Baptism in the Holy Spirit | Influence Podcast

One of the hallmarks of classical Pentecostalism is its emphasis on baptism in the Holy Spirit, both theologically and experientially. This is certainly true in the Assemblies of God, which includes two articles on the doctrine—Articles 7 and 8—in our Statement of Fundamental Truths. Why we emphasize this doctrine, and how to make sure it moves from mere doctrine to vibrant experience, is the topic of my Influence Podcast with Tim Enloe.

I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host. Tim Enloe is an evangelist ordained by the Assemblies of God. He and his wife Rochelle lead Holy Spirit Conferences throughout the nation and internationally, helping people to experience healing and Spirit baptism. He’s also author of several books, including—and I love this title—Goodbye, Chicken! Hello, Dove!

The Pentecostal Blessing | Book Review

In How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles, Frank Bartleman offered this interpretation of the history of the Azusa Street Revival: “God found His Moses, in the person of Brother Smale, to lead us to the Jordan crossing. But He chose Brother Seymour, for our Joshua, to lead us over.”

Bartleman’s biblical allusion accurately captures the historical sequence of events at Azusa Street. “Brother Seymour” is, of course, William J. Seymour, the well-known and much-loved pastor of the Azusa Street Mission. “Brother Smale” — Joseph Smale — is less well known, however, even though his preaching laid the groundwork for revival in Los Angeles.

That preaching is on display in The Pentecostal Blessing, first published in 1905 and now brought back into print by Gospel Publishing House. The book contains the substance of several sermons Smale preached at the First New Testament Church of Los Angeles in the fall of 1905.

Smale describes the purpose of his book this way:

In the following pages a treatment of this subject of subjects [i.e., the ministry of the Holy Spirit] is attempted in the hope of imparting a vision, where it does not exist, of the Holy Ghost as the one and all-sufficient and divinely ordained Person, and inspiration, to meet the manifold needs of Christian souls individually, and in their corporate character of churches; and that a faith may be born in such that this blessed Person of the Trinity is only waiting to be rightfully honored by us before he will fill with glory and power these lives of ours and those of the whole church of God throughout the earth [emphasis in original].

Chapter 1 identifies four misconceptions of the gospel “which seriously affect a true embodiment and illustration of Christian life, experience and service.” Chapter 2 contrasts “The Church of Today” and “The Church of the Scriptures,” concluding that modern Christians “pretend to be what they are not, God’s representatives, and men know it.” Chapter 3 explains the contrast between today’s church and the biblical church. “Having failed to honor Him [i.e., the Holy Spirit], we have failed in all things vital to Christianity, and therefore vital to a true representation of the church of Jesus Christ.”

Chapter 4, “The Pentecostal Blessing,” argues that “Pentecost involves a second work of grace” [emphasis in original]. “There is something more than the act of union with Christ,” Smale writes. “There is a growing knowledge within the soul of all that is involved in that union.” Pentecost is this soul-knowledge or spiritual experience in ever-increasing measure. “Oh, believer, be ever going in for more and more, and more and MORE” [emphasis in original].

Chapter 5, “The Magnificence of Pentecost,” is the longest chapter in the book. It outlines Smale’s understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 6, “The Secrets of Pentecostal Fullness,” answers the question, “How are we to know the Holy Ghost in this, His Pentecostal character and fulness [sic]?” This knowledge is experiential and practical rather than abstract and theoretical.

Reading The Pentecostal Blessing, you can understand why Bartleman depicted Smale as the Azusa Street Revival’s “Moses.” On point after point, Smale enunciated a practical theology of the Holy Spirit that shaped the Pentecostal movement as it emerged from Azusa Street.

And yet, Smale never experienced what Charles Parham and William J. Seymour called “the Bible evidence” of baptism in the Spirit. He never spoke in tongues. Many of his congregants participated fully at Azusa Street, and he himself spoke well of Azusa Street and William J. Seymour to the end of his days. But in Bartleman’s arresting image, Smale was Moses, not Joshua. He came to the edge, but he did not cross over.

So why read The Pentecostal Blessing today? For historical purposes, of course. Revivals don’t happen in a vacuum, after all. They have precedents. Read it for spiritual purposes, too. The Pentecostal Blessing can still bless Pentecostal readers today as it challenges them to go deeper with the Holy Spirit. And finally, read it as a reminder that while God has worked mightily through the global Pentecostal revival that sprang from Azusa Street, He is at work in broader Christianity too. Pentecostals can teach the broader Christian community, but we can also learn from them.

