By guest writer, Pastor Ben Godwin
Jesus referred to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant in Acts 1:4 as “the Promise of the Father.” Then, in Ephesians 1:13, Paul described God’s Spirit as “the Holy Spirit of promise.”
Why was this unique wording used? Because one of the primary, prophetic promises from the Old Testament concerned the indwelling of the Spirit of God and the internal inscribing of the Word of God that would be available to all people in the New Covenant era. The following two scriptures reveal “The Promise” as God unveiled it through two prophets: Ezekiel and Jeremiah. We, in this age, are the recipients of this marvelous promise. We should rejoice with the joy of the Lord!
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
The following article by Ben Godwin will be a supreme blessing to those who read it as he enumerates the details of this glorious impartation.
The True Light Project host / Mike Shreve
Many Bible scholars agree we are living in the last of the “last days.” Biblically, the last days began on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Apostle Peter declared that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of a specific, last-day’s prophecy, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh” (Ac. 2:17). This prophecy is still being fulfilled as God continues to pour out His Spirit around the world.
Two passages in the New Testament describe the Holy Spirit as “The Promise of the Father.” This term or title refers to both the person of the Holy Spirit (the eternal, third person of the Divine Trinity) and the spiritual endowment He brings called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I send the Promise of the Father upon you: but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Lk. 24:49). Here Jesus made a clear connection between receiving the Promise of the Father and being endued with power. Just prior to His ascension into heaven, Jesus told His disciples, “Wait for the Promise of the Father” (Ac. 1:4). Then, He described what would occur when they received that promise—“You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Ac. 1:5). So, there is a direct link between receiving the Promise of the Father (the Holy Spirit) and being endued with spiritual power for Christian living and service.
Both sinners and saints need the Promise of the Father. A sinner needs to receive the Promise of the Father or the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit which a person receives at salvation. Salvation is unquestionably a work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9, 14, 16, 1 Cor. 12:3). Whenever someone is born again, Jesus, by the omnipresent Holy Spirit, takes up residence in his or her heart. Also, a saint (saved believer) needs to receive the Promise of the Father or the endowment of spiritual power that accompanies Spirit baptism.
What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual experience subsequent to salvation. More specifically, it is an anointing: an application or impartation of spiritual power. This baptism is an important provision of the New Covenant that every believer in Christ can and should experience personally. This baptism is a deeper step in a person’s walk with God after the initial step of salvation. It is an intimate and powerful encounter with God that greatly benefits every phase of Christian living. When people are baptized with the Holy Spirit, they become so filled with the presence and power of God that, as a general rule, they speak in tongues (see Acts 2:4; 10:44-48; 19:1-6). Acts 2:4 describes how the 120 believers were filled with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost—“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The word “filled” in this verse means to “saturate, permeate, or penetrate as with a stain or a dye.” If you stain wood, the stain doesn’t just stay on the surface, it penetrates and seeps down into the wood. When you dye cloth, the dye saturates every fiber of the fabric. Likewise, when you are filled or baptized with the Holy Spirit, He saturates and penetrates every part of your being with His presence and power.
Salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are two separate experiences.
Salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit usually do not occur simultaneously as one experience. Certainly, people do receive the Holy Spirit when they are saved. In fact, salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit—“No one can say that Jesus is the Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). All truly born-again Christians have the Holy Spirit residing within them. Paul wrote, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Rom. 8:9). So, a person cannot be saved without the Holy Spirit. A. W. Tozer wrote, “Though every believer has the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit does not have every believer.” Remember, Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:22) weeks before they were filled (baptized) with the Spirit in Acts 2.
It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus takes up residence in a person’s life. When Jesus’ blood is applied to the heart, a person is born again. At that point, he or she possesses eternal life, is saved, and is destined for heaven. However, believers are not automatically baptized with the Holy Spirit when they are saved (although it can happen simultaneously as it apparently did with Cornelius’ household in Acts 10:44-48). Some churches teach that you “get it all” at salvation. However, at that point, you are only an infant in Christ and there is much learning and growing that is needed. The New Testament shows there is a difference between receiving salvation and being baptized with the Holy Spirit. These are two different and separate experiences altogether.
To baptize means “to immerse, submerge, or to overwhelm.” Think of a pail being dipped into a well and pulled up when it is full and overflowing with water (Jn. 7:38-39). Spirit baptism is a subsequent experience to salvation that benefits every phase of Christian living. Notice how nearly all the people who were filled with the Spirit in the book of Acts were already disciples or believers (the 120 disciples on the Day of Pentecost—Ac. 2:1-4, Philip’s converts in Samaria—Ac. 8:12-17, the Apostle Paul after his conversion—Ac. 9:17-18, and the twelve believers in Ephesus—Ac. 19:1-7, Cornelius’ household is the only possible exception—Ac. 10:1-2, 30-31, 44-47).
A great example from this list is found in Acts 19 where the Apostle Paul asked a group of twelve disciples at Ephesus, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” (Ac. 19:2, MKJV) They admitted they were unaware of this post-salvation experience, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Then Paul further explained their need to believe in Christ and baptized them again in water. Next, Paul laid his hands upon them and “the Holy Spirit came upon them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Ac. 19:6). This account reiterates the truth that Spirit baptism is a separate experience from salvation.
