1. Jerry says

    You may have a already addressed this… How do you not keep separate John 20:22-23, and the subsequent command in Acts 1:4-8′ to wait to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” … Did they receive the Holy Spirit in John 20:22, and if so, why the command to wait in Jerusalem for the “Promise of the Father.” Seems like two separate events to me…

      • Jerry says

        Ok, read the complete series… And didn’t see the question I asked addressed… They received the Holy Spirit in John 20:22 as Jesus “breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” But then Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem to be “baptized in the Holy Spirit” in Acts 1:4-5… Still seems like two separate events of the Holy Spirit’s ministry…

        • says

          As stated in the series, the baptism of the Spirit was baptism into the body of Christ on the day of Pentecost. John 20 is referring only to 10 disciples who were in a sealed room; it was a highly situation foreshadowing the indwelling for all at Pentecost. The 10 disciples received the indwelling life of Christ by the Spirit, but they were baptized into the body and empowered by the Spirit with the 120 on the day of Pentecost. The rest of the series explains how this applies to all believers since. Post Pentecost, new converts receive the Spirit, are empowered by the Spirit, and are baptized into the body of Christ at conversion-initiation. This is all elaborated on in the series.

  2. Angela says

    I am hoping, Frank, that you will clarify your ideas on speaking a known language you haven’t learned and the hearers understanding you, since this is what happened in Acts 2, and has happened many times since in people’s experience (a dear personal friend of mine prayed over a stranger in an Italian dialect from the lady’s hometown.) It has apparently happened frequently on the mission field including to natives who were never taught about ‘tongues.’ (Bruchko) Often they were sharing about Christ, not specifially ‘praying.’

    I was taught that this form of tongues was different than a ‘prayer language,’ which I understand is what you are referring to when you say, “I don’t believe in two kinds of tongues.” Am I correct in understanding that and can you clarify that in future posts? Also Corinthians says something about ‘varieties of tongues’ and ‘gifts of healings” as if there were different varieties of these gifts.

    Are you just saying there is a private side and a public side to tongues without it being truly different? And is this really important or just semantics?

    I have heard some cessationist leaning folks try to say that scriptural tongues is only this miraculous speaking an unlearned language in front of people who DO know the language and will understand it. But they are of course ignoring some of the things Paul said about tongues in prayer and in church meetings.

    I ask because I truly value your thoughts on it, and I am wondering why you are emphatic about not believe in two kinds of tongues or different kinds of prophecy. I hope this is not too far off your topic. I also could never agree wholly with Pentecostal doctrine, although I went to an AG college.

  3. Arie Saptaji says

    I have charismatic background, and I used to speak in tounges, yet now I rarely used it. How do we know that we have a proper gift of tounges, and not a false one (speak in tounges just because everyone around us do it)?

  4. Richie N says

    Hi Frank,

    First, I appreciate your labors in Christ and have enjoyed your books!

    I am open to hear your points and teaching on this issue, but I have some questions, and I am sure you have some great answers for me :) I really want to understand so I can share with our brothers and sisters truth.
    1). Where in the Bible does it explicitly say that there are 2 different kinds of prophecy (foretelling, forthtelling)? Besides actually reading the prophecies and seeing the various tones.
    2). If there are non-such passages, why then do you state dividing “tongues” into 2 categories is special pleading, when the same treatment is applied to prophecy? (Despite the fact there just isn’t that much material and one could make an argument from silence, but I feel like arguments from silence in many cases is special pleading)
    3). I think your are reading your personal experiences into the account of Acts. I say this because I also look at my experiences and think surely Tongues is not normative, but when I read Acts I do come to the conclusion that Luke presents it as normative. For the following reasons: Luke establishes the Holy Spirit as the central theme of Jesus’ continued rule, mission, headship, etc. in the first chapter, then ch 2 has TIPE (Tongues as Initial Physical Evidence). The easiest reading of ch 8 is TIPE because from this point on no alternative has been introduced. Also, they had put their faith in Jesus and were baptized into his name, but scripture says specifically that they had not yet received the HS. Then 9 and Saul’s experience He received The HS before baptism, how did they know? (This one is certainly questionable, but we know Paul did speak in tongues from 1Cor. 14) Then ch10 affirms TIPE without question. The new church in Antioch ch 11 has no mention of the HS, are we to assume they never had it, or assume what has happened in the book of Acts thus far is continuing here? Ch 13 & 14has no mention of the HS involved, 15 restates TIPE. Ch 16-18 doesn’t mention the HS in any of the church plants. Corinth is especially to be noted. Then 19 TIPE is restated again, but this the first time Paul has imparted the gift of the HS to anyone thus far. Anyways in all that, it makes the most sense to me without bending things to assume the HS is being given at all the churches as is affirmed in Paul’s letters, but also that TIPE since the passages that do talk about the HS at all also refer or infer TIPE. (Sorry this is long, I just want you to see what I’m seeing so you can help answer my question).

    • says

      1. I don’t think there are two types of prophecy. But prophecy can be present or future. Read T. Austin-Sparks book on Prophetic Ministry.
      2. Refer to point 1. I never said there were “2 types.” See my comment to Summer about 2 kinds of tongues.
      3. Did you read all of Part II and III or just skim it? Your comment is answered in those. I’m not reading my personal experience into THOSE 4 ACCOUNTS, I’m looking at the whole of Acts. Again, those are the only 4 occassions where tongues is mentioned in all of Acts and one of them it’s not even mentioned at all, I’m just accepting that it MAY have been present. My personal experience actually would support the Pentecostal thesis. But what I have experienced in my own life isn’t the litmus test here.

      • Richie N says

        Also, under the same standards, “shared life community” is only mention 2 times, and only in Jerusalem’s church. So there is more evidence for TIPE then shared life community. But I believe Luke did establish it as normative. So we can assume the church plants looked very similar to their mother church.

