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Jim Poitras

Copyright 2009

SPIRIT-FILLED, SPIRIT-
ANOINTED, SPIRIT-LED
AND SPIRIT-EMPOWERED

Malachi put down his writing tool. As the ink of the concluding prophetic word dried, the
utterance of God’s voice dimmed and ceased. Silence loudly reigned four hundred years between
the Old and New Testament. Other voices—sometimes horrific—were heard. In the midst of the
hush a wicked monarch named himself Antiochus (God Manifest; the Image of God). He stormed
into the temple and bombarded the Holy of Holies. He destroyed the Scriptures and offered a pig on
the altar. He took its broth, splattered it throughout the temple, defiling God’s earthly abode. There
he erected an image of Zeus (which looked very much like Antiochus himself). He forced the Jews to
sacrifice pigs and punished them with death if they circumcised their children. Spiritual darkness
enveloped the earth. Where was God’s voice and intervention when it seemed most needed? There
would be no divine revelation—no voice—until the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. John
would declare, “I am the voice…” (John 1:23) and Christ, the Anointed Prophet, would bring light to
a darkened world (John 1:9-10). Only then would the long awaited expectations of the restoration
of prophecy thunder in Israel.

Silence is Broken

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law”
(Galatians 4:4). God’s plan broke the silence. Despite Antiochus’ antics the temple was still the core
of religious life. It had been partly destroyed several times since the close of the Old Testament.
After the long lull of prophetic activity, in this same temple, action would erupt in rapid fire. In two
chapters, six people would be used to speak and act under the Spirit’s anointing. And so it was that
Zechariah found himself in the temple, chosen by lot, to burn incense. An angel appeared, told him a
son would be born, and filled with the Holy Spirit from birth (Luke 1:15-17). Later, as his wife,
Elizabeth heard Mary, the baby jumped in her womb, and she was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke
1:41). Elizabeth, true to the angel’s word, gave birth to a son. On the eighth day, when they took the
child for circumcision, Zechariah was “filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” (Luke 1:67). He
said, among other things, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High…” (Luke
1:76).

This event is systematically and strategically placed here to accentuate the “pneumatic and
prophetic character of John’s ministry” (Menzies 1989). Luke sets the stage for his emphasis on
pneumatology by saturating Luke 1 and 2 with references to the Spirit. He also finds his apt place as
both a first century historian and theologian, thus making an enduring contribution to Pentecostal
hermeneutics. As a historian he gave “account of the things that have been fulfilled” (Luke 1:1). As a
theologian he wrote so “you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).
The discipline of “redaction criticism” asserts authors took the role of an editor (redactor) and

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formed their works according to their theological motivation. Our role as an exegete is to find the
author’s intended purpose. Luke was not merely recording events in Luke-Acts but using them to
teach us about the work of the Holy Spirit (Michaels 1988). Luke is his-story of what Jesus began to
do and teach. Acts is his-story of how the disciples continued the work Jesus started.

At the right time God sent an angel to a virgin named Mary. He said she would bear a son
and call His name Jesus. The young girl wondered how this would be possible. “The Holy Spirit will
come upon you….” (Luke 1:35). Visiting her cousin Elizabeth, Mary speaks under prophetic unction
magnificent things concerning the coming Messiah. After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took him
to the temple for the time of purification. Simeon, an old man, longingly waiting for the restoration,
was there and the Holy Spirit was upon him. The Spirit told him he would not die before seeing the
Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit he came into the temple court that day. There he found the young
family, took the child in his arms, and spoke great things about him (Luke 2:25-27; 29-35). Anna, a
prophetess in the temple, gave thanks, and told those listening about the child (Luke 2:38).

“Filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:15; 1:41; 1:67; Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 9:17; 13:9; 13:52) in
Luke-Acts refers to a prophetic inspiration, speech, office/ministry, and is a repetitive occurrence.”
Being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” is “a once-for-all experience” (Stronstad 1995, 97). See Luke
3:16; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16. Note the contrast made between John’s baptism in water and Jesus
baptizing in the Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, those in the upper room, were both filled with the
Spirit, and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Public Ministry

When John was questioned as to whether he was the Christ, he responded, “I baptize you
with water. But one more powerful than I will come….He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit….”
(Luke 3:16). Jesus came along, was baptized too, and the Holy Spirit descended on him….” (Luke
3:22). “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit…was led by the Spirit in the desert….” (Luke 4:1). After forty
days of prayer and fasting, and three temptations, He began His public ministry “in the power of the
Spirit” (Luke 4:14). He went into the synagogue, stood and declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is on
me, because he has anointed me….” (Luke 4:18). He rolled up the scroll, gave it to the minister, and
sat down. He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). He accepted that
He was anointed, that the words from Isaiah 61 were meant for Him, and that His ministry was
inaugurated. He was a prophet (Luke 4:24; Luke 13:33-34) and went about doing good (Acts
10:38). Luke depicted Jesus as the man of the Spirit. “Jesus is not only anointed by the Spirit, but He
is also Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, and Spirit-empowered” (Stronstad 1984, 45). The Word bears
witness, “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power…” (Acts 10:38).

Transferring the Ministry

One interesting point of Jesus’ Luke 4:18-19 ministry-launching was when he closed the
scroll and handed it to the minister. Perhaps, this was symbolic of the transfer of responsibility to
others. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do
even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). As He reaches the
end of His earthly ministry He gave two comparable accounts that signify continuity and transfer
(Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). He admonished His followers they will be endued with power from above.
He became the Spirit-baptizer (Acts 2:33). The Spirit is poured out in Acts 2 and Peter explained the
Pentecostal experience and ensuing power is the restoration of prophetic activity promised in Joel

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2:28-29. In the last days, God would pour out His Spirit, and prophecy would become universal. The
Day of Pentecost, and more specifically, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, inaugurated Christ’s
followers for ministry. They continued to do what Jesus began. After all, He was now in them, and
working through them (Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Colossians 1:27;
Revelation 19:10). They became “heirs and successors to His prophetic ministry” (Stronstad 2004,
21). “The Spirit in Luke-Acts is a power enabling believers to see things they would otherwise not
see, speak words they would otherwise be unable to speak, and perform mighty deeds that would
otherwise lie beyond their abilities” (Michaels 1988).

The Spirit and the Church Today

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through
endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Acts, in a
sense, continues today. Following the New Testament pattern and principles will produce New
Testament churches and results.

Acts is not only a book of the past. The first day of the twentieth century marked the birth of
the modern Pentecostal movement. That evening Agnes Ozman received the baptism of the Holy
Spirit. A few days later, Charles Parham, his wife, and twelve of his students received their personal
Pentecost. Throughout the last century, the Pentecostal movement has exploded. Never has a group
grown more rapidly. Most of the largest churches globally are of the Pentecostal/Charismatic
persuasion. As we wade ankle-deep into the twenty-first century, God’s Church and His Spirit
continues to sweep across the globe, still burning with the fire ignited at Pentecost. One veteran
missionary reported, “No exceptions....In our forty-one years in Africa…we saw every miracle
recorded in the Book of Acts happen in our services.” This writer agrees. The African Church is
vibrant operating in the gifts, power, and prophetic anointing.

The earnest desire of Moses is being fulfilled, “I wish that all the LORD’s people were
prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them! (Numbers 11:29).

