THERE’S MORE-GOING DEEPER WITH GOD

BY:  ROBERT FITTS 

2009

 

TABLE of CONTENTS

 

CHAPTERS

TITLE

PAGE

 

FOREWORD

1

1

CALLED on the CARPET

2

2

TWO LITTLE BOOKS

3

3

OUT of DARKNESS and into the LIGHT

6

4

A TRIP BACK into DARKNESS

7

5

THE PRODICAL SON RETURN to the FATHER

8

6

HUNGRY and THIRSTY for MORE

9

7

A DAY to REMEMBER

12

8

THE FIRE FALLS at HOME

14

9

THE FIRE SPREADS

15

10

AND SPREADS

16

11

THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM that BELIEVE

18

12

AS the EAGLE STIRS her NESTt

21

13

A LIFE CHANGING DEACON’S MEETING

23

14

THEERE’S a MIRACLE in YOUR MOUTH

25

15

THEY SHALL CAST OUT DEMONS

28

16

ANOINTED

30

17

THE VALUE of SPEAKING in TONGUES

33

18

SOME HONEST QUESTIONS & HONEST ANSWERS

48

19

H0W to RECEIVE the BAPTISM in the HOLY SPIRIT

51

20

OPEN UP…THERE’S MORE

53

 

AFTERWORD

54

 

FOREWORD

 

The events that I have shared from my life in the following pages took place over thirty years ago. At that time, I wrote them down, planning to put them in book form and have them published, but somehow I felt led to wait. 

 

Now that I am seventy four years old, I felt this would be a good time to put these writings together in order and say some things about them that I hope will help and inspire and encourage all who read these pages. 

 

Some of the things, I should say most of, if not all these things would be seen by my brothers and sisters in Christ to be somewhat controversial, but I have found that almost all the major teachings from the Bible would wind up in that same category... controversial! There never was a more controversial figure in all of history than Jesus of Nazareth. All the major Christian leaders of history, beginning with Peter and Paul, were also labeled “controversial.”

 

We do not seek controversy, far from it. But we do realize that it is impossible to please all men and please God at the same time. I am confident that what I have written will displease some, but I am also confident that the majority of my readers will be blessed, enlightened, helped, encouraged, inspired, directed, refreshed, restored, revived and edified by reading my story. 

 

In writing my story I have been specific to say that my first connection with the Body of Christ was as a member of a Baptist church. I still identify with my Baptist brothers and sisters, for I seek to identify with the entire Body of Christ. We may not see all things alike when it comes to our understanding of the Bible, but we are brothers and sisters in Christ, for we are all born of the same Father. Everywhere I go I teach people to repeat with me a Declaration of Unity. Read it out loud with me!

 

“I belong to everything that belongs to Jesus and everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to me.” It is not ‘us and them.’ It is just us! There is only one Body of Christ, and the problems of the Church, the whole Church, are our problems, for we are the Church and we can do more united than we can do divided, so let's unify, simplify, and multiply!” 

 

Since the primary message of this book is dealing with the experience called the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit I need to explain that the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to magnify and glorify Jesus Christ. The person who is filled with the Holy Spirit will definitely be one in whose life Jesus is preeminent. If the goal and delight of my life is not to exalt and magnify Jesus, I am not filled with the Holy Spirit. 

 

There is no need to make a distinction between receiving and moving in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and receiving and moving in the constant power and presence of Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who reminded his followers NOT to go into all of the world until they had received the same anointing of the Holy Spirit that he had received when he was baptized at the Jordan River. And it was Paul's very first question to the twelve disciples in Ephesus, "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" 

 

CHAPTER ONE

CALLED on the CARPET

 

“Pastor Bob, the deacons would like to meet with you at three this afternoon. We need to talk before the evening service. Can you meet with us at that time?" The chairman of my board of deacons spoke with a tone of cool authority in his deep baritone voice. He came up to me while I was greeting the people on their way out of the church. I knew why he wanted a deacon's meeting, and I wasn't looking forward to the confrontation that I knew was coming.

 

"I’ll plan to be here at three, Sam!" I said with a smile. I continued to greet the people as they filed out of our regular Sunday morning service, but my mind was not on anything the people were saying to me after Sam gave me the word about the 3 PM meeting. 

 

I was pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Home Gardens, California and I had just delivered a highly controversial teaching from the pulpit at the regular Sunday morning service. I had been pastor there for about a year and an active member for more than eight years, so I knew everyone in the congregation well and they all knew me. For that reason, I felt I could share my heart with them, even issues on which we might not all agree. 

 

For several weeks I had been looking forward to sharing the message I had just preached, and finally, after meeting with my deacons on the previous Wednesday night, they had, with some reluctance, granted their approval for me to share with all our people what I had just preached from the pulpit. 

 

But Sam had not attended that Wednesday night deacon's meeting, so the things he had just heard sounded too much like heresy to him. So he proceeded to call a deacon's meeting to inquire further into this "new doctrine.” Sam and I were actually very close friends, but I could tell by the sound of his voice that everything was to be very official at the meeting that afternoon. 

 

My wife, Joni, and I rounded up our five kids, put them in the car and drove home for lunch. I was not hungry! The tension and uncertainty about that deacon’s meeting was all I could think about. I sat around the house and walked around outside, then decided to walk down to the church early and pray. As I walked the half mile from our house back to the church, the Lord encouraged me to hold fast to what I had preached in the morning service and not give in to the pressure to compromise my beliefs for the sake of unity or to save my own position as pastor of the church. He said he would stand with me and the outcome would be good for everyone. My faith was rising and I was excited! 

 

I reached the small white frame building on Blair Street before anyone else arrived. I had always admired the quaint beauty of this little church building. It was actually a house that had been remodeled to serve as a church by putting a steeple on the front of the roof and making a few changes on the interior. It had always been kept tidy, clean and well painted. In the eight years that I had been there I had served as worship leader, teacher, assistant to the pastor, interim pastor, and finally as pastor. 

 

The echo of my footsteps across the wooden floors of the entrance filled the quietness of the small sanctuary as I made my way to one of the soft, cushioned pews and sat down. I was alone with some time to think before the deacons arrived. It was like the quiet before the storm, but I was at peace and was surprised that I even felt relaxed and confident. Lately things had taken on a fresh new excitement in all our meetings and the people were beginning to ask questions. A question that I was hearing quite often was, “What is Pastor Bob trying to say to us these days? He seems to want to say something, but just can‘t make it clear to us? He seems to be trying to ‘tiptoe through the tulips.’" 

My whole family was going through some radical changes which were becoming obvious to some of the people of the church. For weeks I had known that I would eventually have to explain to them what it was that was causing such a stir in my family and in the lives of several other members of the church, and now that I had taken the leap and poured out my heart, I was being called before the leaders of the church to answer for what I had said. As I sat waiting for the others to arrive, I began to go over in my mind some of the events that had led up to this deacons’ meeting. 

 

CHAPTER TWO

TWO LITTLE BOOKS

 

It all began with two little books. One was loaned to Joni, and the other was given to me at about the same time. Joni had just returned from a few days of rest on the beach with a close friend, Wanda Pettit. She called and asked me to pick her up at the Pettit's house and the first thing she said when she got in the car was, "You've got to read this book! It's like reading the book of Acts! How can people say that miracles don't happen today? Why don't these things happen in our churches?" I was surprised to see Joni so excited about a book. 

 

"Where did you get the book?" I asked. 

 

"From Vicki Amaon." 

 

"Vicki Amaon?” I couldn’t believe it! Vicki and Gary Amaon were members of our church but didn't attend very often. When they did come it seemed to be more out of religious duty. I often wondered how many of us were attending church out of duty rather than out of a desire to attend. We all seemed to be deficient in the joy and enthusiasm that was so evident in the lives of believers in the book of Acts. But Vicki was different. She was so passive and disinterested that by comparison, the rest of us looked pretty much alive! 

 

When she did attend services she would sit on the back row looking rather bored. She was polite and friendly, but it was obvious that her relationship with Jesus really needed a boost! It was painful to me as her pastor that there was too little life and power in the rest of us to help her escape her spiritual doldrums. 

 

Suddenly there was an explosion of love, joy and power in Vicki. She talked about Jesus constantly. She had a mysterious glow and a magnetism about her that was vibrant and attractive. Suddenly she was no longer a spectator. She not only became faithful in her attendance at the Sunday services, but would also drive for miles to attend weeknight Bible studies and prayer meetings here, there and everywhere. She became active in witnessing to the unsaved as well as encouraging Christians by giving them books and articles that had helped her. In her zeal she had given Joni a copy of LIKE A MIGHTY WIND by Mel Tari, an account of some of the miracles that attended the revival in Indonesia in the late sixties and early seventies. 

 

Joni's excitement about the book was contagious. I had just been preaching a series of messages on the need for supernatural power in our churches and in our lives. The Lord was working in Joni's life and in my life at the same time and about the same thing... miracles. Not a big thing, perhaps, for some Christians, but for a Fundamental Baptist pastor of a fundamental Baptist church, it stood before me like Mount Everest. 

 

A transformation was also taking shape in my seventeen year old son, Bob Jr., and in the providence of God he would become a dynamic catalyst to spread the fire that God was now beginning to kindle in our midst, not only in our family and church, but also on his high school campus and beyond, 

 

One day as I was taking him to work at the local McDonald's where he was assistant manager, he said, "Dad, this girl who works with me at McDonalds is really a dedicated Christian! She brings her Bible to work and reads it during her breaks. She talks to others about Jesus and her face just shines! She is definitely different! She has had an experience she calls the baptism in the Holy Spirit. She says that her whole life changed after that. She has invited me to attend one of their meetings in a coffee house called the One Way Inn. Do you think it would be all right if I went?"

 

I kept my eyes on the road ahead of me as I pondered the question further before giving my answer. "Bobby, we believe in the Spirit filled life, too. We just don't believe it is scriptural to call it a baptism. Of course, we don't stress the sign gifts like they do, either." It must have been obvious to Bobby that I was somewhat cautious about all this? 

 

"Dad, whatever this girl has I don't have, and I don't think anybody in our church has." He was not being disrespectful, just candid. 

 

I pulled the car into one of the parking spaces at McDonald's and we both sat quietly for a moment. "Bobby, just be careful and don't get involved in some kind of wild fanaticism or emotionalism." He waved as he closed the car door assuring me that I had nothing to worry about. 

 

Bobby had never given us any problems as a teenager, but his walk with the Lord was pretty mediocre; at least it was before he met this “Dynamite Jesus Girl” at McDonalds. 

 

Joni and I both had recently been concerned that he might even become a dropout from the church altogether unless he had some kind of spiritual breakthrough. He and I were having some problems just communicating with each other. We both seemed to feel awkward and ill at ease in our new role of relating to each other as two adults. 

 

Joni and I had been blessed with five children and I had total liberty in all my dealings with them in their childhood, but Bobby was our first born and was now seventeen years old, so it was different with him now. I had longed for and prayed for a stronger relationship with Bobby that would include heart to heart talks like a father should have with his teenage son. So I felt good that Bobby was now reaching out to me about this girl who had made such a deep impression on him concerning his need for a stronger touch from God upon his life. 

 

Now that he was showing a genuine hunger for spiritual things, I was not going to do or say anything that would discourage him. Something about this girl was making him hungry and thirsty for God and for the things of God, and I felt the Lord give me a gentle caution to keep my hands off the situation and let the Holy Spirit work. I was hopeful that God was answering my prayer for spiritual renewal for my son, and He was, but I was not prepared for the change that he was to experience in his life within the coming weeks and months. Nor did I anticipate the spiritual bomb that was about to explode in my own life! 

 

As I drove back home from McDonald's I was deep in thought. What was God doing in my life? I felt a tremendous sense of expectation rising in me as I reflected on the events of the past few weeks. 

 

First, Joni suddenly got all excited about a ministry of miracles, signs and wonders; then Bob met this girl at McDonalds whose testimony about the baptism in the Holy Spirit has definitely shaken him up! 

 

Then there was the little book that Chuck and Yvonne Green had given me a few weeks before that I had just started reading, which had me completely absorbed. Chuck and Yvonne had been attending one of my Bible studies and one day he handed me a paperback entitled, "FACE UP WITH A MIRACLE" by Don Basham. 

 

"This book will be a real blessing to you, Bob!" 

 

"Thanks, Chuck! What's it about?" 

 

"Oh, it's about a man who had an experience with God that opened him up to the realm of the supernatural. He has a tremendous testimony!" Chuck seemed to be excited about the book, but at the same time he was reluctant to tell me too much about it. 

 

I thanked him and started thumbing through it. In two or three minutes I could see that it was too Pentecostal for me. I was a Baptist; all my friends were Baptists; I was pastor of a Baptist church and I could not afford to get involved in controversies about such things as divine healing and speaking in tongues! I had already had an unpleasant experience concerning the Pentecostal question a few years before as a student at Howard Payne College in Brownwood, Texas. I just didn't want to go through that again, though in my heart I had often longed for more of God's power and secretly felt that the Pentecostal brethren had some truths that would help me if I were open to receive what they had to say. But at this point in my life, I was not open to that at all. I kept the book, but when I got home I put it in my bookshelf not expecting ever to open it again. 

 

I was wrong. When God wants to get our attention He has ways and means. At our regular Wednesday night prayer meetings I had just started a series of teachings on demonology. As my primary resource material I was using a book by Merril F. Unger entitled, “DEMONS IN THE WORLD TODAY.” The subject had become so interesting to me that I had begun to do extra research. I had been hearing about people being delivered from demons in church services and home group meetings, and I knew that if I were ever faced with demon possession in one of my meetings, I wouldn't know the first step to take to minister deliverance. The very thought disturbed me, but somehow I was open to learn more about it. 

 

Tom Hicks, one of my faithful members brought me a Guidepost Magazine with an article on deliverance. I had been careful in the selection of resource material that I used in my weekly teaching sessions on demonology. Merril F. Unger was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, a thoroughly evangelical and fundamental school, and was highly respected by Baptists in general. 

 

The Guidepost article told about Don Basham who had the gift of d0iscerning of spirits and was able to cast out demons. As I read I was impressed with the fact that here was a man who was not just writing books about demons or teaching Bible classes on demons; he was in actual combat with demons! He had sought God and had received a gift to discern the presence of demons and the power to cast them out. "What would I give to have such power with God so that I could help people get free from demon oppression!” I thought. 

 

I finished the article and found myself admiring Don Basham, though I had never met him or even heard of him before... or had I? At first the name Don Basham didn't ring a bell. But a few days later as I was doing some work in my study, I leaned back in my swivel chair to rest and my eyes were directed up to the top of my bookshelf where I put books that I seldom used. My eyes fell on the name Don Basham! It was the same book that Chuck and Yvonne Green had given me several weeks before. 

 

I grabbed the book and began to read. My whole attitude had changed. I was now willing to sift through any "Pentecostal" excess in order to find the secret of how Basham came into a ministry of getting people healed and released from demons. Now that I had gotten into the book, I had a feeling that it was going to have a strong influence on me for a long time to come. 

 

As I rounded the corner on Blair Street on my way home from McDonald's, I decided not to go right home but to go by the church and spend some time reading more in Basham’s book before I went home for supper. Joni wouldn't be expecting me this early anyhow and I was eager to get back to the book. 

 

All was quiet and deserted at the church. I had no staff since our church was not large enough to afford any paid staff other than a pastor. I unlocked the front door and went straight to my study, sat down in my leather swivel chair, picked up the book and started reading. 

 

It all seemed so contradictory. Only minutes before I had cautioned Bobby not to get too close to "those Pentecostals" and yet here I was drinking in the writings of a man who was telling the story of how he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, began praying for the sick and witnessing miracles of healing which led eventually to becoming involved in a ministry of releasing tormented people from demon powers. One of the things that kept me going with the book was that Don Basham could not be “pegged” as a "Pentecostal." He was a member of a mainline denominational church.

 

As I read, I was amazed at myself. I could hardly believe how hungry and open I was to receive what I was reading! I was devouring this man’s story like a starving man. I found myself identifying with him in his quest for the power of the Holy Spirit in his life, a quest that I thought had ended for me some years before, but now I realized there was much, much more! 

 

They say that a hungry heart will open a closed mind, and I was definitely hungry for more of the power of God in my life and in my ministry. As I read on, this hunger became almost overwhelming. The more I read of what God did in the life of Basham, the more I became convinced that I too had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit some years before, but simply had not been taught how to walk in the fullness of that anointing. 

 

A tremendous desire had been building in me for some time, and Basham's book was simply a catalyst to fan into flames all that God had been building into my spirit over the years. It was not just a desire to see God's power that burned within me. It was a deeper desire to know Jesus, and to be like Him, as well as to do the things He did. 

 

Suddenly I could go no further in the book. I felt I would explode if I didn't do something to respond to the call I felt coming to me so clearly to cast off all restraints and begin to move out into the realm of miracles, signs and wonders like the book of Acts church did. 

 

So I laid the book aside, stood up and walked to the middle of my tiny office. I lifted my hands to God in an attitude of surrender and began to worship God. What happened to me in the next few minutes was totally unexpected, but it became the touchstone of a chain of events that would lead me to this urgent meeting with my deacons and a series of miracles too wonderful for me to imagine at the time. 

 

CHAPTER THREE

OUT of DARKNESS into the LIGHT

 

The experience I had with God in my office that afternoon actually started many years before with a very disturbing question: "What are you going to do about your sins?" The voice of the radio preacher boomed. I had just turned the corner of the house and walked past the living room window. Someone had turned on the radio and tuned into a church service which was highly unusual at our house! The radio had been placed near the window and I was hit in the heart with that question. I didn’t know what to do about my sins! 

 

We were living in Chester, Arkansas, a small town of about two hundred people in the foothills of the Ozarks. I had never seen such beautiful country before, with springs, and forests, and mountains and rivers. I was living in paradise! 

 

I was born in Sweetwater, Texas. Most of my childhood was spent in Roscoe, a small farming community eight miles west of Sweetwater. It was flat Texas table land, so Arkansas was a very exciting place to me as an eleven year old boy! I had become aware of God at a very early age, but since my parents did not attend church very often, the only teaching I had about God I gleaned by listening to an occasional religious conversation among the adults. My theology was very simple: God is good and the devil is evil; some people are good and some people are sinners; heaven is for good people and hell is for sinners. So if you want to go to heaven when you die, you have to change your ways and start living right and being good. Then when you die if your good deeds outnumber your bad deeds, you will go to heaven. But if your evil deeds outnumber your good deeds, you will go to hell and suffer forever and ever. 

 

Having accepted this view of things very early in life, I began to try to overcome my sinful habits. Aside from the fear of God's wrath, and suffering in hell forever, something in me yearned to know God personally and to know that I was pleasing Him in my daily life. 

 

All of this was going on inside of me even as a very small boy. 

 

As time went by, I discovered by experience that no matter how hard I tried I could not live a holy life. I would struggle to keep God on my mind, but sinful habits persisted in spite of everything. I was constantly under the guilt of my sins of cursing, lying, cheating, stealing, fighting, fussing and a host of other bad things, even as a small boy. I struggled to live a clean life, but I finally gave up in despair, concluding that I was one of those doomed to go to hell in the end. So I decided I might as well have all the fun in life that I could since I was going to suffer eternally in hell for my sins anyhow. 

 

But the question that screamed at me through the radio evangelist that day served to stir my heart again. The words "What are you going to do about your sins?" kept ringing in my ears and down into my spirit day after day. I had tried to be a Christian but obviously I was going about it in the wrong way. As I look back now, I realize how easy it would have been for someone to have led me to Jesus. I would gladly have received Him into my life at a very early age, if someone had taken the time to explain to me the way of salvation and lead me in a simple prayer of receiving Jesus as my Savior by faith. 

 

A few days after the radio incident, I was walking down the street of the little town of Chester, along with my older brother and some other boys, when we heard music and singing coming from a small tent on a vacant lot. Having nothing else to do, we walked into the tent and sat down near the back entrance. We were touched by the singing first and foremost, but also by the preaching. 

 

We liked it so much that we went back night after night. I didn't know what was happening to me at the time, but the seed of God's Word was falling on fertile soil. The last night of the meeting I went forward and received Jesus as my Savior. 

 

I couldn’t put it all into words at the time, but when I stepped out into the aisle and walked to the front of the tent that night I was confessing to God, to myself and to everybody in the tent, "God, I believe you love me and sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I receive Jesus into my life as my Lord and Savior. I renounce my sinful ways and from now on I want to walk in your ways." 

 

I went home that night with a peace and an assurance in my heart that I never had felt before. My brother, Charles, two years older than I, also received Jesus that night. He and I were very close. We were always together in everything we did. In fact, I did not go forward to receive Christ that night until I saw him step out first. 

 

The only connection we had to the things of the Lord after the tent evangelist left was the little song books that we sang from in the tent meeting. I would sing the songs over and over that we learned at the tent. One day I made a commitment to God that I would pray all the rest of my life and never say, “Amen” till right before I died; then I would say, “Amen!” It was my way of saying to God that I would never go away from Him, ever. I knew there would be many temptations to do bad things but God knew the desire of my heart. My desire was right, but I was to find that it was easier to make a promise to God than it was to fulfill it. 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

A TRIP BACK into DARKNESS

 

My brother and I had no follow-up teaching whatsoever. No one called on us or encouraged us to go to Sunday School or church, so we slowly began to drift away from the things we had heard at the tent meetings. One day I was alone in the kitchen when I saw a purse lying on the cabinet. Suddenly I was engulfed in an overwhelming temptation to steal the purse and take whatever money there was in it. But, I thought to myself, "I can't steal this purse. I'm a Christian now." Then I remembered a teaching I had heard, that a child is not responsible for his sins until he is twelve years old and I was only eleven years old. So I prayed a short prayer, "Lord I'll come back to you on my twelfth birthday." I picked up the purse and ran out the back door and down the hill into a wooded area and hid behind some trees. I opened the purse... and it was empty. 

