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Bible Gemz 1765 - Tongues - the sign of the baptism of the Spirit and being slain in the Spirit? (Acts 19:7)

February 11, 2018

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)



What is the baptism mentioned here? 


Does it refer to water baptism or baptism in the spirit? There is a contrast between the two, especially when it comes to the Acts 19 passage. The baptism referred to as the “baptism of John” is the baptism of repentance as I have mentioned. But clearly here there is another baptism referred to – namely the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This second baptism is that which is referred to by John as the one Jesus would bring. When Jesus ascended to the Father He indicated that He would send us a “helper” or a “comforter” – namely the Holy Spirit.  


The question that most of you have asked is whether “speaking in tongues is a sign of the baptism of the Spirit. If we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit should we then automatically speak in tongues? Is tongues the sign of having been baptized in the Holy Spirit?


To answer that question I would say tongues is ONE of the manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit. But there are others – the ones listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.   


It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. (1 Cor 12:11)   


He distributes and He decides. Who? The Holy Spirit, that’s who. What? These gifts . . . these manifestation gifts. It is these He distributes [διαιρέω – separate, divide or distribute]. He is the one working this, operating behind the scenes. He separates and divides the gifts and then distributes them. “Dividing to every man severally as he will” (KJV). What does that mean? Giving to one man this gift, and another that gift. He divides the gifts and decides what each person will get. Did you get that? It is the Holy Spirit who decides what each person gets. He chooses. These gifts are unequal, yet they are wisely divided, because it is the Spirit of God who distributes.


So that means not everyone gets the same gift. That means not everyone necessarily speaks in tongues. Which means when we try to force people to speak in tongues as the sign gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we are actually do the body of Christ a disservice. When we do that we highlight one gift and obscure others. I wrote  in Gemz 437 when I looked at the discernment gift – “this is a foundational gift that every church or body of believers who meet together need as a pre-requisite”. While it doesn’t appear to have the same appeal as healing, miracles or even tongues it is essential to the spiritual success of the body of Christ . . . there is all sorts out there, masquerading as truth and “Christian”, but it is mixed with the wacky, error filled and definitely not mainline Christian. We need to be protected from that . . . As you open yourself to the gifts of the spirit, words of wisdom, knowledge, prophecy and tongues with interpretations it has the potential for error to creep in.” More than every before we need the gift of discernment operating in the church today. Yet it is often absent.


When we are the ones who decide which gifts are apportioned to the body is it possible we opt for some (or one) to the exclusion of others. Then we wonder why we have problems. If there are some that are particular favoured and promoted, it stands to reason then there are others that are neglected and overlooked. Let’s allow the Spirit of God to be the One “to decide and distribute according to His will” just like the Word says. Rather than encourage everyone to speak in tongues lets encourage and teach in such a way that highlights all the gifts to be operative because we need them all. A body of believers where some aspects of the manifestation of God are absent because we have placed undue emphasis on some gifts and not others is a body which is incomplete.


Think about it. 


Two other readers have asked what does the term “being slain in the Spirit” mean? 

When I hear the term “being slain in the Spirit” it makes me either laugh or at the least smile. “Be slain” is the passive form derived from the verb to slay, the primary meaning of which is to kill, to destroy violently, to extinguish. On that basis I will pass on being slain in Spirit. I have no death wish but would be willing to follow God into martyrdom if He so chose. There is a figurative use of “to slay” or “be slain” which carries the idea of “you knock me out”. It’s used of humour which “knocks us out”. Perhaps it’s akin to killing me softly with song” but you would have to ask Roberta Flack about that one. 


Probably the sense is to be overcome or to overwhelm the senses in some way. But most when they use the term “being slain in the Spirit” are referring to the idea of “falling down on the ground”. It has been my personal experience that most times I have been prayed for in Pentecostal circles where others have been falling down, that the person praying for me has tried to assist my being slain - in straight talk, to push me down. When that has happened I steadfastly resist. I don't wish to be pushed down by the person praying for me. If I am going to be slain in the Spirit [fall] I want it to be of God and not by man. Just saying! And before you jump to conclusions let me also say I have experienced both.


I have experienced people trying to push me down which I resisted. I have also fallen under the power of God and found it impossible to get up again. One time I lay on the floor for perhaps twenty minutes after which I decided to get up again. I couldn’t work out why people were laughing. They were laughing at me. Apparently I was falling all over the place each time I tried to rise. It was like I was drunk and had no control over my body but I wasn't drunk, it was only 11.00 o’clock in the morning. (two hours later than the 9 o’clock referred to in Acts 2:15 

“These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that.” My experience on that day at a pastors’ gathering was totally of God without any human inference whatsoever. 


I once attended a two-day seminar with Gordon Fee. He was asked about the phenomena of falling under the power of the Spirit or whether “being slain in the spirit” as many called it back then was real. I liked his response. He said he felt falling down was a human response to a divine action. I would add or to a human action. He said it is interesting how often God or the angel tells the one falling in Scripture to get up not, not to just unthinkingly fall. He also said it is possible that falling down is also an avoidance reaction. God or the Spirit could say, “Get up, I am not finished with you yet.” 



If you’re thinking is not producing a desired result, I think your thinking may not be as good as you think.


Ask God for the baptism of the Spirit (or the fullness of the Spirit) and then let Him decide which manifestation gift to give you. Ian


The more conscious I am of what God has yet to do in me the less critical I am of what He has yet to do in others. Andy Stanley 


True freedom is not getting everything you want; it's being able to be happy and emotionally stable when you don't get what you want. Joyce Meyer 


Don’t downgrade your dream to fit your reality? Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny! Rick Godwin






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