Our teaching today is on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Speaking in Tongues. Over the course of the next few teachings we are going to touch on quite a lot of things related to this topic.
The verses we will use to begin our study with Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:1-4. It says,
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth". (Acts 1:8, NKJV)
Let's see what it was like when the Holy Spirit came upon them. It says,
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance". (Acts 2:1-4, NKJV)
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the accompanying gift of the speaking in other tongues is one of the most fascinating doctrines found in the Bible! As we learn about this Baptism in the Holy Spirit (“Spirit Baptism” for short), let us ask God that it won’t merely be head knowledge, but that we will truly experience this glorious encounter with God.
The Bible says that the experience happened "suddenly". We must be focused on the promises of God for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and not become discouraged, because it will come "suddenly" as we continue to pursue this glorious experience.
There was a natural manifestation (natural wind) of the Spiritual Wind of God (The Holy Spirit).
There appeared unto them a fire. The fire speaks of the zeal and untamability of the Holy Spirit. Like wildfire, He cannot be stopped!
Some essential remarks:
There are three things that we absolutely have to touch on when we study the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Speaking in Tongues. We will study other important things also (such as whether tongues are real human languages or not, what the purposes of tongues are, if tongues always have to be interpreted, etc), but for now I want to turn your attention to the next three important, essential remarks:
1. Tongues and Spirit Baptism not necessary for salvation
There have been those who have insisted that speaking in tongues is essential for salvation. So is it? The answer is no, and yes, so let's explain.
* If by the word "salvation" we mean "going to heaven" and escaping hell, then the answer is a firm "No, you do not need to speak in tongues to go to heaven". Salvation from sin and hell comes through faith in Jesus Christ, and by His atoning death on the cross;
* If by the word "salvation" we mean "to make whole", then the answer is "Yes, tongues and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and many other things of God are all part of God's greater plan to make us whole.
The root word in the Greek language (in which the New Testament was written) translated into our English language as "saved" is sozo. Sozo is the root word for "salvation", which in Greek is soteria. Sozo means "save, heal or make whole" (See the Strongs' Greek word 4982).
So here's the point. No, tongues and the Spirit baptism is not necessary for salvation from sin and hell, but it is certainly part of God's greater plan of soteria (salvation), namely to make us completely whole. Without tongues and the baptism in the Holy Spirit we are deficient of the complete wholeness that God intends for us!
2. Tongues and the Spirit Baptism don’t make you an elite Christian
Unfortunately there must have been those who have left observers with the impression that those who speak in tongues and have received the Spirit Baptism think of themselves as elite Christians. I am unaware of such people, but I know that spiritual pride is always lurking, looking for the opportunity to make it's ugly entry into our lives.
God wants His people to live humbly before Him. The Spirit Baptism and Tongues are not supposed to make us prideful. Rather, it will make us humble and give us the attitude of servanthood. We are to be servants, not snobbish elite Christians!
However, let us absolutely not use this "elite Christian" caution to rob us from one of the greatest experiences God wishes to bless us with!
3. Tongues and the Spirit Baptism is not the ultimate end of the spiritual journey
As wonderful and as powerful as the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Speaking in Tongues is, it is certainly not the end of the journey. In fact, it is just the beginning! We should not have the attitude that says, "Well bless God, I have not spoken in tongues and have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I have arrived, and there is not much more I need to pursue". God forbid!
The Spirit Baptism and the Speaking in Tongues should be absolutely pursued with an unquenchable passion, but we should thereafter continue to pursue the other glorious things God has for us. God is unfathomable and majestic, and of His glory there is no end. Let us not limit ourselves to anything God has done in our lives. There is so much more!
In our next teaching we will learn more about the Spirit Baptism, and the Speaking in Tongues, and we will continue to learn much over the course of the next successive teachings, but this has been a good start.
A Powerful Testimony
Allow me to give you a testimony of the Spirit Baptism. I will share my own testimony in the future, but I will borrow someone else's for now.
My uncle John has been in the ministry for over 50 years. He is one of the most powerful preachers I have heard speak, but he had been plagued with an absolutely terrible speech impediment since he was three. It was the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that changed his life. Here is his testimony:
"At the age of three, I fell sick with meningitis. This left me with a stammering, stuttering tongue. I was raised Methodist, and do acutely remember the fear I experienced during confirmation class. Upon commencement, the plus/minus twenty children had to state their names in turn.
Needless to say, the fear and nervousness blocked any word which I tried to utter. My name would not come out and I finally gave up. Every day experiences like this left me with a tremendous inferiority complex. This was due to change radically. Jesus said “You shall receive power after the Holy Ghost comes upon you”, Acts 1:8. “Tarry in the City of Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:29)
Some weeks after my conversion, I saw an advertisement in the newspaper. It stated “Inspired singing, inspired preaching” next Sunday. I found this church. It happened to be a Church of God. During service, someone in the pews began loudly to talk in tongues. I did not understand what was happening. However, Jesus said, “My sheep hear/know my voice.” No one had to tell me that this was of God. I just knew it and knew that I had to have it!
I was hungry for God and having found a church which was alive and on fire, I never returned to dead religion. So began a time of sacrificing many petty things in my life, two of which was rugby and smoking. With all my heart, I began to seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
I understood according to many scriptures in the book of Acts, chiefly Acts 2:1-4, that when one receives the baptism of the Holy Ghost, it would be accompanied by the miraculous sign of tongues and/or prophecy. At this time, God had joined me with a number of friends, all of which were hungry for the infilling/baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Our pastor had set Tuesday nights apart to pray for candidates who sought this experience and so we came expectantly. That night four of my friends received this wonderful experience. When it came my turn for prayer and hands were laid upon me, I experienced a liquid warmth deep on the inside of me. It welled up to my tongue and I knew I had to speak. Sadly, again the fear of talking in front of people invaded my mind and I clamped up.
Needless to say, I left church that night very disappointed. However, having always been a fighter, I set my mind to receive it the next week. The next Tuesday, when the pastor laid his hands on me I did not feel the liquid heat but my faith was geared to accept. A loud gushing torrent of sound flowed from my mouth and best of all, there was no stutter whatsoever. I was talking plainly.
In conjunction with this miracle, I was instantly delivered from my inferiority complex. The lamb had turned into a lion. Not long after this, we began conducting street meetings. I began testifying on the streets and lo and behold, to my utter surprise, every time I shared my testimony or preached, I was totally fluent. There was no stammer.
As stated before, to this day I still stutter in the natural. But every time I pray, talk in tongues, prophesy or preach, I am totally fluent. Not only fluent but also eloquent.
Truly, God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and therefore, Paul writes and states, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” (Dr. John D. Hitchcock)
You and I can have our own unique testimonies. Perhaps the testimony would be as dramatic as this one, or maybe not. However, it need not be sensational. All it needs to be is real...
Next week we will learn more about this fascinating experience!
Pastor Joel Hitchcock
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