Another clear example is what happened to the Samaritan believers who were saved during Philip’s revival. After they were saved and baptized in water, notice what happened next. “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Ac. 8:14-17). Notice the sequence, these Samaritans were saved by faith in Christ when they heard Philip preach the Gospel, then they were baptized in water, and then they received the Holy Spirit. Immediately, upon being saved, a person should begin seeking God for Spirit baptism. The greatest gift a sinner can receive is salvation; the greatest gift a Christian can receive is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit serves several purposes which enhance our walk with and our work for God. Spirit baptism does not make believers more saved, superior to others, or more qualified for heaven. It simply empowers them to live a more Spirit-led, victorious life here on earth. Perhaps the best way to understand this experience is to see how it affects our Christian walk. While there are many benefits of being Spirit-filled, we will cover five major ones:
(1) The baptism of the Holy Spirit enables you to be a more effective Christian.
The original twelve disciples traveled with Jesus for about three and one-half years. During that time, He often rebuked them for their lack of faith and carnal attitudes. For example, Jesus was rejected in a certain Samaritan village. This angered James and John who asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” Jesus sharply rebuked them saying, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.” (See Luke 9:52-55.) In another instance, they were sailing on the turbulent Sea of Galilee. Without warning, a violent storm tossed their ship like a toy. The disciples frantically fought to save the boat and their lives. Meanwhile, Jesus serenely slept in the back of the ship. Finally, in total panic, they roused Jesus and demanded to know why He wasn’t concerned about their plight. Jesus asked, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (Mt. 8:26), then He calmed the storm.
You see, the disciples at first were, at times, inconsistent, immature, and fickle followers of Christ. They repeatedly failed in their own attempts to meet His expectations. However, a drastic change occurred when they were filled with the Spirit on Pentecost. Then they were converted into courageous, outspoken, exemplary leaders. Spirit baptism also provides the believer with an increased ability to live above sin. We cannot effectively live the Christian life nor produce the virtues of Christ merely by our own will power. So many Christians live frustrated lives because they struggle on their own to live right. Spirit baptism enables you to perform God’s will more consistently. Why chop down a tree with an ax when you can use a chainsaw? The Christian struggling to live victoriously without the Spirit’s power is like a man paddling a boat against the current when he could use a motor. Don’t frustrate yourself by trying to do on your own the work that only the Holy Spirit can do. Receive the Spirit’s power and it will enable you to live the Christian life more effectively—a life of victory over sin, Satan, self, and the world.
(2) The baptism of the Holy Spirit empowers you to be a living witness for Christ.
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me” (Ac. 1:8). The word translated “power” here is the Greek word dunamis, from which we get our English words “dynamic” and “dynamite.” The Holy Spirit empowers us to be dynamic witnesses for Christ. Being a witness for Him involves carrying out the “Great Commission,” sharing the Gospel, praying for the sick, and in some cases, suffering martyrdom. In fact, the word translated “witness” in the verse above is the Greek word martus from which we derive “martyr.” So, to be a witness means to be willing to both figuratively and literally lay down one’s life for the cause of the Gospel. Every believer is called to be a witness for Christ (Mk. 16:15-18). Often, we tend to think this is reserved for the five-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers). Paul called us all “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). As one author put it, “Every person in the world is either a missionary or a mission field.” The more empowered we are by the Holy Spirit, the more effective our witness for Him will be.
When Zechariah wondered how Solomon’s Temple would ever be rebuilt, God assured him, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zec. 4:6). The same is true for every spiritual endeavor—building a church, Christian living, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, winning souls, or having an effective ministry. It is not our talent, education, wisdom, skill, personality, or ability that produces success. It is the Holy Spirit working through us. One author wrote, “Without the power of the Holy Spirit, all human efforts, methods, and plans are as futile as attempting to propel a boat by puffing at the sails with our own breath.” The psalmist said it best, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps. 127:1). All our efforts are futile without God’s favor and the power of the Holy Spirit.
(3) The baptism of the Holy Spirit equips you for ministry.
As Jesus commissioned His disciples, He instructed, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until you are endued with power from on high” (Lu. 24:49). The word “endued” means “to be clothed with.” Spirit baptism clothes you with supernatural power for ministry. The Spirit is not given just for our enjoyment, but for our employment! Jesus did not expect His disciples to launch out into world evangelism without first being equipped for the task ahead. Rather, He told them to wait for the equipping power of the Holy Spirit. If we want to fulfill our role as believers and ministers, we need to be similarly equipped. Notice how even Jesus did not begin His public ministry until He was equipped by the Spirit. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him” (Ac. 10:38).
Amazingly, Jesus didn’t preach a single sermon, perform a miracle, or cast out any demons for His first thirty years. Even though He was the Son of God, He waited until He received the Holy Spirit’s power before launching His public ministry. At the Jordan River, immediately following His water baptism, the Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove (Jn. 1:32-33). From that moment on, Jesus performed mighty miracles and fulfilled His divine mission. If it was necessary for Jesus to be equipped with the Holy Spirit to do the works He did, we certainly need the Spirit’s power to fulfill our ministry. Nearly every job requires certain tools or equipment to accomplish a given task. The power of the Holy Spirit is essential equipment for every believer.
(4) The baptism of the Holy Spirit emboldens you to promote and defend the Gospel.
There was quite a stir in Jerusalem. Peter and John had just healed a crippled man who was running, leaping, and testifying to everyone how God restored his limbs. An astonished crowd pressed in to see this former lame beggar who was made completely whole. It caused such a commotion, the religious authorities arrested both Peter and John. Then they demanded, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Ac. 4:7) Then Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” boldly answered that the lame man was healed by the power of Jesus’ name. (See Acts 3:1-11; 4:5-10.) Remember, a few months earlier Peter denied he even knew Jesus. Now, he and John were promoting Jesus as the only source of Salvation. Standing in the Sanhedrin Court, the councilmen noticed something—“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Ac. 4:13).
