Thursday, March 31, 2011


The people in our Baptist church loved the Lord, but I was not satisfied with the routine. I had a hunger to know and walk with Jesus in the same way as those early Christians I read about in the Bible. The Lord heard the cry of my heart, and I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the early days of the Charismatic movement in 1967 when I was 17 years old.
The Lord was pouring out His Spirit upon people in all church denominations in the USA and around the world. Christians were receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and were experiencing a renewal in the gifts of the Holy Spirit including healing and praying in tongues. I myself witnessed miracles of healing in those days and experienced the excitement and enthusiasm one would expect with the discovery of such new-found treasures. Multitudes rejoiced to know that Jesus Christ was working in the church and on the earth in the same intimate way He did in the Bible. People were justifiably excited, and there were many whose zeal may have exceeded their wisdom.

Not everyone was happy with these developments, and it was not uncommon to hear people say, "Don't get involved with tongues. They cause division." Relational stresses did occur, but the reasons are more complex than simply blaming “tongues.”

Orthodox Christianity will naturally respond to perceived heresies when they arise. Therefore, divisions may occur when good people react justifiably to an evil doctrine or practice that tries to invade the church. But we must also realize that truth itself can cause division when people react to it in a hostile manner. Therefore, division does not necessarily indicate that the message causing the division is wrong or evil. While the New Testament condemns division arising from heresy and self-will, it also gives examples of division and strife arising because people rejected God's word and stumbled over truth.

Truth can bring division and even confusion when men reject it. The ministry of the Apostle Paul is an example of how conflict and strife can be the result of a negative reaction to positive truth. The following verses show how this happened to Paul as he preached the gospel message across the Roman Empire.

"These men (Paul and his company) do exceedingly trouble our city [are throwing our city into confusion], and they teach customs which are not lawful for us…to receive or observe." Acts 16: 20.
"There arose no small disturbance [a great commotion] about the Way." Acts 19: 23
"So the whole city was filled with confusion...Some cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together." Acts 19: 29, 32.
"For we have found this man (the apostle Paul) a plague [a real pest] and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world. " Acts 24: 5

We must emphasize that the Apostle Paul never deliberately tried to incite trouble. The Gospel is a message of peace, and it will produce peace in the individual and society who believe and act upon it. But the word of God is rarely received in a neutral manner. Truth carries with it the ability to bring joy, peace, and blessing. But it sometimes confronts people with realities they are not yet willing to face, and so has the potential to create tension. The messenger will often find himself either loved or hated.

Therefore, we must walk in compassion, wisdom, and love, and do everything in our power to bless and not hurt God’s people. If they are going to be offended, let them be offended by the truth itself and not by our lack of wisdom or foolishness in how we present it. We should not be arrogant, insensitive, unwise, or unloving, but walk humbly and with grace. But even when we have conducted ourselves in the wisest possible way with exemplary love and patience, there will still be those who are offended by truth. There will be those for whom certain truths will be unpalatable, no matter how much “sweetener” we add and no matter how much we disguise it in the comfortable fit of the person’s culture. We must do all we can to walk in love and wisdom, but also be prepared for those who reject the truth and sometimes us with it.

Praying in tongues is one aspect of our spiritual experience that has been a controversial topic. We are thankful for this valuable prayer tool and we encourage others to practice it. But we do not force it on anyone nor do we condemn or judge anyone who disagrees. Praying in tongues does not make me better than anyone else, but it does make my own prayer life better than it would be otherwise.

“…Keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.” 1 Corinthians 11: 2

Tongues is part of the traditions passed down by Paul and the other apostles. We should hold firmly to these traditions and not lay them aside in favor of the ones developed subsequently by those destitute of the gifts. We avoid division caused by doctrine and traditions that are contrary to what Paul and the early apostles taught (Romans 16: 17), but we embrace that doctrine and tradition which was practiced by the early Christians, and are willing to pay the price to do so. We should not allow ourselves to be blinded by the traditions of men (Mark 7: 1-13) which contradict God's word, nor should we allow the fear of man to cause us to compromise the truth (John 12: 42, 43). We want to be faithful servants who follow our Lord Jesus Christ to do His will in all things. But in doing so we must be careful to walk in grace, wisdom, and love, and be patient with those who disagree.  (Hebrews 10:31-33).

