Since being saved, I’ve attended charismatic churches, super conservative churches, and those that seem in between. Some churches teach that a Christian can be “baptized in the Holy Spirit,” and that when that happens, it is shown via tongues, and possibly other signs, such as falling backwards.
Other churches teach that not only is the above not correct, but that there are no gifts of the Holy Spirit anymore. They teach that “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13 is not the second coming of Christ, but is the cannon of the Bible. From that interpretation springs the belief that there are no more gifts of the Holy Spirit, because now we have the Bible to guide us, and we no longer require signs and manifestations of the Spirit.
I hold to neither of the above teachings. My personal beliefs about the gifts of the Holy Spirit are derived from no other source than the Holy King James Bible.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Some charismatics teach the baptism of the Holy Spirit based off of Acts chapter 19. I have found the common charismatic interpretation of this chapter to be incorrect. In Acts 18, verses 24-26, we see that Apollos knew the Holy Scriptures, but only up to John the Baptist. He fervently taught John’s message of repentance and getting baptized as a special type of Jewish Mikvah, to symbolize them being cleaned from their repented sins. It was a form of ritual purity. This is what Apollos taught in Ephesus, because he didn’t (yet) know any more than that.
We now move on to chapter 19, and Paul finds these people who are zealous for God. Paul asks them if they received the Holy Spirit, and they said they didn’t even know what that was. Paul then knew they only had knowledge up to John the Baptist.
Certainly, Paul explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, just as Aquila and Priscilla explained this to Apollos in chapter 18.
These people, who were truly zealous for God, certainly accepted Christ and were baptized. They received the Holy Spirit when Paul laid hands on them, and they spoke in tongues.
Tongues are not only received by the laying on of hands, as is clear from Acts 2 – there were no laying on of hands in that instance.
Acts chapter two was the Holy Spirit coming to the Jews. Acts chapter 19 is the Holy Spirit coming to Gentiles – ‘to the Jew first, then the Gentiles,’ as the Holy Scriptures teach us.
Outside of the book of Acts, we don’t come across the gift of tongues anymore, until it is discussed in 1 Corinthians. This is where we learn that there are different kinds of tongues. There are distinctions here that are often missed. Without these distinctions, we could blur tongues into one thing, and this can lead to misinterpreting Scripture. The Scriptures tell us how to study the Bible:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” - 2 Timothy 2:15
In order to rightly divide, we must pay attention to distinctions, no matter how small. For example, the word “a” in 1 Corinthians 11:15 speaks volumes in regards to headcovering.
To interpret Scripture, we must not only pay attention to distinctions, but also be sure we are interpreting Scripture with Scripture. We must compare Scripture to Scripture:
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” -Isaiah 28:9-10
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” -1 Peter 2:2
Never base a doctrine off of one Scripture alone. It takes two or more witnesses:
“At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” -Deuteronomy 17:6
“But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” -Matthew 18:16
“This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” -2 Corinthians 13:1
“Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” -1 Timothy 5:19
“This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” -1 John 5:6-10
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” -Revelation 11:3
The book of Acts is the history of the beginning of the church. Put down the books by Ignatius, Augustine, and others. Those books are riddled with errors. Instead, learn about the early church from the book of Acts. That’s what it’s there for.
A doctrine that’s in the book of Acts and elsewhere in the Bible has many Scriptural witnesses to it, and that is that a born again Christian has the Holy Spirit in them, and we are marked/sealed with it:
“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” –Ephesians 1:12-14
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” -1 Corinthians 3:16
The book of Corinthians gives us the distinction between the different tongues. Let’s look at those. They are:
- Diversities of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28)
- Tongues of men (1 Cor. 13:1)
- Unknown tongues (1 Cor. 14:2)
- Other tongues (1 Cor. 14:21)
Some people take issue with “unknown tongues,” because “unknown” is in italics. However, the King James translators put it there to make the Greek more understandable as translated into English, and I believe “unknown” is correct. I would even go so far as to suggest the possibility that the translators were inspired to put it there.
The type of tongues in Acts 2 is clear – it would be Tongues of Men. We know this, because the text tells us that each person of a different country heard them speak in their own language. The actual sounds coming out of their mouths is not specified. It could have been a heavenly language, or it could have been that they were speaking all of those language at once – which can only be done supernaturally. Since the gift of tongues itself is supernatural, this is a great possibility.
Now, back to baptism in the Holy Spirit. How and when does it happen? When the Spirit was first come to the Jews, it happened after salvation, with the speaking of tongues as a sign to unbelievers so that they would hear the Gospel – see Acts 2.
On the first gentile groups, sometimes there was speaking in tongues after receiving the Holy Spirit, as is the case in Acts 19, and sometimes there wasn’t, as is the case with Acts 8 – a group of people received the Holy Spirit, but no tongues are mentioned. Later in the same chapter, we read of the beautiful salvation of the Ethiopian eunuch, and no tongues are mentioned.
As is clear from early church history (the book of Acts) not everyone who got saved spoke in tongues.