 

I felt doomed and condemned inside. I had sold out to the devil for an empty purse! If I had known then about forgiveness and cleansing I would not have wandered in sin for the next six years. But I was untaught in the Word of God and I was deluded by the enemy of my soul who was saying to me: "You might as well forget trying to be a Christian. You can't do it. Go ahead and live it up! Have a good time! You can't enjoy life being a Christian. Christians don‘t ever have any fun. You don‘t want to be a gloomy old Christian, do you?" 

 

I followed the devil's advice and for six years I was out of fellowship with God. In times of quiet and stillness, especially at night, I would often hear that still, small voice telling me to get right with God, but I would ignore it. I had no purpose in life, no direction, and no real peace. 

 

At the age of seventeen, I was working in the oil fields in Mineral Wells, Texas, when tragedy struck. I was still running from God and all my friends were unbelievers. No one knew that I had once received Jesus as my Savior. 

 

My highest ambition at that time was to become a country and western singer and song writer. I was beginning to spend more and more time with country and western musicians in bars and dance halls in order to gain experience in country music. 

 

One night while working in Mineral Wells, I was sound asleep in my apartment after a hard day's work in the oil fields, when suddenly I was awakened by a loud knock on my door. "Albert Fitts, you're wanted on the phone... long distance!" At that late hour somehow the owner of the apartment had thought he heard Albert on the phone instead of Robert, but I knew the call was for me. "I'll be right there!" I shouted. Fear was rising in my heart as I hurriedly dressed and made my way down the stairs to where the phone was in the hallway near the entrance to the apartment building. Long distance phone calls were rare in those days, especially in the middle of the night. I knew it couldn't be something good. 

 

The landlord motioned toward the phone and then disappeared into his room. It was past midnight. "Bob, can you come home?" It was my brother Charles calling from San Angelo, Texas, about 200 miles away. 

 

"I guess so, Bud. Why? What's happened?" 

 

“Bob, Mother's been in an accident." I could hear someone sobbing in the background. "How bad is she hurt, Bud?" I asked. 

 

After a long moment of silence he said, with a tremble in his voice, "Bob, she's dead." The awful finality of those words are as clear to me today as the day my brother spoke them so many years ago. I told him I would leave for San Angelo as soon as I could arrange for a ride the next morning and walked back to my room, stunned with grief. 

 

I lay awake for a long time that night looking out the window through my tears. A full moon lit up the night sky. Dark clouds raced under the moon, driven by balmy spring winds. It was 2 AM, May 10th, Mother's Day." 

 

“Where is my mother tonight?" I asked myself. She had been dead only a couple of hours. "Was she a Christian? Did she go to heaven? Did my mother die unsaved and unprepared to meet God?" My heart ached to see her just one more time. But I never saw my mother's face again, not even at the funeral. The casket was closed. She had died instantly in the car accident. She was only thirty-seven years old. 

 

The tragedy of my mother's death brought me to the realization that I was living life for self and was heading nowhere. I knew I had to change, but I didn’t know how? Over the years since I walked away from the Lord at the age of eleven, I had tried over and over and over again, and I just could not live a life of victory over sin. But I determined that night that I would find out what I must do to get right with God, and I would do it, no matter what it cost me. 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS to the FATHER

 

When I arrived in San Angelo the next day, the person who comforted me most was my girlfriend, Joni Montgomery. She ran out to the car, threw her arms around me and we cried together. She and my mother had been close friends. Two years later Joni and I would marry and move to California. 

 

Four weeks after the funeral, I attended a little Baptist church only a block away from my house in San Angelo. I was surprised to see that Thomas H. Harding, the man who had preached my mother's funeral, was the pastor of that church. That morning the Lord used Pastor Harding’s message to bring me to an even deeper conviction of my need to surrender my life to Jesus. 

 

Three days later on my way home after a date with Joni, I stopped my car at midnight and began to cry and pray as I fully yielded myself once again to Jesus after six years of sin and rebellion. The prodigal son was returning home to a loving Father who met him with outstretched arms. 

 

I'll never forget the peace and joy that came to me in that divine moment! I felt like I had to go and tell the whole world, and I was certain that as soon as I told them they would all repent and take Jesus as Lord of their lives. I was to find, however, that it wasn't that easy to win others to Jesus. I found it hard to witness, especially to my own family. 

 

One day Pastor T. H. Harding, we called him Brother T, a deeply spiritual man of God, asked me a question. He drove me home from church that day and before I got out of the car he said, "Bob, what do you plan to do in life?" No one had ever asked me that question before, at least as it related to God’s will for my life. 

 

"I don't really know. I like to play the guitar and sing." My desire to pursue country music had almost died and gone out of my life since my spiritual renewal, but the desire to play my guitar and sing was still strong. 

 

"I think we need to take you over to Brownwood to Howard Payne College and get you enrolled. God wants to use you in His kingdom. What do you think?" He wasn't pressing me, and his genuine interest in me wasn't easy to resist. It felt good to know that somebody cared about me enough to want to help me find God‘s will for my life. 

 

"I'm willing to go, but I didn't finish high school, so maybe I won't be accepted?" I didn't have much hope of becoming a college student, but I was willing to try. To my surprise, a few weeks later I found myself attending classes as a freshman at Howard Payne College in Brownwood, Texas. I had been accepted conditionally through a special entrance exam. 

 

I had been in college only a few weeks when I knew God was calling me to preach. I couldn't believe it. Me, of all people! I was the most tongue-tied, shy, bashful, fearful, self-conscious, insecure person in all of Texas! The very thought of standing up before a crowd of people and speaking sent shock waves through my whole being. 

 

But God had his hand on me and I knew it, so one day I went forward at the close of a service in my church in Brownwood and made it public that I was "surrendering to preach,” a term Southern Baptists use when one accepts and embraces the call to enter the ministry. The word "surrender" was used because it was commonly taught that if you could do anything else, don‘t preach! In other words, if the call of God to preach the gospel is not so strong that it is irresistible, then you're probably not called to preach, and you'd better not presume that you could preach. So stay out of the ministry if you can! It sounded reasonable to me. 

 

For me, the call was strong enough, so I yielded, but I hoped it would be after my graduation, four years later, before I would have to preach my first sermon. My surrender was purely an act of faith and I knew God would have to work a miracle to make a preacher out of me! 

 

It soon became known around campus that I had “surrendered to preach” and one day I was asked to preach at a youth rally. I felt a numbness envelope me. I accepted the invitation and began to cry out to God to empower me for this meeting. I had about four weeks to prepare and every day the thought of that youth rally left a feeling of nausea in the pit of my stomach. How could I ever do this? What would I say? How would I say it? "Lord, help me!" 

 

CHAPTER SIX

HUNGRY and THIRSTY for MORE

 

At this time I was renting an apartment in the home of Mrs. Harlow, an elderly Christian lady in Brownwood. She had hired Mrs. Lilly Stout, a middle aged private nurse, to come in daily and help her with housework and cooking. Mrs. Stout was a quiet, Spirit-filled Christian who spent much time in Bible reading and prayer. At times we would spend hours discussing the Bible and praying. She became aware of my deep desire to experience the power of God in my life, and began to share with me about the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

 

I had never heard of this before, but the more I read and learned about it, the more firmly convinced I became that this was just the touch I needed to dispel my fears and enable me to preach. Mrs. Stout invited me to visit in her church and I attended several services with her. It was definitely a Pentecostal Church with a capital "P"! I saw much that I could not understand or accept, but I could not ignore this deep yearning and craving within me for more reality in the things of the Spirit. 

 

One day as I was walking along thinking and praying about the youth rally, planning and rehearsing what I was going to say, I noticed a lady out in her front yard whom I had met in Mrs. Stout's church. I greeted her and we began to talk about the things of the Lord, when suddenly she said to me, "Young man, if you are going to be a successful minister of the gospel, you need to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit." We talked for a long time about this and my conviction and desire became even more intense. 

 

I walked on with that those words throbbing in my mind, "You need to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit." I was so convicted and convinced that she was right, that I went immediately out into an open field of green grass and knelt down and prayed: "Oh, God, I want all you have for me! Give me the baptism in the Holy Spirit! Pour out on me your power as you did on the disciples on the day of Pentecost!" I waited silently, but nothing happened. I felt nothing; I heard nothing; I saw nothing. It was a complete zero... nothing. I arose to my feet the same needy person as when I knelt to pray. I had received nothing and I had experienced nothing . . . absolutely nothing! 

 

That night I knelt by my bed and begged God to fill me with His Spirit. With agony in my pleading I found myself launched on a quest for the baptism in the Holy Spirit that didn't really find fulfillment for five long years. And it didn’t find total release until after I had become pastor of Grace Baptist Church more than twenty years later. 

 

The youth rally only increased the intensity of my desire for the power of the Holy Spirit. The appointed day arrived, and I stood before the auditorium filled with young people and made an attempt to speak. It was a disaster! If ever a speaker struck out, I struck out that night! My talk must have lasted a total of ten or twelve minutes. I was totally embarrassed at my performance and I was sure that most of the kids were embarrassed for me. I had to confess, it was a miserable failure. When I left the meeting that night, I never wanted to stand before an audience again in my entire life… ever! 

 

Through most of my years as a college student I was still seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I would fast and pray and plead. I would read books and attend meetings and agonize, begging God to fill me with the Holy Spirit. At times I would spend a whole night in prayer. Finally one day, five years later, something wonderful happened. I was reading a book on the Spirit-filled life and something the author said turned a light on in my spirit. Suddenly I saw it. I wondered why I had not seen it before. In an instant I knew how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was a simple and yet a powerful revelation that effectively set me free from the torment and frustration of the chronic seeker. Here are the words I read that day: 

 

"Just as you received salvation from the hands of a dying Savior, by faith; even so you can receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit from the hands of a living Savior, by faith.” He went on to say, “My battle axe is Galatians 3:14, ‘that we might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.’" At that moment I felt as if I had walked out of a dark dungeon into the full light of day! 

 

I put the book down and walked out the front door of our little apartment in Home Gardens, California with a clear understanding of what I had to do. From my house I walked into the hills nearby where I frequently went to pray. On my way to the place of prayer I said, "Father, I have asked you ten thousand times to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Today I am going to ask one more time, but this time I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to thank you for it even if I don't speak in tongues! 

 

As I went I had a settled assurance that I was going to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, for now I knew how to receive this blessing... by faith. I climbed a hill we called, “Prayer Mountain” overlooking the community of Home Garden. There was a rock formation at the summit that was an ideal place to kneel and pray. I knelt down just as I had knelt that first time out in the open field in Brownwood five years before, and as I had knelt hundreds of times since then to ask God to baptize me in the Holy Spirit. But this time I had a better understanding. Now I knew how to receive it. I would receive it by faith and I knew how to do that, for I had taken Jesus as my Savior the same way when I was eleven years old. 

 

I prayed a very simple prayer without trying to work up some kind of emotion or religious feeling. I said, "Oh, God, your Word says that if I ask for anything according to your will you hear me, and if I know that you hear me, whatever I ask, I know I already have the petition I asked of you. Right now, in Jesus’ name, I ask you to baptize me in the Holy Spirit. I thank you that you have heard my prayer and I now receive it by faith. I believe I receive it now. Thank you, Jesus! Amen." 

 

I arose from my place of prayer without having felt or heard or seen anything, but with a bed-rock confidence that, at last, I had definitely received it, whether I felt it or not. A few days later, while driving home from California Baptist College, the power and the presence of God came on me in a wonderful way and the glory of God filled my car. I said to myself, "This is so wonderful, I believe I could speak in tongues right now!" So, by faith I opened my mouth and began to speak in other tongues in response to the awesome presence of God all around me. I didn’t know if it was the real thing or not! I had always thought that such a miracle as speaking in tongues would be a sovereign act of God and that I would not have to do anything at all. I thought it would be something that happened to me and that I would be passive and God would be active. I was definitely a part of what happened that day and though I struggled with doubts, I knew it was real! 

 

I began to experience a measure of peace and power in my life, and I was excited! However, when it would ebb away, I didn't know how to regain it. For several years, off and on, I would experience brief touches of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, but I never dared to venture into the arena of the supernatural gifts as a part of my public ministry. This was strongly spoken against by the leaders of my denomination! There was just no place for spiritual gifts to function in our scheme of things, especially what was called, “the sign gifts.” 

 

I kept quiet about my “tongues” experience. I didn’t share it with anyone. I felt that my best wisdom was to look to God to anoint me in the arena of preaching and teaching and leave the “sign gifts” to my Pentecostal brothers and sisters. But as the years passed by my desire to see God move among us in supernatural power increased. I was not seeing God's power released in my life like I felt it should be. I knew there was more in Christ than I was experiencing, so the message of Basham's book fell on fertile soil. I was ready to pull out all the stops and take the leap, whatever the cost. 

 

One part of his book that spoke to me most powerfully was Basham’s search for the Spirit-filled life. He was a commercial artist working in a central Texas town. He and his wife were faithful members of a Christian Church. They sang in the choir and helped in other ways, but deep down they were not satisfied. 

 

One day they went to the hospital to call on a friend who was scheduled for surgery the next day. Basham relates the following incident that changed the whole direction of his life. Here is his story in his own words: 

 

After dinner we drove to the hospital to visit a friend who was awaiting surgery. “Room number for Mrs. Dorothy Hollister, please.” We watched the receptionist's nimble fingers flick through the registration cards. After going through them a second time she glanced up. “Sorry, we have no Mrs. Hollister. Are you sure you have the right hospital?” 

 

“She was admitted Wednesday and scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning," I explained. "She must be here." "Let me check the dismissals." The receptionist disappeared into a nearby office and returned with a list clipped to a board. "Here she is," she announced. "Your Mrs. Hollister has been dismissed." 

 

"Dismissed? But she was scheduled for surgery tomorrow." The receptionist shook her head. "I can't help that, sir, the record is right here. Mrs. Hollister was sent home this morning." 

 

We left the hospital and drove in the direction of Dorothy’s house. "What do you suppose happened?" Alice asked. 

 

"There's one way to find out," I answered, not knowing the story we were to hear would change the very direction of our lives. Minutes later I rang the doorbell and found Dorothy expecting us. 

 

"Come in and let me tell you what happened." Her face glowed with joy and excitement as she led the way into her living room and motioned us toward the sofa. 

 

"You know how ill I was when I entered the hospital Wednesday," she began. We nodded and listened with fascination as her story unfolded. Suffering from a gall bladder condition, she lay in the hospital bed for two days, shot full of sedatives to help alleviate the excruciating pain. Tests clearly indicated her condition called for surgery, which, as we had heard, was scheduled for Monday. But on Friday a little neighbor lady slipped into her room long enough to make a surprising request. Would Dorothy mind if she got in touch with her minister to bring him and some church friends to pray for her recovery? 

 

"As much pain as I had," Dorothy continued, "I was ready to try anything. Besides, she is my neighbor and I didn't want to offend her." So, later that day the neighbor returned with her minister and friends and they began to pray for her healing. 

 

"I was startled and almost angry first," at Dorothy admitted. "They were so noisy! They were all praying out loud and at the same time. I was really wishing they would leave, when all at once something came over me... a kind of feeling. No, it was more than a feeling. Oh, I simply can’t describe it. But suddenly I found myself sitting up in bed, my body tingling all over, and I felt marvelous! The pain was gone. I was well. 

 

She paused and fumbled for a handkerchief to wipe at the tears which had suddenly appeared in her eyes. "God answered their prayers and healed me," she said in a voice so low we could scarcely hear. I swallowed hard against the lump in my own throat. A glance toward Alice revealed she was close to tears as well. Dorothy concluded her story saying that her doctor, baffled by the sudden change in her condition, had re-examined her thoroughly. Then after another day of observation and further tests, he had sent her home. 

 

We sat in silence for awhile with Dorothy smiling at us through her tears. Then slowly it dawned on us; we had come face up with a miracle! Here was the kind of experience which only happened in books or to strangers in far-away places, but not this time. This time it was close to home. We were face-to-face with living proof of God’s miracle-working power! 

 

We drove home deeply moved by Dorothy's testimony. Didn't the Bible say somewhere, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever?" Of course it did. What we had suspected was now confirmed. The church had scarcely touched the immense power latent in the Christian faith! That night the Christ whom we had worshipped from a distance became the personal, living Lord of our lives. For the first time, as we prayed, we felt the magnificient, silent benediction of the Holy Spirit. His loving presence was unmistakable, and from the center of that Presence a silent command seemed to issue, "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added. "Face Up With A Miracle - Don Basham, p. 18.”

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

A DAY to REMEMBER

 

As I read Basham's testimony there began to well up in me a powerful urge to throw off every yoke that was binding me to tradition and to begin to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit with complete liberty. I wanted to see more of the power of God in my own life. I wanted to see miracles of healing and deliverance. I had no scriptural reason to accept the teaching that in our day we have a different kind of Christianity than Paul, Peter, John and the early Christians had. And if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, we have every right to expect the same things to happen in our day as happened in their day. We are living in the same age of the same Church and the same Holy Spirit is still present to fill and empower God's people! 

 

So I laid the book aside and stood to my feet there in my office, with no one there but Jesus and me. I lifted my hands and began to worship God in other tongues. Through the teachings of Basham’s book I had learned that after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I could pray in tongues anytime I wanted to. I didn’t have to wait for a strong sense of God’s presence or some kind of emotional upheaval. I could start and I could stop. I could pray loud or I could pray softly. “The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. (I Corinthians 14:32)

 

For some time I stood there praying in tongues with my hands raised to God. When I stopped and started to sit down and read some more of the book, it seemed the Lord spoke these words to my spirit, "No... Continue!" I obeyed the impulse and began again to pray in tongues, and as I continued, I began to experience God's presence and power! I felt that I was being lifted up into an atmosphere of the pure presence of God. I felt like a vessel being filled with the water of life. It was like the breath of God blowing upon me, refreshing me down into the depths of my being. It seemed that God had opened the windows of heaven and poured out upon me an ocean of pure love, joy and power! The room was filled with the awesome, tangible, felt presence of God! 

 

As this wonderful fountain from heaven kept pouring into my soul, I found myself taking deep breaths and pouring out my heart to Him in praise and adoration, both in tongues and in English. It was such a glorious experience that I did not want it to subside. At least I was determined that I would continue to praise until this fresh baptism was complete. It was such a powerful visitation that I literally staggered around in my study and I felt no shame. I knew by experience for the first time why the disciples on the day of Pentecost were accused of being drunk on new wine. I was staggering around my office like a drunken man! 

 

In the midst of this powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was reminded of Charles Finney's account of receiving such an outpouring on the day of his conversion. In his autobiography he relates his experience on the day he received Christ as Savior: 

 

“As I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me like immense wings. 

 

No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; I do not know, but I should say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, ‘I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.’ I said, ‘Lord, I cannot bear any more!’ yet I had no fear of death. 

 

How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir (for I was the leader of the choir) came into my office to see me. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, ‘Mr. Finney, what ails you?’ I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, ‘Are you in pain?’ I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, ‘No, but so happy that I cannot live!’ ” - Charles G. Finney, p. 20, Flemming H. Revell-1876 

 

As I thought of these same waves of which Finney spoke in his testimony, I remembered also in the biography of evangelist Dwight L. Moody how he had described his experience as waves of electric love, as he too had reeled under a powerful baptism in the Spirit while walking down a street in New York City. He had cried out to God for this blessing for a long time before he finally received it. After he received it he said his ministry changed overnight. He said that instead of scores of people being saved under his ministry, now there were hundreds. The same supernatural power attended Finney as long as he stayed under that anointing. The day he received his baptism he left the law profession and started witnessing for Christ full time. Almost every person he spoke to that day came under a powerful conviction of sin and gave their lives to Jesus. 

 

Now I understood what these men had received and I wanted to receive the full force of it, so I just continued to praise God in tongues with my hands lifted to the Lord. I left my study and walked out into the sanctuary. I continued to walk up and down the isle of the sanctuary with my hands lifted up, speaking in tongues. I was glad no one was around to witness what was going on. I would have had a hard time trying to explain what was happening without using the word, “Pentecost!” 

 

I continued in this way for several more minutes, then I felt the Lord spoke to me to stop speaking in tongues and begin to prophesy. It was like I saw a vision on the wall behind the pulpit. On the left I saw a desert wasteland and on the right side I saw a fruitful garden and I heard these words as I opened my mouth and began to prophesy. I knew it was a word from the Lord to me: 

 

"My son, consider not the applause or the censure of men, for I have called you into a life of fruitfulness and you shall not fear man. If you are willing and obedient you shall eat of the fat of the land, but if refuse and rebel, you shall suffer loss. I am with you and as you follow me and learn to move out in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, I will multiply you exceedingly and you shall find fulfillment. But if you refuse to follow the light that I have shed upon your path, you will experience drought and a barren land with no water in it. Behold, I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it, for you have a little strength and have not denied my name. Go, therefore, and fear not to share with others what I have shared with you this day, for this is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing that I long to pour out upon my people, says the Lord." 

