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In our previous studies we have been dealing with the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit and we divided them up into three different groups of three: three gifts of revelation, three gifts of power and three vocal gifts. The three gifts of revelation were a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge and discernings of spirits. The three gifts of power were faith, the gifts of healings, the workings of miracles.
Now we’re going to begin to deal with the third group, the vocal gifts. We call these the vocal gifts because they must necessarily operate through human vocal organs. Under the vocal gifts we have the following: tongues, interpretation and prophecy.
Let’s begin with some basic definitions. These are not intended to be absolutely flawless definitions but just practical introductions to the subject. First of all, when in this kind of context we speak about tongues we mean—and I have given you a definition there which I will read—ability given to a believer by the Holy Spirit to speak in a language not understood by the speaker.
Connected with tongues is the second one, interpretation. By this we mean the ability given by the Holy Spirit to speak in a language understood by the speaker the meaning of words previously spoken in an unknown tongue or unknown language.
Thirdly, prophecy is the ability to speak in a language understood by the speaker words given by the Holy Spirit.
You will notice that central in each one of those definitions is the word “to speak,” that each one of them depends upon an operation of the Holy Spirit and that each one of them is specifically supernatural. I believe this to be true of all the nine gifts, all of them are supernatural. None of them are on a natural plane of human knowledge or ability.
We have said of the previous two groups of gifts—the gifts of revelation and the gifts of power—that they remain under the control of God. At no time, as far as I understand it, can a believer exercise one of these gifts by an act of his will. No one by an act of his will can operate a gift of healing, a working of miracles or have a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge. This does not mean that the human will does not play any part because if the human will does not yield and submit to the Holy Spirit, then the gifts cannot operate. But, the initiative in those six gifts, as I understand it, remains with God.
It’s important to see that, particularly, for instance, in relation to healing. People say if you have the gift of healing, “Why don’t you walk into the hospital and heal everybody?” The answer is because it just doesn’t work that way. As I pointed out to you in that connection that, at the pool of Bethsaida Jesus walked into a multitude of impotent folk, healed one man, left all the rest without approaching them in any way, walked out again. Jesus didn’t operate it that way, and we cannot either.
But when we come to these vocal gifts, there is no question that in some measure they are placed under our control. This makes them different in this respect from the other six gifts. I say in some measure and I’m sure that it differs with different people. But as far as I’m concerned, speaking only from personal experience, I can speak in an unknown tongue at will any time I want, day or night without, as far as I know, any reservation. I can also interpret very frequently and, I don’t know how often I can prophesy, but I know that if I sought to do it, there never need be a meeting that I attended in which I did not prophesy. I have that ability. God gave it to me thirty years ago and I’ve never lost it.
But, on the other hand, I don’t do that, because I have learned—and I learned that quickly I’m glad to say—that these gifts are placed under our control and we are responsible for what we do with them. One of the first things we have to do in the field of the vocal gifts is learn from the Word of God the purposes for which they are given, the right way to use them, and the ways that we should not use them.
I take as evidence that this is correct, the fact that if you were to turn to 1 Corinthians 14, in the first 33 verses of that chapter, you will find frequent instructions from Paul as how and when to do these things and how and when not to do them. For instance, Paul says in a normal meeting two persons or, at the most, three, are to speak in tongues. No more. Obviously more could do it, but they’re to restrain themselves. He says in a similar type of meeting two prophets may speak or, at the most, three. And then he says if you want to speak out loud in an unknown tongue there must be an interpreter there or else you must be able to interpret or else don’t do it. Obviously, therefore, it remains in the power of the person either to do it or not to do it. I think there is no way to calculate the number of mistakes and disasters that have arisen from people not understanding that they are responsible to learn to control the vocal gifts of the Spirit. It is the most amazing thing.
I remember once talking to Presbyterian minister about seven years ago about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and this question came up. He said, “I can believe most of what you say, but I really can’t accept that.” I said, “That’s the way I find it to be. But, let me tell you one more thing, I didn’t plan this gospel. If God had left me to plan it, I’d have planned a very different gospel. But, you see, He didn’t leave me to do it.” The apostle Paul said the gospel which he preached was “not of man,” it didn’t originate with man nor was it after man. It wasn’t the kind of gospel that a man would ever have planned. I just have to bow before this fact, this is the way God has planned it. As I said to that minister also, “Remember, I didn’t invent these things, I just discovered them!” They were in being before ever I came to know the Lord or came into this experience of the Holy Spirit.