The Exegesis

“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of
Christ…as it has now been revealed by the Spirit….” (Ephesians 3:4). Roger Stronstad, Robert
Menzies, and others have conducted a solid exegesis of Luke-Acts. They have accurately and
adequately unveiled Luke’s intent, and made plain his theological mindset. They have stated clearly
what Luke originally meant, have read each text carefully, deciphered the meaning of words and
phrases connected with pneumatology, and studied vigilantly the contexts involved. They have
successfully analyzed the literature (genre), and have bridged the gap between the “then and there”
and the “here and now.” They have, with awareness, considered the historical context (time,
culture, geographical, political, occasion); literary context, and incorporated historical-grammatical
principles of interpretation (Fee and Stuart 1993, 22-23). The Holy Spirit has performed a central
role providing illumination, revelation, and guidance. They understand clearly the Bible was
written by “specific persons, to specific people, in specific situations, at a specific time, in a specific
language, for a specific problem, and to give a specific answer” (Ossai-Ugbah 2003). Because of
unyielding exegesis one can see clearer the potential and benefits of being Spirit-filled, Spirit-
anointed, Spirit-led, and Spirit-empowered.

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REFERENCE LIST
Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. 1993. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Zondervan Publishing.
Menzies, Robert Paul. 1989. The Development of Early Christian Pneumatology with Special
Reference in Luke-Acts (an unpublished doctoral thesis). :, 108. Quoted in Exposition of
Pneumatology in Lucan Literature by Global University Staff. Springfield, Missouri: ICI
University, 76.
Michaels, J. R.; Edited by Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee. 1988. Luke-Acts in the Dictionary of
Pentecostal and Charasmatic Movements. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 544-545.
Quoted in Global University Staff. Exposition of Pneumatology in Lucan Literature.
Springfield, Missouri: ICI University, 174-175, 2004.
———. R.; Edited by Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee. 1988. Luke-Acts in the Dictionary of
Pentecostal and Charasmatic Movements. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 560. Quoted
in Global University Staff. Exposition of Pneumatology in Lucan Literature. Springfield,
Missouri: ICI University, 190, 2004.
Ossai-Ugbah, Chikaogu Diokpala. 2003. Principles and Patterns for Faithful Exegetical Transition:
Using Matthew 11:12 as an Exegetical Paradigm. American Journal Of Biblical Theology.
http://www.biblicaltheology.com/Research/Ossaic01.html. (accessed February 22, 2008).
Stronstad, Roger. 1984. The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson
Publishers.
———. 1995. Spirit, Scripture, and Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective. Singapore: Asia Pacific
Theological Seminary Press.
———. 2004. Exposition of Pneumatology in Lucan Literature: Study Guide. Springfield, Missouri:
Global University.

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Jim Poitras
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THE DEBATE, DEFENSE,


ANDEXPERIENCE
CONCERNING THE
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY
SPIRIT

Introduction

I’ve always detested math assignments and equations requiring one to explain how he
derived or reached the answer. Similarly, Pentecostals have previously had problems revealing how
they reach answers to doctrinal issues. They know what they believe but have difficulties
articulating why they believe it; or proving, through the progression of biblical interpretation, how
they arrived at their conclusions.

The Debate

Pentecostals and Evangelicals are divided in their interpretation and understanding of


Luke-Acts. Even Pentecostals differ over views of the implications of the activities of the Holy Spirit
in these two books. On one side is the observation that Luke-Acts has a theological significance and
intent as well as a historical one. Those of this persuasion (myself included) argue that this is a two
volume set, and it should not be divided as Luke (Gospel) and Acts (history); that both books are
historical narratives. Luke, they contend, supports a Pentecostal theology, hermeneutic, and
religion, and has his own slant on pneumatology different from—yet complimentary to—that of the
Apostle Paul. Luke is both a historian and a theologian. They assert that historical precedence
(repeatable, expected patterns) is noteworthy for Christian practice and experience. Their thinking
is based predominantly on the five episodes recorded in Acts (2:1-13; 8:14-19; 9:17-18; 10:44-46;
and 19:1-6). These passages become biblical precedents and are normative. Of course, the opposite
side takes the contrary point of view in all counts mentioned. Hopefully, from healthy and hearty
confrontation comes consequential clarification.

The Defense

Luke-Acts are doubtless two volumes written by the same author (See Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1).
Acts is a continuance of what Jesus began to do and teach. “The book of Acts…is a continuation of
that narrative. Luke wrote more of the New Testament than any other individual” (Scofield, Editor,
2004, 1427). The Bantu title for the Acts of the Apostles is, “Words Concerning Deeds.” A brief
survey of this book will give the unmistakable impression it is deeds the Lord continued to do,
through the Holy Spirit (primarily) and His disciples (secondarily). In ancient times this book was
called, “Acts of the Holy Spirit” or the “Gospel of the Holy Spirit” The Spirit is referred to more than
fifty times in this one book. Acts gives principles that should govern the church in every generation.

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The Full Life Study Bible states, “Acts records what the church must be and do in any generation as it
continues Jesus’ ministry in the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit” (Stamps 1992, 1649). The
Book of Acts covers the first thirty years of church history and draws us into the world of the first
century church. Some think it would be exciting to go back. However, the Holy Spirit continues to
move in the twenty-first century. Acts is more than history. It is God’s training manual for today’s
church. We are continuing to see the miracles of Acts being performed today; even to a greater
dimension. Countries are reporting thousands receiving the Holy Ghost in a single service; blinded
eyes opened; and people being brought back from the dead.

Luke strategically unravels the role of the Holy Spirit in both Luke and Acts.

“There has been a welcomed emphasis on the theology of Luke in recent times…many
commentaries of an earlier era focused so much on the history that they paid little attention
to the theology of Acts. It is clear that Luke had a theological aim along with a historical one
in his choice of material….We can be thankful that many recent studies have focused on the
theological message of Acts without denying its historical value….This approach to Acts can
be called ‘theological history’—a narrative of interrelated events from a given place and
time, chosen to communicate theological truths….It views God as acting in the arena of
history and through that revealing his ways and his will to his people.” (Fernando 1998, 23-
24)

Lampe rightly said, “The connecting thread which runs through both parts of St. Luke’s
work is the theme of the operation of the Spirit of God” (1955, 1). Fernando adds; a close look
reveals that “…Luke had both a theological aim and a historical one in writing Acts, and that the
events he chose to stress were chosen because of the value they had in presenting truths he wanted
to communicate. Our task is to find those truths…” (31).

“Originally Acts was the second volume of a two-volume history of the beginnings of
Christianity, which was circulated together in the early churches” (Girard 2001, Introduction, xiii).
Some assert that the two books were designed to be one. However, the typical, permissible length
of a papyrus scroll was thirty-five feet so this would prohibit the two books being a continuous text.
Regardless, Luke did write approximately twenty-seven percent of the New Testament. The writers
and editors of the Africa Bible Commentary believe firmly that Acts was written to:

“…Provide information about what Luke considered to be the most significant events in the
early days of the church. His interpretation of what was significant was influenced by his
theology, and thus in reading Acts we need to focus on both historical and theological
questions….In terms of its theology, Acts gives guidance to the church on how to live….It
explicitly describes the plan of salvation, the proof of prophecy and the fulfillment of God’s
promises…” (Adeyemo 2006, 1297)

Luke’s conclusion (Luke 24:47-49) forms the introduction to the Book of Acts (Acts 1:4).
Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39) is repetitive of Jesus’ closing message in the
Gospel of Luke. Roger Stronstad in The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke contends there is a Lucan
doctrine of the Spirit, and that Luke possessed a historical and theological interest in writing the
third Gospel. There are many references in Luke, especially in the infancy and inauguration
narratives, not contained in other books. He reveals “Jesus is not only anointed by the Spirit, but He
is also Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, and Spirit-empowered.” (Stronstad 1984, 45) These characteristics

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can be emulated in the lives of believers today. It is just as valid in the twenty-first century as it was
in the first.

