Monday, August 14, 2006



Most of the Pentecostal denominations pretty much agrees that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a "second blessing", or separate, additional experience after conversion. The Assemblies of God, being the largest Pentecostal denomination, has, from its founding, recognized the baptism in the Holy Spirit as an experience distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth. l It has also recognized that the initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Spirit is speaking with other tongues. Section 8 of their constitution of Fundamental Truths states, "The baptism of the believer in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utter­ance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Cor.12:4-10,28), but different in purpose and use." This statement has not changed since it was brought into being in 1916, and the Assemblies of God continues to recognize this as sound doctrine, along with most of the other Pentecostal denominations and sects.

The General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God adopted their position paper concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in August 18-25, 1981. I will glean the highlights of that paper. It states, "John the Baptist was the first to use the term "baptism in the Holy Spirit" shortly before Jesus began His public ministry. John said, "He (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 3:11). At the conclusion of His earthly ministry, Jesus referred to John's statement. (Acts 1:5); and Peter, in reporting on the events in the home of Cornelius, also repeated the statement (Acts 11:16). The baptism in the Spirit (also referred to herein as the Baptism) is subsequent to and distinct from the new birth. Scripture makes it clear there is an experience in which the Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), and there is the experience in which Christ baptizes believers into the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).

These cannot refer to the same experience since the agent who does the baptizing and the element into which the candidate is baptized are different in each case.The distinctiveness of the experience is illustrated in several places. The case of the Ephesians disciples is an example. After they stated they had experienced only John's baptism (Acts 19:3), Paul explained they were to believe on Christ Jesus. Then these disciples were baptized in water, after which Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them. The lapse of time was brief between these disciples believing on Christ and the Holy Spirits coming upon them, but it was long enough for them to be baptized in water. The baptism in the Spirit was distinct from and subsequent to salvation.

The baptism in the Spirit is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The scriptural ideal is for the believer to be continually filled with the Spirit. The Baptism is the crisis experience which introduces the believer to the process experience of living a Spirit filled life. The expression "initial physical evidence" of the Baptism refers to the first outward sign that the Holy Spirit has come in filling power. A study of Scripture indicates there was a physical sign by which observers knew that believers had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. The evidence always occurred at the very time the believers were baptized in the Spirit and not some future occasion.

In the house of Cornelius, there was convincing evidence of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48). Later, when Peter was called upon to explain to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem his ministry of the believers being baptized in the Holy Spirit. He cited this as the reason why he arranged for the believers to be baptized in water. (Acts 11:15-17).

While speaking in tongues has initial evidential value, it is designed by God to be much more than evidence of a past experience 8 It also continues to bring enrichment to the individual believer in personal devotions and to the congregation when accompanied by the interpretation of tongues. "Speaking with tongues" refers to the ability the Holy Spirit gives believers to speak in languages they have not learned. The word translated "tongues" in Acts is the same word used in 1 Corinthians and refers to actual languages of men or of angels (1 Cor. 13:1). There is no justification for interpreting the word as strange or ecstatic sounds. In New Testament times, as in our own, there were people who heard and understood the speaking with tongues. Speaking with other tongues as the Holy Spirit gives "utterance" means that believers speaking in another language by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. The word translated "utterance" as M.R. Vincent observes is "a peculiar word and purposely chosen to denote clear, loud utterance under the miraculous impulse". James Strong paints out that the word also includes the idea of enunciating plainly.

The ability is not achieved through a heightened emotional state or through the repetition of words and phrases. It is not the result of imitating the sounds made by others. 10 To the contrary, human effort to speak with tongues only stands in the way of the utterance the Holy Spirit gives. The believer speaks only by the supernatural and motivational power of the spirit.. 11 He needs only to respond in faith and speak out as the Spirit gives the utterance. 12 Any manipulative technique technique for receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is without Biblical pattern or propriety.

"The reasons why we believe tongues is the initial physical evidence are as follows: In the book of Acts there are five occasions recorded on which people were baptized in the Holy Spirit. In three of these details are supplied. In the other two, •the details are not give. In cases where details are included, various phenomena are indicated, such as sound of wind, tongues as of fire, prophecy, and speaking with other tongues. The only phenomenon which occurs each time details are given, however, is speaking with other tongues? This is indicated in the Acts 2,10, and 19 events. When a specific phenomenon occurs every time a Biblical experience is described, the relationship of the phenomenon to the experience cannot be overlooked. It should also be noted that the sound of wind and tongues of fire preceded and were external to the disciples' experience. There is nothing to indicated these phenomena were repeated after the initial out pouring of the Spirit. The speaking with tongues followed and was the direct result of the baptism in the Spirit and continued to be manifest after the Day of Pentecost.
In the two cases where details are not given, circumstances seem to indicate that speaking with other tongues accompanied the experience of believers being filled with the Holy Spirit. At Samaria, Simon, a former sorcerer, saw something to indicate that the Holy Ghost was given to believers (Acts 8:18,19). Had the experience been only by faith without any accompanying sign, Simon would not have known whether the Samaritan believers actually received the Holy Spirit. When this incident is compared with the three experiences where details are given, it is only logical to assume that what Simon saw and heard was people speaking with other tongues.

After Saul's conversion on the Damascus road, a disciple named Ananias was sent that Saul might receive his sight and "be filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 9:17). The restoration of sight is described, but nothing further is said in Acts 9 about Saul being filled with the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians 14:18, however, Paul testified, "I speak with tongues more than ye all." Since Paul began speaking with tongues at that time, it is logical to assume he began when he was baptized in the holy Spirit. This would be in perfect harmony with these events in which the details of the baptism in the Spirit are given.

Not only did speaking with tongues accompany the baptism in the Spirit, but the apostles and early church leaders recognized it as the initial evidence of the baptism. The way Peter and those with him knew that the people of Cornelius' household had been filled with the Spirit is that "they heard them speak with tongues"


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