  5. Deandra says

    Frank, thank you so much for doing this series! The Baptism in the Spirit has been a sore spot in my faith for a few years now. I grew up in an AG church. I left that church for a number of reasons, but the main one was because speaking in tongues had not happened to me (though I had been to a couple of Holy Spirit conferences, had hands laid on me to receive the gift, and been prayed over etc.), and I felt pretty inadequate and incomplete as a believer there. Where did I end up? In a Southern Baptist church where any talk of the Holy Spirit moving in such a way as to bestow gifts upon people is pretty radical, edgy, and frowned upon. It is basically met with great resistance, and a need to be brought back to reality.

    I knew deep down that neither was quite right. I think it is absolutely quenching the Spirit to insist that He has stopped working and moving. But I know from deeper study in 1 Cor 12-14 that tongues is not the only evidence of being baptized in the Spirit. Also, that it is not the sole gift, or jumping off point, for the other gifts. But that there are many gifts of the Spirit, and tongues it truly a prayer language (which did sort of line up with what I had been taught in the AG church I was in).

    If you would, will you give me some background on how cessationists came up with their ideas? I don’t get it. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of God. Is He supposed to be tame and quiet? After telling people in my new church about my spiritual background, I am often asked if I believe in the speaking in tongues and other gifts. I often just flat out answer yes. In doing so, I have had a few people try to point out to me (mainly the pastors), using 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, that these gifts are not in use nowadays because we now have the complete Word of God. (When I read that passage in context. 1C12-14, that is not how I understand that to be.) Usually, this is followed by an explanation that if people are using them then it is demonic, or out of great emotion and energy from a crowd of people gathered together. Which disturbed me deeply because that may be blasphemy of the Holy Spirit– which is dangerous.

    Though I still believe that the Spirit is still active and working, I do have doubts created by both sides of the Holy Spirit baptism spectrum as to the manner in which He does work in us and through us. I am really thankful that you started this series, and I pray that this clears up some of those doubts, and answers some questions I still have! I cannot wait for the rest of this to come together!

  6. John says

    One note that stuck out to me was “The New Testament doesn’t explicitly encourage believers to seek tongues.” It seems to me every translation I could find of 1 Cor 14:5 “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy.” indicates that the NT does in fact encourage believers to speak in tongues. Am I missing something?

    • says

      I don’t see that text “explicitly encouraging” believers to “seek” tongues, as is commonly taught in Pentecostal circles. He’s simply saying that he would like for everyone to speak in tongues (if that were possible), but his desire is more to prophesy. He doesn’t want the believers in Corinth to feel he’s trashing tongues, even though he is exalting prophesy and correcting misuses. It would be like me saying, “I wish every Christian had the gift of healing as that would be nice, but I prefer that you all speak Jesus Christ instead.” There’s no suggestion to “seek” the gift of healing in that statement, although there’s nothing wrong with that if someone wants that gift (I stated that in the post). Paul did explicitly encourage the believers to covet the best gifts, and to him, prophesy is one of them.

  7. Aadel says

    Thank you for this Frank. I used to be a cessationist but I have come to understand the gift of tongues a little more over the years. I have never experienced speaking in tongues or seen anyone speak in tongues other than when I was a child at a charismatic service and everyone was doing it at the same time – very confusing!

  8. Keith says

    Hi Frank, I found this quite encouraging. I have recently joined a charismatic church. Most people in the church including my daughters speak in tongues. They use the argument you mentioned about two types of tongues. After nearly a year I still cannot speak in tongues and feel a ‘lesser’ Christian. I am still not sure if I have been baptised in the Holy Spirit (despite praying for it for years) as there has been no evidence such as tongues or prophecy or any outburst!

    • says

      Keith: There are millions of Christians just like you. You and they are one reason why I’m writing the series. I encourage you to read it until the conclusion. It may set you free, bro.

  9. Matt says

    Thank you for tackling this subject Frank. This doctrine does give one an elitist mindset in many pentecostal churches. In fact, there are some pentecostal churches that place a criteria on you having to know how to speak in tongues in order to be a member of their church, and you can’t join them without having this gift.

    I’ve spoken in tongues only once, and it was alone in my prayer closet during a deeply emotional time in prayer with my “Father.” It was the first time that I truly felt like a “son” in conversation with my heavenly Father. It was a very intimate moment. I believe the groundwork that apostle Paul laid-out on this subject too.

    • says

      Geoff: “All” in the Bible very often doesn’t mean all. Oftentimes it means “most.” But even if we take that literally and all 120 spoke in tongues — which I have no problem with — we cannot be sure how many of the 3,000 did. This is one of the important points in the narrative upon which the Pentecostal thesis rests. Thus the thesis is clearly built on an assumption. Not a good place to hang a doctrine upon.

      • Randal says

        The preponderance of biblical evidence supports that at least some, if not all of the 3,000 spoke in tongues too. Do some research on the dwellers of Judea. It seems that Peter believed they spoke in tongues. Blessings!

  10. Daniel Boey says

    Hi Frank, since the context of 1 Cor 12-14 is DURING A CHURCH MEETING, wouldn’t the answer to the question “Do all speak in tongues?” be “No, when you assemble, not all speak in tongues, neither do all preach, etc”. But you may all speak in tongues when you are alone or when you are in a non-public prayer meeting.

    • says

      That’s special pleading. The context of those statements isn’t relegated to one situation. Paul moves to making universal statements at the end of 1 Cor. 12. Whether in public or private, the tongues are the same. If I speak in tongues in my living room or I speak them in a meeting, the nature of the tongues is the same. It’s a prayer or praise. If it’s interpreted correctly, it will be interpreted as a prayer or praise. Oftentimes in Pentecostal churches, a person will speak in tongues, and another person (thinking they are interpreting) is actually prophesying or exhorting.

      • Daniel Boey says

        I agree with you in that tongues are tongues whether they’re spoken in public or in private. The classical explanation of 2 types of tongues holds no water. HOWEVER, the reasons why we should not pray in tongues without an interpretation in a public meeting include the likelihood that visitors will think these guys are cuckoo ! However, in a private prayer meeting where such a scenario will not arise, praying in tongues without an interpretation is ok.

