December 5, 2014
Perhaps one of the most controversial and misunderstood and abused teachings in the body of Christ has been that on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Although there have been individuals who have experienced this throughout the generations of time since the first century believers experienced it on the Day of Pentecost, no practice and no experience has been treated as cavalierly as has the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Azusa Street Revival which took off in the first decade of the 20th Century and became a lightning rod in the body of Christ in 1906 ushered in a time of restoration of this baptism into believers at large. Despite the strong emphasis throughout the New Testament on speaking in tongues and the teachings in the letters of Paul, many words have been taken out of context to justify the doctrines which eliminate the necessity of this baptism and the accompanying of speaking in tongues.
Hopefully, the next few Coffee Breaks will address this controversy and lay to rest some of the misinformation and misunderstanding that had plagued so many believers.
An oft-quoted and mis-applied verse from Paul’s discourse to the Ekklesia in Corinth appears in I Corinthians 14:5.
The KJV reads like this: “I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.”
The problem with this translation is that it turns what Paul is saying into a wish that everyone would speak with tongues, and that speaking in tongues as a sign of Holy Spirit Baptism is somehow optional. Let me re-translate from the Greek text and then show you why the standard translations really miss the context of what Paul is saying.
“I have determined that it is imperative that you all speak with tongues; but even more so is it needful that you prophesy: for of greater importance [to the Body] is prophesying than speaking in tongues unless your tongues are accompanied with an interpretation so that the Body is confirmed and built up [in their faith.]” (I Corinthians 14:5, RAC Translation and Amplification)
I’m sure you see what Paul is getting at! In no way does he minimize the importance or need to speak in tongues. What he is addressing in this instance is the importance of utilizing that same flow of the Spirit that comes with speaking in tongues to prophesy so that the gathered body can receive a direct Word that builds and edifies and imparts more of the nature and character of the Lord into their beings.
It’s important to see why we translate Paul’s statements this way, so let me take you to some critical Greek words he uses.
Where the KJV translates the first part of the verse, “I would that,” the Greek word, thelo (or theleo) appears. Had Paul used the word, boulomai, instead, one could get away with the use of the word, “would” as the KJV uses.
However, the word, thelo, means: to determine (in the active sense), to require (as an imperative). On the other hand the word, boulomai, means: to wish for, to acquiesce, to prefer, to be inclined towards.
Paul is not saying that he wished that all folks would speak in tongues; he is not making this a preferred option. What he is addressing in this narrative is his requirement for folks to move on beyond just the use of tongues into the prophetic utterances that will benefit the body.
This is where there is great misunderstanding concerning the use of tongues. Lots of folks think that tongues is mainly an initial manifestation that occurs when one gets baptized in Holy Spirit. It is a manifestation, but there’s a whole lot more than that to speaking in tongues. As we have already noted, we are talking about baptism — and that denotes an immersion which results in a complete change from the past.
I’ve sort of gotten the cart before the horse with my sharing today, so let’s get to the crux of why Holy Spirit baptism — and the manifestation of that baptism that comes with speaking in other languages — is so critical to believers AND to the spiritual health and growth of the Body of Christ.
In order to get to the revelation of baptism in Holy Spirit, we need to first take a look at something that James wrote in his epistle.
“Even so, the tongue is a diminutive part of the body and yet has the ability to be grandiloquent or “talk big.” Are you seeing how much fuel it can throw on a small fire?
“The tongue is like a lightning strike with the capacity to create a world of injustice and unrighteousness; so is the tongue among the functions and abilities of the various parts of our body, that it dirties and soils our whole being, igniting the passions of [human] nature, creating a hell-inspired and driven blaze [with eternal consequences].” (James 3:5-6, RAC Translation and Amplification)
You understand, don’t you? Natural human nature — natural, that is, in the sense that it is not under Holy Spirit’s control — lacks the ability to control or tame the tongue.
Jesus set the stage with His teaching to prepare His disciples — AND US — on why immersion in and into Holy Spirit is so critical to those who will take on the citizenship, the personality and the characteristics of the Kingdom of God. We are to be representatives — ambassadors, if you will — of a Kingdom that is foreign to this world, its societies and its cultures.
