Father. He enjoys giving good gifts.
It has been several years ago now, but one of our missionaries was preaching in a new city.
One night, while the old tent was pitched and the service was in progress, a neighborhood girl went down to the tent meeting.
It was just a humble little place on the corner.
Immediately she fell under the influence of the presence of God.
She sat there and listened for a while, felt convicted of her sins and acquired a hunger for God. Before she went home that night, she went down
to the altar to pray.
She went, realizing she was a sinner who needed desperately the grace of God.
As she wept and prayed, the Lord wiped away her sin and gave her the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
When this happened, she lifted her hands in a praise of thanksgiving, and God spoke through her in a language unknown to her.
The excitement she was feeling! She could hardly wait until the next morning when she went back to her marble stone church with its stained glass windows and its altars of idols.
It had all the tradition and ritual of the past.
She could hardly wait to tell her pastor what had happened to her.
She knocked on his study door and rushed in.
There she stood, a new-born babe in Christ, all excited and bubbling. “Oh pastor, I just couldn’t wait to tell you what happened.”
That big old fellow sat there with all his education and degrees, and formality, and said, “Tell me daughter what happened.”
She told it all quickly. “I went down to the bottom of the hill last night, and felt the Lord.
I cried and repented of my sins.
I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”
When she said that, he almost swallowed his cigar.
He was so shocked.
He moved his chair closer, took his cigar out and laid it on the desk, and said, “Wait a while, daughter. Whatever you do, just sit still for a minute and let me talk to you.”
Without any consideration at all, he began to draw on a decade or so of experience.
Like a trained attorney, he began to vat, away at this young girl’s testimony.
Naturally, she became confused because of his approach and knowhow.
He just began to dig away at the foundation that was still so soft, and after awhile he began to detect that he was making some real good progress.
He thought, now is the time for the final blow.
He raised tip a little emotion. I don’t know where he got it, but he found it somewhere.
Excitedly he said, “Furthermore, let me tell you something. I want you to know that the Holy Ghost and speaking with tongues is of the devil. So you hear me child! It’s of the devil!”
When he said that, a quick light twinkled in her eye.
She perked up instead of falling down. he realized he had done something wrong somewhere. She just lit up, and said, “You shouldn’t have said that, pastor: you shouldn’t have said that at all. You’re all wrong.
The preacher told me last night that if I would ask my heavenly Father for his Spirit, He would not give me a stone!
He would not give me a scorpion, and He would not give me a devil.
He gave me His Spirit.
Now I know I have it.
Now I know I’m supposed to have it.
You shouldn’t have said that.”
Oh, you talk about a ministry.
It was more than just a ministry.
It was God working in the flesh.
One day they laid hands upon Him.
They took Him to a place called Calvary, and there they crucified Him.
They laid Him in a borrowed tomb, and on the third day He rose from the grave.
He showed Himself forty days and nights to be the risen Lord of glory!
He mocked the sting of death.
He stood as a testimony that He had brought Himself back from the grave.
He led his followers out a distance, and said, “I must go away, but I will not leave you comfortless.
I must go away, so that I may send the Comforter.
I want you to go to Jerusalem, and there I want you to wait for the promise of the Father.
The Scripture said that Rahab turned out to be a good woman, but she did not receive the promise.
The smoke of Abel’s sacrifice may have sent beautiful signals into the sky, but he did not receive the promise.
Jesus said, “Go and wait for the promise of the Father.” Out of several hundred people, about one hundred and twenty began to walk to Jerusalem.
“Where are you going?”
“I’ll tell you where I’m going! I’m going downtown and I’m going to stay there and I’m going to wait.” “Wait for what?”
“I’m going to wait for the promise of the Father!”
People had been waiting for a long time.
So true this reply was.
But it wouldn’t be long now.
John had said, “Not many days now.” Christ had said, “I am sending something back to you.”
I have often wondered why the Scripture said about a hundred and twenty.
I wonder if He wanted us to know how many were there or if He wanted to point out to us how many were not there.
I wonder if the writer was rejoicing about the one hundred and twenty, of if he was crying about the hundreds and thousands who were not there.
The one hundred and twenty sat waiting for the promise of the Father.
Joel had talked about it, Isaiah had written about it.
John the Baptist had preached about it. Jesus Christ had whispered beautiful messages about it. But now they were waiting for the promise.
Several days they waited, then the Bible said it was suddenly like a rushing mighty wind.
It was a wind that had started a hundred generations before, and had gathered momentum all this time.
Suddenly it blew into this place where they sat, and the Bible said that every one of them received the experience of the Holy Ghost and fire.
Joel, I wish you could have been there. Isaiah, if you had been there you’d have had something to write about.
They laughed and they cried, they stood and they sat down, and they ran around.
They acted like they were drunk on wine.
The Apostle Peter preached and said, “Let me tell you something. This is the promise. That’s all it is. What is the promise about? This is the promise made to you.”
This is the promise that Abel did not receive.
This is the promise of the Father.
“This promise is unto you and unto your children, and all you have to do to enjoy ‘THIS BETTER THING’ is to repent of your sins, be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.The promise of the Father is unto you, and to your children, and to your children’s children, and to your children’s, children’s children.”
Even now, today, it is for you and your children.
God has provided for us a better thing.
No longer are our sins rolled ahead, but when we are buried in baptism, our sins are remitted, they are wiped away, they are washed away.
This is the remission of sins.
The fire that began to burn on the day of Pentecost has never been quenched.
In just two or three days time, eight thousand or more had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Just a few years later, it was still happening in the household of Cornelius.
As many as three hundred people could have received the Holy Ghost there, while the preacher was yet speaking.
A few years later in Ephesus, twelve men received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
What I like about this is that it is still in the world today.
