Filled with the Spirit: Understanding God's Power in Your Life (5 page)

BOOK: Filled with the Spirit: Understanding God's Power in Your Life
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Some people say that the
discerning of spirits
gives people supernatural insight into the spirit realm when God allows. They believe that it is not exclusively the discerning of evil or demon spirits
8
but also of divine spirits.
9
Other people believe that discerning of spirits also helps us know the true nature of who we are dealing with, whether they are good or evil,
10
and what the motivation is behind a person or situation.
11
In other words, it involves following our heart and not our head.

These are all abilities, gifts, achievements and endowments of God’s supernatural power by which we believers are enabled to accomplish something beyond the ordinary. We experience this power as we use our gifts.

Speaking in tongues
and
interpretation of tongues
are part of these nine gifts. The best and easiest way to describe tongues is to say it is a spiritual language, one the Holy Spirit knows and chooses to speak through us but one we do not know. It is the Holy Spirit speaking directly to God through us. We do not understand it with our minds. It is a spiritual thing.

Since all nine of these spiritual gifts are given individually by the Holy Spirit to different people, this question almost always arises: “What if I am baptized in the Holy Spirit, but I am not given the gift of speaking in tongues?”

Speaking in tongues is probably one of the most misunderstood of all the nine gifts of the Spirit, so although we have already mentioned it, we are going to take a closer look at it in the next chapter.

7

I
S
S
PEAKING IN
T
ONGUES FOR
T
ODAY?

7

I
S
S
PEAKING IN
T
ONGUES FOR
T
ODAY?

And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

Acts 2:4

In an earlier chapter, we saw that the Holy Spirit was first poured out upon believers on the Day of Pentecost when the disciples were all gathered together, waiting for the gift that Jesus reminded them God the Father had promised them.

It is important to note that when the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the assembled disciples, all 120 of them began to speak in tongues. That gift of speaking in tongues. That gift of speaking in tongues has never been revoked; it is still available to all believers who will receive it today. As we have seen, it is part of the whole range of gifts that are given us through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Does Everyone Have All of the Gifts?

Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].

So God has appointed some in the church [for His own use]: first apostles (special messengers); second prophets (inspired preachers and expounders); third teachers; then wonder-workers; then those with ability to heal the sick; helpers; administrators; [speakers in] different (unknown) tongues.

Are all apostles (special messengers)? Are all prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God)? Are all teachers? Do all have the power of performing miracles?

Do all possess extraordinary powers of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

1 Corinthians 12:27-30

The obvious answer to all these questions is no. What Paul is saying here is that not everyone operates in these gifts — in the church. However, that does not mean that not everyone will receive any one particular gift.

Since that may be confusing, let me explain by giving an example. Not everyone has the gift of healing in the sense that they launch into a full-time ministry of healing people. But, remember, every believer does have the power within them to lay hands on the sick and believe they will recover, as Jesus taught in Mark 16:17,18:
And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; … they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well.

Are you a believer? If so, Jesus plainly says in this passage that one of the signs that will accompany you is that you will have the power to drive out demons, speak in tongues and lay hands on the sick and they will recover. That is part of the universal faith in which all of us as believers are empowered to operate in, in our everyday lives.

In James 5:14, 15 we are told that we can anoint the sick with oil and pray the prayer of faith over them, and they will be restored to health.

So you and I do not need a special gift from the Holy Spirit to exercise our faith to lay hands on the sick. The same is true of speaking in tongues.

Not everyone has the gift of tongues — to stand up in a congregation and speak in tongues with interpretation, which would equal a prophecy given in the church or worship service. But every believer who receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been given the ability to pray in tongues and to speak to God in our own individual prayer language.

Differences in Tongues

For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the [Holy] Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding].

But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies [who interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching] speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation.

1 Corinthians 14:2,3

In the study Bible compiled by well-respected Bible teacher and scholar Finis Jennings Dake, there is a note on Acts 2:1-8, which is the account of the disciples speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. Of this incident Dake writes:

“This [the speaking in tongues] was similar to the Spirit speaking through the prophets in their own language… only here it was with different languages.”
1

In other words, just as God can speak to us through prophets who are speaking in our own language or a language we can understand, He can also speak to us in unknown languages or languages we do not understand and which have to be interpreted for our benefit.

Dake continues, “Though speaking in tongues is done through immediate inspiration by new recipients [of the Holy Spirit] when one has thus received the gift [of speaking in tongues], it then becomes a part of his mental make-up so that he can, if he desires to do so, exercise it without direct inspiration….”
2

That is, although we may speak in tongues by inspiration of the Holy Spirit at the time we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that does not mean we cannot continue to speak in tongues on our own whenever we choose to do so, such as when we pray.