Incidentally, I tell you about that Presbyterian minister. About six months later he stood up in the morning worship service of his congregation and announced that the previous night he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in his study, speaking with tongues. They held an emergency meeting of the church board or assembly or whatever it is in the afternoon, and in the evening service he came out with the same announcement again. It took him about six months to digest it.
Well, there might be some of you that might find some of these things a little strange or unfamiliar and you might want to reason and say, “Well, that shouldn’t be that way.” But, if you feel that way, don’t get mad with me, because I didn’t make the rules. See, that’s what I tell people. I do my best to interpret them.
Having said that by way of introduction, let’s turn to the study of tongues. This is not an accurate way to describe this but it’s the way that we’ll use to introduce it. Actually, as I understand Scripture, there is no such thing in the New Testament as “the gift of tongues.” I’ll show you just why in a few moments. When we come to this subject we have to begin by making a very important linguistic distinction. It is outlined there in your outline if you wish to look at it. The distinction is between an “unknown tongue” in the singular and “kinds of tongues” in the plural (where both parts are in the plural)—as they were, for instance, with workings of miracles, gifts of healings and discernings of spirits. In all those cases both parts of the gift are listed in the plural.
You’ll see that in the outline I’ve placed the word unknown in parenthesis. In actual fact, it does not occur in the Greek. Most of us are so used to the King James Version that sometimes we get a little upset to find that the original Greek didn’t agree with the King James Version. We have to bear in mind that the Greek was there first and the King James Version came later. I love the King James Version and I don’t believe there’ll ever be a better—although there are some that improve in certain respects. Unfortunately, many people today don’t understand Elizabethan English. Therefore, they cannot appreciate the King James Version. But, I still prefer it to others because on the whole I find it the most honest. What it doesn’t understand it’s still translated, whereas modern translators when they don’t understand something, bring it down to the level of their own understanding which is usually totally incorrect.
If you want to look at the Scripture where we find this—and I’m talking about the use of “an unknown tongue,” but the word unknown is not there in the Greek—you’ll find it used four times in 1 Corinthians 14. In the King James Version, for instance, in verse 2 it says:
“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God...”
Now, you probably have the King James Version which prints some words in italics. If so, you’ll find the word unknown is in italics. I wonder how many of you know why it’s in italics. Because, it wasn’t there in the original. A lady was talking to me only yesterday and she said, “I found the Scripture. What’s more, it was printed in italics. That shows how important it was.” Poor dear! But this is true. Many, many people today still don’t realize that the words in italics in the King James are there because they’re supplied by the translators.
I consider that honest by the translators to do that. Lots of modern translators supply a lot of words but they don’t print them in italics.
However, what Paul said in the original was, “He that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God.” In other words, in the New Testament church the phrase “to speak in a tongue” was a kind of technical phrase that had a special application that really could only be understood by those that had entered into the experience.
I remember sometime back being with a group of Episcopalians who had come into the baptism in the Holy Spirit and they were using this language. A sister was saying, “I was praising the Lord in my tongue.” Or, “I was speaking in my tongue.” I thought to myself it was a little strange. But as I began to meditate on it, I saw it was really very scriptural. In her particular unknown tongue she was praising the Lord. She didn’t say unknown, she said my tongue. That is really very, very close to the usage of Paul.
Now you say, “How do we know it’s an unknown tongue?” Well, the second part of verse 2 tells us that.
“... for no man understandeth him...”
It’s a tongue that is not understood. And then again in verse 4 Paul says:
“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself...”
The Greek says “he that speaketh in a tongue.” Likewise in verse 13:
“Let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue [in a tongue] pray that he may interpret.”
Obviously, if it weren’t an unknown tongue there would be no need to interpret. And verse 19:
“Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
Again, it’s obvious that it’s an unknown tongue, because otherwise he could speak it in the church and it would be understood.
So, we’re not in any sense quarreling with the use of the word unknown, but I’m just pointing out that is it not there in the original. In other words, amongst the New Testament Christians they used this phrase “to speak in a tongue” and they meant to speak in an unknown tongue. This experience was so normal and so widely distributed amongst them that they didn’t need to put in the word “unknown tongue.” This is the clearest proof that this phenomenon was absolutely universally recognized and understood amongst all New Testament Christians.
But, the point that I want to bring out is that it is singular. It’s a tongue. I should have pointed out what is there in your outline just above this. We’ve got so used, we who are religious, to speak about tongue, but we don’t stop to explain to people that what we really mean is not tongue but language. For instance, if I speak in a new tongue, in the sense in which I am now using the word, my physical member, my tongue, is exactly the same. It isn’t the tongue that’s different; it’s the language that’s different. Of course, in Elizabethan English the word tongue meant “language.” But in actual fact, if you want to be precise and up to date, what we are talking about is not a change of your tongue but a change of your language. You still use the same physical member, the tongue, but with that physical member you speak a new language.
