Tongues–The Initial Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
In this article, adapted from my book, DUNAMIS! Power From On High, we will examine the Biblical initial evidence that someone has received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is the gift of tongues, that is, a supernatural enablement to speak in languages that the speaker has never learned.
This is referred to in the Bible as unknown tongues. It is called unknown tongues, again, because the languages, or tongues (glossa, Gr.) the Spirit-Baptized believer speaks are unknown to the speaker. It is not that the tongue is not known by anyone, but rather, it is not known, or understood, or has been learned, by the speaker. In fact, in many cases—and for all that can be determined definitively (and I personally believe, though obviously cannot provide proof-positive), in every case—the language that the Spirit-baptized believer is speaking is indeed a “known” language or dialect somewhere and by some anthropological people or race extant upon the Earth somewhere.
Moreover, historically, there have been recorded incidences when Spirit-baptized believers have spoken publicly in a tongue unknown to the speaker, either in the form of prayer and praise or as a prophetic word (then interpreted), and the language spoken was the native language of or known by the others who heard the outward expression. Such an occurrence is sometimes referred to as, glossolalia, based on the Greek word for speaking in tongues.
In every case in which believers are reported to have received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the Bible, the initial evidence, or indicator, or sign, of their having received it was that they spoke in tongues unknown to them. Moreover, there is no instance recorded in the Bible in which believers received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit without receiving and manifesting the gift of tongues as the initial evidence of having received it. Although, there is one incident, which we will examine later, in which it is not explicitly stated that those believers baptized in the Spirit spoke in tongues; but there is, however, implicit and historic evidence that they did, and no definitive historic evidence has ever been presented that they did not. From the preponderance of Scriptural record, it is extremely, and in fact, unimpeachably safe, to conclude that the Biblical pattern of the initial sign or indicator that a person has received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. Certainly, it’s safer to say it is, than that it’s not.
I’ll even take it a step further and say that since the Holy Spirit is Himself the true Inspiration behind every word of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16), and that He can be aptly described, based on what He does, as the Expression and ultimate Spokesman of God, it appears by this pattern firmly fixed in Scripture that a verbal eruption or bubbling forth of Rivers of Living Water in human language through a believer who has just experienced Immersion in the Holy Spirit is the form in which the Holy Spirit expresses or vocalizes the worship, praise, and adulation of God of which He consists in such moments. It’s as if torrents of Rivers of Living Waters of God, in the moment of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, are suddenly and finally bursting through and overruning the dam that has pent them up in the human vessel who has now released the oceans of the Spirit to come forth!
Because He is the Expression of God, language and the Holy Spirit are inextricably connected. So when you are talking about “tongue-talking,” you are actually talking about the Holy Spirit. As referenced repeatedly throughout this volume, while it is the Spirit-baptized believer who is the human agent or vehicle He is using to speak through, the source of the substance or essence of what is being articulated when a believer is speaking in tongues is the Holy Spirit! That being so, it is therefore possible to be engaging in “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” when maligning or ridiculing the matter of speaking in tongues, particularly when attributing it to the devil, which Jesus specifically warned was an eternal sin that shall never be forgiven:
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Mat. 12:31-32)
More disconcerting with respect to the myriad of “resisters of the Holy Spirit,” is that it is hardly necessary to point out that unforgiven sin is what separates Mankind from God eternally, and no one with unconfessed and therefore unforgiven sin can possibly have eternal fellowship and communion with God, which would mean eternal separation from God and everlasting damnation.
Critics and Resisters of the Holy Spirit
Some critics of this line of teaching, who invariably, in my experience, have never themselves had a release of the “rivers of living water,” as Jesus described it, in the form of tongues (meaning they’ve never spoken in tongues themselves), vehemently and vociferously reject and vainly attempt to repudiate these assertions. Such naysayers are of that category of deluded religionists Stephen identified as Resisters of the Holy Spirit: “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did” (Ac. 7:51). Indeed, it was over the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the first 120 believers who all spoke in unknown tongues that the great persecution against the Early Church arose, which demonstrates in no uncertain terms the magnitude of the hatred and contempt for the Holy Spirit of God, the Third Member of the Godhead, with which unbelieving and Spirit-resisting religionists are possessed.