The difference between the cowardly disciples in the Gospels who forsook Jesus upon His arrest and the courageous disciples in the book of Acts was the mighty infilling with the Holy Spirit. When they received Spirit baptism, they were supercharged with courage and confidence. In fact, in Acts 4:29-31, the apostles met again and prayed for a refilling of the Spirit and for even more boldness. The Spirit produces boldness in us to stand up for what we know is true. This goes beyond a natural assertiveness some people inherit as a personality trait. Peter was a “bold” man in some ways before Pentecost. He was often the first to speak up, sometimes putting his foot in his mouth. He was a man of miracles, signs, and wonders who also made many blunders. He even tried and succeeded to walk on water (Mt. 14:28-31). A timid person would not have even attempted such a feat. But Peter wilted under the pressure when he denied the Lord. After Pentecost, Peter and the other apostles were fearless even when their lives were threatened.
(5) The baptism of the Holy Spirit enlightens you to new dimensions in God’s Word.
Many Christians do not read the Bible diligently. Why do many people who claim to live by the Book fail to even read the Book regularly? Is the Bible boring? Is it too hard to understand? Are people just too busy or distracted? Part of the problem is many people simply surface read and give up when they can’t understand parts of the Bible. The Bible is not a book to simply be read. If you skim through it like you do a novel or a newspaper, you won’t get much out of it. The Bible must be studied to be understood. Bible reading is like cruising across a lake in a boat. Speeding along, all you see is what is on the surface of the water. Bible study, however, is like diving below the surface with a mask on and peering down into the depths. God’s Word is like a multi-layered onion—when you peel off one layer, there are many more layers underneath to be explored.
Anyone who is hungry for truth and disciplines themselves to study can understand much of the Bible. However, there are deeper levels of interpretation and application of Scripture that few Christians, even scholars, ever discover. These are depths of divine revelation knowledge. Divine revelation is God’s “living word” to you personally. When the Holy Spirit quickens the truth underlying the surface of a given passage, that is considered a rhema Word or revelation knowledge. “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
Spirit-filled believers can see beyond the surface levels of truth into the deep things of God. Revelation 2:17 calls it “hidden manna.” Once you are baptized with the Spirit, you will fall in love with God’s Word and new dimensions of it will open to you. Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The word “inspiration” here means “divinely breathed in.” So, the Bible was written as God breathed it into its authors. Thus, if it took the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to write the Bible, it also takes His inspiration to comprehend the Bible. Who better than the author would understand a book? The Holy Spirit breathed God’s Word into the hearts of the human authors. He can also quicken its revelation and meaning to our understanding. The Holy Spirit is the greatest teacher, your own personal tutor to guide you into all truth (Jn. 16:13).
Who can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The Apostle Peter specified who God intended this glorious experience for in his Pentecost sermon: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Ac. 2:39). That means those who were afar of geographically (far from Jerusalem) and chronologically (far off in time). So, all genuinely saved believers are called of God to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16-17). Every born-again believer (saved by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus) is eligible to receive this baptism. This experience is not reserved for only “Pentecostal” or “Charismatic” churches or denominations. Regardless of race, color, age, gender, or religious background, every saved believer is a candidate to receive this baptism. When Cornelius’ Gentile household sovereignly received the infilling of the Spirit without Peter even praying for them, he concluded, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality” (Ac. 10:34). He will not withhold this blessing from a sincere believer seeking to be filled with His Spirit—“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk. 11:13)
One biblical condition for Spirit baptism
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Ac. 2:38). Although it is helpful to “tarry” before the Lord in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit, this does not need to be an extended time (weeks or months). Yes, the 120 disciples did tarry to be filled with the Spirit but only for about ten days. Also, the Apostle Paul tarried for Spirit baptism only three days (Ac. 9:9, 17). There is no biblical requirement of a prolonged waiting period before a person can be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Scripture above plainly reveals that salvation is the one and only prerequisite to receiving the Spirit baptism. Peter mentioned repentance and water baptism. Repentance, of course, brings us to the point of salvation. Water baptism is an important outward act of confirmation of an inward transformation. These two (repentance and water baptism) are both components of true salvation. In Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius’ household was baptized with the Holy Spirit before they were baptized in water. So, it is futile to try to make a rigid, religious rule for the sequence of these things. God doesn’t have to do things the same way every time. After all, He’s God! Generally, people get saved first, then water baptized, and then baptized with the Spirit. But there are exceptions. Sometimes people get saved and Spirit-filled within minutes, even simultaneously, before they have been baptized in water. God is sovereign. He can do things however He wants.
The gift of tongues
Speaking in tongues is the initial, outward manifestation or evidence of the inward experience of Spirit baptism. This is the biblical precedent and pattern God established then and is still true today. In most of the New Testament references to speaking in tongues, the word translated “tongues” is the Greek word glossa. It means “a language that is naturally unacquired.” So, glossalalia (speaking in tongues) is not something that can be taught or learned. It is a supernatural gift given to individuals who are baptized with the Holy Spirit. It is one of the nine gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. There are five major instances recorded in the book of Acts in which individuals received the Holy Spirit. In three of those instances it is specified that the recipients spoke in tongues; in the other two it is strongly implied:
(1) The 120 disciples on the Day of Pentecost—Ac. 2:4. When the 120 in the upper room were filled with the Holy Spirit “they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This was the sign or the evidence that something supernatural had occurred in their lives. This still happens today. Whenever a person is baptized with the Holy Spirit, he or she will usually speak in tongues just as they did back then.
