What are the Facts?
Let’s enumerate the basic facts as
found in the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
- The apostles were in Jerusalem.
- They were waiting for Jesus to
fulfill His promise.
- They were all with one accord in one
- They heard a sound as of a mighty
- It filled all the house.
- They were sitting when it occurred.
- The Holy Ghost filled them.
- Cloven tongues as of fire descended
- They received the ability to speak
with other tongues, which were understood as foreign languages by the
In this first example of the outpouring
of the Holy Spirit found in the New Testament, there is no indication
that the disciples (a) prayed specifically to get the Holy Spirit, (b)
prayed for one another to receive the Holy Spirit, (c) laid hands upon
one another at that time to receive the Holy Spirit, (d) were assembled
to witness to one another with tongues, or (e) went through spiritual
practice sessions to ready themselves for the reception of the Holy
In the second example, Acts 10:44-46,
the Holy Ghost fell on Peter’s listeners while he was still
preaching, and they began to speak in tongues. Again, no desperate
prayers, no repetition of disconnected syllables, no laying on of hands,
no practice sessions.
The third example is again different,
for Acts 19:2-6 shows us that the Holy Ghost was received after true
repentance (baptism), and for the first time the laying on of hands,
manifesting itself in the ability to speak with tongues. But here too,
we have no indication that they either prayed for themselves or that
Paul prayed for them, thereby preparing the way for the Holy Spirit.
Again the question, Why do the
charismatics use the Pentecostal experience of the disciples as their
prime example? If their reception of the Holy Spirit is to equal this
all-important outpouring, then why are so many essential elements
- They are not patiently waiting for
Jesus to fulfill His promise.
- They do have an uncontrollable
desire to produce the spectacular.
- The "spirit" is not
accompanied by the sound of a mighty rushing wind.
- The phenomenon of cloven tongues as
of fire descending upon them is strangely absent.
So the charismatics’ experience
cannot be based on Pentecost; it does not run parallel to Acts 10:44-46;
and it certainly cannot be based on Acts 19:2-6, as that has been
This leaves only one conclusion: The
claim that their gift of tongues is founded on, or equated with, New
Testament experiences is erroneous. Their ability to speak
untranslatable gibberish is real, and goes unchallenged—the linguists
testify to that—but that this should be placed on a high spiritual
level and be the result of the workings of the Holy Spirit seems
unsupportable from the Biblical record. We do not question anyone’s
sincerity; just the source.
The spurious tongues are not Biblical