More often than not the varying degrees of contempt for tongues and the Baptism in the Spirit with which Christian-claiming critics of the Baptism in the Holy and its accompanying speaking in tongues are possessed is predicated in pride and arrogance and a lack of genuine personal brokenness commonly manifest with espousal of “intellectual Christianity,” which is the product of mental assent of the Gospel vis-à-vis the regenerative workings of the Holy Spirit in a genuine Born Again believer’s heart and life.
Now tongues are by no means the only sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they are the initial sign of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Apostle Paul tells us, in First Corinthians 14:22, that “Tongues are for a sign to unbelievers,” meaning an indicator testifying of the supernatural power of God manifested through the speaker. Tongues are not the Baptism itself, but rather tongues are an expression of the Holy Spirit through the Spirit-Immersed believer. Tongues are a part of the Baptism in the Spirit; they are not separate and distinct from the Holy Spirit. Tongues are an expression of the Holy Spirit, not the believer speaking. One does not merely receive tongues with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit; rather tongues are an outflow of the Spirit Himself, not the believer. As with the 120 and then 3,000 more on the Day of Pentecost, the believer provides the vocalization, but the substance of the vocalization, comes from the Holy Spirit: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and (they) began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Ac. 2:4). The believer yields his/her tongue to the Holy Spirit, who provides the substance of the utterance.
The way I like to explain it, and have done so in many meetings where I ministered the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to many who received it as easily as drinking a glass of water, is that it’s like this: When you buy a pair of shoes, the tongue comes with it! You don’t buy a pair of shoes and then have to buy a pair of tongues to go with the shoes. The tongues come part and parcel with the shoes. Tongues are part and parcel of the Holy Spirit and the Immersion in the Spirit. To refuse or reject the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the tongues He expresses through Spirit-Baptized believers is to refuse and reject the Person of the Holy Spirit.
The Day of Pentecost
Now the first of these incidences we want to examine is that of the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, which occurred fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection. We actually made tangential reference to this incident in previous segments, when we were establishing other points about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In those segments, we established the fact that the original disciples were saved through the regenerative working of the Holy Spirit on Resurrection Evening, when Jesus appeared unto them in the Upper Room, announcing and pronouncing peace between them and God the Father, and proceeded to breathe upon them, saying to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” It was at this moment that the disciples were all infused with the Holy Spirit in their previously dead human spirit, giving life to it, and filling it with the Holy Spirit.
But it was forty days after this, on the Day of Ascension, ten days before the Day of Pentecost, that Jesus gathered the disciples together, and according to Luke’s account in Acts 1:4–5:
He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
He went on to explain to them on that occasion that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them—that is, when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit—and that the purpose and function of that power would be to make them effective witnesses of Him.
One translation explicitly says, “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you shall receive power to testify of Me with great effect.” Indeed, that is the purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, to empower believers to testify of the resurrected Christ with great effect, that is, with supernatural and effectual testimony. Indeed, in his first account, Luke writes that Jesus said to the disciples, “You are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I am sending forth the promise of the Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is all about being clothed with supernatural power from on high that gives effectual and irrefutable testimony of Jesus and His resurrection as well as His resurrection power.
Not many days later, as He had said, ten to be precise, following His ascension into Heaven, on the Day of Pentecost, the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred. In Acts 2:1(ff), we read:
“When the Day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from Heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues of as a fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under Heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowds came together, and were bewildered, because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.”
Now we can see from this incident on the Day of Pentecost, as with so many other incidences in the Bible, the Almighty’s affinity for compelling theatrical staging. When God wants to make a point, He certainly knows how to make that point in a way that is unequivocal and unmistakable. Surely, with the appearance of tongues as of fire distributing themselves and resting on each one of these early disciples, God was demonstrating that with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers comes a manifestation of the gift of tongues. And the result of those tongues of fire that rested upon each one of those disciples was that they were all filled or supercharged with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
They Spoke and the Spirit Gave the Utterance
Now it is important to understand and to extract from this text the fact that amid all the controversy surrounding this matter of speaking in tongues, it was they, the disciples, who “began to speak with other tongues.” They surrendered and submitted their tongue, which is one of the great benefits of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit—the ability to surrender and submit your tongue under the lordship of Jesus Christ. They themselves began to speak. And what they were speaking was a language that they had not previously known, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. It was the Spirit who was giving them the substance of what they were uttering, but it was they who were doing the speaking, using their speech faculties to speak the Spirit’s utterances.
