One Baptism, One Body (Acts 2:1-13) | Jared Betts

The Helper Arrives, The Body is Born

Our portion today contains the fulfillment of what John the Baptist foretold about the person of Jesus Christ. Matthew recorded the Baptist saying:

11 As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”[1]

Mark and Luke offer similar statements,[2] and John makes it clear that the He who is baptizing with the Spirit is Christ. John 1:29-34:

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

Our text today contains the fulfillment of John’s words.

            Not only do we have the fulfillment of John’s words, but we have the promise of Christ to His disciples in the upper room during the last supper coming to fruition. Jesus said to them in John 14:16-17:

16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

He said in John 15:26-27:

26 When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”

Jesus said in John 16:7-15:

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.12 I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

He said to them before His ascension in Acts 1:5-8:

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

            Within our text today, we are beholding the baptism of the Spirit. God’s people being immersed with the Holy Spirit Himself. We see Christ is doing what He said He would do in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church.” The birth of the New Testament church is before. The body of Christ is born. What Jesus said to the disciples in John 14:20 becomes a reality:

20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

The saints of God are experiencing something that no saint had ever experienced up to that point; their bodies had become the temple of the Living God. John records Jesus saying in John 7:37-39:

37 If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

As we can see this occurred on “the Day of Pentecost” when “they were all together in one place.” We should understand this to be all the 120 followers of Christ in the previous portion that were gathered in the upper room devoting themselves to prayer. Here they are on Pentecost, awaiting the fulfillment of Christ’s promise of the Helper. It is one of the three Jewish feasts celebrated each year. It is also known as the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Harvest.[3] It means “fiftieth,” and it is always celebrated fifty days after Passover. The Feast Celebrated the giving of the Law at Sinai when God established His covenant with Israel. God appeared to them in a cloud on the mountain in fire and great noise. Here in Acts however, God does not descend upon a mountain in fire, He suddenly descends upon His people with the Spirit both audibly and visibly. Acts 1:1-3:

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.”

This is describing the baptism of the Spirit. Remember that the baptism of the Spirit is a completely distinct action from being filled with the Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit is a sovereign act of God whereby He places a person into His body. 1 Corinthians 12:13:

13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

The filling of the Spirit is the act whereby a member of His body continuously seeks to yield themselves to the Spirit by letting the word of Christ dwell within their hearts.

As MacArthur says:

“The baptism with the Spirit grants the power that the filling of the spirit unleashes.”

The outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost confirms the believer’s union with Christ and it is a public display of the first fruits of the gospel harvest. It is a testament to the truth established in Ephesians 1:13-14 that all in Christ are sealed forever by the Spirit and guaranteed salvation:

13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

The Gift of Tongues

We come now to a topic that genuine and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ will disagree on, and that is the topic of tongues. You have Continuationism verses Cessationism. Some insist the gift is for today, while others maintain it has ceased, never to return. If we are honest, what frequently ends up fueling the disagreement is human experience. We need to understand that experience is not always a reliable measure of reality. Experience is not a lens you use to understand the Scripture, rather Scripture is the lens you use to understand your experience. We can all experience different things, but the question is, are those experiences legitimate? Let Scripture tell you so.

Tongues is a translation of the Greek word Glossa. When glossa is not talking about the literal human organ it is talking about an actual human language. This gift of tongues was the given ability to speak a legitimate language that was unknown to the speaker. The text is absolutely clear on this. Acts 2:4-13 says:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13 But others were mocking and saying, ‘They are full of sweet wine.’”

It is important to note that when tongues occurs again in Acts among the gentiles, Peter says that they are the very thing that occurred at Pentecost.[4] In other words, tongues never ceased to be actual human languages unknown to the speaker.

What was its purpose? 1 Corinthians 14:20-22 tells us:

20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord. 22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers…”

The ultimate purpose of tongues was that it was a sign to unbelieving Israel. What was it a sign of? Coming judgment. It was men of strange languages that carried the children of Israel away into exile when they turned aside from God. Israel had just crucified Christ. To unbelieving Israel in Jerusalem the disciples are thought to be drunk because they do not understand the languages they are speaking. We will see next week that Peter points out to them it is the outpouring of the Spirit prophesied by Joel, and if they do not believe in Christ they will perish.

