Pentecostalism in the LIGHT of the BIBLE
Submitted by Matt Costella
[The following article was written over seventy five years ago by the late Dr. Franklin G. Huling, a faithful pastor and Bible teacher who not only believed in warning about the wolves in sheep’s clothing that would enter the flock from outside the church, but also about those who would rise up from within to draw away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:26-32). Dr. Huling served as a professor at the Fundamental Evangelistic Association’s Fundamental Bible Institute in its early years in Los Angeles, CA. We reprint his article on Pentecostalism believing it will be of real help to believers who want to test all things by God’s Word.]
Pentecostalism was formerly called “The Tongues Movement” or “The Holy Rollers.” Now it is generally known as “The Full Gospel” or “The Four Square Church” or “The Apostolic Faith,” etc. Many dear children of God are connected with this movement. However, the basic teachings of Pentecostalism are unscriptural, and I would ask you, my reader, to do as did the noble Bereans, of whom it is recorded that “they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily [not their “experience”], whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
IT IS NOT SCRIPTURAL TO TARRY FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
There is not a single line in Scripture, after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, where anyone is commanded or exhorted to “tarry” for the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means ﬁfty. The Old Testament Feast of Pentecost was celebrated ﬁfty days after the Feast of First Fruits (Lev. 23:16). The Feast of First Fruits typiﬁed the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:23). The Feast of Pentecost typiﬁed the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ was with His disciples 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3) before ascending back to heaven. Ten days later (making a total of 50 days after Christ’s resurrection), the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost (ﬁfty). He came on that very day as the Scriptures said He would. The disciples tarried only until “the Day of Pentecost [ﬁfty] was fully come” (Acts 2:1). Note carefully, it was not the disciples’ readiness that caused the Holy Spirit to come on the Day of Pentecost, but that God’s Time had arrived for the Holy Spirit to come. Pentecost was the earthly birthday of the Holy Spirit, just as the birth of Christ was His earthly birthday. Furthermore, as the incarnation, cruciﬁxion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ will not be repeated, so Pentecost never has been and never will be repeated. Christ died on the Cross of Calvary once for all, and the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost once for all. Therefore, it is an insult to the Holy Spirit to “tarry” for Him to come, because, praise God, the Holy Spirit has already come! Would you wait at the railroad station for a friend after he had already arrived? Certainly not. No more should any believer in the Lord Jesus Christ “tarry” for the Holy Spirit to come into his heart. The Holy Spirit is already in your heart if you are saved. Thank Him that He has come in! Amen! You could not be a Christian without the Holy Spirit coming into your heart. Listen to God’s Word: “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’’ (Rom. 8:9).
In the preceding text, the Holy Spirit is called by three Names: “The Spirit,” “The Spirit of God” and “The Spirit of Christ.” Many mistakenly think that “The Spirit of Christ” means a “Christ-like” disposition. Not at all. This is simply another of the many Bible names for the Holy Spirit. The question, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2) was not addressed to Christians. Had they been Christians, Paul would not have baptized them “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). No, as the context shows, they were disciples of John the Baptist and knew nothing of Calvary or Pentecost.
IT IS NOT SCRIPTURAL TO SEEK THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Nowhere in the Word of God is anyone admonished to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Not once in their epistles do Paul or Peter or James or John write anything about believers “receiving their baptism,” or “having their Pentecost.” Why not? The Word of God gives the answer: “For by one Spirit [the Holy Spirit] are we all baptized into one Body [Christ’s mystical Body], whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Notice exactly what God’s Word says. How many believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit? “All.” Pentecostalism says “some.” When are believers baptized by the Holy Spirit? At the time they are incorporated into the Body of Christ—at conversion— when they are “born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:8). And so we see God’s Word declares that every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is baptized by the Holy Spirit the very instant he is “born of the Spirit.” Therefore, to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to deny what the Word of God says has already taken place.
At the time we are “born of the Spirit” and “baptized” by the Holy Spirit, we are also “sealed” with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14) and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). It is the privilege and duty of every believer to “be ﬁlled with the Spirit” not by tarrying, but by yielding fully to His blessed control. Amen. Open to this Heavenly Guest every room of your heart and surrender to Him every faculty of your being. Your life will be ﬁlled with His glory and joy and peace and fruit and power.