Two final comments about this book: First, it has an excellent 21-page introduction to the life and thought of Joseph Smale by Tim Welch, who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Smale. Second, the book itself is a serendipity. Though historians knew of its existence, no one had a copy. Then, in 2008, a friend of the Assemblies of God archivist, Darrin Rodgers, found a copy in a garage sale in Oklahoma, bought it for 25 cents, and donated it to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. It is the only known copy of this little gem of a book.


Book Reviewed:
Joseph Smale, The Pentecostal Blessing: Sermons that Prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2017; orig. 1905).

P.S. This review was written for and appears here by permission.

Thursday’s Influence Online Articles

Today, over at

  • Jeff Leake and I talk in today’s Influence Podcast about why every believer needs to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
  • We note two Gallup polls indicating a sea-change of American opinion about same-sex marriage particularly and homosexuality generally and recommend several resources for navigating the challenges this change of opinion presents.

Please make sure to follow and like InfluenceInfluence magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and iTunes!

P.S. The June-July 2017 issue of Influence is in the mail, so I’ve changed the featured image for this month’s post to the new cover.

‘Believing God for Spirit-Empowerment’ by Alton Garrison

201304_084_Spirit_art From the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment:

Sadly, it appears that believers in many corners of the church are either abandoning Spirit-empowerment or have failed to access it in the first place. I fear that if the Holy Spirit were taken completely from a church, many elements of the work of that church would go on as if nothing had happened.

What a travesty of what every church was meant to be. And can this also be true of our personal lives? Are many of us in our area of ministry calling churning out “Christian” activity day to day that has no touch of God on it?

Without that touch, most powerfully brought about through the Holy Spirit’s infilling and influence, believers hobble their effective participation in the Great Commission. A.W. Tozer offered this observation, counterintuitive at first blush to the follower of Christ anxious to be of service in the Kingdom: “The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false.Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it. [Emphasis his.] Our Lord said, ‘Go ye,’ but He also said, ‘Tarry ye,’ and the tarrying had to come before the going. Had the disciples gone forth as missionaries before the Day of Pentecost it would have been an overwhelming spiritual disaster.”

I believe churches that have diluted the original mission statement of our Lord merit the warning issued to the prophet Jeremiah: “ ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water’ ” (2:13). Such churches have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof in their half-hearted acquisition of the Spirit’s leading and power. These churches have cut themselves off from the spring of living water and subsequently have nothing with which to fill their cisterns. What is left is an empty shell, merely an empty hull of theology.

These churches are Pentecostal sometimes — when it is convenient, when it is safe, when it is socially correct. Such believers are part-time Pentecostals. They have traded holiness for hype; they have forgotten righteousness in their pursuit of ritual; they have mastered the form of religion while sacrificing the force of the Spirit.

Part-time Pentecostals are high-maintenance/low-impact Christians. They boast of great authority, but are devastated at the first attack of the enemy. They know all their biblical rights, but recognize few of their responsibilities.

There is only one antidote to such a crisis. It is breathtaking in its possibility, it is awesome in its power, and it is liberating in its effect. It is quite simply the anointing. The anointing is the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day there is no better definition. The anointing is the power of God to do the work of God in an ungodly world.

Read the whole thing here.

Excerpt of ‘Pentecost: This Story Is Our Story’ by Robert P. Menzies

201304_038_Pentecost_art In a previous post, I reviewed Robert P. Menzies new book, Pentecost: This Story Is Our Story. Enrichment, the journal I edit, has excerpted the book in its most recent issue. Here’s a taste:

Pentecostals have always read Acts, and particularly the account of the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), as a model for their lives. The stories of Acts are our stories. Pentecostals identify with these stories. This sense of connection with the text encourages us to allow the narrative to shape our lives, our hopes and dreams, and our imagination. We read them with expectation and eagerness: stories of the Holy Spirit’s power, enabling ordinary disciples to do extraordinary things for God.

Pentecostals have never viewed the gulf that separates their world from that of the text as large. Western theologians and scholars of the past two centuries, however, have exerted great energy wrestling with how to interpret biblical texts that speak of God’s miraculous activity. As Evangelical theologians sought to explain why we should accept the reality of the miracles recorded in the New Testament but not expect them today, Pentecostals were (at least in our eyes) witnessing Jesus perform contemporary “signs and wonders” as He established His church.

The hermeneutic of the typical Pentecostal believer is straightforward and simple: the stories in Acts serve as models for shaping lives and experiences. This simple, narrative approach to the Book of Acts is one of the great strengths of the Pentecostal movement. The simplicity of reading the text as a model for our lives, without angst about the miraculous or how it all fits into complex theological systems, clearly enables people to readily grasp the message.

