Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 15 March 2015
For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
In 1906, a core group of fifteen African Americans (including five children), with a few others, were meeting in a private home (in Los Angeles). They gathered for one purpose. They fasted and prayed, believing God to baptize them with the Holy Spirit whom they expected to come with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Finally, the Holy Spirit did come upon them. The first person fell to the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit and he began to speak in tongues. That same night, more people received the gift and, within three short years, as these few people shared what happened to them and prayed for others, people all over the world spoke in tongues and today about 600 million Pentecostal and charismatic Christians trace their roots to this move of God – called the Azusa Street revival (named after the location of their meeting place). Once the breakthrough came, it spread like wildfire.
The spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is in the Bible and there have always been pockets of Christians that practiced the gift – for instance, people began to speak in tongues in the tent ministry of Maria Woodworth-Etter (even before the Azusa Street revival) – but – generally speaking – this spiritual gift had been lost to the church because no one had faith for it and we receive everything from God by faith, trusting him to keep his promises. This is scary but you can lose out on what God wants you to have. In the course of church history, other spiritual gifts had become lost to the church (sometimes more than once) and needed to be recovered by believing again what God promised to us in the Bible – e.g.: salvation by faith, healing prayer, the prophetic gift, apostolic leadership.
Romans 5:1-2: … our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand …
Martin Luther was convinced that unbelief is the chief sin because it makes God out to be a liar whose promises cannot be trusted. He writes: “Where this faith is missing, there can be no proper prayer … they get nothing” (Martin Luther: Large Catechism, Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer’s last petition).
If you were not here for my first talk on the Azusa Street revival, I will again paint a picture of the circumstances of this revival:
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The leader was William Seymour – a one-eyed black pastor, with little education, the son of former slaves. Not a single one of his sermons (complete copy) survived. In worship services, he spent much of his time sticking his head into an empty milk crate, waiting on God in prayer. The core group carrying this revival never numbered more than 50-200 people and their worship building was a sub-standard former stable – with sawdust on the floor and plenty of flies – in the vicinity of a tombstone shop, stables and lumber yard – measuring only 18.2 x 12 metres (218.4 square metres). Seven days a week, there were three meetings scheduled but they ran into one another so that the church was open all day and long into the night. There were no instruments of music, no choir, no collections, no advertisements and no backing from a network or denomination. Black and white worshipped together and it could become noisy.
Pastor William Seymour and the Azusa Street Mission published thirteen newsletters –The Apostolic Faith (1906-1908) – which are full of testimonies of the revival, and I was absolutely intrigued by what I was reading, especially when it came to the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. [These original sources are available for one dollar at Amazon Kindle as The Azusa Papers (http://www.amazon.com/Azusa-Papers-William-Seymour-ebook/dp/B00KE91YIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1424129291&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Azusa+Papers).] There were a few surprises and I want to share them with you.
I begin with the history of recovering the gift and the white preacher Charles Parham, who later would become the teacher of William Seymour:
The Azusa Papers: Five years ago, God put it into this man’s heart (Brother Charles Parham) to go over to Topeka, Kansas, to educate missionaries to carry the Gospel. It was a faith school and the Bible was the only textbook. The students had gathered there without tuition or board, God sending in the means to carry on the work. Most of the students had been religious workers and said they had received the baptism with the Holy Ghost a number of years ago. Brother Parham became convinced that there was no religious school that tallied up with the second chapter of Acts. Just before the first of January 1901, the Bible School began to study the word on the Baptism with the Holy Ghost to discover the Bible evidence of this baptism that they might obtain it.
The students kept up continual prayer in the praying tower. A company would go up and stay three hours, and then another company would go up and wait on God, praying that all the promises of the Word might be wrought out in their lives.
On New Year’s night, Miss Agnes N. Ozman, one who had had for years “the anointing that abideth,” which she mistook for the baptism, was convinced of the need of a personal Pentecost. A few minutes before midnight, she desired hands laid on her that she might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. During prayer and invocation of hands, she was filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.
This made all hungry. Scarcely eating or sleeping, the school with one accord waited on God. On the 3rd of January, 1901, Brother Parham being absent holding a meeting at the time, while they all waited on God to send the baptism of the Spirit, suddenly twelve students were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, and when Brother Parham returned and opened the door of the room where they were gathered; a wonderful sight met his eyes. The whole room was filled with a white sheen of light that could not be described, and twelve of the students were on their feet talking in different languages.
He said they seemed to pay no attention at all to him, and he knelt in one corner and said: “O, God, what does this mean?” The Lord said: “Are you able to stand for the experience in the face of persecution and howling mobs?” He said: “Yes, Lord, if you will give me the experience, for the labourer must first be partaker of the fruits.” Instantly the Lord took his vocal organs, and he was preaching the Word in another language.
This man has preached in different languages over the United States, and men and women of that nationality have come to the altar and sought God. He was surely raised up of God to be an apostle of the doctrine of Pentecost.
This Pentecostal Gospel has been spreading ever since, but on
the Pacific coast it has burst out in great power and is being carried from
here over the world. We are expecting Brother Parham to visit Los Angeles in a
few days and for a mightier tide of salvation to break out.
The Azusa Papers: THE OLD-TIME PENTECOST.
This work began about five years ago last January, when a company of people under the leadership of Chas. Parham, who were studying God's word, tarried for Pentecost in Topeka, Kan. After searching through the country everywhere, they had been unable to find any Christians that had the true Pentecostal power. So they laid aside all commentaries and notes and waited on the Lord, studying His word, and what they did not understand they got down before the bench and asked God to have wrought out in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. They had a prayer tower from which prayers were ascending night and day to God. After three months, a sister who had been teaching sanctification for the baptism with the Holy Ghost, one who had a sweet, loving experience and all the carnality taken out of her heart, felt the Lord lead her to have hands laid on her to receive the Pentecost. So when they prayed, the Holy Ghost came in great power and she commenced speaking in an unknown tongue. This made all the Bible school hungry, and three nights afterward, twelve students received the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, and cloven tongues could be seen upon their heads. They then had an experience that measured up with the second chapter of Acts, and could understand the first chapter of Ephesians.
Now after five years something like 13,000 people have received this gospel. It is spreading everywhere, until churches who do not believe backslide and lose the experience they have. Those who are older in this movement are stronger, and greater signs and wonders are following them.
The meetings in Los Angeles started in a cottage meeting, and the Pentecost fell there three nights. The people had nothing to do but wait on the Lord and praise Him, and they commenced speaking in tongues, as they did at Pentecost, and the Spirit sang songs through them.
The meeting was then transferred to Azusa Street, and since then multitudes have been coming. The meetings begin about ten o'clock in the morning and can hardly stop before ten or twelve at night, and sometimes two or three in the morning, because so many are seeking, and some are slain under the power of God. People are seeking three times a day at the altar and row after row of seats have to be emptied and filled with seekers. We cannot tell how many people have been saved, and sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Ghost, and healed of all manner of sicknesses. Many are speaking in new tongues, and some are on their way to the foreign fields, with the gift of the language. We are going on to get more of the power of God.
Notice the key to receiving the gift: hunger, desperation, faith that must have what is promised (driven by holy dissatisfaction), continual prayer in the praying tower, scarcely eating or sleeping, no fall back option. Then, the gift came but not on the leader first and before it came on him, Charles Parham, God asked him a question: “Are you able to stand for the experience in the face of persecution and howling mobs?” God was asking him whether he would not be ashamed of the gift of tongues – whether he would keep preaching the promise of this spiritual gift – despite persecution and hostile reactions. He said “yes” and began to speak in tongues.
The Unites States at that time was largely Christian. Why would any Christian persecute and denounce a spiritual gift that was clearly in the Bible? Why would the churches not line up and pat Charles Parham on the shoulder and congratulate him, (saying): “Well done. God bless your faith and perseverance. Thank you.” For instance, Charles Spurgeon, the Baptist preacher, knew that it was a lost gift but he had personal experiences of hearing strange tongues at the deathbeds of Christians. He was open for more and advised others to seek this out. I hope that he would have encouraged Charles Parham and then later William Seymour.
Charles Spurgeon: Lectures to My Students – Chapter “To Workers with Slender Apparatus”: Once more, be much at death-beds; they are illuminated books. There shall you read the very poetry of our religion, and learn the secrets thereof.
What splendid gems are washed up by the waves of Jordan! What fair flowers grow on its banks! The everlasting fountains in the glory-land throw their spray aloft, and the dew-drops fall on this side the narrow stream! I have heard humble men and women, in their departing hours, talk as though they were inspired, uttering strange words, aglow with supernal glory. These they learned from no lips beneath the moon; they must have heard them while sitting in the suburbs of the New Jerusalem. God whispers them in their ears amid their pain and weakness; and then they tell us a little of what the Spirit has revealed. I will part with all my books, if I may see the Lord's Elijahs mount their chariots of fire.
Is not this enough upon our subject? If you desire more, it is time I remember the sage saying, that it is better to send away an audience longing than loathing, and, therefore, Adieu!
Charles Spurgeon: Lectures to My Students – Chapter “The Necessity of Ministerial Progress”: Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is annihilated. True we have not the Pentecostal gift of tongues, but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift …
However, the lesson from church history seems to be that some of the worst persecution of Christians come from Christians, especially when spiritual breakthroughs have come. For instance, the official church was lined up against Luther and his rediscovery of salvation by faith, not works. Synods and bishops expelled Christians from their churches when they rediscovered healing prayer or began to operate in the prophetic gift. In our denomination, people have been in trouble when they delivered others (especially Christians) from unclean spirits. At the moment, God is releasing miracles in the church worldwide – gold sparkles on people’s skin, gem stones, feathers, supernatural weight loss, etc. – and again Christians everywhere are troubled by it. Often, there are no phone calls of encouragement and rejoicing – trying to enter into this move of God – but rejection and persecution.
God warned Charles Parham because this was not a new phenomenon. Jesus was killed by the doings (scheming and manipulation) of the religious leaders of God’s people, not the heathens. Likewise, the apostle Paul was persecuted frequently and martyred because God’s people and their leaders would not believe that Jesus Christ was the promised Saviour according to the Scriptures. The worst comes from believers, many a time.
God warned Charles Parham from the beginning, as he had warned Paul:
Acts 9:15-16: But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Have we persecuted those that have been speaking in tongues? Maybe persecution is too strong a word (even though plenty of Lutherans in our circles used to believe that the gift was from the devil). Have we frowned on people who speak in tongues? Have we dismissed the gift because – to us – it was unknown, strange and threatening? Should everyone speak in tongues? What if I don’t want to?