  11. Dylan says

    Enjoying this series Frank! Been wanting to see you tackle this topic for a while now. Glad you finally have…. 😉

  12. Mike W says


    I’m wondering about your statement that Paul was describing “tongues [as] a private prayer language,” in 1 Cor. 14:2, 13-14. I’m not entirely convinced, because Paul himself says that when he spoke in tongues he is not praying with his mind, which was apparently 2,000 times more desirable! If the basic premise of prayer is “talking with God,” then I not sure that “speaking in tongues” really qualifies.

    In fact the only reference I’ve found regarding the actual content of “speaking in tongues” is in Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [in this case, known human languages] as the Spirit was giving them utterance;” and Acts 2:11, “speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” There was a spiritual interaction, to be sure, and I bet the the experience was amazing. But there’s no evidence of a conscious “mindful” conversation.

    So this does not sound like a clear case of Paul endorsing a “private prayer language.” Rather, I suspect he was discouraging those who were using the “speaking in tongues” phenomenon to “one-up” their Christian brothers and sisters when they prayed. I know Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that he wished they all spoke in tongues, but in view of all his other comparisons regarding the relative importance of tongues, might not he have deliberately overstated the case to make his point? He’d already done this in 1 Corinthians 4:8 when he said, “You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you,” which was really a rebuke of their holier-than-thou attitudes.

    Back to the first point, it doesn’t seem to me that Paul is describing or condoning a “prayer language.” In fact, he concludes that that speaking (or praying) in tongues without understanding is unsatisfactory: “What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit AND I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit AND I will sing with the mind also. (1 Cor 14:15)

    I look forward to hearing your perspective on these observations, and sincerely thank you for all you’ve done to provide a clearer vision of what life with God is all about. Personally, I think the greatest manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians is how they love one another!


    • says

      Tongues is clearly prayer, Paul says so. I use “private” because he says to use them in private UNLESS there’s an interpreter. But it is not prayer that come from the mind. I can pray in tongues aloud and count 1 to 50 in my mind at the same time. So it comes from a different source, the Spirit.

      • Lee Johnson says

        Hey Frank, I’m currently reading Pagan Christianity- You and George make lots of interesting points. I am wondering though about a comment made in the forward where you say no other book has been written on the subject. Alexander Hislop wrote a book in the mid 1800’s called “The Two Babylons” which traces many church practices directly to the Babylonian mystery religion. Your book seems to concentrate on the weekly meeting practices more than Hislop’s. Why doesn’t your book discuss the pagan nature of Christmas and Easter? Those themes are explored exhaustively in Hislop’s work and I can’t figure how it is that your book doesn’t even mention those practices which are clearly pagan in nature? Thank you.

  13. says

    And then there’s the ‘have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be SAVED’ teaching.

    Sorry Frank. I’m with you on this one but I had to throw that out there. :-)


    • says

      Yes, that’s the position of the United Pentecostals. They don’t distinguish between receiving the Spirit and the baptism, so you have to speak in tongues to even have the Spirit: Romans 8:9.

  14. says

    No matter how you look at it, in the book of Acts it always appears that there is some evidence upon being baptized or filled with the Spirit. If it is not tongues, it might be prophecy. Simon the Sorcerer saw something. Paul (filled again) rebuked Elymas. Something always seemed to happen.

    Unfortunately, today things are quite different from the book of Acts, but I believe they shouldn’t be. Nonetheless, we should take what we can get. If someone needs to be “coached” it represents our distance from Acts. I would agree with you that tongues is not a necessary evidence, but it is an act that could be practiced either in the flesh or in faith. If done in faith it edifies (1Cor.14).

    • says

      Rick: For your first point, again, it’s only on 3 or 4 occasions. And the question then become, why . . . why on those 3 or 4 occasions? I answer that question tomorrow.

  15. Shel Boese says

    1) Most of the global Charismatic or lowercase “p” pentecostals do not see tongues as THE evidence of the baptism of the spirit. Normative yes but many would argue anointed mission is the main point.

    2) pentecostals would reject your Pauline reading of Luke-Acts. You fundamentally are making straw man arguments. Nothing new here.

    This is VERY important to anyone who actually wants to understand pentecostal hermenuetics. We read Luke-Acts as having a different (complimentary – BUT different) teaching regarding the Holy Spirit than Paul. Paul’s main concern is the Spirit in the church and in salvation/sanctification. Luke’s main teaching is about the Holy Spirit assumes the Spirit in conversion – but focuses on the Spirit as agent of empowerment of speech tongues, prophecy, boldness of proclamation and agent of “staying-power” in persecution.

    3) The old argument that Luke-Acts is simply narrative and not teaching theology is rejected by more and more (not just pentecostal) scholars. In fact Luke’s rendering of Luke and Acts is VERY intentional teaching about the “charismatic Christ” and the “Charismatic community.”

    4) If you’re new to this debate – gonna have to read:
    “Baptism in the Spirit: Luke-Acts and the Dunn Debate” by William P. Atkinson,

    the new 2nd Ed. of Roger Stronstad’s “The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke”,

    and of course anything in Eerdman’s Pentecostal Manifesto’s series – and to the point of your critiques: James KA Smiths “Thinking in Tongues” really drives the boat home – his 5 Key Aspects of a Pentecostal Worldview and his chapter on tongues as a language of resistance and it’s critique of power.

    These actually represent truly Pentecostal Hermenuetics.

    5) The there are bad experiences and “I’ve seen coaching” arguments don’t actually get to the core of the matter. The waiting/praying for the baptism is also modeled by Jesus, the 120 and those who were saved and not yet empowered. Moreover some would call it discipleship – e.g. “have you received the Spirit?” could be considered coaching by Paul.

    enjoying the discussion!

    • says

      “Well” … my answers look like this —

      1) Most of the global Charismatic or lowercase “p” pentecostals do not see tongues as THE evidence of the baptism of the spirit. Normative yes but many would argue anointed mission is the main point.

      — Well, I’m not speaking to that view. I’m speaking to the classic Pentecostal view that I outlined in Part I.