And what they were speaking was not vain babble and gibberish, as some anti-tongues teachers allege “tongue-talkers”are engaging in, but rather the Bible explicitly says that those who were standing by heard them speaking in languages that they themselves understood. Yet they also understood that these people did not understand those languages and dialects in which they were speaking just nanoseconds prior to the outpouring, indicating that this was a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit as a sign to those that were unbelievers—a sign that clearly testified of the supernatural power of God being poured out upon these believers in Christ.
So, we can see clearly from this first incident on the Day of Pentecost that tongues is the Biblical initial evidence that someone has received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
In the segments that follow, we will examine other incidences that also demonstrate that incontrovertible fact.
Speaking in Tongues is the Second Tenet of the “Great Commission”
It is vital to understand with respect to this matter of speaking in tongues that it is the second tenet of The Great Commission Jesus issued to the Church:
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk. 16:15-18)
Today, in the 21st Century, more than two-thousand years since Jesus charged the Church collectively and believers individually with these words—what has come to be known as “The Great Commission,” the five tenets of which it consists–have been essentially relegated to the lowest of priorities in the vast majority of churches, and sadly are manifest less and less in churches, including those who claim to espouse Pentecostal or Charismatic belief systems. In fact, the higher the order in Jesus’ charge, the lesser place it has in most churches in this hour. I deal with the void in most churches of casting out of demons—the first tenet of The Great Commission, in my book, Deliverance From Demonic Powers. Believers speaking in tongues is the second tenet, and I believe Jesus spoke of them in the order of their priority to the church and believers. Yet, in these end-times in which we are now living—times requiring more manifestation of God’s supernatural power than ever before in history—more and more, speaking in tongues is being eschewed or outright rejected by those claiming to be believers and whole denominations of churches, despite that they are the expressions of the Holy Spirit, not people.
It is a sad and discouraging scenario to see such spiritually impotent individual believers and whole churches in this hour; and unnecessarily so. It is as a preacher recently said, that if you were somehow able to assemble all the so-called “spirit-filled” and “full-gospel” believers in America in one massive stadium, they wouldn’t have enough power accumulatively to blow their nose! Of course, that is an exaggeration to make the point of how powerless believers are today, despite the fact that every one of us have at our disposal the same power that Jesus was immersed in at the Jordan River when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and from that very hour forward, after triumphing over forty days and forty nights in the wilderness being tempted by the devil, He went out to begin His public ministry of miracles, signs, wonders, and displays of supernatural power—Dunamis-Power!
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Mat. 4:23)
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Mat. 9:35)
The significance of the fact that Jesus Himself did not perform even a single miracle before He was baptized in the Holy Spirit cannot be overemphasized. Not one miracle!
Notice also in the above verses that demonstration of supernatural power was part and parcel of the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached. It still is. The Kingdom is the same as then; thus the Gospel of the Kingdom is the same as then. And, Scripture definitively declares that the Jesus who preached that Gospel is still the same as well: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). That is true because that is what Jesus said in another record of “The Great Commission” Jesus issued to the Church He is building for all ages until He returns and gathers us together in the air to be eternally united with Him:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mat. 28:18-20)
His command was to make disciples, which means learners, but not just people who learn, but also, by definition, disciples are people who learn and obey, as He said, “teaching them to observe (obey) all that I commanded you.” And, one of the things Jesus commanded the early disciples, but then, by extension every disciple from then to the present day, is to “wait…for the promise of the father” before they went out to minister as His witnesses:
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, “ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Ac. 1:4-5; KJV)
Moreover, that “promise of the father” He commanded them to wait on and receive was, as we have shown in various places in this volume, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that was first poured out on the Day of Pentecost. Just as The Great Commission is not The Great Suggestions, but a list of commandments, so also Jesus’ charge for every believer to be baptized in the Holy Spirit is a command, not merely a good suggestion.