Our citizenship in the Kingdom brings with it a complete change of language. In the same way that we become citizens of a Kingdom that contains the tongues and languages of men and of angels, our language must reflect that change of citizenship.
The easy illustration of this change can be demonstrated in my maternal grandparents who came from Finland. The language of their former homeland was incompatible with the language of America. While my grandparents may have continued to communicate with each other and with family members in the language that was “native” to them, in order for them to become American citizens, they had to learn to speak the English language.
For us as citizens of a new Kingdom, here’s how Jesus explains it:
Matthew 12:34-37: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
The enormous importance of what Jesus is getting at is the fact that a ”good man” — a redeemed and transformed individual, one whose citizenship is in the Kingdom — will bring forth life out of the beneficial deposits of the Kingdom within himself.
By the same token, the unredeemed, unregenerate person will use that creative member of his body to bring forth calamity, disease, degeneration and malice out of the deposits of wickedness within his being.
This brings us to why Jesus commanded the disciples to “tarry” (the Greek word is: kathizo, meaning: to wait for a scheduled appointment) until they were invested, infused and clothed with Kingdom power that would literally transform them.
The Body of Christ has largely been ignorant of the significance of “the appointed time.”
The Word is filled with many pictures of appointments. Jesus quoted from Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 61:1-4) when He declared that the “Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,” and then said, ‘to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Paul followed that up when he wrote the Corinthians, saying, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2b)
It may appear that I’m overly stressing the concept of having a “scheduled appointment” but it is important for believers to realize that — for the overwhelming majority — we have a time of pursuit of that appointment for our immersion.
Years ago when I was traveling with Audrey Mieir doing concerts, we had a family who participated in these concerts consisting of two sisters and their five daughters who sang together, frequently doing acapella music. In the early days of their travel and participation in these concerts, while they were very good musically and had flawless harmony, there simply was no anointing.
Dory and Jenny Pieters and their daughters traveled as the “Singing Stairsteps.” Their church background and upbringing was with the United Brethren.
They were quite taken by the difference between those singers and musicians whose music was anointed, and those who were really good, but NOT anointed. It provided us the opportunity to share with them the need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Not long thereafter, we were scheduled to do a concert in San Diego. They went to an Assembly of God pastor and told him “they wanted an appointment to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.”
This pastor had obviously not seen the significance of the word “tarry” as Jesus used it, and the request took him by surprise. Nevertheless, he set an appointed time for them to meet.
Dory, Jenny, and the girls were all in hot pursuit of everything God had for them. If it was there, and it meant they could advance beyond their present place of relationship in God, they were going to have it, no matter what!
On the day in question, and at the appointed time, they all met with the pastor, who laid hands on each of them in succession. In succession, each of them received the baptism of Holy Spirit and began to speak in one language after another.
It forever altered the character and spirit of the music they sang, and from that day forward people began to be saved and baptized in Holy Spirit as they sang and shared the changes that had taken place in them.
A couple years after leaving Bible College, I moved to southern California and was able to get a home across the street from the Pieters. It turned into an opportunity — compliments of the five daughters — to minister to kids in the neighborhood using the Pieters’ garage. We saw more than thirty kids from their neighborhood receive salvation, and then receive the baptism of Holy Spirit with the manifestation of speaking in tongues.
Baptism in — immersion into — Holy Spirit is so far reaching, it is almost hard to quantify it. We’ve talked about Jesus’ statement concerning the things that come out of the abundance of the heart.
We’ve talked about James’ admonitions concerning the ability of the tongue — for good or for evil.
Speaking in tongues is the one clear evidence of a change of citizenship in the Kingdom of God. To be very clear, it is not the only evidence — and we’ll get to those evidences as this series continues — but it is the first and primary evidence that a change of citizenship has taken place. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven He made the following promises.
Mark 16:15-18: “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Well, I'd planned to do an in-depth breakdown of this passage today, but if I do it will turn this into a super-long Coffee Break. There is a whole lot contained in Jesus' statements. That said, we can pick it up at this point next week. See you then!
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