      2) pentecostals would reject your Pauline reading of Luke-Acts. You fundamentally are making straw man arguments. Nothing new here.

      — Nope. Wrong. I spent many years in the Pentecostal church – Church of God & Assmblies of God – two of their best known denominations. What I’ve stated IS there view. I have their doctrinal statements still.

      3) The old argument that Luke-Acts is simply narrative and not teaching theology is rejected by more and more (not just pentecostal) scholars. In fact Luke’s rendering of Luke and Acts is VERY intentional teaching about the “charismatic Christ” and the “Charismatic community.”

      — You’ve obviously not read my books to make such a statement. And you’ve read volumes into 2 brief posts that simply aren’t there. Luke-Acts certainly teaches theology, never argued that. But I am unconvinced by weak hermeneutics and employing special pleading.

      of course anything in Eerdman’s Pentecostal Manifesto’s series – and to the point of your critiques: James KA Smiths “Thinking in Tongues” really drives the boat home – his 5 Key Aspects of a Pentecostal Worldview and his chapter on tongues as a language of resistance and it’s critique of power. These actually represent truly Pentecostal Hermenuetics.

      — Special pleading. The COG and AOG also represent Pentecostal hermeneutics. If Smith says that all Christians must speak in tongues or else they aren’t baptized in the Spirit, then I disagree with him. But I’m not sure he believes that. And if he doesn’t, your arguing against a straw man as none of the posts refute the authenticity of tongues.

      5) The there are bad experiences and “I’ve seen coaching” arguments don’t actually get to the core of the matter. The waiting/praying for the baptism is also modeled by Jesus, the 120 and those who were saved and not yet empowered. Moreover some would call it discipleship – e.g. “have you received the Spirit?” could be considered coaching by Paul.

      — I beg your pardon, but Paul asking a question is hardly coaching or forcing a gift on someone. When I say coaching, I mean literally telling the person how to speak in tongues. I’ve seen it dozens of times.

      Well . . . like I said, if you’re going to make statements, do your homework first if you don’t want push back.

      Let me close by saying that you’ve not make a single point that refuted what I’ve actually stated in my first two posts. You’re arguing as if I’m a cessasionist . . . and I’m not. I’ve actually written pieces against that view.

      I will repeat: I’m not after changing your mind or anyone else’s. I’m simply answering a question from my readers. So no need for the defensive posturing here. If you want to hold to the idea that every Christian who hasn’t spoken in tongues isn’t baptized by the Spirit and thus doesn’t have God’s power to witness (which is the Pentecostal teaching I’m responding to here), then so be it. But it’s discounted by scores of people who have never spoken in tongues and effect God’s power in ways that have gone beyond most Pentecostal/charismatics.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the discussion. I hope the above will help focus you on to what I’m actually saying. :-)

      Part III goes up tomorrow.

      • Shel Boese says

        well to get back to subsequence of Spirit Baptism to me that is the main break between pentecostal and non-pentecostal teaching on the Holy Spirit. With tongues or prophetic speech or newly emboldened missional (using speech) witness (Lucan emphasis is on altered speech/proclamation for outward mission) as the evidence of such a subsequent baptism. The A/G would say tongues is normative – not exclusive initial evidence – this . I was raised and ordained A/G (and mennonite but that’s another story). The C&MA would say there will be evidence of this subsequent baptism/filling – Tozer makes the point no one was ever filled by the Spirit without knowing it.

        One of my main contentions is that the pentecostal doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism is about empowerment for mission first and foremost. That is the whole reason to seek this experience.

  16. Derrick says


    Thank you for all that you do, by God’s grace. I have been edified through countless posts that you have written. This post has struck a particular cord for me, as I first became involved into Christian Culture 10 years ago, and found myself extremely involved and on staff for 2.5 years at a large/influential church in my area. When I first became involved, there was a pretty large emphasis on “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and I even took a class at the Church’s leadership college based all around the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (I will have to search through my archives to see if I still have notes on the section on speaking in tongues, to refresh my memory on the texts they used). I have since shifted greatly theologically as I was exposed to the Gospel and have immersed myself in Christ-centered teaching/reading. I left that church, my job, and the doctrine (including Spirit Baptism) behind. I haven’t spoken in tongues since the day I left (outside of the random habitual prayer where I would then stop myself) simply out of a fear that I was the one manufacturing it. I didn’t experience a *BOOM* instantaneous experience that seems to be the case in scripture. I Instead had to wait for a leader to come pray over me and tell me to just begin “speaking it out” and sounding out different vowels and consonants, and once I latch on to a phrase, just to repeat it and it will begin to take shape. That was nearly 8 years ago. And as I already stated, recently being exposed and responding to the actual Gospel, I just stayed away from that. I am by no means a Cessationist, but I am very hesitant of anything in that realm, because I don’t want to manufacture a fake experience. My 2 questions are this (And I am assuming you will be answering the first one in next weeks post)

    1. In Acts 8, it does seem like the text does supports that there is a subsequent indwelling/experience/baptism for someone who has already believed. “14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Do you believe that there is one baptism (eph 4:5) as Paul states, and that upon conversion, the believer is filled with the Spirit of God? Or is it possible that some believers are not filled with the spirit of God? Will you be explaining this in one of the installments?

    2. Do you speak in tongues, and if so, publicly/privately/how often?

    I hope I made sense and I look forward to your next post!

    • Ann Johnstone says

      Derrick, your experience is a common one. Mine less so. From the age of four, when my mother died, I had no Christian influence in my family life. I took myself, unaccompanied, to Sunday school and church. Sat through boring, uninspired preaching and ritual, knowing there was more. At 13 I was reborn into the Kingdom of God, praying in my bedroom and filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

      Some years later I attended a conservative, Bible-based theological college. A small group of us met at 6am most mornings to worship, pray and seek God. One by one the Holy Spirit moved in our lives, and gave us prophetic words, messages via tongues and their interpretation, and an overwhelming sense of love. Dr. J. Edwin Orr visited our city at the time and several of us attended his meetings. I asked for prayer and was filled with a sense of peace. There was no pressure on me to pray in tongues, but there was a fresh sense of urgency in my prayer life. One night I believed God wanted me to speak in tongues, so I started to worship Him. About an hour later I found my language had changed and I was speaking in an unknown tongue. There had been no outside pressure for me to do so. This rejuvenated the whole of my life.

