Thank you for sharing your story, Michael. How blessed we are to have a God that pursues us!
It was my pleasure. The thing is, that happened long before I became indoctrinated into any kind of system of theology. Our Lord does pursue us, and when we decide we want to know what is true, he complies. Agape’ is true, charity, love. Matthew, if you have the Holy Spirit in you, then you have spiritual gifts provided for the common good. The best way I know to discover them is through going to the Source. As a minister the more you seek God’s help as you preach and teach, the more you will discover his activity in what you say and do. As regards the baptism of the Holy Spirit, people experience it all different ways so it does not always come ecstatically. There is a lot of literature on it, but my suggestion is to press into God and ask for wisdom. He loves to give. You will know.
Regarding speaking in tongues. There are reported events where a person speaking in tongues was reported by others present to be speaking in a language in which they were fluent. Other times the speaking was in random languages with no clear language identified, Other times worship groups began speaking in several different tongues or languages with a clear group rhythm that observers described as a group ethic having a conversation of praise.
Many of my Pentecostal tongues speakers have indicated that they do not know what they are saying other than it was an expression of praise or prophesy, They always always experienced of the presence of the Holy Spirit and they were refreshed spiritually. I do not speak personally in tongues but have confidence in their honesty through the evidence of their christian lives.
@Aleric Thanks for sharing I think we have to make a distinction between someone being honest and that same person being correct. A person can be honestly wrong. That does not mean they are bad - they are just speaking from their own experience. I think we have all probably had this happen in our own lives as we get older. We look back on our younger, honest selves and go, “Wow, I can’t believe I thought that…”
Thank you so much for your story and your wisdom, Michael! It has encouraged me greatly, God bless you!
I know people who say that speaking in their own prayer language directly to God has had a deeply profound impact on both their spiritual growth and the personal lives. I have seen NOTHING in the Bible that says that this or any other gift of the Spirit has “passed away” or that it is a foreign language and I don’t understand why anyone would say this? If someone does not have the interest to pursue this gift, I think that is fine as it does not have anything to do with salvation. I do think, however that it is quite rude to imply that just because one chooses not to that they are some how more mature or more grounded or some such thing. That sounds as bad as those who think the opposite is true and that those who do use these gifts have some how progressed beyond those who do not. The Apostle Paul was a HUGE proponent of the Gifts of the Spirit and it was presented as an event subsequent to salvation. I don’t see how one can reject or oppose the subject without setting aside and/or totally ignoring significant portions of the New Testament.
Let me preface my response by saying that I have never spoken in tongues – largely due, I’m sure, to a Pentacostal girlfriend I had in high school that was the epicenter of a bad experience with charismatics.
That said, I do believe that tongues is a gift that is still present and available for the body of Christ. But I’ll hedge that opinion with the following – just like the disciples who could not cast out certain devils, or Peter who walked on water only to sink a few steps later, what God empowers us to do comes from Him, not from us. If He Wills that you speak in a tongue that you don’t know, or in a heavenly language, or whatever, it’s His prerogative. If He Wills that you NOT speak in such languages, that’s ALSO His prerogative. And just like how you can’t “learn” how to walk on water, you can’t “learn” to exercise God’s power without God Himself being the driving force of it, both to wield when and if He chooses.
Might we speak in tongues by God’s direction? Sure. Might we never speak in tongues? Quite possible. If the gift manifests or not is none of our concern. The gift is not ours to use, but God’s to use through us. Our only concern is to be available for whatever God chooses to do through us at any given time – to be “instant in season and out”, as it were.
If tongues were other Earthly languages as you say. Why would Paul say that he was glad that he spoke in tongues more than all of you? What would be the point or the significance of making such a statement if it were nothing more than a foreign language? Also, keep in mind that Paul came to be a Christian long after the day of Pentecost as did others in the book of Acts, so what occurred on the day of Pentecost was not a one time, isolated incident
. Lastly, what scripture would you reference to verify that the gifts ceased?
@1rickolson To answer your questions, we need to look at I Corinthians 12-14. One thing we need to notice (a fact that is often ignored in modern teaching, at least in my experience) is the fact that chapter 13, the famous “love chapter,” is placed right in the middle of this discussion. Taking the passage as a whole, it’s clear why: The church in Corinth had apparently become obsessed with the idea of measuring spiritual maturity by the type of supernatural gifts people received, as well as their frequency. In I Corinthians 13, Paul is essentially saying, “Love (i.e. a commitment to building up and seeking the good of others) must be at the center of Christian life, and if the gifts of the Spirit are not being used to that end, then they are being abused.” This follows from the text of I Corinthians 12, which centers on the fact that different gifts and vocations are given to different people for building up the Church, and since all are necessary, none should be looked down upon as “lowly.” (It’s worth noting, incidentally, that I Corinthians 12:31, which is often translated as, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts” may also be translated as, “But you are eagerly desiring the ‘greater’ gifts.” The latter interpretation would make sense given the context, which suggests that the Corinthians considered some gifts more valuable than others.)
Moving on to I Corinthians 14, Paul discussed the merits of two particular gifts, namely the gifts of tongues and prophecy. In his view, the gift of prophecy (relaying a message from God which may chastise, encourage, or foretell) is preferable to have because it is more readily helpful to building up the Church. Tongues, by contrast, would require someone to understand the language being spoken, without which the words are gibberish. When Paul says that he is grateful to have spoken in other tongues more than others (I Corinthians 14:18), he quickly follows by saying that he would rather speak fewer words that are intelligible to all; he most likely brings it up so the people know that he isn’t talking down a gift that he himself has not received (similar to the way he boasts about his sufferings in II Corinthians 11 in his denouncement of so-called "super-apostles). Later, in verse 22 he describes tongues as a sign for unbelievers; this is consistent with Acts 2, where the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in other languages known to foreigners visiting Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost (the Feast of Weeks). This also explains why Paul could claim to have spoken in tongues more than any of the Corinthians: As a trailblazing evangelist, Paul traveled across the Roman Empire to places where Christian communities were small to nonexistent, and would have encountered people from across the empire and beyond who spoke different dialects and mother tongues (though they all spoke Greek and/or Latin as a common language). It makes sense that the Spirit would have enabled him to speak many of these languages in order to jump-start new communities and legitimize a message that, to those cultures, sounded laughable.
It should be noted that explicit references to speaking in tongues are fairly rare, even in the book of Acts, and there is always a discernible, Church-building purpose for the gift being given. Aside from the first instance in Acts 2 (where the obvious purpose is to gain the attention of the international community of Jews in Jerusalem), we see the gift of tongues show up in Acts 10 (as a sign to Peter that uncircumcised Gentiles are accepted by God into the Church just as the Apostles were, and possibly as a sign to Cornelius’ friends and family, who may have come from across the empire) and in Acts 19 (probably as a demonstration to the Ephesians, who had never heard of the Spirit, of the Spirit’s power). Acts 8 is often accepted as another instance of the gift of tongues being given (though it is not explicitly stated), in which case it is, again, either a sign to the believers of the Spirit’s power or a sign to the Apostles intended to break through the cultural barriers between Jews and Samaritans. It is noteworthy that none of the recipients of Holy Spirit in these passages had any apparent expectations of receiving the ability to speak in other languages, as they had apparently never before witnessed or heard of such manifestations of the Spirit’s power.
One other matter to address is I Corinthians 13:1, in which Paul refers to “the tongues of men and angels.” It should be noted that this is the only reference in all the New Testament to speaking in angelic languages, and given the context, it’s quite likely that Paul is either using the term rhetorically or is referring to Corinthian abuses (i.e. pretending to speak in another language, then claiming that it must be a heavenly tongue when nobody is able to interpret it). Finally, as Paul notes in I Corinthians 13:8-12, the gift of tongues is ultimately a means, not an end in itself, and it will pass away. Some take Paul’s words to be in reference to the end of the Apostolic era, while others (myself included) take them to be referring to the full coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth; when we all see God face to face and can speak to Him without any barriers, there will be no need for such indirect communication.
@1rickolson Good questions First off, I’m not a cessationist - I believe God still does miraculous things through His Church. However, I have seen abuses of supposed spiritual gifts and people faking them, so I am always very cautious about claims of this nature. If you read the posts I linked, one of them provides arguments both for continuationism and for cessationism.
Second, while it is clear the Corinthians believed they spoke in angelic languages (per 1 Cor 13), I am not convinced that either the apostles or Paul, a belated apostle, claimed to do so. But I am not opposed to others speaking in tongues - that is simply my opinion.
In addition, whether or not tongues are a modern gift, I do not think it is wise to deny someone fellowship by examining whether or not they display certain spiritual gifts. I think that will only lead to harm to the body as a whole.
I agree that there is no wisdom in accepting or denying fellowship to someone based on any type of Spiritual Gift. I am not aware of Churches that do this but, as with everything else…I am sure that they exist. The same with those who “fake it” or “push people down” and all of the other abuses that we hear about.
I personally believed that I am filled with the Holy Spirit but do not speak in tongues. I know those who do and some of those consider it to be INVALUABLE to their growth in the Lord. They believe that it is their spirit praying God’s perfect will directly to God for others and that it builds them up in their Most Holy faith as described in Jude 20 and Romans 8:26. I believe that Holy Spirit provides everything that Jesus told us He would provide in John 14 and 15 as he explained His coming departure and His promise to send the Holy Spirit. I have read books, watched videos and sermons that stand on both sides of the issue. At the end of the day, I find myself wondering if God has more for me in this area. They are listed as “gifts” of the Spirit and I can’t help but ask myself if there have been unopened “gifts” sitting under my Christmas Tree these past 30 plus years that would bless me to bless others if I would simply take the time to open them and enjoy them?
@1rickolson I can see that perspective We don’t want to miss out on what God has given us. Personally, I tend to desire a greater ability to edify others through sound teaching and to walk in the Spirit in joyful obedience more than tongues in private, since I think that is where Paul places the emphasis.
1 Cor 14:5 - The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
I have heard Speaking in tongues that sounded like gibberish and I suspect they were but at times I recognized Words I knew in other languages. I have heard accounts by credible sources that an event spoken in tongues was actually a sermon given in a language the speaker did not know but was understood by others present that it was given in their language though not directed to them or to their benefit.
@Aleric I have heard credible accounts of people speaking languages they did not know when sharing the Gospel and I believe God is more than capable of doing so. But I do not think the ability to speak foreign languages is something all believers should expect based on Scripture.
I would agree with you that Speaking in tongues is necessary to be filled with the Spirit, though there are some Charismatic that require it as a necessary sign of being filled with the Spirit ie. The Apostolic Church. Many Charismatic churches encourage speaking in tongues and even expect it. An observation regarding the I Corinthians practice of speaking in tongues Paul defines speaking in tongues in Ch. 12 and puts guidelines regarding its use along with other expressions of worship (Ch. 14), Chapter 12 is placed in the midst of of the which is an exportation for sacrificial love. The Corinthian Church seems to have strong personalities with a bent toward pride, even with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul.s statement regarding his speaking in tongues may be a tongue-in-cheek comment for Paul probably was fluent in several languages including Hebrew (the Rabbinical language; Aramaic the common language for the Jews; Latin (he was raised as a Roman); and Greek (the common language of the provinces where Paul preached).
I have not had a lot of encounters where speaking in Tongues was required to receiving the Holy Spirit but do know that there are churches that do hold to such positions. I have a friend who is a pastor in the Church of God and he runs into those ideas fairly regularly.
An edit to the post regarding the necessity of speaking in tongues is necessary to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I do not agree that it is necessary. My typing does not always say what i intend.
Hello, My name is Duane and I would like to also share my thoughts and experience with the gift of speaking in tongues. As some have already shared, I too believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still given today, including the the gift of speaking in tongues. However, I believe it to be beneficial to first seek the gift of discernment and to ask God for wisdom. And here is why. My understanding of the gift of discernment is that it is given so that we might see what is true and what is not. My experience is that it is an insight given so that we might protect our families, including our church family from the things that are counterfeit and those that are truly of God. It also gives a special insight into the lives of others, not in order to judge another (the abuse of the gift) but rather to know what to pray for an individual. In regards to the church, I have seen so much manufacturing of the gifts as a means of some spiritual validation badge that it broke my heart. I believe in the church it is for the edifying of the whole church, not to establish the spiritual ranking of any individual. I also believe that if it is a genuine inspiration of the Holy Spirit there will be those in the church given the gift to interpret what was spoken. The gift of discernment will prove it out. The interpretation would be effortless and edify the church. I think asking for wisdom is critical. The gifts of the Holy Spirit is something we should ask for, but not necessarily pursue. The pursuit of the gifts is a stumbling block in my opinion. It is a road that leads to a disconnection with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and ultimately to spiritual emptiness. God distributes the gifts according to his pleasure, not ours. I pleaded with God with such a yearning that tears overcame me to reveal the truth of the gift of tongues. The answer was the most incredible supernatural experience of my life and left me knowing that yes, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still active to this day. God Bless everyone!
