If you study the Acts of the Apostles, you’ll find out that when folks
were filled with the Holy Ghost, they began to speak with other tongues. From this we can gather that tongues are the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Of course, there are other evidences that follow. But this is the initial evidence or sign that someone has received the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The Initial Outpouring
Let’s look through the Book of Acts and study five instances where it is recorded that people were baptized in the Holy Spirit. We’ll answer the question, “How many times do we find that speaking with tongues is the initial evidence for the infilling of the Holy Ghost?” We’ll start with the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on the Church.
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord i n one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, and BEGAN TO SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Notice what happened at the very moment they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: They ” . . began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v. 4). Now, if that had happened just one time, we might think, Well, that was just a phenomenon
that happened at the very beginning when the Holy Spirit was first
poured out on the Church! But as you will see, this phenomenon did nor just happen on the Day of Pentecost.
After Philip Preached Christ to the
Let’s move on to Acts 8 and find out what happened after Philip the evangelist ministered to the people of Samaria:
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and PREACHED CHRIST unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the
miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city. . . .
12 But when THEY BELIEVED Philip
preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST [they were saved], they were baptized [ i n water], both men and women. . . .
14 Now when the apostles which were at
Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down,
PRAYED FOR THEM, THAT THEY MIGHT
RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of
them: only they were baptized i n the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then LAID THEY THEIR HANDS ON
THEM, and THEY RECEIVED THE HOLY
Someone might say, “Well, it doesn’t say in this passage that the Samaritans spoke with tongues, so that must mean a person can receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit without speaking with tongues.” But a person who makes that statement hasn’t studied either the
Scriptures or Church history very closely. First, a student of Church history knows that Early Church fathers agreed the believers of Samaria did speak with tongues. Second, if you go on reading in chapter 8, you’ll learn something very significant about a fellow named Simon.
Once called “Simon the sorcerer,” Simon had supposedly come to believe in Jesus under Philip’s ministry in Samaria and
had been baptized in water. Let’s find out what happened next.
18 And when Simon SAW that through laying on of the apostle’s hands THE HOLY GHOST WAS GIVEN, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST. If speaking in tongues did not accompany the baptism in the Holy Spirit, how would Simon have known that the Samaritans
received the Holy Ghost? No, Simon SAW something. Verse 18 says, “And when Simon SAW that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given . . . .” There had to be some
outward evidence that registered on Simon’s physical senses for him to know that the people had been filled with the Holy Spirit. Well, Simon certainly didn’t see the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is a spirit being, unable to be seen by the physical eye. If there hadn’t been some kind of supernatural manifestation that
registered on his physical senses, Simon couldn’t have seen that they had received the Holy Ghost. One minister said to me, “Well, maybe the Samaritans were just full of joy. Maybe that is what Simon saw.” But that couldn’t be the answer, because Simon had already seen joy manifested when the Samaritans had first gotten saved. Remember, verse 8 says, “And there was great joy in that city.” So what do you suppose happened in this instance? The most logical
thing to conclude is that Simon saw the same thing that happened in Acts 2 when the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues. Acts 2:6 says, “Now when this [the 120 believers speaking in other tongues] was noised abroad, the multitude came together. . . . ” Then Peter stood up and preached to them and said, ” . . . Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he [Jesus] hath shed forth THIS, which ye now SEE and HEAR” (Acts 2:33). Notice those words see and hear!
The people who gathered together on the Day of Pentecost saw and heard the 120 newly Spirit-filled believers speak with other tongues.
And evidently Simon saw the same thing!
Early Church fathers agree that the Samaritans spoke with tongues.
And elsewhere in the New Testament, the Bible says that believers spoke with other tongues when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. So from all evidence, speaking with other tongues was the sign that convinced Simon that the Samaritans had received the Holy Ghost.
Notice what Simon did as soon as he saw this phenomenon: He offered Peter and John money because he wanted the same power to minister the Holy Ghost to people! Some folks say, “Simon tried to buy the Holy Ghost.” No, he didn’t.
He tried to buy the authority or the power to lay hands on people so they
could receive the Holy Spirit. Would Simon the sorcerer have tried to buy the power to give something to people if he couldn’t discern whether or not they
had received anything? Would he have tried to buy something if there was no supernatural manifestation in connection with it? Any sensible person would conclude that the answer is no.
So Simon offered Peter and John money, saying in effect,
“Give me this power so I can lay hands on people and see them receive the Holy Ghost.”
20 But Peter said unto h i m , Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot IN THIS MATTER: for thy heart is not right i n the sight of God.
One Greek scholar points out that the root word of the Greek word translated “matter” in verse 21 is the same root of the word translated “utterance” in Acts 2:4, where it says, “And they were all
filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as
the Spirit gave them UTTERANCE.”
So when Peter said, “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter,” he was literally saying, “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter of supernatural utterance—this matter of speaking with
other tongues.” This proves conclusively that these Samaritans spoke with other tongues when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Saul of Tarsus
Now let’s look in Acts 9 at what happened to Saul of Tarsus, soon to be called Paul, when he was saved and later in a separate experience received the Holy Spirit. Saul was approaching the city of Damascus with letters in his
possession that gave him the authority to put in prison any who were called Christians. Suddenly a light shone around about him, brighter than the noonday sun, and he fell to the earth, blinded by the light.