Another compelling fact relative to Jesus’ command in the Matthew 28 passage cited above to “make disciples” is that as He commanded the early disciples, “Come and follow me,” that is also the command to every disciple since then, i.e., to follow the model that Jesus set. As discussed in other portions of this teaching, Jesus is the Heavenly Prototype sent from God to be our model for “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3), and He Himself first received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit before He began His ministry. Thus, every believer should follow His example and be immersed in the Spirit as Jesus was in order to allow the outflow of the Spirit to be the source of all we do in the name of “ministry.”
Additionally, Jesus also commanded all believers in all ages to perform not only the supernatural works of power that He performed, but even greater works:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (Jn. 14:12)
Again, Jesus was the Model for all ministry, and His ministry was accompanied with supernatural works of power, and He expects every believer to perform the works He performed and even greater works, “because I go to the Father,” which means two things: one, He will no longer be here on Earth to do the works Himself, and He is now sitting at the right hand of God evermore making intercession on behalf of the saints unto the Father (Heb. 7:25). We are now His body, his hands, his feet, his mouth, to perform His works on His behalf—continuing and carrying on His ministry! Hallelujah! What an honor and privilege is ours!
Three Primary Objections to Tongues
There are three primary objections people make to the matter of tongues that I won’t take a lot of time and space answering here, mainly because they are so manifestly ludicrous from both a Biblical and logical standpoint. All three can be easily countered and dispelled. I will deal briefly with two in this article. The third—”Tongues ceased”—I answer in a more thorough fashion in Chapter Fourteen of the book, DUNAMIS! Power From On High.
The first objection I’ll deal with here is: “Tongues are of the devil.” All the Apostles of the Lamb were present (with the exception of Judas who hanged himself, though his replacement, Mathias was there) on the Day of Pentecost and were partakers of the original outpouring of the Spirit when “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Ac. 2:4). So if tongues is of the devil then all the Apostles of the Lamb were of the devil because they ALL spoke in tongues.
Moreover, all the New Testament writers were tongue-talkers, including Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament epistles, and stated categorically that he spoke in tongues more than all the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 14:18), thus, if tongues is of the devil, so also were all the New Testament writers, particularly Paul, or at least they were all deceived by the devil and spoke in tongues that were inspired by him.
Indeed, looking at what Paul said by inspiration of the Spirit in his first letter to the Corinthians we see him saying that tongues is very much of the Spirit of God, not the devil. First, in verse 13 of Chapter 14, Paul writes: “Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.” Here Paul is talking about a message inspired of the Holy Spirit expressed through a believer in an assembly of believers that is one-half of prophecy (more on this in Chapter Thirteen of DUNAMIS! Power From On High). Notice the word “speaks”; he is talking here about speaking in tongues, not an individual praying in tongues. His instruction here is that tongues spoken in a public forum must be interpreted into the common language of those gathered, so that those present can understand the message from God.
Then, in the 14th verse, He talks about praying in the Spirit, and says, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” He is saying that when a believer prays in tongues, it is his/her spirit, infused as it is with the Holy Spirit, that is actually doing the praying by the inspiration of the Spirit, rather than the believer praying with his/her intellect, because his/her “mind is unfruitful.” So, for tongues to be of the devil that would mean that the Holy Spirit is praying through the inspiration of the devil as He petitions God through the believer who is praying in tongues. Obviously, that is also a literal impossibility!
Finally, the Apostle Paul, in his teaching of the Corinthians, enumerates “various kinds of tongues” as one of the nine manifestations of the Spirit (charismata) that are all for the common good of those who are beneficiaries of the gifts:
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Cor. 12:7-11; NASB)
Take special note of the last sentence of that quote. Paul categorically states that it is the Holy Spirit who works or operates ALL of these nine “manifestations OF THE SPIRIT” he delineated. And, he stated that distribution of those giftings is in accordance with His—the Holy Spirit’s—will. How can it be that the Holy Spirit operates and distributes all these gifts and yet they be of the devil at the same time. Impossible! Ludicrous! Inane! Senseless! Illogical! Blasphemous!