Stronstad believes—and I concur—that the Day of Pentecost is a normative, repeatable,


pattern for all centuries; that Luke-Acts contain normative theological intent, and there is validity in
Pentecostal theology and establishing Pentecostal hermeneutics. Each event of the Spirit’s
outpouring builds a distinctive theology and further demonstrates the writer’s intent and theme.

One writer, Gordon Fee (on the other hand) has issues with assuming the Pentecostal
experience is normative or obligatory for all Christians. He differentiates between ‘normal’
(expected, recurring experience); ‘normative’ (obligatory) and ‘repeatable.’ ‘Normative’ refers to
“what must be adhered to by all Christians at all times and in all places, if they are truly to be
obedient to God’s word” (Fee 1991, 102). He feels, however, that Pentecostals can argue that the
baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in other tongues, can be viewed as ‘normal’ as it can be
expected, and ‘repeatable.’ Although, Fee has difficulties with attaching the word ‘normative’ to this
event he does concede, “If the Pentecostal may not say one must speak in tongues, the Pentecostal
may surely say, why not speak in tongues?” (Fee 1991, 99).

Hartwick explains the biblical, doctrinal, historical, and experiential aspects of the baptism
of the Holy Spirit. He concludes a pattern was established in Acts. This is adapted in the table that
follows:

TABLE ONE

Observable …by saints and sinners alike.


Uniform …they all spoke in tongues as the Spirit was
given.
Verbal …declaring the wonderful works of God.
Supernatural …nothing induced by the recipient. It was as the
Spirit gave utterance. (Hartwick, 2007, 7)

Historical precedence can be considered normative if it agrees with Christ’s teachings,


commands, and is in harmony with the rest of the Scriptures and apostolic teaching. Pentecostals,
to their credit, are insistent and unwavering on the authority and infallibility of God’s Word. Unless
a doctrine can support its case with Scripture it has no reason to exist. This permeates every aspect
of Pentecostal faith, life, and practice (Arrington 1988).

Tongues is: (a) normative—always occurs with the Spirit baptism; (b) initial—first sign that
the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been received but should not be the last; (c) physical—you know
it happened, a transformed life follows; and (d) evidence—proving the baptism has occurred
(House 2006, 99-100).

Old Testament historical narratives had didactic lessons (intended to teach or convey
instruction or information) for New Testament Christians. They were frequently quoted by leaders
in the Early Church. Luke modeled his writings after this. Luke mentions the Holy Spirit more than
the other Gospels and his theology of the Spirit is in keeping with the Jewish viewpoint. He wastes
no time getting the Holy Spirit on stage with honorable mention seven times in the first four
chapters.

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The following sampling of Scriptures will briefly show that it is appropriate to incorporate
historical narratives into theology.

TABLE TWO

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,


rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
1 Corinthians 10:11 “These things happened to them as examples and were
written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of
the ages has come.”
Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to
teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement
of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

The Experience

The Day of Pentecost is the pattern for all believers, in all ages, encompassing all cultures.
Peter’s enlightenment was resolute, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all
people…” (Acts 2:17). He further added, “…And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 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 2:37). Peter certainly connected revelation with experience when he said, “This is that…”
(Acts 2:16, KJV). “Our view on any doctrine must be based not on experience, but on Scripture. The
experience must be judged by and conform to Scripture. The truth of tongues as the initial, physical
evidence of Holy Spirit baptism is based on Scripture” (Hartwick, A, 2007, 3).

Pentecostals can legitimately look to Acts for their theology. Acts is the foundation of
Pentecostal doctrine. “Doctrine is not enough without experience, neither is experience without
sound doctrine” (Hwata 2005, 3). It was inductive Bible study that led to the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit at the turn of the twentieth century. And that is where all interpretation should begin. Our
experience cannot commandeer biblical authority. The Bible always has the last word; the final say.
However, there certainly is a place for experience. Peter called on his own experience to validate
the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the Gentiles in Acts 10:47.

“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.' So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed
in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” (Acts 11:15-17).

The Early Christians indisputably and readily used experience and history to substantiate
doctrine and teachings. Quotations from the Old Testament (and reference to historical events)
frequently appear in the Gospels, messages in Acts, and are sprinkled throughout the Epistles.

According to Stronstad, and backed by Robert W. Menzies “though experience does not
establish theology, it does verify or demonstrate theological truth” (Stronstad 1995, 29). Biblical
truth ought to be demonstrated in life. Experience can be used to confirm or attest to the accuracy
of theology. Thus, experience is a complimentary ingredient to interpretation. “…Every interpreter,

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Pentecostal or non-Pentecostal alike, brings both cognitive and experiential presuppositions to his
interpretation of the text” (Stronstad 1995, 65).

It is often said, “The man with an experience is never at the mercy of the man with a
doctrine.” Pentecostals rely on a pneumatic method of interpretation. Illumination by the Holy
Spirit brings the best understanding of the text. Scripture agrees: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit
and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements” (Acts 15:28). “But
God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1
Corinthians 2:10).

Not only does the Holy Spirit lead us into all truth, directing us to the Word of God, He also
interprets or explains truth. Since He is dealing with God’s Word of truth, His interpretation will
never be in conflict with what the Bible says. The Spirit and the Word always agree. The Spirit is not
an independent worker. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He
will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come”
(John 16:13). Those that have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit are in a better position to
understand biblical content about the Spirit, since they have already experienced it.

Conclusion

Our Pentecostal movement is endeavoring to find its theological voice after a prolonged
history of disdaining formal, academic theology. Robert Menzies in the Foreword of Spirit,
Scripture, and Theology rightly states, “The simple testimony of earnest Pentecostals such as ‘This is
the pattern we see in the Book of Acts,’ was simply not very convincing. But that is changing.” Our
theology is based on a theological position, the Pentecostal experience, and a desire for restoration
recovering the theme and experiences of Acts. Pentecostals contend it is not enough to study the
Book of Acts. We must live it; experience it for ourselves (Wagner 1994, 10). As we develop a strong
biblically-sound Pentecostal hermeneutic we will be in an enhanced position to fulfill one of the
major intents of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “…You will receive power when the Holy Spirit
comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

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REFERENCE LIST

Arrington, F. L. 1988. Hermeneutics, Historical Perspectives on Pentecostal and Charasmatic


Movements; Taken from Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 380-381. Quoted in Global University Staff. Exposition of Pneumatology in Lucan
Literature. Springfield: ICI University/Global University, 2005.
Fee, Gordon D. 1991. Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics. Peabody, Mass:
Hendrickson Publishers.
———. 1991. Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson
Publishers.
Fernando, Ajith. 1998. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
———. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids 1998: Zondervan.
Girard, Robert C. 2001. Acts God's Word for the Biblically-Inept Series. Ed. Larry Richards. Lancaster,
PA: Starbust Publishers.
Hartwick, Reuben, A. 2007. Speaking in Tongues: The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the
Holy Spirit. Enrichment Journal June (June): 3.
http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/top/Holy_Spirit/200706.cfm.
House, Sean David. 2006. Pentecostal Contributions to Contemporary Christological Thought: A
Synthesis with Ecumenical Views. Thesis. University of South Africa, Pretoria, RSA.
Hwata, Benny. 2005. An Investigation of Different Phases of Pentecostal Experience in the Apostolic
Faith Mission. University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa.
Lampe, W. H. 1955. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, Luke and Acts. Birmingham, England:
University of Birmingham. http://www.abcog.org/lampe.htm. (accessed October 15, 2007).
Scholars, Written by 70 African. 2006. Africa Bible Commentary. Ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo. Nairobi,
Kenya: Word Alive Publishers and Zondervan.
Scofield, C. I., Editor, ed. 2004. Holy Bible Scofield Study System. New York: Oxford University Press.
Stamps, Donald C., ed. 1992. . Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Stronstad, Roger. 1984. The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson
Publishers.
———. 1995. Spirit, Scripture, and Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective. Singapore: Asia Pacific
Theological Seminary Press.
———. 1995. Spirit, Scripture, and Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective. Singapore: Asia Pacific
Theological Seminary Press.
Wagner, C. Peter. 1994. Acts of the Holy Spirit. Ventura, California: Regal Books.

