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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 175

The Gifts Part 80

Tongues continued...

Generalizing is all well and good; in fact I do it all the time, to the chagrin of some, to the anger of others, but when it comes to the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit we cannot afford to generalize. Even among those who believe in the present power and gifts of the Holy Spirit there is a tendency to speak on these things not so much to acquire wisdom or for understanding’s sake, but to get a congregation or a group of believers enthused and excited.

It would be far easier for me to throw a few one liners your way, write a few catchy phrases about the Holy Spirit in bold italics, and pump you up, than diligently and biblically go through every gift and discuss it in detail. Easy however isn’t always best, and just as with everything else in this present life, it is wise to understand the mechanism of a thing, how it works, what its function is, and how it ought to be used.

We don’t like directions. We don’t like reading them, asking for them, or even following them sometimes, and then we become frustrated and annoyed when what was supposed to be a crib looks more like a medieval torture device when we’re done attempting to assemble it. Directions are important, instruction matters, and it is incumbent upon us as individuals to not only know that the Holy Spirit and the gifts thereof are still among us, but what the function of each individual gift is, how it operates within the Body, and how we go about operating in them.

You don’t try to stick your hand in a blender while it’s running, you don’t try to unscrew the radiator cap when your car’s overheated and steam is whistling out of it, and you don’t attempt to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit without understanding their function and their purpose.

The gift of speaking in other tongues is unique to the New Testament. There is no mention or manifestation of the gift of tongues in the Old Testament as there is of prophecy, healings, faith, miracles, discernment, wisdom or knowledge.

The first to mention the gift of different kinds of tongues in the New Testament is none other than Christ Jesus.

Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Essentially Christ lays out five signs that will follow those who believe. Seeing as Jesus was quick to give an explanation when an explanation was required, seeing as He took no pleasure in leaving His disciples in the dark and always went out of His way to enlighten them concerning spiritual matters, it befuddles me that if indeed the gifts of the Holy Spirit were to be present only for a season Jesus didn’t specify this all important aspect.

There were a dozen different ways that Jesus could have worded His statement that would have made it crystal clear if indeed the signs that were to follow those who believed, would be present only for that singular generation, for that small group of people He was speaking to, or for His disciples alone.

Jesus could have prefaced His statement by telling His disciples how special they were because from that point forward until the end of the age, they alone would be those who would be followed by signs such as casting out demons, speaking in tongues, healing the sick, or taking up serpents, He could have impressed upon them how special their generation was for having had the privilege to walk in power and authority when all the generations that would follow would be relatively impotent and powerless, but all Jesus said was, ‘these signs will follow those who believe.’

No, I do not believe Jesus was generalizing for generalization’s sake, I believe He meant what He said, that in fact the signs He would go on to enumerate would follow those who believed.

Among the five signs that Jesus said would follow those who believed, He included tongues.

When discussing speaking in tongues, the Bible uses three different expressions, for what is essentially the same gift. In the gospel according to Mark, Jesus refers to this gift as new tongues; in the Acts of the Apostles, Luke refers to this gift other tongues; and in his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul refers to this gift as different kinds of tongues.

Although within the camp of those of us who still believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit there is much discussion and disagreement as to whether the gift of tongues is human tongues, or tongues unknown by men, when we delve into the word of God we discover that it is in fact both.

Admittedly, the only time men spoke in tongues and others understood the tongues in which they spoke was on the day of Pentecost when the devout had gathered from many nations, the biblical precedent still exists, and though it isn’t doctrine or gospel, my personal experiences also confirm that God can use the gift of tongues to communicate a message to an individual that would have otherwise not understood what you were trying to say.

It hasn’t happened often, but I have witnessed it on more than one occasion, wherein someone who had never studied the language spoke French, Dutch, and even Russian, because there was someone present within the congregation who spoke these languages, and via a vessel God desired to speak to these individuals personally.

Overwhelmingly, when the gift of tongues manifests, it is a language only God knows, not understood by the individual in question or the congregation unless an interpretation comes forth, but yes there are times when God uses the gift of tongues as a way of reaching those from other lands who are present within the congregation.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael for your teaching on this matter of tongues . Unfortunately those who are of the noncontinuous camp insist that Mark 16:17-18 is not inspired because it does not appear in the two oldest manuscripts (funny they do not mention other parts of the epistles that do not appear on these old manuscripts ie Hebrews).