Not only was it a sign of judgment, but it also symbolically demonstrated that Christ’s body was going to be built with men and women from every tribe tongue and nation, and not just the Jews. It was a demonstration to the disciples that Christ was going to succeed at building His church through them as they went to the outermost.

Now I do not want to spend a lot of time discussing this as there will be other times throughout acts where we will develop our understanding of modern tongues, but this is where Pentecostals and Charismatics err greatly, and consequently open the church up to strange practices. Some will agree that the tongues in Acts speaks of actual human languages, but they will then maintain that Paul teaches a heavenly prayer language in 1 Corinthians 13:1 when he says:

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels.”

This is not an honest reading of the text which is hyperbolic and rhetorical in an attempt to stress the necessity of love:

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

Some will also insist that 1 Corinthians 14 teaches a different kind of tongues from that of Acts 2. I do not intend to do a full-fledged exposition of 1 Corinthians 14, but I do want to point out a couple of things. First, Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for their self-centered use of their gift. Second, the tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 are no different then the tongues in Acts. There are some who suggest the tongues Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 14 is a heavenly prayer language and not actual human languages unknown to the speaker. A simple reading will reveal that not to be the case. Not only that, but Paul has already defined tongues in 1 Corinthians 12:10 as various kinds of languages. He goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 14:1-19:

1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

13 Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 16 Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. 18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

Based on biblical definition and purpose one can begin to see that biblical tongues are not for today. They were a sign of transition between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, which has now been completed for some time.

A Consideration of Church History

It is also critical to understand that when one surveys the history of the church, they will find no trace of biblical tongues existence after the Apostolic era. What one will find on several occasions, however, is ecstatic utterance being practiced among known heretical groups:

  • The Montanists – Montanism is also known as the Cataphyrigian Heresy or New Prophecy. It begin in the second century after a man named Montanus believed he was inspired by the Holy Spirit and sent by God to improve Christianity with new prophecy and ecstatic intensity that was foreign to Christians. Though orthodox in some areas, Montanism was quickly marked by the church as heretical. The reputable church historian Eusebius spoke of Montanus exciting two women with a corrupt spirit:

“So that they uttered demented, absurd, and irresponsible sayings.”[5]

These two women were spoken of by a 3rd century Pastor of the church, Hippolytus, who wrote about people being deceived by them as they promoted Montanism:

“They have been deceived by two females, Priscilla and Maximilla by name, whom they hold to be prophetesses, asserting that into them the Paraclete spirit entered….They magnify these females above the Apostles and every gift of Grace, so that some of them go so far as to say that in them there is something more than Christ…”[6]

Eusebius said:

“Montanus, they say, first exposed himself to assaults of the adversary through his unbounded lust for leadership. He was one of the recent converts, and he became possessed of a spirit, and suddenly began to rave in a kind of ecstatic trance, and to babble jargon, prophesying in a manner contrary to the custom of the church which had been handed down by tradition from the earliest times….Some of them that heard his bastard (Adulterated, or corrupted) utterances rebuked him as one possessed of a devil…remembering the Lord’s warning to guard vigilantly against the coming false prophets. But others were carried away and not a little elated, thinking themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and of the gift of prophecy.”[7]

There are some Charismatics today that speak of Montanism as part of their cherished history, which should be alarming given how hard the orthodox church fought against it.

  • The Cevennol Prophets – This was an aggressive and fanatical group within Protestantism in the 17th century in southern France that prophesied, experienced visions, and spoke in tongues. It should be noted that their prophecies went unfulfilled, which reveals they are not of God. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says:

20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

  • The Jannesists – This was a supposed tongues speaking group that came out of Roman Catholicism. They vehemently opposed the teaching that justification is by grace, through faith, in Christ alone. In other words, they were against the gospel.
  • The Shakers – Yes, the very small group that resides in the little village not from here. The Shakers were founded by a women named Mother Ann Lee who believed she was the female equivalent of Jesus Christ, and claimed to speak in numerous languages, and to receive revelation directly from God. The Shakers practice tongues while singing and dancing in a trance like state.

