The Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Tongues Pt 1 - Introduction
“RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT!” cries the man at the front of the room, the person is visibly moved. Some onlookers think in their mind, “What is going on here? That person is already a believer, they have the Holy Spirit’”. To make matters even more confusing the preacher continues “Now speak in other tongues”, he is pretty insistent that this ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ and ‘Tongues’ go together in some way but surely only ‘some speak in other tongues’. That is what the Bible says doesn’t it? This must be ‘unbiblical!’.
This moment is somewhat similar to the perceptions that rise when those with a Pentecostal understanding of the operation of the Holy Spirit and those with a more traditional evangelical perspective come together. In actual fact there are often a lot of misunderstandings because similar or even identical language is used for different purposes but we will get to that later. Within this practical application of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit and what can be expected are a number of key questions that tend to arise and cause tension. Hopefully I can cover these bases well. Topic 1: The Empowering of the Holy Spirit
“Do all believers have the ‘empowering of the Holy Spirit’ for ministry and mission as part of the indwelling or is it a distinct operation and experience that all can access but may not have?
Topic 2. Tongues, what are they?
What is Tongues and can / should all ‘speak in other Tongues’? Are Tongues the biblical initial evidence for the empowering of the Holy Spirit or just another Gift?
Now, just incase you missed the obvious above. I believe that the scriptures are actually quite clear though our language is not always clear enough so allow me to define some key terms because good discussions are often muddied by misunderstandings within semantics. Terms
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
When a traditional evangelical uses this term they tend to mean, ‘the reception of the Holy Spirit in salvation’(or maybe ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit’).
When a Pentecostal uses this term they tend of mean, the specific ‘empowering of the Holy Spirit for mission and ministry’.
Importantly, Pentecostals absolutely affirm that all believers have the Holy Spirit as the ‘seal of their salvation’ (Eph 1:13) but believe the Baptism (ie. overflowing) of the Holy Spirit is normally a distinct and subsequent event from salvation. Keep in mind, I use ‘tend to’ because as in any community there is a spectrum of belief and language used. Between these two positions are many who would self describe themselves as ‘Charismatic’ but hold variation on a number of the nuances. For the purposes of this discussion to enable clarity I will not use this term much at all but rather ‘the empowering of the Holy Spirit’. The key question will be 1. “Do all believers have the ‘empowering of the Holy Spirit’ for ministry and ministry as part of the indwelling or is it a distinct operation and experience that all can access but may not have?
To be clear, I think the language ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ is most accurately used of the ‘empowering’ but my primary concern is not semantics but the practical outworking of what the word says.
Tongues Pentecostals tend to believe that Tongues is a supernatural language for the edification of the believer, this language is normally not understood by the speaker (1 Co 14:2)
Traditional evangelicals tend to believe it is or was (some important nuance between different camps) the supernatural ability to speak in another foreign language, often for mission purposes. They tend to lean on Acts 2 as their primary point of textual proof.
When I speak of Tongues I mean, a ‘supernatural ability to speak another language’. It is possible that this language is an earthly language however I believe such to be an exception and more linked to the initial expression of Tongues in Acts 2. In general, I mean the ‘supernatural ability to speak in a language that only God fully understands (1 Cor 14:2)
So, two questions within the Topic of Tongues Firstly, ‘What are Tongues? And can / should all speak in Tongues? Secondarily, ‘Are Tongues the initial evidence of the empowering of the Holy Spirit or just another Gift? CHECK OUT the next blog post - here