When I first heard that believers were enjoying an experience called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, it was some 50 years after the noted Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles in 1906. I was taught that the way to receive this experience was to attend a “tarrying” meeting and seek the Lord for the “Baptism”. This approach was based on the command of Jesus to his disciples in Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (KJV, of course).
The Welsh revival (1904) and others preceded Azusa Street but all had their roots in the holiness movement, where seeking the Lord for sanctification or holiness was a common practice. However, even by the time I became interested in the movement there were some who (rightly) saw the command of Jesus as a dispensational necessity, as Jesus himself had said that the Holy Spirit’s coming was in the future (e.g. John 7:39, 16:7,13 etc.). This view caused some division at the time, but is the predominant view today.
Two names are indelibly linked to the rejection of the concept of tarrying. They are Smith Wigglesworth, a British preacher with no formal affiliation, and J.E. Stiles, an American pastor with credentials from the Assemblies of God. Wigglesworth was strong on preaching faith as the requirement in receiving anything from God, and was warmly welcomed in AoG and other Pentecostal churches. He taught that receiving the Baptism in the Spirit and speaking in tongues only required an act of faith.
Wigglesworth demonstrated this at a camp meeting in California, calling forward all those who had not received the Baptism of the Spirit and also those who had not spoken in tongues in the previous six months. Hundreds came to the front of the meeting, and Wigglesworth explained he would offer a short prayer and then everyone should start speaking in tongues by faith. He prayed and then said “Go” and everyone started praising God in tongues. After a short period he said “Stop” and everyone stopped.
J.E. Stiles was in the audience and what he saw changed his ministry. He led thousands into the experience and wrote a book titled “The Gift of the Holy Spirit” which went around the world. He taught that the term Baptism in the Spirit only occurred before the day of Pentecost and was replaced by the term the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and that you could speak in tongues a minute after you were saved. While the Assemblies of God had no control over Wigglesworth, they did over Stiles and reprimanded him for straying from the accepted doctrine. However, the obvious truth was readily accepted by thousands of pastors, though others banned Stiles’ book from their congregations. The Wigglesworth/Stiles method is now widespread in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles.
The difference in methods points to a vital truth. Those early believers who insisted on “tarrying” had an attitude that God would give the gift when the believer reached a certain stage of supplication or spirituality. Those believers who followed the “faith action” method believed that the gift was freely available and one only needed to accept it. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him” (Luke 11:13). One method was based on changing the mind of a reluctant God while the other was based on a God who “has blessed us with all spiritual blessing in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 1:3). I totally believe in the latter. — Peter Wade.