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THE BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT (And The Gift Of Tongues)

   
 

Kinross Christian Fellowship

Chapter 2

The History of the Restoration of the Doctrine
of the Baptism in the Spirit and speaking in tongues.

As the Christian Church moved away from the period of the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers, more and more emphasis came to be laid on ritualistic practices. Formalism began to be a substitute for the moving of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. The gifts of the Spirit were replaced by human wisdom and slowly Christianity moved into a time rightly called the Dark Ages. But throughout every age, God has retained His remnant, those who have remained true to the teachings of the New Testament. Men and women in every century have experienced the Baptism in the Spirit and have spoken in tongues. John Sherrill in his book, They Speak with other Tongues, records the following examples: In the fourth Century St. Pachomius, the founder of the first Christian missionary organisation, was reported as being able to speak in both Greek and Latin, neither of which he had learned. In the sixteenth Century, St Francis Xavier, the founder of the Jesuit missionaries was heard preaching in languages he had never learned. The early Quakers and Methodists are recorded as having those among their number who spoke in tongues. In England in 1873, the phenomena occurred in connection with the campaigns of the American evangelist, Dwight L. Moody.

But as Sherrill points out, the difference between these occasional occurrences of tongues and the pentecostal movement which began at the beginning of the twentieth Century, is that before that century no one attached any great significance to tongues. There was no attempt to persuade others to do likewise, no evangelistic fervour in the wake of the experience. Tongues remained isolated, haphazard, and unremarked. But remain they did.

The pentecostal movement, as it has become known, has advanced at a phenomenal rate around the world. The word pentecostal has deliberately been given a small p. While there is a denomination known as The Pentecostal Church, the outpouring of the Spirit, with the subsequent revival of the doctrine of the Baptism in the Spirit and spiritual gifts, is impacting every denomination.

The Holy Spirit will never be limited by man-made denominational boundaries,
but rather He empowers believers to be free of every worldly shackle; particularly the religious ones.

For we are talking about Doctrines of the Scriptures, not of a particular denomination or church. The modern day movement traces its history back to the beginning of the last century, and it is worth taking a few minutes to trace its development. In 1900, a Bible School was opened at Topeka, Kansas in the United States of America. Charles Parham, a Methodist minister, had been studying the Acts of the Apostles and as he read, he compared his own relatively powerless ministry with that of the early church. He wondered where the new converts were, and why weren’t people being healed? What, he asked himself, did the first Christians possess that was missing in his life and ministry?

He decided he would open a Bible School particularly directed towards study in these questions. A building was found called Stones Folly. Forty students turned up for the first session. Parham and his students studied the Bible and eventually came to the conclusion that they needed to be Baptised in the Spirit. During these studies they discovered that the Baptism was often accompanied by a curious phenomenon called, Speaking in Tongues.

The students decided to meet together to seek the Holy Spirit. They prayed a whole day and nothing unusual happened. Then in the evening someone remembered that in the Acts of the Apostles people often received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Parham prayed for one of the students in this manner, and immediately there came from her lips words unintelligible to either of them. Over the next three days many of the students were filled with the Spirit, each one speaking in tongues. Shortly after the Bible School was disbanded and for three years Parham preached about his new discovery. But very few would listen to him.

N.B. There are many examples in the Bible of the laying on of hands and there is every reason to do so if circumstances permit. However, it is not law; being filled with the Spirit is often a spontaneous happening and is never subject to rules or traditions. It is a gift from God.

Eventually Parham came to El Dorado Springs in Missouri and dramatic things started to happen. He began to pray for people to be healed and one woman, Mary Arthur, came to see him. She was losing her sight and after Parham prayed with her, her sight was completely restored. Mrs Arthur returned to her home in Galena, Kansas, and then invited Parham to come and preach. It was in Galena that Parham’s message caught fire. For three months he remained there with people being converted in their hundreds, and many were healed and filled with the Spirit.

