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"The Tongues Evidence: Fact or Fallacy?" - By Don Hill

Many Christians know there is an endument of power they can receive after salvation called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit which will enable them to serve the Lord more effectively. It is promised to every believer and comes in answer to prayer. It happens when God pours out His Spirit upon us. It is God filling us with the Holy Spirit.

Towards the end of the 1800's and into the beginning of the 1900's, many Christians in the United States and Canada experienced a hunger in their hearts for more of God. They knew from a study of the Acts of the Apostles there was something more than salvation. It was the Baptism in - or filling with - the Holy Spirit. The question was how could they know when they had received this blessing? What was the evidence?

Some churches especially within the Holiness denominations encouraged their members to seek the Lord for an outpouring of the Spirit. Some believers began to examine the Acts of the Apostles more closely and became convinced that all those filled with the Holy Spirit would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Others were not so sure.

However, a significant number of people in both the United States and Canada received the filling of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. They often found they were no longer welcome in their churches and began to form churches where the tongues evidence was accepted. These began as independent churches. But they soon realized it was to their advantage to join together in a co-operative fellowship for practical reasons. A number of new denominations came into existence. Some, not all, took the name Pentecostal to clearly identify themselves. They wanted it known that they believed what God did on the day of Pentecost, He was still doing: Christians were being filled with the Holy Spirit today and the evidence had not changed. Those who are filled with the Spirit still speak in tongues.

With the passing of time, Pentecostal groups have more precisely defined their belief regarding the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is held as an official doctrine in the Pentecostal denominations that speaking with tongues is the "initial evidence" of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Those who have not spoken in tongues have not been filled with the Spirit. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, to which this writer belongs, refers to the belief that speaking in tongues is the "initial evidence" of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as our "distinctive testimony". This is what makes us Pentecostal. It is the one belief that sets us apart from many other evangelical groups.

Only when we understand the Biblical truth regarding the initial evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit can we avoid having sincere Christians thinking they have received it when they have not. Without something obvious that can be identified as the evidence of the Holy Spirit Baptism, there would simply be no way of knowing if we have received it. When Paul met certain disciples at Ephesus he asked them, "...Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?... ..." (Acts 19:2). Paul expected either a "yes" or "no" answer. This tells us there had to be something that was recognized as the evidence.

Some tell us power for witnessing is the evidence. But this is difficult to define. The purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is to give the believer power to witness. But it takes time for this to work itself out in the believer's life. Others say the fruit of the Spirit is the evidence. But here again, the fruit does not appear immediately. It takes time to grow. Both power to witness and the fruit of the Spirit are evidences of the filling of the Spirit and will be seen in time. However, neither of these things is the first evidence. God chose something that would be manifested immediately that would let the seeker and those around know that the blessing had been received. Allow me to share with you scriptural reasons for recognizing speaking with other tongues as the evidence of the Holy Spirit Baptism.

1. The Prophecy
In Isaiah 28:11-12 we are told "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people, To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: ... ..." This prophecy spoken by Isaiah to the people of God in his day applied historically to them at that time. They would be invaded by the Assyrians. The "stammering lips and another tongue" would be the speech of the Assyrian army. By it God would speak to them. It would be a warning of even worse judgment to come. However, in the New Testament, Paul shows that this prophecy is more than a message about a natural situation in Isaiah's day. He applies it to the work of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah's words have a deeper spiritual meaning for New Testament times. God would speak by the Spirit "in other tongues" through believers but again people would not harken. Listen as Paul quotes Isaiah and applies the "tongues" of Isaiah 28:11-12 to the gift of tongues: "...With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; yet for all that they will not hear me saith the Lord" (1 Cor 14:21). Now let us go back to Isaiah's prophecy and see what else he says about this experience of speaking with stammering lips and another tongue. In Ch. 28 vs 12 he says, "...This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing ..." We identify "the refreshing" to be the Baptism in the Holy Spirit since the outpouring of the Spirit in the Bible is referred to as "showers of blessing": and portrayed as "rain", "the former rain and the latter rain." But look closely at the prophecy. God says "... stammering lips and another tongue ... ... THIS is the refreshing ..." If God says speaking with other tongues is the refreshing, what right does man have to say something else is the refreshing?

2. The Pattern
In Acts 1 we read that a hundred and twenty disciples (both men and women) were gathered in an upper room to pray and wait for the Holy Spirit as Jesus had commanded them to do. "...wait for the promise of the Father, which said ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." Then it happened: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4) It is important for us to understand what actually took place. Two things are recorded here. They were ALL filled with the Holy Ghost. They spoke with other tongues. It says "Now when THIS was noised abroad, the multitude came together." (Acts 2:6) When WHAT was noised? When the THIS in vs. 6 was noised abroad: If you go back and read vs. 6 you will see that THIS could only have been the speaking in tongues. Then it says when the people gathered "...they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meanest THIS?" (Acts 2:12) In other words, "What is THIS speaking in tongues all about?" Now read how Peter explained it. "...Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and said... ... THIS is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh ..." (Acts 2:14, 16-17) Peter is saying that THIS (the speaking in tongues) was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which had been prophecied by Joel: It was for all flesh (meaning all races and nationalities). Then in vs. 17 and 18, Peter goes on to say THIS is for both sons and daughters, the young and the old. We believe the second chapter of Acts shows not only was the Baptism in the Holy Spirit received by the first hundred and twenty disciples accompanied by speaking with other tongues, but Peter's explanation of this event reveals that it is a pattern for the church age.

