In this third installment, I want to cover the “next step” in the gospel according to the UPC and that is receiving the Holy Spirit.
Receiving the Holy Spirit According to OP
In addition to repentance and baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins, one must receive the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in other tongues in order to complete the new birth process.
According to OP, the baptism of the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in other tongues is viewed as not an optional, post-conversional experience. Bernard cites to Mark 16:17 as supporting the view that speaking in other tongues is the sign of receiving the Spirit.[i] While there are five biblical examples of people receiving the Spirit (the Jews, the Samaritans, the Gentiles, the apostle Paul and the disciples of John at Ephesus), Bernard notes that three of the accounts explicitly describe speaking in tongues while other tongues are implicit in the other two circumstances.
In Acts 2:1-4 Bernard states that it was the “speaking in tongues ‘as the Spirit gave them utterance’ [that] was the initial sign of each individual filling.”[ii]
“Speaking in tongues was what convinced the skeptical, astonished Jews that the Gentiles had just received the Holy Ghost; tongues alone sufficiently identified this as the Pentecostal experience (Acts 10:44-47; 11:15-17). They knew they had received ‘the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues’ (Acts 10:45-46). The Ephesian disciples also spoke in tongues as the first sign of receiving the Spirit (Acts 19:6).”[iii]
While in Acts 8 tongues are not mentioned, clearly a sign is given causing Simon the magician to desire to purchase the ability to impart the Holy Spirit. While no mention is made of Paul speaking in tongues at his conversion, Bernard cites to I Corinthians 14:18 to demonstrate that Paul stated he spoke in tongues often.
With respect to the baptism of the Spirit, Bernard also states, “We should always expect speaking in tongues when someone receives the Holy Spirit. Tongues do not save in any sense, but the Spirit baptism produces tongues as the initial sign.”[iv]
“What is the status of a person who repents and is baptized, thereby receiving remission of sins, but does not receive the Holy Spirit?” Bernard answers that, “He cannot be condemned for sins that are remitted, yet he cannot enter the kingdom of God without the birth of the Spirit and the holiness imparted by the Holy Spirit.”[v]
What is sad is that I have known individuals, one in particular who was raised in a UPC home with a UPC pastor as her father, who believed that Acts 2:38 literally stated, “And then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, with evidence of speaking in other tongues.” When she heard this verse read over the pulpit of a non-UPC church and did not hear this final phrase, she thought to herself, “Let me go and see what the King James version says….” She didn’t find that phrase there either. The teaching that the reception of the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by the evidence of speaking with unknown tongues is so ingrained in the teaching of the UPC that lifelong members (who do not pay close enough attention to the scripture itself) can fall into this extreme of thinking. Even if they know that Acts 2:38 does not state this, they absolutely believe that this is the teaching of scripture.
This is what happens when you approach the scripture with presuppositions – you will read into the scripture what you believe it teaches. And yet, when those scales fall from one’s eyes or one asks and has the Spirit illuminate their sight as they read the scripture, it brings new meaning to the words of Jesus when he said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
In the coming blog posts, I will begin to address the error of the gospel according to Oneness Pentecostalism and I hope that the words of Jesus will come to pass in the lives of any Oneness Pentecostal who will happen across this blog.
[i] Id. at 20.
[iv] Id. at 21.