On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”Acts 2:1-11
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”Acts 2:38-29
Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.Acts 10:44-48
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.”
As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.Acts 19:1-7
“Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.”1 Corinthians 12:10
Now we are beginning yet another of those extremely controversial topics – speaking in tongues and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This topic has continued throughout the Book of Acts. It was also something which continued in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, as Paul addresses the issue of the manifestation gifts in Chapter 12 and tongues and prophecy in Chapter 14. It was clearly an issue for the Corinthian church. Paul begins 1 Corinthians 12:1 “Now concerning Spiritual gifts brothers . . .” Remember in 1 Corinthians 7:1 Paul wrote, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote . . .” Clearly the Corinthians wrote to Paul asking about a number of things. One of which was the manifestation and the operation of the spiritual gifts. Interesting how it pops up in the Book of Acts at a time when Paul and Apollos have switched places between Corinth and Ephesus. It was clear this was an issue for them.
But not only the Corinthians and body of believers in Acts: it is an issue for church worldwide in this present age as well and has divided congregations of believers across the board. It is one of the issues I encountered that has a polarizing effect across the body of Christ. As a past Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators NZ I have encountered either a welcome or a refusal purely on the basis of my doctrinal belief about the gift of tongues. The same is true of other countries I have visited and is certainly true of Indonesia.
Wycliffe requires a new member to make a statement of faith, a doctrinal statement on 16 topics as to what we personally believe on each of those topics. The gift of speaking in tongues is one of those topics. It is an interesting experience having to do that – To write down what you believe about a particular biblical truth. Try it, do it now! There is something about putting in writing what you believe on a matter. It crystalizes your beliefs and your thoughts on that matter. Not what your church believes, not what your denomination’s doctrinal stand is, not what your parents believe but what you believe! Don’t worry, no one is going to see your statement. You won’t get booted out of your church or your denomination after this exercise or deleted from the mailing list of Bible Gems recipients. You don’t have to send them to me. I won’t post them on the internet. This is an exercise for you to do for your own benefit. Know what you believe. Take time to think about it and write it down.
These are the guiding questions for the Statements of Faith re tongues:
- What do you believe the “gift of tongues” to be?
- Is the gift of tongues operative today?
- Have any gifts disappeared since the early church?
- Must all speak in tongues?
- Is the gift of tongues the sign gift of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”?
- Give your thoughts on being ‘Filled with the Spirit’ or ‘Baptised in the Spirit’.
- What is the difference between being in-dwelt and being filled, include discussion on whether or not the Holy Spirit indwells all believers, (including those who have never spoken in tongues).
- How strongly do you hold your beliefs?
There you have your assignment for today. Hey this assignment is for your benefit, not mine. Do it. The clearer you can state your doctrinal belief the more benefit it is to you. You may need to do your own research to find out what you believe because it may be fuzzy. Doing this exercise will bring things into focus for you.
Did you notice from which part of the Book of Acts the issue of baptism and tongues is notably absent?
“Can I accept a person who has a different theological viewpoint to my own?” A telling indication of your degree of balance.Ian Vail
Are you willing to go to one whom you know doesn’t agree with you and listen to their point of view without challenging or seeking to prove them wrong? Just to listen and learn.Ian Vail
Love means never having to say you’re sorry (Quote from Love Story – The Movie) unless it is a theological issue.Ian Vail
Like the man stranded alone on a desert island who when rescued was asked why there were clearly two church buildings on the island. Oh that is my old church but I left.Anon