When the gift of speaking of tongues came to Los Angeles – the Azusa Street revival – within two weeks – (nine days after the first person spoke in tongues, seven days after William Seymour spoke in tongues) – the first newspaper had derogatory headlines: WEIRD BABEL OF TONGUES / New Sect of Fanatics is Breaking Loose / Wild Scene Last Night on Azusa Street / Gurgle of Wordless Talk by a Sister (Los Angeles Daily Times, Wednesday 18 April 1906).
There were accusations of insanity, hypnotism, unusual noise and disturbing the peace:
The Azusa Papers: May 3, This is a blessed day after our great victory of last night. One sister received her Pentecost and talked for some time in tongues. Some understood her when she spoke the Polish and others recognized several sentences spoken in the Bohemian. I recognized the Chinese when she spoke that and another recognized the Italian. She sang beautifully in the Norwegian tongue. Of course the devil was stirred and there were threats of throwing me in jail because someone suggested hypnotism. We are having wonderful meetings. Brother Pendleton felt the presence of the Holy Ghost fire as I did at the beginning of the meeting last night. He had no sermon we went to the altar after singing a couple of songs. The Swedish sisters are with us. Their ship sails May 17. They are blessed women of God. —J. R. Conlee.
The Azusa Papers: There has been some unusual noise in the town of Whittier, the prayers of those who are burdened for the lost, the sound of praises to God and speaking in new tongues. A few days ago, four workers were arrested while praying in the cottage that had been offered free or rent for the use of the workers. The following letter was received at Azusa Street.
“Brother Seymour in Jesus: We are charged with using boisterous language, unusual noise, or in other words praising God and speaking in tongues. This happened in the cottage this morning. The defendants are Sister May Mayo, Sister Jacobson, Brother and Sister McLain. Trial comes off at 4 p.m. We are standing steadfast, seeing the glory of God. We believe the judge is under conviction. Sunday night nine souls were at the altar. Souls getting saved and sanctified. Power is falling in the audience. People being slain.”
When the word came to Azusa street, fifteen workers rallied to take the place of the four and meetings have been going on there with victory and power ever since.
The band that was arrested is rejoicing in the Lord that they were permitted to go through the trial. The judge gave them the choice of leaving town or going to jail. They consulted the Lord about it and He said: “When they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another.” So the sisters obeyed but Brother McLain preferred to stand a few days in jail and working on the chain gang. When the judge gave sentence, Sister Mayo raised her hands to heaven and prayed for him and for Whittier.
The Azusa Papers: A couple of weeks ago, they arrested us for disturbing the peace while holding a street meeting. We praised the Lord and the marshal and his deputies put their hands over our mouths and choked us quite severely without avail. One brother was handcuffed. We had trial by jury and took no counsel but the Lord. We pled the case and the Lord was with us. The court was full of people. During the trial, we all broke out in the unknown language and made quite a commotion in the court. We were then threatened by the court at the suggestion of the city attorney, to fine or imprisonment for contempt of court, if we attempted it again. The trial went on, and the attorney made his plea, and we made answer in the name of the Lord. The court and jury were moved to tears. The city attorney then got up and spoke evil of us, saying that we had those tongues all fixed up to suit ourselves and that we all knew just when to break out, calling the attention of the court to the fact of how quiet we had all kept since we were threatened by the court for contempt, as evidence that we were afraid to do it again. He had scarcely got the words out of his mouth before the Lord gave him a heavy rebuke in unknown tongues. He was so confounded and confused that he could say no more and sat down. The jury went out and stayed from 3 p.m. to 11:30 and disagreed and were discharged. Another trial was set for November 23rd, by the city attorney. Since that time, he has lost his position. Another judge has been elected. The case was dropped.
The Azusa Papers: How wonderful it is that today in different parts of India, Russia, Norway, Sweden, England, Canada, Africa and America, God’s saints are enjoying the latter rain and are being satisfied. Persecution is arising everywhere, but this is only a mark of the Lord’s work, and makes us more sure we shall reign with Him whose sufferings we are privileged to share. Bless His name! The Lord is coming—our precious King is coming soon. “Even so come Lord Jesus.” Hallelujah.
Yet, what I found most disturbing was that Charles Parham himself became a persecutor:
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: When Parham arrived, however, he disagreed with some of what Seymour was doing—not least, the full racial integration of the congregation and the roles Seymour had allowed Glenn Cook and others to play. Parham did not approve of the methods they used when they worked with people around the altar. He judged them fanatical. Parham attempted to take over the mission and stop the work of those Seymour had recognized as leaders. Seymour was forced to dismiss Parham before he damaged the work irreparably, but Parham stayed in town long enough to establish a small, competing congregation just blocks from the mission. He appealed to the press not to pay further attention to Seymour’s work, but to turn their eyes to him as the true leader of the Apostolic Faith movement. As Parham’s aides advertised his meetings first in Los Angeles and then in nearby Whittier, they made strident claims.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: We conduct dignified religious services, and have no connection with the sort which is characterized by trances, fits and spasms, jerks, shakes and contortions. We are wholly foreign to the religious anarchy, which marks the Los Angeles Azusa street meetings, and expect to do good in Whittier along proper and profound Christian lines.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Charles Parham condemned these altar workers when he visited the mission. He described them as “over-zealous, ignorant helpers” who had laid hands on those who were seeking their baptism in the Spirit, jerking their chins, massaging their throats, and telling them to repeat certain sounds over and over or faster and faster until they spoke in tongues. “We cannot afford to be deceived in this. O, how many have been deceived by the Azuza [sic] mess,” Parham later groused, and by those workers who get the poor seekers to yell “glory, glory,” until they can no longer say it in English, but in a half hypnotized condition, they cry, “glug, glug,” or some other peculiar sound, and one more is counted to have his Pentecost, when only worked into a frenzy.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Charles Parham criticized the mission at this point as well, complaining repeatedly that, “Religious orgies outrivaling scenes in devil or fetish worship, took place in the upper room.” His criticism emerged from his visit to the mission in October and November 1906. He had been invited to speak there, but when he claimed, “God is sick at His stomach” (with how the revival was being conducted), he was shown the door.
Over the next several years, he wrote a series of ever more scathing attacks against the mission. “The Holy Ghost does nothing that is unnatural or unseemingly,” he later wrote, “and any strained exertion of body, mind, or voice is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but of some familiar spirit, or other influence brought to bear upon the subject.” Those who imitated the sounds of “the cackling of hens” or the “shrill cry of the panther,” he protested, were engaged in activities typical of “spiritistic mediums”.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: On January 10, Charles F. Parham, who had been in Toledo, Ohio, where he had heard about the revival, attended First Friends Church in Cleveland. He stood up in the meeting and declared that the “revival” that J. E. Sawders had brought was nothing more than “monkeyshines.” “The real gift of tongues,” he contended, “is never accompanied by spasms, jerks, or foolishness of any sort. This Pentecost is never accompanied by rolling on the floor or falling on the back or in spasms. It is a dignified gift and comes to uplift.” He went on to charge that it was the devil who “conflicts it with spiritualism, clairvoyance and hypnotism and they enter the flesh and cause these demonstrations.” Parham’s intervention was ill timed. First Friends Church was no longer willing to listen.
This can put the fear of God in you. Charles Parham paid such a big price for pioneering and believing for the baptism with the Holy Spirit and believing for the spiritual gift of tongues – he fasted and prayed and faced ridicule and rejection – but then failed to recognize what God was doing through one of his students – the one that was not even allowed to sit in the class room with the white students. (William Seymour was listening through an open door from the corridor.) Maybe he had a point that not everything was mature and perfect at Azusa Street but God was there and he spoke against it and some of his criticism was based on racism – which seemed okay among Christians at the time. Yet, it was a sin and he was blind to it. You can have a good track-record as a cutting edge Christian for most of your life – faithful, dedicated – but then you miss what God is doing next. You are offended by something and persecute what is holy.
It can happen to the best – even (almost) to John the Baptist who had prepared for the coming of Jesus all of his life. When Jesus came, he was different from what he had expected. He performed miracles when John had performed none. He wined and dined with sinners when John had never touched alcohol and preached holiness. John sent messengers to Jesus inquiring about his identity. Jesus answered him and – in closing – pointedly warned him against taking offense at him or what he was doing. And the same holds true even now:
Luke 7:18-23: John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is he who is not offended because of me.”
[Pentecostals who call the gold sparkles “fluff” because they did not expect this kind of miracle.]
Here at Living Grace, we no longer want to persecute those that speak in tongues. On the contrary, we embrace and pursue the gift but have another look at the Azusa Street revival and how this gift was actually expressed there. Maybe we have lost something as well (not the entire gift but aspects of it) and are meant to have faith for a fuller expression of the gift of tongues.
I give you a testimony from a Canadian pastor who went to Azusa Street:
The Azusa Papers: WHAT THE PENTECOST DID FOR ONE FAMILY.
Eight years ago, I was shown that there was more than
justification and sanctification for us; there was a power the disciples had
that I must have. Being placed in the position I was, as superintendent of home
and foreign missions in Winnipeg, Canada, a city of a hundred thousand, I
certainly felt my lack of power. I was called of God to give up my business,
worth at least five or six thousand a year to me. The Lord had for me more than
I then possessed; I got to the point where I must have all God had for me.
Just as I decided to take charge of a church and circuit offered me, the Lord spoke to me and said, “You must go to Los Angeles and take all your family.” Afterward He spoke to my dear wife and said, “Get ready and go with your husband.” Just before leaving for Los Angeles on the train, a friend passed me a copy of the Apostolic Faith. I was much interested and was determined to see for myself, but with the thought that this speaking in tongues was of the devil and I was going to do all in my power to stamp it out. After a trip of nearly 3500 miles, we arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday morning, Nov. 29. I left my family at a hotel and proceeded with my son on a search for Azusa Mission. After I was there a short time, a lady got up and testified, and the power of God fell on her and she began to tremble. I had seen enough of God’s work in my experience to know when He was working. I at once left my seat, and went over and stood beside her. Of course I showed myself as a spy, but did not mind that, as I had promised several of God’s people before leaving Manitoba that I would make a report of this work and let them know if it was of God or the devil. Well, glory to God, after this sister trembled for a few minutes, she started to speak in an unknown tongue to me, and to my surprise, after she had uttered a few sentences, she spoke in English, giving the interpretation of what she said. And the Spirit at once changed her tongue back again to the unknown tongue. Thus she spoke and translated quite a while. Glory to God for the convincing power.