There are these three phrases that we find in the New Testament in this connection. A tongue meaning an unknown tongue, and then in Mark 16:17 we have another way of describing this. Jesus says:
“These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out [demons]; they shall speak with new tongues...”
Where the word means “a tongue that that person never had used before,” “a language that that person has never used before.” And then in Acts 2:4, it isn’t necessary to turn there, we’ll be looking at this Scripture later. It says:
They were all filled with the Holy [Spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, ...
Where the word means tongues other than those that they had used up to that time. Of course, in Mark 16 and Acts 2 it’s in the plural, because it’s speaking about more than one person. But if you bring it down to one believer then what happens is each believer speaks a language unknown to him, one that is new to him other than the language that he normally uses and understands. This is the basic experience with which we begin. A tongue, an unknown tongue, a new tongue, another tongue. Or, in modern English, an unknown language, a new language, another language.
Let’s begin by studying various purposes of the “unknown tongue.” I intend to deal with what I call three different purposes of an unknown tongue—initial, occasional and continual. Probably in this study we will not be able to deal with them all, but in the next we will go on where we leave off in this one. Let me just give you those three different purposes again: initial, occasional and continual.
It’s logical to begin with the initial purpose of an unknown tongue. The word initial meaning “that which comes right at the beginning.” My answer to this is found there against the word initial in your left hand margin, it is the culmination of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. A lot of people use the word “evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.” I don’t object to that, but it creates in my opinion a misleading impression that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is one thing and then evidence is something separate from the baptism. Now, as far as I’m concerned this is not the case. You cannot have the baptism in the Holy Spirit without a new tongue, another tongue, an unknown tongue. It is not something separate, it is the culmination, it is the final phase of the experience. I say this on the basis of years of careful study and meditation.
I know it’s a controversial subject, I probably know this better than most of you. I’ve heard more controversy about it than most of you. I’ve heard controversy about it for thirty years. I don’t expect to cease hearing controversy about it. I have not adopted the opinions of any group, Pentecostal or non- Pentecostal. I have gone to the Scripture and I’ve also accepted personal firsthand experience and observation. I’ve heard countless alternative theories. I don’t believe there are any probable theories that I have not heard, but I still believe that the baptism in the Holy Spirit, according to the New Testament, culminates in speaking with a new tongue.
Let’s look at the Scriptures. The first place where this is described is, of course, on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4. For me it is a general principle that God does things right the first time. I think we’ve gone into this principle already in relationship to the ministry of Jesus and other aspects; also to the order of the church. God doesn’t experiment and try a few things that don’t work and eventually come up with what He considers to be His mark three. As far as I’m concerned, God starts right and any departure from what God does in the first place is not an improvement. There is no question about the first time people were ever baptized in the Holy Spirit, there’s no question about what happened when they did. In Acts 2:4 we are told about it. It says:
“They were all filled with the Holy [Spirit]...”
Let me say “Spirit” rather than “Ghost” because, again, unfortunately, some people don’t realize these are two different English words for one Greek word. I prefer to say “Spirit.” “Ghost” is, again, Old English, that’s all it is. If you have a knowledge of German, in German the word for spirit is giest, which is exactly the same entomologically as ghost in English but it means “spirit.”
“They were all filled with the Holy [Spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them [to speak].”
Literally. Now, do not leave out the last phrase, “as the Spirit gave them [to speak].” And notice, the Spirit is printed with a capital S because it refers to the Holy Spirit. A lady phoned me only yesterday in great distress and said she was going to a Bible study where the printed outline stated that members of various different cults and sects as Mohammedans and others had experiences in which they spoke languages they didn’t know. For this reason the lady that was responsible for making the note outline concluded that speaking with tongues was of no value to Christians—a very theological conclusion as far as I’m concerned.
Now, I do believe it is correct that at times people do speak a language they do not know and have not learned in certain cults. In spiritism—and there is a group on the island of Jamaica called the ?Pocomanians?, which means people who are just a little bit mad who definitely practice this. They carry Bibles and do this but by most standards you could not classify them as Christians.
However, the Bible is very, very careful. The Bible says “they were all filled with the Holy [Spirit],” not any other spirit; and they began to speak other languages as the Holy Spirit gave them to speak. I don’t like to leave that part out. So, you’re absolutely safe if you say, “I spoke another language as the Holy Spirit gave me to speak. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and then I spoke a language that I did not learn but which the Holy Spirit gave me.” This is the complete picture.
