A Sidekick's Blog

The Gift of Tongues

April 19, 2014
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While still active in the charismatic movement, I became disillusioned with the obvious disparity between the bible descriptions and accounts of the charismatic gifts, especially the gift of tongues. If it is supposed to be “a sign – not to believers, but to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22), why had I never heard an unbeliever interpret a message in tongues at church? If it is a “prayer language,” then why did we use it so extensively as part of our corporate worship when 1 Corinthians 14 tells us not to? I was overwhelmed with questions and suspicious of even my own experience. So I began a study of the bible and of early church history in order to determine the true biblical nature and purpose of the charismatic gifts. I was not seeking to prove or disprove anything, only to discover the true nature and purpose of the gifts. Here are the results of that study:

The Truth About

The Gift of Tongues

©1999 by Robin Arnaud
used by permission of the author – me!

While still active in the charismatic movement, I became disillusioned with the obvious disparity between the bible descriptions and accounts of the charismatic gifts, especially the gift of tongues. If it is supposed to be “a sign – not to believers, but to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22), why had I never heard an unbeliever interpret a message in tongues at church? If it is a “prayer language,” then why did we use it so extensively as part of our corporate worship when 1 Corinthians 14 tells us not to? I was overwhelmed with questions and suspicious of even my own experience. So I began a study of the bible and of early church history in order to determine the true biblical nature and purpose of the charismatic gifts. I was not seeking to prove or disprove anything, only to discover the true nature and purpose of the gifts. Here are the results of that study:

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The PURPOSE of Tongues

God is a God of order and design (1 Cor 14:33). When He does something, He does so with a plan and purpose. The Lord did not speak in parables, for instance, just to be clever or to appear profound. Scripture teaches that He used parables with the express intent of hiding the truth from the non-elect (Mark 4:11,12) and revealing it to the lowly (1 Cor 1:26-29). Likewise, miracles and gifts are to be understood as having a particular purpose. They served as signs validating the message which they accompanied (John 20:30,31; Acts 2:43, 4:16; 2 Cor 12:12; Gal 3:5; Rom 15:17-19). The purpose of the impartation of gifts by the Apostles (both scripture and subsequent church history demonstrate that the gifts were bestowed only by the Apostles and no one else – ever) was to validate the Apostles’ teachings.

Why do some bible teachers claim that tongues is Satanic?

Paul warned Timothy that in latter times many would fall away from the faith, giving heed to “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” Since Christ rendered Satan and all his demons powerless by His death and resurrection, the only power demons now have is the power of deceit. Demons are deceiving angels. They get people to listen to their lies by making their lies attractive and alluring. Paul called them “seducing spirits” (1 Tim 4:1). A major reason so many folks believe it is Satanic is because there are so many “gifts” which do not validate the Apostles‘ teaching. Remember the slave girl with “a spirit of divination” who followed the Apostle Paul crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation!” (Acts 16:16-18). It turned out that her “prophesyings” were the work of a demon in spite of her message! Paul cast the demon from her and she stopped prophesying. How could Paul tell that the servant girl’s “gift” was demonic? Two reasons:

1. No Apostle had imparted the gift to her, and

  1. Her prophesyings used Paul’s ministry to validate HER message instead of the other way around! They served a purpose directly opposed to the one intended for genuine gifts of the Spirit.

Charismatic gifts today are often used to “validate” someone else’s ministry or teaching – someone whose teachings are NOT those of the apostles. They use the Apostles’ writings and borrow their words, but they use them to give credibility to their OWN ministry. A demon did exactly that in Acts 16! So it stands to reason that a seducing spirit would use that same tactic today – not to confirm the apostles’ doctrine, but the doctrines of a modern-day messenger who teaches something much different.

-The Bible’s Description of Tongues-

I. The FORM of Tongues in Scripture: Whenever we see tongues mentioned in the bible, it ALWAYS takes the form of a structured foreign language – never “ecstatic gibberish.” One common and persistent peculiarity of many Charismatics is the teaching that tongues-speaking is “of men and angels” – even the language of Heaven itself! This idea is lifted from 1 Corinthians 13:1 where Paul writes, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels…” Even a casual reading of this passage demonstrates Paul’s use of hyperbole as a literary device. “Even if I could” rather than “because I can.” Looking at the verse further: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not love…” Paul was not asserting that he could speak in the language of the angels any more than he was asserting that he had no love! 1 Cor 13:1 is no justification for claims that tongues can be “the language of the angels.” And even if it were so, how could an unbeliever interpret it (14:22)?

A) In Acts 2, many people from many places heard the gospel preached In their own dialects. Peter told the crowd that that event was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28ff), which makes absolutely no mention of tongues at all but speaks of prophecy, dreams, visions, and signs. Paul later wrote that tongues are “for a SIGN… to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22).

B) In every event subsequent to the one in Acts 2 where tongues was present, “the Holy Spirit fell on them… “Just as He did on us at the beginning (Acts 11:15-17),” which must mean that tongues on those occasions were like the tongues in Acts 2 – a verifiable foreign language, a sign to unbelievers.

C) The Pentecost form of tongues is the same as for all later forms of tongues-speaking. Every reference in the bible to tongues speaking employs the same basic terminology, implying similarity of form.

D) The Corinthian episodes are defined in terms fully compatible with those in Acts. Paul writes, “no language is without meaning” (1 Cor 14:10). He compares tongues to worldly languages and asserts that all of them have coherent meaning. Tongues, biblically, is certainly not the incoherent babbling gibberish that I witnessed in my charismatic and Pentecostal churches.

 

II. The CONTENT of Tongues in Scripture: Tongues was a revelational gift – a vehicle of revelation from God to man. Tongues brought revelation from God as surely as the gift of prophecy brought revelation from God to the prophets and apostles of old. Thus, tongues must be understood in scripture to have brought inspired, inerrant, and authoritative communication from God to man:

A) The first occurrence of tongues is defined as prophetic by Peter (Acts 2:11-18).

B) Tongues are almost always related to other revelational gifts in scripture (Acts 2, 19, 1 Cor 13 and 14). In Acts 19 they “spoke with tongues and prophesied.” In 1 Corinthians tongues are dealt with at great length in association with prophecy. The difference was that prophecy was the ability to speak infallibly the will of God in one’s own language, while tongues was the ability to speak infallibly the will of God in a language one had never learned. In both cases it could interpreted by UNBELIVERS.

C) Tongues are specifically said to be a speaking of mysteries (1 Cor 14:2). When the word mystery is used in scripture it is always in terms of revelation. A mystery spoken becomes a revelation.

The content of tongues, then, is seen to be infallible, inerrant, inspired revelation of God’s mysteries to man. The tongues we see today among Charismatics and Pentecostals surely does not measure up to this lofty biblical standard. In fact in every service I ever attended in twenty years as a charismatic where tongues was used, it never took the form of a discernable foreign language, and its “interpretation” was never treated as an infallible revelation from God. It used to trouble me very deeply that a direct word from Heaven could be treated so lightly by the hearers – instead of writing it down and being careful to obey it and publish it, the people would nod and say, “Thanks, Lord, for that good word,” treating it more like a divine Hallmark card greeting from Heaven than a revelation from the Sovereign Master of the universe. The Almighty is not sitting on His throne blowing kisses to people on the earth – His word should be treated with the utmost care and held with extreme reverence – just as we claim to treat the bible. But tongues are not treated that way today.

III. The Purpose of Tongues in scripture: As I mentioned at the beginning, God is a God of order and design and when He acts, He does so with a purpose and plan. We see that parables had a specific purpose (Mark 4:11,12); that miracles have a particular purpose (Jn 20:30-31, Acts 2:43 and 4:16, Rom 15:17-19, 2 Cor 12:12), and likewise that the gift of tongues served a very specific purpose: They validated the Apostles’ message, and they were an anticipated sign of covenant curse upon unbelieving Israel.