(2) The Apostle Paul—Ac. 9:17. Although tongues are not specifically mentioned in the Acts account of Paul’s Spirit baptism, we know he regularly exercised the gift of tongues—“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18). In fact, Paul provided most of the insight we have on this subject in the New Testament.
(3) Peter and John in Samaria—Ac. 8:14-25. Apparently, Peter and John had a special gift for imparting spiritual gifts, so they were sent from Jerusalem to help Philip the Evangelist pray for his new converts to receive the Holy Spirit in Samaria. “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Ac. 8:17). As in Paul’s case, tongues are not directly mentioned in this instance. However, it seems to be implied that these Samaritans spoke with tongues. Notice “When Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit’” (Ac. 8:18-19). Simon had been a sorcerer who practiced witchcraft. Even though he believed in the Gospel Philip preached and was baptized (Ac. 8:13), his heart was still carnally inclined. Already dabbling in demonic power, Simon was intrigued with the power of God he witnessed. He desired spiritual power for selfish gain. When Peter and John prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, Simon was fascinated with something he “saw.” A visible sign of some sort convinced him of the reality of spiritual power. It is possible that what he “saw” was the same evidential sign that usually accompanies spiritual baptism—the gift of tongues. Once again, this tends to be God’s pattern.
(4) The house of Cornelius—Ac. 10:44-48. The Lord spoke in a vision to Cornelius, a devout and generous Roman officer (Ac. 10:1-2), to send for the Apostle Peter for further spiritual instruction. So, Cornelius sent his servants to invite Peter to his home. Before they arrived in Joppa, God began preparing the Apostle for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles. Up to this point, only Jews had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When the servants arrived, Peter returned with them to Caesarea. There, Peter preached to Cornelius’ family, friends, and servants. Peter still seemed to have a mental block about the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit because God interrupted his sermon to sovereignly fill them. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word . . . for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify the Lord.” (Ac. 10:44, 46) Notice Cornelius’ household spoke in tongues when they were Spirit-filled. Again, this is the biblical pattern.
(5) The twelve disciples at Ephesus—Ac. 19:1-7. These believers were disciples of John the Baptist. They had been baptized in water according to John’s baptism, but they were unaware of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul explained to them that their baptism was unto repentance and that John the Baptist pointed people to something greater—faith in Jesus. These Ephesians believed on Christ and were re-baptized in water by Paul, proclaiming their faith in Jesus as Savior. Paul then prayed for them to be filled with the Spirit. “When Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Ac. 19:6). Notice again that the initial evidence of their Spirit baptism was speaking in tongues coupled here with prophesying.
In all five recorded instances in which the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts, the sign of tongues is either specifically mentioned or strongly implied. This is a biblical precedent and New Testament pattern that Pentecostal and Charismatic believers still practice all over the world today. This phenomenon is not confined to a certain denomination or fellowship; sincere Christians of many different affiliations are having this same encounter with God. The ability to speak in tongues is a supernatural gift granted by the Holy Spirit. No one can legitimately speak in tongues without the Spirit enabling him or her to do so—and there is just “one Spirit” regardless of the group to which we belong (1 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 4:4). In 1 Corinthians 12:10, Paul listed the gift of “different kinds of tongues” among the nine gifts of the Spirit. There are at least three types of tongues the Holy Spirit operates through yielded vessels. All three types can and do accompany the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Of course, the Holy Spirit determines which type of tongues will manifest at any given time:
(1) Known languages: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Ac. 2:4). On the Day of Pentecost, 120 disciples supernaturally translated the Gospel into a number of foreign languages. They did not know or understand the languages they spoke, but the Holy Spirit enabled them to speak them fluently. This was the gift of different kinds of tongues in operation. The type of tongues operating was “known languages.” Other tongues are actual languages of different nations and people-groups (i.e. English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, and so on). The person who speaks in tongues this way does not personally understand the words as he or she speaks them. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a supernatural gift. However, the people who hear this type of tongues do understand what is spoken. On the Day of Pentecost, the audience consisted of about fifteen nationalities which spoke many different languages (Ac. 2:7-11). In this case, the Holy Spirit enabled these believers to communicate with these foreigners without an interpreter by virtue of this supernatural manifestation. So, by the gift of tongues, the Gospel was translated into understandable terms. What an amazing method of spreading the Gospel! So, this first purpose of other tongues is to translate the Gospel or a message from God into languages only the hearers will understand. A person speaks in other tongues at the sovereign inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
(2) Tongues to be interpreted: “If any man speak in a tongue . . . let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God” (1 Cor. 14:27-28). Sometimes, tongues are uttered audibly during a church service or a gathering of believers which draws everyone’s attention to the person speaking in tongues. Normally, these are tongues that require interpretation. This manifestation normally should not interrupt a sermon, teaching, song, or the general flow of the service. To do so would probably be disorderly and cause confusion (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). Ordinarily, these tongues should be uttered at an opportune time between events in the worship service. The purpose of this type of “speaking in tongues” is to bring a direct prophetic message from God that edifies, exhorts, and comforts (1 Cor. 14:3). These tongues are not understood by the human mind for they convey spiritual mysteries in “languages of men” or “angels,” and an interpreter is needed. The interpretation of tongues is one of the nine gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:10). Notice it is “interpretation” not word-for-word “translation.” The Holy Spirit uses a human interpreter to convey the general meaning of the message given in tongues. One word in tongues may require twenty words in English to explain.