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REVEALING A HOLISTIC
BIBLICAL
INTERPRETATION

Accurate interpretation of God’s Word allows us to walk


hand-in-hand with truth. Inaccurate interpretation could cause one
to walk alone down an erroneous path. F. F. Bruce introduces Acts on the right foot:

Originally…these two volumes circulated together as one complete and independent


History, but not for long. Early in the second century the four “canonical” Gospels (as we call
them) were gathered together….This meant that the earlier volume…was detached….The
second volume was thus left to pursue a career of its own, but an important and influential
career, as it proved. (1988, 3)

Bruce’s commentary promises, “…a work that makes transparent the walls between the
first and the twentieth centuries and enables readers to hear not only the voice of Luke but the
Word of God” (1988, Front Flap). Unfortunately a careful look at his writing concludes he falls short
of accomplishing his stated purpose. With his approach the walls remain; just become translucent.
Bruce begins his work with a great start; yet by the time he reaches the Pentecost narrative he is
sliding into a poor finish! He states, “The event was nothing less than a reversal of the curse of
Babel” (Bruce, 1988, 59). If so, the question arises, “Was the event anything more than a reversal of
the curse of Babel?” Many theologians know so; including Luke. Peter stated clearly that “this is that
which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16).

Bruce seems to be back in the race, on the right course when he says, “But the prominent
feature of the words which Peter quotes is the prediction of the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the
whole human race…Certainly the outpouring of the Spirit on 120 Jews could not in itself fulfill the
prediction of such outpouring ‘on all flesh’: but it was the beginning of the fulfillment” (Bruce, 1988,
61). This is something with which Pentecostals agree. However, Pentecostals do not believe in
cessation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit
begun on the Day of Pentecost and will continue until the second coming of Jesus Christ. Peter
identified the scope of realization as the “last days” (Acts 2:17).

Bruce, along with other non-Pentecostal writers contend, “Being filled with the Spirit was
an experience to be repeated on several occasions (cf. 4:8, 31), but the baptism in the Spirit which
the believing community now experienced was an event which took place once for all” (Bruce 1988,
51). This reference “once for all” implies just as Jesus died, was buried, and resurrected only once,
so it is with the baptism with/in/of the Spirit. It happened only once.

What does the Bible actually reveal about “once for all”? “[ Christ's Sacrifice Once for All ]”
(Hebrews 10:1). “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after
day….He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:27). “He…entered

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the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews
9:12). “But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the
sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). “And by that will, we have been made holy through the
sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). “For Christ died for sins once for
all…” (1 Peter 3:18). We must, “Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”
(Jude 1:3), (Emphasis added). Why place a period—the West Africans call it a “full stop”—where
God places—at best—a comma or an ellipsis?

Implausibly Bruce states, “The mere fact of glossolalia or any other ecstatic utterance is no
evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit….The coming of the Spirit is followed by irregular and
abnormal phenomena” (Bruce 1988, 52). A quick trip through the Book of Acts will unveil that
speaking in tongues is anything but irregular or uncommon when people are receiving the baptism
of the Holy Spirit. It is normative.

Bruce and his colleagues appear to utilize Luke-Acts as merely a historical record,
incorporating a historical-grammatical approach to hermeneutics, and deny speaking in tongues as
having anything to do with the Spirit. Pentecostals, on the other hand, pick up where the non-
Pentecostals falter. They recognize Luke as both a historian and theologian, with intent of setting
forth a theology and certainty of the Spirit, and proving the baptism of the Holy Spirit empowers
believers for service in God’s kingdom. Although Bruce concedes that Luke-Acts were originally
distributed together, he does not explain why. Pentecostal theologians establish biblical precedence
showing that speaking in tongues is not only the normal expectation, or repeatable pattern, but is
normative for those receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They are instructed by the Holy Spirit
and expect that He will illuminate their minds, and directs their understanding; teaching them all
things. They also have the advantage of bringing their experience into the picture. They employ a
redaction-criticism technique believing the author uses his editorial prerogative in pulling together
material for his writings, based on his intent. Pentecostals also contend that Luke-Acts has a
didactic purpose when it comes to pneumatology.

Every interpreter brings himself to the hermeneutical expedition. He already has a


backpack of presuppositions: assumptions, traditions, beliefs, and experiences. In the quest for
truth; flawed misunderstandings must be discarded. This is something both Pentecostals and non-
Pentecostals must scrutinize carefully. Looking carefully at the map of God’s Word, as a seeker of
truth, is not an easy undertaking. No wonder Luke said, “Now the Bereans were of more noble
character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and
examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Extreme care should be exercised, in this author’s opinion, when dividing hermeneutics into
Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal camps. This approach could backfire, and eventually pose
compounded complications in the contemporary church; even among Pentecostals. It appears to
partition hermeneutics along denominational lines. Pentecostals themselves—as Gordon Fee
classically demonstrates—do not always agree on Pentecostal hermeneutics. Fee identifies himself
as a Pentecostal but rejects commonly accepted Pentecostal interpretations of the Book of Acts
(1991, Preface, x). This divergence of interpretations will become more pronounced as the future
unfolds. Among Pentecostals there is an increasing erosion “of certainty about their own
claims….The result, however, of this paralysis is that fewer and fewer people attending Pentecostal
churches speak in tongues….Moreover, there is an erosion of commitment to this doctrine among
ministers” (Anderson 2005, 3).

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Overall, Pentecostals are on the right course. However, caution is in order. The Pentecostal
position can be best preserved through fostering holistic, biblical principles of interpretation (and
calling them that). Properly taught, this will arm the future generations with the tools need to reach
biblical conclusions. Mere indoctrination is not the key. Compromise is disastrous.

A leading non-Pentecostal missiologist once told me that Pentecostals in their search for
approval from the broader evangelical community are about to lose the very thing that has
made them effective—their emotional and passionate approach to life and ministry and
their emphasis on speaking in tongues. While Pentecostals need to add to their experiences
the helpful elements of exegesis and hermeneutics, along with other spiritual disciplines,
they should not in the process give up the very thing that has made them so effective in the
work of the ministry. (Anderson 2005, 7)

Twenty-five percent of the world’s Christians are Pentecostal or charismatic with a world
growth rate of about 19,000,000 per year (Christianity Today, 1998, 1). Philip Jenkins in The Next
Christendom explains “that the growth patterns of the Pentecostals will make the 21st century a
Pentecostal century. Pentecostal ministry is not slightly more effective. It makes a dramatic
difference.”