Following this outpouring, Parham decided to found a second Bible School, this time in Houston, Texas. To this school came an ordained black minister, W. J. Seymour, who was to play a big part in the growth of the pentecostal movement. When he graduated he was invited to preach in a black church in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, after Seymour announced that he was going to take as his subject, the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, he found the doors barred to him. However, a member of the Church, disagreeing with this treatment, opened up her home for him and on 6 April 1906 Seymour began preaching in her house.

Three days later, as he was speaking, the Holy Spirit was poured out. Quickly the news spread and the house became too small to accommodate the crowds who came. After the floor collapsed with the weight, it was decided to find new premises. Eventually 312 Azusa Street was found. There, for three years, the Azusa Street Revival, as it came to be known, continued. People arrived from all over America, Canada and Great Britain to witness what was happening. All day and night for over 1,000 days, the blessing was poured out.

A witness wrote of those early days: The news spread far and wide that Los Angeles was being visited with a ‘rushing mighty wind from heaven’. The how and why of it is to be found in the very opposite of those conditions thought necessary for a big evangelistic effort. No instruments of music are used. None are needed. No choir. Bands of angels have been heard by some in the Spirit and there is heavenly singing that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. No collections are taken. No bills have been posted to advertise the meetings. No church or organisation is at the back of it. All who are in touch with God realise as soon as they enter the meeting that the Holy Spirit is the leader. As soon as it is announced that the altar is open for those seeking salvation, the Baptism in the Spirit, and healing for the body, people rise and flock to the altar. What kind of preaching is it that brings such results? The simple declaration of the word of God. There is such power in the preaching of the word that people are shaken on the benches.

Soon this movement spread to many parts of the world. One remarkable feature of this outpouring was that the Spirit of God fell on people in different parts of the world who had never come in contact with anyone who had been Baptised in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit also fell in North Wales and The Welsh Revival (1904–1905) was the largest Christian revival in Wales during the twentieth century. While by no means the best known of revivals, it was one of the most dramatic in terms of its effect on the population, and it had repercussions that reached far beyond the Welsh border, triggering a series of revivals in other countries.

The movement kept the churches of Wales filled for many years to come, seats being placed in the aisles in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Swansea for twenty years or so, for example. Meanwhile, the Awakening, as it was called, swept the rest of Britain, Scandinavia, parts of Europe, North America, the mission fields of India and the Orient, Africa and Latin America.

In England the pentecostal movement began to spread in 1907 after the Rev A.A. Boddy, who was vicar of an Anglican Church in Sunderland, was baptised in the Spirit. Today, a plaque on the church wall can still be seen stating When the fire of God fell it burned up the debt. Under the ministry of various men, thousands were converted, baptised in the Spirit and remarkable healings were witnessed. In Bishop Auckland, a girl born blind from birth, received her sight and eventually a Church was formed there with 1,200 people attending on Sunday evenings. This was the work of the forgotten person of the Trinity. We risk so much if we dare ignore Him!

These early pentecostals were put out of their Churches and forced to found a denomination. They remained for a number of decades a group cut off from the rest of the Christian Church, maligned, misunderstood, and written against by some well-meaning Christians, they stayed very much on the edge of things. Although they continued to grow steadily, ‘orthodox Christianity’ would have little to do with them.

In the early 1950s, however, a change in attitude began to be seen; interest in the subject was revived in the traditional Churches and people began seeking the Baptism in the Spirit. Now, in the second decade of the twenty-first century there are hundreds of thousands of people of every denomination who claim to be filled with the Spirit and to speak in other tongues. This movement differs from the earlier ones in that many have remained within their Churches, and a greater number of church leaders have also been affected.

What the future holds, only God really knows, but maybe He is preparing and strengthening His Church for some special reason, which is, I believe, becoming evident in Kinross Christian Fellowship. Our willingness as a Church and as individuals to Read the Bible, Do It, is having a tremendous effect which will increase as we allow ourselves to be guided by The Holy Spirit in all of our lives and individual walks.

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