Assembly of God and the Holy Spirit

In his Systematic Theology, Stanley M. Horton editor, suggests some Pentecostals “are contending for an experience that is in some sense distinct from regeneration and also accompanied by the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues.” The Statement of Fundamental Truths by the Assembly of God says the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit "is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth," they claim that the proof of this is provided in the Book of Acts.

Upon reviewing the Acts accounts it seems the distinction is lacking. It seems to be elusive at best for such a pivotal principle in soteriology. The text of Scripture does say that without the Holy Spirit we are none of His.

In Acts 1:8 we see that the "Holy Ghost is come upon you," (AV) in Acts 2:4 filled with the Holy Ghost,” in Acts 2:17 "pour out … Spirit," in Acts 2:33 "received the promise of the Holy Ghost," and in Acts 2:38 the "gift of the Holy Ghost." All of these phrases and occurrences refer to the same event, and same experience that was accompanied by speaking in tongues. Luke never records that “they were baptized with the Spirit”. This is the faux pas of those who hold to a distinction of infillings. The Scriptures more often than not suggest that they received the promised Holy Spirit (See 1:4-5; 1:8; 11:15-16; 2:4; 2:16-17; 2:33; 2:38-39).

In Acts 8:15 they "receive the Holy Ghost," and in verse 16 it indeed has "fallen upon … them," and this same experience, in verse 20, is a "gift of God." Notice that all of these refer to the same event. In Acts 10:44 the "Holy Ghost fell on," Cornelius and his household. In the same chapter, verse 45, it was identified thusly "poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost,". Yet two verses later, in verse 47, it says that they "received the Holy Ghost." These all refer to the same event within the context of each chapter. Interestingly enough, when Peter began explain what had happened, he said that Cornelius was "baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:16).

From the account of Luke, in the Book of Acts, we do not see a separating distinction between two types of receiving the Spirit--at least in how it is described with such interchangeability. Man must be born again and he must be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Paul makes this clear in Romans:

Romans 8:9 KJV, But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

What are the implications of such a doctrine being present in a movement that is rooted, historically at least, in Pentecostalism? What then of the over 3/4 not filled with the Holy Spirit evidenced by tongues within such a movement? They are yet sinners in the hands of an angry God. His wrath has not been satisfied against them. They need an Apostolic experience such as was on the Day of Pentecost.


Horton, Stanley, et al Systematic Theology © 1994, 1995 by Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Bruner, Baptism 61, 69. Minutes of the 44th Session of the General Council of the Assemblies of God with Revised Constitution and Bylaws (Springfield, Mo.: The General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1991), 129.


Pastor Geek said...

Well said.

I have often found it funny that non-Apostolics will jump through hoops to prove that we aren't able to do what so many of us already do.

Thay say "Tongues have ceased". I say "not in this church they haven't, come and listen to any one of our alter calls and see how much speaking in tongues you hear."

They say "Oh, those tongues, yes, well, that's just the gift of tongues". I say "Then we're awfully gifted around here hey?"

They say "but even if people do talk in tongues, which they don't, except for a few that have the gift of tongues, there is no way to connect that to receiving the Holy Ghost." I say "Acts 10:44-46 ... read it and weep. Pete and the boys only knew the gentiles had the Holy Ghost because they spoke in tongues! Wrap that back into your theology!"

I'll stop now before this turns into a sermon. :-)

JN Anderson said...

Pastor Geek, well said yourself! Thanks for the comments!

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)