Now, if you look in Acts 2, these opening verses, you’ll see that there are actually three successive phases to the total experience. Remember that this experience is classified in different ways in the New Testament. It’s called “the baptism in the Holy Spirit” or “being baptized in the Holy Spirit.” It’s called “being filled with the Holy Spirit.” It’s called “receiving the Holy Spirit.” It’s called “receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And sometimes it’s called “the Holy Spirit falling upon or coming upon people.” If you work through the New Testament very carefully I think you’ll see that these phrases are all used more or less interchangeably. Not necessarily completely interchangeably, but basically you’ll find this one experience is called by four or five different names. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit, receiving the Holy Spirit, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, being filled with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit coming upon or falling upon or coming over the person concerned.
So, when you take the various different aspects of experience and those which are represented in the different language used to describe it, I think it is correct to say that you can discern three successive phases.
First of all, it is a baptism. Anything that is not a baptism is not valid for this experience. The word baptize means “to immerse.” There’s no question about that. Sometimes people are a little slow to realize this, but I find by and large, they’re coming up with the understanding. It’s interesting to hear the new Charismatic Roman Catholics when they talk about people being baptized in the Holy Spirit. They talk about “being plunged into the Spirit of God.” You couldn’t find a better word. It’s perfect. I’m just wondering how long it will take them to realize that the same applies to water! I know the realization is coming.
We have therefore, first of all, one, immersion. But it’s immersion from above. See? There are two ways of getting immersed. You can go down into the swimming pool and come up or you can go stand under Niagara Falls. Believe me, if you stand under Niagara Falls you will get immersed. There’ll not be a dry spot on you anywhere and that won’t take 5 seconds. But, this is an immersion from above. That’s what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, it’s an immersion from above. Every place where it’s described in the book of Acts it states specifically the Holy Spirit came down over them from above. They were immersed from above.
In this particular passage you’ll see in Acts 2:2:
“There came a sound from heaven [that’s above] as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”
Some people say that the Holy Spirit can’t fill an area but it certainly can, it filled the whole house.
If you work that out, every person sitting in that house was immersed in the Spirit of God coming down over them and enveloping them, surrounding them on every side. It was exactly like being under Niagara Falls in a spiritual sense. That’s the first part of the experience.
The second part is they were all filled. There was an individual infilling. Every one of them received the Spirit within them.
Thirdly, consequent upon the infilling there was an outflow. The Spirit of God began to flow out from each one of them. The initial outflow was this new language. They all spoke with other languages.
For this language of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, let’s compare two other passages. John 7:37–39, it says:
“Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
Those are the words of Jesus, but in parenthesis the following explanation is given by the writer of the gospel.
“This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believeth on him should receive: for the Holy [Spirit] was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
The writer of the gospel, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is very careful to point out to us that Jesus was here speaking about believers receiving the Holy Spirit. This is not conversion that he is talking about, but a people who are already believers receiving the Holy Spirit. Notice, he deals with the second and third phase here. He deals with the inward receiving. He calls it drinking. And then he deals with the outflow. He says “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
If you turn to 1 Corinthians 12:13 you find that the apostle Paul presents two aspects that are not the same as those presented by Jesus. The King James Version says “by one Spirit.” This has caused more false theology than almost any other single verse that I know of. The Greek says “in one Spirit.” The Greek word is en. Anybody who knows Greek knows the primary meaning of that is “in” and there isn’t any reason whatever to change it.
“[In] one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, ... [we were] all [given] to drink [of the] one Spirit.”
There isn’t any question it is referring about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit does not make us members of the body of Christ, it seals us as being already members and it helps us to become effective members and it also brings about the unity of the members in the body. This is what Paul is saying here. I cannot go into this in detail to justify it, but I believe that if you will check independently you can find confirmation of this. In one Spirit we were all immersed and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Notice the word that Paul is emphasizing there is “one.” He’s emphasizing that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is intended to produce the real unity of the believers that receive it. Paul speaks about being immersed and drinking; Jesus speaks about drinking and the overflow. The total experience is the three phases: immersion, drinking and outflow.
I believe without a shadow of doubt, in my own mind, the new supernatural language, the unknown tongue, spoken for the first time is the initial outflow. The actual experience of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is described in three places. We’ve looked at one, but we’ll look back for a moment. The first place is Acts 2, we’ll look there again just for a moment. I want you to notice in each of these three places one important little word of three letters in the English language which is the word all. It says in Acts 2:4 they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues. The all carries on through both verbs. They all began to speak with other tongues. Not some of them, but all of them.