 

As these words of admonition flowed from my lips, it was as if I were sitting by and listening to my heavenly Father speak to me using me as His messenger. I do not mean that I had no control of myself or of my speech. But as God put thoughts in my mind, I spoke them out and then found another thought behind that one until the message was complete. I felt strength flow into me through what God had spoken to my heart through that prophecy. 

 

I discovered later in my study of these things, that in almost every instance in the Bible, when God would pour out His Spirit on someone, they would begin to magnify God and prophesy. 

 

When I left my church that afternoon, I knew that I could not continue to conceal my belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit and in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit including the so-called "sign gifts" that my denomination had labeled... “no long necessary.” 

 

My joy and excitement exploded! I felt like a new person. SUCH A REFRESHING! I knew that things would not be the same in my life and ministry after that wonderful outpouring. I knew that I would have to share with Bob Jr. what had happened to me, but at the time I didn't know exactly how or when. A few days later, while browsing in a Christian Book Store, I found a cassette tape by Don Basham on how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was a simple and powerful teaching that God had used to help many into the fullness of the Spirit. After I listened to it, I took it to Bobby and said, "Bobby, there is a baptism in the Holy Spirit and it is scriptural to call it a 'baptism.’ You've got to hear this tape!" 

 

He took the tape and set up his recorder by his bed to listen to it after he went to bed. The spiritual explosion that had just occurred in my own life was about to go off in Bobby's life. 

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

THE FIRE FALLS at HOME

 

It was past midnight when I was awakened from a sound sleep by a knock on my bedroom door. "Dad, can I talk to you a minute?" I thought I heard excitement in Bobby's voice and I remembered the cassette tape he was listening to by Don Basham when he went to bed. 

 

"I'll be right out." I dressed quickly and walked out into the hallway where Bobby stood. He was smiling. "Dad, I did it! I did it!" 

 

"What did you do?" 

 

"I spoke in tongues!" 

 

The excitement in his voice was electric. It was obvious that he had had an overwhelming experience! We went into the living room and sat together for almost an hour and shared what we had both experienced with God. There was a warmth and understanding between us that we had not experienced before. 

 

"Dad, I just followed the steps he outlined on the tape and did what he said to do and it happened. It was like Jesus was standing there! He was so real! I know it's real! Now I know I have the baptism in the Holy Spirit!" 

 

Bobby shared excitedly with me his experience and I shared my experience with him and we rejoiced together. 

 

This was a new beginning for Bobby. The following morning he was as radiant and excited as when we talked the night before. Unlike me when I first spoke in tongues and decided I would tell no one, Bobby had no problem openly sharing with anyone and everyone his experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. To him there were no controversial issues over doctrine. It was an experience of empowering so fulfilling that he could not keep it to himself. Before breakfast, during breakfast, and after breakfast he shared his enthusiasm and his joy! 

 

"What can I do to get the baptism in the Holy Spirit?" questioned Becky, our fifteen year old. She almost seemed jealous over her older brother's thrilling experience he had the night before. 

 

"Don't worry, Becky, you'll have your own baptism before many days." I assured her. 

 

I was no longer inhibited when speaking about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The dynamic transformation in Bobby's life came into our home like a steamroller and literally devastated all possible arguments against it. I knew that Becky, Joni, and eventually Debbie, Melanie and David would also receive this blessing. 

 

I was already beginning to see the first fruits in my new attitude of openness concerning the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. The vision on the wall of the church and the prophecy I had received of the barren wasteland and the fruitful garden would not be easy to erase. I had determined to open up and begin to share. I had shared with Bobby and now I was seeing the beginnings of a fruitful garden right in my own home. I was overjoyed and full of anticipation. 

 

As a father of seven children (five at the time) I am often faced with the importance of motivation in the lives of my children. I saw that there were many things they did because they were forced to do them, and there was much dragging of feet and grinding of teeth. I often thought how wonderful it would be if I could put the desire in their hearts to do the things I wanted them to do. I was amazed at the inward motivation God was giving to Bobby, not only in his relationship to the Lord but in all the relationships of his life. I was delighted with what I was personally experiencing through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but I was even more delighted to see what God was doing in my son, Bob Jr. And this was only the beginning. A fire had been kindled and was beginning to spread.

 

CHAPTER NINE

THE FIRE SPREADS

 

Almost daily Bobby would give me a report of the things that were happening on his High School campus as a result of this new and powerful anointing on his life. He began to pray that God would lead him to someone else at his school who had also received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Unknown to him, Wade Lachman, a spirit-filled senior, was praying the same prayer. So God brought them together and they began to have their lunch together in the band room each day. It was a time of sharing, prayer and Bible study. 

 

In a few days, instead of the two of them there were three, then four, then seven, then ten and on and on and on. Each day when Bobby came home from school he shared with me how the interest was growing. One day the group was so large they couldn't all fit into the band room so they went out onto the grass right out on the campus grounds in the open. 

 

By now they were being helped by Kurt Schroeder, a Spirit filled youth leader who was exceptionally talented in playing the guitar and leading in praise and worship, as well as in preaching. Sometimes more than one hundred students gathered in a huge circle to sing and share their faith in Jesus. Day after day the numbers increased. It became a major move of God on the Corona High School Campus. Daily, individual students were receiving Christ, being healed, being filled with the Holy Spirit and experiencing the power of God in their lives. The meetings were held everyday at noon. They continued for the rest of the school year with scores of lives being touched and changed by the power of God. 

 

Another spiritual explosion occurred when one of the youth leaders of the First Baptist Church, George Johnson, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a result of coming in contact with Bob Jr. and some of these "turned on" high school kids. George was a vibrant, enthusiastic young man who had a natural affinity to youth. Young people were attracted to him. George had received the Lord only a year or so before through reading a Four Spiritual Laws booklet given to him by his older brother. George had just gotten out of the Navy where he had learned to be totally committed to the ways of the world. Now that he was a Christian, he was just as eager to go all out for Jesus. So, what he saw happening among these high school kids attracted him immediately. 

 

One night Wade and Bobby were over at George's house until after one o'clock in the morning. When Bobby came home he was brimming over with excitement. He came to my bedroom door again and woke me up to report that George had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. At that hour I was too sleepy to consider the significance of it all, but the very next day it began to sink in. 

 

That was the day that had been set aside by George's youth group as a day to sell Christmas trees for a special project. George, Wade and Bobby were all working together on that project that day. I don't know how many trees they sold, but before the day was over five of the young people who had come to help sell trees had also received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

 

Holy Spirit baptism became the topic of discussion in George's youth group and before long many of the young people in his group had received it and were “on fire for Jesus!” And the fire continued to spread. Out of all this emerged a gathering every Tuesday night led by the youth and directed by George Johnson. Over the weeks and months we kept getting reports of miracle after miracle in the lives of many, many young people as a result of that Tuesday night meeting! 

 

One day as I was driving to the post office it occurred to me that this was the reason the early church in the book of Acts grew so fast. There were miracles happening constantly in the lives of individuals as they went about telling the good news about Jesus to everyone. The fire that fell on the day of Pentecost on the 120 spread rapidly as each individual began to move in the power of the Holy Spirit in his own circle of influence. The multiplication principle was at work as one life touched another and that life touched another and another. And it was all orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. 

 

God was giving me the opportunity to witness firsthand the dynamic spiritual motivation of these newly saved, Spirit-baptized Christians, and I knew that this could only come from God! No amount of training would ever impart such fantastic spiritual drive and energy as I was witnessing. From that moment I knew that in our home Bible study groups which we called Disciple Groups, we would not only emphasize the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we would also give due emphasis to the exercise of any and all of the spiritual gifts that Paul mentions in his letters. 

 

I knew this decision would cost me some very dear friends, but I had "launched out into the deep" and I felt confident the Lord would sustain me in this decision. 

 

CHAPTER TEN

AND the FIRE CONTINUES to SPREAD

 

Jim Hood was pastor of a Baptist church in a neighboring city. We had been close personal friends for a few years and I had been instrumental in his becoming pastor of his church in Fontana. Jim is a human dynamo! He is loud and boisterous, very funny, and very friendly. You will always know when Jim Hood is around. He's always the life of the party and if there is no party yet, he’ll get one started! His specialty in ministry was door to door evangelism. From time to time when Jim had to supplement his income he would get a job selling cars, and before very many weeks he'd be the top salesman. This has happened many times since I've known Jim. 

 

Jim was working with us helping start Disciple Groups in homes. At the time we were just getting started and our staff was very small. One day we were meeting for our regular weekly day of prayer and fellowship at my church. Jim was the first to arrive. The first thing he said to me was, "Hey, Bob, they tell me your son, Bobby, has had an experience with God and now he speaks in tongues!" 

 

My defenses went up immediately. I recalled the first time Jim and I met a few months before. We were in a meeting just like the one set for that morning and one of the first things Jim said to me after we had been introduced was, “I hope we're not going to get involved in this tongues movement! I think these tongue talkers are weird people!" 

 

"How did you hear about Bobby, Jim?" I couldn't deny the fact that Bob Jr. had truly had a powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit."

 

Joni told my wife Alice at the missionary banquet the other night." Jim didn't seem the least bit negative. In fact I thought I saw a spark of genuine interest, even a hunger in his heart. 

 

"Let's go back to the kitchen Jim, and have a cup of coffee before the others arrive and I'll tell you about it." I knew I couldn't tell him Bobby's story without telling him my own story, and at that point I was not ready to make it all a matter of common knowledge. We were meeting that day in a Regular Baptist Church, of which I was the pastor, and here we are talking about my son and I speaking in unknown tongues and moving in the gifts of the Spirit. I was aware of the fact that tongues could be a divisive issue, and I was not sure that Jim was all that open to hear what I was about to share. And, don’t forget, Jim was still pastor of a Regular Baptist Church, too, over in Fontana, a few miles away! 

 

As it turned out, I didn't have time to share it all before the meeting because people started to come in and we had to cut short our conversation. But two or three hours later, after the meeting was over and everyone left, Jim stayed behind. We stood in the kitchen and I explained to Jim what Bobby and I had experienced and what I believed the Bible taught about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

 

The more we talked and shared along these lines, the more excited we both became! As it turned out, Jim was not just mildly interested in these things but was deeply desirous of receiving the baptism himself. I discovered that he had been seeking it for several months. He was full of questions and I was eager to share. 

 

"How can I get the baptism, Bob? I want it NOW!" Jim was like Simon Peter, the first one out of the boat to walk on water and the first one into the empty tomb after Jesus rose from the dead! 

 

"Just sit right here, Jim.” I said. “I'm going to lay hands on you and pray, and you will receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit." I was full of faith as I shared a few verses of scripture along with some brief explanation, then I laid my hands on Jim's head and prayed. 

 

After I prayed I said, "Jim, just take a deep breath and receive it by faith like I did. You may feel something and you may not. The important thing is to take it by faith. You'll experience it later." Jim was the first person I helped to receive the baptism in the Spirit and I was impressed with the amount of confidence God was giving to me as I ministered this blessing to him. 

 

Jim received the baptism in the Holy Spirit that day by faith and as he drove over to his church he began to praise God in other tongues. Jim told me later that many people had tried to help him receive the Holy Spirit but nothing happened, but that I had explained it in such a way that he was able to understand it and appropriate it by faith. I do not recall all that I explained to Jim word for word, but the essence of what I said to him is contained in a letter I wrote to another enquirer a few weeks later. A number of people have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit since then through reading copies of the letter. The letter in its entirety on how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit is now chapter 18 of this book.

 

Jim took off like a skyrocket! After a few months, he began to pray for the sick and see supernatural healings take place in his ministry. Others received the baptism in the Holy Spirit through his powerful testimony. 

 

Again I was observing an overwhelming flood of joy and power in the life of one close to me. I was now in a place to see objectively the effects of this anointing and not just observe the effects of it in my own life. It has been a thrill to see Jim's ministry increase over the years since that time. 

 

Jim is now eighty years old and still has the energy, stamina, and excitement that he had so many years ago when we first met. When I talk to him on the phone now, his voice is exactly the same as it was when we first met over thirty five years ago. He has lots of years behind him but he is still a young man! 

 

Over the years he has been involved in many different ministries including starting churches, Bible Colleges, radio and television ministries and more. But the ministry that seems to be his strongest and longest is just going from door to door, talking to people about Jesus and leading them to put their trust in him. But after he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he added a new dimension to it. Now he often ministers in the power of the Holy Spirit to deliver healing to the sick in his door to door evangelism. 

 

When I am in California, I often spend several days in the home of Jim and Alice Hood. Almost without exception, the first thing I hear early every morning is Jim Hood walking down the hall outside my bedroom door, praying in the spirit. 

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM that BELIEVE

 

The day after the outpouring I experienced in my office, I received a call from a lady who had visited in our church several times. 

 

"Pastor Fitts, I'm terribly worried about my mother. She has sugar diabetes and a heart condition and is right now suffering with chills and fever. She goes to the hospital tomorrow for a series of tests. I'm afraid she'll never come back from the hospital. Will you please go to her house and pray for her?" 

 

I assured her that I would and hung up the phone. I bowed and prayed: "Lord, here's an opportunity to show your healing power." I prayed Acts 4:28-30 over and over as I drove to the address. 

 

"And now, Lord, ...grant unto your servants that with all boldness we may speak your Word, by stretching forth your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done in the name of your Holy Servant, Jesus” (Acts 4:28-30). 

 

I had come to the conclusion that some people will never believe in Jesus unless they see evidence that He is alive, and I had finally come to the point to be willing to lay everything on the line to prove in my own life and ministry that God is still a miracle-working God. I was fully persuaded that if the Apostles and early believers needed miracles to confirm the ministry of preaching the Word, I needed them too, for there is as much doubt, skepticism and unbelief in the world today as there was in Jesus’ day. 

 

When I arrived at the home of Mrs. Martin, she was sitting in a rocking chair covered from head to foot with blankets to keep her warm. She was suffering a chill. I sat and talked with her for a few minutes and then I read to her Mark 16:18, "They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover." I also read James 5:16, "The prayer of faith shall save the sick and the Lord shall raise him up."

 

As a Baptist preacher I had often prayed for the sick, but it was, in most cases, simply a verbal agreement that God is able to heal a person if it is his will. At other times I would pray that God would grant skill and knowledge to the doctors and nurses. Or I might pray for the medicine to work or the surgery, or the therapy. At best my prayers had been a strong crying to God to heal and in some cases I did see my prayers answered, thank God! 

 

But this was different. I was going to lay hands on Mrs. Martin! I was going to pray and believe God‘s word that she would recover and the Lord would raise her up! When it came time to pray I still didn't have the boldness to lay hands on her, so I prayed standing behind her chair and holding my hand about an inch above her head, claiming by faith the promises I had read to her and thanked God for the answer. I felt nothing and as far as I knew, she felt nothing. I assured her that God would answer our prayer and then I left. 

 

The next morning my phone rang early. It was Mrs. Martin's daughter and she was excited! "Brother Fitts, my mother slept warm last night for the first time in weeks and she didn't even have to get up and get her nightly medicines. Pray that the doctors will notice an improvement today when she goes in to be examined. She told me that when you prayed over her, she felt a warmth go all through her body. It started from her head and went all the way to her feet. She felt warm all over." At that, she began to praise the Lord and we both thanked Him for His Word of promise and for the touch her mother felt in her body the day before. 

 

The next day the doctors did notice an improvement and it wasn't long before this dear lady was able to be up cooking and doing her housework again. This was the beginning of many remarkable and miraculous events that kept occurring as I continued to walk and pray in the Spirit. I felt as if I were walking on the water with Jesus, like Peter. 

 

We started a Saturday prayer time at 6 A.M. in my church for those who had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and wanted to be in a charismatic prayer group where the gifts of the Spirit are welcomed. The group was always very small. 

 

One Saturday morning three other brothers and I were praying and I felt strongly impressed that there was someone present with pain in his body and that God would heal him if we prayed in faith. I was very hesitant to speak up and tell what I felt in my heart. I didn't know if this was my imagination or if it was a "word of knowledge" from the Lord, but I felt strongly that this impression was from God and that I should speak it out. So with fear and trembling I said, "There's someone here with pain in your body, or you know of someone who is in pain. God will heal this pain if we pray and believe." I added the part, "or you know of someone in pain", just to broaden the possibilities and give me a better margin for error. How careful we are to try to protect our image! I waited to see if one of the men present was in pain. There were only four of us present and it wasn't me. 

 

One of the men said, "It's me. I have a stomach ulcer and it is burning like fire this morning." I felt a huge sense of relief! "Thank you, Lord," I prayed silently. "It was you after all! Please forgive my doubts." We laid hands on him and prayed, claiming the promise that, "They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover" (Mark 16:18). The pain left immediately and several months later this brother was still testifying to his healing. 

 

One night I told my story of how I came into the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Trinity Missionary Church in Corona, a neighboring town. Pastor John Amstutz had been a great help to me in the things of the Spirit. He had been walking in the fullness of the Spirit for many years. I shared some miracles that had happened since I started moving in the gifts of the Spirit. I told of praying for my eight-year old daughter, Melanie, who had a painful wart on the bottom of her foot. We had to take her to the doctor only a few weeks before to have it cut out. One day she said, "Dad, I have a wart on my other foot now." Knowing by experience the power of God to heal, I just laid my hands on the wart and commanded it to dry up in the name of Jesus. A few days later Melanie said, "Dad, remember that wart on the bottom of my foot that we prayed for?"

 

"Yes, I do!" I could feel a good report coming! 

 

“It’s gone!” She said! We rejoiced and thanked Jesus for again stretching forth His hand to heal. 

 

After I shared Melanie's healing at Trinity Missionary Church, Mary Ann Bryant, a young college student came up and asked me to pray for her foot. She had a large cluster of painful warts which had been on her foot for a long time. Her pastor and I laid hands on her head and prayed the prayer of faith The next time I saw her she smiled radiantly and said, "Mr. Fitts, my warts are starting to go away.” I was a bit disappointed that she didn’t say, “They’re gone!” But I was learning that divine healing was not always instantaneous. Mark 16:18 says, "They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover." Recovery is often a process. For the next few weeks, every time I would see Mary Ann she would report progress. Then one day she took off her shoe and showed me the bottom of her foot. It was perfectly smooth. Not one wart remained! 

 

One Friday night I was teaching in a home prayer group when the phone rang. The hostess left the room to answer the phone and in a few minutes she returned with an urgent prayer request. "That was my father," she said. "One of his employees has a nine month old daughter who is right now in the hospital with a very high temperature. The doctors say she will not survive much longer unless the fever breaks." 

 

We immediately gathered in a circle. The hostess sat in a chair in the middle of the circle. We had her to "sit in" as an intercessor and we all laid hands on her in behalf of the sick baby. Just before we prayed, I felt impressed to check my watch to see what time it was. I said to the group, "It is exactly 9:15 p.m. Let's believe God for His healing touch right now!" We prayed and rebuked the fever in the Name of Jesus. 

 

The next day I received a call from the hostess. "Did you hear what happened last night?" she asked. 

 

"No, I didn't. What happened?" 

 

She said, "I received word from the hospital this morning that last night at 9:15 the fever broke and began to subside. By 9:30 her temperature had returned to normal. The nurses were so surprised that they had to check and re-check several times before they could believe it." 

 

The mother and father of the baby came to our Prayer Group the following Friday night and brought their baby. They had heard that we had prayed for her and wanted us all to have the joy of seeing our "answered prayer." She was indeed a beautiful healthy little baby girl! I was beginning to see the prayer of Acts 4:29-30, the prayer of the early church for miracles, signs, and wonders answered in my own ministry and I was thrilled! Miracles were beginning to happen in all areas of my life, not just in healing. 

 

About this time I experienced a remarkable guidance. I had an appointment to meet with a fellow worker at Melodyland Christian Center near Disneyland in Anahiem, CA. I had not left home as early as I had intended in order to be there in time. The person I was to meet had told me on the phone that they were always prompt in all appointments and very much appreciated this in others. As I traveled along the freeway glancing at my watch I knew that I could make it in time only if I could go directly to Melodyland, without having to stop to enquire for directions since I had never been there before. 

 

I prayed and asked God to get me there on time, and just as I pulled off the freeway and stopped at the traffic light, it seemed the Lord said to me, "Follow the car in front of you and it will take you directly to Melodyland." My first reaction was to doubt that the impression was from God. I felt it was probably just my own thoughts. Then it came to me, "This could be one of the results of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Why don't you follow the impression and see what happens." I decided that even if it made me late for my appointment I would follow this apparent leading from the Lord. So I stayed right behind the car and kept following it, trusting that I was indeed hearing from the Lord. 

 

Several times as we drove along, I was tempted to turn and go a different direction but the Lord kept saying, "Follow that car." In less than ten minutes I was driving into the parking lot of Melodyland Christian Center right behind the car the Lord told me to follow. I made my appointment on time and had experienced a miracle of God's guidance in the process. As I drove into that parking lot my heart was bursting with praise and worship, knowing that the same miracles of guidance that the early Christians experienced are still happening today! 