However, every person who is born of God is born of the Spirit:
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.: -John 3:5-7
To be bon again, you must be born of the Spirit. A person can pray the salvation prayer, but if they really don’t mean it, then they do not have the Spirit of God, and are not saved. The prayer is not magic. It is our telling the Lord that we accept His free gift of salvation, of Christ dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. It’s the faith that saves us via the grace of God (see Ephesians 2:8-9). It’s the commitment to the Lord, and to live for Him, and walk in His ways. It’s knowing and trusting in the Lord. If you don’t know the Lord, then He will not know you. See Matthew 7: 21-23
We are sealed with the Holy Spirit the moment we are born of the Spirit:
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” -Ephesians 1:13
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” -Ephesians 4:30
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” -1 Corinthians 3:16
How then, can a Christian be baptized in the Holy Spirit, if they already have the Holy Spirit in them? Ah, that’s the trick. You are baptized into the Body of Christ, via the Holy Spirit, under the Heavenly Father, the moment you are saved:
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:13
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" -John 7:38-39
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." -John 14:16-17
"That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." -Ephesians 1:12-14
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” -Ephesians 4:4-6
This isn’t talking about water baptism, as can be ascertained via the context. It is talking about the Spirit baptism into the body of Christ. When a person is born again, they are baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is NOT a water baptism. When Jesus began His earthly ministry, John the baptist was baptizing people for the remission of sins. John the Baptist said:
"I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." -Mark 1:8
John was speaking about Jesus. The people in Acts 19 were baptized in water for the remission of sins - a John the Baptist baptism, but they were not baptized in the Holy Spirit. A Holy Spirit baptism occurs when one gets saved or born again/born of the spirit (see John 3).
When Paul met up with the group in Ephesus, as recorded in Acts 19, he asked them if they received the Holy Spirit. They did not. They weren’t yet saved, as they only knew the baptism of John. They only knew the Old Testament, and the preaching of John the Baptist. No one had told them of Jesus yet. Then they were saved, and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They spoke in tongues. The people in Acts 8 also got saved and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it does not record that they ever spoke in tongues, nor the Ethiopian Eunuch.
The Gift of Tongues
Some people speak in tongues, and some do not. Paul had the gift of tongues, but also acknowledged that some do not have the gift. He said that instead of wanting the gift of tongues, we should instead want the gift to prophesy.
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy” -1 Corinthians 14:1
“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.” -1 Corinthians 14:5
“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 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 an unknown tongue.” -1 Corinthians 14:18-19
“Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.” -1 Corinthians 14:39
Do all have the gift of tongues? No. This is clear from the below:
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” -1 Corinthians 12:4-6
“To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” -1 Corinthians 12:10
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” -1 Corinthians 12:12-14
1 Corinthians 12 makes it clear that there are all sorts of gifts of the Holy Spirit, and not every person has the same gift. Amongst the list of gifts is tongues. The chapter explains that we are each a member of the body of Christ, but are not all the same body part. We are not all the eye, and we are not all the big toe, etc. We don’t all have the same gifts of the Holy Spirit, nor do we all have the exact same calling. Some people have the gift of tongues, and some do not.
Are the Gifts for Today?
Some churches teach that these gifts of the Holy Spirit passed away. Below is the Scripture they base this belief off of:
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” -1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Some people believe that “that which is perfect” above is the completed cannon of the Holy Bible, and that once we have the Holy Bible, we no longer need the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because we now have the Word to guide us.
I believe the above interpretation to be wrong. I believe “that which is perfect” can be none other than Jesus Christ. I believe the above is referring to Jesus’ second coming. When Christ comes back, we will have no need of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because God will be here on earth with us, and His everlasting Kingdom will be established.
The above Scripture says before that “which is perfect” comes, we will only know in part, but that after the “perfect” comes, we will know in full. Do we know in full? No.
If you read further, past verse 10, you’ll see verses 11 and 12, which say:
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
After Jesus comes back, all things will be made known:
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” -1 Corinthians 4:5
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” -1 Peter 1:5
I know which gifts of the Spirit I have, and I also know that the future, while it is known to God, is not known to me, and I may have different gifts during different seasons in my life, but only as the Lord wills.
Heavenly Prayer Language
I hear of people who pray in the spirit. Their spirit desires to pray things that they cannot express in English, so they do so in their “heavenly prayer language.” 1 Corinthians 14 tells us that if you do this, do it quietly, and don’t disrupt church, if you are in church, and if you do pray in tongues out loud, only do so if someone (or you) can interpret. Otherwise, this form of tongues does not edify the church or others. Now, if you have a message from the Lord and it is in tongues and no one understands you, then pray for one with the gift of interpretation to stand up and make known the thing, so that the church and others may be edified.
I pray in the spirit. I pray with words which cannot be uttered, and therefore when I pray in the spirit, no sound emanates from my lips:
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” -Romans 8:26
I would rather have a gift of the Spirit that edifies others. I do not wish to be edified. If I’m edified, then my flesh could be gratified, but I want the gifts of the spirit that edifies others, so that my spirit will be edified. See Galatians 5 and Romans 8.
The gifts of the Spirit are still for today, but not everyone has the same gifts. This means that not everyone can speak in tongues. Further, different gifts are likely emphasized for different times and different localities. While some of the more outward gifts may not currently be very visible to many of us where we live, it doesn’t mean that those gifts are not exercised and manifested in other localities. There are amazing testimonies from missionaries about the exercise of some of these gifts on foreign mission fields.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the laying on of hands, one’s falling backwards, or one’s showing a sign via speaking in tongues. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment of true salvation, where one is Born of the Spirit into the Body of Christ, through God the Father.
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” - 1 Corinthians 12:13
Many people talk highly of God the Father, and God the Son, but I don’t hear much about God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, too. If you don’t have the Spirit of God, you are not one of His. You can change this - click here.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” -Romans 8:9