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, LORD? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said,
LORD, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. As we discussed earlier, Saul changed immediately when he saw Jesus in this vision and called Jesus Lord. Later the Apostle Paul may
have had this personal experience in mind when he wrote to the Romans: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved” (Rom. 10:9).
We can therefore know that on the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was born again. He confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, and he certainly believed that God raised Jesus from the dead. After all, Saul was on that road to Damascus, talking to a resurrected Jesus Christ! Then in verse 6, Saul asked, “… Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?…”
Jesus answered, “… Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told
thee what thou must do.”
Now let’s read further to find out what happened after Jesus told Ananias in a vision to go lay hands on Saul so that Saul could have his sight restored and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
10 And there was a certain disciple of Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision,
Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here Lord.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house
of judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. . . .
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul,
the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou earnest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive
thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose,
and was baptized. Notice that this passage doesn’t say anything about Paul
speaking with tongues. Yet later we read where Paul said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Cor. 14:18). When do you suppose Paul began to speak with tongues? The most
logical thing to conclude is that Paul started speaking in tongues when
he was filled with the Holy Ghost—just as the 120 believers did on the Day of Pentecost!
Cornelius and His Household
Ten years after the Day of Pentecost, the household of Cornelius, a
devout Roman centurion, was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Cornelius was praying one day when an angel appeared to him and
told him to send someone to Joppa to inquire at the house of Simon the
tanner for a man named Peter. Meanwhile in Joppa, Peter had gone out
on the housetop to pray. During the time of prayer, Peter fell into a
trance and had a vision. (Falling into a trance is one type of vision in which a person’s physical senses are suspended as he or she receives revelation from God.)
In the vision, Peter saw a giant sheet let down from Heaven by its four corners. In the sheet were all kinds of beasts, both clean and unclean.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have
never eaten anything that is common or
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
The Jews looked upon the Gentiles as being unclean and therefore wouldn’t have anything to do with them. But God was getting Peter prepared for what Peter would soon witness: the
Gospel being preached to the Gentiles. That’s what the Lord meant when He said in the vision, “… What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”
While Peter pondered the meaning of this vision, the Holy Spirit spoke to him, saying that three men had come to see him and that he was to go with them. So Peter left with the three men for Cornelius’ house, along with several Jewish brethren. When they arrived, Peter preached the Gospel to Cornelius and his entire household.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, THE HOLY GHOST FELL ON ALL THEM which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on
the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. . . .
The believing Jews were astonished that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles. You see, up to that moment, it had been strictly a Jewish church. These Jewish believers didn’t think anyone could get in on this New Covenant except the Jews.
So what convinced the Jewish brethren who were present that the door of salvation had opened to the Gentiles? How did they know that these folks had received the Holy Ghost? Verse 46
tells us: “For they heard them SPEAK WITH TONGUES, and magnify God ____ ” Hearing those Gentiles speak with tongues was the thing that convinced the Jewish brethren that Cornelius and his
household had received the Holy Spirit just as they had.
The Disciples at Ephesus
The last recorded instance where folks received the Holy Spirit is found in Acts 19. This incident in the city of Ephesus happened about 20 years after the Day of Pentecost.
1 . . . [Paul and his company of believers]
having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. These were believers who were walking in all the light they had.
They hadn’t even heard that there was a Holy Spirit until they met Paul.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then
were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. You see, John the Baptist baptized in water, teaching people to believe on the One Who would come after him. But these Jewish believers lived in Ephesus, located in Asia Minor, and they didn’t know all that had happened back in the land of Israel.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, THE HOLY GHOST CAME ON THEM; AND THEY SPAKE WITH TONGUES, and prophesied.
What happened the moment the Holy Ghost came on these believers? “… They spake with tongues, and prophesied”
In Acts 2 the infilling of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire. In no other instance of believers receiving the baptism in the Holy Ghost do we read
about either of these manifestations. For example, in Acts 10 the
believers magnified God after receiving the Holy Spirit, and we just saw in Acts 19 that they prophesied.
Sometimes folks do receive something besides tongues at the time they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but remember—tongues always comes first. The Bible doesn’t say that they prophesied and spoke with tongues. It said they spoke with tongues and prophesied}.
We shouldn’t expect any more when we initially receive the Holy Ghost than what the Word of God teaches. If another
spiritual gift is added, well and good, but these other manifestations may or may not follow the baptism in the Holy
Spirit. On the other hand, in three out of five recorded instances in Acts
where people received the Holy Ghost, the Bible definitely states that
believers spoke with other tongues. These three instances occurred in
the 20-year time period between the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and
Paul’s encounter with the Ephesian believers (Acts 19). The majority of
evidence, then, would be on the side of tongues as the initial evidence
of this experience. As for the other two instances, the Bible infers that
believers spoke with tongues, as we already discussed.
So I believe it’s safe to say we have proven conclusively that five
times out of five recorded instances in the Book of Acts, believers who
were filled with the Holy Ghost experienced the initial evidence of
speaking with other tongues. This would lead us to believe that any
person today who desires to be filled with the Holy Ghost will speak
with other tongues as well!