      The theological college underwent a revival following on from our early morning meetings. Students and lecturers alike were refreshed and even some who had previously opposed ‘charismata’ now testified to having received a renewing and empowering experience of the Holy Spirit. One lecturer who had previously taught against such an experience was so transformed that, on my return from India three years later, I found him leading a city-wide charismatic convention, on fire with the Holy Spirit!

      Although not presently attending a pentecostal church, I will always value and exercise the full spectrum of the gifts of the Spirit, as He enables me to do so.

      Remember, you will never find a fake five cent piece – only valuable denominations are counterfeited. Every good gift has its abuses. And Jesus said, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead … now much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

      And, finally, I love the way I can always expect God to do the unexpected. As C.S. Lewis says of Aslan in the Narnia series, “He is not a tame lion!” We can work out a nice comfortable theology, and He will delight in breaking out of any box we try to put Him in. That’s because He is God.

      • Derrick says


        Parts of your story are actually quite similar to mine. My mother passed away (though when I was 15). I understand and agree that the Father gives us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) And was a text that I used to defend my speaking in tongues (that it wasn’t demonic, or something else, but truly from God). Although I was coached, I wasn’t pressured – at least directly. There was a blanket statement to the crowds anytime we had a special service, “If you don’t get it tonight, don’t give up… Luke 11:13, pastors will be down here to continue praying with you.” and so forth. But at the same time, there is an indirect result of you feeling inferior if you don’t get it/receive it, that I think psychologically, will cause you to manufacture the experience for yourself. (I’m not talking about pentecostals as a whole, just my unique experience). But I too have participated and been a part of revivals, healing services, conferences, and early morning prayers seeking-God with others, majority of the time it would result in an emotional experience/stimulation/fire of God so to speak. But looking back on it now, I can say that truthfully I wasn’t converted to faith in Christ, any pursuit of Christ was for a selfish one. So you can see how my experience would lend to my hesitancy, that being – I was an uncoverted “believer” (ha!) who spoke in tongues. However, I am glad to hear of your experience, and I hope it’s proven beneficial as you continue to pursue Christ, by his Grace. Would you mind specifying some things for me?

        1. When you prophesied (whether in tongue or something that all could hear) what were the prophesies? I have my own experiences in regard to small group setting “word of knowledge” or “word of wisdom” or “prophesy.” I am familiar with the pentecostal teaching of the gifts. So I am curious to what your experiences with those 3 gifts resulted in.

        2. When you were 13 and born into the kingdom of God. What led you to that realization? Can you briefly explain what led you to conversion and faith in Jesus as Lord?

        Your reply is appreciated, Ann :) Thanks!

        • Ann Johnstone says

          Derrick, of courses my initial experience was just between myself and God, so there was no need for interpretation – other than the overwhelming sense of peace He gave me at the time. Since then I have interpreted the tongues of others many times in a public setting, but don’t recall ever giving a public ‘message’ in tongues. Just left it to others :)

          I’ve had many interesting experiences with both tongues and prophecy. Once in a small group a man spoke in tongues and I knew the interpretation/translation because it was in pure Hebrew – a languaage he had never learned. The translation confirmed for him something that had been on his heart, relating to Israel.

          I often use ‘tongues’ when praying for an individual one-on-one, and many times God has given me very specific words of healing that minister directly to that person’s situation. It has been the same when He has given me prophetic words to share – whether it be in a public meeting, a small group, or when praying with one individual. Also, when I am praying privately there have often been occasions when I’ve recognized I needed to pray in tongues as I had no idea how to pray otherwise. I could write a book on the answers God has given me in all of these settings – although of course some of thesse are confidential!

          I explained earlier that I had no direct Christian influence on my life from family or other contacts. My father remarried and things got even worse as my stepmother seemed to resent me. I attended a new school, became close friends with a girl in my class, and she told me she had just become a Christian, even though she also came from a non-Christian family. I wanted to know exactly how that happened as I had been reading books by Patricia St. John such as ‘The Tanglewood Secret’ which talked about the same experience. She told me, and several nights later I prayed alone on my knees, asking Jesus to take over my life. And, of course, that was just the beginning!

  17. Michael Serge says

    Found this article to be sound. I am experiencing a similar “return” to discovering (or rediscovering?) what the Scriptures actually say (former charismatic gone reformed).

    Looking forward to reading the rest of the series. God bless

  18. says

    I am really looking forward to this series, we just had to write a position paper on this topic :)

    Just a couple of clarifications, the Wesleyan notion of entire sanctification, particularly if you are referring to Wesley’s articulation of it is referring to being perfected in love rather than on a hyper-holiness emphasis (though this is implied in the word ‘sanctification’)

    Also, regarding the distinction between prophecy as forthelling vs. foretelling. I absolutely agree with you that prophecy is Christological in nature, and would make the argument that the use of tongues w/ interpretation at Pentecost was a form of prophecy declaring the mighty works of God in Jesus Christ, thus the focus was not on what happened to the believers as much as it was what God had done in and through Jesus. With that said, prophecy in the New Testament is both forthtelling and foretelling. With the example of Agabus in the book of Acts we see him speaking of the famine and what would befall Paul if he continued on to Jerusalem.

    Again, I am excited that you are digging into this, and I am very appreciative of the work that you do. Thanks a bunch!

    • says

      Thx. Yes, prophetic utterances can contain insight into the future, however, they also bring with it a revelation of the present mind of God, which is Christ. I don’ think there’s any disagreement on Wesley’s view of sanctification.

  19. says


    I completely agree with everything you’ve written so far. Many people focus too much on the “power” aspect of God, instead of the written word (ie. Mk 12:24), or the reverse.