Not only is it still here, but it is still receivable.
The promise of the ages can be a reality for you in a moment.
You see, He has provided this BETTER THING for you.
In the first fifty-eight years of this century an established fifty-two million people have received the experience known as the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
In Brazil last month, in just one city church, forty received baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Last summer in our youth nps two thousand young people in about a four-week iod received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Everywhere, all the time, even now there is someone being blessed and being thrilled by receiving this precious gift, and being buried in His name in baptism.
Jesus Christ has provided us a BETTER THING.
One woman told me, “It’s wonderful; I’d like to have it if I could.”
You talk about a smug preacher.
It’s hard not to be smug when something is as easy to receive as the Holy Ghost.
It’s hard not to be braggadocios when you tell them that if they want it, you know they can have it.
Because I have that much confidence in my God.
You can receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost today.
The wind blows.
You don’t see the wind blow, but you see the rustle of the leaves on the trees.
You can’t see the Spirit, but you can see the effects of it.
I took a few carloads of youngsters to a youth camp several years ago.
In the group we had three from the same family.
Bill was the oldest, Sam was the middle child and Sue was the youngest.
Sue was fudging just a little bit.
She wasn’t really old enough to go, but she sneaked in.
Bill was at the age where he was just beginning to realize how little his parents knew, and how very intelligent he was.
After all, he was fourteen, and by the time you reach that ripe old age, you know it all.
As a pastor, I was trying to help Bill understand that he knew a whole lot, but there were one or two things he might need to consider.
Sam worshiped his brother, and anything Bill did was all right with him.
Sue was a big girl physically, but still really just a little girl.
Each one represented a different kind of problem.
I can almost hear their mom telling the kids how to act.
She started off so nice and quiet, and she wound up threatening them within an inch of their lives.
She said, “Bill, if I hear something bad just one time, if I get just one phone call, I’ll get to you. The long arm of Mother will reach to where you are.”
So away they all went, warning and all.
After being gone about three nights, Bill was in the altar seeking the Holy Ghost, and about four or five places down from him, was Sam.
Quite a distance away, with the little girls, was Sue.
All were seeking the Lord.
I watched them all.
I watched Bill as he wept and cried and repented and told the Lord how embarrassed he was for his sins.
The Lord accepted his repentance, came into his heart, and he received the Holy Ghost and spoke in a beautiful new tongue.
When he got up, all the freckles on his face were shining.
He went over to Sam, his little brother, and prayed with him, and it wasn’t five minutes until Sam received the Holy Ghost.
They both got up and went over to pray with Sue.
When they were through, they came to me and said, “Brother Oggs, we can’t use the phone without an adult, and we want to call home. Will you come with us?” So we all stood in line for him to call his mom.
Bill, the eldest son, was operating like the priest of the family. He said, “Hello, Mom.”
Mom said, “Oh No! What is it? What have you done now? Just tell it to me like it is. I’m strong and I can take it, so just tell me right away. You’ll be home when?”
“Oh no! Mom it isn’t like that. I just called to tell you that about five or ten minutes ago the Lord filled me with His Spirit. God gave me the Holy Ghost.”
Then you should have heard the conversation.
She was all excited, and wouldn’t you be?
She said, “Well Bill, I’m glad it’s happened, but that means you are now my helper, and whatever you do, go find Sam and make him behave himself.
You know Sam is younger than you; no telling where he is.”
Bill said, “Mom, Sam is right here. He’d like to talk to you.”
Sam said, “Hello, Mama. Right after Bill received the Holy Ghost, I received it.” (You see, it was that wind of promise that started blowing way back in the Book of Genesis. It blew into Tioga, Louisiana that night.) Sam said, “I just now received God into my life.” There was shouting on both ends of the line. Why not!
Then she said, “You boys take care of your sister. You know she isn’t supposed to be there, so keep your eye on Sue.” Sue was rather plump, with long strawberry blond hair and freckles everywhere.
Sam said, “Well, here’s Sue. She’ll talk to you.”
Sue had prayed hard, and she was so hoarse and so excited she could hardly talk. She just said, “Hello Ma! Me too!”
Oh to think that someone so frail and as weak and as limited as I am; to think that God put together a package as valuable and as beautiful and as wonderful as his Spirit for somebody such as I.
One man said, “Prove to me that I have to have the experience you have been talking about.”
I didn’t like his terminology. I said, “Would you repeat that, please.”
He said, “Prove to me, Scripturally, that I have to have the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”
I said, “Man, I don’t believe you meant that the way it sounded.”
He said, “Yes I did. I just don’t believe you can prove to me that I have to have it. That I positively have to have it.”
I said, “You’re all mixed up. If you only had an idea of what God’s Spirit would do for you in your life, you wouldn’t be asking if you had to have it. You’d be saying, ‘Preacher, can I find some loophole in there where a black-headed fellow with dark eyes and four kids, and one hundred and twenty-two dollars a week can have the Holy Ghost?’ ”
He was asking me to prove that he had to be happy.
He had the audacity to stand there and ask me to prove to him that he had to be whole and healthy.
It didn’t make much sense to me.
I told him he should be saying, “You mean to tell me I can have the Holy Ghost. You mean to tell me I can have that security, that Comforter living and bubbling on the inside of me? Oh tell me more, tell me more!”
Repentance doesn’t have to be a long process.
You can prepare your heart for the Holy Ghost instantly.
You can say, “I’m a sinner, and I’m sorry. I want you to forgive me, and I want your Spirit in my life.”
The Lord will fill you with His Spirit.
The above article, “A Better Thing,” is written by Allan C. Oggs Sr. The article was excerpted from pages 65-84 of Oggs’ book Today is the Beginning.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.