In Acts 10 we have the second actual description of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit. This refers to the event that followed when Peter went to the house of Cornelius to preach to them. It says in Acts 10:44:
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy [Spirit] fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy [Spirit]. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”
They all spoke with tongues and magnified God. Incidentally, there is another phrase which is used that I didn’t mention, the gift of the Holy Spirit being “poured out over or upon.” That’s another phrase used to describe the same thing.
And the third place where this is described is in Acts 19:6–7. These refer to certain disciples to whom Paul ministered in the city of Ephesus.
“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy [Spirit] came on them [Notice again, it came on them from above. This is the meaning of the Greek.]; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”
Notice again the word all. Three times. In each case the word all is included. They all spake with tongues. Not some of them, but all of them.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a baptism, as I understand it, into the supernatural. This is the vital purpose of the baptism. It lifts the Christian out of his normal plane of living, out of his natural ability, knowledge, understanding, capacity and talent, into a plane where he can operate on a supernatural level. It’s a baptism out of the natural into the supernatural. For this reason, it is incomplete if it does not contain the supernatural. The person has not yet entered into that into which he is being baptized.
People quite frequently say to me—in fact, I hear this about once a month at least: “Brother Prince, can you have the baptism in the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues?” I prefer to say “speaking in a tongue.” My answer to that question is another question, “Can you have an elephant without a trunk?” Most people are agreed that every elephant has a trunk. And I believe every baptism culminates in speaking in a tongue. It is part of the experience.
I’ve lived in the country which has the most elephants in the world, that’s Kenya. I’ve seen elephants from every angle and of every shape and size but I never saw an elephant without a trunk. If I did see an elephant without a trunk, if it was in all other respects like them I would call it a trunkless elephant. I wouldn’t deny it the name elephant, but I would say it was an incomplete elephant. And so, if a person receives everything but the tongue, if they want to say they have the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I wouldn’t argue with them, but I’d just say it’s a trunkless elephant.
If you look at an elephant, as a matter of fact, the most striking and controversial feature of the elephant is its trunk. And the most striking and controversial feature of the baptism is the tongue. Lots of people would go for it without the tongue. I’ve heard people say, “I’ll have the baptism without the tongue.” Well, why have a trunkless elephant? If you want it that way and God will deal with you that way, that’s between you and God but not for me. I don’t find anyone in the New Testament ever had it that way and I’ve learned this by experience. If I preach the full experience, people receive the full experience. I see no reason to cut them down to something less.
It’s often happened in meetings when I’ve preached this that people have come forward—it happened once here in Fort Lauderdale. I’d been speaking in one of the hotels where they have the conferences and at the end of my message a very intelligent, smart looking young lady walked forward and sat in a very determined way right in the front seat, right in front of the platform. I knew she was there for a purpose. So, when I got down from the platform I said, “What did you come for?” She answered very tersely, “I came to get my trunk.” Because she had her mind made up on the basis of Scripture, she got it! Within 30 seconds she was speaking a perfect, fluent, articulate unknown language. I never see any reason to deny people that. If you have your mind made up that’s the way it will be, that’s the way it will be. Why should we sell people short? I don’t agree to doing it, myself. I know it’s controversial, everything God does is controversial to somebody. The gospel is controversial. Jesus Christ is controversial. The Holy Spirit is controversial. Salvation is controversial. Hell is controversial. Heaven is controversial. God is a controversial person to the human race but let’s not water God down in order to make Him less controversial.
Somebody asked a great preacher of a past generation, Brother T. B. Barrett who was the pastor of a very large and powerful Pentecostal church in Oslo in Norway, whether you could have the baptism without speaking in a tongue. He said, “I’m not interested in a minimum.” I think that’s a good spirit. Why aim for the minimum? I want all I can have and more.
Now, let’s look quickly at five scriptural facts taken from the New Testament relating to human experience which, in my opinion, provide us very strong reasons why it has to be this way. Why the elephant is incomplete without its trunk. Why it must culminate in speaking in this new language.
Turn, first of all, to Matthew 12:34. (I put “34b” because it’s the second half of the verse that I’m interested in. The first half is quite different in character.) Jesus is speaking and He says:
“... for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Notice, first of all, that this is an absolutely general statement. It’s not about Brother Smith or Sister Jones. It’s about every human being. Out of the abundance of the human heart the human mouth speaketh. The word abundance means ‘overflow,’ so I believe it is perfectly correct to render that in modern English: when the heart is filled, it overflows in speech through the mouth. Don’t leave out the ‘in speech,’ because Jesus said ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ So, when the human heart is full and can contain no more, the overflow valve is through the mouth. When it’s a supernatural infilling, logic demands that it shall be a supernatural outflow. And, that’s how it is. Supernatural infilling, supernatural outflow.”