 

As time went by and miracles increased, I knew I could not continue in this kind of ministry much longer within the structures of my Baptist church unless God did a remarkable miracle, which, by now I was convinced he was well able to do!

 

I longed to stay on as pastor of Grace Baptist Church, but I knew I would have to share with the people about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts before long. There was no way around it. Already people were talking among themselves and it was only a matter of time before I'd be in a serious confrontation with my deacons if I didn't do something. 

 

"God", I prayed, "give me wisdom and skill in how to handle this matter! Help me to bring my people gently into this new dimension so that we all may grow together in your grace and power!" 

 

I had begun to attend a charismatic prayer group every Thursday night in Riverside led by Tony Alward, a young prophet from Pastor Leonard Fox's church in San Bernardino. I was amazed at the anointing that was upon the life of this young man. He would prophesy over individuals with amazing accuracy. God seemed to just open up the lives of the people before him as he faithfully ministered deeply edifying words from God to the people as the Lord directed him. 

 

One Thursday night, during the time that I was struggling about how much to share and when to share with my people at Grace Church, Tony called me out to give me a word of prophecy. As he prayed over me, he saw in a vision that I was going around and around a bush. Then he saw me plowing a field neatly laid out in straight rows. As I was plowing carefully down the rows suddenly I stopped, made a ninety degree turn, and started to plow right across the nice neat rows. 

 

He didn't know what the visions meant but I did. God was speaking to me that I had beat around the bush with my people at church long enough about my true convictions concerning the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, and that it was time to share my whole heart with them even if it meant taking the risk of plowing right across my neat theological rows that I had been so careful to stay within before. I went home that night with complete assurance that the time had come to bring everything out into the open with the people of Grace Baptist Church. 

 

As I prayed for guidance, the Lord led me to read an article by Larry Christensen on the "Unanimity Principle" that he used in leading his church into the supernatural dimension a few years before. He was a Lutheran pastor who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and had been able to lead his people into the charismatic renewal by that simple principle. The essence of this concept was to proceed on all major decisions only after all of his leadership was in harmony with the decision. 

 

After reading this article I decided to call my deacons together and tell them plainly of my experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and ask them to stand with me as I taught a series of messages on the subject to all our people. I planned to teach a series of five messages on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. I assured the deacons that I was not going to do anything more than share my own convictions and that it would be fully in accord with the New Testament. 

 

They finally agreed, though some seemed to have some misgivings about the matter. Sam was not there, but he had been somewhat inactive for a time, so I did not consider his absence that night as being a major problem. I didn't even feel impressed to call and talk to him privately about the matter, though we were very close friends and spent lots of time together because we served together in a hospital ministry. Subsequent events seemed to prove that I made a serious mistake. I did not follow the "Unanimity Principle" very well at all! 

 

CHAPTER TWELVE

AS the EAGLE STIRS her NEST

 

Ern Baxter was a personal friend of mine. I met him a few years before he passed away. He was a masterful and eloquent preacher! One of his most famous sermons was called, “On Eagle’s Wings.” Here is the introduction to that message, which spoke to me about what God was doing in my own life at this time: "All eagles begin as eaglets and before these unseemly, squalling fledglings take their place with royalty, they must be trained in the ways of the king of birds. This little verse is the Flight Training Manual of student eagles and earthbound Christians. “As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovering over its young, spreading its wings to catch them, bearing them on its pinions, so the Lord led him...” (Deuteronomy 32:11)

 

Picture with me two little eaglets snuggled cozily in a down-filled nest, high on an eerie ledge on some remote mountainside. Everything is just wonderful; mother eagle sallies forth daily and brings back choice tidbits for those ravenous appetites. During the cold, mountain nights she settles over the nest and the eaglets snuggle securely under those warm, soft wings and look out at the stars not very far away. They are newly born and baptized in the Spirit. Hallelujah!! Life is wonderful and being a Christian sure makes life easy — no more problems! God knew what He was doing when He thought up this arrangement. 

 

One day Mom eagle begins to act very strange. Rather than landing on the nest she hovers momentarily, beating the air with those great wings. As Junior watches her, he thinks, "Mom sure has powerful wings!" That is exactly what Mrs. Eagle wants Junior to know. 

 

Then she does something downright crazy. She grabs a piece of the nest and drops it over the side of the cliff. Then she returns for another chunk, and another, and another. The little eaglets are beginning to think Mom has lost her marbles! By now the framework of the nest is pretty shaky, and that nice soft down that made Junior feel so secure is at the bottom of the canyon. 

 

Can you see what the mother eagle is doing? She is preparing her young for the first stage in eagle training. After our Lord received the Holy Spirit and the declaration of His holy Sonship, the Scripture says that He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. I have written in the margin of my Bible at this point, "Is this standard operating procedure?" I believe that God's mode of operation is to begin to confront us as soon as possible with the necessity of maturing into something other than nest-bound believers. 

 

Interestingly enough, the discomfort of our bewildered eaglets has been deliberately caused by the one who loves them most. How often when we have a streak of trouble do we cry out, "The Devil is attacking me!" Are you positive it is the Devil? Maybe the One who loves you most is stirring up your nest. 

 

Like many believers, the little eagles conclude that standing on that windy ledge is at least tolerable and they can make the best of it. But dear old Mom has more in mind than just a nest stirring. She catches one of the little fellows in her powerful beak and nudges him toward the edge. The poor little guy wonders what is happening now. His little heart is beating faster and faster, and as he is pushed closer to the edge he thinks, "No, it can't be!" But it is! 

 

With one final push he starts to plummet toward the bottom of the canyon. He is sure this is the end. Then out of nowhere there is a swoosh of Mom's mighty wings and Junior is heading for the safety of the ledge on her powerful back, quite relieved. The first time God kicks us out of the nest and catches us before we hit bottom, we gasp, "Oh, thank heavens! I was sure God had let me down that time." 

 

Back on the ledge, our would-be king is just getting over being dizzy, when Mom starts pushing again. "Not again!" he moans, as he starts his second tumble. "What if Mom doesn't make it this time?" But she does. Several trips later Junior begins to get the feeling that Mom is trying to get a point across. Between rides he suddenly remembers Mom's huge wings hovering over the nest. He looks at his own straggly wings and thinks, "I wonder if... if she does that again I'm going to give mine a try!" Rest assured! He gets another chance! Mom will not stop until Junior finds the gumption to try his own wings. 

 

Little eagles are gangly creatures, wobbling shakily on untested wings. But each desperate plunge brings a little more mastery of his wings. One day he spreads those wings and rather than falling, he finds himself rising up and up and up, riding the mighty air currents far above his ledge home and the nest that confined him. No longer a fledgling begging for tidbits, he is learning to become one of the eagles. He will be a king! Our divine right is to reign in life! This is our inheritance." - Ern Baxter 

 

As I sat waiting for the deacons to arrive for this special, urgent meeting, I felt that God was stirring my nest by leading me to share about my experience with the Holy Spirit. 

 

I had been somewhat tense as I sat through the morning worship service, knowing what I was to share in my message. But I had prayed much about it and was confident that God was leading me to open my heart fully to my people in hopes that the move of God's Spirit would bring renewal to our church. I simply shared my testimony of how I had sought for and finally received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and how I had recently been fully persuaded that, as a church we need to make room for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to flow in order to help more people, and win more people to Jesus. 

 

The people's response was good. Everyone seemed excited, except some of my deacons. Sam was present and very much interested in what I had shared, but I was certain that his interest was not to come along side of me or to agree with me in what I had shared. 

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

A LIFE-CHANGING DEACON’S MEETING

 

The sound of footsteps and voices in the foyer interrupted my thoughts and brought me back to the issue of the present moment. It was 3:00 PM and the deacons were arriving on time. One of my deacons, Finos Massey, was very supportive and stood with me, but the other three were there to challenge what they had heard in my morning sermon. Finos had attended full gospel churches in his past and had no problem with any of the things I shared that morning. 

 

After a minute or two of small talk we got down to the matter at hand. "Bob, I'm sure you know why we've called this meeting.” All of my deacons took turns commenting and asking questions throughout the afternoon, but it was Sam who took the lead. He had been a Baptist pastor and the other men looked to him as their leader. 

 

"Yes, I understand that I am to answer your questions concerning what I shared in my message this morning." 

 

"Bob, do you feel that the experiences recorded in the Book of Acts, such as what happened on the day of Pentecost are for Christians today?“ 

 

I answered, “Yes, I believe every born-again believer can be filled with the Holy Spirit and experience miraculous manifestations of the Spirit just as the early Christians did. There were more than the twelve apostles present on the day of Pentecost. There were 120 of Jesus' followers present on that day, and they all received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, where it says, ‘and be not drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit.'"

 

He replied, "But the Book of Acts is a transitional period in which God used the miraculous to establish the authority of the church and then gradually phased out the 'sign gifts' when the canon of scriptures was complete! You are saying that the same miracles and signs that were evident in the early church should still be happening in the church today?" The tone of our exchange was polite and friendly, but very serious. 

 

"Yes, I believe that everything that was happening in the primitive church could and should still be happening now. As a matter of fact, there are many churches in every country of the world in which these things are still happening. Pastors and spiritual leaders are discovering that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, when properly exercised, are not repulsive or damaging to the Body of Christ but are given for the edification of the church. I do not believe that the Book of Acts is transitional. If it were, how could we use anything recorded in the book of Acts as our pattern for faith and practice if it does not apply to the present time?" I was beginning to feel more at ease. The tension was gone and I was actually beginning to enjoy the interview. 

 

"Are you suggesting that we do not receive the Holy Spirit when we believe? It seems to me you're teaching a 'Second Blessing' experience which we as Baptists do not believe or teach." 

 

I continued with my explanation, "I believe the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Jesus' resurrection when he breathed upon them and said, 'Receive ye the Holy Spirit' (John 20:22). They received the Holy Spirit in them that very day! Paul says in his letter to the Romans that if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Jesus. The moment we receive Jesus as personal Savior, we are born again of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. But Jesus told the disciples, who already had the Holy Spirit indwelling them, not to depart from Jerusalem, but to 'wait for the promise of the Father’ (Acts 1:4). 'And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city of Jerusalem, until you be clothed with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49). I believe there is an experience of being clothed with Holy Spirit power which is separate and distinct from the salvation experience. I believe this is the baptism in the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit was giving me the scriptures to back up what I was sharing with my deacons. 

 

One of the deacons said, "According to I Corinthians 12:13 we all are baptized in the Holy Spirit automatically when we receive Christ as Savior. How do you explain this?" 

 

I answered, “I Corinthians 12:13 says, ‘For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles.’ ‘This happens at the moment of salvation and is not an experience, but an eternal fact which goes beyond our experience and is true of all believers. This baptism refers to our being ‘in Christ.’ We are placed into His Body, the church, by the Holy Spirit. This is a baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ. This happens to all believers at the moment of the new birth. 

 

"But the baptism by Jesus with the Holy Spirit is something different - it’s an experience, and a person will know whether or not he has received it. It does not refer to his being in Christ, but rather to whether or not he is filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit as believers, which clearly infers that not all believers are filled with the Spirit, though they are certainly born of the Spirit and indwelt by the Spirit. 

 

The men were quiet as they listened to my answer, so I continued to explain my position. 

 

“John the Baptist said, 'I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. It is clear that John is referring to a baptism administered by Jesus and this baptism is with the Holy Spirit. Therefore the baptism mentioned in I Corinthians 12:13 is not the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but rather a placing of every believer into Christ as a member of His Body." As Baptists, we were required to have chapter and verse for everything we taught, preached or practiced. 

 

They again questioned me, "But why do you insist on teaching about speaking in tongues? What is the value of unknown tongues? There is strong evidence in I Corinthians 13 that tongues have ceased. We believe that there is no longer any need for this particular gift since the canon of scripture has been completed." 

 

I answered, "All I can say is that if tongues have ceased, then knowledge has vanished away. The same verse that says, 'Whether there be tongues, they shall cease,’ also says, 'Whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away.' It is clear from the context of I Corinthians 13 that Paul is referring to an ultimate and eternal state after this life, and is not referring to the completion of the canon of scripture. There is not one verse of scripture in the Bible that refers to 'a canon of scripture.' Spiritual gifts, all of them, are to be exercised throughout the entire church age. When Jesus comes and we are carried into His presence, all spiritual gifts will cease; and faith, hope and charity will go on forever."

 

The questions went on and on. There was a noticeable agitation at one point when one of my deacons said, "Obviously you have come with all your pat answers and we have had no time to research these things."

 

I answered, "But on what scriptural basis have I been called in question today? What have I done or said that does not agree with the Word of God written in the Old Testament or New Testament? I do not feel that I need to apologize for giving my testimony to having received the same experience as the disciples did on the day of Pentecost. If I am wrong in my doctrine, I stand open to be corrected. But show me in the Word of God where I have erred." 

 

We went on and on covering the same ground over and over for nearly four hours. The main bone of contention was speaking in tongues. Tongues somehow seemed, in their minds, to be beneath the dignity of intelligent people. Most of us had been taught that tongues passed away with the apostles of Christ, and that if anybody had such an experience now it must be either a delusion or a work of the devil. 

 

The deacons finally gave me their verdict, "Bob, If you have had such an experience and speak in tongues, then keep it to yourself. You announced this morning that you plan on giving a series of messages explaining the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and we will not allow that. You are trying to impose tongues on us and on our people. Either change your plans or we will be forced to remove you as our pastor." This was an ironclad ultimatum, and was not just the opinion of one. They were all in accord, except Finos Massey. 

 

"I am not seeking to force any of the spiritual gifts. I believe we all recognize the need for God's power in operation in our personal lives and in our church, and as long as we are afraid of spiritual gifts and resist the Holy Spirit, we will certainly not see God's power released in our midst as it should be and could be. I sincerely believe it is my duty as pastor of this church to preach the whole counsel of God, and seek to build up the people to a point of maturity where they themselves will be equipped to do the work of the ministry. I frankly do not believe this will ever be fully realized apart from a proper emphasis on all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe we will only hinder the work of God among us if we reject any of the gifts of the Spirit, no matter how controversial they may be. However, due to the conflict of your position and mine, I agree with you that I should resign as your pastor. I will explain the situation to the people in my final message tonight.” 

 

We left the church only a few minutes before the evening service was to begin at seven thirty. As I drove home quickly to get ready for the evening service I had a tremendous sense of relief and release at what had just happened! Finally it was all out in the open about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. I did not have to keep these things hidden any longer. I didn't know what I was going to say to the people that night, but I knew God would give me the words. 

 

I was excited and full of confidence that night as I stood up to speak after the praise time. The church was full. Many young people had started to attend because of the excitement of the move of God's Spirit. I simply read I Corinthians chapters 12, 13 and 14, and briefly explained all three chapters. I could sense that about 99 percent of those present were in full agreement with what I was teaching. 

 

God gave me a tremendous release in the Spirit to bring a clear teaching on spiritual gifts without lambasting and berating the leaders of the church for asking me to either shut this teaching down or get out. It was not two rival parties throwing rocks at each other that night. In fact there was a spirit of excitement! Instead of an atmosphere of animosity, anger and bitterness, there was a spirit of love and acceptance; of giving each other space to disagree on a highly controversial issue. 

 

After I explained why I was resigning as their pastor, there was a time of hugs and tears as we said our goodbyes that night. It was not an easy matter for me and my family to leave the people of Grace Baptist Church. We had been together for nearly ten years in the work of the Lord and we all loved each other. However, I knew God had a ministry for me in a setting where I would be free to move in the gifts of the Spirit which I had quenched, almost completely for nearly fifteen years. God was leading me out into a new ministry, trusting Him to meet the various needs of the ministry and a family of seven. 

 

After the service ended and we were all dismissed, four young people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit out in the parking lot, as George Johnson and some of the young people ministered to them. 

 

The drama, the adventure, and the excitement were enough to carry me on the crest of a wave for days and weeks, but I was to find that I would be entering new arenas of warfare that I had never faced before. I had a lot to learn and it would not all be easy by any means, as I would soon discover. 

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

THERE’S a MIRACLE in YOUR MOUTH

 

It was a difficult time in our lives, being cut off from nearly all the friends we had, but the Lord led us to join the fellowship of Trinity Christian Center of Riverside. Don Stout was the pastor. He was a humble man and was being used of God especially in a ministry of teaching God's Word and praying for the sick. There seemed to be a steady stream of miracles, especially in divine healing, connected with the ministry of Trinity Christian Center. These miracles were most notably present during a Prayer Clinic held every Wednesday morning from 10 AM till noon. God was giving us great favor and a multitude of new friends. We were overwhelmed with blessing! God had planted us in that fruitful garden I had seen on the vision on the wall a few weeks before. 

 

Soon I began to minister as an Associate Pastor of Trinity Christian Center. God was building into my life many new truths such as spiritual authority, the Lordship of Christ, true discipleship, and more. For years I had emphasized Mark 11:24 when teaching on the subject of prayer which says, "Therefore I say unto you, whatever things you desire when you pray, believe that you have received them and you shall have them." I had been experiencing and teaching that truth for years, but the verse right before it was completely beyond me. “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:23 NKJV). That verse was out of my reach. Praying a prayer in faith and waiting for God to bring the answer was one thing, but speaking out words with authority as Jesus did to the fig tree was something else indeed! 

 

When I began to see the authority of the believer and actually saw other Spirit-filled Christians moving in that dimension, I was encouraged to start using my spiritual authority and boldly commanding things to happen in Jesus' name and expecting them to happen. Jesus spoke to a fig tree and it withered. He said, “May no man eat fruit from you hereafter forever.” His disciples heard Him when He spoke those words and the following day as they passed by the tree again, it had withered from the roots up. Peter said, "Master, the fig tree that you cursed is withered away. 

 

Jesus answering said to them, 'Have faith in God, for truly I say to you, whoever shall say to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he says‘” (free translation). As I went over and over this verse, God began to reveal to me the tremendous power that is released through a simple command of faith. 

 

One lady gave us her testimony of how she experienced the reality of this commanding power. Each morning as she drove to work she passed a pornographic movie house. She was grieved in her spirit and felt a strong desire rising within her to see this movie house closed. One morning as she drove to work, she had to stop at a traffic light directly in front of this pornographic movie house. She turned and looked directly at the building and spoke, "I curse you in the Name of Jesus!" The very next day when she went to work, much to her surprise and joy there was a "CLOSED" sign on the front of the theater! 

 

Upon hearing this testimony, another Spirit-filled lady in a nearby town said, "I pass one of those theaters every day on the way to work, too. I'm going to do the same thing." She did, and in a short period of time it closed down. 

 

A lady stood up in one of our prayer clinics and shared with the group that both movie houses in her city had recently begun to show X-rated films. This was apparently a new policy, because films of this nature had not been shown there before. We all joined hands in agreement according to Matthew 18:18, "If any two of you shall agree as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father in heaven." In the Name of Jesus we bound Satan's power, which was behind this evil influence, and commanded that either this type of film would cease to be offered to the public, or that the doors of both theaters would be closed. In less than two weeks both theaters went out of business. A long article appeared in the local newspaper explaining the owner's reason for closing. We knew, however, that it was a spiritual conflict, and Satan had lost because we had spoken the Word of faith in Jesus' Name. Both theaters reopened later, but not with the purpose of showing X-rated movies. 

 

A few months after I experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my office at Grace Baptist Church, we were conducting a weekend of evangelism on the beaches in Venice, California. We were training young men how to witness from door to door, and on the beaches. We had five or six counselors with us to help in training and in supervision. Jim Hood was one of the counselors due to his vast experience in door to door evangelism. Among these counselors was a young man, Bob Ford, whose testimony and ministry was beginning to attract attention at TCC, especially his ministry in healing the sick. Bob had a large family and worked as a salesman making a good income. In our sharing times together I learned that his job was very demanding, requiring sixty to seventy hours a week, leaving him very little time to be involved in the work of the Lord. 

 

Bob shared these things with me one afternoon, and I kept thinking about his situation. The following day as I was driving to an appointment it occurred to me that I could take authority over this situation in the Name of Jesus, and it would surely change. Suddenly it was as if God dropped a ton of faith into my heart and I spoke it out with great intensity as I drove along the freeway, "In the Name of Jesus, I loose Bob Ford from the grinding bondage of a job that requires so much of his time, into a fulltime ministry in the Word. Satan, I bind you from hindering this in any way. In one month's time he shall have more free time to serve the Lord in the gifts you have given him. In Jesus name it shall be done!" 

 

I was surprised at the boldness and authority with which I spoke! I believed, however, that the situation would change. That was on July 8th. Through a series of special miracles in Bob's life, he resigned his job on August 8th and stepped out into a faith ministry, looking to the Lord to supply all his needs and the needs of his family. Neither of us remembered about the one month time limit until we stopped and figured out the dates several months later. It was exactly one month to the day when Bob was released to have more time for his ministry of healing the sick in Jesus' name and teaching the Word of God. 

 

A few weeks after the Venice witnessing mission, Bob was appointed as an intern pastor at Trinity Christian Center, and later was sent out to start churches in the state of Idaho, which he did for many years. 

 

A few days after the weekend at Venice, Gary Amaon, the husband of Vicki Amaon, was sharing with me that he felt God was calling him to spend more time in the work of the Lord. He had a supervisory job that required six days a week and about twelve hours a day, a situation much like that of Bob Ford. After we had talked awhile, the same burden that I felt for Bob Ford a few days earlier came upon me for Gary Amaon. We knelt in prayer and by faith we released him to have more time with his family and more time to serve Jesus. 

