THE WRONG TEACHING OF AN INITIAL EVIDENCE
In 1 Corinthians 12:30 Paul asks, “Do all speak in tongues?” We should not guess about the answer; rather, we should take the Word as it is. All do not speak in tongues. In 14:5 Paul says, “I desire that you all speak in tongues.” This indicates that not all the Corinthians spoke in tongues. The Pentecostals say that all the early believers spoke in tongues, but if they did, there would have been no need for the apostle to say this.
Those who have a Pentecostal background insist that everyone who has the baptism of the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues. However, 1 Corinthians 12 is a problem to them, because it says that speaking in tongues is only one of many aspects of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Many of them reconcile this problem by saying that speaking in tongues as the initial and necessary evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is one thing, but after that, to exercise the gift of speaking in tongues is another thing. After the initial evidence, they say, many lose the gift of tongues and perhaps only a few keep it.
An elderly brother, a leading missionary of the Assembly of God in the capital of China, told me that on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down for the first time, all the disciples spoke with unknown tongues rather than human languages or dialects. Then when the people heard their voices and crowded around the disciples, the disciples began to speak actual dialects to them. This brother said that to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the speaking of unknown tongues as the initial evidence is one thing, but after this to exercise the gift to speak in another language is another thing.
After he said this to me, I studied the Word intensely. I found that Acts 2:4 says that the disciples “began to speak in different tongues,” while verse 6 says, “And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together and was confounded because each one heard them speaking in his own dialect.” This indicates that before the people crowded to see the disciples, the disciples had been speaking in dialects, not unknown tongues. Verse 11 says, “We hear them speaking in our tongues the magnificent works of God.” Even though the word used in this verse is tongues, not dialects, what they spoke was understandable.
After speaking in tongues when they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, nearly all the Pentecostal brothers and sisters continue to speak in tongues. Almost no one loses their speaking in tongues; once they speak in tongues the first time, they keep it. It is never the case that one thousand Pentecostals speak in tongues today, but after one week nine hundred fifty lose the gift and only fifty still speak in tongues. When they come together to meet, almost everyone speaks in tongues.
On the one hand, many of them say that not everyone exercises the gift of speaking in tongues, but on the other hand, they very much insist that everyone must speak in tongues. This is an awkward practice. There is no need to insist that speaking in tongues is the necessary and initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues is simply one of many aspects of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit upon us as power. If today we have the power of the Holy Spirit upon us, we may heal someone, but if we do not have the power, we cannot heal anyone. Therefore, healing also is an aspect of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. When many people receive the Holy Spirit as power upon them, they do not speak in tongues.
We must train our mind to consider these things in a very logical way. How can we speak of an “initial manifestation?” To cast out a demon by the power of the Holy Spirit today and to cast out another one next month is the same thing. We should not say that to cast out a demon is only our initial manifestation; later, we will continue to cast out demons.
Let us be clear, soberminded, logical, and sound in mind to understand the Word of God. Do not be perplexed or confused by the situation and the wrong teachings. Be sober in mind to read the Word and understand it carefully. Then we will see that healing, speaking in tongues, and casting out demons are just some of the many items of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as an “initial manifestation.” This term is a human invention used to reconcile the wrong teaching that everyone must speak in tongues. This way of reconciling their teaching is unreasonable.
(The Work of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)