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, …” 1 Corinthians 12: 10.

The objective of this teaching has been to encourage and help the reader to enter the presence of God in a deeper experience of intercessory prayer and praise. I imagine my primary audience has been those who are spiritually hungry, those who sense a call to intercession, and those who possess a certain insight into prayer and God’s presence. A few readers may have joined us who were simply curious about the topic. In any case, I trust the study has been helpful, informative, and enlightening. I also pray it has been motivational in stirring the reader to a deeper level of prayer and intercession so desperately needed in the world today..
“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays.”
“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God.”
“For indeed, you give thanks well.”            1 Corinthians 14: 2, 14, 17
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us..."   Romans 8: 26

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Do I have to pray in tongues?
A friend of mine once said, “You don’t have to; you get to.” My personal opinion is that a person can be filled with the Holy Spirit without praying in tongues, but I also believe that every person who is filled with the Holy Spirit can and should pray in tongues. Praying in the Spirit opens up so many avenues in ones spiritual life and serves so many useful purposes. It does not make you better than anyone else, but it is a wonderful tool to help you reach higher into your own spiritual potential.

Praying in tongues is the door to the other manifestations of the Spirit.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit (being filled with the Holy Spirit) releases your spirit to move more freely in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is a means of exercising your spirit and helps you to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, thus releasing your ability to work with Him in other manifestations and gifts of the Spirit.
Generally speaking, people who reject tongues also fail to experience a real release in the other supernatural gifts of the Spirit.

In the New Testament praying in tongues was not some unusual and rare phenomenon that occurred only once for each person at the initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, but was a common daily practice of the praying believer.
In 1 Corinthians 14: 18 Paul says, "I speak.” He did not say, "I spoke". He uses the present tense which in Greek refers to progressive or continuing action. This verse along with the following verse implies that Paul prayed a great deal in tongues outside the Church in his daily prayer life. Praying in tongues is a vital aspect of Paul’s exhortation that we should “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:18). A person can pray in his own language or in tongues anywhere, anytime, no matter what else he is doing.

To forbid tongues is to disobey a direct biblical command.
“Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophecy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.”
1 Corinthians 14: 39

There are two major categories of tongues.
This perspective is drawn from an objective look at all the verses on the subject and clarifies certain verses.

One category is the simple manifestation of the Spirit used for prayer, intercession, praise and worship, or edification to strengthen the believer. This does not require an interpreter, and there is no limit to the number who can be praying together in this fashion. (1 Corinthians 14: 2, 4)

The second category is the ministry of tongues. This refers to an individual's being moved upon by the Spirit to speak a message in tongues to or before the congregation while all others listen silently. This is to be followed by an interpretation and is limited to "two or three at the most". 1 Corinthians 14:27-28. If there is no one who will interpret, then the person is to "keep silent" (that is, not give the message in tongues to the church, but to "speak to himself and to God" in his own language or in tongues).

"Two or three at the most" 1 Corinthians 14: 27
This limitation is placed on the messages in tongues addressed to the Church. There is no limit placed on the number who can pray in tongues in regular prayer, praise, worship, and intercession. Congregational singing and worship in tongues can be very beautiful. It is interesting to note that in every example in the book of Acts there are more than three people praying in tongues. There were at least one hundred and twenty people praying in tongues simultaneously on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; 1:15). In Cornelius’ household there was a house full of people praying in the Spirit at the same time (Acts 10: 44-48). There were twelve at Ephesus (Acts 19: 6-7).

"Keep silence"? 1 Corinthians 14:28
"Silence" here (as well as in 14: 34 regarding women) is not to be taken in the absolute sense. The term "Silence" is implying that a person should not address his message to the church without an interpreter. If there is no interpreter, he should be quiet in the sense of not giving the word to the church. But "let him speak to himself and to God" (in his own languages or in tongues).

The meaning is used in a similar manner in 1 Corinthians 14: 34 regarding women keeping silent in Church. It is obvious from l Corinthians 11: 1-16 that Paul expected women to speak up in prayer, prophecy, exhortation, and all of the other gifts of the Spirit. Paul was not saying that women or tongues should be silent in the absolute sense.

Is tongues the least gift? 1 Corinthian's 12: 28
People mistakenly infer this from 1 Corinthians 12: 28 where it is last in a list. The list here denotes ministries (1 Corinthians 12: 18, 28). Tongues may be a lesser ministry, but it is not a lesser personal gift. Each of these gift-ministries is a "member" set in the body of Christ by God Himself, regardless of order of importance. God does nothing that is not important, and He does nothing that is unnecessary. Praying in tongues was designed by the wisdom of God to serve very practical and useful purposes. Verse 18 says that all the various gifts are like members (limbs) of a body. They were all set in the body by God Himself, and they all please Him.

We must, therefore, beware of arrogance that despises tongues or any other work of the Holy Spirit. We should never despise what God was pleased to institute.

Tongues is not the least gift. It is probably one of the most important personal gifts. Tongues is much like a key. A key is not the most important tool around the house, but it is vital in unlocking access to other more important things in the house. Even if tongues was the least gift, that would be no reason to avoid it or think of it as bad, something to fear, or something to "throw out the window" saying ''I have no need of thee". 1 Corinthians 12: 21-24.

Is Paul saying to prophesy instead of praying in tongues? 1 Corinthians 14: 5
The Greek phrase "Mallon de" in the King James Version is mistakenly translated "but rather." While this translation can be technically correct, in this context it represents a grammatical irregularity (a command followed by a contradiction). It should be translated "but more" which is also technically correct and more logical for the context. The newer translations as a whole translate it "but more."
14: 5 "I want you to pray in tongues, but moreover (mallon de) that you go on and prophesy."
14: 1 "Be zealous for spiritual gifts, and especially (mallon de) prophecy."
In both verses the "mallon de" wants to add something. In neither verse does it negate the directive that preceeds it.

Do all speak with tongues? 1Corinthians 12: 30
All do not have the ministry of tongues in which messages are given to the body to be interpreted, but all can pray in tongues for personal devotions, prayer, intercession, praise and worship. The same principle applies to both prophecy and tongues. Note the following:

Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 12: 29, "Are all prophets?" The obvious and expected answer is "no." All do not function in the office of Prophet. Neither do all function in the specialized ministry of prophecy (Romans 12: 6). However, Paul does say that "you can all prophesy" (1 Corinthians14: 31, 24) and that we should desire and seek to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1). So all are not prophets, meaning not all hold that office or move in prophecy as a ministry, yet all can prophesy.

In the same way, all do not have the ministry of tongues in which messages in tongues are addressed to the church (1 Corinthians 12: 30), yet all can pray in tongues (1 Corinthians 14: 5).

Tongues will not cease until Jesus returns. 1 Corinthians 13: 8-12
“…but whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For now we know in part, and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.”

Tongues will cease when that which is perfect has come. "That which is perfect" refers to the age to come. Paul is comparing the “now” and the “but then.” We are still in the "now" era. The "but then" refers to a time when everything will be perfected and when that which is in part shall be done away. We shall see face to face and shall know fully even as we are fully known. That time has not yet arrived.

Meanwhile, all of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit that were operating in the early church should be working in the church today. According to Ephesians 4: 11-16 the Apostles and Prophets shall continue until the church “attains the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Thus, tongues, prophets, apostles, and all of the other operations and manifestations of the Holy Spirit that were experienced by the early Christians will continue until the church is perfected, until Jesus returns.