My son and I then left the room, and as we went out he said, “Well, papa, what do you think of it?” I said, “I do not know, but this I do know, the power is in that place and God’s Spirit had hold of that woman.”
My wife and I attended the meetings and it was not long till we got real hungry for the glorious gift that God has for us, His people. Now, as there is quite a bit of Scotch in me, I must be thoroughly convinced before I will give in. Knowing part of different Indian languages and trading dialects used throughout Canada, I said, “Now God, if you want to convince me that this if of you, just let some of the Christians speak in a tongue that I understand.” Glory to His name. I thought He would take someone that I did not know and then I would have to find out whether they had ever been up there; but instead of that He took a young lady from the same place I came from, and put her under the power, gave her the Pentecostal gift and made her sing an Indian song that I had known since I was a boy, and I knew that she never was closer than 1,200 miles from the Indians, and had never been taught by anyone. She then changed into another unknown tongue, which afterwards proved to be the Armenian language. After speaking for a few moments in this tongue, she drew my attention by signs, as her English was gone, to an Armenian man near by who was greatly interested in what she was saying. I stepped over to him and asked him if he understood what she was saying. He replied, “I no speak your tongue, but that lady speak my tongue and talk to me about Jesus.” The perspiration broke out upon the man like beads, and he commenced to tremble; and this was the means of his conversion. Glory to God, this is what tongues are doing.
I asked the Lord then to convince my wife and give it to her, if it was for me. And it was not long till she got in earnest about the matter and God got her to the end of herself, and opened heaven, and let the promised gift fall, and she began to speak in unknown tongues. I thought I never saw her so happy, and glory to God, she is still happy.
This made me very hungry and I was determined to have it, so I went in with all my might. But to my surprise I found I was not nearly as high up the mount as I thought. I found out I did not possess the experience of sanctification, and was a long ways from living the sanctified life, in God’s sight. While looking on the lives of others that professed it, I justified myself in thinking I compared with their experience, but this was not what God wanted. I had to be pure and clean in His sight. With the help of kind friends, the love of God, and one dear saint who interceded for me thirteen hours prostrate on the floor, I was brought to the knowledge that I had my family between me and God and thought more of them than of Him, as well as having many other things in the way which the ordinary sanctified person may not think amounts to much. Now as I got all of self and the rest of the rubbish out of my heart, God gave me the witness to my entire satisfaction. I knew I had a clean heart. Glory to God. Hallelujah to His name. Are you there, reader? If not, dig down till the old Adam nature and roots of bitterness are out of the way. Then He will breathe on you and you shall receive the Holy Ghost.
I tarried and prayed and in about nine days, He baptized me with the Holy Ghost and gave me the Bible evidence of speaking and singing in tongues. Upwards of half an hour my language was taken from me and God used me as He saw fit. More than that, since I came here, the Lord took my little girl, just eleven years old, saved, sanctified, and baptized her with the Holy Ghost and she is now speaking in six or seven different languages, two of which have been interpreted, Spanish and Latin. The other day while she gave her testimony in the Azusa Mission, the Spirit spoke through her in a plain, distinct Latin tongue. At the same time, she raised her hand and pointed with her finger straight at a stranger, and called him by his own name, and told him to go downstairs in the big meeting and tell his experience, and go out and preach the Gospel of Christ. Now this was an educated man who had been preaching infidelity for 19 years and had spoken to as many as 7,000 people in one meeting, who had paid 50 cents each to hear him. He was simply all broken up and went downstairs, taking the child with him. He told his story, saying, “This child preached to me, and of all the sermons I ever heard this was the most powerful.” He declared he was willing to go and preach Jesus, got down on his knees and began to seek God.
Yet people will say, “What is the use of the tongue?” This is one instance, I have attended those meetings for nearly three months, and during that time there has been scarcely a day that something has not happened through interpretation of tongues or someone being present who understood what had been said, which brought conviction on someone and started them to seeking God.
Still more, the Lord has taken hold of my eldest boy, sixteen years of age, who was a wayward boy and was fighting hard against the evidence of tongues; saved him, sanctified him and baptized him with the Holy Ghost, and spoke through him in unknown tongues, and called him to preach the Gospel. Glory to God. Thanks be to His holy name for what He has done for me and my family since I came down here. I do not know how to praise Him enough. --R.J. Scott, Supt. Home and Foreign Missions, Winnipeg.
People spoke in tongues often at Azusa Street. You could hear words spoken or sung in tongues at every worship service and one feature – a dominant feature – of the gift of tongues, as practiced at Azusa Street, was that it was for mission work and this was expected. This is what they believed would happen. These days, we seem to use the gift of tongues mostly for our own private prayer language but not one hundred years ago. The Canadian pastor was first confronted with a woman that spoke in tongues and then interpreted what she was saying and she spoke and translated for quite a while. Then, a woman spoke in tongues and it was the Armenian language which converted a native Armenian speaker in the congregation. The pastor’s own daughter testified in tongues and preached. During the nearly three months of his stay, there was “scarcely a day that something has not happened through interpretation of tongues or someone being present who understood what had been said, which brought conviction on someone and started them to seeking God”.
There was a strong emphasis on mission work. The whole experience of having the Spirit come in fullness was for mission work (so their understanding) and the gift of tongues that usually accompanied the infilling with the Spirit was meant to serve the same purpose. It was so at the very first outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Bible and Charles Parham and many people at Azusa Street even believed that God would, through the gift of tongues, enable people to preach and teach in the native tongues of those that they were meant to reach in mission work. Instead of learning foreign languages, they would converse in them through the gift of tongues:
Acts 2:1-12: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Parham’s visit to Shiloh had a profound effect on him. He concluded that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was available to all believers who lived a holy life and sought to attain it. He believed in the restoration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12—14. He came to believe, like Sandford, that the gift of tongues meant the ability to speak different foreign languages of the world without prior knowledge or study. This would become the ultimate evangelistic tool, for the person with this gift would be able to proclaim the gospel in a foreign setting in complete reliance upon and under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Azusa Papers: A Nazarene brother who received the baptism with the Holy Ghost in his own home in family worship, in trying to tell about it, said, “It was a baptism of love. Such abounding love! Such compassion seemed to almost kill me with its sweetness! People do not know what they are doing when they stand out against it. The devil never gave me a sweet thing; he was always trying to get me to censuring people. This baptism fills us with divine love.”
The gift of languages is given with the commission, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The Lord has given languages to the unlearned, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Zulu and languages of Africa, Hindu and Bengali and dialects of India, Chippewa and other languages of the Indians, Esquimaux, the deaf mute language and, in fact the Holy Ghost speaks all the languages of the world through His children.
A minister says that God showed him twenty years ago that the divine plan for missionaries was that they might receive the gift of tongues either before going to the foreign field or on the way. It should be a sign to the heathen that the message is of God. The gift of tongues can only be used as the Spirit gives utterance. It cannot be learned like the native tongues, but the Lord takes control of the organs of speech at will. It is emphatically, God’s message.
The Azusa Papers: During the preaching service, the Holy Ghost fell on a preacher and he jumped to his feet shouting “Hallelujah!” and immediately spoken in tongues. He speaks Zulu and many tongues more fluently than English and interprets as he speaks. The Lord has since used him to stir a whole city. He is filled with divine love. His family were first afraid to see him speaking in tongues, thinking he had lost his mind, but when his wife and children felt the sympathy and divine love which the Holy Ghost puts in people’s hearts, they said, “Papa was never so sane in his life.”
The Azusa Papers: At the annual Christian and Missionary Alliance Convention in Nyack, New York some were present who had received their Pentecost, and a great interest was awakened. In a tarrying meeting one young lady who was called to Africa fell under the power, received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in an African tongue, which was recognized by missionaries from Africa as being the very language of the part of Africa to which the sister was expecting to go. Others sought and obtained the baptism.
The Azusa Papers: One of the missionaries from Los Angeles in Liberia, Africa, had been able to speak to the people in the Cru tongue. Another sister there wrote in an unknown language under the power of the Spirit, and it was understood and read by one of the native kings there.
The Azusa Papers: God is solving the missionary problem, sending out new-tongued missionaries on the apostolic faith line, without purse or scrip, and the Lord is going before them preparing the way.
The Azusa Papers: Our dear Sister Farrow, who was one of the first to bring Pentecost to Los Angeles, went to Africa and spent seven months at Johnsonville, 25 miles from Monrovia, Liberia, in that most deadly climate. She has now returned and has a wonderful story to tell. Twenty souls received their Pentecost, numbers were saved sanctified and healed. The Lord had given her the gift of the Kru language and she was permitted to preach two sermons to the people in their own tongue. The heathen some of them after receiving the Pentecost, spoke in English and some in other tongues. Praise God. The Lord showed her when she went, the time she was to return and sent her the fare in time, brought her home safely, and used her in Virginia and in the South along the way.
The Azusa Papers: On Aug. 11th, a man from the central part of Mexico, an Indian, was present in the meeting and heard a German sister speaking in his tongue which the Lord had given her. He understood, and through the message that God gave him through her, he was most happily converted so that he could hardly contain his joy. All the English he knew was Jesus Christ and Hallelujah. He testified in his native language, which was interpreted by a man who had been among that tribe of Indians. This rough Indian, under the power of the Spirit was led to go and lay his hands on a woman in the congregation who was suffering from consumption, and she was instantly healed and arose and testified.
The Azusa Papers: We clip the following from the Apostolic Faith published by Brother Chas. Parham at Baxter, Kan.
A remarkable incident of God’s searching power was recorded in Melrose, Kan., during a revival which has been held by some of our young people at that place.
The power of the Holy Spirit was greatly manifested in the meetings by the speaking in unknown tongues. This was much criticized by the town and vicinity, so the principal physician, who was familiar with several different languages, was prevailed upon to go to the meetings in order to denounce the whole as a fake. Miss Tuthill, in an unknown language to herself, but known to him as Italian, spoke his full name, which no one in the town knew save himself, telling him things that had happened in his life twenty years ago, and on up to the present time, until he cried for mercy and fell on his knees seeking God.