    I believe the baptism (immersion) in the Holy Spirit is a real event, and the evidence thereof? Well, the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus (John 16:14), so if we are really immersed in the Spirit of Jesus, won’t we be consumed with Him?

    I’ve never experienced this, but I shall go on asking God for this gift: the gift of the presence of Christ, God Himself.

    • Ann Johnstone says

      Eric, be assured that the Father will give you what you ask for. He delights in giving the best gifts to His children. The packaging of His gifts is often surprising, but when they are unwrapped they far exceed our expectations!

  20. Paul Castleman says

    I was going to ask a question about the context of the Acts situations (2,9, 10, and 19) and their relationship to the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus, but I see you will handle those in the next few posts!

    All I have to say about this today is….WOW!! Thank you and it is awesome…I still think we need to treat this like the NT treats it, don’t you? LOL! Love it Frank!

  21. Summer Smith says

    I’m still having difficulty accepting that there are not 2 differen types of tongues. One that man can other stand (speaking another language that you personally have not learned through the Holy Spirit) and the prayer tongue or prophesy if interpreted in a congregational meeting.

    I was raised pentocostal, so while I can totally see that tongues was focused WAY too much… I am still having difficulty with this series (so far). Its only been a year since my shift of theology so this is still very close to home. And I’m not saying you are underminding tongues or anything, I am simply trying to grasp the theology in reguards to my experince and understanding.

    Also, is that ALL prophecy is?

    • says

      It’s always uncomfortable to reexamine certain things we were taught. But the real issue with all of it is, what does the NT actually say. I simply cannot find evidence for 2 types of tongues in the NT. In addition, Paul never implies or hints at two types in his discourse on tongues.

      Regarding your latter question, unveiling the Lord Jesus Christ under the inspiration and unction of the Spirit is no small thing. We rarely hear real prophetic utterances today. I’ve heard dozens and dozens of sermons and teachings, and yes, many mention Jesus or talk about Him. But very little of it is prophetic. When people do hear a true prophetic word, they respond not by saying, “what a great message or sermon” but “Wow, what a Christ!!! I’m blown away by HIM!”

      “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

  22. Nancy says

    I like it that this is a friendly discussion and that you are not dogmatic on the issue either way but open to the thoughts of others.

    This may be off the topic slightly but I love this quote from A.W. Tozer and can’t resist this opportunity to say thank you for your persistence in pursuing subjects that are often not open for debate. Here is the quote: “If Christianity is to receive rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used. If the church in the second half of [the twentieth] century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will not be one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom.”

    I very much agree with Tozer and doesn’t he paint a picture of Christ in His dealings with the “all knowing” religious leaders of the day. No different than today really. Christ unashamedly challenged their thinking and yet few heeded His warnings. In order for our preconceived ideas to die, we must be challenged beyond them. My thanks to you Frank, for taking up that call. Right or wrong, isn’t even the point but you open up our minds and hearts to think beyond our preconceived ideas and theological persuasions. I think we agree, it’s not important what we know but WHO we know God to be in our individual lives and collectively as the body of Christ, and that shows forth in our testimony to each other and the world. No one denomination or person should ever be arrogant enough to think they have it in the bag on any theological issue. More importantly, many people have been lost to Christ because of what they see … a weak dying body, vs. a vibrant loving people whose very purpose in life is to be life to a dying world, not just a bunch of people who think they know a lot of stuff.

    I think, one day when we are all gathered together in heaven we will, like King Solomon, come to know the futility of our often dogmatic theological beliefs and we will shudder at how miniscule our minds were in pertaining to things of God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. People dying on the street really don’t care whether or not someone can speak in tongues and frankly speaking, as a believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit I don’t and not much of the world does. Just keeping it in perspective and sorry if I digressed too far off the topic and my opinions seem raw.

    • Ann Johnstone says

      Sounds as though the time is ripe for such a prophetic type, Nancy! And, as Tozer said, such preaching won’t be popular!!

    • Vara says

      From the first time I ever started reading anything by Frank, I told my husband, this man is a modern day prophet.

      Don’t let that go to your head, Frank! 😉 I kid.

      As to the topic at hand, I’m thankful you are diving into this topic. I’ve had private conversations with just a couple of selected people on this very topic. It seems a bit of another sacred cow that needs a little BBQing in the Pentecostal/Charasmtic circles.

      I recall receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and being literally goaded into speaking in tongues. It felt contrived and it was. Heard all the same arguments for many “manifestations” of the Holy Spirit. I won’t claim they weren’t God, but I won’t claim they were either. I’ve experienced many gifts of the Spirit in my time, but they are never when I expect them, nor can I conjure them on my own as many in the P/C circles seem to be able to do. In the beginning of my walk with Christ, this often left me feeling like a failure or that I wasn’t good enough for God to use me.

  23. Amos says

    Frank, A lot of beliefs in the penteccostal movement, tongues included are based on experience rather than having scriptural backing as you have stated. More to this is the lack of appreciation in most denominational churches of the progressive nature of Paul’s revelation and the fact that the book of Acts is more of a historical transitional book and if we are to use it for doctrine, then the accounts must be arnchored on the epistles. The Church at large has really never agreed as to where our foundational doctrine should come from, thus human tradition and our biases largely drives the lenses with which we view scripture. I have come to the settled understanding that there are some bibilical truth that most of us will never come to unless we are ready and willing to be open to listen and interrogate everything we hear in the right context, by the bible.

  24. michael teems says

    Sorry Frank, it looks like you are close to doing what every denomination has done threw history. You have formed a private interpretation of the scriptures that was not given to you by God.2Peter1:20 You have created a absolute premise for the little ones to become just like the Corinthians “I am of Paul and I am of Apollos there fore you are carnal and you can’t go any farther 1Cor3:4 If God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow Mal3:6 , Heb 13:8 James 1:17 then encourage the believer to have faith to how the Holy Spirit[God]would lead them and don’t throw water on the Fire Of God. This Holy Ghost and fire should lead you to dieing to your will for his every day, until you understand the Father loves me because I lay down my life for him. A Huios #5207 son, not a Teknon #5043 son.