Again, when a person looks at the history of the church they do not find biblical tongues being practiced among it. They will find the pagan practice of ecstatic utterance which is found among Roman Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, and Hindus. One must answer the question, are these people speaking by the Spirit? The answer is obviously no, because the Spirit is gifted only to those who are Christ’s. If we can acknowledge that these groups

4th-5th Century Theologian, Augustine of Hippo made this statement regarding tongues in his day:

“In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.”[8]

Another renowned 4th-5th century Theologian, John Chrysostom, made a similar remark when he spoke of the gift of languages being obscure to the church and not entirely understood. Chrysostom said:

“The obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.”[9]

What happened to the gift of languages? It passed away, just as the Spirit said it would through Paul. The Spirit explicitly said to the Corinthians that were proudly boasting in their gift:

            “If there are tongues, they will cease.”[10]

History demonstrates that they did, never to return for it severed its purpose. As did all the other sign gifts after the Apostolic Era.[11] As Chrysostom said:

“The Corinthians thought that speaking in tongues was a great gift because it was the one which the apostles received first, and with a great display. But this was no reason to think it was the greatest gift of all. The reason the apostles got it first was because it was a sign that they were to go everywhere, preaching the gospel.”[12]

            Considering all of this, does this mean that all Pentecostals and Charismatics are influenced by demons? No. Perhaps some are, but certainly not all. Does this mean that all Pentecostals and Charismatics are liars? No. There are those who do lie just given the pressure of their surroundings, but we should not conclude that they all are. I believe that most people in those groups genuinely believe they are practicing a gift of the Holy Spirit. Modern day tongues are a learned behavior. Studies have been conducted that show it can be learned within five minutes and there are numerous seminars that do just that by getting people to shut off their minds. One teacher says this to his students:

“When you pray with your spirit, you do not think of the sounds of the language. Just trust God, but make the sounds when I tell you to. In just a moment when I tell you to, begin loving and praising God by speaking forth a lot of different syllable sounds. At first make the sounds rapidly so you wont try to think as you do in speaking your natural language….Make the sounds loudly at first so you can easily hear what you are saying.”[13]

This is teaching a person to work themselves up into a state of ecstasy so they lose control of themselves. This is not the gift of the Spirit.

I want to briefly share a quote by John MacArthur that captures what our hearts and minds should be like toward out brothers and sisters in Christ who believe differently on this matter:

“We can thank God for Charismatic and Pentecostal people who believe in the Word of God. We can be grateful that they believe the Bible and hold it up as authoritative, though we are concerned about their view of revelation. We can also praise God that they believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, His sacrificial death, His physical resurrection, salvation by faith not works, and the need to live in obedience to Christ, fervently love their fellow man, and proclaim the faith with zeal. Some might say, “Why criticize them?’ We do so because it is Scriptural to be concerned about whether our brothers and sisters are walking in the truth. Although it may not seem very loving to some, the Bible is clear that we are to ‘speak the truth in love’.[14] True love must act on truth.”[15]

One Baptism, One Body

It was Augustine that said in his day:

“Why is it that no man speaks in the tongues of all nations? Because the church itself now speaks the tongues of all nations. Before, the church was in one nation, where it spoke in the tongues of all. By speaking then in the tongues of all, it signified what was to come to pass; that by growing among the nations, it would speak in the tongues of all.”[16]

At Babel, God scattered those who rebelled against Him with a diversity of languages so they could not be one.[17] At Pentecost, God spoke through one body of people in a diversity of languages so that those scattered might become one in Him, so that John 14:

1 Corinthians 12:13:

13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:11-22:

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 4:4-6:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

Galatians 3:27-28:

27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Revelation 5:9 is the result:

And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

[1] Matthew 3:11

[2] Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16

[3] Exodus 23:16; 34:22-23

[4] Acts 10:47

[5] Documents of the Christian Church, Henry Bettenson; Page 77. John MacArthur cites this work in his book entitle Charismatic Chaos; Page 73-74

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Augustine, “Lectures or Tracts on the Gospel According to St. John,” Philipp Schaff, ed., The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 12, Page 195

[9] Chrysostom, “Homilies in First Corinthians,” Philipp Schaff, ed., The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 12, Page 168

[10] 1 Corinthians 13:8

[11] Hebrews 2:3-4

[12] Chrysostom, “Homilies on 1 Corinthians 35.1, cited from 1–2 Corinthians, ACCS 138

[13] Receiving the Baptism of the Spirit, Charles Hunter; Page 54

[14] Ephesians 4:15

[15] Charismatic Chaos, John MacArthur; Page 244-45

[16] Augustine, “Lectures or Tracts on the Gospel According to St. John,” Philipp Schaff, ed., The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 12, Page 195

[17] Genesis 11

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