He found full salvation the next day, and is now a believer in ‘the Gospel’ that Jesus taught, and also in the power of the Holy Ghost that was given unto us to witness to a living Christ. He now says he would rather pray for the sick than give drugs, and is seriously thinking of leaving his profession and going into the Lord’s work.
Many precious souls have been saved, sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost as a result of the preached word under the Spirit’s anointing power.”
The Azusa Papers: JAPANESE HEAR IN THEIR OWN TONGUE.
Pueblo, Colorado is a city of many nationalities. In the steel works alone that employs 500 men, seventeen languages are spoken. There are Greeks, Chinese, Japanese and many others. This is a wonderful field. The Lord had opened up a mission there when the Pentecostal Gospel came. The woman in charge of the mission went right to seeking and received the baptism and before she got off her knees, was speaking in Chinese. One day when she was speaking, the Spirit began to speak another language through her. Nobody understood till they saw some uneasiness manifested in the back of the room where some Japanese were sitting. They began to wring their hands and cry and bury their face in their hands. Someone went to them and they said, “Talk my tongue. Tell me all about my God how He died for the Japanese.” They had never heard anything like that before.
The Azusa Papers: Sister Maud Williams who got the blessing in Ontario, Canada and has the gift of tongues, laid her hands on my head and after that I had no more strength in me, although I am physically very strong now. I lay on the floor by the platform in a reclining position. At about half past twelve I asked a brother there and Sister Leatherman to lay their hands on my head again. And just then she says she saw a crown of fire and cloven tongues over my head. The brother saw a supernatural light.
Immediately I was filled with light and such a power that I began to shout as loud as I could in a foreign language. Between that and four o’clock in the morning, I must have spoken seven or eight languages, to judge from the various sounds and forms of speech used. I stood erect at times preaching in one foreign tongue after another, and I know from the strength of my voice that 10,000 might easily have heard all I said. Nine persons remained till three o’clock and are witnesses of the whole scene. The most wonderful moment though was when I burst into a beautiful baritone solo, using one of the most pure and delightful languages I have ever heard. The tune and words were entirely new to me, and the rhythm and cadence of the verses and chorus seemed to be perfect. I sang several times later on. Some of the languages spoken produced a nasal sound and some a deep guttural sound. Oh it was wonderful. Glory! Hallelujah!
These testimonies include other strange occurrences such as people writing in tongues and receiving the tongue of sign language to preach to deaf people but it was all for mission work flowing out of a baptism with divine love. People spoke in tongues in meetings and in public and there was an outcome.
Why is this no longer happening among us? Why are we not doing this? Again, we may lack faith for it and – let’s not call it persecution or rejection – there is an embarrassment factor which stops us from reintroducing the public speaking of tongues in our worship services. It’s nice to be a respectable Lutherans (mainline Christians), not weird like the Pentecostals at Azusa Street. Yet, the Bible recorded the regular practice of speaking a word in tongues which was then meant to be interpreted:
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1 Corinthians 14:23: So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
1 Corinthians 14:26-28: What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and let one interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
1 Corinthians 14:39-40: Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Another reason (I think stronger than the embarrassment factor) why we are no longer confident in using the gift of tongues publicly – why we are inhibited – is because we worry about breaking Bible rules that seem to regulate the gift in worship. People use the Bible verses above to argue that any tongue speaking without interpretation is nonsensical to unbelievers and should be dropped from the service for the sake of good order. But this is not what these verses are saying. You can have a go at speaking in tongues. In fact, there is the specific admonition not to forbid speaking in tongues – “do not forbid speaking in tongues” (let people have a go) – in public worship but check it out. If you speak in tongues and you keep going for a while and there is no interpretation and no discernible community benefit, bridle your enthusiasm and settle down. Give someone else a go and practice your tongue privately. The people in the Bible and Azusa Street were out there with excitement and good order instructions served to make sure that worship expressions were not over the top but this is not our problem. We need encouragement – as God’s children – to play again with his gifts and mature in them through practice.
This is how William Seymour instructed his church:
The Azusa Papers: In the Corinthian church, the tongues sounded so sweet they all wanted to speak in tongues, and the Lord showed them that love was the theme. In 1Cor.14, Paul was trying to teach government and wisdom to this church. They were very zealous and the whole company of baptized believers wanted to talk in tongues at once. They would perhaps get to singing and very happy, and then all go off in tongues, just as we have, and the one that had not got the baptism and wanted it, and the unsaved and unsanctified souls were left out. Paul wanted them to get in order where they could get souls saved, sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost. The spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets. The Holy Ghost is always in order. If you have the real gift of tongues and you find the Lord has not given you the gift of prophecy to interpret, and you find that all your sermon is in tongues, you may sit down and give somebody else a chance. Do not go on for half an hour speaking in tongues. The Scripture says to be silent, just sit down.
The Bible shows us the great need of preaching or prophesying in the plain tongue. The Lord will give you the interpretation of prayer in tongues as well as of speaking. The one who speaks in the plain tongue is of more account to the assembly than the one speaking in the unknown tongue, except he interpret.
Paul said: “I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied.” He wants us to go forward and get deeper things yet. He said he spoke in tongues more than they all, putting himself in with them, that they might see that he was not fighting the gift, for he really had more of the gift than they had.
The Azusa Papers: In meetings, should a number speak in tongues at the same time? No; except as God sends a wave of the Spirit over the saints. Sometimes the Spirit will come as a shower or a rushing wind and everybody may speak that has the power. But it is not in order or Bible regulation for all to speak in tongues at once. 1 Cor.14:23, 24. Yet sometimes God works in ways that we do not just understand. But for the edification of all, there comes a time when we have to get back to the 14th chapter of First Corinthians from the 26th to the 40th verses. Paul says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
The Azusa Papers: The messages spoken in tongues in Azusa Mission, as far as have been interpreted, have always been spiritual and according to the Word, Scripture passages, praises to God, exaltation of Christ, warning, etc. Never anything of a foolish or irreverent character, and often of a highly exalted and intensely practical import and tremendous meaning, especially for the individual for whom the message was intended.
Another tongue phenomenon at Azusa Street, which was also public, was the singing in tongues and it was also frequently powerful in mission even though the words were not always interpreted. People listened to the heavenly music – songs given by the Holy Spirit – words and melodies – and they became overwhelmed with a sense of God’s presence. The harmonies and exquisite melodies sung by untrained people were amazing:
The Azusa Papers: It has been often related how the Pentecost fell in Los Angeles over a year ago in a cottage prayer meeting. Sister Jennie Moore who was in that meeting and received her Pentecost gives her testimony as follows:
“For years before this wonderful experience came to us, we as a family, were seeking to know the fullness of God, and He was filling us with His presence until we could hardly contain the power. I had never seen a vision in my life, but one day as we prayed there passed before me three white cards, each with two names thereon, and but for fear I could have given them, as I saw every letter distinctly. On April 9, 1906, I was praising the Lord from the depths of my heart at home, and when the evening came and we attended the meeting the power of God fell and I was baptized in the Holy Ghost and fire, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. During the day I had told the Father that although I wanted to sing under the power I was willing to do whatever He willed, and at the meeting when the power came on me I was reminded of the three cards which had passed me in the vision months ago. As I thought thereon and looked to God, it seemed as if a vessel broke within me and water surged up through my being, which when it reached my mouth came out in a torrent of speech in the languages which God had given me. I remembered the names on the cards: French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Hindustani, and as the message came with power, so quick that but few words would have been recognized, interpretation of each message followed in English, the name of the language would come to me. I sang under the power of the Spirit in many languages, the interpretation both words and music which I had never before heard, and in the home where the meeting was being held, the Spirit led me to the piano, where I played and sang under inspiration, although I had not learned to play. In these ways God is continuing to use me to His glory ever since that wonderful day, and I praise Him for the privilege of being a witness for Him under the Holy Ghost’s power.” —J.M., 312 Azusa St., Los Angeles.
The Azusa Papers: Many have received the gift of singing as well as speaking in the inspiration of the Spirit. The Lord is giving new voices, he translates old songs into new tongues, he gives the music that is being sung by the angels and has a heavenly choir all singing the same heavenly song in harmony. It is beautiful music; no instruments are needed in the meetings.
The Azusa Papers: One of the most remarkable features of this Apostolic Faith movement is what is rightly termed the heavenly anthem. No one but those who are baptized with the Holy Ghost are able to join in—or better, the Holy Ghost only sings through such in that manner. Hallelujah!
“I have heard and understood both in the Gujerathi and Hindustani languages, the singing of different psalms and other portions of the Holy Scriptures. The singing is done in various foreign languages.”—Geo. E. Berg, Hermon, Cal., former missionary to India.
On Sunday night, Dec. 9, a sister sang in the Gujerathi language of India, the first four verses of the 8th chapter of Solomon’s Songs. It was a song such as a bride might sing of the bridegroom. “Awake not my beloved.” It was most blessed and beautiful to notice as the Holy Spirit sang through the dear sister; it brought a great wave of heavenly fire and blessing to those present.
Again a beautiful song was sung in tongues: “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matt. 21:9). This was the greeting given our Saviour at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The brother who understood the language said in the foreign tongue it was the sublimest poetry. At the same time, the room was filled with the glory of God.
We afterward learned of a remarkable coincidence. The same song was being sung at the Pentecostal Mission at 327 1/2 S. Spring St. and was interpreted there the same. The saints worshiping in these two places were in perfect harmony of spirit, and the Holy Ghost witnessed to it.
At the all-day meeting on Christmas, a day never to be forgotten, we had a Christmas carol in tongues. It began with one voice, just as on Bethlehem’s plains, and a chorus of voices joined in. It was interpreted by one who knew the language: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to men.” This was very sweet and heavenly. It followed the reading of the Scripture.
People are melted to tears in hearing this singing. It
is the harmony of heaven and the Holy Ghost puts music in the voices that are
The Azusa Papers: The Lord has visited Australia in great power and souls have been baptized with the Holy Ghost and signs following.
In a cottage meeting, in February 1907, in Melbourne, a young brother received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and began to speak in tongues. Some fell under the power of God, and a great awe came over the meeting. The brother spoke and sang, giving messages in the unknown tongue and also interpreting.
The Azusa Papers: A few Christians stopped at the house on the way to church one Saturday night, but said they would have a little time of prayer first. The Lord came down in such power that they could not go, and some spoke in tongues and sang heavenly music.
