Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

An Exhausting Set of Questions on Tongues

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

As I’ve looked at the gift of tongues, I’ve found out that there’s a lot to work through. More than you might expect. The questions can get really complex. I want to find the straight-forward answers… But I want answers that seem to satisfy everything the Bible says about the gift.

I decided to write down all the questions & issues I can identify–every decision you have to make about the subject. What do you have to work through, when you’re studying it? Some of these have to do with the nature of the gift, and others are practical questions. Some are directly exegetical–about understanding a particular passage–and others are more general.

Note: Some of these questions have simple answers. Some seem like they have simple answers, but don’t. And maybe some seem complex to me, but they really aren’t. :)

Also Note: I’ve been sitting on this entry for a week or two, tweaking it & improving it.  I’m still not entirely happy with it… There are parts that might not be clear enough. But I can’t keep fiddling forever.

Invitation: If you can think of any additional questions, please, leave a comment. I’d like to make this as exhaustive as possible!

I. Summary: The Biggest Questions

  1. Is the gift of tongues still given today?
  2. Can all believers speak in tongues?
  3. Should all believers speak in tongues?
  4. Are tongues always directed to God, i.e. prayer or praise? Or does it include messages to other people?
  5. The gift of tongues seems to involve some kind of unlearned language. But is it a heavenly language–a “private prayer language”, i.e. glossalalia–or is it speaking in an unlearned human language? Or does it include both?
  6. Can you understand your own gift, when you speak it? Always? Ever?
  7. How are interpreted tongues to be practiced in church? 1 Cor. 14:28 says, “if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church“. How do you know if there’s someone to interpret?
  8. How does an uninterpreted tongue edify the speaker (1 Cor. 14:4)?
  9. Are there any differences between tongues in Acts and tongues in 1 Corinthians?
  10. What does it mean that tongues are a sign for the unbeliever, while prophecy is a sign for the believer? (1 Cor. 14:21-25) How does this fit into the flow of Paul’s argument? (Major question!)

Below I’ll list more questions–both additional questions, and more detailed questions about the above. (more…)

A Word About Thanks & the Spirit

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thess. 5:16-22

People typically connect “Do not quench the Spirit” with the next verse, “Do not despise prophecies.” But I wonder if it’s also connected with the preceding verse, “Give thanks in all circumstances”. In other words, is grumbling & complaining–the opposite of thankfulness–a way of quenching the Spirit?

There seems to be a pretty consistent connection between thankfulness and the Spirit.

Thanksgiving is part of being filled with the Spirit:

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Eph. 5:18-21

Thanksgiving is part of walking in Christ:

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Col. 2:6-7

Thanksgiving is part of the word of Christ dwelling richly in us:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col. 3:16-17

Speaking in tongues can be giving thanks with your spirit:

“Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?” 1 Cor. 14:16

Avoiding grumbling and complaining is part of working out our salvation with fear and trembling, and part of remaining blameless and innocent:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” Phil. 2:12-15

So, it seems that being filled with the Spirit produces thanksgiving, and grumbling quenches the Spirit.

Carson on Sensationalism

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Edit: See That Sensationalism Quote for a brief introduction to the following.

“Yet another issue is a deeply ingrained love of sensationalism and triumphalism, and little knowledge of taking up one’s cross daily. I do not mean to suggest that any gift of tongues, say, or any “prophecy” as defined here, or any miraculous healing, should be ruled out because it might be thought “sensational.” To denigrate the “sensational” in so sweeping a way, a fairly common ploy among noncharismatics, would surely be to indict Jesus and Paul. Rather, the problem lies in love for sensationalism, in the unbiblical and unhealthy focus upon it. [...] It magnifies the importance of what is, biblically speaking, relatively incidental, while ignoring the weightier matters: righteousness, holiness, justice, love, truth, mercy. It is constantly in danger of sacrificing integrity as the rush towards the sensational pelts on: stories of healings are blown out of proportion, so that the genuine instances are lost in exaggeration and distortion; evangelism loses out to manipulated outbursts of emotion [...]; the straightforward and impassioned message of the cross, proclaimed by a Whitefield, is displaced by endless promises to solve personal problems; and only the Christians whose problems have evaporated and who enjoys perfect health has entered into the fullness of the riches Jesus promises. In the more extreme cases, the triumphalism is carried so far as to promise wealth as well: give your “seed money” to God (i.e., our organization), and watch God multiply it; you are the child of a king–do you not think your heavenly Father wants you to live in royal splendor? Believers who have meditated long on Matthew 10 or John 15:18-16:4, let alone believers in China, will not be impressed by this argument. [emphasis added]“

– D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, p. 173-174

Complacency, Doubt, and Assurance

Monday, February 18th, 2008

The sermon this week at church, the latest in a series on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, dealt with the subject of assurance. The pastor preached from Romans 8, with the central verse 15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!””.

It got me thinking about a conversation I had a month or so ago, with someone who was not feeling at all assured. And then this morning, the book I’m reading touched on the same topic. So, I’d like to share from the book by Sam Storms, Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s “Religious Affections”.  I found out about this book by listening to Storms’ appearance on Converse with Scholars, about which Carrie Hunter said, “He discussed the wonderful language Jonathan Edwards used to show how we as believers can see the true marks of the Holy Spirit in our own lives as well as in the lives of others.” I’m enjoying it very much; it’s edifying, concise, and quite readable.

As I was reading this morning, I came to a passage that deals with some elements of the false assurance felt by those whose faith is not authentic, and with why Christians may still struggle with assurance:

(more…)