 

"Gary, within three weeks I believe we will see your job situation change," I said. I had felt strongly impressed to say two weeks, but my faith wavered and instead I said three weeks. Gary seemed shocked even at that but somehow God had again dropped faith into my heart and I spoke it out. I could hardly believe what happened! In less than twenty-four hours Gary's job was changed. Without any knowledge of Gary's desire for fewer hours, his boss came up to him the very next morning and arranged with Gary to have a regular five-day week, eight-hour a day job. He had to take a cut in his income, but this was all part of God's plan and Gary and Vicki simply adjusted to meet this change with rejoicing in their hearts. 

 

I was beginning to move in the midst of a dynamic and powerful creative force... the force of faith! It was not a magic formula giving believers the power to conjure up any and everything they wanted and speak it into being no matter what, but as we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4). 

 

About this time, our oldest daughter Becky celebrated her sixteenth birthday. She said to me, "Dad, I need a job, will you pray with me?" We both believed it was God's will for her to get a job, so we set a time to pray the prayer of faith according to Mark 11:23. 

 

Becky was a junior in high school and she wanted to get a job that would give her extra high school credits. In order to do this, she needed to have a job by January 28th. In our prayer time we prayed, "Lord, you said in your Word that, "if any two of you agree upon earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father in heaven." We ask that by January 28th, Becky will have the job she needs! Thank you, Father, amen!" 

 

The next day she went out and began to make applications for employment. Her faith was severely tried as the deadline of January 28th neared, but we continued to praise the Lord, by faith, for the answer. On January 20th, one of her teachers told her to apply at the local newspaper office. She did and she got a job. It was exactly what she wanted and was within walking distance of her school. How beautifully God works! I began to see that I had the authority to speak out in faith and expect results. 

 

Too often I had prayed and asked Jesus to do what He had given me the authority to do. Jesus said, "The works that I do shall you do also and greater works than these shall you do.” I knew that in order to speak with authority I must speak according to the will of God and in line with the Word of God, so I began to saturate my mind with the Word. I found that I could read the New Testament through once a month by reading only nine chapters a day. Jesus said in John 15:7, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you." I began to read the New Testament through once a month with great profit and blessing. I became convinced that we cannot move into real usefulness in the service of Jesus apart from a thorough knowledge of the Word of God. Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." If our heart is filled with doubt, then we will be speaking doubt and defeat. If our hearts and minds are saturated with the word of faith, we will speak out faith and miracles will happen! 

 

I was not aware of it at the time, but God was preparing me to enter into the most formidable arena where the command of faith would be all-important, the arena of bringing release to those tormented by demons. 

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

IN MY NAME THEY SHALL CAST OUT DEMONS

 

The things I had read in Don Basham’s book about casting out demons were still burning within me! As I was meditating on Mark 16:17-18 one day, these words stood out to me, "These signs will follow those who have believed; In my name they shall cast out demons..." 

 

I was already experiencing the last part of that passage where it says, "...they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover." Miracle healings had definitely started happening and I was praising the Lord for it! For years I had been praying for the sick without laying hands on the sick. When I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and began laying hands on the sick, miracles of healing resulted. Not only were people getting healed, the miracles were attracting hungry people and many were being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit as a result of the miracles. Now I was faced with the simple fact that I had been a believer for more than 25 years and not once had I ever cast out a demon. Could it be that I was just as much in need of a change in my approach to helping people with demonic problems as I had been in my approach to healing the sick? 

 

I began to read books and hear tapes on the subject of demons and deliverance from their torment. The book that helped me most was another one by Don Basham entitled Deliver Us From Evil. Most book stores would not sell it, and many of those which did sell it didn't put it out on the shelves, kept it under the counter and you had to ask for it by name. After weeks and months of research on the subject, I slowly became convinced that I myself had for a long time suffered under the harassment of a spirit of fear. After reading the book by Basham I followed his instructions on how to break the power of demons over our own lives, and found a tremendous release from a spirit of fear that I had lived with since childhood. 

 

After experiencing such a release in my own life through self deliverance, I began ministering deliverance to others. I prayed and asked the Lord to use me in helping people come out from under the bondages that Satan would put on them. The very next day I walked from my office at church downstairs to get a drink of water. At the bottom of the stairs I met two young men at the entrance who appeared to be waiting for someone. They looked defeated and a little haggard, as if they hadn't slept or eaten for awhile. I greeted them as I passed by, thinking that they were waiting to see Pastor Stout who was in his office only a few feet away from where they stood. After my drink of water I went back up the stairs to my office. About ten minutes later I came out of my office and saw them still standing there by the front entrance with a pained look on their faces. About this time the pastor came out of the kitchen. 

 

"Who are these young men waiting for?" he asked. 

 

"I thought they were waiting for you?” I said. "I've never seen them before," the pastor replied. 

 

I walked up to them and asked, "Can I help you fellows?" Their answer to my question startled me! "We need deliverance!” one of them said in a loud clear voice. 

 

I could hardly believe I heard him right. "What did you say?" I asked. 

 

"We need to be delivered. We've been on hard stuff and we both want deliverance," he replied. At this point there were tears in their eyes. I was amazed at the providence of God as we walked up the stairs to my office. If this had happened even a week earlier I would have been unable to help them. I would not have been ready. But now I was rejoicing in my spirit as I led them to my office because now I knew how to help them. In less than half an hour they both had received a release from severe oppression and walked out of my office transformed! 

 

Later on, Paul Bush, one of those young men, came to church and I led him into the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He said, "I received deliverance when you helped me six months ago and I haven't had any problem with drugs since." 

 

The other young man spent a few weeks in a rehabilitation center and lived a real testimony for Jesus before he left and went to Northern California. A few days after I began to minister in deliverance, a friend called me long distance who I hadn't heard from for more than a year. I could tell from the beginning of our conversation that he was under heavy oppression. 

 

"Bob," he said, "I have a lot of confidence in your ministry, and I need your prayers. The devil is really attacking me. I need help. My mind is so confused. I'm sick and I really fear for my life. If I can't get some release from this, I don't know what will happen!" 

 

Only thirty minutes before I had been in prayer and the Lord said, "I want you to go on a fast according to the fast I have chosen in Isaiah 58.” I read Isaiah 58:6 and it says, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke." As I meditated on this verse, I told God that I would start the fast immediately for the purpose of becoming spiritually sensitive to the needs of people who are being oppressed by the devil. As I went into this fast I thought of the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives." 

 

Imagine my excitement to receive a call like this after being into this fast for less than an hour! I knew this man's deliverance was certain. After talking to him and praying with him, I took authority over a spirit of confusion and a spirit of infirmity and commanded them to leave at once. Immediately there was a deep sigh of release on the other end of the line and then a welling up of praise to God as this brother experienced a deliverance from tormenting spirits. 

 

To speak directly to evil spirits and command them to leave in Jesus’ name was something new and strange to me, but I knew God was leading me to enter this arena of spiritual authority. I was seeing longstanding, deep-seated psychological problems dissolve before me eyes as I obeyed this calling to cast out demons in the name of Jesus. 

 

Our eleven-year-old daughter, Debbie was delivered instantly from a spirit of fear that had tormented her for over a year. 

 

Our little five-year-old, Judy, who just could not stop sucking her thumb, was set free instantly from that binding habit through deliverance after we had tried everything we could think of over a period of two years to break her habit of thumb-sucking. When we dealt with the problem as a need for deliverance from a compulsive spirit, she stopped sucking her thumb the very same day. 

 

A lady in Monterrey, Mexico was set free from smoking cigarettes instantly when I commanded the compulsive spirit to leave her. She was smoking as many as four packages a day, and had tried for years to break the habit without success. It took only a few minutes to get her free, through dealing with a tormenting spirit. The ministry of deliverance, while it was setting people free from bondages, was also an area of great controversy. The old question, “Can a Christian have a demon?” had to be dealt with, and that was a hard one. We finally decided that we’d begin every session by discerning whether spiritual oppression or bondage was present. It did not matter if we were dealing with a Christian or a non-Christian. If God revealed the problem to be demonic, that is the way we would minister. We took some flak, but we also set a lot of people free from some horrible torment. 

 

We even discovered that a lot of sickness and disease was a matter of dealing with demonic spirits, such as the lady who was bent over for years and could not straighten up. Jesus cast out a demon and she was free to stand up straight again! We are in good company when we begin to cast out demons. Jesus Christ is recognized as the greatest teacher, preacher, and worker of miracles who ever lived, and he made no apologies to the religious leaders of his day for casting out demons, even though some of them said he was doing it through the power of the devil. 

 

It is helpful to keep in mind that it was Jesus who prophesied that we would cast out demons the same way he did, through the word of faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit. He said, "These signs shall follow them that believe, in my name they shall cast out demons.” (Mark 16:15-16)

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

ANOINTED

 

When I receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was taught that once you receive it, you've got it, and you have it from then on, all the rest of your life. I was told that there is only one baptism in the Holy Spirit and that if you've ever had it, you've still got it. "One baptism, many fillings" was what I was taught. This meant that I could be filled again and again, but I could only be baptized in the Holy Spirit once. I was left with the conclusion that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was different from the subsequent fillings and the baptism could never be repeated, but the fillings could be repeated. I could only be baptized in the Spirit once, but I could be filled over and over. 

 

But as I studied the scriptures and the lives of anointed men of God, I began to see something altogether different. Over a period of several years, it became clear to me that although the presence of the Holy Spirit within us is constant and unchanging, the infilling or anointing of the Spirit upon us can and does change. It is not constant. 

 

This truth became clear to me along three lines. First, I saw it in the scriptures; second, I saw it in the lives of Spirit-filled men of God; and third, in my own experience. Paul said to the Ephesians, "Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess but be filled with the Spirit." The literal meaning in the original language is actually, "Don't keep on getting drunk with wine... but keep on getting filled with the Spirit." Paul is not saying, "Don't get drunk with wine ONCE but be filled with the Spirit ONCE." His admonition is basically, "Keep on being filled!" It is a present ongoing tense in Greek. 

 

The New Testament makes no distinction between being baptized in the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit. In Acts 1:4, Jesus said, "In a few more days you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit." Ten days later when the day of Pentecost came and they were all awaiting Jesus’ promise of the Spirit to be fulfilled, suddenly there was a sound from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind and cloven tongues as of fire sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Spirit. The word "baptized" or "baptism" is not used at all in to describe the fulfillment of the promise on the Day of Pentecost. This is conclusive proof that to be baptized is to be filled, and to be filled is to be baptized. 

 

Later on, in Acts 4, they were all in prayer again crying out to God for miracles of healing and signs to be wrought. The Lord answered that prayer by "filling" them all again just as they had been filled on the day of Pentecost. I am certain that what happened to the 120 people in the upper room on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, happened to them again in that prayer meeting recorded in Acts 4. The word "filled" is used in both instances. As we compare scripture with scripture, we can only conclude that to be "filled" with the Holy Spirit is to be "baptized" with the Holy Spirit, for the two words are used interchangeably (Acts 1:4-5 and 2:4). 

 

To me it was exciting to discover that we can be baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit more than once. I had met so many people who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and had spoken in tongues, but who had cooled down to a doleful lukewarm-ness and who could only sadly reminisce about the "good ol' days" when they received that glorious outpouring called “the baptism in the Holy Spirit.” It was as if they were breathing out a sad lamentation, "Oh, if it could only happen again!" The Lord was showing me that it could happen again and again and again! The very same experience that happened to me the first time I was filled (baptized) in the Spirit, can happen to me over and over again. 

 

There are three instances where this experience is referred to as a baptism. In each case it is almost the same words spoken by different individuals: 

 

THE WORDS OF JESUS in Acts 1:4 - "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command, 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirt.’” 

 

THE WORDS OF PETER in Acts 11:16 - "Then, I remembered what the Lord had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’" 

 

THE WORDS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST in Luke 3:16 - “John answered, 'I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." 

 

Some of the other terms that are used referring to the baptism in the Holy Spirit are: "filled,” "receive,” "come upon,” "anoint," "be endued," and "pour out.” 

 

An Infilling - In Acts 2:4 when all those who tarried in the upper room on the day of Pentecost received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it simply says, "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them." The same word is used again in Acts 4:31 when the same group of people received the same experience again. 

 

The word "filled" is also used in Acts 9:17, "Then Ananias placed his hands on Saul and said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’” Ananias was referring to the first experience Paul would have had of being baptized in the Holy Spirit, but he used the word, “filled.” So the teaching, “One baptism, many fillings” cannot be correct. 

 

A Receiving - In Acts 8:14-16 the word "receive" and the term "come upon" are both referring to the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit: "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them... then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." 

 

The first question Paul asked of the twelve disciples he met in Ephesus was, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” When he found that they knew nothing about it, he proceeded to minister to them the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

 

An enduement - Luke 24:49 - "And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power." The word endued means to be clothed or covered, as with an outer garment. This concept is in harmony with the next word that also speaks of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

 

An Outpouring - When Peter explained to those who witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he said, "These men are not drunk as you suppose. It's only nine o’ clock in the morning.” No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’“ The baptism, or filling, is also called an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 

 

An Anointing - The word anoint means to rub, smear or pour a substance on something or on someone. To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be anointed with the Holy Spirit. 

 

Everyone who has had experience in ministering under the anointing, also knows what it is to minister without the anointing. Recently I was ministering in a large church in Mexicali, Mexico. For weeks the Lord had impressed me to minister healing to the sick in all my public meetings, so I called for all those to stand who had pain in their bodies. Eleven people stood. I asked them to come forward and I ministered to them. I did not lay hands on them. I simply rebuked the pain in Jesus' name. Then I asked, "Now, how many feel that the pain is now gone?" Only one of the eleven raised his hand, which was not a very convincing demonstration of the healing power of God! I felt I had been forsaken! I had stepped out to do what God had told me to do and yet He was not backing me up with miracles of healing. "What is the matter, Lord? What am I doing wrong?" I wanted to quit praying for the sick. It's a lot easier to just teach and preach. 

 

That night in my motel room I was confused and depressed. That happened in a Friday evening service. I was under a cloud of doubt all day Saturday. Then on Saturday night God spoke to me in a dream. He said, "You must put on your spiritual clothes daily! You must receive the enduement of power on a continual basis. Do you want to heal the sick? Then get under the anointing and stay under the anointing. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that breaks the bondage in peoples’ lives. 

 

On Sunday morning, the first thing I did after I had made my bed and got dressed, was the exact same thing I did that day years before in my office at Grace Baptist Church. I just lifted my hands, closed my eyes and began to worship God in the Spirit. Instantly I began to feel the impact of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Waves of that power came over me and over me until I knew that I had received a fresh baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

 

I was confident of God's presence and power as I awaited my turn to speak in the Sunday morning service. The praise and worship was anointed, and there was an air of excitement and expectation everywhere. I stood up and said, "There are some of you here this morning who are suffering pain in your bodies. I believe the Lord will heal you if you will come and receive the laying on of hands for healing right now." 

 

Twenty three people stood and made their way to the altar. I laid hands on each one and rebuked the pain in the name of Jesus. Then I asked, "How many of you can testify that all the pain has already left your body?" Fifteen of the twenty-three raised their hands immediately. God had given me a real life demonstration of the difference there is in our power and effectiveness when we are moving under a fresh anointing.

 

I am persuaded that there is so much more of the depth, and riches and power of God’s anointing than any of us has ever experienced. It has been a rich and rewarding experience in my life to go deeper and deeper, not only in my inward walk in the Spirit but also in reaching out to preach, to heal and to deliver under the power of a fresh anointing. 

 

In the years since that initial baptism in the Holy Spirit, I have been privileged to help others into this wonderful experience of empowering and have seen their lives dramatically change, almost overnight! 

 

The move of the Holy Spirit is growing in power and intensity all over the world. According to church history, the power of the Holy Spirit seems to have come upon the church in waves down through the centuries. The church experiences a time of mighty outpouring and then goes through a time of dryness and decline. Then another wave rolls in! This is not the plan of God, nor is it his intention. The words “revival, revive, revived, or reviving” are not found in the New Testament. It is not the plan of God! The word revival means to bring back to life something that has died. It speaks of a decline. So we come up with the thought, “Another Wave Rolls In” as if God in his sovereignty plans these things and sends them upon us from time to time. This is not the case! 

 

If we would continue to put the proper emphasis on the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a normal and regular part of the ministry of the church, there would be a continual and ongoing River of Life flowing worldwide as the Church, the Body of Christ, takes the gospel to all nations. God’s perfect will as to the flow of His life in the church is not an occasional wave of the ocean, but rather the powerful and constant flow of a river! The life of Jesus is the pattern. Jesus never needed to have a revival for he never experienced a decline. This is His will for us! 

 

We should be as zealous as the early church was to make sure that everyone who receives Jesus and is baptized in water in the name of Jesus also receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This was the practice of the early church. Consider the following: “But when they received Phillip as he preached the good news of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women... When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them that they might receive the Holy Spirit . . . then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:12-17) 

 

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

THE VALUE of SPEAKING in TONGUES

 

When you stop to think about it, isn’t it strange that we even have to make a case for whether or not there is any value in a gift that comes from the hands of our Father, God? Would God ever give us a bad gift, a gift that would be detrimental to us and not good for us? All the gifts of the Spirit listed in the New Testament, including speaking in tongues, are God’s idea, not man’s idea. We dare not look down on or treat with contempt any of God’s gifts. But because the gift of tongues has become a center of controversy, and because tongues seem to have become a divisive issue as to their value or importance, I have included below some things to consider concerning the value of speaking in tongues. These are from the writings of Paul in chapter 14 of his letter to the Corinthian believers. So let us see what value the Word of God places on speaking in tongues. We can group all Paul has to say about the value of speaking in tongues around the following ten words: 

 

EXPLANATION COMMUNION INTERCESSION EDIFICATION SUBMISSION SUPPLICATION DETERMINATION      ADORATION      IDENTIFICATION      MANIFESTATION

 

These are all found in I Corinthians 14 with the exception of the first one, which is in chapter 12:1 EXPLANATION “Now concerning spiritual gifts . . . I would not have you to be ignorant.” (I Corinthians 12:1) 

 

What value could there possibly be in speaking a language, even if it is supposed to be a form of prayer, if you don't know what you are saying? This question only arises in the minds of those who suppose that something only has value if it can be understood and explained. How could anything have value if it is not reasonable, logical, and explainable? 

 

We are not unwise to embrace and enjoy such things, for if we did not, we would not participate in electricity in its mysterious workings, or fly in a supersonic jet, or enjoy the song of the mockingbird. We may even find it hard to accept our physical bodies, so magnificent in their capabilities and functions that the Psalmist cried out, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" The fact is, we accept and embrace and enjoy many, many things everyday that we do not fully understand, even things that we would call "mysterious." 

 

Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the meetings on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California at the turn of the last century, there has been much discussion among theologians and among Christians in general about the validity of speaking in tongues. None of the spiritual gifts have caused as much excitement and aroused as much controversy as speaking in tongues. 

 

Some are calling this phenomenon, "The Tongues Movement." It is no surprise due to the powerful impact speaking in tongues has on people, whether they believe in it or not! Almost any of the other spiritual gifts Paul mentions in his first letter to the Corinthians are easier for the average Christian to accept than speaking in tongues. I think it will help to recall a prophecy Jesus gave about these strange and unusual tongues. We cannot deny that, for many, it is easier to receive the words of Jesus on this matter than the words of Paul or anybody else. Consider the following words of Jesus: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues, they will pick up snakes with their hands, and when they drink any deadly poison it will not hurt them, they will place their hands on the sick, and they will get well." (Mark 16:15-18) NIV 

 

Why should it be thought strange for Jesus to prophesy something that actually came to pass and is recorded for us in the book of Acts, in the writings of Paul, and in the annals of church history? Some might say, "But Jesus just said "new tongues" and not "unknown tongues" so this probably means they learned new languages as they traveled and entered new people groups? But please note that all five things Jesus prophesied he called "signs" and were clearly considered to be in the realm of the supernatural, so why would not the "new tongues" also be supernatural language and not just learning to speak a known language? Learning to speak a known language is not a supernatural "sign." 

 

Nearly all of these things that Jesus predicted in Mark 16 took place in the life of one single follower of Jesus... the apostle Paul. In Jesus' name he cast out demons, he spoke with new tongues, he picked up a deadly viper and was not hurt, he laid his hands on the sick and they got well. And in the history of Christian missions over the centuries, believers have consumed poisonous food and drink without ill effects. 

 

The words of our Lord Jesus on the subject of unknown tongues are very important, and we cannot afford to ignore what he said about this. He said all these things would happen, and they did happen, and they are still happening today, including speaking in tongues. 

 

Let’s look at Paul's letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, and see what he says about the value of speaking in tongues. If speaking in tongues has no value whatever, it should not be done anywhere in the Body of Christ ever! Why should we keep up a practice that is very controversial and troublesome while it has little or no value? On the other hand, if the Word of God clearly teaches the value of this practice and actually encourages it, we can’t lightly pass it off as a form of religious stupidity. 

