Acts: His-story, Our Story, and My Story

Robert P. Menzies in “The Role of Glossolalia in Luke-Acts” contends, “We Pentecostals have always read the narrative of Acts, and particularly the account of the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), as a model for our own lives. The stories of Acts are our stories: stories of ordinary people in need of God’s power; stories of fishermen called to hear bold witness for Jesus in the face of great opposition; stories of peasants persevering in the midst of great suffering…Pentecostals the world over identify with these stories, especially since so many face similar challenges. This sense of connection with the text encourages us to allow the narrative to shape our lives, our hopes and dreams, our imagination.”


He goes on to say, “The hermeneutic of the typical Pentecostal is straightforward and simple: the stories in Acts are my stories…that shape our identity, ideals and actions.” He reiterates,

“This simple hermeneutic, this straightforward approach in reading Acts as a model for the church today, is one of the key reasons why an emphasis on speaking in tongues played such an important role in the formation of the modern Pentecostal movement…”

“Acts is simply not a historical document; rather Acts presents a model for the life of the contemporary church. Thus, tongues serve as a sign that ‘their experience’ is ‘our experience.’” Acts is His-story, our story, and my story. The question is it your story as well?

Acts: Their Story. The Experience

How frustrating to read of a potentially life-changing book, only to order it, and discover it is out of print. How annoying to rush to the store to purchase the perfect gift and to find it is out of stock. How aggravating to want something and find that it is unavailable. How disturbing to hunt for a part and find it is now obsolete. How equally frustrating, annoying, aggravating, and disturbing it would be to walk down the aisles of the Book of Acts only to find those things we desire: divine empowerment, miracles, healing, and things pertaining to the supernatural are no longer available, out of stock, and meant only for the first century church.  Regretfully, that is exactly what some believe happened, or should happen, when thinking that the baptism of the Spirit, evidenced by speaking in other tongues, stopped at worst on the Day of Pentecost, or at best at the end of the Book of Acts; having a brief life span of some thirty years.


Steven Ger shares his reflections:

The book of Acts grants readers a unique and fascinating glimpse into the world of the early church. We peer through the corridors…and see the still vivid foundations of our own faith….Acts shows us the road we believers have traveled to arrive at our present state….It is story—a simple story about regular human beings who are just like us. They share our same hopes and similar fears, our worst biases and best qualities. In fact, Acts is, essentially, our story. It is your legacy and mine. It is the record of our brothers and sisters who came before us, blazing a revolutionary, messianic trail from Jerusalem to ‘the ends of the earth.’ (Ger, 2004, 1).

Unfortunately, Ger eventually and sadly, comes up short, believing Pentecost was unique, unrepeatable, and possesses no timeless truth or doctrine. How perplexing. How confusing.

Even questions arise within the Pentecostal ranks, but are often swept under the proverbial carpet, silenced, or excused away as a lack of love for truth, and drifting from the old paths. Not all questions indicate moving away from what is right. What is left could be a sincere desire to understand; the ability to intelligently, logically, and persuasively explain beliefs to others. Rather than forcing such questioners into corners—causing them to be hesitant in asking, afraid of being misunderstood—one would do well to create an environment of learning; freedom to ask, freedom to explore, freedom to experience, freedom to discover, and a freedom to learn. 

F. L. Arrington said:

The interplay of Scripture, experience, Pentecostal tradition, and reason under the direction of the Spirit have strong implications for a Pentecostal approach to hermeneutics. Out of the Pentecostal reality and dimension of life in the Spirit emerges a uniquely Pentecostal approach to hermeneutics. (172)

Experience and history reveals that tongues did not cease with the Apostolic Age, and have not disappeared during the Church Age (the entire period between Christ’s first and second coming). Church historian, Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. revealed, “Speaking in tongues has always been in the Church, although with varied levels of expression and acceptance” (874). It would be difficult to convince over five hundred million Pentecostals and Charismatic’s worldwide their experience is invalid and ceased a couple thousand years ago. They represent the second largest ecclesiastical body in the world, second only to the Roman Catholics. Not bad for a group that recently celebrated a century of existence. Many are receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit daily. Each evidenced by speaking in tongues. Each persuaded their experience is biblically based. F. J. May (1990) tells of an old-timer that said, “You are wasting your breath trying to tell a man he can’t have what he has already got” (84).

