Okay, I'll confess....

I am a Spirit-filled Christ follower. I have loved Jesus Christ ever since I was a small child. I have been filled with the Holy Spirit (the promise of the Father), the Third Person of the Trinity since I was barely ten years old. This is known, in many circles, as "Holy Spirit Baptism." Yes, I spoke in "other tongues"--in a language I had never learned, and had never heard before that time. It was an experience that I will never forget...and it is still as fresh in my mind as it was almost 37 years ago when it first happened to me, on a Saturday evening at the Goosepond Church of God in rural north Alabama.

I believe the Scriptures teach such an experience. I firmly believe the Scriptures teach such an experience--and that it is available for all who desire to be filled with God's Holy Spirit. I believe the "spiritual language" experience is very much a part of being "filled with the Spirit"--but it is not the only experience--gift, sign, phenomena--associated with being filled with the Holy Ghost.

I grew up in the Pentecostal movement (even though I came to saving faith in the Church of Christ), and one of the inalienable doctrines of the movement was/is the belief that "speaking in tongues" is the initial evidence of Spirit Baptism. For me, it was the initial evidence. I was not seeking Spirit baptism (when it happened), but I'm certainly glad that God filled me with His Spirit all those many years ago...and that I've needed filling and refilling, and more refilling ever since then.

In the Book of Acts, we find several instances where people were "filled with the Spirit"--and in most of those instances, the Scriptures tell us those same people began to "speak with other tongues" and magnify the Lord. In one instance (and right now, I cannot remember the exact reference), we are told the believers were "filled with the Spirit"...but no mention of the "evidence"....doesn't mean it didn't happen (or that it did happen), but Dr Luke didn't reference the "speaking in other tongues" for that particular instance.

Here's my take on it (and I know that some of you are just DYING to know where I'm going with this...):

I know and believe and have experienced the "initial evidence" of being filled with the Holy Spirit. It happened to me...I was there...I remember it as though it were yesterday. HOWEVER (and this is the clincher), I believe that many believers are filled with the Spirit, when "speaking in other tongues" may not have been their "initial evidence" or the first experience of "Spirit-fullness."

While I would never make the "exceptions" (in the case of the Scriptures, the "one incident") the "rule" for doctrinal clarity and experience, I am also firmly against "ruling out the exceptions."

Dr Jack W Hayford, former senior pastor of The Church on the Way, and now the President, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, wrote a powerful, powerful volume about twenty years ago, The Beauty of Spiritual Language. In this volume, Pastor Jack expresses, far more clearly than I ever could, his convictions and experience with the issues of Spirit-baptism and "tongues-speaking." I have recommend (and have given) this volume to many, many believers who have questions about both Spirit Baptism and the "classical" evidences accompanying this most blessed experience.

So yes, there you have it: I speak in tongues. It was very much the "initial evidence" of Holy Spirit Baptism for me...many, many years ago.

Is it the only evidence? That's the real question...

4 comments:

Jackie Johns said...

Thanks fo the testimony and the thoughts. I sometimes say "the pattern of the Scriptures reveals speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance to be the normative sign of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit."

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Yes, the bible does teach of speaking in tongues. But it also teaches about the gift of the interpretation of tongues...

Those who spoke in Tongues at Pentecost were not speaking in unknown languages, for their own benefit, but in the languages of all those travelers around them.

I've come across many people who've had experinces like the one you described, and some who insist they are imperative. What I don't understand is that I have yet to meet anyone who could say that they had also experienced the interpretation of tongues, as scripture teaches us must also be present....

So my question I guess is have you experienced interpretation? I'm curious if you have, because at this point it has been a big gap in my interactions with those coming from charismatic backgrounds. Thanks.

in Christ, Daniel

Brian Roden said...

Daniel,

Just to clarify, interpretation of tongues is only a requirement when tongues are manifested as part of public worship setting, because in public worship the gifts are for the edification of the body. Paul does not stipulate there must be an interpretation in private prayer use of tongues. (The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective by Dr. Anthony D. Palma, Logion Press, Springfield, MO.)

Pastor D said...

Great post... I love the Hayford book!

I too, speak in tongues, but some of the meanest people I know claim that as a spiritual "scout badge" of superiority. Growing up "Spirit-filled" exclusively meant Tongues. I, like Paul, wish all spoke in tongues. However, let's see some more FRUIT of the Spirit!

I taught on tongues @ http://www.BranchChurch.org/ for 4 weeks and never had one alter call for anyone to receive. I had more people receive at home in their private time with the Lord!