Monday, August 14, 2006

TONGUES Thesis: Part 5

.............(Acts 10:45,46). On the basis of this evidence, Peter put aside his prejudice and arranged for the converts to be baptized in water. For Peter, speaking with tongues was the evidence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius' household. position of the General•

Later when Peter was discussing the Cornelius incident with the apostles and brethren in Jerusalem, he again referred to the phenomenon he had witnessed when he said, "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I, that I could withstand God?" (Acts 11:17).

That the apostles and brethren accepted tongues as convincing evidence of the baptism in the Spirit is indicated in the next verse: "When they heard these things, they held their place, and glorified God." (V 18),That pretty much quotes the Council of the Assemblies of God, headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, which is the largest Pentecostal denomination with about a million members in the United States, and at least twice as many elsewhere world wide. They were incorporated in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1916 as a result of the Azusa Street "outpouring of the Holy Spirit" in Los Angeles, California, which is known to be the Pentecost of the last days, or "the latter rain". There are many other Pentecostal denominations too numerous to name in the context of this thesis, but most of the rest, as a whole, follow along quite closely to the stated Assemblies of God position.

Tongue speaking pretty much was only practiced in the Pentecostal churches until 1960, when it was experie­nced in an Episcopal church in Van Nuys, California by its pastor the Rev. Dennis Bennet who was shortly thereafter asked to resign because of it. He then took a church in Seattle, WA, where he openly practiced his "gift". Meanwhile, and up to the present "tongues speaking" is '-a phenomenon which has broken into virtually all of the remaining denominations 17 in various portions of the fellowships.

The layman’s organization headquarted in Costa Mesa, CA, called "Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International", which was founded by a millionaire cattleman called Demos Shakarian, and has 2400 chapters all over. the world, and has various banquets and meetings sharing their testimonies, mostly how they were saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit. They usually have a guest speaker who has received "the gift" and after his testimony, he, with the other lay members of the meeting, will pray for any interested to also receive the Baptism with tongues as the evidence, as well as pray for healing for any sick present.

Those who receive the tongues experience are told to take it back into their individual churches and "spread the power", so as a result, the tongues phenomenon has blown into about every church in the country to some extent or another, regardless of whether the pastors have disagreed with the theology and tried to keep it out or not!

The result has been church splits in almost every case, when tongues first comes into the non-tongues speaking congregations. A St whole, those who have not received their doctrine or experience from the traditional varies Pentecostal churches are called "The Charismatic Movement" as a whole. Their "Holy spirit" theology varies from group to group, and is not written down in as neat a package as the position paper of the Assemblies of God, but basically, as it can be gathered in bits and pieces, it pretty much agrees with that of the Assemblies of God, except many Charismatics do not accept the "tongues" as the initial physical evidence "of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit', and believe they can be baptized in the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues. Also, the charismatic, as a whole, do not put the same amount of stress on holiness as the Pentecostals And, as a result, it is not uncommon to see "tongue talkers" still smoking, drinking alcohol, smoking dope, and other "worldly activities" the Pentecostals consider "taboo".

Other phenomenon widely propagated and sought after in the various Pentecostal and Charismatic meetings is the participants being prostrated on the floor, ground, or wherever they happen to be when "the power of God knocks them down". This is either referred to as being "Slain in the Spirit", 18 or the Roman Catholics like to refer to it as "Resting in the Spirit". This is why the Pentecostals were early referred to as "Holy Rollers”, as they have been known to fall on the floor and roll over from one side or the other.

As a Pentecostal, I personally have experienced that phenomenon a couple of times when prayed for by the "laying on of hands", and as I look back on the experience, I now can relate some of it to "auto-suggestion",( almost a form of mild hypnotism. ) Everyone else was falling before me, so I just automatically, expected to fall when my turn came to be prayed for, and I did! However, I personally believe that the presence of God still has a lot to do with it. In all of my past experience, I have certainly seen alot of "pushing" and alot of flesh exposed in that realm also. I have literally seen "pusher's and catcher's" act as a team, and as women fell to the floor at the church altars, holy "altar cloths" were thrown over any flesh which was exposed as dresses rode to high over the knees of prostrate ladies "hit" by the power of God! This phenomenon has sporadically surfaced in many of the past revivals.

This phenomenon was seen in many famous preachers meetings like Wheels, Finny, Cartwright, Wigglesworth, and a host of others too numerous to mention. So, the falling out of saints is not new in the Charismatic movement. I know Satan has done a good job counterfeiting this area as well as tongues, however, I personally feel there are times when the presence of the Holy Spirit is so real and strong, that it is possible to be so overcome with His presence, it is easier to "rest in the Spirit" if that is what it can be referred to, and just fall out! It depends on the individual emotional make-up of each person. Personally, I feel there is more genuiness to back up that phenomenon with Scripture today than genuine Biblical tongues.

Paul was struck from his horse by a blinding light which turned out to be Jesus, and in John's Gospel, when Judas brought the soldiers to arrest Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane, when they asked who Jesus was and He answered, "I am He", what happened? "As soon then as he had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground." (John 18:6). However, in that case, it should be noted, they that fell, when the power of God hit them, were not believers!

However, this is something which is difficult to refute because of the lack of Scripture discussing it. Many Old Testament saints like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, fell when God was speaking to them, but in every case, they fell on their faces! At any rate, this is an area that was not even mentioned by Paul to have been happening in the Corinthian or any other church, and next to tongues, it is the "main event" in most of the Charismatic circles today.

I personally have prayed for people, both by touching them, and also without touching them, and they have fallen! So, he cannot explain why it happens, but I know "auto suggestion" has alot to do with it, as well as mass emotional hysteria evidenced in various meetings, but, I personally cannot rule out the fact that when Christ, and Him crucified, is preached to true believers, people start to fall, under some kind of power, God or otherwise, and I do not think anyone has all the answers, because of the lack of Scripture given on the subject!

After reviewing the Assemblies of God's position on the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" and tongues as the initial evidence of having received it, it seems like legitimate explanation of what we are seeing today in the various churches, providing the tongues we are seeing are the same Biblical tongues the early church had, and is, still available to believers today. At least it looked logical to me, especially after I received my own private "prayer language" so easily. However, if there is a "remote" possibility that the tongues of today are something other than what the early church had, what can it possibly be, and how can it be explained away by Scripture?

As a result of my personal study and research, I believe the. tongues phenomenon we are experiencing to day in the church not only can be challenged Scripturally, but should be challenged by sincere believers who do not accept tongues to be for today! Many of God's chosen men of God have before, and are presently accepting that challenge, and are writing good scholarly material deflating the tongues experience in light of what the Bible teaches. If tongues and interpretation have ceased, can the Bible support this view? Is the Pentecostal the only sound position, and if so, are all of the other non Pentecostals “powerless” without tongues?


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