A) Tongues were a sign to validate the message of the apostles (Mark 16:17), and Paul’s in particular (Acts 10:44-46, 19:6). ONLY the Apostles had the authority and ability to impart the gifts to others through the laying on of hands or prayer. None of the people they laid hands on could pass he Holy Spirit or the gifts on to others. There is not a single instance in scripture nor in subsequent church history to support the contention that anyone other than the Apostles could “impart” the Holy Spirit and His gifts. Those who received these sign-gifts at the hands of the Apostles were not able to pass them along to others. If they were, then it would not have been necessary to send Apostles to Samaria in order for them to receive the Holy Spirit (and other examples). The example of Ananias (Acts 9:10-19) is often used to attempt to refute that argument, but the text does not say that Saul spoke in tongues or prophesied. It says only that his eyesight was restored and he was baptized in water. We don’t hear any more about Saul until way up there in chapter 13, where the Apostles laid hands on him and Barnabus. The fact that Paul passed the charismata to others was one of the proofs that he was to be counted among the Apostles (Acts 19, 2 Cor 12:12, Eph 3:7ff). It was extremely important to establish Paul’s apostleship with “the signs of an Apostle (2 Cor 12:12),” because God’s inclusion of the Gentiles was such a radical departure from the old covenant. It was also important that Paul be counted as an Apostle because Paul wrote most of the New Testament. That is why many of his letters to the churches open with the phrase, “Paul, an apostle by the will of God…”

B) Tongues were a sign of covenant curse upon unbelieving Israel.Since this is probably the most neglected and most misunderstood purpose of tongues, it bears a lot more explaining, so be sure to examine these scriptures closely and in context: Paul explains this use of the sign in 1 Cor 14:21-22:

In the Law it is written, ‘by men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers will I speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord. So then, tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign not to unbelievers, but to those who believe” (NASB).

Bear with a lengthy explanation now:

1) The Old Testament teaches that Israel was a special people to God. He was bound in a special covenantal love to Israel alone among the nations of the earth (Deut 7:6-8, Amos 3:2), thus only they received His law (Deut 4:10-13, Psalm 147:19-20), His oracles (Rom 3:2), the covenantal sign of circumcision (Rom 3:1) – indeed, all the promises and means of covenant life (Rom 9:4-5, Eph 2:12).

2) This covenant with Israel was a two-edged sword. Covenant life was one of both privilege and responsibility. Obedience brought both spiritual and material blessings, and disobedience brought spiritual and material curses (see Deut 28:1-68 which describes alternate covenant blessings and covenant curses).

3) Israel was a nation of people accustomed to signs (Matt 12:38, 1 Cor 1:20-22). Within the covenant contract they were given warning signs which would serve to indicate that the calamities which would befall them were indeed the judgments of God on them. One of the most often-seen signs was the loss of national freedom and self-rule (Deut 28:49). It is also referred to in similar context in Jer 5:15 and Isa 28:11. In scripture after scripture, foreign tongues was a sign of covenant curse on Israel.

Most often it was the language of the foreign occupiers of Israel, but at the dawn of the New Covenant it becomes especially poignant. All of this becomes relevant to the gift of tongues in the New Testament by the fact that Paul applies the sign of covenantal curse (Isa 28:11) to his explanation of the gift of tongues in 1 Cor 14:21-22. The fact that Paul lifted this scripture out of a passage dealing with covenantal curse is extremely significant! To grasp it’s impact you need to look at the reference Paul is quoting in his 1 Cor 14 discourse – Isa 28. In the very heart of God’s rebuke against Israel is the verse Paul quotes… the one that gives the sign of the curse (verse 11). Of course the Isaiah passage referred to the impending Assyrian invasion of Israel, but the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applies it further to the future and climactic judgment upon Israel subsequent to their rejection of Christ.

4) Christ, the “Messenger of the Covenant,” (Mal 3:1) and “Ratifier of the New Covenant” (Luke 22:20), came to, lovingly courted, and taught Israel. Yet Israel refused His overtures (Matt 23:37, Acts 28:17-31, Rom 9:31-32 and 10:3). The generation to which Christ ministered was rapidly filling up the measure of the guilt of their forefathers (Matt 23:32). Jesus even went to far as to tell them that that single generation would bear the guilt of all righteous blood shed on earth – from Abel to Zecharaiah (verses 35 and 36). It is a judgment they themselves repeated at His trial: “His blood be upon us and our children! (Matthew 27:25)” Therefore, that generation (Matt 23:36 and 24:43) was to receive the fullness of God’s covenantal curse: God would send Roman armies (Luke 21:20) to raze the temple (Matt 24:2) which the Lord left desolate (Matt 23:38). Thus the sign of judgment (foreign tongues) was given to Israel for a period of 40 years between Christ’s ascension and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70 AD. God was turning from Israel to the Gentiles (Matt 23:37-38; Rom 9:24-29 and 10:19-21)!