In North America, a missionary just concluding a year of deputation saw 4,400 people
receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit in his services. In the West African context it would be hard
to imagine the contemporary church without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Approximately
24.1 percent of Ghana’s population (5.5 million) claims they are Pentecostal. Over 13.5 million in
Nigeria attest to Pentecostalism. These are the two countries where the author has worked. Ghana’s
former President, Jerry J. Rawlings once commented that early missionaries to his country brought
a foreign, unusable religion. Pentecostals, however, have a religion needed by the African people.
The Pentecostal perspective brings power to the contemporary church. The church operates in the
gifts of Spirit, signs, miracles, and wonders. They also take the Bible literally. C. Peter Wagner
contends that “research in church growth has shown that the more literally the Bible is interpreted,
the more likely the church is to grow. One reason, then, Pentecostal churches are growing is that
they hold firm to biblical purity” (1982).

Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals must strive toward holistic, biblical principles of


interpretation, conduct proper exegesis and establish the original intent of the author, the meaning
of the text involved, and bridge the gap between the first and twenty-first centuries. What the
contemporary church needs is contained in the words of Roger Stronstad: “It is not the
intention…to contribute to further damage of His body but rather to inculcate sound exegetical
methods, critical thinking, and evaluation of the evidence. Simply put, we are seekers of truth and
we must humble ourselves to follow the path where truth leads” (Stronstad 2004, 27).

A non-Pentecostal view on the vocational power of the Holy Spirit leaves the contemporary
church crippled. Lloyd Ogilvie confessed, “The greatest longing in the church today, stated both
directly and indirectly, is the quest for something more than dull religion. People are in need of the
intimacy, inspiration and impelling power of the Holy Spirit….It is impossible to live the Christian
life without the indwelling Spirit. Courageous discipleship in the crisis of society cannot be
accomplished without the guidance and enabling energy of supernatural power. The church today,
like the disciples in the Upper Room, is waiting on the edge of a miracle” (1983, 55-56).

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REFERENCE LIST
Anderson, Gordon L. 2005. Baptism In The Holy Spirit, Initial Evidence, and A New Model.
Enrichment Journal,
http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200501/200501_071_BaptismHS.cfm/ (accessed
2/23/2008).
———. 2005. Baptism In The Holy Spirit, Initial Evidence, and A New Model. Enrichment Journal,
http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200501/200501_071_BaptismHS.cfm/ (accessed
2/23/2008).
Bruce, F. F. 1988. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of the Acts.
Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
———1988. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of the Acts
(Revised). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
———. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of the Acts. Grand
Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
———. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of the Acts. Grand
Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
———. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of the Acts. Grand
Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Editors, Christianity Today. 1998. World Growth at 19 Million a Year. Christianity Today, November,
1998 . http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1998/november16/8td28a.html. (Accessed May 14,
2006).
Fee, Gordon D. 1991. Gospel and Spirit. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.
Ogilvie, Lloyd J. 1983. The Communicator's Commentary: Acts. Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher.
Stronstad, Roger. 2004. Exposition of Pneumatology in Lucan Literature: Graduate Study Guide.
Springfield, Missouri: ICI University/Global University.
Wagner, C. Peter. 1982. Characteristics of Pentecostal Church Growth. : The Pentecostal Minister, 4-
9. Quoted in F. J. May. The Book of Acts & Church Growth: Growth Through the Power of God's
Holy Spirit. Cleveland, Tennessee: Pathway Press, 129, 1990.

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EXPLORING PENTECOST:

EVIDENCE THAT
DEMANDS A VERDICT

Introduction

How frustrating to read of a potentially life-changing book, only to order it, and discover it is out of
print. How annoying to rush to the store to purchase the perfect gift and to find it is out of stock.
How aggravating to want something and find that it is unavailable. How disturbing to hunt for a
part and find it is now obsolete. How equally frustrating, annoying, aggravating, and disturbing it
would be to walk down the aisles of the Book of Acts only to find those things we desire: divine
empowerment, miracles, healing, and things pertaining to the supernatural are no longer available,
out of stock, and meant only for the first century church. Regretfully, that is exactly what some
believe happened, or should happen, when thinking that the baptism of the Spirit, evidenced by
speaking in other tongues, stopped at worst on the Day of Pentecost, or at best at the end of the
Book of Acts; having a brief life span of some thirty years.

Steven Ger shares his reflections:

The book of Acts grants readers a unique and fascinating glimpse into the world of the early
church. We peer through the corridors…and see the still vivid foundations of our own
faith….Acts shows us the road we believers have traveled to arrive at our present state….It
is story—a simple story about regular human beings who are just like us. They share our
same hopes and similar fears, our worst biases and best qualities. In fact, Acts is, essentially,
our story. It is your legacy and mine. It is the record of our brothers and sisters who came
before us, blazing a revolutionary, messianic trail from Jerusalem to ‘the ends of the earth.’
(Ger, 2004, 1).

Unfortunately, Ger eventually and sadly, comes up short, believing Pentecost was unique,
unrepeatable, and possesses no timeless truth or doctrine. How perplexing. How confusing.

Even questions arise within the Pentecostal ranks, but are often swept under the proverbial
carpet, silenced, or excused away as a lack of love for truth, and drifting from the old paths. Not all
questions indicate moving away from what is right. What is left could be a sincere desire to
understand; the ability to intelligently, logically, and persuasively explain beliefs to others. Rather
than forcing such questioners into corners—causing them to be hesitant in asking, afraid of being
misunderstood—one would do well to create an environment of learning; freedom to ask, freedom
to explore, freedom to experience, freedom to discover, and a freedom to learn.

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The Impact of the Journey

Gregory J. Leeper (2003) said, “We must allow open discussion among our future clergy as
we attempt to answer their honest doctrinal questions with vigorous Pentecostal scholarship….We
must continue to seek theological dialogue with our evangelical brothers and sisters. We must
endeavor to present a Pentecostal theology that is thoroughly intellectual and biblical as it is
fervent and effective” (16). We should start from where we agree and move to where we disagree.
Such a journey eventually leads to an impacting study of the Spirit in Luke-Acts. The expedition will
unveil Luke-Acts as a two-volume set with one theme. Luke 24 becomes the context for Acts 2, right
down to Peter repeating the same basic message or concepts that Jesus mentioned. This study will
strengthen what one believes, give a better understanding to Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal
views, and provides a greater ability to interact with and address questions from both. The
exploration will allow one to see clearer, and have a wider perspective of the baptism of the Holy
Spirit in its role in salvation, sanctification, and service. The journey enables us to become more
knowledgeable and to discern repeatable and normative patterns found in the midst of the first
century church applicable for all time, and for all cultures. A better understanding of the theological
possibilities of a narrative will be educational and eye-opening. New understanding of
hermeneutical mile-markers will become evident as one interacts with terms like “redaction,”
“normative,” and “didactic.” The exploration will likely confirm that Acts is a doctrinal book with
didactic purpose. Looking at dozens of commentaries showing all manners of viewpoints, in the
end, strengthened this author’s understanding. The exercise makes one stronger. The ability to
analyze, synthesize, and come up with biblical tools of interpretation is useful in this study and
others. The tools include—but are not limited to—literary genre, author’s intent, experience,
exegesis, Pentecostal understanding, the Holy Spirit, redaction-criticism, didactic analysis, and
biblical precedence. “Incorrect or incomplete principles short-circuit the exegetical task and
prevent us from correctly discerning the message of the original author” (Stronstad, 2004, 38). The
study produces evidence; evidence that demands a verdict.