Additionally, and perhaps the most convincing of all, in Luke 11:9-13, Jesus said this concerning the Holy Spirit in the immersion of the Spirit:
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
In this dissertation about the Father giving the Holy Spirit to His children who ask Him both the terms “fish” and “egg” are types of elements of the Kingdom of God, and “snake” and “scorpion” are Biblical types of Satan’s Kingdom. When you couple what Jesus said here with the word of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John in his first epistle, for example, concerning receiving from the Father what we ask for that is according to His will, it is clear that Jesus is saying definitively that when any believer asks the Father for something of His Kingdom—in this case, to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit—the Father is not going to answer by giving you something from Satan’s Kingdom:
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 Jn. 5:14-15)
And since Jesus was relating what He said to receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we then know conclusively that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is of the will of God, because He said, “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Indeed, if God were to ever give someone something from Satan’s kingdom—the kingdom of darkness—then He would with that act have associated or affiliated Himself, who is LIGHT, with Satan and darkness, and He would cease to be Light. Thus, that is an impossibility.
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 Jn. 1:5)
There’s much more that could be said to counter this objection but just what has been said is sufficient to dispel that notion entirely.
The second objection I’ll deal with here is: “Jesus didn’t speak in unknown tongues.” This is actually the easiest to dispel and debunk by the fact that since Jesus IS the Word (logos) of God (John 1:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:1-3; et al.) “made manifest,” and the embodiment or incarnation of the Word of God, and indeed was the Word that was the Source of the entire Creation “In the beginning (Gen. 1:1), He is also the Source of all language in the Creation. Jesus IS the Word! All language is made up of words. Jesus was/is the language of God! Thus, there is no language on Earth, or anywhere else in the Cosmos, for that matter, that is unknown to Him! For Jesus to speak in unknown tongues is a literal impossibility! So, that one too is DOA and really makes no sense at all! OF COURSE Jesus didn’t speak in unknown tongues!
Proof of Supernatural Glossolalia
I remember very vividly an incident that occurred, I believe in 1979, during my early walk as a Christian, that very well illustrated this matter of glossolalia, that is, a believer speaking in a language which he or she does not personally know.
One Sunday morning, my wife and I were traveling to church, and while we were some 10 miles or more away from the church that we were going to attend that morning, I saw in my mirror a particular vehicle as it was approaching our vehicle. And for some reason in the Spirit, it got my attention. And I saw two men in the vehicle. Then as the vehicle passed my vehicle in the lane next to the one we were in on this four-lane street, I saw that there were two men in the vehicle, both of them dressed in white shirts and black ties. And as the vehicle passed by, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Those men are preachers,” and to my surprise, He continued to say, “And they are going to be in the service this morning.” I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me—I was so sure I even said to my wife, “Those men will be in the service this morning”—but I couldn’t quite understand why the Holy Spirit would be saying such a thing to me.
However, all of that became clear as the day unfolded. A week or so prior, the pastor had asked me to share in song in that particular service that morning. We arrived at the church; I went to greet the pastor, as is customary prior to a service. And I noticed that the pastor was unusually nervous, and I didn’t quite understand why, but I knew it wasn’t any of my business, so I proceeded to go out into the sanctuary and take my seat. And in the process of time, the service began, and we were all worshiping the Lord, in song and great worship. But, I did notice that there was quite an unusual anointing of the Holy Spirit present in this service, at least for what had been my previous experience in this particular church.
And, at one point, about fifteen minutes into the worship, I happened to just look over to my right, and in the center aisle, there sat these two men who had passed us in the vehicle earlier on the way to the church. But then, of course, as anyone would, I began to wonder: well, why in the world are they here, who are they, and what does this have to do with anything?
And just a few minutes after that, as the worship was crescendoing up in the Spirit, there came, totally unorchestrated by anyone, a moment of holy silence. And after about thirty seconds or so of that silence, from the very front pew on the left, came a voice from a lady that I could tell was elderly, yet, as she began to speak confidence and boldness began to fill her voice. And she spoke in one of the most beautiful tongues I believe I’ve ever heard.
But as she was giving that tongue, I also began to feel the stirring, which by then was fairly familiar to me, but by now is much more familiar to me—the stirring of the Holy Spirit within me. And the Holy Spirit began to say to me, from my innermost being, “I am going to give you the interpretation for that tongue.” It was an impression that rose up out of my spirit, and I knew that this was what He was saying to me.
But, then, after the tongue ended, and as I was giving a moment for anyone else to interpret it, there came forth an utterance from someone in the congregation; and it was a good edifying word. However, I felt in my spirit as it came forth that this was not the right interpretation of that message in tongues.