5) Tongues had a particular application with regard to Jewish unbelief in light of the New Covenant. In Acts 2 the Jews in particular were called to attention (verse 12), after which they were charged with having slain the Lord of Glory (v 22-24). The double-edged sword of covenant curse fell hard upon then, with the result that many were cut to the heart and repented (Acts 2:37) to follow Christ.

6) The Corinthian church itself is further glaring evidence that tongues was a sign of covenantal curse on Israel! Acts 18 records that Paul’s 18-month-lomg ministry at Corinth (verse 11) was characterized by extremely heated opposition from the Jews. While teaching at the Corinthian synagogue, Jewish opponents resisted the gospel to the point of blasphemy, causing Paul to call down a curse upon them (verse 6). Resistance to the gospel was so violent in Corinth that the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, promising special protection from harm (verses 12 and 13). In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul makes reference in the opening verses to the Jews and their desire for signs (1 Cor 1:22). Paul’s citation of Isaiah 28 should be decisive proof. In chapter 10 Paul dealt at length with “our fathers” and their disobedience and judgment, and warned the Corinthians of the same predicament if they weren’t careful (10:1-12).

Tongues then, were “for a sign” – a sign to unbelieving, Christ-rejecting Israel – and in particular, the generation that had murdered Christ. Tongues was God’s prophesied and anticipated sign of covenantal curse.

IV. The transience of Tongues in Scripture: Because scripture demonstrates what the PURPOSE of tongues was – to validate the APOSTLES’ ministry and to serve as the covenantal sign to Israel, it necessarily follows that once those purposes were achieved, the sign would cease. Even those who believe in modern-day tongues speaking agree that the canon is complete – thus they cannot possibly use the gift today in the same sense that it was used throughout the New Testament – inerrant, infallible oracles of God to man.

Modern-day manifestations of charismatic gifts defy the biblical and historical form, content, and purpose described in scripture, and thus it is clear that today’s form of tongues is an unbiblical counterfeit.

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Copyright 1999 Robin Arnaud.

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Holy Spirit Baptism – Part Three

April 15, 2014
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This is Part Three of a four-part series on Holy Spirit baptism. Please read Parts One and Two before jumping into the middle of the story here!

Part Two ended where the great experiment – “the Church in Fort Lauderdale” – began. A link at the end of Part Two describes the experiment and it’s tragic results which linger even today. The principle founders of the movement have expressed regret for the damage, at least as far as to say, “we did a right thing a wrong way.” I am here to bear witness that they did a wrong thing, period. They failed to clearly distinguish spiritual authority from other forms of authority; most notably domestic authority, the authority of conscience, and the priestly authority that belongs to every believer in “a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6).” It was wrongly assumed that disciples were under obligation to their master until released by him. That was never so, even in bible times. Jesus’ disciples were free to walk away at any time, and in fact, many did. In this tyrannical experiment, the “penalty” for departure was condemnation – equivalent to excommunication, “let him be to you as a tax collector (Matthew 18:17).” Entire churches that saw this scheme for what it was were labeled as being “in deception,” and members of those churches who followed the movement were called upon to renounce their churches and be assigned to a new “shepherd.”

My church was soon to become one of them. My old middle school crush didn’t even know that I existed, and her dad’s preaching didn’t make sense to me anyway. So when some of the other kids from the Monday night teaching time who sat on the floor with me, literally at Bob Mumford’s feet, invited me to their church, I was anxious to go. It was a Southern Baptist church, traditional, with a piano, organ, and choir just like a “real” church was supposed to have. And it had a supercharged youth group that was oh-so-Spirit-filled, just like the few kids from my first church! It would be almost like going back to my first church, except with no danger of being kicked out for speaking in tongues! Andy, the youth pastor, was dynamic and “wise in the things of the Spirit,” and the youth group under his leadership grew large and dynamic as well. One of the church buildings was designated “The Cup,” and Friday night meetings there took the form of youth-led rock ‘n’ roll Charismatic bliss where “the gifts of the Spirit” flowed freely. Manifestations of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, and knowledge ran almost amok. It was so very different from the Sunday services, which were more traditional, but peppered with more modest “manifestations” during the song and prayer times before the sermon. The Cup was dark, crowded, and exuberant with runaway Charismatic indulgence that reminded me of my first visit to a Pentecostal church, but less put-on and artificial. I had met Andy and some of the other kids before at the Monday night “Mumford meetings,” but Friday nights at The Cup were wild and wonderfully “anointed.” I didn’t find out until later that Andy was among those being trained as a “shepherd” for the new Church in Fort Lauderdale, nor did I have any hint of the heartbreak that was soon to follow.