    We know the Holy Spirit is not for the world, john 14.17 Jesus however is, but not Holy Spirit If we have over come our pride and we have asked Father for more and more of the Holy Spirit we know he has given it to us Luke 11.13. Did these followers ask in obedience? Acts 5:23 and we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” The Holy Spirit I agree is not about speaking in tongues even if Paul spoke more than all of you. 1 Corinth 14:18 Paul also said let the ignorant remain ignorant but forbid not the speaking in tongues 1 Corinth 14.29 It is however about humility. God gives Grace (his empowering presence to accomplish what he has called us to do. Die) and he stands in opposition to the believer in pride.

    • says

      Dear Michael. How am I suggesting a “private interpretation” of Scripture? What I’m proposing here has been echoed by other scholars. So there’s nothing private about it as far as I could see.

      I would also take issue with your comment that I’m “doing what all denominations have done” because 1) many denominations aren’t built on private interpretation, but an emphasis by a community on a certain truth and 2) I’m not trying to build a movement or denomination (monumentally disinterested in either), I’m simply answering a question from my readers on what I think of the baptism of the Spirit.

      Hope that helps.

  25. Jeff says

    These are some very wise and helpful insights. I agree with your basic conviction that ‘tongues’ does not necessarily mark reception of the Spirit, so the thoughts below are not meant to undermine this.

    There are some points you make that do seem less helpful to me, though. In several instances, you make an argument from silence that could just as easily be turned around: “there’s no indication that the 3,000…spoke in tongues.” Well, there’s also no indication that they didn’t (same with Tim and Titus). Pentecostals point this out with regular frequency to indicate that it’s not the ‘number of people’ or ‘instances’ that reveal the expectation of tongues with the Spirit’s arrival, but Luke’s intention in using certain stories as paradigmatic (Acts 2 & 10, especially). Do you think Luke’s literary agenda is a useful criterion in evaluating this specific question?

    I also wonder about your statement that the NT doesn’t “explicitly encourage believers to seek tongues.” I guess technically this is perhaps correct. But, doesn’t 1 Cor 14:5 at least suggest this as a legitimate conclusion? By saying that he would “more” want them to prophesy, it doesn’t erase his expressed desire for them to speak in tongues, does it? And, I am assuming here that you do not consider Romans 8:26 or Jude 20 as references to glossalalia (which if they are, might change the equation – at least with Jude being a part of a kind of exhortation to believers). Am I right about your take on that? Or, perhaps this is a part of a future post? I know, I know…it’s a series. :)

    • says

      Did you say it was a series? :-) What you say about the 3,000 is correct. I doesn’t prove they didn’t. But that’s a moot point because, remember, I’m explaining why I don’t buy the Pentecostal thesis … which says they ALL spoke in tongues emphatically. Thus why I made that specific observation, which is a strong one. On the latter, in the post itself I do say that it’s not a problem to desire tongues, stating why. But if tongues are to sought after as the Pentecostal thesis suggests, we would expect to see an emphasis on that. Hope that helps.

  26. Andy Lancaster says

    Hi Frank, thanks for this! This comes with MUCH LOVE, though its not always easy to feel that by e mail. Please don’t think I am angry or accusing, but, some of the arguments you gave feel like they are arguments from silence. As a third generation Pentecostal Pastor I too challenge some of the more tenuous scriptural applications; none the less it is the biblical experience of millions today that speaking in tongues is a reality.
    Although it may not be “The Sign” of baptism, (“and they will prophecy)”it is none the less extremely valuable both in prayer and worship and is a tremendous joy and encouragement to millions.
    The argument from scripture remains true; that what ever happened it was clearly seen to have happened by those around them. Many people abuse teaching and preaching, but we don’t stop doing that. So lets always seek to believe for more of God and encourage people to desire more of His Spirit, but to do so wisely and sensitively.
    It is really important that we don’t simply put God in boxes that we understand, or limit Him (either way) to our own proof texts. Let God be God, and let Him do even what we cant pin down, if it is His will. Still love Ya, Andy.

    • says

      I think you’re missing the argument. These aren’t arguments from silence. They are rather pointing out that the Pentecostal thesis is based on many assumptions . . . or to put it another way, they are based on silence. So I’m saying, “What it claims isn’t there. You have to insert those assumptions into the text.” Furthermore, most of the arguments aren’t based on silence. Paul says not all speak in tongues. That’s as plain as it comes. One has to create all sorts of exegetical gymnastics … all of which are based on silence … to make it mean two different kinds of tongues. See the difference?

      (Said in love without any anger . . . 😉 )

    • Ann Johnstone says

      Andy, your words are like a breath of fresh air to me! Just because I am not currently attending a pentecostal church (I’m fellowshipping at a Vineyard church at present)does not mean I am less enthusiastic about the pentecostal experience – you can see my posts above. Having studied theology, I do not believe we can use this to put God in a box. He never ceases to amaze me through His creativity and delight in surprising us with His ‘out of the box’ ways of answering our deepest prayers and fulfilling His word. So thank you Andy for your encouraging words!

  27. Rick L says

    Frank, thank you for this series. It is much needed in the church today and often avoided. We need to discuss these aspects of our faith.
    Keep bringin’ the heat, brother!

  28. Troy says

    Perhaps in your forthcoming posts you will interact with scholars in the pentecostal tradition such as Frank Macchia, Robert Menzies, William P. Atkinsond, and Roger Stronstad. Are you familiar with their works?

