This paper articulates my belief system concerning Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues.  The principles expounded here can also apply to the other supernatural gifts of the Spirit with some modification. The following statement briefly articulates my personal understanding of the experience of Spirit Baptism and Speaking in Tongues, along with the other Gifts of the Spirit. I hope it isn’t too clinical, but it is a doctrinal position, so it needs to have that type of structure imposed upon it. 

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the express empowerment that follows a greater yielding to the Spirit’s activity in our lives and a desire on both His part and ours for intimacy.  Although every believer is introduced to the Spirit in salvation in a typically non-experiential way, more is available. What is identified among Charismatics and Pentecostals as the baptism in the Spirit is what has been identified as a separate and distinct experience separate from the salvation that all believers are exhorted to encounter. Still, sadly, some people deny it out of fear or incorrect understanding. If we continue to linguistically separate the Spirit’s actions in conversion from the further actions of empowerment, confusion will continue to exist. Spirit Baptism can be understood as an experience that follows conversion and is intended for the believer in an ongoing and subsequent way, but it would be better if we identified the experience as submitting or yielding to greater control or empowerment. As we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, He fills us with His presence in intimate expressions of impartation. Baptism is an experience that transcends the non-experiential placement into Christ through regeneration that happens at the initial point of conversion: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body– whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free– and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (I Corinthians 12:13)

Infilling is the ongoing interaction with the Spirit after salvation, as long as we are willing to yield to the Spirit’s desire to gift, empower, and equip us for the works of the Kingdom. This encounter between the submissive Christian and the Holy Spirit is a function of obedience to the Holy Scriptures, where we are told to: “be filled with the Spirit:” Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)  The Greek verb ‘be filled’ is in the present tense, implying that this is an experience that we are to live in now and enjoy. The verb is also a command in the passive voice.  This tells us that the Baptism in the Spirit is something that we cannot control or manipulate.  It is a work of God. 

The Baptism in the Spirit is an experience that has a definite point of origin, with the opportunity for subsequent encounters throughout the believer’s lifetime.  This experience of yielding to the Spirit’s presence is about personal transformation and empowerment. It allows the believer to serve God with greater fervency and to serve man with greater zeal and authenticity. The baptism in the Spirit opens the believer up to the Chrisms (Gifts of the Spirit) of His presence.  The impartation of spiritual gifts is not just a privilege but a tool for the believer to become more effective in evangelism and in expressing mercy to those in need. As such, we are then enabled to walk in the fullness that God has destined for us as we display His power and presence. This is a source of encouragement and hope for all believers.

We then are enabled TO RECEIVE: “And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22 & Acts 1:5). What was promised as a gift and has been IMPARTED following the ascension: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off– for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38, 39)  All believers are entitled to, and should ardently expect, and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church.  With it comes the endowment of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry: “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31).  This experience is distinct from salvation and contained within the new birth experience. It is both/and, not either/or: 

But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-47; 11:14-16; 15:7-9).  

With the infilling or baptism in the Holy Spirit comes experiences such as an overflowing fullness of God’s blessings and presence. On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39). 

The active presence of the Spirit will bring a deepened reverence for God: Everyone was filled with awe, and the apostles did many wonders and miraculous signs. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire. (Acts 2:43; Hebrews 12:28-29), an intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42) and a more active love for Christ, His Word, and the lost: Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.  (Mark 16:20). 

It is my personal belief that all Christians can and should aggressively pursue the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and practice speaking in tongues along with adopting a belief system that makes room for God to program our spiritual make-up in such a way that we allow Him to manifest whatever gifts He so desires in our lives.  If some of the following discussion seems a little clinical, please forgive me, but it is a doctrinal position and needs to be treated as such.  

Speaking in tongues is a primary primer gift of the Holy Spirit.  As such, tongues as a gift are a sterling introductory gift into the world of Holy Spirit manifestations among us. The phrase ‘least of the gifts’ would be better understood or articulated as the base foundation for the gifts, or the beginning point of the charismatic dynamic. The baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is normally witnessed with the physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:4) as a normative experience, at least among most modern Pentecostal and Charismatic seekers.  The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues, but is different in purpose and use: 

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:4-10, 28). 

Tongues has a double application for those of us who have received this most important of gifts.  It is for both personal edification and for public exhortation.  The gift of tongues can also be a beautiful addendum that can be used in singing before the Lord the hidden praise expressions that reside in our hearts.  As a private gift, tongues can be utilized for self edification: For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. (I Corinthians 14:2-4). 

Glossolalia is a practical devotional gift that can aid us in our intimate times of communicating with the sovereign Lord.  Whether as a compulsory act, or as ‘moved upon by the Spirit’, tongues is an important piece of equipment in the believer’s spiritual arsenal.  As a spoken gift that is one of the lesser expressions (a gift that utilizes the natural abilities of man. In this case: speech), tongues can help us to believe God for greater expressions (gifts that are contingent upon God alone to enact, such as healing, miracles, etc.) of gift experiences as we mature.  This doesn’t imply that the verbal gifts are less spectacular or insignificant simply because they utilize natural abilities. All spiritual gifts are birthed by Holy Spirit.  This simply acknowledges that participating in the transitional gifts helps us to acquire greater faith and a platform to believe God for more. 

The Bible gives us five examples from the early Church, as varied members were baptized with the Holy Spirit. In three of the encounters the recipients all spoke with tongues.  The other two are simply silent concerning the actual experience, leaving us to deduce the principle of practice from the other source material.  Some have argued that you must speak in tongues to be filled, while others see it as just one manifestation that can accompany the infilling.  Both positions have some merit, but both miss the essential point.  Speaking in tongues is a good gift from God that should be sought after by those who love Holy Spirit and desire to see His gifts manifest.  The modern evidence seems to indicate that speaking in tongues is a gift that Spirit Filled believers are to be in possession of. 

On a personal note, I was baptized in the Spirit on the night that I was saved and spoke in tongues verbally a day later.  My encounter with the Spirit was so profound that I was dumbstruck initially out of fear of such an awesome God.  This was in October of 1977.  I have been an ardent practitioner of glossolalia every since and speak in tongues on a daily basis, as well as expressing many other gifts as the Spirit allows. 

As a believer and a practitioner of supernatural experience, I personally believe that speaking in tongues and all of the other gifts that are identified in the Scriptures are for the Church today and should be aggressively sought after by His body.  They are bestowals of grace by the third person in the blessed Trinity, whose heart is to lead into a practical life that emulates the Character of Christ.  His gifts allow us to uniquely function and flow as He leads us in the great adventure of faith known as Christianity.  These gifts allow us to build up the body of Christ and to effectively spread the Gospel message around the world.

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