So you Want to Speak in
Pentecostalism advances across the world, winning converts
faster than any other Christian denomination and siphoning
believers from more established faiths, it is also suffering
its own slow leak: young people who are falling away from
New York Times, Jan. 16, 2007
earnest and sincere Christians—disappointed today with
the formalism and hollow emptiness of their Churches—are
looking to be spirit filled. They are particularly looking
for the "latter rain" pouring of the holy Spirit
they expect in the last days before Jesus returns. Certainly
at Pentecost Apostle Peter, quoting the prophecy in Joel,
spoke of the pouring the holy Spirit not only on God’s
"servants" and "handmaids"—but "in
the last days… upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17, 18;
Joel 2:28, 29).
Growing Family of Protestants
is it that draws 250,000 people to the Yoido Full Gospel Church
in Korea on any given Sunday? (Britannica.com) The Pentecostal
explosion is by far the largest and most far-reaching religious
movement to originate in the United States. In 1901 with only
a handful of students at a Bible School in Topeka, Kansas—it
was ignited in 1906 by the itinerant black preacher William
J. Seymour in Los Angeles. For over three years, the Azusa
Street "Apostolic Faith mission" conducted three
services a day, seven days a week, where thousands of spirit
seekers sought the baptism of tongues. Once sneered at as
"holy rollers," Pentecostal numbers increased steadily
throughout the world during the Twentieth Century until by
1993 they had become the largest family of Protestants in
the world ("The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement,"
V. Synan, Ph.D).
addition to these "Classical denominational Pentecostals,"
there were over 200 million "Charismatic" Pentecostals
in the mainline denominations and independent charismatic
churches. In both Catholic and Protestant churches, the number
Pentecostals and Charismatics topped well over 420 million
persons by 1993.
two major groups—Pentecostals and Charismatics—considered
together are sometimes called "renewalists." Their
common belief is in the spiritually renewed gifts of the holy
Spirit. (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, "Preface,"
Oct. ‘06) Today there are more than 500 million renewalists
or "revivalists" in the world that make up about
a quarter of the world’s Christian population—compared
with just 6% only thirty years ago. ("Christianity Reborn,"
The Economist, Dec. 19, 2006)
Latter Rain Comes First
according to the Scriptures, there are two outpourings of
the holy Spirit. At Pentecost, Apostle Peter quotes the Prophet
Joel who prophesied that there would be two times the holy
Spirit would be poured out.
the last days…upon all flesh"
rain in the first month"
"The Servants and upon the Handmaids in those
my Servants and Handmaidens…in those days"
is interesting to note that the Joel prophecy of the "latter
rain" actually is first—"in the first month."
The holy Spirit was indeed first poured out first at Pentecost
on Jesus’ little company of disciples, his "servants
and handmaidens." Of course, Cornelius and his family,
the first Gentiles, also received a baptism of the holy Spirit,
a clear confirmation of the opening of "The Way"
to Gentiles. Peter, who had both "keys of the kingdom
of heaven" (Matt. 16:18,19; Acts 2:14, 37, 38; 10) was
the leading Apostle on outpourings of that "latter rain."
But there is to be a time when God’s holy Spirit will
be poured out not just on Christians—but as the "former
rain" on "all flesh."
Spirit Poured on All Flesh After Armageddon
the growing enthusiasm for "tongues speaking" as
an evidence of the holy Spirit’s indwelling—500
million can hardly be called "all flesh" of today’s
population of over 6 billion. Is "all flesh" an
exaggeration? Actually after the Armageddon "tribulation
such as was not since the beginning of the world" (Matthew
24:22), God plans to pour out His holy Spirit on "all
flesh." Despite the doomsday views of such groups as
"Jehovah’s Witnesses," there is hope after
Armageddon! How do we know? The prophet Zephaniah says (3:8,
9) after the nations are gathered for Armageddon and His wrath
is poured out, God is going to give the people the "pure
language" of Truth. The "fire" cannot be literal
because there would be none left to benefit by a pure language
turned to them! Yes, the "fire" of anarchy would
bring an end to this present order—but afterwards people
would serve God "with one consent." The Hebrew text
say they will serve, "shoulder to shoulder"—the
exact opposite of anarchy! That would be the time when the
people of earth—"all flesh"—would "call
upon the name of the LORD" because His holy Spirit is
poured upon them!
wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise
up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations,
that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation,
even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured
with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the
people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name
of the LORD, to serve him with one consent [shoulder to shoulder]."
doesn’t Joel’s prophecy of the outpouring of the
holy Spirit on "all flesh" occur in the "last
days"? Yes, of course. Often "last days" refers
to the "end times" before the setting up of Christ’s
Kingdom (2 Tim. 3:1; James 5:3; 2 Peter 3:3). But in two key
prophecies describing Christ’s Kingdom when nations
will beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning
hooks—and nobody is at war. That time is described as,
"In the last days…" (See Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah
4:1-4) The time when the whole world will be at peace in Christ’s
Kingdom is when "all flesh" will have God’s
holy Spirit poured upon them! It is the time for which Christians
are praying, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven…" So, to state it plainly, when
God’s will is done on earth, it will be because the
holy Spirit has been poured out on "all flesh."