    • says

      This series is written at a popular level for a popular audience. It’s not a scholarly treatment. However, it does interact with the main tenants of the traditional Pentecostal thesis, which is reflected in the Pentecostal academic community. These gentleman are welcome to come on the blog and give their feedback if they like. Again, I’m simply answering a question from my readers. Not setting out to do anything more than that. 😉

      • Troy says

        I understand. I’m just afraid that you would end up interacting with old, outdated materials on the subject by addressing the popular level and audience. After all, I have strong reservations that the popular audience you are addressing has any kind of a developed, academic perspective on this subject. Granted, it would be ungracious of me or anyone else to hold you accountable to meet expectations that are beyond the scope of the purpose for the series. However, please keep in mind that when I think of the Pentecostal academic community, I am not primarily thinking of pastors in denominations such as COG and AOG. They might be included, but I’d like to see these denominations interact with the works of the scholars I’ve mentioned above as well. In the meantime, I await your forthcoming entries in this series. Blessings brother!

        • says

          Hi Troy: I’m not sure how familiar you are with my work, but I’m someone who interacts with both academia and the popular world of Christianity. Two of my books were co-written with a well-known seminary professor who lives and breathes academia.

          And I’ve had public debates and discussions with one of the best NT scholars and theologians alive today. Just click on the Arhcives. One of them is Craig Keener, a noted charismatic.

          I’m also in touch with many Christians outside the religious system. A third category.

          The fact is, a relatively small portion of Pentecostal Christians read these scholarly books. That includes pastors of Pentecostal churches. The dominating view on the ground outside the academy is the view I’ve stated and that I’m responding to. It is the view that millions of Pentecostals believe. The classic view is also reinforced by most of the Pentecostal and Charismatic televangelists who are watched by millions of Christians around the world.

          In short, I’m speaking to the masses. Not the small number of people who are writing on the subject in a small niche that reaches very few people on the ground.

          But to your point, it would be nice if Christians from every stripe and tribe would take advantage of some of the more sophisticated work on theology and biblical doctrine that’s going on today. The gap is quite large. And therein lies the rub.

          Hope that helps.

          Thx. And I hope you aren’t going to be a stranger here. 😉

  29. says

    My journey of faith began in a classic Pentecostal setting, and it remained so for a long time. During all those years I heard numerous interpretations of tongues. Not a single one of them was a prayer, praise offering or some or other form of “speaking to God”. They were exactly the same in form and content as the prophecies we heard. And so I always wondered whether these interpretations were in fact incorrectly timed prophecies (do you get such a thing?) or evidences that our gifts were not on the same par as their first century counterparts. It also made me wonder about the authenticity of the tongues. I eventually embraced cessationism to override the cognitive dissonance, but it proved to be a cop-out. And so I still wonder…

    • says

      You might want to re-read the post because (1) Acts 19 *is* mentioned twice in the post, and (2) there’s a clear statement in bold that says the texts in Acts where tongues appears will be treated more in the next installment. This is a series. Not a stand-alone.

  30. Robyn G says

    I cannot argue with you so far :) Not that I want to. I remember years ago a sweet co-worker friend of mine who claimed a private prayer language told me that it is a language that Satan cannot understand therefore her prayers would be safe from him and her fears and weaknesses would not be revealed to him to make me more vulnerable to his attacks. She advised me to never verbalize my fears or weaknesses; that Satan is not all knowing like God, which I believe, and therefore cannot read our thoughts and our heart…only what we allow him to know of us. I thought that was interesting as so many personal prayers of historical believers are poured out in the pages of the Bible. I still lay it all out there for GOD and trust him to be my protector knowing that Satan always has to go through GOD before he can touch me.

  31. says

    Great points Frank. Thanks for sharing your understanding on these issues. Looking forward to the rest of the series. By the way, I am enjoying Jesus-A Theography. Thanks for all you are doing to encourage the body of Christ to exalt Jesus.

    • says

      Can’t answer your question as there’s nothing in the post that says the Spirit is “a lesser God.” The Spirit is part of the triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit. This isn’t a post about the triune nature of God. See “Jesus Manifesto” if you’re interested in my thoughts on that discussion. There’s also a post on the triune nature of God in the Archives.

    • Robyn G says

      Michael, though Frank understandably won’t address the question for the reasons he stated…may I comment. I do not have my Bible passages readily available…but the The One True GOD who is self-describe as triune…is equal with Himself, of course, but GOD Himself has specific purposes for each member of Himself…and I do recall scripture that taught that the Spirit exalts and points to Christ not to the Spirit Himself which some interpret as claiming the Spirit as “less” however the Spirit is not less just as scripture states that he who blasphemes or speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven but he who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven…both are equal and valuable with different purposes…no one comes to the Father lest he draw them by the Spirit through Christ…that’s the beauty of the Trinity…all are equal and necessary but with specific purpose as GOD Himself intends.

      • says

        Michael’s question is unasnwerable because it made false assumptions. It’s a kin to asking me or you, “when are you going to stop being an atheist?” Even so, I did point him to where I’ve exalted the Spirit as God. So I wouldn’t say I won’t address it, as I did. 😉 As I said at the front, if someone is going to take the time to write a comment or ask a question, they need to do their homework. If not, they’re going to get push back from me or others.

        • Rob g says

          Frank I love this post my caution is that doing so we don’t somehow cause people to be against the baptism of the Holy Spirit which I do believe is a valid experience out side of salvation. I believe that salvation is experiential as with the baptism of the Holy Spirit what the initial sign to that experience is up for debate hence Charles finny had a experience that led to the second great awakening. Also from my experience the gift of tounges was very helpful with deliverance in setting people free from the demonic.

          • says

            Rob: why would you think that anything I’ve said so far would cause anyone to be “against” the baptism of the Spirit? You do understand that I’m arguing against the Pentecostal doctrine that says you have to speak in tongues to be baptized in the Spirit. I’ve not said one word against what the Scriptures teach the baptism of the Spirit is . . . which I’m going to explain more fully in future installments.

            I’m glad you find the gift of tongues to be valuable. But will you accept that many Christians have done spiritual warfare successfully without ever speaking in tongues?

            I’ve not addressed this fully, but there’s a certain elitism that comes with this doctrine. If you don’t speak in tongues, you’re lacking. Or you’re “less.”

            I challenge that on biblical and experiential grounds. And I’m someone who has operated in every spiritual gift mentioned in the beginning of 1 Cor. 12. . . just in case someone was wondering about that.

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