The reason I included this note from Dake is that many people who speak in tongues at the moment they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit think they can never exercise that particular gift again.

That is wrong.

Once you receive the gift of tongues, it is yours, and you can exercise it at your will, which you should do regularly — especially when you pray. But that does not mean that you have the gift of speaking out in tongues in a worship service, which would require interpretation so that everyone who hears can understand the mess age and be edified by it.

According to Dake, “This is why the vocal gifts of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues is commanded to be regulated and even judged as to whether it be under direct inspiration or whether the person is exercising a gift of himself.”
3

We must remember that a distinction occurs between tongues as a prayer language and a message from God that is delivered through tongues and interpretation in a worship service.

Why Speak in Tongues?

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. …

John 7:38,39 NIV

In this passage Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, Who had not yet been poured out upon believers. When He spoke of the “streams of living water” that would flow from anyone who believed in Him, I believe He was referring to the spiritual language that should be flowing from each of us who have received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
4

Some people say that speaking in tongues is for some believers but not for all. Although it is true that not all believers speak or pray in tongues, I believe all of them could, if they would. As we have seen, all of the believers present in the Upper Room spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, and I believe all believers today can and should do the same.

Why don’t all believers speak in tongues today as they did at Pentecost? I don’t believe it is because they can’t; I believe they are afraid to because they have been taught not to or they think tongues may be nothing but emotion.

While it is true that some believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit and do not speak in tongues, I don’t believe that is God’s best for them. If God has poured out His Holy Spirit upon you, I encourage you to receive all the spiritual gifts and abilities He wants to impart to you. God has made them available to you, so you should want to receive them in their fullness.

But
why
should all believers receive and exercise the gift of tongues?

As we saw in 1 Corinthians 14:2, when we speak in tongues, we are speaking secrets and mysteries to God. We are saying things in a spiritual language that our enemy Satan cannot understand.

We are also edifying ourselves, as we see in Jude 20:
But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit

When we speak in tongues, often we are prophesying great things over our lives, things that we might not be able to accept if we understood what we were saying.

Finally, when we pray in tongues, we are assured that we are praying as we should because the Holy Spirit is praying through us …
in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.
5

I want to encourage you not to be afraid of the Holy Spirit and His gifts just because you may not have experienced them. When you ask Him to give you one of His gifts, He will never give you a bad one. To be very honest, these things are hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced them, but once you have experienced them, there is no denying the reality of this wonderful gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Tongues as a Wonderful Gift?

I thank God that I speak in [strange] tongues (languages) more than any of you or all of you put together.

1 Corinthians 14:18

This passage tells us that Paul was grateful for the wonderful privilege of praying in tongues, and he practiced it a great deal in his life.

So should you and I. Once we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we can speak or pray in tongues anytime we choose. We don’t have to wait for some special feeling to come over us and move us to do so. Just as we can pray in our native tongue anytime we choose, we can pray in tongues anytime we choose, but the two ways of praying are not the same.

In 1 Corinthians 14:15 Paul clearly shows that praying with the spirit (by the Holy Spirit) is not the same as praying with the understanding:
Then what am I to do? I will pray with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will also pray [intelligently] with my mind and understanding. …
The great apostle Paul said that he prayed with his mind or understanding, but he also prayed with his spirit.

Of course, it is possible to pray Spirit-led prayers in your own native language, and that is a valuable and right thing to do. But that is not what Paul was talking about in this verse. When he said he prayed with his spirit, he meant that he prayed in other tongues.

Have Tongues Passed Away?

… As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will he fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].

1 Corinthians 13:8

Some people and even some churches teach that the gift of speaking in tongues has passed away. They base this argument on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in which he said that one day the spiritual gifts would no longer exist.

However, we know that prophecy and knowledge have not passed away. Those gifts are accepted today by almost all believers and are practiced in some form in almost all churches. Knowledge is sought for worldwide. It certainly has not passed away. Why then should we believe that the spiritual gift of tongues has passed away?

One reason some believers and some churches are opposed to speaking in tongues is that they have seen them abused or misused. But that is nothing new. The same thing was happening in Paul’s day.
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That is why he wrote to the believers in Corinth, instructing them in what he considered the proper operation of the gifts of the Spirit, including speaking in tongues.

In 1 Corinthians 14:40
KJV,
Paul instructed the Corinthians on how the spiritual gift of tongues should be exercised in the church service —
decently and in order.
But nowhere did he say that this gift had passed away or that it should not be received and exercised by all believers. In fact, in
The Amplified Bible
translation of verse 39 he said, …
do not forbid or hinder speaking in [unknown] tongues.

BOOK: Filled with the Spirit: Understanding God's Power in Your Life
6.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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