And then, strangely, right after that, someone else gave another word to the congregation. However, as that word came forth, I felt in my spirit, that is not the right interpretation of that word that woman gave in tongues either.
And then, after that word, unbelievably, there came forth a third word, which I have never before or since heard or seen happen in a service. And I remember thinking within myself, “Well, then, I must be really missing God, because that’s the third and there shouldn’t be any more than three”—at least that’s what my understanding was at the time.
But, then, to my surprise, the Holy Spirit within me said, “I want you to give that interpretation now.” And I remember slightly arguing with the Lord and saying, “But, Lord, there’s already been three words given here, plus that tongue itself.” But the Lord clearly and strongly answered me and said, “I want you to give that interpretation now.” And so, not really knowing what I was going to speak, but knowing that the Lord gives us a word, I began to speak, as I customarily do, that one word that I knew that He was giving me. And as I did, all of a sudden, a prophetic word began to flow out of me, and I knew it was totally bypassing my mind because I wasn’t even thinking any of those things that I said. And out of my innermost-being began to flow, this beautiful and powerful and edifying word of God for this congregation.
And when it was over, the entire congregation just erupted in exultation and glorifying worship and praise unto God, which went on for an unusually long period of time. Then, later, when the time came in the service for me to sing my song, I sang my song, and we continued on with the rest of the service.
Well! I had no idea what had really just occurred. Later that afternoon, I received a phone call from the pastor, and in the conversation he began to relate to me what really took place in that meeting. He asked me, “Do you remember those two men that were in the service that sat in such and so place and they were dressed in such and such manner?” I said, “Yes, I remember seeing them, and strangely, before the service as they passed our vehicle, the Lord, said to me, “They’re going to be in the service this morning; they are preachers.” And the pastor said, “That’s right, those two men are preachers, and they are officials from my former denomination. They were there in the service, by appointment, and they had asked to come and visit me that day, and they were trying to lure me back into the former denomination that I had been a part of.”
Now the thing was that that former denomination that he had been a part of, did not believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and they do not believe in the manifestations or gifts of the Spirit either. But, those two men that came happen to have been two of the top preachers and scholars in that denomination. And when the service ended, they almost ran to the pastor, and they wanted to talk to him quickly in his study after the service. The pastor said, “I couldn’t understand what was going on, because they were so wide-eyed, and seemed to have such an excitement that I had never seen in those men before.”
And as they got the pastor in the study, their first question was, “Who was that woman who gave that tongue?” And the pastor responded, “She is one of the longtime members and has been here since the beginning of this church.” And they said, “She seems to be just a simple country woman, how is it that she understands Greek?” And the pastor said, “Well, I have known that woman since I’ve been the pastor here, and I guarantee you that woman does not understand Greek. She’s just a simple country woman with little education, who has only a simple understanding of English.” But, these pastors said, “But, we heard her speaking in a particular dialect of Greek, of which we are both experts. And she was speaking perfectly in that dialect.”
And then, they said, “What about that man who sang the song in the service? The pastor responded, “Yes, I know him, he’s a minister, and he was here to bless us in song today at my request.” “Well,” they asked, “Does he know this dialect of Greek? Does he know the Greek language?” The pastor replied, “Well, he could have studied some Greek in his theology training, but to my knowledge, he doesn’t have any special understanding of Greek, or speak it fluently, and certainly not the dialect you’re speaking about.”
And they said, “Well, we understood every word that that woman was speaking in that tongue that she gave forth. And then, we thought that we had some evidence here that we can prove that this tongues business is not of God, because the first three people who spoke after that woman, none of them said anything having to do at all or even closely resemble what that woman said in her tongue that she spoke forth.”
“But, when that man who sang that song spoke and gave his word, it was a word-for-word rendering of what that woman had just said in that tongue!”
And they both began to weep before the pastor, and asked God to forgive them for ever thinking that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the great gift of tongues was not of God or was of the devil. And both of those men received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in that pastor’s office as he laid hands upon them at their request and prayed for them to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. That day, those two preachers’ lives and their theology were thoroughly revolutionized by a demonstration of the supernatural power of God in the form of tongues and interpretation of tongues!###
Read a New York Times article concerning what scientists have discovered about speaking in tongues: A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues
Check out the book from which this article is adapted (click on book cover):