First Corinthians 14 is a guide to the proper and orderly use of these tongues, especially in the church setting. The Apostle Paul limited the number of utterances in tongues to be interpreted to three (1 Cor. 14:26-28). If no interpreter is present, an oral message in tongues would be improper simply because no one would understand what was being said. It is improper for a person to pray orally in tongues and become the main focus of attention in a group setting without an interpretation being given. While that individual may be edified, the rest of the group would not be by merely watching one person pray in tongues. Instead, that time is wasted. There is nothing in Scripture to prohibit someone from silently or quietly praying in tongues in a church setting or even many people praying in tongues out loud together simultaneously (1 Cor. 14:28). After all, that’s what happened on the Day of Pentecost (Ac. 2) and in Cornelius’ house (Ac. 10). However, Paul did caution, “If the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are out of your mind?” (1 Cor. 14:23) In other words, there needs to be an intelligible presentation of the Gospel in church services so both sinners and saints can be edified. Furthermore, it is both possible and proper for the same individual who gives a message in tongues to also give the interpretation. In fact, Paul encouraged all those who have the gift of tongues to seek for the ability to interpret them—“Therefore let him that speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret” (1 Cor. 14:13).
(3) Unknown tongues: “For he who speaks in a [unknown, KJV] tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Cor. 14:2). Unknown tongues, also called “new tongues” by Jesus in Mark 16:17, are heavenly prayer languages. Paul added that they can also be languages of angels (1 Cor. 13:1) unknown to man. Unknown tongues could be called “the language of heaven.” When we get to heaven, we will probably not speak earthly languages, simply because they have all been corrupted. In fact, Zephaniah prophesied that God would “restore to the peoples a pure language” (Zeph. 3:9). Most likely that was a reference to tongues. This supernatural gift is a person’s private line of communication with God. Unknown tongues are the types of tongues that most commonly accompany the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The other two types of tongues (known languages and tongues to be interpreted) can and often accompany Spirit baptism. However, unknown tongues are the most common type of speaking with tongues in operation. Millions of believers across the world incorporate unknown tongues into their private prayer life.
Tongues are for ALL believers
Many sincere Christians misinterpret the following question that Paul asked, “Do all speak with tongues?” (1 Cor. 12:30) Some use this verse as an excuse not to pursue this gift. They interpret it to mean that tongues are only intended for a select few in the body of Christ. The obvious answer to that verse’s question is “No, all believers do not speak with tongues.” However, all indeed can speak with tongues when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Another hang up some people have is the old argument that tongues is somehow an “inferior gift.” They conclude this from the fact that the gifts of different kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues are listed last out of the nine gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Another reason may be because Paul said, “He who prophesies is greater than he that speaks with tongues” (1 Cor. 14:5). They contend that Paul commanded us to “earnestly desire the best gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31). Some people teach that tongues is the “least of the gifts” and should not be sought or otherwise they are unnecessary because of their inferiority. This may sound logical, but it is not biblically correct.
Think it through. If a person does not begin operating in the least of the gifts, how does he or she expect to advance on into the “best gifts”? And, by the way, which are the best gifts anyway? Who is to say a particular gift is superior or inferior to another gift? The answer, I believe, is that the best gift is the gift that is needed at any given moment. When it comes to a Christian’s prayer life, tongues may be the best gift because tongues is the gift most needed at that particular time. Besides, there is a “law of lists”—something has to be last! If you made a list of a group of people in a room, someone has to be first and someone has to be last on that list. That doesn’t mean the first one listed is superior and the other is inferior. It’s simply a law of lists—someone has to be first and someone has to be last. It is a mistake to conclude that tongues are somehow an “inferior gift” because they are listed near the end of Paul’s list. Besides, if Jesus paid the ultimate price and “ascended on high” so that He could “receive gifts for men,” none of them should be taken lightly, not even “the least.” Instead, they should ALL be considered wonderful, desirable, sacred endowments to be honored and valued (Ps. 68:18, Eph. 4:7-8, KJV).
Certainly, the Apostle Paul never intended for his statements to discourage people from seeking the tongues experience. Rather, he wrote to them to bring balance and to stop some of the abuses of tongues in his day. In fact, Paul clearly instructed the Corinthians, “Do not forbid to speak with tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39). So, any person, preacher, church, or organization that forbids the use of tongues is directly violating the command of the Apostle Paul. Every Christian should speak in tongues. Tongues will enrich the prayer life of any believer. The Bible clearly outlines several purposes for speaking in tongues. If you have ever asked the question, “Why should I speak with tongues?” let the Bible answer that question as we explore the important purposes for tongues.
To translate the Gospel. When the gift of tongues manifested on the Day of Pentecost, the Gospel was translated into several languages. This type of tongues was not just a one-time phenomenon that occurred in the first century church. There are examples of this happening down through church history and in contemporary times as well. One well-documented instance of this was reported in the great Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in the early 1900’s. The Azusa Street Church was pastored by William J. Seymour. Seymour was a one-eyed, black, Baptist-turned-holiness minister who was taught about the Pentecostal experience by Charles Parham in Houston, Texas. Parham, considered the father of the modern Pentecostal movement, presided over Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where the Holy Spirit broke out among his students on January 1, 1901, during a New Year’s watch night service. Several of his students were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. In 1905, Parham opened the Bible Training School in Houston, Texas with about twenty-five students, among whom was W. J. Seymour. Seymour was invited in 1906 to preach in a small holiness church in Los Angeles. After preaching on tongues as the initial evidence of Spirit baptism, he was locked out of the church. He then began holding meetings in a home and on April 6, 1906, Seymour himself spoke with tongues. Growing attendance necessitated moving the services to a two-story building that had been a church, a tenement, and a livery stable at 312 Azusa Street. It was in this humble setting that a worldwide Pentecostal revival was launched. Most Pentecostal denominations trace their roots back to this revival.