But not until then.
in Early Church for Unbelievers
the holy Spirit was first poured out at Pentecost, the disciples
were miraculously able to speak in foreign languages. That
gift—as well as healing—was not a witness for
believers, but a sign for unbelievers! Apostle Paul himself
explained, "So then tongues are for a sign, not to those
who believe, but to unbelievers…" (1 Corinthians
14:22) In other words, tongues-speaking was not for making
the believers feel spiritual or validating their spirituality.
The gift was a witness to unbelievers! "The supernatural
gift of speaking in another language without its having been
learned" (Vine’s Expository Dictionary) had the
very practical benefit of being able to spread the Gospel
efficiently throughout the world.
in the Corinthian Church, however, in their fascination for
their ability to speak in tongues of foreign languages were
abusing their gift! So Apostle Paul had to lay down some guidelines.
If there was not someone who could benefit in their particular
language, and there was no interpreter—they should be
quiet! Paul admonished, "If anyone speaks in a tongue,
two-or at the most three-should speak, one at a time, and
someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker
should keep quiet in the church" (1 Corinthians 14:27-28
contrast, what is happening in the Charismatic Revivalist
Movement today? Christians are caught up in speaking in unintelligible
ecstatic utterances. This emotional experience makes them
feel "spiritually good" (and sometimes more spiritual
than others who are not experiencing the same). Rarely does
anyone stop to "interpret" as Apostle Paul taught.
Modern "tongues" speakers consistently also ignore
Apostle Paul’s admonition to speak "one at a time."
So, are ecstatic, unintelligible utterances really from God?
Utterances by Non-Christians
the experience of speaking in ecstatic utterances is not at
all unique to Christians—nor to our times. Recent studies
have indicated that glossolalia is not a uniquely Christian
practice. Glossolalia is practiced by a large number of native
non-Christian religions around the world. Glossolalia is found
among the "Inuit (Eskimos), the Saami (Lapps), in Japan
and in Ethiopia as well as in various cults in Haitian Voodoo.
Writing in American Anthropolgist, L. Carlyle May of Harvard
University observes that glossolalia in non-Christian religions
is practiced in Malaysia, Indonesia, Siberia, Arctic regions,
China, Korea, Arabia, and Burma, among other places. It is
also present extensively in African tribal religions. (Metareligion,
"History of Glossolalia")
in ancient times, the practice of speaking in unintelligible
languages during religious ecstasy was not unknown. From eleventh-century
B.C. Egypt come reports of ecstatic speech. Later in the Greek
world the prophetess of Delphi and the Sibylline priestess
spoke in unknown tongues. Amongst the Roman mystery religions,
the Dionysian Cult was known for this practice. ("The
History of the Charismatic Movement," G. E. Gilley).
of the Spirit Replaced Gifts
Apostle Paul explained that "tongues shall cease"
along with other miraculous gifts which established the infant
Church. Such gifts of the spirit would be replaced with the
fruits of the spirit—all manifesting love. "Love
never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will
be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease…"
(1 Corinthians 13:8 NAS) In order to experience an "abundant
entrance" into heaven, the Christian must abound in the
fruits of the spirit—faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance,
patience, godliness, brotherly kindness—and love. Not
tongues. (See 1 Peter 1:4-11)
nobody is hurting anybody else in the world, and the "knowledge
of the LORD fills the whole earth as the waters cover the
sea" (Isaiah 11:9)—then all flesh will have experienced
the pouring out of God’s holy Spirit. When no man has
to teach anybody else about the LORD, because He is known
from the "least to the greatest" (Heb. 8:11)—then
God’s holy Spirit will have been poured out on "all
flesh." "When people are no longer blinded by the
"god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), then the holy Spirit
will have been poured out on "all flesh." Young
people who have abandoned Christianity for whatever reasons—as
well as people who never knew Christ—will have an opportunity
to learn about Jesus and live eternally. Christ’s Kingdom
is the time when "all flesh shall see the salvation of
God… " (Luke 3:6).