This won’t happen unless we try it out – unless we become hungry for the experience, step out by faith and give it a go.
If you want it, how do you receive the gift of tongues? How do you receive a fuller expression of this gift which includes prophetic words and heavenly songs? How can this gift be tied stronger to power for mission by the Holy Spirit?
In a nutshell, look to Jesus and let him have his way with you. Let go of control. You don’t have to strive or stress. Exercise faith – be hungry – and relax, looking to Jesus. You may even allow Jesus to touch your emotions, as happened so often at Azusa Street. Let go of control and constraints:
The Azusa Papers: In seeking the baptism with the Holy Spirit do not ask the Lord for tongues. Just pray the Lord to give you the baptism with the Holy Ghost as He gave his disciples, according to the second chapter of Acts, and wait before Him till the Lord verifies His promise in your precious soul.
The Azusa Papers: The baptism of the Spirit is a gift of power on the sanctified life, and when people receive it, sooner or later they will speak in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. A person may not speak in tongues for a week after the baptism, but as soon as he gets to praying or praising God in the liberty of the Spirit, the tongues will follow. Tongues are not salvation. It is a gift that God throws in with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. People do not have to travail and agonize for the baptism, for when our work ceases, then God comes. We cease from our own works …
The Azusa Papers: The first of the week I went to a cottage meeting, I knelt to pray and again the power of God came upon me and I went over on the floor. The Lord talked with me, and told me what it would mean if I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I said, “I want it at any cost.” A strange feeling came over me, I thought I was dying, I said, “If I die I will go to heaven for I am seeking God.” I began to shake all over, I did not know what it meant, but after a little it came to me that God was shaking me free from my opinions and from my notions of things. I said, “Lord have your way.” My tongue was twisted and my throat felt queer, and I began to say syllables. Just then another seeker began to shout, Glory! glory! glory! I thought, that is what I want, I don’t want to make these queer sounds. At once I stopped. When I rose up, there was gladness in my heart, but I felt a lack, I was not satisfied. I had been praying for years for the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Several times I thought I had it but soon found I did not.
On Thursday I went to the church again. Soon after I sat down I began to shake, I said, “Lord, you shall have your way with me.” Soon I found myself on the floor and for about five hours the Lord had His way. I began to pray in Chinese that I had learned for the Chinese language in hopes that God would take my tongue and speak fluently. But He allowed the enemy to oppress me till I cried out, “O Lord, give me the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, and I don’t care if I never speak in tongues.” Soon I felt the power of God upon me in a mighty way and I began to speak in an unknown language and to sing with one of the workers who was praying with me. My hands began to move swiftly over my body, and I knew I was asking for healing, my hands went to my eyes and my glasses were taken off and laid on the floor and I have never had them on since. When I got up I knew I had the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, and I have it today. Hallelujah! Rom. 8:11 has been fulfilled to me, Praise His Holy name. “This is the way I long have sought and mourned because I found it not.” This life in the Holy Ghost is blessed. I never had the joy and freedom and power I have now. The shouts roll without any effort on my part. I have spoken in three languages that have been interpreted. I have seen in a vision the face of a native whose language I speak and I am saying, “Here am I, send me.”
The Azusa Papers: As I told them the battles that I had had in China and that I had surrendered all, they satisfied me by saying that I was “prayed up” to date. It seemed too good for me to believe. I moved on to Oakland, Cal., and the same thing happened there, so I went to Los Angeles and the third day, on Sunday, Sept. 15th, He baptized me. I was under the power of God on the floor for more than two hours, and it seemed that every nerve in my body was charged and my jaws began to move, and I said to myself, “I could do that,” and I tried, but found out I could not do it mechanically, as it was done, and I was satisfied that it was of the Lord. Then my tongue began to move and a brother said to me, “Let the Holy Ghost have your voice.” I said to myself, “I am not going to obey man.”
A short time after, the Holy Ghost said, “Give me your voice,” and I said, “I do not know what you mean.” Then such a power from within came forcing up, and I began to say a sentence, “Ya! ya!” I said, “This is my native language and I don’t want to fool the people, but it kept up for some time. So I began to praise God in English for the faithfulness of brothers and sisters around me, and they said, “Get your eyes on God.” I was fully convinced that it was all of God, and I shouted Glory! Then He began to speak through me in an unknown tongue, and I rose up under the power, going back and forth before the people preaching. I had no control of my body. I praise God for His manifestation and for the wonderful sweetness and joy that is growing stronger every day. I will advise anyone to get rid of all that you have and gain that “pearl of great price.” I pray God’s blessing upon all that are seeking God’s best and His mercy upon those who reject. Yours for lost souls in China. B. Berntsen. Tai-ming-fu, Chih-li, North China.
Must everyone speak in tongues? Is it always a sign that the baptism with the Spirit has occurred. The Azusa people thought so (even though they acknowledge that someone may be baptized with the Spirit and not immediately speak in tongues) but we are free – on the basis of the Bible and experience – to disagree. Yet, it is common that the baptism with the Spirit and the release of the gift of speaking in tongues go together, as recorded in numerous Bible accounts:
Edgar Mayer: Surprised by the Holy Spirit, San Giovanni: Evangelista Media 2012, p125-126: This, then, is the second divisive question associated with the gift: Must a Christian speak in tongues at his or her baptism with the Spirit?
I may immediately clarify that there is no hard and fast rule. Randy Clark, whom God used to start the movement of the Toronto Blessing, is convinced that he received the gift of tongues before his Spirit baptism, and he writes in more general terms: “I don’t believe one must speak in tongues to be baptized in the Spirit.”
When an American theologian listened to the stories of a black pastor in Mozambique and heard how the Lord had used him to raise seven people from the dead, he was amazed. Then he had the following light-hearted encounter: “I asked if he and the gathered prayed more in Makua, their heart language, or in tongues. He grinned sheepishly: ‘I cannot lie. I have never prayed in tongues.’ Heidi [Baker] and I roared with laughter—that sure puts a dinger in the initial evidence theology of the baptism of the Spirit.”
God can fill people with the Spirit to the brim so that they can raise the dead in Jesus’ name and this can happen without the gift of speaking in tongues. I am sure that my own daughter Francisca was immersed in the Spirit at the age of twelve when she fell down under the power of the Spirit and remained unconscious for a long time. There was rapid eye movement and a deep encounter with God, but no gift of tongues. Thus, in light of all of these testimonies and no explicit requirement in the Bible, it would be unwise to insist that the baptism with the Spirit always coincides with the release of the gift of tongues.
On the other hand, however, there are the Scripture passages that suggest a common connection between the baptism with the Spirit and the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. At least in the experience of the early church, many who received the immersion in the Spirit also began to speak in tongues (see Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-46; 19:1-6). David Pawson sums up the biblical evidence in this way:
Tongues...Fluent speech in a language never before either learned or spoken is obviously a supernatural endowment. This is the most common [outward] evidence mentioned [in the Bible for the infilling with the Spirit] and should not be treated with suspicion or contempt. It can encourage people to believe that the Spirit enables them to go beyond their natural ability, leading them into other ‘spiritual gifts’ (Greek charismata, from which ‘charismatic’ is derived).
But to insist that it must always be such ‘tongues’ is to be narrower than the scripture. While it may be more frequent than any other form of inspired speech, that does not warrant the demand that it must be this gift, as the ‘initial evidence.’ Other ‘overflows’ are mentioned—for example, ‘praise’ and ‘prophecy,’ both of which are in a known and familiar language.
This is a balanced statement, but nevertheless points out that the release of the gift of tongues was common at the believers’ baptism with the Spirit. Thus it is not unreasonable to expect the same today. There are entire Christian denominations that observe almost everyone in their midst is receiving this gift.
It’s okay not to have everything straight away. This is the Christian experience that there is always more to come and more to experience (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18).
I want to go back to Azusa Street and another observation. As people began to speak in tongues, many – countless – messages were about the coming of Jesus – his return at the end of time:
The Azusa Papers: One Sunday the power of God came upon us in the morning meeting and in the evening the Pentecost began to fall, and by 11:30 the next morning six had received Pentecost, “For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” It was like some scenes in Azusa, all around lay the slain, Methodists, Baptists, and Lutherans. Young people arose with shining faces speaking in the power of the Holy Ghost in unknown tongues. Two elderly sisters also spoke in tongues, magnifying God. We have the happiest band of baptized people you ever saw. Young ladies that were so timid, now clap their hands and shout Glory, all the time.
Another night when the meeting lasted till five o’clock in the morning, one young man, a Methodist, came through about one a.m. and spoke in tongues for two hours, giving some of the most blessed messages and interpreting: the burden was, “Jesus is coming soon, get ready to meet Him.”
One little girl received her baptism and spoke beautifully in tongues, and then spoke to some unconverted young men in tongues and interpreted, which was a plea for them to give their hearts to Jesus now as He was soon coming and they would be lost. The men were visibly affected by the message.
Three baptismal services were held (up to June 19th) at a suburban lake, and 24 were buried in the likeness of His death.
Most of those who received the baptism in the Spirit are prostrated on the floor. Some received it while sitting in a chair or standing on their feet. Some have received it at home. Those who are prostrated, many of them tell of having a vision of heaven or of Jesus the Lord or otherwise of having come into a full and far deeper sense of God than ever thought of before. A brother coming out from under the power where he had received revelations said, “The hand of God is certainly on this work, and those who scoff and oppose it are likely to have the Lord’s hand put on them in a terrible way.”
The papers published many false reports, and they were threatened with arrest and to have the meetings stopped on the charge of disturbing the peace; but Brother Pendleton announced that the meetings would continue for they must obey God. If they went to jail, they would have meetings there.
Some get to God in every meeting. They obtained a large hall that will seat four or five hundred, where a permanent mission will be established.
Jesus is coming soon. This was the message in tongues one hundred years ago and even two thousand years ago in the church of the Bible. God’s soon is not our instant human soon but it is true. This world will not last and, measured by eternity, this world will be gone in a blink of an eye. When you are a teenager, time seems to crawl – (when can I drive, when can I go out, when can I vote) – but, as you get older, time seems to speed up and you realize that soon you will die. Sixty years – seventy years – even eighty years – go very quickly. Jesus will return soon and it is not surprising that this message is proclaimed through the gift of tongues, as people expected this gift to be used for mission work. The urgency of mission work lies in this message: Jesus is coming soon. Listen. You must have peace with God through Jesus Christ before it is too late. Accept the free offer of salvation.