Remember also that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is not an “inﬂuence” nor an “it” but a Divine Person (Jn. 16:13). He is God (Acts 5:3-4). He is to be worshipped. He is not a “power” for us to seek to get more of, but a loving, divine Person Who longs to have full possession and control of us.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). We neglect this warning at our peril. The way to “try the spirits whether they are of God” is by the Word of God. “To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). If we “tarry for the Holy Spirit” and “seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit” which God has not commanded since the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, we throw ourselves open to grave spiritual dangers and cannot say that God sends us what we “receive.” Do not make your own or anyone else’s “experience” the test of what is true or false, because Satan can give “experiences,” and he does. It is the Word of God that we are to obey and not “experience.” Any “experience” that is not according to the command of God’s Word is of Satan, no matter how “uplifting” it may seem. We are not told to copy the experiences of the apostles, but rather we are to obey the Word of God which the Holy Spirit gave us through them (2 Pet. 1:21). The Holy Spirit never leads anyone contrary to the Word which He inspired. It is only spiritual pride that causes anyone to put his “experience” above the Word of God.
Beware of seeking a religious “thrill,” for Satan will be glad to gratify your desire. If the devil cannot keep you back from the will of God, then he will seek to shove you beyond God’s will. What Pentecostalism calls “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” is a combination of super-emotionalism, hypnotism and religious hysteria, induced by demonism and psychological suggestion. The seeker falls into a trance, the conscious mind becomes submerged and the subconscious mind governs. This “experience” may bring a feeling of peace and joy and nearness to God, but that is due to the attitude of the heart toward God, and not to the “experience.” In many cases, there is a tragic mental and spiritual reaction to those who obtain this “experience.” Take warning. It is wild ﬁre.
IT IS NOT SCRIPTURAL TO MAKE SPEAKING IN TONGUES EVIDENCE OF THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Word of God nowhere says so nor even indicates it. Paul asks, “Do all speak with tongues?” (1 Cor. 12:30). That plainly implies that all believers do not speak with tongues. However, shortly before, Paul had written, “For by one Spirit are we ALL baptized into one Body” (1 Cor. 12:13). Therefore, it is clear that while all believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, all believers do not speak with tongues.
The Pentecostal distinction between speaking in tongues and the gift of tongues is not warranted by Scripture. There are but few cases of speaking in tongues recorded in the book of Acts. Three are speciﬁcally stated, and one is implied. “Tongues are for a sign” (1 Cor. 14:22). The Holy Spirit thus signiﬁed the incorporation into the Body of Christ the ﬁrst believers from four distinct groups: First, Jewish believers, Acts 2. Second, Samaritan believers (despised, outcasts, mongrels, part-Jew and part-Gentile), Acts 8:17. Third, Gentile believers (Cornelius and other “Gentile dogs”), Acts 10:45-46. Fourth, disciples of John the Baptist, Acts 19:1-6.
“Whether there be tongues, they shall cease” (1 Cor. 13:8) is the declaration of God’s Word. After the ﬁrst representatives of these four distinct groups (Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles, and disciples of John the Baptist) had been incorporated into the Body of Christ, there is no record of speaking in tongues when the Holy Spirit came into the hearts of believers.
The church at Corinth is the lowest grade church described in the New Testament. They were split into factions. They were going to law against one another. They tolerated a man in their midst who was living with his father’s wife. They grossly perverted the Lord’s Supper. They exalted speaking in tongues. No unprejudiced reader of chapters 12 to 14 can fail to see how Paul disparaged their devotion to speaking in tongues. He said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in the church I had rather speak ﬁve words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” (1 Cor. 14:18,19). Pentecostalism reverses Paul. They would rather speak ﬁve words in an unknown tongue, so-called, than ten thousand words with their understanding!
God delivered the writer from Pentecostalism years ago. One Sunday morning, in a Pentecostal meeting, a red-headed man arose and began to read the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians. I was listening intently. Soon one woman arose and began waving her arms and “speaking in tongues,” and then another, and another, until there were nine on their feet going like windmills. I saw that they did not want to hear the Scripture read. Despite the bedlam they were creating, I managed to hear these Words: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” and “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). The complete contrast between this Scripture and the pandemonium going on around me caused me to begin to see that Pentecostalism is not of God and is therefore of Satan.
