1 Corinthians 14:21 says, “21In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.”
At the age of eight years, while Dad was pastor of the Church of God at Morristown, Tennessee, I received the baptism in the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit in the "old time way". The old time way was that after a person was saved from sin, he/she was encouraged bo pray to be sanctified and to “pray through” to the experience of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance. I’ll never forget the time and the great feelings of exuberant joy which came over me that night in the altar. I remember praying and hearing others praying for me as I knelt at the bench in front of the pulpit which was called the altar. Those praying for me were saying things like, “Hold on, Son. Hold on. Don’t turn loose. Don’t give up! Keep on praying.” On the other hand there were some saying, “Turn loose, Son! Turn loose. Give up. Surrender it all to Jesus. Let God have His way.” Maybe you have heard someone else testify to an experience like this and think that I'm being a Magpie – but this is actually how it happened with me. In those days most everyone seeking an experience with the Lord was prayed for (outloud and fervently) by the faithful. This was all done by the most devoted believers, all speaking their words of encouragement at the same time. Plus, the musical instruments were playing and the people were singing in the background, something like, “Oh Lord, Send The Power Just Now” or "Send Down The Rain, Lord" or "Jesus, On the Main Line (Tell Him What You Want)". Confusing? No! Not to me. I knew exactly what they meant. So I did exactly what they were suggesting: I held on in prayer until I couldn’t hold on any longer and then I turned loose. I "let go" and gave everything I had (or would ever have) to God until tears of joy mingled with my tears of repentance. I kept on praying and giving everything to God until total deliverance from sin came! I was overcome then with the joy of salvation.
"Ah...just an emotional experience," someone said. "He'll be the same tomorrow that he was yesterday," said another. God was so good to me that he gave me an “out of the body” experience similar to the passage of scripture from the hand of the Apostle Paul that says, “Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell.” No - I'm not claiming any of Paul's excellence - but I am claiming that the same Lord that transformed him also transformed me. Anyway, as I prayed that night at the altar, the last thing I remembered before being filled with the Spirit was praying and leaning forward and slightly to the right while earnestly asking God to fill me with His Spirit. The next thing I remembered I was standing at the back door of the church with both hands raised while tears of joy were flowing down my cheeks and I heard myself speaking in a language I had not learned! I did not/do not know how I moved from the front of the church to the back of the church. My soul was singing praises to the Lord Jesus Christ who had forgiven me of my sins. After only a few moments I closed my eyes again and next thing I knew was when I opened my eyes and stepped over someone who was lying prostrate in the floor. I was speaking in tongues. I know that I walked (or ran) to the front of the church while under the Spirit’s influence…but I was not aware of what was happening until I was already back down front. I cannot explain why, or how, this happened – except that I knew I had been filled with the Holy Ghost.
I learned some years later from some well-meaning folks that a person could not even be saved until they were at least 12 years of age. Ha! They just came too late to tell me that because I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that God had saved, sanctified and filled me with the Holy Spirit. I have thanked God for that experience many times in my life as I went through times of doubt. Thinking back to that time even as I write these words gives me strong assurance that God is real. As wonderful as my experience was = there were many other things which I was told later that would have negated all of my experience had my faith not been based in the Bible. Of course I have had questions. I have doubted. I have failed the Lord and had to repent again (more than once) – but I KNOW that God changed my life that night in 1946 and that I’ve never been the same since.
How could this be? You asked. Let me try and explain something. Understand that I was born into a Pentecostal Preacher’s home. Mama was living next door to her mother who was the Pastor of the Church of God, so when it was time for me to be born Mom was at the Parsonage. One of the first things my then recently converted Daddy did was to place a Bible in my hand. He had been raised in a great number of superstitions – one of which said that the first thing a baby takes hold of will determine what he becomes in life. Other things were “Step on a crack – break your mama’s back.” “If your nose itches – someone’s coming with a hole in his britches.” “If a black cat crossed your path, turn around and go home - or suffer bad luck that day.” “If you break a mirror you will have seven years of bad luck.” He used to tell me that he wanted to break all of those old superstitious rules that caused people to live in fear – but that one about putting the Bible in a baby’s hand he tried, hoping it would work. ☺ Daddy also taught me this: "I'm going to teach you everything I can about what it means to live right before God. You are free to disagree with Daddy. You do not have to believe everything I believe or do everything just like I want you to do. But remember this - the Bible is true no matter what anyone says. You are going to be judged by it in eternity."
The fullness of the Holy Spirit is one of the areas where there is much mis-understanding. I hope to blog in the future about some of those areas. I welcome your input - or your questions. Let me say up-front that I cannot give satisfactory answers to all the questions that may arise - but I know beyone any shadow of doubt that my early experience with God was real.