On one occasion, a reporter from the Los Angeles Times attended a service to write a negative article on the revival. Being a reporter and traveling widely, he knew several languages. As he observed, he noticed that people were coming and going from the main meeting area to an upstairs room (they had an “upper room” that was used for prayer). Curious, he decided to investigate. He climbed the stairs and as he entered the room, the Holy Spirit inspired a young girl standing by the door to speak in tongues. She was speaking fluently in one of the languages he knew. It was a direct message from God for him to repent and be saved. Conviction fell on him and he was saved right then and there.
These types of manifestations come in God’s sovereign will and time, not on our own agenda. When God deems it necessary, He can and still does use this method to translate the Gospel today. Don’t limit God and say it can’t happen or that we do not need these kinds of supernatural manifestations at this point in time. With hundreds of people groups that do not even possess a written language, much less a Bible, it will take supernatural means to evangelize the world before Jesus returns. Again, do not limit God with fear or doubt. Believe and be available and God could even use you in this manner for His glory.
A sign to the world. “Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers” (1 Cor. 14:22). The gift of tongues is a sign to the world of God’s supernatural power at work in your life. When an unsaved person hears someone speak in tongues, he or she may recognize the handiwork of God. There are only two sources of supernatural power—God and Satan. For sure, Satan is not going to make you a better Christian, cause you to pray and read your Bible more, and improve your character. No person can speak in tongues (legitimately) of his own accord. So, when a Spirit-filled believer speaks in tongues, it is a witness to the world of the power of God in his life evident by the change in his lifestyle. What makes tongues authentic is the unction of the Holy Spirit. Without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tongues would be meaningless gibberish. However, when the Spirit gives someone utterance, tongues is a powerful, convincing sign of the power of God even unbelievers cannot deny, though they may not understand it.
A sign to the church. “These signs will follow those who believe . . . they will speak with new tongues” (Mk. 16:17). If we are believers in the entire Gospel, we will seek the operation of tongues in our lives. Tongues is a signal, indicating to other believers that you believe in the full message the Bible prescribes. It speaks of the fact that you are accepting another benefit and privilege of the Gospel that Jesus died to procure for His church. Is it right to take a portion of the Gospel (salvation and water baptism) and ignore others (the baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit)? Too many people cherry pick what they like out of the Bible instead of accepting the whole counsel of the Word of God. I believe it is important to accept all that the Bible teaches, especially the entire New Testament for doctrine and practice in the church. Tongues are a sign that we believe in the full Gospel. Paul warned against just having a form of godliness but denying the power of it (2 Tim. 3:5). Tongues is one of the many signs Jesus said would follow a true believer.
To build up the inner man. “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (1 Cor. 14:4). When people pray in tongues, they replenish the strength of the inner man. No wonder the devil has sought to blind so many people to the truth about tongues. He doesn’t want Christians to be strong; he wants them to be weak and vulnerable. The Greek word translated “edifies” in the verse above literally means “to construct, or to be a house-builder.” When an architect draws the blueprint for a house, his intent is to build a home strong enough to withstand the elements. So it is with the Christian who prays in tongues. Your attitudes, motives, and character are fortified—built up strong to go the extra mile, to weather the storm, to stand the test of time. Your spiritual battery is recharged and energized to maximum strength. The power of the Spirit is infused into your spirit. This supernatural power enables you to stand firm in the heat of the battle. In your weakness, God’s strength is perfected.
The apostle Paul was a pillar of strength in the early church. He revealed a secret of his prayer life and walk with God, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18). Paul knew what a powerful tool tongues can be. So did Jude, “But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Ju. 20). If you want to have a strong structure to your spiritual house, pray in tongues often. If you have not yet received the gift of tongues, seek for it. It is God’s gift for you. Tongues should be a supplement to, not a substitute for, prayer in your own language. Both are important and necessary. Paul let us in on one of the secrets of his personal prayer life with this statement, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding” (1 Cor. 14:15).
To pray accurately and effectively. “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). Situations often arise for which we don’t know exactly how to pray. In such cases, tongues can be an invaluable tool. Praying in tongues is synonymous with praying in the Spirit. When we pray in the Spirit we are, in effect, praying a perfect prayer—a prayer unaffected by doubt, fear, wrong motives, or desires. The omniscient Holy Spirit knows God’s will for every circumstance. Therefore, to pray in the Spirit is to pray according to the will of God. It is no surprise then that praying in tongues is so effective. When we pray in tongues, it is actually the Spirit of God interceding for us and through us.
During World War II, my father-in-law’s mother, Jalie Bolton, felt an overwhelming urge to pray for one of her sons who was deployed in the War. My uncle by marriage, was marching with his combat unit over a bridge in the South Pacific. They were unaware that the bridge had been wired to explode. Simultaneously in Alabama, his mother felt strongly impressed to pray immediately for her son. She began to cry out to God on her son’s behalf. She didn’t know what was going on or even where he was at the time. Not knowing exactly how to pray, she began to pray in tongues and allowed the Spirit to intercede through her. After a while, the sense of urgency lifted. Later she learned that nearly every man in his unit had been killed but he was spared. Furthermore, the exact time they were ambushed is when the Spirit had moved on her to intercede. The Spirit knows the mind and will of God for every situation. That’s why praying in tongues is such a valuable asset.
