Sunday, February 22, 2009

Speaking in Tongues

"..... and they spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance..."  This is probably the most feared, misused, and misunderstood passage in Scripture. Feared because of the abuse and misunderstandings. Yet it is the cornerstone passage of most Pentecostal churches. Most Pentecostal churches believe that speaking with other tongues is the initial physical evidence of be baptized in the Holy Spirit (filled with the Holy Spirit). Therefore, a primary objective is to get people to speak with other tongues. I've seen the good and bad of it. 

My objective here is not to quote a lot of Scripture or to preach a sermon, it is simply to relate some of my experiences and to make it clear on what I believe Scriptural intent is. But, remember, I'm not the final authority on all this. I am only a veteran of the spiritual battlefield. Sometimes it was a battle. I have noticed that in non-Pentecostal churches, when they read in the Book of Acts, they often read right around these passages, as though they are something to be feared. Pentecostal churches spend a lot of time on these passages.

It is clear, that "speaking with other tongues" is Scriptural. It is also clear that it will benefit the church when done within the context of Scripture. Billy Graham, referring to himself said something to the effect, I am not a tongue slaughterer. There is a difference between being a tongue slaughterer and speaking with other tongues.

I mentioned in a previous blog that I grew up in Brainerd, MN, and attended the Gospel Tabernacle. I also told about the lady who would speak loudly in a language no one understood, then the same lady gave the interpretation. Being a youngster, I had no idea what was going on. 

I also mentioned that there were times following church services that lots of people were baptized in the Holy Ghost.  That meant that they were usually speaking in tongues, but in this case there was no interpretation. I believe this is what Billy Graham was referring to. I have witnessed this in several Pentecostal churches, have participated, but have never felt comfortable with it. The A/G teaches that speaking with other tongues is the initial physical evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. That's what I grew up in. Don't get me wrong, I believe that the A/G and other pentecostal churches have many wonderful and accurate doctrines and that they were on the cutting edge of revival in the early 20th century. But I also believe that they are only partially correct on this matter. Non-Pentecostal churches are also only partially correct. Throwing out the baby with the bath water isn't correct either.

On the Day of Pentecost, when the Apostles spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, they were not just babbling, they were speaking other languages that others could actually understand. These were languages that the apostles did not know, that is why it was necessary for the Spirit to give them utterance. But the gospel was being preached in the languages that those who had gathered for pentecost could understand. This resulted in many souls coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. This was the beginning of the Christian Church and the speaking with other tongues caused the Church to grow and to be edified. 

Although the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and then spoke with other tongues, this does not necessarily mean that this is the initial physical evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. A better evidence of the Holy Spirit in one's life is the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in First Corinthians 13, and the boldness with which they went forth preaching the gospel in the Book of Acts.

Over the years I have known many people who have spoken with other tongues who cannot possibly be filled with the Spirit. There is no fruit on their branches. Some of these people are filled with rancor, bigotry, and have opposed every minister their church has ever had. They speak with tongues on Sunday, and on Monday are campaigning to get their pastor fired. This guy is a "tongue slaughterer."  He is also devoid of the fruit f the Spirit.  

But speaking in tongues has it's place. It was here, at Baseview, that one of the members spoke with other tongues during the service. Another person gave interpretation (in English) After the interpretation was given, a visitor in the congregation stood up and told the rest of the congregation that the message was intended for him. He came to know Christ as his Savior that night. 

When speaking with other tongues is of the Spirit it edifies the church and builds up the body of Christ. When it is not of the Spirit, it edifies one's self, and does not build up the church. It, in fact can have the opposite effect. 

Next time, "slain in the Spirit."

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