IT IS NOT SCRIPTURAL TO HAVE FEMALE LEADERSHIP IN GOD’S WORK
Female leadership in God’s work is not God’s order. It never has been and is not today, and yet it is common in Pentecostalism. Paul writes, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man” (1 Tim. 2:12). To justify themselves, Pentecostals quote: “and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:18). Note carefully, the prediction is that both men and women shall “prophesy.” Prophesying does not necessarily mean foretelling, but forth-telling, or telling forth the message of salvation as every saved man and woman should do. This Scripture gives no warrant whatsoever for women to be pastors and leaders in God’s work. Almost every false cult is headed by a woman. Many homes have been broken up and children neglected, because wives and mothers have mistakenly thought they were called of God to preach. The result has been great moral and spiritual wreckage and dishonor to Christ. Women who honor God’s order have a marvelous ﬁeld of service open to them and should desire no other.
IT IS NOT SCRIPTURAL TO TEACH THAT IT IS ALWAYS GOD’S WILL TO HEAL IF THERE IS FAITH
God’s Word does not teach this. Certainly, “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” (Heb.13:8). Praise His Name. He has the same power to heal today as always, and He does heal when it is His loving, all-wise will to do so. However, even while the apostles lived, signs and miracles began to wane because they were no longer needed to accredit the Gospel. The claim of Pentecostalism that they have “restored” the lost gifts of the Holy Spirit is pure ﬁction. They never were “lost.” Even the Apostle Paul, who had wrought wondrous miracles by the power of God, left one of his faithful co-workers sick at Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20). Also, when Paul asked God for deliverance from his own “thorn in the ﬂesh” (probably eye trouble caused by his having been stoned at Lystra—see Acts 14:19 and Gal. 4:13-15), although he besought the Lord three times, God simply answered, “My grace is sufﬁcient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9).
The “greater works” which our Lord promised His disciples would “do” (John 14:12) are not physical but spiritual miracles. He raised the dead. None do that now and few claim to. Certainly, there is no greater physical miracle than that. However, by the power of the Holy Spirit, 3000 souls “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) received life in Christ on the Day of Pentecost. The salvation of the soul is the greatest miracle of all.
Most assuredly, deliverance from all the consequences of the fall of Adam is made possible by Christ’s atonement, including sin, sickness, death and the curse upon all of the animal and material creation, but this is all in God’s order. Deliverance from the guilt and power of sin are available right now to every one that believeth. However, the redemption of the body is still future. Paul says we are “waiting for the adoption, to wit [namely], the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). We would not be “waiting” if our bodies were redeemed now. Our bodies will be redeemed when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. He will then transform these bodies of our humiliation into the likeness of His own glorious resurrection Body (Phil. 3:20-21). All weakness, weariness, sickness, sorrow and death will then be forever past—praise His worthy Name. At that time, the animal and material creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:19-23).
James 5:14-15, “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick” is thought to support the view that where there is faith, there will be healing. Modern healers who claim this Scripture do the opposite. They blame the sick ones and not themselves. Thus, they add to the afﬂictions of the sick by accusing them of lack of faith, thereby, throwing them into the darkness of self-condemnation. This is a great evil.
Ought we to pray for the sick today? Yes, indeed. God’s Word commands it. “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything [which includes sickness] by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). God can heal, with or without means. Therefore, let us pray and use the means God has provided and leave the outcome with Him.
Most Christians pray too little about their sicknesses and depend wholly on human help and remedies. That is wrong. We need also to remember that our bodies belong to God and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We are not to abuse them by wrong eating, overeating, or otherwise, and we are to present them unto God for His service and glory (Rom. 12:1-2).
Are you unsaved, my reader? Then you are eternally lost. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose again for you as your Savior today. He loves you tenderly and died to save you. Are you saved? Then hold fast to His faithful Word. “The entrance of Thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psa. 119:130). Be one of God’s “simple” ones who tests everything by the Word of God, obeying His Word and nothing else. He will thus keep you out of Satan’s traps.
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 Jn. 5:13).”
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