 

We need to keep in mind that Paul wasn’t intending to tell the Corinthians that they shouldn’t be speaking in tongues, for he specifically states the very opposite position in verse 39. “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophecy and do not forbid speaking in tongues." In verse 5 he says, "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues." and in verse 18 he says, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you." If Paul is speaking the mind of God on this matter, we must hear what he has to say and walk before God in the light of this revelation. 

 

Whatever my view of speaking in tongues, it should not come in conflict with that of the apostle Paul; how can we receive any of his counsel as the word of God and the will of God for us, if we cannot accept what he says to us concerning spiritual gifts? We cannot pick and choose which parts of Paul's writings are from God, and which are his own ideas. 

 

Conclusion: There is value in speaking in tongues, because God would not give the Church, the Body of Christ, a gift that was without value. 

 

COMMUNION - "Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God." (v. 2) NIV 

 

When I speak in an unknown tongue I am speaking to God and not to men. I am communing with God in the spirit. I am saying something to God that he understands, though it is a mystery to me. Paul gives another name to speaking in tongues in verse 14. He says, "When I pray in an unknown tongue my spirit is praying." Many times, as I have been praying with my spirit, I have been impressed to stop and interpret what I am praying. At times it is a revelation from the Lord giving me specific direction in my life where I need divine guidance. 

 

If all the books in Christendom were brought together with each topic in a separate pile, do you know which topic would have the biggest pile? The topic of PRAYER! Go to any library and find the religion section and see what topic has more books. Prayer will usually always win that contest! 

 

Prayer is the channel of our access to God. We come into the Kingdom of God through prayer. We ask for and receive things from God through prayer. We praise the Lord through prayer. We keep up a constant communion all through the day by means of prayer. The fact that Paul calls speaking in tongues PRAYER is no small matter! 

 

Conclusion: There is value in speaking in tongues because there is value in prayer. 

 

INTERCESSION "Anyone who speaks in a tongue... utters mysteries." (v.2) NIV 

 

In verse 14 Paul says that when he prays in an unknown tongue his understanding is unfruitful. He did not know what he was saying, but he was confident that God knew, for he used the word "mysteries." This word in the Greek speaks of secret things that are hidden to the eyes of some but revealed to others. Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, and revealed them to little children." (Luke 10:21) 

 

There are many such things in the Kingdom of God that are hidden from the eyes of the proud and arrogant, but revealed to the humble, the broken, and the child-like. Some of the best gifts God has for his children are passed over by the masses because they are not willing to stoop low enough to pick them up. 

 

The evangelist Dwight Moody said he used to imagine that the best God's best gifts were the ones you had to climb the highest to get. He said the longer he lived, the clearer it was to him that the best gifts are the ones you have to stoop the lowest to obtain. 

 

"The mysteries" here in verse 4 sometimes refer to prayers that we pray in the spirit for others, when we do not know what to pray for in our own language. We see this more clearly in Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." 

 

How often this prayer language has helped me while praying for our children and grandchildren! I know that when I call their names out before the Lord and pray for them in the spirit, I am interceding for them for just what they need, because the Holy Spirit knows and will use me to bring that very thing before the throne of grace for them. You may say, "But how do you know you are praying for just the thing they need at that moment?" I know by faith in the Word of God in Romans 8:26, "The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." 

 

CONCLUSION: There is value in speaking in tongues, because there is value in interceding for others being specifically led by the Holy Spirit. 

 

EDIFICATION "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself." (Verse 4) NIV 

 

When I speak in an unknown tongue I am building myself up in the spirit. The word “edify” means to build up, to strengthen, to encourage, help, and confirm. I need all the help I can get in my walk with the Lord. How about you? We are in warfare! We are dressed for battle and the war is raging. If speaking in tongues will bring me special strength that wouldn't be mine otherwise, I would be unwise not to avail myself of such an advantage. 

 

If you have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can speak in tongues any time you want to. The next time you begin to feel down, depressed, worthless, worried, fearful, anxious, or troubled, by faith open your mouth and begin to pray. Go ahead and pray with your understanding, don't stop till you also pray with your spirit! You will begin to experience the strength there is in this gift to bring you personal edification. It will build you up in your faith. "But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit." (Jude 20) Consider two instances of the powerful effect praying in tongues can have to strengthen, to edify, to heal, and to empower us for sharing the love of God with others. 

 

The first is shared by Dr. Jim Buck in his book entitled Prayer Therapy: The Healing of the Whole Person: 

 

If indeed one speaks to God and edifies himself when he speaks in a tongue, how can this be used therapeutically? A case in point concerns a 22-year-old woman named Sarah, who was diagnosed by her psychiatrist as being catatonic schizophrenic for the past six years of her life. The psychiatrist had recommended to Sarah's mother that the state mental hospital be considered because of her hopeless prognosis. Sarah came to me heavily medicated and sat in waxy rigidity as I viewed her the first time in my office waiting room. I introduced myself and extended my hand to greet her, but she sat like a statue and stared blankly through me. Her mother told how, as a 16-year-old, she was an outgoing young lady, who was Spirit-filled and had a lovely singing voice. She explained, in front of Sarah, how a friend had betrayed her at age 16 and how this had triggered the onset of her depression and catatonic reaction. She had not spoken a word in six years! 

 

I sensed that though there was no outward sign, Sarah was nonetheless hearing all that was said. I saw her for weekly sessions for six weeks, trying everything I knew to get a response, but to no avail. On the seventh visit, I asked the mother to allow her daughter to sit alone in the counseling session with the door cracked so she could hear from the waiting room. I sensed the Holy Spirit directing me not to make eye contact with Sarah, but to sit to the side as I looked out the window. 

 

I began speaking in a soft tone, “Sarah, I know you can hear me and that you are fearful of people hurting you. That's why you haven't spoken for six years. But I also sense that you want to be healed and that you are learning that I will not allow anything to hurt you. I know you feel you can't trust me or anyone else after being hurt by your friend, but you can trust God. He's the only one that can bring you real healing, so let's just look to Him. I'm going to look out this window so you can relax. I hear you have a good singing voice, so if you would like to join in while I praise God, please do. The Bible says you can sing with your spirit and you can pray with your spirit, so let's just do that. Father, fill us with your Holy Spirit and as we praise, let Sarah feel again the fullness of Your Spirit within her overflowing with your joy, We just praise You now.” 

 

I began singing quietly in my prayer language and was aware that Sarah remained unresponsive. This continued for about 20 minutes as I became absorbed in singing prayerfully. 

 

I opened my eyes and realized that Sarah was still sitting in silence; however, I sensed a breakthrough was at hand. 'Sing with me if you want to Sarah,' I gently encouraged. Again praise flowed from my heart through tongues, though a little louder this time. Suddenly, I heard the frail voice of Sarah singing in her prayer language! I was excited, amazed, and overflowing with praise. The more we sang with eyes closed, the louder we became. I could hear Sarah's mother weeping in the other room and then joining in the singing in the Spirit. 

 

We sang continuously for about 15 minutes and then just sat in the awesome silence of the presence of the Lord. Finally, I said cautiously, “Sarah, do you know what the Lord just did?” There was no response for about three minutes, then I heard her say clearly, “Yes.” The catharsis of singing prayerfully in the Spirit proved to be the therapy of the Lord to set this captive free. Romans 8:26 confirms this experience when it states; “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." That word, “groanings” when studied in the Greek, is a true description of praying in the Spirit, or praying in tongues. 

 

Dr. Clark Peterson of Tulsa, OK is a brain specialist and was doing research on the relationship between the brain and praying in tongues. He made some amazing discoveries. Through research and testing, He found that as we pray in the Spirit (our heavenly language) there is a specific activity that begins in our brain. As we engage in our heavenly language, the brain releases two chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost in the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly, this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and we don't use it. It is only activated by Spirit-led prayer and worship. We need to pray in our prayer language more that we ever have before. 

 

The second instance where speaking in tongues proved to be of great value as an edifying, empowering experience was in the life and ministry of Jackie Pullinger, a British missionary to the old Walled City of Hong Kong. After two years in the city, she had seen very little results from all her labors. Then she met a Chinese couple who had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and prayed in tongues. She was drawn to them because she saw something in them that she did not have and that she desperately wanted. She talked with them and they invited her to their house and led her into the baptism in the Holy Spirit. She spoke in tongues for the first time. Here is her testimony: 

 

I sat down and they laid their hands on my head saying over and over again in pidgin English, “Now you begin speaking, now you begin speaking, now you begin speaking.” But nothing happened; they thought I was going to burst into the gift of tongues and it had not worked. The idea of a new language in which you could speak fluently and express all the thoughts of your heart to God was wonderful. But I thought that it was something that you had to be rather advanced and spiritual to get. I shut my mouth firmly. If God was going to give me this gift, then He was going to do it, not me. But they kept saying, "Now you begin speaking, now you begin speaking.” I was acutely embarrassed and began to get cross with them. I felt hotter and hotter and more and more uncomfortable; here I was not speaking in tongues and they were going to be so disappointed that nothing had happened. Eventually I could not stand it any longer, so I opened my mouth to say, “Help me God,” and it happened. As soon as I made the conscious effort to open my mouth I found that I could speak freely in a language I had never learned. It was a beautiful articulate tongue, soft and coherent in that there was a clear speech pattern with modulated rise and fall. I was never in any doubt that I had received the sign that I had asked for. But there was no accompanying exultation. I had imagined being lifted up into praise and glory but it was most unemotional . . . I was very glad that this experience had not happened to me in front of British people. As I got to the door they said, “Oh, you can expect the other gifts of the Spirit to appear now,” but I did not understand what they meant. 

 

She goes on to tell how she expected more power and miracles in her walk and her ministry, but was deeply disappointed: I was still rushing round the Walled City, going to some kind of Christian meeting every night, trying with every ounce of my being to help people, but nobody seemed to have been helped. I felt cheated. 

 

Then I met Rick and Jean Willan, a young American couple who were new to the mission work in Hong Kong. I went to see if I could be of some help to them and the very first question Jean asked me was, "Do you pray in tongues, Jackie?"

 

I was shocked by Jean's American forthrightness. No English person would be that direct. “Well, no actually. I haven't found it that useful. I don't get anything out of it so I've stopped.” It was a relief to discuss it with someone. But Jean would not be sympathetic, “That's very rude of you,” she said, “It's not a gift of emotion. It's a gift of the Spirit. You shouldn't despise the gifts God has given you. The Bible says he who prays in tongues will be built up spiritually, so never mind what you feel, do it!” 

 

Then she and Rick made me promise to pray daily in my heavenly language. They insisted that the Holy Spirit was given in power to the Early Church to make them effective witnesses to the risen Christ. Then to my horror they suggested we pray together in tongues. I was not sure if this was all right since the Bible said that people should not all speak in tongues aloud at the same time. They explained that St. Paul was referring to a public meeting where an outsider coming in would think everyone was crazy; we three would not be offending anyone, and would be praying to God in the languages He gave us. 

 

I could not get out of it. We prayed and I felt silly saying words I did not understand. I felt hot. And then to my consternation they stopped praying while I felt impelled to continue. I knew already that this gift, although holy, is under our control; I could stop or start at will. I would have done anything not to be praying out loud in a strange language in front of strange Americans, but just as I thought I would die of self-consciousness God said to me, “Are you willing to be a fool for my sake?” I gave in. “All right, Lord, this doesn't make sense to me, but since you invented it, it must be a good gift, so I'll go ahead in obedience and you teach me how to pray.” 

 

After we finished praying Jean said she understood what I had said, God had given her the interpretation. She translated. It was beautiful; my heart was yearning for the Lord and calling as from the depths of a valley stream to the mountain tops for Him. I loved Him and worshipped Him and longed for Him to use me. 

 

It was in a language so much more explicit and glorious than any I could have formulated. I decided that if God helped me to pray like that when I was praying in tongues, then I would never despise this gift again. I accepted that He was helping me to pray perfectly. Every day--as I had promised the Willans--I prayed in the language of the Spirit. Fifteen minutes by the clock. I still felt it to be an exercise. Before praying in the Spirit I said, “Lord, I don't know how to pray, or whom to pray for. Will you pray through me, and will you lead me to the people who want you?” And I would begin my fifteen minute stint. After about six weeks I noticed something remarkable. Those I talked to about Christ believed. I could not understand it at first and wondered how my Chinese had so suddenly improved, or if I had stumbled on a splendid new evangelistic technique. But I was saying the same things as before. It was some time before I realized what had changed. This time I was talking about Jesus to people who wanted to hear. 

 

I had let God have a hand in my prayers and it produced a direct result. Instead of my deciding what I wanted to do for God and asking His blessing I was asking Him to do His will through me as I prayed in the language He gave me. Now I found that person after person wanted to receive Jesus. I could not be proud. I could only wonder that God let me be a small part of His work. And so the emotion came. It never came while I prayed, but when I saw the results of these prayers I was literally delighted! 

 

Conclusion: There is value in speaking in tongues because there is value in being edified, strengthened, and built up in our most holy faith. 

 

SUBMISSION: "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues." (Verse 5) NIV  We have to read the 14th chapter of I Corinthians with an unbiased mind. If you come to this chapter with a prejudice against unknown tongues, or the so called, "Tongues Movement" you will find some verses with which to build a case for a negative view of speaking in tongues. There are definite safeguards that Paul sets forth for the proper use of this gift. He also makes a contrast between the gifts that build up the whole body of Christ, and the gifts that build up the individual believer, but never does he advise that speaking in tongues be abolished or in any way diminished. It has its own proper place in the daily walk of the Spirit filled believer and must not be relegated to the realm of the "unimportant." 

 

Everything Paul has to say about speaking in an unknown tongue puts this gift in a very good and positive light. The only things he says that may seem to be of a negative nature about speaking in tongues is when he is admonishing those who do so to make sure they do it at the right time and in the right way. One translation of verse 5 says, "I wish you all spoke in tongues." 

 

Can you say, "If Paul, speaking in the Spirit, says he would like me to speak in tongues, in that case, I would be happy to speak in tongues." That is the spirit of submission to spiritual authority that every believer should have. God gave the apostles to the church so that we could profit from their revelation, experience, and wisdom. Since Paul admonished the Corinthian believers to speak in tongues, affirming that he spoke in tongues more than any of them and that he wanted them all to speak in tongues, we can safely say that this practice is a desirable one for all believers and that includes you and me. 

 

At the close of each of Paul's letters he usually gives many admonitions to the saints of things to do and things not to do. If I truly believe the New Testament is the Word of God, I will not be quick to disqualify any one of these admonitions as simply something the apostle Paul said. I will receive it as something the Holy Spirit is saying to me through Paul, and that I need to submit to what he is saying because it is not from Paul, but from our Lord Jesus himself. 

 

Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." If I really believe that, I must seriously consider this word "I wish you all spoke in tongues." as a word from the Lord. Is it the word of man or of God? I must decide. It is my firm conviction that it is the wish of God as well as the wish of the apostle. I would go further and say that it was God's wish that inspired Paul to write that wish down and send it to the Corinthian church. If I am truly broken and open toward the Lord, I will take it to heart and enter into the blessing of this wonderful gift of spirit-led prayer uttered in a heavenly language. 

 

None of God's gifts are to be despised! They are all good. No, they are not just good, they are GREAT! Do not reject ANY of God's precious gifts! We will never know what we have forfeited if we do. It has been my observation over a period of many years that those who are not open and receptive to the gift of speaking in tongues are usually not open to any of the other supernatural gifts. On the other hand, those who begin to move in the gift of speaking in tongues are usually active in other spiritual gifts, such as prophecy, word of knowledge, healing, exorcism, the prayer of faith, and flowing powerfully in other gifts of the Spirit as well. 

 

Conclusion: There is value in obeying a clear word from God even if it is given in the form of a wish. 

 

SUPPLICATION: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful." (Verse 14) NIV 

 

The Greek word translated supplication simply means "a petition, a request, or a prayer.” When I am speaking in an unknown tongue, I am exercising my faith in several areas: first, I believe this is truly a gift from God and that when I do this something is happening in the spirit realm that would not happen if I did not pray in this way. According to this verse, when I speak in an unknown tongue, my spirit is praying. I know this only by faith. I can know it in no other way except through revelation.

 

"When I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays . . ." I need to be clear in my mind about what is happening when I pray with my spirit. At times you will read "praying in the Spirit" (with a capital S) and at times "praying in the spirit" (with a small s). Why would that be? It is because when I am praying with my spirit, I am also praying in the Holy Spirit. When I pray in tongues it comes from my spirit, not just from my mouth, and it is energized, directed, and enabled by the Holy Spirit dwelling in my spirit. 

 

Does this kind of prayer have value? Yes, indeed! Prayer is the most powerful force on earth. And this kind of prayer is the most powerful and effectual of all since it is not mixed with my finite notions and feelings. It is perfect since I am motivated wholly by the Spirit of God. John Wesley said, "God does everything he does through the prayers of his people and he does nothing without them." I believe he was right! The wonderful thing about praying in tongues is that you cannot possibly pray outside the will of God. It is the Holy Spirit praying through your spirit, and He knows where prayer is needed most as well as how to pray and how much to pray. 

 

When Paul said, "When I pray in tongues my spirit prays", the word he used for "pray" in the Greek was the same word that is used when Jesus said: ". . . pray to the Father in secret, and the Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Mt. 6:6) NIV 

 

When I pray, I come before the throne of God to make requests for myself or others, depending on the mercy of God and his love and power to grant my requests. The word “pray” is actually two words in the original language: "pro-sucomai“. "pro" means "toward" or in the direction of, and "sucomai" means "to wish or desire." So the full meaning of the word PRAY is "to direct our wishes toward God." These could be very selfish or they could be wishes and desires that are fully in accord with the will of God. The advantage of praying in the spirit is that we always pray according to the will of God. 

 

One may say that the disadvantage of praying in this way is that we do not know what we are praying for, and therefore we cannot know if or when the desire is granted. When I give myself to the Holy Spirit to be used in intercession, I must also give up my right to know all the good that is accomplished through my prayer ministry. I can simply pray believing that I am praying in the will of God, and that I am not only praying for needs all over the world, but that I am also interceding for the needs of my own family, friends, ministries, churches, jobs, and everything else that pertains to my daily life. 

 

Sometimes I will pray in the spirit holding certain needs before the Lord. While I am praying in tongues, I am at the same time thinking about the urgent matter that I want to lift up to the Lord. I have found this to be a very effective and delightful way to pray. And I also believe these prayers have been answered over and over again. For example, if my son has had an accident on his job and is recovering in the hospital, I will hold the need for his healing before the Lord as I pray with my spirit. 

 

The experience of Jackie Pullinger confirms this also. She testified that before she would begin her 15 minutes of praying in tongues each day, she would confess that she did not know what to pray for or how to pray, but she also asked the Lord to lead her to people who wanted to hear the good news of God's love. This was precisely what the Lord began to do in her ministry. So it is good to hold before the Lord some need or desire and pray in your prayer language about it. You do not know what you are saying, but you do know what you are praying, and you can know when God answers that prayer. 

 

Let us also continue to pray in tongues when we do not know what we are saying or what we are praying for. The Holy Spirit will use us to pray for all saints, as well as for all our own needs and concerns. 

 

Conclusion: There is value in Sprit-directed prayer even when I do not know what I am saying or what I am praying. 

 

DETERMINATION "I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." (Verse 15) NIV 

 

The King James version uses the word "understanding" instead of the word "mind." I think that is a better translation. "I will pray with my spirit and I will pray with my understanding also. I will sing with my spirit and I will sing with my understanding also." (KJV) 

 

Notice the expression, "I will." Prayer is a matter of the will and not of the emotion. You can will to pray or you can will not to pray either in your own language or in a spiritual language. You can pray in tongues with the same amount of emotion as you do in your own language. Sometimes we have a lot of emotion and sometimes very little. 

 

God does not gauge the sincerity of our prayers by the amount of feeling we are able to generate. The one thing that makes prayer work is faith, not feeling, and faith comes through hearing from God. Praying in tongues is no more an exercise in emotion than in any other type of prayer. This is one of the hardest lessons I ever learned about walking in the Spirit. I can decide to pray with my spirit or I can decide not to pray with my spirit. It is a matter of the will and therefore it is a matter of faith and has nothing to do with the realm of the emotions. 

 

Some think that when a person speaks in an unknown tongue he is caught up in some kind of ecstasy and has no control over himself. That was my thinking for a long time. With all my heart I wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to have the power of God on my life and ministry, especially when I would see how wonderfully God used those who were filled with the Spirit and moved in spiritual gifts. So, I began to seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit at the age of seventeen. 

 

Five years later I was still seeking. Then one day God got through to me with these words from a little book whose name and author I do not recall: 

 

"You can receive the full blessing of Pentecost just as you received Jesus as your Savior, by faith. My battle ax is Galatians 3:14, 'That they all might receive the promise of the Spirit by faith . . . ' Just as you received forgiveness from the hands of a dying Savior, you can now receive the fullness of the Spirit from the hands of a living Savior, by faith." 

 

For the first time in all those five long, weary years of begging, crying, praying, pleading, fasting, reading, tarrying, seeking, knocking, asking and asking and asking, the light was finally turned on in my spirit. Now I knew how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I could take it by faith just like I took Jesus as my Savior, by faith. 