Now, a person can be filled to the point of being full without flowing over. Many people receive this experience. I have often prayed with people for the baptism and they come to the place where they look as if they were thirsting. Their whole body is vibrating, and they seem to be almost under a tremendous pressure. I say to them, “Please remember, God cannot give you another drop until you begin to make room for the overflow because you’ll burst.” As soon as you begin to give out the overflow, you can receive more in. But otherwise, God has got to cut off the inflow because there’ll be an explosion. This is true.
I’ve also met many people—in fact, you can sometimes tell the denominational background. If they’re from a Pentecostal group such as the Church of God, if they come to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can be almost sure they’ll start to vibrate all over. Their fingers will shake, their toes will shake, they’ll bounce up and down on the seat and I say to such people, “Now please, stop all that, because the Holy Spirit isn’t after your fingers or your toes at the moment. He’s after one specific thing and that’s your tongue. And, all that business is just distracting Him. What He’s after is your tongue. Yield your tongue and all that struggling will cease immediately.” And it always is that way.
Now, then, let’s look at three statements made James 3—the third chapter being the one that deals primarily with the problem member of the human body. I’m sure you all know what the problem member of the human body is. It’s the tongue. There’s never any disagreement about that anywhere. James 3, James makes three successive statements about the tongue, each which is relevant to the very thing that we’re discussing at the moment. James 3:4–5. He’s speaking about the tremendous influence the tongue has over human personality and compares it to the rudder of a ship. This is what he says:
“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm [or rudder], [wherever the steersman wills it].”
That’s a better translation. However, the “governor” is just Old English for “steersman.”
“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.”
So the words “even so” directly compare the function of the tongue in human personality to the function of the rudder in this great ship. You look at this great ship and you might conclude that that little piece of steel or wood at the stern, being so small, was not very important. But you’d be wrong, because the whole course and destiny of the ship depend upon that little thing at the stern called the rudder. If that rudder is misused, the ship will go to disaster on the rocks. If the rudder is correctly used, the ship will come safely into harbor. And James says “even so” the tongue. In other words, the tongue is the rudder of human personality. This is absolutely true. If the tongue is rightly used, you’ll get to heaven. And if the tongue is wrongly used you’ll perish and be lost.
Because the tongue is in such vital consequence God has provided someone to take good care of it. When that great ship comes to port, no matter how skilled and experienced the captain may be, he does not berth his own ship. Out comes a smelly, fussy little tug that looks so unimportant, draws alongside the ship, up comes one man—the pilot, takes control of that whole ship and berths it. The captain has to stand back and let the pilot do it because the use of the rudder is so tremendously important. God has provided a pilot for our ship to take charge of the rudder, the tongue, and that pilot is the Holy Spirit. You’d better let Him have control because if not, you’re likely to have problems.
Proverbs 18:21 says:
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
That’s true. Use your tongue wrongly, it’s death. Use your tongue rightly, it’s life. You need help. God has provided help. One way to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit is to hand over deliberately control of the rudder to the Holy Spirit and He’ll take it. But, He will not force your hand off it. If you don’t hand it over, He’ll not take it. He doesn’t come aboard as a pirate. He’s the legitimate pilot and He has to be acknowledged and submitted to.
Then, in James 3:6 we have another statement about the tongue.
“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
Notice the natural tongue of unregenerate man is set on fire with a fire from hell. That defiles the whole body. But, at the baptism in the Holy Spirit, a fire from heaven falls and that takes control of the human tongue and purifies the whole body.
You see how clearly this is brought out in Acts 2:3:
“There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”
Or, “tongues distributed among them and it sat upon each.” Each man received a tongue of fire. That fire didn’t come from hell, it came from heaven. Where those two fires meet is in the human tongue. It is the will of God that every believer has his tongue set on fire by the Holy Spirit to praise and glorify and testify to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, the third statement in James 3 about the tongue is in verse 8:
“The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
I’ve asked in many large congregations, “Is there anyone here that claims without fail in all situations to be able to control his own tongue?” and I have never yet had one person stand up. Every person acknowledges the truth of this statement. The tongue is the unruly member. No man can control his own tongue.
