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Tongues and the Baptism with the Spirit

Part Three

By Gary F. Zeolla


The following discussion is continued from Tongues and the Baptism with the Spirit - Part Two. My comments to which Reverend Dinwiddie is responding to are in purple and enclosed in double "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. His comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

Exchange Five

>I will reply, but I don't think I will after this. See below.<

I agree this discussion is getting rather long-winded. I have found in my e-mail exchanges with people that they become progressively longer with each exchange. Hence why I usually don't go farther than two or three exchanges. This is our fifth. And things must end sometime, even if it is left "hanging" somewhat. So this will be my last e-mail also.

>>I got a feeling that we would disagree on many subjects other than just tongues.<<

>I assume that you do believe that the apostles did have sound theology. And I do believe that the Bible needs to be obeyed.<

Yes I believe the apostles and the other Biblical writers not only had sound theology, but that their words were "God-breathed." And yes, of course, we should be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

But my point is this, after I left "Dayspring" (the name of the independent, charismatic church I attended), I went back over everything I had been taught.

Now Dayspring was basically sound in regards to the "essentials of the faith." In other words, their confession and pastors would basically agree with each of the articles on the "Confession of Faith" I have posted on my site.

However, once I moved beyond these doctrines, then things changed. As I studies each non-essential teaching I came to reject each and every thing I had been taught, with the exception of believer's baptism by immersion.

If you look over the articles and Scripture Studies I have on my site you will see how far I now am from basic charismatic teachings. And you will also notice that in my articles I generally cite dozens of Scripture verses and in my Scripture Studies up to hundreds of verses. In other words, I have come to my current beliefs through an extensive study of the Scriptures.

As for being obeyed, as I said previously, I have found their is no difference between the degree of "holiness" in the lives of non-charismatic Christians and charismatic Christians. They both love the Lord, His Word, and His people, and serve and obey Him just the same.

>>>I don't think so either. I never have believed the doctrine that one is born again before being baptized with the Spirit, and God is in him, and then later on, when he receives the baptism of the Holy Ghost, he is in a special category.<<<

>>Now things have taken a very interesting turn. If you believe one is baptized with the Spirit at the moment of salvation; and if you believe speaking in tongues is the sign of the baptism of the Spirit; then there is only one logical conclusion: you believe speaking in tongues is the sign of salvation. You should have said so in the first place.<<

>You are setting up a straw man so you can knock it down easily. I have never heard, nor have I ever taught, that speaking in tongues is "the sign of salvation." Rather, I teach that it is the sign of having received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, without which no one can be saved. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9).<

If A = B, and C = B, then it logically follows that C = A. I am not setting up a straw man but taking what you say to its logical conclusion. Now most charismatics evade this conclusion by saying A does not equal B. In other words, they say being born again (A) is a separate experience from the baptism with the Spirit (B). Thus speaking in tongues (C) is only the sign of B not of A.

But you are telling me, if I understand you correctly, that you do not separate these two experiences. Furthermore, I was always under the impression the UPC does teach speaking in tongues is the sign of salvation. But this impression could be wrong. If I get the time, I will have to do some research to see if it is so or not.

In any case, if you say you do not believe as such, then I am glad to hear that. And I apologize if I mis-understood you. Such mis-communication is one of the many problems with discussing such things via e-mail.

>However, there are two specific instances in the Book of Acts, Apollos in Acts 18, the end of it, and the Ephesians in Acts 19, first 7 verses or so, in which people who had received the Holy Ghost encountered people who had not received the Holy Ghost. Apollos was fervent in Spirit, knowing only the baptism of John.

The Ephesians no doubt were fervent too, but when Paul encountered them he perceived that there was something missing from their worship and prayer, so he asked, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" He would not have asked this question without a reason. And when they replied that they had not even heard if the Holy Spirit had happened yet -- not that they had never heard of the Holy Spirit; they were disciples of John the Baptist who taught about the Holy spirit -- Paul asked them about their baptism.

The interesting thing to me is that they were then rebaptized by Paul into (Gk. "eis") the name of the Lord Jesus, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues and prophesying.

Many people are in this world just like these folks. They are walking in all the light they have received, but someone needs to tell them the "way of the Lord more perfectly," like Priscilla and Aquila did Apollos.<

In the episode with Apollos, no mention is made of speaking in tongues, or that he did not know about the Holy Spirit.

And yes, I did need to learn "way of the Lord more perfectly" and I did so, as indicated above, by leaving the charismatic movement and its teaching behind and studying the Bible for myself. Again, in the episode with Apollos, no mention is made about this "way" including speaking in tongues.