Whereas experience can never be the basis of theology, experience is the contemporizing of history. Thus, the understanding of the Bible generally, and Luke-Acts, particularly, involves a hermeneutic cycle. In this cycle the record of the experience of the divine by God’s people in the past addresses the experience of God’s people in the present, and the present experience of the divine informs the understanding of the past. In this way the divine word as a historical document becomes a living Word—a Word, which, like God himself, is, was, and is to come. (Stronstad 1995, 64)

This is referred to as an experience-certified theology. Every interpreter brings to the text, a cognitive and practical presumption. Pentecostal hermeneutics should be holistic; combining experience, the Spirit, genre, and incorporate traditional, and rational forms of interpretation. Unfortunately, non-Pentecostals lack the premise of experience, and the ability to verify it.

Acts: His-story; Their Story

Acts: Their Story. The Past

At the turn of the 20th century, a Bible school teacher stood in his classroom to give an assignment. Perhaps the students moaned and whispered, “Another assignment!” He reported, “I set the students at work studying out diligently what was the Bible evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost that we might go before the world with something that was indisputable because it tallied absolutely with the Word.”


Charles Parham left school for three days. He returned the morning of December 31, 1900 to collect the assignments. He wrote, “To my astonishment they all had the same story, that while there were different things occurring when the Pentecostal blessing fell, that the indisputable proof on each occasion was, that they spoke with other tongues.”

The first day of the twentieth century marked the birth of the modern Pentecostal movement. Agnes Ozman received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. A few days later, Charles Parham, his wife, and twelve of his students received their personal Pentecost. They started out studying Acts, but ended up living it. The doctrine of the first church was restored as a step was made toward the Book of Acts.

Throughout the last century, the Pentecostal movement has exploded. Never has a group grown more rapidly than the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. As we wade ankle-deep into the twenty-first century, God’s army continues to sweep across the globe undaunted by worldliness and modernistic thinking, still burning with the fire ignited at Pentecost. I applaud the Pentecostal movement of the past and look forward to greater things from God and His church.

Nona Freeman once said, “The Word of God is a time-proven irrefutable fact. Whatever God has done through the ages, He can do it again, and more, much more, than our finite minds can comprehend.”

Today’s church has seen multiplied, tens of thousands receive the Holy Spirit in a single service. I have stood on overseas platforms and looked out over a sea of people with hands stretched forth to God. The floodgates of revival have opened, and a great end-time harvest is being reaped. The river of revival is flowing throughout our world. No one can stop it. Our only choice is to flow with the current or against it. The church of God is a mighty, moving army. We can sit still or get up and march in beat with the church.

Acts is not only a book of the past, but I am convinced it is God’s Training Manual for Today’s Church. The contents of Acts will motivate believers to evangelize, receive understanding of the apostles’ doctrine, and to share it with others with supernatural power. It provides further truth for any serious seeker.

Is Our Church Like the First Church?


The promise of power caused the disciples to assemble in the Upper Room at Jerusalem for a ten day prayer meeting.

  • They waited.
  • They expected.
  • They trusted.
  • They were united.
  • They were in one accord.
  • They received.
  • They were transformed.
  • They were changed.
  • They continued.
  • They changed their world.
  • They changed religion forever.
  • They “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
  • They filled Jerusalem with their doctrine (Acts 5:28).
  • They became the New Testament Church.
  • They were the Biblical Church.
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The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Who Can Have It?

“For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).


For Who? 

  1. To all Flesh – Acts 2:16-17
  2. For all – Matthew 3:11
  3. For you – Acts 2:39
  4. For your children – Acts 2:39
  5. For those afar off – Acts 2:39
  6. Those who obey Him – Acts 5:32
  7. Samaria – Acts 8:5-25
  8. African – Acts 8:27-39
  9. Cornelius – Acts 10:22, 44-48
  10. Every nation – Acts 10:35; Revelation 5:9
  11. For Religious Leaders – Acts 1:13-14; 2:1-4
  12. Blessed People, Highly Favored – Luke 1:28, 42; Acts 1:14
  13. Those Healed and Delivered – Acts 8:7-8; 8:15-17
  14. Sincere But Misguided People – Acts 22:3; 26:9-19; 9:17
  15. Generous People – Acts 10; 11:14
  16. Prayerful People – Acts 10
  17. Believers – Acts 19:2; 5-6
  18. Everyone – 2 Peter 3:9
  19. Jailer – Acts 16:12-34

Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? (Acts 19:2).

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