Billy Graham devotion: The great Dwight L. Moody used to say, “I never preached a sermon without thinking that possibly the Lord may come before I preach another.” Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, the distinguished British clergy-man, said, “I never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps he may interrupt my work and begin His own. I am not looking for death. I am looking for Him.” That is the way a Christian should live his life – in the constant anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ! If we could live every day as though it may be the very last one before the final judgment, what a difference it would make here on earth! But we don’t like to think that way. We don’t like to think that our carefully made plans, our long range schemes may be interrupted by the trumpet of God. Too many people would rather say, “Oh, well, the end of the world hasn’t come yet, so why think about it – it’s probably a thousand years away.”
As William Seymour and the people at Azusa Street looked for Jesus to baptize them with the Holy Spirit and expected to receive the gift of speaking in tongues for mission and power in mission work, Jesus answered them and impressed on them the urgency of their work. He was returning soon. Can we recapture this knowledge and awareness? And may God give us the same message through tongues and interpretation.
However – and I close with the glory of the experience – Jesus did not just urge his disciples on with the message of his imminent return, he encouraged them. He was telling them that he was looking forward to spending eternity with them – with us – his people – and enjoying the love intimacy of bridegroom and bride. The infilling with the Spirit often came with much love and joy:
The Azusa Papers: The interpretation of many of the messages in nearly every language spoken by the Holy Ghost in unknown tongues is that Jesus is coming.
The Azusa Papers: A preacher’s wife, who at first opposed Pentecostal truth, went home and read the second chapter of Acts, and while she read, the Spirit fell upon her and she began to speak in tongues. She is a member of the Nazarene church in Vernon. As she was on the way to the church she met a brother whom she had been instrumental in leading to the Lord. He is a foreigner and as soon as she saw him, she began to pour out her soul in French. He was amazed and said: “When did you learn French?”
“What did I say?” she asked. “You said: “Get ready! Get ready! Jesus is coming soon!”
She went on up to the church, and as they were giving out the Sunday school leaflets she began to speak in tongues again and spoke for some time. They could only listen to this manifestation of the power of God.
The Azusa Papers: “Jesus is coming soon,” is the message that the Holy Ghost is speaking today through nearly everyone that receives the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Many times they get the interpretation of the message spoken in an unknown language and many times others have understood the language spoken. Many receive visions of Jesus and He says, “I am coming soon.” Two saints recently in Minneapolis fell under the power were caught up to Heaven and saw the New Jerusalem, the table spread, and many of the saints there, —both seeing the same visions at the same time. They said Jesus was coming very soon and for us to work as we had little time”
[The Azusa Papers: A sister was washing up the breakfast things, when the Lord called her to prayer, she immediately obeyed Him, and the Spirit soon led her off in praise to Him in an unknown tongue. She says, “I was simply lost in His love.”]
The Azusa Papers: Of course I thought this to be the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and when I would read or hear of this movement, I would say, “I received that 25 years ago.” But when I found it was spreading everywhere and many people as well as missionaries were speaking in tongues, I said, “This is a farce.” But God in His great love, showed me the movement was of Him, and I received the light and accepted it.
At the camp meeting at Fairmont, Minn., on June 21st, after confessing to God and man the attitude of the past, I saw myself all covered over with the Blood of Jesus. A few minutes after this, there was such power of God rested upon me that I fell beneath it; and as I was lying there, I felt something I had never had before was coming to me. With the natural eyes closed, I kept looking up into the heaven in expectancy, when I saw a light soft and mellow, unlike any earthly light. As it drew nearer, I saw a robe of such whiteness that no whiteness of earth can ever compare with it. The whiteness of itself seemed to make the soft heavenly light, whose beams reached like a beautiful pathway clear down to me. It seemed Jesus was holding out the garment by the shoulder, so it was all visible to me, and it glistened as though it had been dipped in diamond dust. And as I gazed upon its radiant beauty, Jesus said, “This is yours.” I seemed to be held by its dazzling beauty, until my attention was called by the Holy Ghost to the voice of a brother in another part of the room, repeating a sentence in an unknown tongue, and the Spirit revealed to me that he was saying, “You have the wedding garment,” and that the Spirit was saying this to me through him. Then there seemed to be music coming to me from the light that was still shining above. It seemed to keep coming nearer, until all at once my tongue and lips began to shout two words in an unknown tongue, and Jesus seemed to say, “This is the new name which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Rev. 2:17.
I cannot describe the experience, but it was something more than I ever had before. It was revealed to me that this “latter rain” was getting people ready for the “Marriage supper of the Lamb,” and this is the time when the wise virgins are getting the oil in their vessels with their lamps. But O how many are going to be unwise.
Since then, I have sang and sometimes prayed in an unknown tongue. Sometimes the interpretation is given. I know Jesus is coming soon. He said, “When the bride begins to put on the wedding garments, it is not long until the wedding takes place.”
I have written this for the benefit of those who, like myself, honestly believe they have this experience in sanctification. I used to wonder what was the benefit of speaking in tongues, but I find that besides being a “sign to those that believe not,” it brings a blessing to the spirit of the person speaking, that nothing else ever did. Mrs. TM. Rist, Evangelist. Windom, Minn.
Can we envision what happened at Azusa Street and do we want the same? There is a fuller expression of the gift of speaking in tongues that includes prophetic words for others and preaching in languages that others understand. [There is a fuller embracing of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.] There is a singing by the Holy Spirit that blends our voices to a heavenly choir – with supernatural harmonies and words. This is all possible. We can ask for it. God is the same yesterday and today and what he did at the Azusa Street revival, he can do again at the Jellicoe Street revival. The adventure continues. Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready to give this a go? Amen.
Appendix 1 – Tongues for Mission
The Azusa Papers: Brother G.W. Batman’s Testimony.
I was converted nine years ago, and got a know-so salvation—no guess work about it. I repented of my sins and forsook them, accepting the Lord as my Saviour. Praise God. A few years later, I fasted and prayed for about three days and during that time I put off the old man Adam in the form of inbred sin and God came in and destroyed the devil’s workshop by casting his tools on the outside. Praise God I got a real evidence that I was sanctified and the Blood applied. After that, I received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire and now I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost, not only in my heart but in my lungs, my hands, my arms and all through my body and at times I am shaken like a locomotive steamed up and prepared for a long journey. O it is blessed to let the Lord have His way with you. I also speak in six foreign tongues given me at God’s command. God has called me to Africa as a missionary, and told me to go to Monrovia, Liberia. He showed me the town which is on the west coast. I described the town and country to Brother Mead, a missionary that had been there and he said it was a perfect description. Saints, pray much. Fast and pray.
The Azusa Papers: A band of three missionaries, Brother Andrew Johnson and Sisters Louisa Condit and Lucy M. Leatherman, who have been baptized with the Holy Ghost and received the gift of languages, have left for Jerusalem, going by way of Oakland, leaving there Aug. 10th. Reports came of meetings on the way that four souls received the Pentecost in Colorado Springs and three in Denver. Brother Johnson has received seven different languages, one of which is the Arabic. Sister Leatherman speaks the Turkish language, and while in Oakland, some were talking on the street about the gift of tongues; Sister Leatherman began to speak just as a man wearing the Turkish fez came by. He listened in wonder and asked what college she had attended, saying she spoke the most perfect Turkish tongue he had heard spoken by a foreigner. He was an educated man from a Turkish college in Constantinople. She told him the Holy Ghost gave her the language which she did not understand herself and he was the first person that had interpreted for her.
The Azusa Papers: One young girl received the baptism Friday night and she spoke in German. God sent us a German to interpret. He said he could understand everything perfectly. Sister Jennie Eans has also received the German language, and speaks it very fluently.
Sister Garr improves every day in her Tibetan and
Chinese. O, how I praise God that He ever gave us this wonderful experience of
the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
The Azusa Papers: Sister Jennie Jacobson, a Swedish sister who had been only two months in this country, was given the gift of the English language with the understanding of the words. She also received another tongue.
The Azusa Papers: A band of spirit filled boys went down to Anaheim, a town near Los Angeles. They testified what God had done for them and it made the people hungry. The second night the altar was full. In two nights, eight were sanctified, six converted and five received the baptism. One night at about one o’clock in the morning, the Holy Ghost spoke words in Spanish through one of the young men, and a girl who was seeking her Pentecost understood that language and joyfully interpreted it, “Keep awake, do not sleep, and I will come to thy house.” This same girl in about an hour and a-half received the baptism with the Holy Ghost. The work among the children was very touching. The power of God fell the second night as at the house of Cornelius. Little children had their hands up shouting. The first to get the baptism was a little boy of ten years. He began clapping his hands and singing, “Jesus Saviour, pilot me” in an unknown tongue in clear distinct words, also “Nearer my God to thee.” Four in the same family inside of twenty minutes got the baptism with the Holy Ghost. It was heaven there. The work is going on and other little children are being filled with the spirit.
The Azusa Papers: While Brother S.J. Mead was with us in Los Angeles who is now on his way to Africa where he has laboured for 20 years and where he is able to speak native languages, he was a witness to the gift of tongues being spoken in African dialects of which the persons had no knowledge. A coloured lady spoke at length in tongues as the Spirit was pleased to use her. And immediately after she had spoken, Brother Mead arose and interpreted the message given by the girl, giving the name of the tribe in Africa to which the language belonged and then repeated the same message in the same tongue.
The Azusa Papers: Two young men in Pennsylvania who had received their Pentecost, were in a meeting, and the Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking in tongues together. They have both been called as missionaries to Africa, and found themselves with arms around each other, speaking the same dialect. They were taken in the Spirit to the heathen in Africa, and found themselves surrounded by those poor idolaters, and they were given the interpretation, at this time of what they said. They appeared to read to them from John 14, and found themselves opening up the chapter to their benighted listeners, with the earnestness of all their souls.
The Azusa Papers: When I first attended these Apostolic Faith meetings, I was very much puzzled because I tried to understand it with my head only, and was in doubt as to its being of God. But at the same time, the desire in my heart which had been there for years for something beyond sanctification, became more intense and gave me no rest till I inquired further into the teaching. The Spirit opened my eyes and understanding and helped me to see that this was the very thing for which I had been hungering. So when my own understanding and my notions got out of the way, God in His mercy baptized me with the Holy Ghost on the 15th of last September. No one had their hands on me at the time. I was meeting God alone and the Holy Ghost fell on me like balls of fire, and went through me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. The Spirit flooded my whole being and enlarged my heart till I was afraid the vessel might not hold the glory and power that seemed to rush into me like water poured out. Before I realized it, the Spirit got hold of my tongue and used it for the glory of God in speaking in an unknown tongue.