Before I get to that part of the story I want to convey what we kids meant when we talked about “the anointing,” or about so-and-so being “a really anointed teacher,” or “that song is really anointed.” For us, a person or event that was “anointed” was one that had a special spiritual power. “Wow couldn’t you just feel the anointing Friday night!” Anointing imparted a kind of righteous ecstasy that was palpable. The thrill of a teaching with implications we hadn’t considered before, or a song that made us feel especially intimate with God, or a teacher whose presentations prompted intense feelings of unqualified weal and delight – this was “the anointing.” It was a sure indication to us that God had empowered and approved the person or thing that was taking place. If one could feel the anointing, one accepted it as having been God-sent and God-empowered.

The Scriptures, however, hold no such definition of the term. Most often the words anoint and anointing in the both Testaments refer to the physical application of medicine, balm, water, or oil to an injured part or a sick person. Sometimes it means “mingled” or “mixed,” as in unleavened cakes “anointed” with oil in Exodus 29:2. In a more spiritual sense, anointing was done to designate people or things as set apart, or holy to the Lord, as in the ordination of Levitical priests (Exodus 29:29) or Samuel anointing Saul and David as kings of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1 and 16:12-13 – and note in the account of Saul’s anointing that he prophesied!). In the New Testament, other than its primary meaning of applying or mixing, it is similarly used to represent ordination or setting apart for God (Luke 4:18, Acts 4:27, 2 Corinthians 1:21). We find it applied generally to all who are in Christ, representative of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, applying God’s word to our hearts, bringing it to remembrance in time of need. As oil is applied to outward things, so the word of God is applied to the inner man by the Holy Spirit. Through the Apostle John, the Holy Spirit writes,

These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him (1st John 2:27, NASB).

The way we know whether a thing is approved by God is not from the giddy feeling we get from having our ears tickled with seductive words. We know God’s approval because of the application of the written and infallible word of God by the Holy Spirit! The anointing, as it applies in believers, is upon their ears and feet, so to say:

…he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth his own, he goes ahead of them and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:3-5, NASB).

So how is it that so many of the Lord’s sheep follow false teachers? One would have to ignore and suppress the anointing that John described above in order to do so! But tickle their ears a bit, and many will do just that:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2nd Timothy 4:3-4, NASB).

The genuine anointing of God in every believer is what keeps calling them back to the truth, enabling them to walk away from myths and fables to dine in the fields of lush grass that our true Shepherd leads us to. To many Charismatics, “anointing” only means having their ears tickled! But they would rarely admit it.

When all of the “shepherds” in “the Church at Fort Lauderdale” were trained and established in little flocks of their own, all accountable to the three “Apostles” of the church, the call went out from the “Apostles of the Church at Fort Lauderdale” that any church that was not “in submission” to the larger Church at Fort Lauderdale was “in deception,” and those who were truly following the will of God would come out from those churches and take their place under an approved “undershepherd.” My church did not play along. Andy left West Lauderdale Baptist Church, and took most of the Friday night “Cup kids” with him and formed a commune under “the Church at Fort Lauderdale.” While I must confess that I immensely enjoyed having my ears tickled, even at age 14 I knew the voice of my true Shepherd and refused to follow Andy – and almost all of my friends with him – any further. Besides, there was plenty of ear tickling to be enjoyed right where I was. I stayed put, but was lonelier than ever. I watched from a distance as old friends from the Cup were exploited, abused, and abandoned when they broke. The great guitar player I always tried to emulate had gone with Andy. And in less than a year’s time, had entered into a homosexual relationship with another member of “the Church at Fort Lauderdale.”

The youth group at West Lauderdale Baptist had to rebuild, almost from scratch. Very few of the youth had remained, not wanting to miss out on the Grand Anointed Plan that was unfolding. Of those who stayed behind, I was the youngest, I think, and the loneliest of them. The loss of those friendships left me in profound danger of further exploitation, yet God had spared me from the fate of those who left, which was far worse.