 

I laid the book aside and walked to a mountain near our home where I used to go and pray. On my way to the place of prayer I said, "Lord, I have asked you ten thousand times to fill me with your Spirit, but I have never yet prayed and then thanked you for hearing my prayer and for giving me what I asked for. Today I am going to ask one more time, then I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to take the gift by faith and give you thanks for filling me with the Spirit. If I do not speak in tongues, that will not matter. If I do not feel your presence, that will not matter. If I do not hear anything, or see anything, or have an emotional experience or anything else, it will not matter. I will take it by faith in your word alone." 

 

When I arrived at the top of the mountain I knelt down and prayed, "Lord, you said if we ask you for anything according to your will, you hear us. And if we know that you hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of you. I know it is your will for me to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for you have commanded me to be filled with the Spirit. In Ephesians 5:18 you said, 'Be not drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit.' So, Lord, right now, in the name of Jesus, I am asking you to baptize me in the Holy Spirit and I receive it now by faith! Thank you for hearing my prayer and for filling me with your Spirit. Amen!" 

 

At that moment I knew God had heard my prayer, and that I had received by faith what I had asked for. I had a settled assurance that the transaction had been completed. I had received it even though I did not speak in tongues, or fall down, or cry, or laugh, or leap, or dance, or go into a trance, or see heaven opened, or anything at all out of the ordinary. One thing I did have that I never had before. I had confidence. I had a rock-hard, settled, solid, certainty that I had taken the gift from the hand of my Father by faith and that I did not have to ask for it again. I now had the blessing. I had it by the surest evidence of all . . . by faith! And the Lord encouraged my faith by reminding me of the words of Luke 11:11, "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" NIV  

 

A few days later I was alone in my car on my way home from classes at California Baptist College in Riverside, California. As I began to pray and commune with the Lord, I felt such a surge of joy and a powerful sense of God's presence that I burst out in praise to the Lord, but not in my own language! I was speaking in tongues for the first time in my life! 

 

Now, I was a member of a Baptist church at the time and as far as I knew, all my friends were opposed to speaking in tongues or any of the so called "sign gifts" so I did not tell anyone that I had had an experience of speaking in tongues, not even my wife, Joni. She had developed an unfavorable opinion of Pentecostals and was not very open to anything that could be labeled "Pentecostal.” So when I had this powerful experience, I decided not to tell her or any of my friends about it. In a sense I became an "underground Pentecostal." 

 

From time to time when I was alone and this wonderful feeling of joy in the felt presence of God came over me, I would begin to speak in other tongues. I felt that it would be wrong for me to do this without this high level of emotion. I thought it would be sacrilegious. It just would not be right if I simply decided to speak in tongues and did it. It had to be initiated by the Holy Spirit, and I reasoned that when I felt God's presence strong enough it would be okay to speak in tongues. I thought that if I did it without this special sense of God's presence it would just be me and not God at all. 

 

This was about as far as I went for the next 12 years, with very little growth in understanding about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was attending a fundamental church of the Regular Baptist denomination at that stage of my life and such things were totally out of the question. If I had openly tried to move in such manifestations, I would have been invited to leave and go to another church. 

 

Then, through reading the book, Face UP With a Miracle, I learned that I could speak in tongues anytime I wanted to. I could speak out loud or softly. I could start and I could stop. I was in control. When I tried doing that I had that wonderful, transforming experience in my office one day which led to life in a different dimension! 

 

I was pastor of a fundamental Baptist church at the time. I was sitting in my office reading Basham's book, when there began to well up in me a powerful urge to throw off every yoke that was binding me to tradition and to begin to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit with complete liberty. I wanted to see more of the power of God in my own life. I wanted to see miracles happen. I had no scriptural reason to accept the teaching that in our day we have a different kind of Christianity than Paul, Peter, John and the early Christians had. And if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, we have every right to expect the same things to happen in our day as happened in their day. We are living in the same age of the same Church and the same Holy Spirit is still present to fill and empower God's people! 

 

So I laid the book aside and stood to my feet there in my office, no one there but Jesus and me. For some time I stood praying in tongues with my hands raised to God. When I stopped and started to sit down and read some more of the book, it seemed the Lord spoke to my spirit two words, "No . . . Continue!" I obeyed the impulse and began again to pray in tongues, and as I continued, I began to feel something. I felt that I was being lifted up into an atmosphere of the pure presence of God. 

 

I felt like a vessel being filled with the water of life. It was like the breath of God blowing upon me, refreshing me down into the depths of my being. It seemed that God had opened the windows of heaven and poured out upon me an ocean of pure love, joy and power! The room was filled with the awesome presence of God! 

 

As this wonderful fountain from heaven kept pouring into my soul, I found myself taking deep breaths and pouring out my heart to Him in praise and adoration, both in tongues and in English. It was such a glorious experience I did not want it to subside. At least I was determined that I would continue to praise until this fresh baptism was complete. It was such a powerful visitation! Now I knew why the disciples on the day of Pentecost were accused of being drunk on new wine. I was staggering around my office like a drunk man! 

 

In the midst of this powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit I was reminded of Charles Finney's account of receiving such an outpouring on the same day that he received Christ: 

 

"As I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me like immense wings. 

 

“No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; I do not know but I should say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more! Yet I had no fear of death. 

 

"How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir (for I was the leader of the choir) came into my office to see me. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, 'Mr. Finney, what ails you?' I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, “Are you in pain?” I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, “No, but so happy that I cannot live!” - Charles G. Finney, p. 20, Flemming H. Revell-1876 

 

As these same waves of which Finney spoke in his testimony were washing over me, I remembered also in the biography of evangelist Dwight L. Moody, how he had described his experience as "waves of electric love" as he too had reeled under a powerful baptism in the Spirit while walking down a street in New York City. He had cried out to God for this blessing for many months before he finally received it. After he received it he said his ministry changed overnight. He said that instead of scores of people being saved under his ministry, now there were hundreds. The same supernatural power attended Finney as long as he stayed under that anointing. The day he received his baptism he left the law profession and started witnessing for Christ full time. Almost every person he spoke to that day came under a powerful conviction of sin and gave their lives to Jesus. 

 

Now I understood what these men had received and I wanted to receive the full force of it, so I just continued to praise God in tongues with my hands lifted to the Lord. I left my study and walked out into the sanctuary. I continued to walk up and down the isle of the sanctuary with my hands lifted up, speaking in tongues. I was glad no one was around to witness what was going on. 

 

I continued in this way for several more minutes, then I felt the Lord spoke to me to stop speaking in tongues and begin to prophesy. It was like I saw a vision on the wall of the church behind the pulpit. On the left I saw a desert wasteland and on the right side I saw a fruitful garden and I heard these words as I opened my mouth and began to prophesy. I knew it was a word from the Lord to me: 

 

"My son, consider not the applause or the censure of men, for I have called you into a life of fruitfulness and you shall not fear man. If you are willing and obedient you shall eat of the fat of the land, but if refuse and rebel, you shall suffer loss. I am with you and as you follow me and learn to move out in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, I will multiply you exceedingly and you shall find fulfillment. But if you refuse to follow the light that I have shed upon your path, you will experience drought and a barren land with no water in it. Behold, I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it, for you have a little strength and have not denied my name. Go, therefore, and fear not to share with others what I have shared with you this day, for this is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest and this is the refreshing that I long to pour out upon my people, says the Lord." 

 

As these words of admonition flowed from my lips, it was as if I were sitting by and listening to my heavenly Father speak to me using me as His messenger. I do not mean that I had no control of myself or of my speech. But as God put thoughts in my mind, I spoke them out and then found another thought behind that one until the message was complete. I felt strength flow into me through what God had spoken to my heart. 

 

I discovered later in my study of these things that in almost every instance in the Bible, when God would pour out His Spirit on someone, they would begin to magnify God and prophesy. 

 

When I left my church that afternoon, I knew that I could not continue to conceal my belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit and in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit including the so-called "sign gifts" that my denomination had labeled . . . “no longer necessary.” 

 

My joy and excitement exploded! I felt like a new person. Such a refreshing! I knew that things would not be the same after that wonderful outpouring. I knew that I would have to share with Bob Jr. what had happened to me, but at the time I didn't know exactly how or when. 

 

A few days later, while browsing in a Christian Book Store, I found a cassette tape by Don Basham on how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was a simple and powerful teaching that God had used to help many into the fullness of the Spirit. After I listened to it, I took it to Bobby and said, "Bobby, now I know that there is a baptism in the Holy Spirit and it is scriptural to call it a baptism. You've got to hear this tape!" 

 

He took the tape and set up his recorder by his bed to listen to it after he went to bed. The spiritual explosion that had just occurred in my life was about to go off in Bobby's life. 

 

I had often wondered why our church took such a strong stand against miracles. We were very vocal and outspoken that the Bible is the Word of God, and that all the miracles in the Bible really happened just as they are recorded, but we taught a dispensational theology which affirms that miracles are no longer needed and that it would be wrong to seek miracles or signs of any kind in our day. The scriptural texts that were used were the ones where Jesus scolded the Pharisees for asking for a sign saying, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign." (Matt. 12:39) 

 

The fact that Jesus and his disciples and the early church moved and ministered in a powerful miracle working ministry didn't seem to carry any weight at all. We were never taught to pray the prayer of the early church: "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29) God wonderfully answered that prayer, for it goes on to say: "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." (Acts 4:31) 

 

As I read the book by Basham, my desire to see the miracle working power of God demonstrated in our church became the cry of my heart. My great desire was not to speak in tongues. It was for power to witness, to teach, to preach, and to evangelize in the power of the Holy Spirit. I really didn't care whether I spoke in tongues or not. On the other hand, I didn't want to miss out on anything God had for me. 

 

The other thing that troubled me about not speaking in tongues was the fact that all who received that blessing in the book of Acts spoke in tongues or prophesied as soon as they were filled with the Spirit. I did want to receive the Holy Spirit in exactly the same way they did, so that Satan would never be able to say to me, "You didn't receive the same experience the early Christians did. If you had, you would have spoken in tongues as they did." It was obvious that speaking in tongues was a part of the experience of the early church whenever the filling of the Spirit is recorded in the book of Acts.” 

 

First Instance: In the upper room on the day of Pentecost when they were filled, they spoke in tongues . . . "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 1:4-5 NIV)

 

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:1-4) The "all" is implied, for all were filled and "they" began to speak in tongues. There was not even one of those who were filled who did not also speak in tongues. That was a very strong reason for asking God to give me the same experience that he gave them, including speaking in tongues. You may say, "But you did not speak in tongues when you received the baptism on the mountain that day." 

 

No, I did not, but I received it two days later after I believed I had received it. The reason I had not received before is because I had never exercised my faith to receive. I had to stop the endless cycle of asking, begging, pleading, and never believing His promise. When I asked and then followed the request with a simple "Thank you, Father, for hearing me and for answering my prayer," Later, I did speak in tongues and prophesy, and many other gifts of the Holy Spirit became active in my life and ministry. 

 

Second Instance: Peter preaching in the house of Cornelius . . . when they were filled, they spoke in tongues. "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 'Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."' (Acts 10:44-47) NIV 

 

Later, when Peter was explaining to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem how the Gentiles had received the gospel and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit he said: "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."' (Acts 11:16) NIV

 

As Peter stood there in the house of Cornelius and witnessed this outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles that had interrupted his sermon, he thought of Jesus' words, and he understood them for the first time. He said, "Then I remembered." He had already connected the words of the prophet Joel with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in the upper room for he quoted them to the skeptical crowd that day: "Fellow Jews and all of you who are in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:14-18) Peter connected this event and the one in the upper room with Jesus' promise of a baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire. 

 

Third Instance: Paul in Ephesus . . . when they were filled, they spoke in tongues. "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They answered, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. So Paul asked, then what baptism did you receive? John's baptism, they replied. Paul said, John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.” (Acts 19:1-7)

 

It does not say they all spoke in tongues but it is strongly implied because it says "they spoke in tongues and prophesied . . . there were about twelve men in all." It is not too far-fetched to think the pronoun "they" referred to all twelve men. One can receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues, but everyone who has received the baptism in the Holy Spirit can speak in tongues if he so desires. You do not have to speak in tongues to know that you have received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. You can know by faith. 

 

Someone may object to the thought we can all speak in tongues, citing Paul’s word, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” 1 Cor. 12:29-30 (KJV) Paul was opening up the whole scope of spiritual gifts encouraging believers to “covet earnestly the best gifts.” (I Cor. 12:31 KJV) No, not all are apostles, or prophets, or teachers, or miracle workers, etc., but that does not do away with Paul’s admonition to “desire spiritual gifts, which would include speaking in tongues.” (I Cor. 14:1) 

 

I had always thought that when I spoke in a tongue I would be totally out of control and would not be doing anything. God would come and take over my body, my mouth, my tongue, my will, my self-control, and if I had anything to do with it at all, it would not be of God; it would not be the real thing. I was glad to learn that the unknown tongue was something I could initiate and control, and that I did not have to wait till it just "happened to me." I could choose when to use this gift. 

 

Conclusion: There is value in praying with my spirit, for such spirit led prayer is perfect intercession and perfect praise. 

 

ADORATION: "If you bless with the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the 'amen' at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified." (Verses 16-17 NAS) 

 

Throughout the fourteenth chapter of I Corinthians, Paul is trying to encourage the use of spiritual gifts for the edification of the whole Body of Christ. He is very clear that it is through the use of these gifts that the Body builds itself up as every part does its particular job. When we come to these verses we see the same emphasis. Paul is concerned that spiritual gifts be used to help others. At the same time he is revealing to us some of the purposes of the gift of tongues and they are all very positive. For example, in the verse above Paul says that the one who speaks in a tongue is blessing or praising God and that he is giving thanks "well" (acceptably or admirably). This reveals to us that when we are praying in tongues we are at times praising and giving thanks to God in a praise-worthy manner. The error that Paul is correcting is not that of speaking in tongues; it is speaking in tongues at the wrong time and in the wrong place. 

 

One of the greatest blessings in my own experience with the gift of tongues is that of being released so completely from having to form reasonable, logical, and sequential words and being set free to sing and pray to my God without being hampered or hemmed in by anything. I am free to wing my way to the heights of glory in a language that flows directly from my spirit, led by the Spirit, through my mouth and out to the heart of God! When I pray with my spirit, I am fluent! As one who struggles with words, it is no small blessing to suddenly become fluent! When I pray with my spirit, I do not stagger or stutter or bog down for loss of words. Some prayers are too heavy for words! They cannot be carried on the backs of any language! They can only be expressed in the language of the Spirit of God Himself! This is where tongues enters the picture. This is soaring in the realm of spiritual power that can devastate strongholds, uproot, pull down, and destroy demon fortresses, and establish the Kingdom of God in the earth. 

 

There is a difference in feelings and words. Some feelings are very hard to put into words. Have you ever felt this overwhelming love for God and longed for the words to express that love? That is the time for bursting forth from the depths of your spirit in a language that God understands because He is the one that enables us to speak it out. 

 

One day I was praying for my missionary friend, Hobart Vann. I asked the Lord to show me what to pray for. Then I said, "Lord you know where Hobart is right now and you know exactly what he needs, so please meet all his needs and bless him real good!" When I stopped praying I began to think, "Why doesn't God do that anyway? Why does He have to wait till I pray to do what He already wants to do for Hobart, and is fully capable of doing? Why should I ever need to pray for Hobart Vann again? God loves him more than I do and he has all the resources of heaven and earth at His fingertips. He is able to channel His provision to Hobart to meet his every need. I was perplexed and disturbed! 

 

Over a period of time the Lord began to show me why we have to pray before He can work. He reminded me that he had given to Adam the commission to "take dominion" over all of creation. We were created in the image of God with power to co-labor with Him. He gave us the privilege of using the word of faith to create and to form and to reform things in this world. He also made us free moral agents with the right to choose to love and obey Him, or to disobey and walk away from Him. If it had been otherwise, we would have no power of choice. We would have been like robots, programmed to love God, and therefore it would not be love at all since we would not be capable of not loving and obeying him. God was not interested in making a race of robots. He made us like himself with the ability to love, to think, to decide, to create, to will, and to do. 

 

This is why He put the tree in the garden. If there had not been a choice to obey or disobey, there would have been no possibility of functioning morally in a moral universe. God considered it worth the risk to make man with this capability because otherwise we would have been just so much machinery and not children of God. 

 

But how does this enter into the realm of prayer? Prayer is man's invitation to God to come and work with him. It is also God’s invitation to man to come and work with Him. God's wisdom says that He will not overrule in the affairs of men unless someone invites Him to do so. Satan stole man's dominion and became "the god of this world." Adam forfeited all of his dominion to Satan, but when Jesus came, he took it all back and once again delivered it into the hands of the people of God, the church. Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth. YOU GO, THEREFORE . . ." (Matt. 28:19-20) Jesus has given the church authority to govern in the affairs of men through access to the Throne of Grace, by PRAYER! 

 

Conclusion: There is value in thanking and praising God in your prayer language, but do it privately, not in the public meetings. 

 

IDENTIFICATION: "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you." (Verse 18) 

 

Paul spoke in tongues a lot! No one could say what he said unless he spoke in tongues a lot. He was confident that no one in the Corinthian church spoke in tongues as much as he did. Not only did he make use of this gift more than anyone else, he was thankful that he did. Paul thanked God that he spoke in tongues! Does that say anything to us as to what our attitude should be toward those who speak in tongues a lot? 

 

This passage also gives us instruction as to when and where Paul spoke in tongues so much. It was in his personal devotions to God in his private prayer life. He said that when he was in the fellowship of the saints in church, he would rather "speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue." (Verse 19) But that did not cancel out what he had just said about being thankful that he spoke in tongues more than anyone else. He was giving them instruction as to how and when and where to flow freely in the gift of tongues. 

 

Can I identify with Paul in my attitude about speaking in tongues? Am I thankful that I speak in tongues? Do I speak in tongues frequently? Or is this something that I do very infrequently? And if you do speak in tongues a lot, do you feel good about that? I believe one of the reasons Paul was such a dynamic and fruitful man of God is because he constantly edified himself spiritually by praying in the Spirit. As I have said earlier, it has been my observation over many years of ministry in the Body of Christ that those who pray much in the Spirit are usually also flowing powerfully in other spiritual gifts. This is not to say that speaking in tongues is the cornerstone of all the gifts, or the most important one. But to disqualify or despise one of the gifts of the Spirit, the only one that we can use continually, anytime day or night, may be the reason why some of the other spiritual gifts are not operating in our lives. 

 

Moreover, as we consider what Paul said about tongues in First Corinthians fourteen, how can we neglect this gift and ignore the values that he places on it? Obviously, Paul did not write this chapter to extol the virtues and values of speaking in tongues, but rather to explain more fully the place that spiritual gifts have in our lives, and how they are to be exercised both in private and in the public gatherings of the Body of Christ. He begins his teaching on spiritual gifts in verse one of chapter twelve with the words, "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” When he was made aware of the misuse of some of the gifts, especially the gift of tongues, he had to explain more fully the ways of the Lord in the assembly of the saints when it comes to the exercise of spiritual gifts. Some have read these admonitions and concluded that the gift of tongues was not worth the risk, and abandoned the pursuit of spiritual gifts entirely. This was never Paul's intention. His purpose was to teach them how to use these gifts, not to advise them to discontinue them. And in the process he has revealed to us some of the reasons why he spoke in tongues and why he wanted other believers to do the same. 

 

Let's take an overall look at Paul's wisdom and insight about speaking in tongues: "Anyone who speaks in tongues . . . speaks to God." (Verse 2) "Anyone who speaks in tongues . . . utters mysteries." (Verse 2) "Anyone who speaks in tongues edifies himself." (Verse 4) "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues." (verse 5) "If I pray in a tongue my spirit prays." (Verse 14) "I will pray with my spirit . . . I will sing with my spirit." (Verse 15) “When I pray with my spirit, I am giving thanks well.” (16-17) "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you." (Verse 18) "Tongues, then, are a sign . . . for unbelievers." (Verse 22) "Do not forbid speaking in tongues." (Verse 39) Yes! I will embrace Paul's attitude toward the gift of tongues! 

 

Conclusion: There is value in the gift of tongues or Paul would not have practiced it or recommended it to others. 

 

MANIFESTATION: "Tongues, then, are a sign . . . for unbelievers." (Verse 22) 

 

Jesus prophesied that tongues would be one of the signs that would follow those who believed in Him and who would go into all the world to fulfill the Great Commission: "These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will . . . speak with new tongues." (Mark 16:17) 

 

All the signs mentioned in Mark 16 are said to be active in those who believe, and who are actively carrying out the command of Jesus to preach the gospel to every creature; not just those who believe in Jesus as the Savior, but those who also believe what He said about these miraculous signs. In Jesus' name they would cast out demons. This is one of the signs that would convince the unbelievers that the God we serve is the true God. Just as Elijah was used of God to demonstrate the awesome power of the presence of God, so are we called to go forth with a message and a demonstration of the power of the living God whom we represent. In Jesus' name they would lay hands on the sick and they would get well. This is happening with more frequency as the church is being brought back to the basic simplicity of the early church. It is not insignificant that the words are so constructed in Mark 16. This is actually saying that when we speak in tongues, we do so in Jesus' name! Jesus said, "These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they shall . . .” and then he gives the list of five signs which are all done in His name. Speaking in new tongues is in the list. 