As for the next passages, yes it is interesting. But the question becomes, is it normative for all Church history? Or did it occur as it did for specific reasons? As I said previously, as I read the NT I do not see teachings in regards to expecting speaking in tongues to be normative for all Christians. I have already cited passages and explained why I belief this, so I will not repeat myself here.

Furthermore, in the next verses after this passage (verses 11-12) mention is made of "unusual miracles" being wrought through Paul, including handkerchiefs being brought to him and laid on the sick and them being healed.

Now, charismatics generally do not believe it is normative for blessed handkerchiefs to have healing powers. But I do remember there being a "handkerchief blessing" ceremony while I was at Dayspring. And there was one person who claimed someone was healed by one of them. But I learned to take such claim with a grain of salt.

While I was in the charismatic movement, and many times since, I heard claims of many miracles, especially healing being made, from everything to backaches being cured to people being raised form the dead. However, I personally never witnessed such occurring.

I attended Dayspring for four years. I went to virtually every Sunday morning services, most Sunday evening services, and many prayer meeting during the week. After or during most of these there would be healing services. I also attended such services at other charismatic churches and even two "healing explosions" at the Civic Arena (where the Pittsburgh Penguins play).

So I probably attended hundreds of healing services altogether. And in all that time, I never saw anyone get healed of anything that could not be explained by emotional excitement, psychological manipulation, or simply the placebo effect.

Moreover, during or after these very meetings I would hear people claiming healings had occurred. But, as I said, I didn't see any.

Also, I have several charismatic relatives and friends who are handicapped. I am talking deafness, blindness, and other serious aliments. All of them have been charismatic for years, even all of their lives. They have been to many healings sessions and been prayed for many times; but they are still blind or deaf.

Now, I am not saying I do not believe God can heal. But what I am saying is healing simply is not normative today, despite the many charismatic claims to the contrary. Yet, in the Book of Acts, it appears healing is normative.

So what am I to make of this apparent contradiction between Acts and today? Well, when I read the rest of the NT I find healing was not normative in the early Church either. Paul, Timothy, and Tromiphus all suffered from aliments, even "frequent aliments" (2Cor 12:7-10; 1Tim 5:23; 2Tim 4:20). See my short article Healing and the Gospel posted on my site for more on my views in this regard.

So the point is, I do not think we can expect the many healings and other miracles in Acts to be normative. In the same way, Acts is not intended to indicate what will be normative in regards to tongues. And as I referred to previously, Paul in Corinthians specifically indicates that all Christians did not speak in tongues in the early Church.

Furthermore, the healings and the speaking in tongues in Acts all occurred in association with apostles or apostolic delegates. And Paul indicates such things are the "signs of an apostle" (2Cor 12:12; also Heb 2:3,4). So it would seem such miracles in Acts were intended to uphold the authority of the apostles and the message they preached, not to indicate what would be normative in the Church. For the latter, we need to turn to the didactic portions of the NT, i.e. the epistles.

>>Let's not mince words here. What this means is, I am damned. So is my pastor, most everyone else at my church, most everyone else in any non-charismatic/ Pentecostal church, and most every Christian between 100 and 1900 AD. It puts you in a rather exclusive position.<<

>Exclusiveness of position is no problem. It's really a matter of degree, because the Bible plainly teaches that only those who are "in Christ" are saved. Those outside of Christ are not saved. This gets back to the basic consideration here: There are many people who are not what they think they are. I am not judging them in saying this.<

Yes, it is true only those who are "in Christ" are saved. But since you have said you do not believe that salvation hinges on speaking in tongues, then we would be in agreement here.

>>So, your attitude towards me should be the same as my attitude towards say a JW. I would rejoice in seeing a JW leave the Watchtower and come to my church. So even if you do not have public displays, you should agree with the attitude of my former church in rejoicing when people leave non-charismatic churches and join yours.<<

>I think that uniting with Jesus Christ is more important than any earthly organization. I have heard of Baptist preachers and churches that baptize in the name of Jesus Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost with tongues. They're saved too, so far as I know. Church organization doesn't save anyone, except in the sense of being a tool used by God to bring the Gospel to this world. That is only indirectly. It is the preaching of the Gospel that saves.<

We are also agreed that joining an earthly organization does not save. But my point was, that in a Kingdom Hall a JW would not hear the true Gospel but by coming to my church he would. So my point was the same as your saying a church organization is "a tool used by God to bring the Gospel to this world."