An important issue: Some people attribute the effectiveness of tongues to the common belief that the devil cannot understand them. Consider this: maybe the reason tongues are so effective is the very fact Satan can understand them. After all, Paul called tongues the languages of “men and of angels” (1 Cor. 13:1). It seems logical that Satan understands and speaks all the languages of men or else how could he sensibly tempt the entire human race. (Certainly, he would not tempt an English-speaking American in Chinese or vice versa.) Satan, it seems, would also know angelic or heavenly languages since at one time he was an anointed cherub who covered the throne of God (Ezk. 28:14). Tongues may be a powerful weapon because Satan does understand them. Perhaps he takes special notice when believers pray in tongues and feels powerless to resist, because he recognizes the words are from the Holy Spirit, and he must obey the Spirit’s voice.
How to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit
Every born-again believer should actively seek for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you have not yet received this precious promise, it is simple if you know how to move into a receptive position. Here are some practical suggestions that will guide you into this glorious experience:
Receive this gift by faith. It is important to remember that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift. A gift cannot be earned or deserved, just simply received. We must receive it by faith just like we receive salvation, healing, or any other gift of God. Paul wrote, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law . . . that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:13-14). Anything we receive from God requires faith to obtain and faith to maintain. Believe what the Bible says about this gift and have confidence that God fully intends for this gift to be yours. Even though God promised Canaan Land to the children of Israel, they had to go in and possess the land. Even so, we have been given many promises in God’s Word, but we must take hold of them by faith if they are to become a reality in our lives.
Ask and receive. First, you need to simply ask God to fill you with His Spirit. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk. 11:13) Jesus made it very simple—just ask for it! James wrote, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (Jam. 4:2). Begin in your own private prayer time to ask the Father for the outpouring of His Spirit in your life. Keep in mind that, just like other things we petitioned God for, persistence is important. Don’t just ask one time and give up. Ask God repeatedly and then begin to thank and praise Him for the manifestation in your life. Elijah prayed seven times for rain to be restored to Israel (Jam. 5:16-18). The widow appealed to the unjust judge repeatedly before her request was granted (Lk. 18:1-8). The Syrophoenician persistently petitioned Jesus to deliver her daughter, to whom He responded, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire” (Mt. 15:28). I am convinced that sometimes God tests our faith and sincerity by not immediately answering our plea. He wants to see how determined and how hungry we are for Him. Persistence pays regarding any petition, provided it is God’s will for us. Ask and keep asking until you receive your breakthrough.
Seek diligently. Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. To seek diligently after something means to pursue it. David pursued after God with a passionate desperation, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2). That is how aggressively we should seek after spiritual things. Jesus taught, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Mt. 5:6) If we want to find, we must seek. If we want to receive, we must ask. If we want the door opened to us, we must knock. God spoke through Jeremiah the secret of how to effectively seek His blessings and intervention: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
Some people take a passive approach that if God wants them to have something, then He will just give it to them without much effort on their part. This attitude is contrary to Scripture. God rewards the diligent seeker, not the passive, indifferent spectator. Seekers cannot get saved unless they seek God and ask Him to save them. So, it is with other Kingdom blessings (healing, deliverance, provision, Spirit baptism, etc.). We should adopt the aggressive attitude of Jacob when he wrestled with the angel, “I will not let You go, unless You bless me” (Gen. 32:26). God is pleased with bold, aggressive faith and rewards the diligent seeker.
Pray with other Spirit-filled believers. Perhaps the best way to receive Spirit baptism is to have other Spirit-filled people pray with you and for you. There is something powerful about agreeing together in prayer with other Spirit-filled believers. The 120 disciples were filled with the Spirit when they came together in unified prayer. “When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Ac. 2:1).
Laying on of hands. The Samaritan believers received the Holy Spirit when Peter and John prayed for them—“Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Ac. 8:17). The laying on of hands is a biblical method for imparting spiritual gifts to others. Paul received the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on and prayed over him (Ac. 9:17). Likewise, the Ephesian disciples also received the Holy Spirit when Paul laid his hands on and prayed for them (Ac. 19:6). Furthermore, Timothy received spiritual gifts in his life when Paul and other church leaders prayed for him (1 Tim. 4:14, 2 Tim. 1:6). If possible, it is valuable and powerful to have Spirit-filled believers pray for you because they have experienced what you’re seeking for and they will have faith that you, too, can receive.
Draw close to Jesus. Every time you seek for the gift of the Holy Spirit, you are drawing closer to Jesus, the Holy Spirit Baptizer. Remember how John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit? Gabriel told Zacharias that his son, John, would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk. 1:15). “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Lk. 1:41). It is possible that both Elizabeth and her son, John, were filled simultaneously. When did this occur? It was when Elizabeth greeted Mary who was carrying Jesus in her womb. In other words, when Elizabeth and John got close to Jesus, they received the Holy Spirit. That is the key—get close to Jesus and you will receive the gift He promised. After all, He is the Holy Spirit Baptizer. John the Baptist announced, “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk. 1:8). In fact, Spirit baptism is all about receiving more of Jesus, more of His power, presence, anointing, and glory. So, don’t get discouraged if you do not receive the enduement of the Spirit the first time or even the first few times you seek for it. You haven’t lost anything because you have drawn closer to Christ. The Bible urges us to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jam. 4:8). Seek to get closer to Jesus, the Spirit Baptizer, and the gift of Spirit baptism will certainly follow.
