Monday, October 16, 2006

What to Do with the gift of Tongues?

What to Do with the Gift of Tongues?

(I want to make this clear, that this is in no way a slam against he AoG as an entity. Many are wonderful churches with wonderful and loving people. Many often show more "grace" than those who claim Grace as their central doctrine. My issue was that I came to believe eternal security in which the AoG does not hold to or teach as they maintain one can "fall from grace and lose their salvation. I simply disagree. The passage that talks of "falling form grace" is in reference to returning to works or the sacrificial system and not about salvation.)

I shared a bit about my experience in the Assembly of God in which I was steeped in legalism. A performance based faith is one very deceptive as it deceives one into thinking they can be as perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. In that I found in my life to be content in that I am not perfect, and God is. Once I realized this, and accepted it, I was free to be Who He wanted me to be in Christ Jesus… He is in no way finished with me by any means, yet who I was and who I am now are miles apart. I still have friends in the AoG. I love the people in it dearly.

This is a part of the story of the gift of tongues I received as a young man. This gift came easily as the gift should. My wife side of the story as she went forward was a bit more funny as they had her tilt her head back and encouraged her to “babble” then hit her on the forehead… with that she was supposed to be slain in the Spirit, yet, someone forgot to tell her that and she responded with an “ouch”. She tried for a while to see if she could receive the gift, yet became frustrated in it. Some teach that “all” must receive this gift and that it is the common gift… that has two meanings… First Common as the one most given by God, and second, in some cases it is taught that one must speak in tongues to be saved.

It is a bit like the Church of Christ stand on water baptism only that one must receive the “second blessing” to truly be saved. This is a lie plain and simple and truly if one reads scripture there is no “second blessing”. We receive Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit and are saved. Though belief may come first… and the Holy Spirit may be held back until one has truly repented… as in the case of Simon the Sorcerer in the book of Act chapter 8. Simon “believed and was baptized” yet, as James 2:19 tells us, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.” So just believing in God is not enough to enter the Kingdom.

Simon held the want of power in his heart, and though he “believed and was baptized” had not received the Holy Spirit. It was not until Peter confronted the love of power over the love of Jesus, that Simon finally truly repented. Peter told Simon that bitterness had him still captive to sin. Simon was jealous of the power of God… and that Peter and the Apostles had this power and he did not.

God gives some gifts and to some others He chooses to not give them. This is not in any way saying God loves one less if they do not have some gifts and loves some more if they receive others.

For me, I have received a few of the gifts though I do not want to actually express some as I do not care to be misunderstood as bragging. For these gifts often can’t operate if one is full of pride. Suffice it to say in the Vineyard Churches John Wimber was said to express that “everyone gets to play”. Meaning that sometimes God pours out His presence and though you may not have a “gift” in some area, God will “gift” you for that moment. The other thing is we often get things a bit out of perspective. Allen our pastor at Billings Vineyard likes to mention that if someone is healed, who received the “gift of healing” the one who prayed for the person to be healed? Or is it the person who was healed? I think the gift was for the one healed.

We would gather together to speak in tongues and at times someone else would receive the gift. These corporate tongues sessions sometimes were powerful with visions and prophecies… words of knowledge… yet sometimes also pride would slip in and twist and cause us to be a bit overly judgmental. Here I will skip forward a bit as tongues were a bit important to me… yet in my heart there were some things a bit out of whack in the practice of this gift in the churches I attended.

After I found Grace, I was a bit out of place. It seemed I was on a more “Calvinist” bent. Though I did not really know much about Calvinism… I was for about a year studying Bible and listening to the teachings of Bob George and People to People ministries. In that I was finding more and more my freedom in Christ. Because most of the people I was spending time with did not speak in tongues (I do not think they were against them… but tongues was that big of a “thing” in comparison to God’s Grace.)

I had been asked to be the worship leader as the AoG church had gotten a new pastor. We sat down and I explained how God had changed me by His Grace and the pastor seemed to become offended and seemed to think I was saying that anyone who did not know Grace was “second class”… I was a bit taken back as he did not grasp that I was truly broken and humbled by God and saw that I was not deserving of mercy or Grace… yet as God humbled me and replace error for His Truth, I began to see things very different.

I expressed to this pastor that I thought that the gift of tongue is abused in many churches and that I had been attending this church for a few years and saw that we leaned that way. I pointed out in scripture as to how we should use the gift properly and again his response was a bit troubling…

“So, you don’t think we should be able to worship how we like?”… I asked him if it was better to worship in a way that if someone came in they would be able to learn about God… or if they walked in and saw us all speaking at once, and thought we were all crazy. He stood up from the table and shouted some agree words. I was in shock…

We attended a “Saddleback” style church that most people there had a Baptist background. At this time I was rediscovering tongues. I was at a bible study and the topic of tongue came around. They seemed to be very much against it. It seemed they saw tongues as sort of having passed. They went on a bit about people who speak in tongues are this and are that… I was a bit ashamed… yet I felt I had to say something.

“I speak in tongues”.

Everyone turned to me at the table. I told them a bit of my story… how I had received the gift… how TES was hit on the head and said, “ouch”. They laughed. I explained that I understood and agreed that this gift was often abused and misused. about how tongues was meant to edify the speaker… to express the inexpressible by letting the Spirit pray through you… it was like coming out of the closet.

Sorry, there was not big tongues revival that night, but they still accepted and loved me.

I still speak, mostly in times when I have no words, or am stressed. In those times I can sense God’s presence.

If you are one who see’s tongue as having passed, I have not problem with you. This is not why I am telling this story. I see that we are in a time when the “gifts” of God will begin to break forth again… and maybe with more understanding… such as with Allan’s observation of who really received the gift of healing.

I think many do have the gift, yet do not realize it. In Romans 8 we read: 19. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21. that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25. But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

I think that we all have that inward groaning as we await the New Creation to come to its fullness. And in times when we have no words… in our weakness God, by His Spirit, intercedes on our behalf. It is a matter of trust that soon the hope of our salvation will come. (Hebrews 9:27-28)


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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thought Iggy. I am one who has not had the privilege so far but god has given me other gifts and many of my friends are charismatics. It would be great to see the barriers that keep us apart, theological, ecclesial, cultural... all come crashing down as we realise that we are all one in Christ.

I got here following a technorati tag from OST!

iggy said...


I must say you have a most interesting blog... I may have to spend some time there... It is very interesting to see how we in the USA are preceived, especially in the political areana.

Hope to talk more later,