Read the whole thing here. If you like what you read, make sure to buy the book (Paperback / Kindle).

Review of ‘Pentecost: This Story Is Our Story’ by Robert P. Menzies

Pentecost Robert P. Menzies, Pentecost: This Story Is Our Story (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2013). $14.99, 182 pages. Paperback / Kindle

What is Pentecostal Christianity?

There are a number of ways to answer that question. As a historian, one could outline the origins and worldwide growth of the movement over the last 100+ years of its existence. As a sociologist, one could analyze the spiritual experiences, forms of life, and social influence of Pentecostals in their various global contexts.

Admitting the value of history and sociology, Robert P. Menzies nonetheless answers the question as a theologian, averring that the other approaches de-emphasize “what really makes us tick, our beliefs” (p. 16). So he goes on to offer, explain, and defend a theological definition of a Pentecostal:

a Christian who believes that the book of Acts provides a model for the contemporary church and, on this basis, encourages every believer to experience a baptism in the Spirit (Acts 2:4), understood as an empowering for mission, distinct from regeneration, that is marked by speaking in tongues, and affirms that “signs and wonders,” including all of the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10, are to characterize the life of the church today (p. 13).

By contrast, a neo-Pentecostal believes all the above but denies that “speaking in tongues serves as a normative sign for Spirit baptism,” a charismatic agrees that the Corinthian gifts are operative but denies that Spirit baptism is “an empowering for mission distinct from regeneration,” and a non-charismatic further “rejects the validity of at least one or more of the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 for the church today” (p. 13).

Menzies’ definition of Pentecostal includes three crucial elements that he explains and defends in successive chapters of the book:

  1. The Book of Acts is a model for the contemporary church (chapter 1).
  2. Spirit baptism is an empowering for mission distinct from regeneration (chapter 2).
  3. Speaking in tongues is a normative sign of Spirit baptism (chapter 3).

Chapter 4 address a question that naturally arises from a Pentecostal reading of Scripture, namely, “Should every believer expect to see ‘signs and wonders’ as a part of his or her Christian life and witness?” (p. 111). In dialogue with Keith Hacking, Menzies answers affirmatively. Chapter 5 offers five theologically-oriented reasons for the unique and rapid growth of the modern Pentecostal movement” (p. 117): “missional DNA,” “a clear message,” “signs and wonders,” “limited church structure,” and “an emphasis on experience” (pp. 117–138).

As interesting as chapters 4 and 5 are, chapters 1–3 constitute the core argument of the book and merit further discussion.

Chapter 1: Unlike Evangelical theologians, many of whom view Pentecost (Acts 2) as “a unique and unrepeatable event” (p. 26), Pentecostals view Pentecost as “a model for our lives” (p. 21). More generally, they also view Luke-Acts this way. Menzies writes: “The hermeneutic of the typical Pentecostal believer is straightforward and simple: the stories in Acts are my stories—stories that were written to serve as models for shaping my life and experience” (p. 23). Menzies argues that this hermeneutic is warranted for three reasons: First, “Luke structures his narrative [in Luke-Acts] in order to highlight the fact that just as Jesus’ experience of the Spirit at the Jordan serves as a model for the experience of the disciples’ on the day of Pentecost, so also the disciples’ experience at Pentecost serves as a model for subsequent Christians” (p. 31). Second, the “reference to the Seventy [in Luke 10:1–16]…foreshadows the outpouring of the Spirit on all the servants of the Lord and their universal participation in the mission of God (Acts 2:17–18; cf. 4:31)” (p. 34). Why? Because the commissioning of the Seventy, which is unique to Luke, is best interpreted as the fulfillment of Moses’ wish in Numbers 11:29 that “all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them.” Third, in Acts 2:19, Luke edits Joel 2:30, adding the word signs so that the verse speaks of both signs and wonders. Menzies writes: “by skillfully reshaping Joel’s prophecy, Luke links the miracles of Jesus and those of the early church together with the cosmic signs listed by Joel (Acts 2:19–20). These miraculous events are ‘signs and wonders’ that mark these ‘last days’” (p. 36) He goes on: “We, too, live in the ‘last days,’ that epoch bracketed by the first and second comings of Jesus” (p. 36). Consequently, Pentecostals expect that Joel’s prophecy and its fulfillment at Pentecost continue to apply to them. “Pentecost,” he concludes, “is a paradigm for the mission of the church” (p. 38).