Duane, I really appreciate your perspective. The topic of spiritual gifts is of great interest to me as I was taught as a child growing up in a certain denomination that we no longer receive spiritual gifts. Since I no longer believe that perspective but that spiritual gifts are indeed still given I am interested to learn more about them and how they are used in the church today.
The question that has been on my mind is why we don’t see this gift more often. I have traveled the country all my life, been to many churches, mostly of the conservative baptist/nondenominational types, and have never heard anyone speak in tongues, for real or pretend. I wonder why when I read so many others in this forum who speak as if it a completely normal part of their church experience. This conversation has helped me to understand what may be a good explanation, and that is perhaps the gifts of the Spirit are bestowed as they are needed, or even where there is faith to receive them, and that the gift of tongues may not be as needed in many places today. That is an interesting concept. And I believe you are right in that we should spiritually discern the gifts as much as we obtain and use them in the Spirit. I have not gone through the resources that SeanO shared but am looking forward to learning from them.
Hi, Carrie. I too have asked those questions to myself and I have a very similar background as you. I believe that it certainly is possible to be a normal part of the church experience and yet not be a Holy Spirit outpouring or experience. I believe that if it is a normal church experience and is truly of the Holy Spirit it will most certainly be for a purpose much larger than to simply provide a a normal church experience for some. If that church is growing and provides more than just an emotional experience for the lost, then it may be normal. I think a great Biblical example would be when the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit in the upper room. How many people came to give their lives to The Savior, Jesus Christ in that Holy Spirit outpouring? How rapidly did the church grow? How many were healed? What Gifts of the Spirit were given? What were the first manifestations expressed through those in that upper room? The purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is to empower us to do the same as the early disciples, to equip us to do the work of our calling and purpose and to teach us and lead us into greater understandings and Christian life experiences. And perhaps the most important truth written, yet often not given the correct weight, is that this outpouring came after diligent constant prayer. Not for the gifts. But for the tools needed to complete the mission of telling the world the Good News. I believe that we have well documented evidence of true revivals with an incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit that followed with signs and wonders. Stories that began with just a few believers painstakingly praying from deepest wells of longing to be used by God to further His Kingdom. Prayers drawn from sorrow filled wells of seeing the lost of the world around them. I have been blessed to have friends that serve God with all their life. I have a very close friend that was a real life evangelist. It was such an obvious gift from God. He was filled with life and energy and a certain joy radiated always from him. This was my friend who would ask if I wanted to meet over lunch at McDonalds, both of us being in the construction industry at this time, and I knew that if I accepted this invitation it was an absolute that he would be sharing the Gospel with the person behind us, the girl taking our order, and the people who might be sitting next to us. It was exhilarating to say the least. I could sense the work of the Holy Spirit in his every pore. But he never prayed in tongues. He attended a church that did not believe that speaking in tongues was something experienced today. Jesus said, paraphrasing, I must go so that I might send the Holy Spirit to teach you, to comfort you, to equip you to further the Kingdom of God by living through you in fullness. God will do as God pleases to do in the ways God chooses to do and through who He chooses to do it through. He will not be held back by the boundaries drawn up by man. He is The Almighty God. I personally pray for God to work through me in any way He desires and I then begin instantaneously resisting the flesh and yielding more and more of my self with each mile run. He has never let me down. I personally have at times prayed in tongues but it has only ever been in my prayer closet. Not implying at all that this is the only place it might happen. Do I believe that is required to have been baptized in the Holy spirit. No I don’t. Not at all. I have revelation knowledge in my life through the friends I have been blessed with along the way. I feel that God’s purpose that He has personally given to us has remained constant. I’m just not certain there is evidence to show that His ways of teaching and equipping us to fulfill our purpose could not also have remained constant. I have enjoyed sharing and as a fellow follower of Christ striving for greater understanding and spiritual growth revealed in the Word of God as written in the Bible, I feel genuinely blessed. Have a great day!