In regard to the languages given here, I can testify that they are real languages, because I have interpreted not less than five messages given by different persons, spoken in languages of British, India, which languages I know personally, having lived in India.
GEO. E. BERG, 1350 Channing St., Los Angeles.
The Azusa Papers: THIS IS THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST.
The Lord gave me a bright conversion when I was 15 years old. Soon after this, He gave me the Holy Spirit as my Sanctifier, which I supposed was the baptism with the Holy Ghost. My father, being a highchurchman, opposed my newfound joy and my young, tender life found shelter in Mrs. Baxter’s home. She became a real mother to me. God led me graciously on and made my life fruitful in winning many souls to Christ. Later on, I was married to James Hebden, a successful contractor and efficient mission worker. Over two years ago, we came to Canada. Some searching trials awaited us here, but God proved sufficient. Early in the summer of 1906, we began to feel a lack of power, especially to heal the sick. We sought the Lord for power. Coming in one day sick in body, I asked husband to pray for me. He refused, saying, “It is no use as long as you run so much.” (I was very busy visiting for God). The Spirit said to me, “This is a call to prayer.” Thereafter, I gave myself to more earnest prayer, especially for “power from on high.”
We had just recently rented this building for the Lord’s work. I toiled very hard, scrubbing the stairways, etc., and retired quite weary about 11 o’clock. It was Saturday night. I had scarcely lain down when the Holy Spirit prompted me to arise and pray. I obeyed. Soon the power of God fell upon me. The Lord said, “Tongues?” I answered, “No, Lord, not Tongues.” There was a pause, “Tongues?” And I replied, “Anything, Lord, Tongues or anything.” Instantly, the Spirit of God seized my hands, clasped them, shook them and pressed them deeply into my cheek, then rested them upon my shoulder. Here the power lifted having continued till after midnight. The next day the power fell upon me where it left off in the night and brandished my hands causing them to strike every part of my body down to my feet. In the afternoon, I went into the meeting below, (we lived on the second floor), and sat quietly by the organ, intending to say nothing of my new experience. However, I was not sitting long, till the Spirit fell upon me and moved me to exclaim loudly, “This is the power of the Holy Ghost; this is the day of Pentecost.” The people were greatly moved and melted to tears.
This same Sabbath evening, while lying on the couch, not expecting to attend the meeting, the Holy Ghost whispered, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.” Feeling led to go into the service, I went and sat on the front seat facing the speaker. I had scarcely sat down when the leader read, or quoted the scripture just cited. Immediately, the Holy Ghost fell upon me and shouted that same scripture through me with mighty super-human power, two or three times. Some who heard it said that it was not my voice at all, God seemed to take the meeting into His own hands, and His power fell on all present.
On Monday while alone, I began to sing. I said, “Is this tongues, Lord?” And at once He spoke through me some unknown language.
At night, I again declined going to the Bible reading. But suddenly the Holy Ghost seemed to lift me and carry me down to the service. The saints were just arising from prayer as I entered, when the Spirit spoke in power three times through me in a tongue and in English, “This is the power of the Holy Ghost; this is the day of Pentecost.” I disappeared as suddenly as I had appeared, leaving the people overwhelmed with the power of God.
Truly it is the real baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire as John Baptist foretold. There is an unspeakable joy in speaking in tongues and it brings deep solemnity and conviction on the people. About the middle of this month (Feb., 1907), God gave me a greater measure of power and now I have “the gift of tongues.” I can speak and preach at will in three languages with great fluency any length of time. At first I find that I had tongues as a sign, now as one of the gifts. God also gives the interpretation as He wills. Oh, how humble we need to keep before the Lord so that He can manifest His mighty power.
About the middle of December my husband received his Pentecost and God is mightily working our midst.
Dear reader, let God have His way. How much that means! Blessed Jesus!
Yours in His precious name. – Mrs. James Hebden, 651
Queen East, Toronto, Canada.
Appendix 2 – Sign Language Tongue
The Azusa Papers: I received the Holy Ghost in San Jose, in November, and came to Kelseyville, in December. And when I received the January paper and read what the Lord was doing in other places, the power of God came on me mightily. I was alone and was lifted to my feet and stood on tiptoe with both arms extended above my head, and began to speak in tongues and to interpret, which I never had done before except a very little. Since I came here, one lady has received the Holy Ghost with a tongue, also the gift of writing some unknown language and the deaf mute signs. Another lady came from Healdsburg and has also received the Holy Ghost with a tongue, also the gift of writing some unknown language and the deaf mute signs. Another lady came from Healdsburg and has also received the baptism and the Chinese tongue. Still another who received the Holy Ghost in Oakland and the Chinese tongue, is here. She expects to go to China as soon as the Lord opens up the way. Two are seeking and we have been holding some meetings in one of the churches. The Lord is blessing His work.” – Frances R. Townsend.
The Azusa Papers: The first time I was at the dear Azusa St. Mission I went to get a drink of water (after morning service, at lunch time) and when coming back to my baby, the good Lord met me on the way and I was prostrated on a bench near the back door, and I was as clay in the Potter’s hands. I did not understand I thought I would die, as my strength was gone. I suddenly rested in the hands of God for Him to do and overrule completely at His will. My throat and tongue took to working in a peculiar manner, and soon I was rejoicing in my new gift. Sister Hagg came to me and we conversed and sang together in an unknown tongue. Praise His Holy Name. I also got the deaf mute language on my fingers.
Appendix 3 – Writing in Tongues
The Azusa Papers: Brother Junk writes the following incident of how God used the writing in an unknown tongue: “The Lord sent in a young Hebrew and he got soundly converted the other night. He sobbed and cried until you could have heard him a block. His cry was for the blood to cover him. O for old time repentance. When I pulled out my Testament to read him some Scripture, his eyes fell upon some writing I had done while under the power of God in Oakland. When he saw it, he pronounced it Hebrew. The hardest work we had to do was to convince him that I had not studied the language, but when this was clear, he trembled from head to foot and said he truly believed the Messiah was come. Oh glory. These signs are to them that believe not. He took my writing to a Hebrew scholar. It is Isaiah 55 commencing with the second verse, Ps 46:3, the Lord’s prayer, and Rom. 3:26. They told him not to believe me, for without studying Hebrew, it would be impossible to write it, for it was perfect. Praise God for He does only perfect work.” – Thos Junk, 1517 7th Ave, Seattle, Washington.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: For a time the idea that a person could both speak and write in tongues caught the imagination of people at the mission. As early as 1901 one of Charles Parham’s students, Miss Agnes Ozman, had written in “tongues” in Topeka, Kansas. Examples had even been reproduced in the Topeka, Kansas, newspaper. Now the phenomenon began to appear in Los Angeles. Even the Los Angeles Daily Times carried an example of it, complete with an alleged “interpretation.” And when people left the mission to evangelize in other cities such as Salem and Portland, Oregon, local newspapers reported that the phenomenon continued. At the Azusa Street Mission, The Apostolic Faith announced experiments along these lines with a note of optimism. “The Lord has given the gift of writing in unknown languages, also the gift of playing on instruments,” it proudly announced.
About the same time, however, a spiritualist was giving public demonstrations in Southern California of what was being called “psychography.” This phenomenon involved a person concentrating on a board, allowing a purported spirit to channel through the person’s mind and produce a written script on the board.
Seymour, who had undoubtedly witnessed appeals to spirits among those who practiced Hoodoo in Louisiana, searched the Scriptures for guidance. In the end he reported that he could find nothing in Scripture to justify the practice of writing in tongues, in which the pen functioned like the planchette (a small pencil/pointing device on casters) used by spiritualists to produce automatic writing or determine hidden messages on a Ouija board. “We do not read anything in the Word about writing in unknown languages,” The Apostolic Faith soon after announced, “so we do not encourage that in our meetings”.
This phenomenon did not continue to develop at the Azusa Street Mission once Seymour searched the Scriptures and found no precedent for it.
[Cf. John in the book of Revelation and testimony of Vassula Ryden.]
Appendix 4 – Tongue Message of Jesus Returning Soon
About 150 people in Los Angeles, more than on the
day of Pentecost, have received the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Bible
evidence, the gift of tongues, and many have been saved and sanctified, nobody
knows how many. People are seeking at the altar three times a day and it is
hard to close at night on account of seekers and those who are under the power
The Azusa Papers: Audubon, Minn.
Grace and peace unto you be multiplied. A copy of the Apostolic
Faith has been sent to us, and we were much blest when we read and saw that God
baptized His children with the Holy Ghost exactly the same way as He has done
here. It is two years ago since God began to baptize His children in this place
and some are talking with tongues, some have the gift of prophecy, etc. Others
fall under the power of God and He shows them wonderful things that all seem to
come unto these words, ‘Get ready, I am coming soon.’ Glory to God. But it is
few that believe it is from God. The world’s people and church members and
preachers say it is of the devil, so we are well separated from the world, and
soon we will be separated forever and be together with Jesus and His holy
people.” – A. O. Morken, Rte. 4, Audubon, Minn.
The Azusa Papers: A few were waiting upon God one Friday night when the Holy Spirit fell upon a lad of 19. He sang beautifully for over an hour about Jesus’ coming. Next morning while at work, he sang praises to God in an unknown tongue.
The Azusa Papers: Some people doubt the miracle of speaking in tongues. They read it in the Bible but do not believe in miracles now-a-days. There was a woman on the campground that doubted the miracle of speaking in tongues. She understood Russian and Polish, and the Lord gave her a message in her native tongue, which no one else understood.
A boy arose to testify and when his turn came, and he opened his mouth, he could not speak English, but the Spirit began to speak in an unknown language. The woman heard both Russian and Polish and was thoroughly convinced. He spoke about ten minutes giving the account of Jesus walking among the golden candlesticks with the seven stars in His right hand and also the first eight verses of the 3rd of Revelation where Jesus was exhorting the church that had a name to live and was dead, to repent. The boy seemed to be preaching and exhorting in great power. Part of the message was, “Jesus is coming very soon.”
The young man’s name is Ralph Groenick of Hermon, Cal., and the woman’s address is Sister Rosenthal, corner 24th and Hoover streets, Los Angeles.