F. L. Arrington said:

The interplay of Scripture, experience, Pentecostal tradition, and reason under the direction
of the Spirit have strong implications for a Pentecostal approach to hermeneutics. Out of the
Pentecostal reality and dimension of life in the Spirit emerges a uniquely Pentecostal
approach to hermeneutics. (172)

G. Campbell Morgan spoke of Pentecostalism as “the last vomit of Satan” (6). Historically,
although his words are without doubt extreme, he is not the only fundamentalist that shares a
similar and hopefully lessening view. To them, the question, “Is speaking in tongues valid today?”
would receive a resounding, “No!” Two conflicting views concerning speaking in other tongues
emerge and exist throughout much of history. In one corner, all should speak in tongues. In the
other, none should speak in tongues. These two positions: all should practice; none should practice,
have been the sore spot in Christendom for years. In fact, it probably ranks number one as the most
debated issue. Furthering the dispute is the issue of tongues being the initial evidence of the
baptism of the Holy Spirit. One positive side benefit is this controversy has caused a renewed
interest in studying Luke-Acts. It has also forced Pentecostals to look more closely at the
hermeneutics behind their experience.

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F. F. Bruce (1988) is a typical evangelical who thinks that the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts
2 is so special it “took place once for all…” (51).

On the other hand missiologist C. P. Wagner (1994) said:

Except for a diminishing number of Christians who are holding out for a cessationist
theology, supposing that the more dramatic miraculous gifts of the Spirit ceased with the
close of the Apostolic Age, there is widespread agreement that speaking in tongues is a bona
fide gift of the Holy Spirit found among believers today (93).

Experience

Experience and history reveals that tongues did not cease with the Apostolic Age, and have
not disappeared during the Church Age (the entire period between Christ’s first and second
coming). Church historian, Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. revealed, “Speaking in tongues has always been in
the Church, although with varied levels of expression and acceptance” (874). It would be difficult to
convince over five hundred million Pentecostals and Charismatic’s worldwide their experience is
invalid and ceased a couple thousand years ago. They represent the second largest ecclesiastical
body in the world, second only to the Roman Catholics. Not bad for a group that recently celebrated
a century of existence. On a more personal and specific level, 110,278 received the baptism of the
Holy Spirit overseas, in the United Pentecostal Church International, last year. A colleague just
returned from a ten day trip in the 10/40 Window portion of Northern Ghana, and reported forty-
two were baptized in the Spirit. Each evidenced by speaking in tongues. Each persuaded their
experience is biblically based. F. J. May (1990) tells of an old-timer that said, “You are wasting your
breath trying to tell a man he can’t have what he has already got” (84).

Whereas experience can never be the basis of theology, experience is the contemporizing of
history. Thus, the understanding of the Bible generally, and Luke-Acts, particularly, involves
a hermeneutic cycle. In this cycle the record of the experience of the divine by God’s people
in the past addresses the experience of God’s people in the present, and the present
experience of the divine informs the understanding of the past. In this way the divine word
as a historical document becomes a living Word—a Word, which, like God himself, is, was,
and is to come. (Stronstad 1995, 64)

This is referred to as an experience-certified theology. Every interpreter brings to the text, a


cognitive and practical presumption. Pentecostal hermeneutics should be holistic; combining
experience, the Spirit, genre, and incorporate traditional, and rational forms of interpretation.
Unfortunately, non-Pentecostals lack the premise of experience, and the ability to verify it.

In Acts 19, Paul’s understanding of theology, coupled with his personal experience became
the basis of his discussion. Experience should not be the starting point for biblical interpretation,
usurping biblical authority, but should not be locked outside the door either. Charles Parham and
his students did not have the experience but were looking for what was expected or could be
considered normative.

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Literary Genre

Historically, evangelicals have generally responded negatively to any view that suggests a
narrative could serve in a normative way theologically. This is fundamentally rejected today and is
quickly changing. The Book of Acts could easily be referred to as “theological” or “redemptive”
history. It is a “narrative of interrelated events from a given place and time, chosen to communicate
theological truths….It views God as acting in the arena of history and through that revealing his
ways and his will to his people” (Fernando 1998, 24). Luke was a historian-theologian and
did not merely describe historical events and activities of the Spirit but sought to provide a firm
foundation for establishing a doctrine of the Spirit (Stronstad, 1984, 9-10).

F. F. Bruce, and others, utilize a grammatico-historical method of interpretation to the


neglect of the role of the Holy Spirit. Interpreters must take into account the literary genre of the
book. Dunn’s work is mainly lexical and syntactical. He doesn’t concern himself much with doctrinal
or instructional matters. Balance is needed. A careful study of the narrative is beneficial rather than
merely looking at literary form, redaction-criticism or social science criticism (looking at the world
behind the passage, the way people lived and thought). A multi-dimensional approach is needed by
both the Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals alike. All can be part of biblical interpretation.

It is not uncommon for a narrative to teach theology, combined with history, brought
together in a story format. It can teach theology indirectly (Acts) rather than directly (as found in
the epistles). Luke wrote a historical narrative of pneumatic history. This intent is seen from the
time of the infancy narratives and the theme of pneumatology is carried throughout the two
volumes of Luke-Acts.

Acts 2 as a self-contained, paradigmatic scene embodies all of the elements that occur over
and over again throughout Acts. These elements, explicitly and/or implicitly, not only
foreshadow and suggest but also shape the reader's understanding of every account. When
applied, Acts 2 becomes a paradigm for the extension of the Primitive Church throughout
Acts. (Aker Undated, 6)

Author’s Intent

Pentecostals are called upon to prove that Luke did have a theological intent. He has a place
as a first century theologian and can rightfully be called the theologian of the Spirit. “Intentionality
is then the key to establishing normativity” (Arrington, 1998, 386). On the other hand, non-
Pentecostals should be called upon to prove that Luke did not have a theological intent. Biblical
interpretation, by Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals alike, should ensure that their interpretation
of Acts correspond with Luke’s theological purpose.

David K. Bernard rightly said:

Those who say the Book of Acts is not for today have the burden of proof. If Acts is not the
pattern for the New Testament church, what is? Where in the Bible does God retract His
promises relative to the baptism of the Spirit? Where does the Bible say the experience of
the Book of Acts is not for today? We must conclude that the promise of the Spirit is still
ours today. (Bernard 1984, 212-213)

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James Dunn feels the best approach to biblical interpretation is to:

…Take each author and book separately and…outline his or its particular theological
emphases; only when he has set a text in the context of its author’s thought and
intention…only then can the biblical-theologian feel free to let that text interact with other
texts from other books. (Dunn, 1970)

This author agrees. The theological perspective of each biblical author is necessary for
correct biblical interpretation. Effective hermeneutics of Luke-Acts must begin with the question,
“Why did Luke write these books?”

Luke revealed his purpose in writing his two-volume set. So, let him speak for himself:

Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it
seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so
that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:3-4)

According to the Scofield Study Bible, “Luke is very careful to describe his method of
researching and compiling material.” Note Scofield’s analysis adapted by the author in the table that
follows:

TABLE 1
LUKE’S HERMENEUTICAL STYLE

Validation of eyewitnesses “…Just as they were handed down to us by those


who from the first were eyewitnesses and
servants of the word” (Luke 1:2)
Meticulous handling of truth “…handed down…” (v.2) and “carefully
investigated” (v. 3).
All-inclusive study “Investigated everything from the beginning” (v.
3); “All that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts
1:1).
Correspondence of written material with divine “Certainty” (v. 4).
purposes and activities.
Systematic, organized presentation “Draw up an account” (v. 1).
Role of the Spirit in directing the writer for the “…For no prophecy of Scripture comes from
origin and certainty of prophecy someone’s private interpretation…” See 2 Peter
1:19-21
Confirmed by revelation “From the beginning” (v. 3) This phrase is from a
Greek word translated elsewhere by “from
above.” Luke suggests that what he writes,
derived from those that were eyewitnesses, is
also confirmed by revelation (Scofield 2004
Edition, 1338).