Don’t put God in a box. Sometimes we try to put God in a box and wrongly assume that He has to move in a certain method or place. God is bigger than any religious box we can construct. Some people might think that they can only be baptized with the Spirit in a church service, in a religious setting, or when someone is laying hands upon them. While that tends to be true, it is not always the case. Pentecost, you remember, was born out of a home prayer meeting. God sovereignly baptized Cornelius’ household with the Spirit right in the middle of Peter’s message. (See Acts 10:44-46.) I have heard many amazing testimonies of how God has filled people with His Spirit while they were driving down the road, in a boat fishing, on a lawn mower, or even in bed. God is sovereign! God can pour out His Spirit anytime and anywhere. He is just looking for yielded vessels who are sensitive to His presence and receptive to His Spirit.
Meditate on God’s Word. Another key to receiving Spirit baptism is to read and rehearse in your mind the portions of Scripture that pertain to this subject. Paul wrote in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The more you meditate on God’s Word, the more your faith will rise to receive the promises it contains. If you are sick, you should read Bible verses on healing. If you need provision, you should read verses on how God is your supplier. If you are witnessing to someone who is lost, you should show them passages on salvation, right? Well, if you are seeking to be baptized with the Spirit, it only makes sense to study the verses on that subject. Especially read and familiarize yourself with the five outpourings of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts (Ac. 2:1-21; 8:14-17; 9:17; 10:44-48; 19:1-7). Also study the passages that describe the work of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts in the church (1 Cor. 12-14). The more you see what God’s Word says about these subjects, the more faith you’ll have to see them manifest in your own life.
Remove any hindrances. You don’t have to beg a river to flow, just remove the obstructions. Examine your life and see if there is anything that displeases God. Periodically, it would benefit us all to pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). If we are living with any unconfessed sin, it will obviously hinder our prayers and our quest to be Spirit-filled. The Psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18). A person doesn’t have to be perfect to be Spirit-filled, but he or she should be striving to live a clean, righteous lifestyle. Things such as unforgiveness, bitterness, rebellion, hate, addictions, sexual promiscuity, worldly influences, abusive or self-destructive behaviors can hinder the flow of the Spirit in our lives. Like a well clogged with garbage, a carnal lifestyle stifles the flow of life-giving water. Of course, God can sovereignly pour out His Spirit on whomever He chooses, thus enabling His people to better overcome these things. But, as a general rule, the more we surrender ourselves to God’s will, the more receptive we will be to the infilling of His Spirit. So, take inventory of your heart and ask God to remove anything in your life that grieves or quenches the Holy Spirit’s agenda—“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:30), “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Th. 5:19).
Renounce unbiblical teaching. Another big hurdle for some people to overcome is teaching they have heard against the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It is very difficult to receive something you don’t believe in or have been taught against. In this case, renounce any teaching or beliefs that are contrary to God’s Word on this subject and saturate your mind with sound, biblical teaching. Sometimes we have to unlearn some things before we can advance spiritually. Religion and tradition can hold people in bondage to unbelief. Some people have been so indoctrinated by their church tradition or religious background that they can’t think objectively about the Bible.
For instance, cessationists believe that miracles and other supernatural gifts and manifestations “ceased” with the original apostles or shortly thereafter. They support their belief from the only verse in the entire Bible that predicts the eventual the cessation of tongues—“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (1 Cor. 13:8). In this passage, the Apostle Paul predicted a time will come when tongues, prophecy, and our limited knowledge will become obsolete. The big question is when? Paul explained, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:9-10). He was referring to the resurrection. When Jesus returns, He will restore perfection to this earth and then tongues, prophecy, and knowledge will no longer be needed. Why? Because the language barriers will be removed, prophecies will all be fulfilled, and we will have the full knowledge of God (1 Cor. 13:12). Until that glorious day, millions of believers will continue praying with and speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives them utterance. There is no specific expiration date given on spiritual gifts in the Bible.
Some interpret “when that which is perfect is come” to mean the completion of the Bible, which occurred near the end of the first century. However, the Canon of Scripture (which books were to be included in Scripture) wasn’t fully decided until the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. If the Bible was what is referred to here, then we would assume tongues have ceased. But if tongues have ceased, so then has knowledge and prophecy too for that matter. Yes, the Bible has been made available and is no doubt perfect. However, we still only have partial knowledge. Obviously, knowledge has not passed away so why then should we believe that tongues or prophecy has? To say that tongues ceased when the Bible was complete is to say that knowledge and prophecy have passed away also and that is obviously not the case. Those who believe that tongues have ceased basically hang their hat on this one verse, while ignoring the rest of what the New Testament has to say about the subject. It is dangerous and careless to build an entire doctrine around one or two verses of Scripture. Those who claim that tongues have ceased place too much emphasis on one verse and de-emphasize over thirty references on this subject.
Peter plainly stated, “For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Ac. 2:39) We are the “afar off” believers Peter spoke about who are eligible recipients of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. Again, none of the apostles put an expiration date on Spirit baptism, miracles, signs, or any other supernatural gifts and manifestations. Don’t allow unbelief or the fear of fanaticism prevent you from receiving one of God’s greatest blessings. God will give you exactly what you ask for, seek for, and expect. If you are sincere in your quest for Spirit baptism, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).
Note: this article contains excerpts from The Promise of the Father, Copyright © 2020 by Ben Godwin. Ben is the author of six books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church in Goodsprings, Alabama. You can read more articles or order his books @ bengodwin.org.