But, now if you turn to Romans 6:13 you’ll find what God requires us to do with our members. Verse 12 says:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
So, turning from Satan and sin to God and righteousness involves a double yielding. I yield myself, I yield my will. I say yes to the Lord Jesus Christ—and that’s salvation. But, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is yielding my members. The one member that the Holy Spirit requires is the one that I cannot control, the tongue. There is an extra measure of confidence in God when we yield our tongue to Him. When we set our mind on one side and allow the Holy Spirit to speak through our tongue a language we do not understand, we have displayed greater confidence in God than when we merely gave Him the assent of our will and said, “Yes, God, I’ll obey You if I understand what You want me to do.” It is that greater measure of confidence in God that brings a person into the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The moment a person, having met God’s preliminary conditions, come to Jesus as baptizer in the Holy Spirit and says, “Jesus, here’s my tongue. I yield it to You, I don’t ask to censor or edit what it says. I’ll trust You. I’ve asked for bread, You’ll not give me a stone. I’ve asked for a fish, You’ll not give me a snake.” The moment a person does that in sincerity, immediately the Holy Spirit will take their tongue. There doesn’t need to be any waiting period whatsoever. And that is the decisive yielding that God requires to enter into the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
In John 16:13 there’s one other aspect of truth connected with this experience that I would like to bring out. The fifth of these scriptural facts about the culmination of the baptism. John 16:13, Jesus is talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit to His disciples as He has been in the 14th chapter and a little bit in the 15th and then again in the 16th. He says this, this is the King James Version.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak...”
The Greek language has three genders. I’m sure you’re familiar with what a gender is. Masculine, feminine and neuter are the normal three genders. Some languages only have masculine and feminine and some languages are scarcely gender conscious at all. I suppose most of you are familiar with Spanish or French or some language like that that has masculine and feminine. The Greek language has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. In the Greek language the word spirit is neuter. In other words, the normal appropriate pronoun is not “he” nor “she” but “it.” The forms are absolutely specific. But here in this 13th verse, all the rules of grammar are deliberately broken to use what is grammatically the wrong pronoun but spiritually the right pronoun. Not when “it” the Spirit of truth is come, but when “he” the Spirit of truth is come. In other words, this verse emphasizes, as far as language possibly can, that the Holy Spirit is not just an “it,” but He is a He, He is a person. It is really a terrible heresy not to realize that the Holy Spirit is a person.
Then Jesus says “He shall speak.” I have dealt somewhat in philosophy and psychology and I want to say without giving a lot of supporting argument, the greatest single convincing evidence of personality is the ability to speak. Anything that can speak intelligibly for itself we will normally classify as a person. So, when He, the Holy Spirit, comes as a person, the supreme evidence of His personality is that He does what only a person can do—He speaks. He speaks from within the temple that He’s come to indwell, the physical temple of the believer’s body.
So, we have here five scriptural facts connected with human experience all based on universal principles that relate to all human experience which, in my personal judgment, all combine to endorse this fact that the baptism in the Holy Spirit must culminate in a supernatural utterance.
Now let’s consider briefly the testimony of the apostles concerning this experience. I have there four statements which I will briefly consider in turn. If you care to look at your outline you’ll see the statements. The first statement is related to Acts 2:4. This, in other words, speaking with a new tongue, another tongue, was the evidence which the apostles themselves received in their own experience. Remember—and I’d like you to turn for a moment to Luke 24—that Jesus had set the apostles a terminus. As they say in Latin, a terminus ?ad quim? “up to which they had to come.” He said in Luke 24:49:
“And, behold [in modern English, I’m going to send, I’m sending], ... the promise of my Father upon you [the baptism in the Holy Spirit]: but tarry [wait] ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
He set an absolute, specific terminus. They had to wait until something happened. After that thing happened, there was no more waiting.
And in Acts 1, the opening verses of Acts 1, 5 and 8, he again spoke of something that was to happen in the immediate future.
“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy [Spirit] not many days hence.”
We know it was 10 days hence. Acts 1:8:
“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy [Spirit] is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me ...”
All those three verses set a terminus. Up till that terminus, they had to wait. After that terminus there was no more question of waiting. Then they had to go ahead and use the power that Jesus promised would come.
When did they cease waiting? The answer is absolutely clear. As soon as they began to speak with tongues there was no more waiting. It had come. That was the end of the waiting period and they all immediately understood it that way. There was no further question about tarrying in that Upper Room or waiting or doing any such thing from that moment onwards. They had received the evidence that it was there.