The Azusa Papers: These great blessings have come on the lowly and humble. Many have seen visions of Jesus and of heavenly fire, and the interpretations speak of the soon coming of Jesus.
The Azusa Papers: Esthonia, in Russia, brings us the story of a half-dozen or more little peasant girls upon whom came the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, and with it “the gift of tongues.” Several among them in a holy ecstasy speaking they understood not what; but to one among them was given “the gift of interpretation.” She said the burden of all they told was, “Jesus is coming soon. Prepare!” Take note, just here, beloved, that in all lands and all tongues, where God has thus spoken, this has been the first proclamation. “Jesus is coming soon. Make ready!”
The Azusa Papers: Several girls have received the gift of interpretation of tongues. Some are for days and even weeks dumb as regarding their own language, except when God gives them a message, and then ability to deliver the message is given. The light minded and frivolous are sternly rebuked by these prophetesses who plead with others to tarry in dead earnest for Pentecost. The substance of a message was as follows:
The second coming of Jesus is near at hand. God is getting His people ready. Seek, and prepare to meet your Lord. If you do not stir yourselves up to seek the Lord now and receive His blessing, you will be left behind when Jesus comes and then you must suffer a great deal.
The Azusa Papers: I went to the meeting the next evening, but could not sing nor pray, I just rested in God and asked Him to lead the Pastor to lay hands on me when He wished. Soon the Pastor was “filled with the Holy Ghost” and came to me. When he laid hands on me, I expected a great rush of feeling, such as I have often experienced, as the Life of Jesus thrilled through my body, but I felt nothing. The Spirit then flashed light on to the Word, “They laid hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost.” I should like to emphasize that it was at this point of really believing in my heart God’s Word, that I had received (Acts viii: 17), that He began to manifest His presence (the empty cleansed vessel receiving the out-poured gift), and I just rested again in the fact that God the Holy Ghost had come and would do His own work. Suddenly the Lord filled His Temple and I was in the glory.
What followed I cannot describe, and it is too sacred to do so, but I knew God had come. Though never unconscious, I was quite oblivious to everyone around, just worshiping. Then my mouth began to quiver, my tongue began to move, and a few simple words were uttered, as I just yielded to the Holy Ghost. Much to my astonishment, I began to speak fluently in a foreign language—Chinese I think. The Spirit sang through me. The joy and rapture of this purely spiritual worship can never be described. If for no other purpose, I felt at last satisfied that “there was no difference between me and them as at the beginning,” Acts xi: 15. Then came a vision of the Blood. As the Spirit spoke that word I was conscious that ALL heaven oh glory! (myself included) was “worshiping the Lamb, as it had been slain.” Oh, the efficacy, the power of the Blood. In one moment, what I had believed in for years was illuminated as a reality. Nothing else can take its place, it is the Blood that cleanseth. Then came more words in ‘tongues’ with the interpretation. “Worthy is the Lamb; Jesus is coming.”
People say, “What is the difference now?” Just this, and this is all the difference. What one has held on to by faith in the Word, is a reality. I know, as never before, that Christ liveth in me. The Power to love and believe and witness is there, as never before; and last, though not least, after longing with a hungry heart for years to satisfy my God and Saviour, that “He might see the travail of His soul and be satisfied,” I thank Him with all my heart that at last He has received from me pure spirit—worship—”mysteries,”—1 Cor.14:2; John 3:23. I recognize, as never before, that it is still a walk of faith and obedience, that I am nothing, and Christ is my all in all. I am launched out into the fathomless ocean of God’s love, joy and peace. It is “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I thank God for the Pentecostal sign of ‘tongues.’ I did not ask for ‘tongues’ but for the Holy Ghost, and He “gave me utterance,” and the joy of praising God in the Spirit is truly wonderful. —Mrs. A.A. Body, Sunderland, Eng.
The Azusa Papers: A MESSAGE CONCERNING HIS COMING.
A young sister, Miss Lillian Keyes, daughter of Dr. Keyes, of this city, speaks and sings in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. She also interprets, and the following interpretation was also corroborated by Sister S.K. Mead, twenty years a missionary in Africa. Sister Mead arose and said that the language spoken was their dialect in Africa, a beautiful language, but one that is very difficult for English-speaking people to acquire, but the Holy Ghost, through the young lady, had given the perfect accent. The message interpreted was as follows:
“Jesus is coming again,
Coming again so soon,
And we shall meet Him then.”
Prepare your hearts now, for the Lord is coming soon, and ye know not the hour. If you are not prepared, you will not go with Jesus. He sees each heart, and wants to prepare them for His coming. Seek Him now, for some day it will be too late.
The Lord says: ‘I will bless all those that seek me with all their hearts, for God is no respecter of persons. The Love of God is so great.’ He says. ‘Come unto me; come unto me, and I will give you rest. I will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire, and all those that seek me diligently.’
O, Jesus is such a wonderful Savior. He is coming soon and all must have their hearts ready. O, Jesus is so sweet. He says: ‘Watch and be ready when I come.’ O, He is coming so soon.
Our sister also speaks two Chinese dialects. She
speaks to the Chinese as she passes them on the street, or as they come to the
house, and they listen in astonishment and say she is telling them about God.
Appendix 5 – Some Azusa Discernment
The Azusa Papers: Tongues are one of the signs that
go with every baptized person, but it is not the real evidence of the baptism
in the everyday life. Your life must measure with the fruits of the Spirit. If you
get angry, or speak evil, or backbite, I care not how many tongues you may
have, you have not the baptism with the Holy Spirit. You have lost your
salvation. You need the Blood in your soul.
The Azusa Papers: Is the speaking in tongues the standard of fellowship with the Pentecost people?
No; our fellowship does not come through gifts and outward demonstrations but through the Blood by the Spirit of Christ. There is nothing more loving than the Blood of Jesus Christ in our hearts. The Lord Jesus says, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” If a man is saved and living according to the word of God, he is our brother, if he has not got the baptism with the Holy Spirit with tongues.
How are we to keep the anointing of the Spirit after receiving the Pentecost? By living in the word of God with perfect obedience.
In meetings, should a number speak in tongues at the same time? No; except as God sends a wave of the Spirit over the saints. Sometimes the Spirit will come as a shower or a rushing wind and everybody may speak that has the power. But it is not in order or Bible regulation for all to speak in tongues at once. 1 Cor.14:23, 24. Yet sometimes God works in ways that we do not just understand. But for the edification of all, there comes a time when we have to get back to the 14th chapter of First Corinthians from the 26th to the 40th verses. Paul says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
The Azusa Papers: His character is love. If you find people that get a harsh spirit, and even talk in tongues in a harsh spirit, it is not the Holy Ghost talking. His utterances are in power and glory and with blessing and sweetness. The character of the Holy Ghost is precisely like Jesus the Word of truth, for the Holy Ghost is “the Spirit of truth.” He speaks always of the Word and makes everything like the Word. Jesus was the Son of God, the suffering Christ; and the Holy Ghost comes into the world to reveal this suffering Christ to us. He is a meek and humble Spirit—not a harsh Spirit. He is a Spirit of glory. When He comes into a believer, He comes to tell them all about Jesus’ salvation. He reveals Christ. He paints Him as the wonderful Son of God, the brightest gem the Father had in heaven, our only hope of salvation and reconciliation with the Father. How sweet it is to have the Holy Ghost come to you and show you Jesus through the Word. He witnesses and reveals through the Word, and never gets outside of the Word.
The Azusa Papers: Honour the Holy Ghost. Someone may say, “If you can speak in tongues, let me hear you.” Don’t you ever try to do that. The Holy Ghost will never speak in that way. It is not ye that speak but the Holy Ghost, and He will speak when He chooses. Don’t you ever try to speak with tongues or say that the power belongs to you. It is by My Spirit, saith the Lord. When singing or speaking in tongues, your mind does not take any part in it. He wants you to pray for the interpretation, so that you can speak with the Spirit and with the understanding also. (I Cor. 14:16)
Appendix 6 – More Testimonies
The Azusa Papers: March the 28th I received my personal Pentecost, —praise God. Had been praying for power in God’s service for one year. Last November a copy of Apostolic Faith was handed me. Pondered some and laid it one side. Had yielded all to God five years since. The 28th of January, after an illness in which God answered prayer offered in faith, I said: ‘Yes, I believe in the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Ghost.’ I prayed earnestly for 6 weeks, at the close of which W.E. Woody from Chicago, Ill., came to our city and began Pentecostal services. I went, continued to hold on by faith, and receiving my blessing just two months from the day I received the truth.
I was awakened about 1:30 a.m. after sweet, refreshing sleep, and felt a strange but sweet thrill go through my entire body and being. I heard the ‘Still Small Voice’ say, ‘I am come.’ My soul said, Glory! The muscles in my limbs, arms, hands and neck all moved and jerked, but such a wonderful joy filled me as I have no words to express. The muscles in my throat twitched, my tongue began moving, and, praise God, I began talking in an unknown tongue. I have spoken in more than one tongue since and also sung in them. I know some say, ‘tis the devil, some think ‘tis hysteria, but, glory to God. I know ‘tis all of Jesus.’ I do not quite understand why some of God’s people want power but seem to object to Bible manner of receiving. Thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift of His love and all it means.” —Josephine A. Newton, 437 Horton Ave., Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Azusa Papers: How unworthy I am to have the emblems both of Christ and the Holy Spirit appear to me! Immediately after this my chin began to quiver and I probably spoke a word or two in a foreign tongue.
The power of the Holy Spirit was with me in a marked way all day Sunday and Monday. The Holy Spirit continued to manipulate my facial muscles and vocal organs. Monday night I sang and talked a little in a foreign language. Praise His Holy Name!
When the language was forming and I was making peculiar sounds, the suggestion came to me that I was doing it myself. The temptation was so great that when the manifestations ceased, I attempted to repeat the sounds myself and found it impossible to repeat them.
The next morning Satan again tempted me and I felt depressed. I cried earnestly to God. My attention was called to the 4th of Matthew; when I read, “Then the Devil leaveth Him and behold angels came and ministered unto Him,” a great joy came upon me and has remained. Praise His Name! I have been a Christian a number of years but often regretted that the Blood of Jesus and the Cross of Christ were not more real. All my experiences the past week have clustered around the Cross. What a wonderful, wonderful Saviour! “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” “See Him all ye people in all His fullness.”