>>I will say this, I do not see even a hint of the idea that tongues is the sign of salvation in the Bible. John writes near the end of his first epistle, "These things I have written to you who have believed in Jesus Christ so that you may know that you have eternal life ..." (5:13). He gives many "signs" a person can look for in his life; but nowhere in his epistle does he mention speaking in tongues.<<

>As I said, our teaching is not that "tongues is the sign of salvation." This straw man does not apply to me or to those like me. Since all your following "arguments" are based on a misunderstanding of our position, I will not answer them.<

As I said previously, I apologize for mis-understanding your position. But it was not a purposeful erection of a "straw man" but simply taking what I believed was your comments to their logical conclusion.

>>Again, given you definition I have not received the Spirit and I am damned. However, I do know what it is like to have received the Spirit. I am a new person in Christ Jesus (2Cor 5:17). It would take a book to describe the many ways in which God has changed me.<<

>For this I am glad. Apollos had a like experience probably. He still needed to learn the way of the Lord more perfectly.<

Yes, but as indicated, Acts does not say this "way" included speaking in tongues. What we do know is that Apollos went on to preach "that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 18:28). So at least this teaching was included in the more perfect way he was taught.

Moreover, personally, the changes God wrought in my life I am referring to all occurred after I left the charismatic movement. In fact, the teachings of the charismatic movement prevented me from going on with the Lord, and caused me much emotional turmoil. Again, see my article Healing and the Gospel for some of what I am referring to here.

>>Irrelevant analogy. If speaking in tongues is essential to salvation, or even essential to ones walk with God in any way, then it should have a much greater emphasis in Scripture. That is my point. As indicated above, John never mentions tongues, Jesus, except for one textual debatable passage, never mentioned tongues; and they are not mentioned in any of the "general" epistles.<<

>I believe the Bible is inspired of God exactly as we have it. But that doesn't make your point, which is subjective, an "I believe it ought to be this way." God is wiser than you or me.<

I believe emphasizing what the Bible emphasizes and not over-emphasizing what the Bible does not emphasize is doing justice to it being the Word of God.

>>I have always wondered about this analogy. Ones relationship to God is considerably different than ones relationship to a sport team. Some people simply believe reverence for God is better expressed in a quiet fashion.<<

>But there is nothing in the Bible about quietness = reverence.<

Hab 2:20 and Zech 2:13 come to mind.

>I am a Christian first, born again of water and the Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. I am a United Pentecostal Church pastor second. I like our organization, but I don't think it is God's church, per se. The church of God is a spiritual entity, existing in the Holy Ghost, made up of everyone of all ages of the church who have been born again of water and of the Spirit, as Jesus taught in John 3:3-5.<

I am glad you don't believe the UPC is the one true church; but your statement here raise what would probably be several other areas of disagreement we would have. But I won't pursue them as this has gotten long enough!


>Because this is so long, I cannot answer everything. But here is a list of scriptures which folks like us believe makes our point.

Acts 2:4; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:5, 6.

[snip lengthy exegesis and other comments]

The Book of Acts is the pattern book. Without it you have a void, a gap between the four gospels and the epistles. You would not know how the Gospel got from Jerusalem to Corinth or other places. And it is the "how" that we take seriously. We believe that the experience of the early apostolic era church, as related in the Book of Acts, is the norm, the pattern for all ages of the church ever after.

Until someone is able to show us that this is not so, by careful examination of all of the facts, we must continue to believe this.<

As you say, this has gotten very long. As such, I will snip your lengthy exegesis of these passages and related comments. I think I have been more than generous in letting you express your views when I post this on my site. But I would suggest you post info like this on your site. As I said, I will include a link to your site when I post this exchange. If anyone wants to pursue your views, they can go to your site.

As for Acts being the "pattern book" I have expressed my views in this regard above.

>I think you would find it profitable to visit one of our conferences, to see what the people who believe this way are like.<

Thank you for the invitation. But for personal reasons attending such conferences would not be possible. And besides, having attended a charismatic church for four years and visited many others, along with receiving many e-mails from other members of the UPC, I know what people who believe like you are like.

>Sorry for the length, and for not replying to all you sent, but it is late, and I am past due for going to bed.

God bless,
May God bless you ever and always is my prayer.
Reverend Joseph Dinwiddie

God bless you too.
Gary Z.

This discussion is concluded at: Tongues and the Baptism with the Spirit - Part Four.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above e-mail exchange was posted on this Web site July 6, 1998.

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