This clearly shows that Luke’s double volume does have a didactic, theological intent.
Richard N. Longnecker (1995) said:

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Basic to every evaluation of Acts is the question of the purpose or the purposes of the
author….All forms of redaction criticism, whether ancient or modern, also begin with the
insistence that to have a profile of an author from his writing is to possess the most
important key to the nature of his work. (12-13).

Recent Bible scholars, through redaction-criticism, view Gospel writers as theologians.

Biblical Precedent

Pentecost happened for our example. It was recorded by Luke for our instruction. It is the
pattern for the church in all ages. Scripture sets the stage for this: “All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom
the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). “For everything that was written in the
past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Robert Menzies (1998) rightfully counsels we should reconstruct the author’s theological
perspective, form a holistic biblical perspective, instead of isolating passages in an attempt to
establish a normative pattern (115).

Traditionally, Pentecostals have hidden behind their experience, and probably over-
emphasized it, coming up short on other aspects of hermeneutics. This author recalls, after
conversion, often hearing others say, “Pentecost; it’s not a religion, it’s an experience.” Still others
advised: “People can argue with your doctrine; but they cannot argue with your experience.” We
would do well to present both doctrine and experience in a way that it cannot be easily discarded.

This writing concentrates on the Pentecost narrative. It is not limited, however, to Acts 2
(the Jerusalem Pentecost), but extends briefly to the Samaritan Pentecost (Acts 8); Gentile
Pentecost (Acts 10); and the outpouring on the disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19). We should ask: What
took place in the first century church which must happen in the ongoing church? What took place in
the first century church which should not, or does not take place today? Is speaking in other
tongues the initial evidence of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Are there any other
accompanying signs? Does Luke-Acts have any didactic or doctrinal purpose?

God linked speaking in tongues with the baptism in the Holy Spirit from the very beginning
(Acts 2:4), so that the 120 believers at Pentecost, and believers thereafter, would have an
experiential confirmation that they have indeed received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (cf.
Acts 10:45-46). Thus this experience could be objectively validated as to the time and place
of reception. Throughout the history of the church, whenever tongues as a confirming sign
has been denied or lost from view, the truth and experience of Pentecost has been distorted
or ignored entirely. (Stamps, Editor, 2003, 1666)

This biblical pattern is still applicable today. It is for everyone, without restriction. God
desires everyone to have this experience. “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Acts 2:17). It is
“for all who are afar off….” (Acts 2:39). The Spirit is being poured out from here to there; from here
to everywhere. In Acts 2:18 when Peter quotes Joel’s prophecy, “…in those days…” it is highly
unlikely it was limited to just one day.

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Pentecostal Perspectives and Presuppositions

“The sole distinctive element in Pentecostalism lies in its insistence that glossolalia is the
essential evidence for the baptism in the Spirit” (Stronstad 1984, 1). This is built on five incidents in
Acts (2:1-13; 8:14-19; 9:17-18; 10:44-46; 19:1-7) which become the biblical precedent for the
baptism in the Spirit. Speaking in tongues is considered normative and the initial evidence. This is
challenged by F. F. Bruce, James Dunn, and others. This theology of the Spirit is as valid for believers
in the twenty-first century as it was for those in the first century.

The following table has been adapted from Robert Menzies and his article entitled
“Evidential Tongues: An Essay on Theological Method” and indicates his central affirmations:

TABLE 2
CENTRAL AFFIRMATIONS

1. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an empowering experience.


2. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues is available to
everyone.
3. It is a gift which should be desirable by every Christian.
4. Speaking in tongues is evidence or proof one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
5. Speaking in tongues occurs at the moment one is baptized in the Spirit, thus without tongues
one cannot be baptized in the Spirit (121).

Luke presents a believer (or apparent believer) without the Spirit as an anomaly, an
anomaly that calls for an immediate corrective response from the church (Acts 8:15; 19:2-6).
Indeed, one might speculate whether Luke’s thoughts in recording these incidents include a
pastoral concern for his readers, and the hope that anyone encountering such an anomaly in his day
might take equally urgent steps to correct it. (Atkinson 1995).

Non-Pentecostal Suppositions

So what are the non-Pentecostals saying concerning Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy
Spirit, and speaking in tongues?

It is a sovereign, single, unrepeatable act on God’s part, and is no more an experience than
are its companions justification and adoption….No doctrinal teaching for today can be
established from those incidents….The evidence of the Spirit’s coming was unmistakable. He
manifested His presence to the ears, eyes, and mouths of the believers. But it didn’t stop
there…” (MacArthur 1994, 41-43)

“Luke seems to indicate that the supernatural empowerment that morning was only
granted to the twelve apostles” (Ger, 2004, 37). Strange conclusion for a chapter he entitles “The
Birth of the Church.” And the unrepeatable experience happened again seven years later:

The six Jewish believers were flabbergasted that the Gentiles were experiencing the exact
same outpouring in the exact same fashion….Yet the evidence was

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incontrovertible….Addressing the six thunderstruck Jewish companions, Peter asked that


since the Gentiles had been Spirit baptized, if anyone objected to the new believers being
water baptized as well. (Ger,160)

This author loves the chapter’s question, “Who Let in All These Gentiles?” God did.
Non-Pentecostals insist Acts has no theological intent. It is merely a historical record.

The speaking in tongues at Pentecost, then, appears to have been a unique phenomenon….it
was designed rather to remind the church that the gospel must be proclaimed to every tribe
and tongue. As far as we know, this Pentecostal experience was never repeated; it was
unique” (Ewert 1983, 107-108).

“…The Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues….they experienced a mini-
Pentecost. Better, Pentecost caught up to them. Better still, they were caught up into it, as its
promised blessings became theirs” (Stott, 2000, 304-305). And, around the globe Pentecost is still
catching up with hungry souls.

F. F. Bruce (1988) asserts, “the mere fact of glossolalia or any other ecstatic utterance is no
evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit” (52). “Being filled with the Spirit was an experience to
be repeated on several occasions (cf. 4:8, 31), but the baptism in the Spirit which the believing
community now experienced was an event which took place once for all” (51).

Bruce later conceded that at the Samaritan Pentecost: “it is clearly implied that their
reception of the Spirit was marked by external manifestations such as had marked his descent on
the earliest disciples at Pentecost” (169). Simon the Sorcerer would agree. “In the present instance,
some special evidence may have been necessary to assure the Samaritans…that they were fully
incorporated into the new community of the people of God” (170). “Whether the external signs
which accompanied the reception of the Spirit on this occasion were identical with the Pentecostal
signs or not, they were at any rate so impressive a nature that Simon Magus craved the power to
reproduce them at will” (171).

Still later, in Acts 10, Bruce spoke of the extended Pentecost: “Peter had not yet finished his
address when the ‘Pentecost of the Gentile world’ took place….The event was not so much a second
Pentecost…as the participation of Gentile believers in the experience of the first Pentecost….But the
experience of the hearers in Caesarea reproduced rather that of the original company of disciples in
Jerusalem” (216-217). Bruce provides little reference or explanation concerning the baptism of the
Holy Spirit as experienced by the disciples at Ephesus, in Acts 19:1-6. His exegesis of Acts 8, 10, and
19 are surprising since he earlier stated his “once for all” philosophy.