3. The Promise
The coming of the Holy Spirit upon believers to endue them with power to witness for their risen Lord was called by different names including "...the promise of the Father,..." (Acts 1:4) Other scriptures refer to it as the Baptism with (or in) the Holy Spirit. Pentecostal believers usually call it the Baptism with the Holy Spirit or being filled with the Spirit. These are all Biblical terms and are therefore acceptable. Luke who wrote the Acts of the Apostles quotes Peter as saying, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear." (Acts 2: 32-33) Peter wants the crowd to know that the Lord Jesus has kept His word by doing what He said He would do. He has sent "the promise of the Holy Ghost ... which ye now see and hear." Look closely at Acts 2:33. What is "the promise of the Holy Ghost?" It is "THIS, which we now SEE and HEAR." What does this tell us about the promise of the Holy Ghost? It tells us we SEE it and we HEAR it.

What did the people see? It is unlikely that they saw the cloven tongues of fire mentioned in Acts 2:3. These by then would have disappeared. Had they seen the cloven tongues of fire they would have asked about their meaning. Instead what they enquired about was the meaning of the speaking in tongues. What they saw is what caused them to say "... These men are drunk with new wine." (Acts 2:13) What they saw was the holy boldness of the disciples: Later we read "...they SAW the boldness of Peter and John ..." (Acts 4:13)

What did the people hear? Obviously, what they heard was the speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. It was God fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy and establishing a pattern for the church age.

Was the promise of the Holy Ghost only for the hundred and twenty on the day of Pentecost? Not according to what Peter told those first disciples. He said "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39)

4. The Perpetuation
In the Acts, we have five recorded cases of a person or a group of people receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit or being filled with the Spirit for the first time. We will not consider Acts 4:31 because this was a refilling of those who had been baptized with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Refillings or fresh anointings of the Spirit should be frequent experiences for those who have received the Baptism in the Spirit. There is one baptism and many fillings. What we are going to do now is examine the five case histories of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit being received in the Acts. We will see that in each of these cases, the person or people who received this blessing spoke with tongues. This is how God perpetuated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early church. It continued as it began.

We will begin with the obvious:-
1. On the day of Pentecost, the first hundred and twenty disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues. (Acts 2:1-4)

2. Approximately eight years later, an Italian man by the name of Cornelius and his family in Caesarea were both saved and baptized in the Spirit as they listened to Peter preach. They also spoke in tongues. (Acts 10:44-47)

3. Then approximately seventeen years after this, Paul ministered to a group of believers at Ephesus. They received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues. (Acts 19:1-6)

This leaves us two cases out of the five where it does not say they spoke with tongues. Let's examine these two cases and see what we have.

First, there is the case of the new converts in Samaria. Please open your Bible to Acts 8:14-21 and read the passage. When Peter and John laid their hands upon the Samaritan believers and prayed that they would receive the Holy Ghost, it does not say they spoke in tongues. But wait! Something must have happened. A professional magician by the name of Simon was standing by. It says "And when Simon SAW that through the laying on of the apostles hands, the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost." (Acts 8:18-19) What happened that impressed this magician enough to cause him to offer the apostles money for the power to do likewise? It would be ridiculous to think Simon offered money so he could lay his hands on people. Why would what happened here not be the same as what happened in the other three cases we have considered? Now let me take it a step further. Peter rebuked Simon saying, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter ..." (Acts 8:21) The word MATTER in our English Bible is translated from the Greek word LOGOS which means WORD or SPEECH. Peter was saying "Thou hast neither part not lot in this speech." Was he referring to the speaking in tongues? Taking into consideration all the other evidence, we believe that is exactly what he meant.

Finally, we have the case of Saul of Tarsus who later became the Apostle Paul in Acts 9:17. "...Ananias ... putting his hands on him said filled with the Holy Ghost." It does not say Saul spoke in tongues here. However, he later wrote to the church in Corinth "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all." (1 Cor 14:18). When did Paul first speak with tongues? Certainly not BEFORE he was filled with the Spirit! That leaves two options. Was it WHEN he was filled or was it LATER in his life? If it was LATER, this would make Paul an exception since in the other four cases, they spoke in tongues WHEN they were filled with the Holy Spirit. There is no apparent reason why Paul's case would be an exception.

5. The Power
The purpose for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is to give believers power to witness for Christ and win the lost. "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) This is not to say believers without the Baptism do not witness and win souls because many do. But after they receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, they do even better. If the Pentecostal message is true when it says speaking with tongues is the initial evidence that one has received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and unless you have spoken with tongues, you have not received the Baptism, it is logical to expect the most evangelical fervor and growth among those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues. We believe the facts speak for themselves. On the homefront, the Christian workers who are having the most success in soulwinning and church planting are those who have received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. The Pentecostal churches and denominations are among the fastest growing evangelical ministries in the country and in some cases, they are the fastest growing bar none. The same is true on many foreign mission fields where Spirit filled workers are driving back the forces of darkness and Pentecostal churches are experiencing incredible growth.

Office: 705-325-8964
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 523, Orillia, Ontario Canada L3V 6K2
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