Chapter 2 opens with a concession: “The Pentecostal understanding of Spirit baptism as an empowering for service distinct from conversion has not been accepted by many from various traditions within the Christian church, including the majority of Reformed scholars” (p. 43). Instead, those traditions, usually following Paul, have interpreted Spirit baptism as regeneration. Menzies thinks this is mistaken. “Luke’s theology of the Spirit is different from that of Paul” (p. 47). Paul’s pneumatology is soteriological, pertaining to salvation, whereas Luke’s is charismatic, pertaining to mission and ministry. Indeed, drawing on select passages in Luke-Acts—especially Luke 3:16–17; 4:17–19; and 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33, 39—Menzies argues that “Luke consistently portrays the gift of the Spirit as a prophetic enabling” (p. 49). Failing to differentiate between Luke’s and Paul’s pneumatologies by reading the former through the lens of the latter “effectively blunts the sharpness of Luke’s message. When the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit is understood in soteriological terms, Luke’s missiological focus and our expectation of it is lost” (p. 63).

If the story of Pentecost in Acts 2 is a model for contemporary Christians, then one must inquire into “the role of tongues in the life of the church and the individual believer” (p. 69), for tongues played a crucial role in Luke’s narrative. Before doing this, however, Menzies defines what “tongues” is. Following Jenny Everts, and admitting that his is a minority interpretation, Menzies argues that “tongues” in Acts 10:46, 19:6 and possibly 2:4 is “unintelligible utterances inspired by the Spirit rather than the speaking of human languages previously not learned” (p. 74). This doesn’t preclude the possibility that people in languages not previously learned, of course. (For anecdotal evidence of precisely that, see Global Witness to Pentecost: The Testimony of ‘Other Tongues’ by Jordan Daniel May.) However, it allows Menzies to link contemporary Pentecostal practice with precedents in Acts. (Following Gordon Wenham, he also believes the prophecies of the seventy elders in Numbers 11:24–30 were “unintelligible ecstatic speech” [p. 81]). Further, Menzies argues that Luke interprets speaking in tongues as “a special type of prophetic speech” (p. 74). This is, he says, explicit in Acts 2:17–18 and 19:6. Intriguingly, Menzies suggests that Luke 10:21 “sees this form of exuberant, inspired speech modeled in the life of Jesus” (p. 81). Finally, he argues that there are “several texts in Luke’s gospel, all unique to Luke or uniquely shaped by him, that reveal a clear intent to encourage his readers to pray for prophetic anointings, experiences that will inevitably produce bold witness and joyful praise” (p. 85). These include Luke 19:39–40, 10:1–16, and Luke 11:9–13. Menzies’ exegetical argument here may strike many readers as odd since these passages do not explicitly mention speaking in tongues. The classical Pentecostal defense of tongues as initial physical evidence focuses on four passages in Acts where the link between Spirit baptism and tongues is explicit (2:4; 10:46; 19:6) or strongly implicit (8:14–19). Menzies affirms this classical Pentecostal exegesis. However, his larger purpose is to connect Spirit baptism and with the prophethood of all believers, thus linking Moses’ wish in Numbers 11 with Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2 and the beginning of their fulfillment at Pentecost in Acts 2. “Luke encourages believers to pray for a prophetic anointing,” Menzies writes, “which he envisions will include glossolalia” (p. 97). By characterizing glossolalia as a “special type of prophetic speech,” Menzies keeps Pentecostals missionally minded. “[T]ongues reminds us of our true identity: we are to be a community of prophets, called and empowered to bear bold witness for Jesus and to declare His mighty deeds” (p. 97).

As a Pentecostal—and an Assemblies of God minister to boot—I found Menzies’ argument both persuasive intellectually and challenging personally. The most persuasive elements were the arguments that the Book of Acts is a model for the contemporary church and that Spirit baptism is an empowering for mission distinct from regeneration. The most challenging element was his argument that speaking in tongues must be understood under the category of prophetic speech. It is not enough, in other words, to speak in tongues for personal edification (1 Cor. 14:4). As a Pentecostal, I must be a member in good standing of the “community of prophets,” spiritually empowered and joyfully bearing “bold witness for Jesus.” A non-missional Pentecostal, in other words, is a contradiction in terms, no matter how often he or she speaks in tongues.

Full Disclosure: I am an employee of the Assemblies of God, which is the parent company of Gospel Publishing House. I do not work for GPH, however. As editor of Enrichment journal, I have published an excerpt of this book in the fall 2013 issue. Finally, my father, George O. Wood, wrote the Foreword to this book.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

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