"Is it really necessary - you know, all this business about the baptism of the Holy Spirit? I have gotten along without it for many years." I hear this clot and my reply is "Look around you and most of the people who have received the Baptism are showing changed lives and power is being exhibited. After all, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so called, is basically for power."
I must admit, I had the same question. I also wanted all that God had to offer me through His son, Jesus but maybe not tongues. This was a statement I made in the summer of 1973.
Let me tell you something of my early life in the ministry. In 1953 I was called by God when I was 19 years of age. Within several months was called to my first pastorate, while just a sophomore in college. Throughout college and graduate school I was available to God and was used in a variety of ways including radio TV, and even a Drive-in-Church. There were revivals, spiritual emphasis weekends and youth meetings. I was driving, flying, going by train and all seemed good.
But in the years that followed I began to understand that there is a difference between what people think of you and what God thinks of you. Especially in 1973 did I begin my wrestling matches with God. I would like to share some of them.
There just has to be more than what is being done in the flesh. The blessings are coming to the Community Church - we are reaching into the community God's love. But, as I thought, what extra could happen to the Church and to all of us if we would start to use God power instead of "self" power. If this be true, then what is blocking such a flow? My life has been a praying life instead of a praising life. So I investigated through friends and literature, just what is involved in "praising God". It had to be more than 3 hymns, a prayer and sermon. So, my moving into the things of the spirit began with a new concept and fresh approach to worship - through praise. And, this was good. All were blessed, even though many "hung" in the corners and eventually not just the corner of the church, but the street corner and then to other churches in our city.
As for myself, I HAD the spirit. It seemed enough, and especially was it enough when it came to "speaking in other tongues" That just was not a necessity. (So I then said.) As a little boy 1 had invited Jesus into my heart. The age was 9. Later I knew without. a shadow of a doubt that He had placed His hand on me and called me into the ministry. There was no doubting my call.
But another wrestling match came to pass regarding the preaching of the "full" gospel, as I heard it mention. There seemed to be more. Although I was fully convinced that I had it "all" at salvation there was no need of something "extra".
Of course, I had preached that when God comes into your heart and he saves you, one is to give themselves wholly to the Lord. That does not always happen, consequently there are doors that are kept shut to the Lord. How sadly was I mistaken regarding receiving all that God hod for me at salvation. Now, it con well all come at that moment at salvation, but by experience has been that for so many in the "traditional" church experience it has been a separate experience. For example: John 3:16 one has to ask for salvation. Luke 3:16, one has to ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Then there is this illustration. It has been told and retold by many. It is about having guests over for dinner. The housewife is getting dressed and part of the dinner is not ready. She is running a little late and the guests begin to arrive early. As the doorbell rings she tells her daughter to go to the door, have the guests sit down and give them the paper, chat with them awhile and this will give me time to finish preparations.
So, while the housewife returns to the kitchen the telephone rings. The next door neighbor says, "Are your guests there yet?" This is a complicated question as they are not where she is in the kitchen. She has not received them. They are in the living room. Over the phone she hears, "Better hurry, finish preparations, because they have some exciting news for you. They even have some wonderful gifts to give you." The housewife does just that.
When we become Christians, Jesus is right there. He is right there with all He has to offer and give. You receive Him, but He is still in the other room. All my life, after I had received Jesus, He was in my heart. He was working through me in ministry. There were victories, blessings and all the things one likes to brag about, BUT Jesus was being kept in the living room. And, that, generally, is not the room of intimacy.
So, I had even another wrestling match with God. What about the issue of tongues?? Was that for me, too?? I decided to take advantage of an offer made to me of the use of' a cabin in the mountains. I was going there weekly to study, but this time I was going "up to receive all that Jesus had for me" I wanted Him to sock-it-to-me and give me ALL.. .Even if it meant tongues. He did that afternoon. I got my tongues and this is what I learned from then on.
Today's Tongue movement is on the increase as born-again believers are finding that they just can't do things themselves arid that they are utterly dependent upon God. This prayer language, which is available to individuals who desire it, and which is given by God, Himself, through Jesus, is making individuals bold in the Spirit in witnessing and bold in the Spirit in receiving from God and giving to others. Experiences that individuals are having are experiences that are drawing people closer to Jesus and prayers that are being prayed in the Spirit are finding fantastic results in the lives of many people.
The speaking in tongues is crossing all denominational brand names and is being found in Churches in every little town or city that dots our countryside. I heard a report stating that as many as 10% of many denominational groups of ministers have had the experience and are living the experience. In other surveys on smaller scales, not national, we discovered that there are just thousands of pastors who have received the Baptism and who speak In tongues, but who do not publicly report this. While to each his own, there are others who are publicly sharing their experiences. In these Churches people are being led into the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
When you stop and think of it, that one out of every ten pastors across the United States of America, one out of ten, are involved one way or another in this, it shows that God is, indeed, doing a new thing.
I am not on a "tongue kick" because there are many other things that are very, very important. But I am saying that it is just one more accessory that a Christian may have if he so chooses. When chosen and used it may lead and direct and guide may people to a beautiful experience in claiming all the fullness and promises of God.
I am addressing myself to individuals regarding information on tongues. This is certainly not exhaustive, merely the planting of same seeds and a very broad unfolding, in fact, it Is just the opening of the box. I have never, in my past years of pastoring, preached against such an experience as some of my Baptist colleagues have. It has never been a major factor with me. But now that God has moved in my life, I can tell you that a Baptist can experience tongues, as of course many Baptists across the United States have discovered now. There is a hunger in the American Church. This hunger can be satisfied by Jesus who is the Bread of Life, while the Energy Crisis can be solved by tapping onto the potential that is in the Holy Spirit. Jesus relieves the hunger, the Holy Spirit relieves the Energy Crisis.