Summary: This message will be unpopular because it challenges the foundation of those claiming to have this authority.
I realize this is not a popular message, but I also believe it is necessary and relevant to a biblically sound church. This is a follow up to the message, ‘Is Speaking in Tongues Essential?’ In this message, we looked at scripture that testified that not all Christians under Paul had spoken in tongues. Paul also called tongues the least of all of the gifts of the Spirit. The reasonable question we should ask is, if tongues is the least of the gifts, how can it be essential as some claim? As evidence for the need for tongues, the following two passages are often used to back this claim. Look at:
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples
2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John’s baptism."
4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
In both of these passages, profession of faith is made and the believer has followed up their profession of faith with believer’s baptism. After the fact, the apostles laid hands on them and then the Holy Spirit came on them with power. I would also like to point out that neither of these passages are tied to salvation. Salvation is not even implied to be in the balances. Salvation is a surrender of the heart. The Bible is clear that we must hear the word, believe and repent. We publicly confess Jesus as Lord and are willing to lay down our old life for the new life He has created for us. We must be baptized as our first act of obedience and evidence that we have surrendered to Christ.
The Broad Picture
I believe satan traps us by drawing our attention away from the complete view of scripture and deceive us into focusing on one passage out of context. The Bible is one complete revelation of the heart and will of God. From Genesis to Revelation God does not change. In reality, there is no Old and New Testament. So that we will understand what God is revealing, the Old Testament teaches and carries mankind by the hand to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, most people never see the broader picture. For example, we have all heard people use passages like Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household”. Some use this to argue that all that is needed for salvation is to believe in Jesus. The truth that people miss is that scripture complements scripture and scripture interprets scripture. In the Bible (especially the book of Acts), we are only getting snapshots of certain events. Obviously if one event was recorded word-for-word, that event alone would exceed the book of Acts in size. The book of Acts was written as an account to Theophilus and was never written to be a complete teaching of doctrine. It has a lot of doctrine in it because it is an account of the birth of the church. With this in mind, we would be in dangerous territory if we took one passage and built a doctrine around it without consulting the rest of scripture. Often we see a more complete doctrine just from comparing a passage to the rest of the book of Acts.
If we are to use one passage alone as proof of doctrine, the book of Acts would be self-contradicting. Acts 2:38 says that we must repent and be baptized to be saved. Yet verse 21 says that just calling upon the name of the Lord gives salvation with no mention of baptism. 16:31 says just to believe on Jesus and you will be saved and repentance and baptism are missing from this sermon. These passages are not in disagreement, but are notes from various accounts in the apostle’s ministries. As we examine the rest of scripture, we see that Romans 10:9 tells us to confess Jesus with our mouth out of a belief in our heart that He has been raised from the dead. Romans 4:4-5 teaches that those who trust in works don’t have grace, but those who believe on Jesus’ justification of the ungodly, will be counted as righteous. Jesus said that unless we repent, we will all perish. Finally, I love the descriptive parable of Matthew 13: