Speaking of Speaking in Tongues
A young bible college student once wrote and told me how the college she attends has been teaching that "speaking in tongues" is the sole evidence that one is filled with the Spirit and that no one WAS filled with the Spirit UNLESS they've spoken in tongues. Apparently, that didn't sit well with her and she wanted my opinion.
Let me begin by stating that I'm well aware that not all subscribers to these eMail broadcasts prescribe to the belief that "tongues" are for today. The focus of this treatise is not to argue that point, one way or the other. Suffice it to say that I'm hoping we have all read (or WILL read) the Scriptures enough to recognize: (A) what "speaking in tongues" is, and (B) that many in The Body of Christ, across denominational lines, make claim that they have received this gift. In this eMinistry, I've heard from people of virtually all mainline denominations who've claimed to have received the gift of tongues, several out of concern that they would be excommunicated or disfellowshipped if they were ever found out.
TONGUES IN THE BIBLE
The gift of tongues was apparently important enough that God used this manifestation to "jump-start" the Church (Acts 2). Logicallyspeaking, why would He have stopped there? Fact is, the gift of tongues is mentioned after Pentecost as well. Once again, no logical reason why they should have ceased, humanly speaking.
Jesus made only one recorded reference to speaking in tongues. In Mark 16:17, speaking of all those who would follow as His disciples, He said, "In my name you will cast out devils, you will speak with new tongues... ." That's it? That's ALL He had to say?! And we make such a BIG deal of the issue! He spoke much more of Sonship and Discipleship than He spoke of speaking in tongues. Strange how I rarely hear people argue about the "casting out devils" part. Is it because too few are doing that ... even within the tongue-talking camps?
Just a thought.
I see no biblical evidence that the dunamis (from whence we get our word "dynamite") power of the early apostles would have been withdrawn from the Church before the King returns. I personally cannot believe there's anyone who can scripturally prove, without a doubt, that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Neither do I believe there's anyone who can scripturally prove that this gift (or any other) has been eliminated from the Christian arsenal. I AM certain that BOTH those Christians would argue all day about the subject. The promise, we must remember, was not "you shall receive tongues when the Holy Ghost comes upon you." It was "you shall receive POWER!"
Not tongues of fire.
Not rushing, mighty winds.
Question: what miracles did the apostles do AFTER Pentecost that they hadn't done BEFORE? They were already healing the sick and casting out devils prior to the Upper Room experience. Jesus said, "...you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth," (Acts 1:8).
Witnesses? In Greek, the word is martyr. In essence: "You shall receive power to lay your life down for the Kingdom's sake; for the cause of Christ!" Did the power they received enable these simple, unlearned men to raise the dead, preach with convincing eloquence, endure torturous beatings, forsake everything and everyone in which they had ever previously taken comfort, and write anointed epistles, too? Absolutely. It changed them. Any other need for power, other than what is required for Kingdom-building, focuses our attention squarely on "self" and increases the danger of humanism raising its ugly head amidst the things of God. There's already too much of that. As I've stated in the past, Christianity isn't about US.
SPIRIT OR FLESH?
Back to tongue-talking, surely we know it can be faked. Let's consider that. I had an unchurched neighbor who was mocking his Pentecostal wife one day and he sounded ... well, quite legitimate! But if we're going to appoint anyone to judge whose tongues are "of the flesh" and which are "of the Spirit," why not go all the way and have those same appointed people whip out their Flesh-O-Meters and determine who is singing, preaching, or even tithing in the church out of carnality as well?
Not all tongues could possibly be legitimate. That's simply inconceivable. I've been exposed to enough foreign languages to know when I've heard "tongues" that had a distinct Spanish, German, African or American Indian flavor to them. I've heard those who were simply speaking a broken dialect of a second language they already possessed, having little to do with God's miraculous gift; they were merely praying in this second "tongue" of theirs. Nothing wrong with that - I'm glad to see Christians pray at all, whenever. It just doesn't "classify" as legitimate tongue-talking in most Pentecostal circles. Neither does the insertion of an occasional phrase in Spanish, etc. In deliverance ministry, demonic tongues may be heard on occasion which most Pentecostals would envy. But bear this in mind: one's desire for more of God MUST be commended, never ridiculed or scorned, real tongues or not! Such things are too often used as a source of contention and division in the Church.
I could tell some of the most incredible stories of people who spoke in tongues, were overheard, and understood, by someone nearby ... and it ministered to them. To THEM, mind you ... to the people who overheard. That's terrific because this Kingdom is not about you and me. If we are sons of the house, our efforts should be geared toward building the house, tending to the house, filling the house, expanding the house, guarding the house.
GIFT OF TONGUES IN CONTEXT
Understanding Sonship in the Kingdom of God must be put within the context of Stewardship and Servanthood. This brings us to the reality that we are witnesses (martyrs; serving unto death) to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and not rulers. If it were all about US being made rulers, then the focus of Christianity is all about us and what WE get when if we sign-on. Do we get tongues? Great! But wait ... if tongues edifies no one but ourselves, there's no focus on making disciples, right? See, the gift of tongues, when legitimately manifested, is for the strengthening of one's self (1 Cor 14:4-5,12). It rarely, but not always, does anything for anybody else, especially the way we see it being demonstrated in most cases today. Sadly, I've seen tongues become a measuring stick of one's spirituality, creating a "have vs. have-not" ungodly caste system in the Church, inviting dissension into the ranks. Even frustrating and discouraging those who had not "received" the gift of tongues. So, we must ask ourselves, in our desire for the gift of tongues, what is our REAL motivation?
If you were being attacked by a bear, would you prefer a rifle or the gift of tongues? Well, the gift of tongues is seemingly widespread in the Western Church, but the fact that our house is in such disarray reveals that we could use the manifested FRUITS of the Spirit much more than we need the GIFT of tongues right now. This is critical because Pentecostalism is currently the fastest-growing segment of Christianity in the Western Church and its leadership must be keen to this lack of fruit. Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them," (Mat 7:16-20).
Not "by their tongues."
How do I know you're a Christian? Because you SAY so? With that logic, if you say you're a book because you stand in a library, should I believe you? How do you know I'm a Christian? You don't. Saints, we will be known by our fruit.
Go ahead, judge me. Some gasp, "But we're not SUPPOSED to judge!" (There we go with the rule-keeping again!) Yes, I know... Scripture says, "Do not judge, or you, too, will be judged... ." But the verse continues, "... for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."In other words, if you evaluate my lifestyle and perceive me to be evil, and even bring up the issue to others, you should only dare to do so (A) for my benefit; out of love for me, and (B) if you are prepared to undergo the same scrutiny of your own life. Fact is, Scripture exhorts us repeatedly to judge people and things (1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 11:15; Phil 3:2; 1 Jn 4:1), and instructs us to "test everything" (1 Th 5:21).
Enough about that. Point is, you'll know I'm a Christian when I exhibit the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. Do I love unconditionally? Am I joyful, or does my happiness rise and fall with my circumstances? Do I exhibit peace in the midst of strife? Am I patient? Kind? Good to others? Filled with faith in God? Gentle, practicing self-control?
Personally, I wish we in the Church would speak in tongues all day long. This might eliminate some of the back-stabbing, murmuring, criticism and gossip that that is generated from that tiny part of our anatomy. It would be especially useful in the car before and after church meetings, agreed? (That was today's attempt at humor.)
THEY"LL KNOW WE'RE CHRISTIANS BY OUR...TONGUES?
One final thought: Early on, I was taught that there is a natural example of everything that takes place in the spiritual. This as proven to be true time and time again. Well, since we are soldiers in the Lord's army, engaged in a spiritual war (Eph 6), wouldn't it be wise to enlist a "secret code" language for use in prayer, in case the enemy was listening? After all, we're snared by the words of our mouths (Prov 6:2). Ridiculous? Tell it to the U.S. Marines!
In World War II, Navajo "code talkers" took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions and Marine parachute units, transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language; a code the Japanese never broke.
By the way, the idea to use Navajo for secure communications came from a man named Philip Johnston, son of a Christian missionary to the Navajos and one of the few non-Navajos who spoke the language fluently. As a result of his efforts, the Marines recruited 200 Navajos which, throughout the war were praised for their skill, speed and accuracy. Major Howard Connor declared, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima." Connor had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. Those six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. The Japanese, skilled code breakers, were baffled by the Navajo language. Their chief of intelligence later said that while they were able to decipher the codes used by the U.S. Army and Army Air Corps, they never cracked the code used by the Marines.
Something to consider?
Following are some things Jesus had to say regarding Sonship and Discipleship. Notice, "speaking in tongues" is nowhere to be found. Let us stress what the Lord stressed and eliminate the stress over the "tongues" issue.
READ 'EM AND REAP!
Need pastoral counseling and prayer? Write or IM me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pastor Michael has been broadcasting his eMail messages of Discipleship and encouragement to Christians of all denominations since 1999. These messages are literally reaching millions each week and the messages are being re-posted on other Christian sites,used as Bible studies for groups, and are being used by those in ministry as a preaching guide.
Pastor Michael has been broadcasting an e-Mail message of Discipleship & Encouragement to Chrsitians across the planet since 1999. Now reaching literally millions, these messages have forever touched countless lives as believers everywhere catch his vision of forwarding the message and write him to say so!
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