In Part Four I will finally get to a scriptural analysis of the doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism, and the role of the spiritual gifts according to scripture. Stay tuned!


ExCharisma: Spirit Baptism, Part One

April 10, 2014
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When I first heard the gospel of Jesus, I was eight years old. It was in a Good News Club, held at a schoolmate’s house nearly right across the street from my Elementary school. I couldn’t say no to Him. In fact I was delighted with the idea of being adopted by God Himself, and becoming Jesus’ little brother!

Being the only believer in Christ in a large, blended household, I got no guidance as to what to do next, but I knew that Jesus People went to church. So I got rides to church from the family that hosted my Good News Club. It was a little independent Presbyterian church about 5 miles or so from my house. Too far for an 8-year-old to walk, but I actually did walk there many times in during the next few years. I brought a few other members of my household to church and introduced them to Christ there.

Fast forward to middle school. Almost a teenager, looking up to the high school kids and wanting so much to be cool like they were. But mostly I wanted to be “on fire for God” like they were! They talked about God all the time. Not only in church but everywhere they went. They were completely in love with Jesus and determined to be fully His. They were perfect, powerful, sanctified, pure and holy saints in my eyes. But I was struggling just to make sense of the bible. Prayer was my strong suit, probably owing to the hardships I faced in school and at home. Asking God for stuff was easy. Working to understand and apply His word was hard. But these super-saintly older kids had it down pat somehow, and when I kept asking over and over again what their secret was, I was finally given access to the Inside Secret. And I was told that I must tell no one outside the elites in the youth group, because “our church doesn’t believe in this stuff and we could get thrown out.”

I was stunned that any church could condemn and outlaw whatever it was that could make teenagers so wonderfully dedicated to God and burning with passion for Him! Why wouldn’t every Christian want to know, and be on fire for God too? I was soon to find out why their secret was so divisive and dangerous. And soon after that, the pastor of the church joined us. And not long after that, all of us – including the pastor – were kicked out of the church. We kids called our secret “Holy Spirit baptism.” The pastor called it “second blessing.” The church called it heresy.

The church was like,

and the older kids, now “outed” for standing with their pastor, were like,

And I was like,

“Holy Spirit baptism,” according to the supercharged, on-fire-for-God kids that I so much wanted to be like, is a second “experience,” following regeneration and conversion, in which a qualified seeker receives the Holy Spirit in greater measure, empowering the recipient with power for supernatural service to God and to the Church. And they really did mean supernatural. One might get the gift of healing, or miracle-working faith, or special wisdom and knowledge, or prophecy. But everyone got a special, devil-proof “prayer language (see my previous post).”

I didn’t “search the Scriptures to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).” I just figured they had to be so, since all the super-spiritual, on-fire-for-God kids had received it. I had even heard some of their prayer language, and it seemed completely believable and sensible. I wanted this power, and my prayer language, more than anything!

Our defrocked pastor moved back up North somewhere and we never heard from him again. Most of the super-spiritual kids went off to college or got jobs in other towns, or got married and moved on. Being the youngest of the Black Sheep from our old church, and still in middle school, I was suddenly without a church and any way to look for one. But fairly near my house was a Pentecostal church. I had heard that they were really on fire for God and had their prayer language too, so I visited one Sunday. But they scared the snot out of me with their excesses and I ran out of there like a scalded dog. All alone again.

Just at the time I was praying desperately for a church, three bible teachers came to our town with a vision for a city-wide church, just like in the bible! We were going to make “the church in Fort Lauderdale,” just like “the church at Ephesus,” “the church at Thessalonica,” and “the church at Phillipi.” One big church, undivided, all with Spirit baptism and supernatural gifts just like in the book of Acts! Everyone knows Ephesus didn’t have a Baptist church, a Lutheran church, a Presbyterian church and all that. There was one church in a city. One glorious, powerful, militant, world-changing church in every city where God was really moving. Ours would be the first citywide church since the book of Acts! A jumping-off point for worldwide revival that would hasten the Second Coming. All the cool kids I wanted to be like would miss out on this “ground floor” move of God, but I got to be right in the thick of it. I was thrilled beyond words! But it was okay, because I would soon have my own new prayer language to perfectly express my gratitude to God.

Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon! I’ll tell you all about Holy Spirit baptism and the Shepherding movement in Fort Lauderdale.