And, secondly, it was the evidence which the apostles accepted in the experience of others. The test case is the house of Cornelius as related in Acts 10:45–47. Remember that Cornelius and his household were Gentiles. They were not proselytes to Judaism, they had never come under the Law of Moses, they’d never been circumcised, they’d never taken upon themselves any of these legal obligations of Judaism. The Holy Spirit fell on all those which heard his word. How did the Jewish believers know the Holy Spirit had fallen? By one thing only, they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. I’ll read those words.
“The Holy [Spirit] fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision [the Jews] which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy [Spirit]. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. They answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy [Spirit] as well as we?”
Their barriers were down instantly. Water baptism was the official acknowledgment given by the leaders of the church that a man was accepted as a believer in Jesus Christ. Peter said, “If God has baptized them in the Holy Spirit, who am I to refuse to baptize them in water? We must baptize them immediately.”
What changed Peter’s attitude? Not a lot of different pieces of evidence, not a lot of theology, not a lot of argument, but one thing and one thing only. He heard those Gentiles speak with tongues. The moment he did that, without any further evidence he knew that the Holy Spirit had come upon and entered into those Gentiles just as much as into the Jewish believers on the Day of Pentecost.
In the 11th chapter you’ll find that the Jewish believers in Jerusalem took Peter to task for this. They said, “You’ve done the wrong thing. You went in to men that were uncircumcised and you ate with them.” Peter said, “I had no option. The Lord definitely directed me to do it.” He said, “Furthermore, when I was preaching to them, the Holy Spirit fell on them as on us at the beginning.” Let’s look at these words. Acts 11:15–18. Peter is now explaining to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem what had happened.
And as I began to speak, the Holy [Spirit] fell on them, as on us at the beginning. What was the beginning? No question. The Day of Pentecost. Were there tongues of fire in the house of Cornelius? We do not know it; we have no reason to believe it. Was there a rushing, mighty wind? Nothing is said about it. What made it, then, “as on us at the beginning”? One thing. They spoke with tongues and magnified God. That was all that was required to link it up with the experience on the Day of Pentecost.
“Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy [Spirit].”
In other words, Peter said, “I realize that they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit just as much as we had.” Verse 17:
“Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift [or the equal gift] as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”
In other words, they realized for the first time the Gentiles could repent, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved. What convinced them? One thing and only one thing and nothing else could have convinced them. They heard those Gentiles speak with tongues and magnify God.
Notice also another very significant thing. Peter didn’t tell the Jewish believers in Jerusalem that the Gentiles spoke with tongues. You can read it. Why didn’t he tell them? He didn’t need to. There wasn’t any other way for the Holy Spirit to fall on a person except that they spoke with tongues. It wasn’t necessary to say it in the early church. It was taken for granted.
The third fact that I’ve listed there which really has already been dealt with, the apostles asked for no other evidence. I know a lot of modern preachers would have said, “Probably this may be from God but we’re not sure. We’ll give you six months to learn the catechism, study Scripture and if your lives answer to it at the end of six months, we’ll baptize you.” I know Pentecostal missionaries that would have done it that way. The early church didn’t act that way. They said, “Get them baptized, they’ve received what we have.”
And furthermore, and this is a statement you can check for yourself, no other alternative, specific evidence of the baptism is found in the New Testament. I have searched for years and I’ve listened to innumerable different suggestions. I believe I must have heard every possible suggestion. Just on the basis of logic and Scripture I have been compelled to rule them out. In other words, whatever else was suggested as an alternative evidence was something that could have happened to a person without their being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Oh, I’ve heard every piece of evidence. I used to interview students in East Africa for our college and I used to ask them, “Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit?” They would say yes because it was a Pentecostal college and they thought that would help them to get in. I said, “How do you know?” You’d be amazed at the reasons. One girl said, “I saw the New Jerusalem.” I thought I wish I’d seen the New Jerusalem. I said, “That doesn’t prove you’ve got the baptism.” Another young man said, “I fell to the ground and I started to sweat all over.” I said, “The apostle Paul fell to the ground on the road to Damascus, but he still had to have Ananias to lay hands on him three days later in Damascus.” Another one said, “I had such joy I knew I had the baptism.” I said, “The apostles had great joy between the resurrection and the Day of Pentecost but they didn’t have the baptism. There was great joy in the city of Samaria after Philip preached, but they didn’t have the baptism.” Another one said, “I know I have the baptism; I have victory over sin.” Well, victory over sin comes from the new birth. Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world. You can go on endlessly but I have never heard a specific alternative evidence that is substantiated by Scripture. So, as for me, I’m glad I got it the way the apostles got it. Praise the Lord for that.