Exegesis

Peter’s message in Acts 2 provides a summarization of his theological viewpoint. It provides


the foundation in which the rest of the book can be understood. Pentecost was the feast of first
fruits; the first fruits of an even larger harvest to come. Peter said, “Exalted to the right hand of God,
he [Jesus] has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now
see and hear” (Acts 2:33, NIV). The spectators had just seen and heard people speaking in tongues,
so Peter emphasized it as the evidence of the promised Holy Ghost.

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TABLE 3
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF PENTECOST

Audible Manifestation “Suddenly the sound like the blowing of a


violent wind came from heaven and filled the
whole where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2).
Visible Manifestation “They saw what seems to be tongues of fire that
separated and came to rest on each of them”
(Acts 2:3). Both the wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:2)
and fire (Acts 2:3) are symbols of the Spirit. Note
there was no hint that the sound of wind or
tongues of fire ever occur again. It appears to be
for this occasion only.
Speech Manifestation “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and
began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit
enabled them” (Acts 2:4

“What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12) sounds like a plea for instruction. This opened the way
for Peter, “Let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say” (Acts 2:14). Peter’s sermon was
an explanation of Pentecost; what is described in Acts 2:1-13, is now explained. What is the point of
Peter’s message? It is to teach concerning what has taken place. It describes the first century
church, while setting the stage of what is the norm for the church in all times. To justify this, it must
be taught in other places, where the primary intention is to instruct. Historical precedent can be
considered normative if it joins hands with Christ’s teachings, His commands, and with apostolic
preaching. It agrees with tenor of the Bible, and cannot merely stand alone.

Peter starts by explaining what was not happening before explaining what was taking place.
“These men are not…as you suppose….No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:15-
16). Peter clearly explains what is taking place at Pentecost is the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. He
approaches the subject from both the viewpoint of revelation and experience when he states, “This
is that” (KJV) and “This is what” (NIV). He becomes an exegete; a biblical interpreter. The writer,
Luke, serves as a redactor (editor); carefully selecting material for inclusion and instructing us in
the way one should go and what one should do. In essence Peter was saying, “Joel told us about
this.” Peter’s use of Joel’s prophecy is a pesher meaning (from Hebrew) interpretation. It places the
emphasis on fulfillment and does not attempt to exegete the passage. Peter introduces it with a
typical pesher or introduction, “This is that” (Longnecker, 1995, 71). He places emphasis, not on the
signs, but on the restoration of prophecy. He changes the original “afterwards” to the “last days”
shaping the material to some degree, and becoming an editor. The manner in which Peter looked at
Joel’s prophecy shows he expected a continuous fulfillment of prophecy.

In quoting Joel’s prophecy, Peter emphasizes that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for
everyone, not merely a few Old Testament patriarchs. It is given to all; regardless of age, gender, or
social status (Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28; Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; Acts 2:17-19); both now and in the
future (Acts 2:38-39). Peter sees this prophecy being fulfilled to the end of the last days, since God
is constantly calling people to salvation (Acts 2:39). The table that follows shows that there are no
restrictions:

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TABLE 4
NO RESTRICTIONS

No time restriction “The promise is for you and your children” (Acts
2:39). It from generation to generation.”…To
you…” is the first generation. “Your children”
refers to the second generation. “For all you are
afar off” represents the third and succeeding
generations. The promise had both a personal
and generational application.
No social or cultural restriction “Your sons and daughters…your young
men…your old men….servants, both men and
women, I will pour out of my Spirit in those
days” (Acts 2:17-18).
No geographical restriction “…And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the
earth” (Acts 1:8). The promise had a global
application.

Pentecost was a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29; Matthew 3:11; Luke 24:49; and Acts 1:4-5. The
last days (another way of saying “from now on”) had begun (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20).

The Life in the Spirit Study Bible stated:

The baptism in the Spirit with its accompanying power was not a once-for-all occurrence in
the church’s history. It did not cease with Pentecost (cf. v.38; 8:15; 9:17; 10:44-46; 19:6),
nor with the close of the apostolic age. It is the birthright of every Christian to see, expect
and experience the same baptism in the Spirit that was promised and given to the New
Testament Christian. (Stamps,1670)

The tongues like fire, and the sound like the mighty wind were signs for this one occasion
but speaking in tongues became the recurring, normative, expected pattern for those receiving the
baptism of the Spirit. Wind, fire (Exodus 3:2-5; Exodus 13:21; Exodus 24:17; Exodus 40:38;
Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:1), and inspired speech are each signs of God’s presence throughout Jewish
history. The Greek pneuma means either wind or Spirit dependent on the context used.

Some say only the twelve apostles received the Spirit, but Jesus gave the promise to all; not
just the Twelve. One hundred and twenty were in the upper room; none departed. In Joel’s
prophecy, God said He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Peter promised the gift of the Holy
Ghost to all who heard his word (Acts 2:38-39), and 3000 received his word gladly (Acts 2:41).
Peter not only explained what had happened to him; but offered the same experience to his hearers.

The table that follows summarizes five accounts in Acts to show speaking in tongues, as the
initial evidence of the baptism in the Spirit was (and is) normative:

TABLE 5
SPEAKING IN TONGUES,
NOT SPEAKING IN TONGUES?

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THAT IS THE QUESTION

Jews Samaritans Paul Gentiles Ephesians


“All…began to “…They received “The Lord— “…Were “When Paul
speak in other the Holy Spirit. Jesus…has sent astonished that placed his hands
tongues as the When Simon saw me so that you the gift of the on them, the Holy
Spirit enabled that the Spirit may see again Holy Spirit had Spirit came on
them” (Acts 2:4) was given…said, and be filled with been poured out them, and they
‘Give me also this the Holy Spirit” even on the spoke in
ability on whom I (Acts 9:17). Gentiles. For they tongues…” (Acts
lay my hands may “I thank God that heard them 19:6).
receive the Holy I speak in tongues speaking in other
Spirit” (Acts 8:17- more than all of tongues…” (Acts
19). (Not named you” (1 10:45-46).
but evidently Corinthians
tongues). 14:18).

Listen to how Peter explained what took place among the Gentiles:

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.' So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed
in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” When they heard this,
they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the
Gentiles repentance unto life. (Acts 11:15-18)

Paul asked the disciples at Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Ghost when you believed?”
(Acts 19:2). This question suggests people can really know whether or not they have received the
Holy Ghost.

…Five key examples include the baptism of the Spirit as part of conversion, and these five
cases represent all classes of people. A number of other conversion experiences are not told
in detail, but the accounts of many of them imply the baptism of the Spirit while none
specifically excludes it. We conclude that the five examples were meant to establish the
pattern. The less specific cases should be read in light of the five examples given to us.
Under no circumstances can mere silence or lack of a complete description overthrow the
clear evidence of the five cases Acts records. (Bernard, 1984, 213-214)

The Holy Spirit

“There is no hermeneutic unless and until the divine hermeneutes (the Holy Spirit)
mediates an understanding” (Stronstad 1995, 26). The Spirit is the illuminator and inspirer of
Scripture (Stronstad 1995, 72). Scripture can only be interpreted accurately through the Holy Spirit
(John 14:26; 16:13). Thus, Pentecostals are in the best position to make a significant contribution
to understanding Luke-Acts.

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There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no
fellowship without the unity of the Spirit…and no effective witness without his power. As a
body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead. Luke is well aware
of this. Of the four evangelists it is he who lays the heaviest emphasis on the Spirit. (Stott
1990, 60)

Conclusion

Is speaking in other tongues the initial, physical evidence of receiving the baptism (of or
with) the Holy Spirit? That is the question. The revealing evidence demands a verdict.

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