 

When we think of signs, in New Testament language, we are thinking about supernatural manifestations that give authenticity to a person or a message. Consider the following passages: "This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit . . . " (Heb. 2:3-4) 

 

"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." (Acts 2:22) 

 

It is clear from the above, and many other passages of scripture, that speaking in tongues is a supernatural sign, and not just a God-given ability to learn a foreign language, as some have thought. While that is definitely an accomplishment, it does not fit the New Testament definition of a sign that follows those who believe. 

 

The first time tongues were a sign for unbelievers was on the day of Pentecost. When all the believers in the upper room began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them, it was the sign that drew the people together and amazed them and piqued their interest, giving Peter a wonderful opportunity to preach Christ to them, resulting in the conversion of about three thousand people: 

 

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language . . . Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?’” (Acts 2:1-5, 12) 

 

There have been many instances in the history of missions, especially since the Azusa Street outpouring in Los Angeles in 1904, of Spirit-filled believers who have spoken in tongues and were understood by those who heard, even though those speaking in tongues did not know what they were saying. Tongues are indeed a sign for unbelievers, but let is not forget the other things Paul enumerates in this chapter. When we add them all up, there is something in this gift for the Body of Christ, and there is also a power within this gift to get the attention of the unsaved and open their hearts to God. 

 

Conclusion: There is value in every spiritual gift that results in the conversion of the unbeliever and the edification of the believer, including speaking in tongues. 

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

HONEST QUESTIONS and HONEST ANSWERS

 

Question: But, didn't Paul say that tongues would cease when the entire canon of scripture was completed? 

 

Answer: Some have interpreted I Corinthians 13:8 in that light, but let's look at that passage to see if it clearly conveys that understanding. Please read this passage prayerfully and ask the Lord to reveal to you the truth of His Word. Keep in mind that this chapter was written before the 14th chapter in which there is no word about the demise of spiritual gifts during the church age, but rather detailed instructions as to how the spiritual gifts are to operate in the assemblies. Here is I Corinthians, Chapter 13 in its entirety:. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it w"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind ill pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (I Corinthians 13 NIV). This chapter begins and ends with the theme of love. It is called the “love chapter” of the Bible. In the first three verses Paul speaks of the overwhelming importance of love compared to other virtues mentioned in the Word of God, such as faith, hope, and spiritual gifts. 

 

In verses four through seven, he defines love, the God kind of love called agape, or supernatural love. Then in verse eight, Paul contrasts the eternal nature of love with the temporal nature of such gifts as prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. The key words are "now" and "then". Those who hold that spiritual gifts ceased when the final books of the New Testament were written say that the "now" was in the days right after the ascension of Christ when these gifts were still needed to confirm the power of the gospel, and the authenticity of the message and the messenger. But the “then” refers to now, when there is no more need for such authentication, since we now have both the Old and the New Testaments. To them the "then" came on the day the church declared that the canon of scripture was full and the Bible was complete. That interpretation does not fit the context of what Paul was saying. He was simply saying that there are things that run their course and are no longer needed and there are things that will endure forever. Love will endure forever and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit will come to an end . . . when? Read the rest of the passage: "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." This could not possibly be when the canon of scripture is completed for he goes on to say, "Now I see but a poor reflection; then I shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." Can we really read these verses and visualize Paul thinking in his mind. "Boy, it will be so much better when the full New Testament is complete! Now I see but a poor reflection, but then I shall see face to face! Now I know in part but when the Bible is finished I will know fully, even as I am known." Can I really say, "Now that I have my Bible I know fully? Now that I have a complete Bible I can see face to face? Now that the Bible is complete, I know fully, even as I am fully known?" This theory disintegrates even further when we read what Paul says about that which is perfect in verse eight: "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." Paul is saying that some things go on forever and some things are discontinued when this age passes away. We know there is still knowledge. It has not passed away. Tongues have not been stilled. And prophecies have not ceased. When will all this happen? At the end of this age, when all has been fulfilled and the end comes, faith, hope, and love will go on forever. Yes, tongues of all kinds will pass away when we enter that eternal state, but until then, all languages will continue, including the language of the Spirit . . . unknown tongues. 

 

Question: But if speaking in tongues were of God and for us now, why would it cause so much dissension and division in the church? 

 

Answer: We could ask the same question about baptism, communion, and the second coming of Christ, to name just a few of the doctrines of the New Testament on which Christians are not in agreement. In fact, the most precious truths in the Bible seem to be the ones that are the most disputed as to their true meaning. Just because speaking in tongues is controversial does not mean that it is not of God. The very meaning and purpose of the life and death of Jesus is a point of controversy within the Body of Christ, and yet we will not cease to preach the Good News of Jesus' life, death, burial, and resurrection because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. 

 

Question: Do I have to speak in tongues to be filled with the Holy Spirit? 

 

Answer: There are those who would tell you that if you do not speak in tongues, you have not yet received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. But there are many Spirit-filled Christians who do not speak in tongues. You do not have to speak in tongues to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but you have to be filled with the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues. In every case in the New Testament where we read of those who spoke in tongues and prophesied it was preceded by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. As we have already said, you can choose to speak in tongues or you can choose not to speak in tongues. Here is where the words of the apostle Paul minister so perfectly, "I wish you all spoke in tongues." He did not say, "I wish you all were baptized in the Holy Spirit." If they were not already Spirit-filled, he would have wished that first, since being filled with the Holy Spirit is far more basic and important than the gift of tongues. 

 

Apparently there were some who had been filled with the Spirit who were not exercising the gift of tongues. Just as you can be born of the Spirit without being filled with the Spirit, you can be filled with the Spirit without speaking in tongues. You can be a Christian without exercising any of the supernatural spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in this chapter. But the very point of this book is to help awaken the Body of Christ to the need to build itself up through exercising spiritual gifts, as well as using spiritual gifts to win the unsaved to Christ. Paul said in I Corinthians 14:1 that we should eagerly desire all the spiritual gifts! He didn’t just say “desire spiritual gifts!” He said, “Eagerly desire spiritual gifts!” The question should not be, "Do I have to speak in tongues?" But rather, "Do I get to speak in tongues?" After we begin to understand the many benefits of speaking in tongues, our attitude should be, "How can I get started speaking in tongues now that I have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?" And if you have not yet received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the next chapter is a simple explanation of how you can receive this wonderful blessing right today, right now, right where you sit. 

 

Question: How will I know if it is the real thing and not just me?" 

 

Answer: You will know the same way you know you are a born-again Christian, by faith! How do you know you are saved? How do you know you have eternal life? Read and meditate on Luke 11:11, "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

 

Can you believe that if you ask, you will receive? In the Kingdom of God we are required to believe. We cannot escape this one simple responsibility. If we cannot believe God, we cannot receive what He has to give. We cannot even receive the gift of salvation apart from faith. If you have already exercised faith to be born again, you know how to have faith to be filled with the Spirit and to speak in tongues, as well as to function in other spiritual gifts. The currency of heaven is faith. Do we trust God? If we trust Him, we can count on Him to fulfill His Word to us. "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.” (I John 5:9-12) 

 

Question: How important is it that I speak in tongues? 

 

Answer: You may re-word that question and ask, "How important is it that I pray with my spirit?" or "How important is it that I intercede for others in the power of the Holy Spirit?" or "How important is it that I praise and thank God being led by his Spirit?" or "How important is it that I am spiritually edified?" or "How important is it that I worship and commune with the Lord in the deepest realms of my spirit?" It is not essential to salvation, but not unimportant! 

 

Question: What is the difference between an unknown tongue that should be interpreted and one that does not need interpretation? 

 

Answer: There are three different kinds of miracles connected with the phenomenon called "glossalalia" or speaking in tongues. 

 

First, there is the miracle of speaking in a language unknown to you, but a language that is known to others who are present. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost, when tongues served as a sign to unbelievers. "When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language . . . declaring the wonders of God in (their) own tongues" (Acts 2:6, 11). 

 

This has happened from time to time down through the history of the advance of the church into all the world. It has always resulted in the melting of hard hearts and a wonderful opening up to hear the word of the Lord, often resulting in the conversion of the unsaved. 

 

Second, there is the miracle of the prophetic word given through the gift of tongues. This is what Paul referred to in I Corinthians 14:5: "He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be edified." The only way prophecy is greater than tongues in the assembly of the saints is when the tongue is not interpreted. If it is interpreted, it is on the same level as prophecy, which Paul elevated to the highest level. Consider how important prophecy was in the mind of Paul when he said: "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy." He put the gift of prophecy, in some sense, above all the other gifts when he used the word "especially." Now, with that in mind, how important is tongues, with interpretation, since Paul gave it the same level of importance as that of prophecy? The answer is obvious. 

 

Third, there is the miracle of speaking in a tongue that is not addressed to men but to God. Many call this a "prayer language." This is the way tongues is used more than the other two. And this is what is most spoken of in the New Testament. "For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" (I Corinthians 14:2). 

 

Question: Can Anyone who is a Born-again Believer Speak in Tongues? 

 

Answer: This does not seem to be the case. As we have already said, you do not have to speak in tongues to be filled with the Spirit, but you have to be filled with the Spirit to speak in tongues. 

 

Question: Did Jesus Ever Speak in Tongues? 

 

Answer: We do not have any record of Jesus speaking in tongues, but He prophesied that we would speak in tongues. He said, “These signs shall follow those who believe. In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues...” (Mark 16:15-18). 

 

Question: What if my experience is a little different than that of others? Some seem to speak fluently from the start, but I have only a few words in my tongue. 

 

Answer: Everybody’s experience is a little different, and yours is not uncommon. One lady had a very similar experience, in fact. She had only received two or three syllables, and felt foolish just repeating those same syllables over and over, with continual doubts that this was the real thing. As she continued to use what she had, one day as she was praying in the Spirit, she had a vision of a little shoot growing up out of the ground. While she kept on praying in tongues, another little branch grew out of the stem. A little later, yet another branch grew out of the stem, as she kept on praying in the Spirit she found herself using more and more syllables. She was so encouraged that she kept on and on till she had a full range of sounds and syllables. It was a great release to her! 

 

Don’t despair, but trust that you have received what you asked for from the Lord. Like this woman, most people find their prayer language “fills out” as they keep using it more and more. 

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN

HOW to RECEIVE the BAPTISM in the HOLY SPIRIT

 

For those who have not yet received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the following is a simple explanation of how to receive it by faith. 

 

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a definite experience in which the Holy Spirit, who is already dwelling within the believer, comes upon him to anoint and empower him for supernatural service. This baptism is administered by Jesus and is received by faith. It is the same transforming event the disciples experienced on the day of Pentecost. It is followed by manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit being released in the life of the individual, and is given for the purpose of exalting Jesus Christ in the life and service of the believer. 

 

In order to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit it is important to understand the following: 

 

First: It is promised to every believer. "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39) From the context of this verse it is clear that the promise refers to the baptism of the Spirit. 

 

Second: It is a gift. We do not have to beg for it. We cannot work for it. We cannot make ourselves good enough to receive it. We must receive it like we would receive any gift. We just take it by simple faith, and thank God for it. After we receive it by faith we will begin to experience it. 

 

Third: It is administered by Jesus. "John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."' (Luke 3:16)

 

The church baptizes in water all who receive Jesus (Mt. 28:19-20). The Holy Spirit baptizes into the Body of Christ all who receive Jesus (I Corinthians 12:13). And Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire all who ask in faith, believing (Luke 3:16). 

 

In Acts 1:4 Jesus emphasized the importance of being baptized in the Holy Spirit: "On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."' Ten days later they all received the fulfillment of that promise: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4). 

 

We receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the moment we receive Jesus as Savior. But the infilling is different from the indwelling. Jesus had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit from the day of his birth. He was Spirit-born in the womb of Mary, but he was not Spirit-filled until the day he was baptized by John in the Jordan at the age of thirty: "Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'” (John 1:32-33)

 

The Spirit of God within me makes me a Christian. The Spirit of God upon me makes me an anointed Christian. Jesus had the Holy Spirit in him from birth, and after he was filled with the Spirit at the age of thirty, he had the Holy Spirit upon him and he said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me for he has anointed me to heal, preach, etc . . ." 

 

Jesus did not perform even one miracle until after the Holy Spirit came upon him when he was baptized in the Jordan. As it was with Jesus, so it is with us. The baptism in the Holy Spirit releases us into the realm of miracles through the gifts of the Spirit. All the miracles Jesus performed occurred as he exercised the gifts of the Spirit. He did not live and minister as God in the flesh. He lived and ministered as a man, born of a woman, born of the Spirit and filled with the Spirit. Because of that, he expects us to live and minister the same way he did, in the power of the Spirit, through spiritual gifts. 

 

In Acts chapter eight the Samaritans had been baptized in water after having believed in Jesus, and yet they did not receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit until Peter and John laid their hands on them and prayed for the Spirit to come upon them in power. Receiving salvation and receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit are not the same experience. The gift of the Spirit and the gift of eternal life are two different gifts. 

 

Paul received Jesus on the road to Damascus. He often referred to the Damascus Road experience as his conversion experience. However, he did not receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit until three days later when Ananias laid his hands on him and said: "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Paul received Jesus on the road to Damascus and in so doing he received the gift of eternal life. Three days later in the city of Damascus, he received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This expression is the same as "the baptism in the Holy Spirit." 

 

Also in Acts 19:1-7 it is clear that these disciples in Ephesus had not received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, although they were believers and were called “disciples.” If one receives the fullness of the Holy Spirit automatically when he/she receives Jesus, Paul would never have asked these 12 believers if they had received this blessing. When Paul discovered they had not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit, he first baptized them all in water in the name of Jesus. Then he ministered to them the Baptism in the Holy Spirit: "When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6) This is another clear example of the difference between receiving Jesus as Savior and receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

 

Fourth: It is God’s will for you to receive it. We know it is the will of God that we be filled with the Holy Spirit, for he commands us to be filled: "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). When you pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you know that you are asking according to the will of God. Therefore, you can know that God will hear and answer your prayer. So ask, believing that you will receive the moment you ask! Meditate on I John 5:14-15: "This is the assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have received what we asked of Him." 

 

After you pray, begin to thank Him that He has heard your prayer and that you have received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Receive it by faith! It is not enough to pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some pray for years and do not receive it because they do not take it by faith and thank God for it. Pray the following prayer sincerely from your heart and receive it by faith now: "Jesus, I do acknowledge you as my Lord and Savior. I thank you that you died on the cross for all my sins. Now, I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you have heard my prayer and that you are now filling me with the Holy Spirit. I receive it by faith right now. Thank you, Jesus. Amen."

 

Do not seek to have an emotional experience. "The just shall live by faith." Take the gift by faith. Feelings will come, but leave that in the hands of the Lord. You do your part and He will do his. Feelings are beautiful and good, but we do wrong when we seek to create an emotional experience ourselves. God will give you overwhelming experiences, but let Him bring you into that. Your part is to trust his Word! 

 

And now, as an expression of your faith that God has heard and answered your prayer, just begin to praise the Lord, but not in your own language. The experience of the apostles on the day of Pentecost can be yours, too. Simply open your mouth and begin to praise God and trust him for a language unknown to you, a language of the Spirit that is perfect praise to God. I encourage you to do this for several reasons: 

 

• You are offering perfect praise to God in the Spirit. 

• You are cooperating with God in a miracle. As you begin to speak, the Spirit will give you utterance.

• It will be a means of personal edification to you. 

 

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit will bring many changes into your life: 

• Your works and your words will lift up the name of Jesus. 

• You will have a greater desire to read the Bible. 

• You will feel more love for others. 

• You will begin to experience miracles. 

• You will minister in the Holy Spirit's power. 

• You will have a new power in witnessing for Him. 

• You will be used of God in spiritual gifts. 

In the original language, the admonition of Ephesians 5:18 says, "Keep on getting filled with the Holy Spirit!” Do not rely on a one-time experience. Receive a fresh infilling of the Spirit often. 

 

CHAPTER TWENTY

OPEN Up…THERE’S MORE!

 

Looking back over the years back to the day I first heard about the baptism in the Holy Spirit; how I sought for it for five years; how I finally received it by faith and then began to experience miracles and supernatural manifestations of God‘s presence and power; how I drifted back into formalism and legalism; how God once again made me hungry to experience the miracle power of God and then gave me a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I have learned some precious truths! But perhaps the most basic truth of all my discoveries is contained two simple words: There’s more! 

 

No matter how much we experience in Jesus or how long we have walked with Him in the Spirit-filled life, still There‘s more! There will never come a time in this life or in the world to come when we can sit back and sigh and say, "Now I've experienced everything there is to experience in God." 

 

There is always the challenge and the thrill of going further with God. There is so much more! We could cry out as did Paul, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God." (Romans 11:33)

 

No matter how far I have gone with God, I can always look around me and see someone who has gone a little deeper with God, and experienced more intimately the fellowship of Jesus. This is so exciting to me to know that there is more in Jesus than I can ever receive! Praise the Lord! There is more of His power than I have ever witnessed. There is more of His knowledge than I have ever learned... His infinite love... His surpassing wisdom... His marvelous grace! There is so much more that from the depths of my spirit I can hear the final lines of the Hallelujah Chorus... “HA ... LE ... LU ... JAH!” 

 

One of the meanest tricks of the devil is to get one of God's children to the point where he thinks he's got it all together. There is a subtle frame of mind that slowly settles down over the believer after he's been a Christian for awhile - an attitude or feeling that, "Now, I've read all the books, heard all the big name speakers, and I guess I've reached a plateau of maturity where things will be pretty much the same from here on.” They have long since forgotten the excitement and thrill of their first discoveries in Christ, and have settled down into a routine sameness. A cooling down has set in, but... there’s more! 

 

A chaplain in the armed forces was reasoning with a soldier who claimed to be an agnostic. 

 

"What kind of an agnostic are you?" asked the chaplain. 

 

"I was not aware that there were different kinds," returned the soldier. 

 

"Oh, yes," the chaplain replied, "there are different kinds. There is the intellectual agnostic who says, 'If there is a God, I have never met Him; you have never met Him, and nobody else has ever met Him.' Then there is the honest agnostic who says, 'If there is a God, I do not know Him.' Now which kind are you?" 

 

"Well," said the soldier, "I guess I'm an honest agnostic." The chaplain then drew a large circle on a piece of paper and said, "Let's suppose that this circle represents total knowledge. Now, how much of total knowledge do you have?" 

 

"I don't understand," replied the soldier, "what do you mean?" 

 

"What percent of total knowledge do you possess? Would you say that you possess ninety percent of all acquired knowledge?" 

 

"Oh, no," returned the soldier, "More like ten percent, or even less." 

 

Then the chaplain drew a wedge in the circle representing one tenth of the circle. Then he pointed to the space representing the remaining nineteenths of the circle and asked, "Soldier, do you suppose that God could exist in the remaining ninety percent of total knowledge which you do not possess?" 

 

Dear reader, is it possible that these “charismatic” experiences could exist in the remaining percent of the circle for those who may be saying, “If there is a baptism in the Holy Spirit and charismatic gifts for the Church today, I have never experienced them.” The moment we receive Jesus, we become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. All there is in Jesus becomes ours in fact, at that precise moment. However, we do not experience all that there is to experience in Christ at that moment. It will take all of our lives to experience all that we are and all that we have in Christ. Our inheritance is so large and so vast that there is always more to enjoy and more to experience. 

 

I may know Jesus as my Savior and never know Him as my Healer. I may know Him as my Peace and never know Him as my Wisdom. Jesus has more than 300 names in the Bible and each one denotes another aspect of His ministry or His relationship to us. I am convinced that in heaven we will discover that he has more than 300 names! 

 

It is like the Israelites, to whom God gave all the land of Canaan but then said, "Go in and possess your possessions." There was more land in Canaan than they ever possessed. And there is more in Christ than we will ever experience. This is our inheritance! But our inheritance will only become ours in our experience as we begin to possess our possessions by faith. 

 

If my experience in Jesus is confirmed by God's Word, then I am on solid ground. Since the day that I opened up my life to the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit, I could not possibly recount the marvelous ways in which Jesus has revealed Himself to me. However, I expect the future to be even more exciting and fruitful and blessed than the past or the present! 

 

AFTERWORD

 

This whole matter of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts goes far beyond spiritual “goose bumps” and the excitement of witnessing miracles. Much more is at stake. 

 

A casual reading of the life of Jesus, the book of Acts, and the history of the Christian movement speaks loud and clear that the best method of all for evangelizing the lost is miracles of healing and deliverance. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard church planting movement, had a special name for it. He called it “Power Evangelism.” 

 

Just today I was reading the DAWN Ministries newsletter sent out from the founder of DAWN, (Discipling Whole Nation), Jim Montgomery. In it he says, 

 

“I was documenting and analyzing the very rapid growth of the Foursquare Church in the Philippines. While their leaders had never studied Church Growth strategy, they were growing 36 times faster per foreign missionary than any comparable group! What they did have was prayer for the sick, prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit, prayer for provisions, conversions, and rapid growth.” 

 

The primitive church could not have made the advances they made without miracles, especially miraculous healings. Let us open ourselves up to more of the presence and power of God. Let us pray daily the prayer of the early church, which God answered for them on a daily basis and will do the same for us! Acts 4:29-30, "Grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your Word, by stretching out your hand to heal and that signs and wonders may be done in the name of your holy Servant Jesus.”  

 

END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THERE’S MORE – GOING DEEPER WITH GOD, Chapters 1-20 [Robert Fitts, Sr.] Year 2009 ~ BOOK          55

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