Contending for the Faith and Speaking in Tongues - 02/26/2003
Greetings and blessings to you!
I have had an awesome time navigating through your website today! There is not a single thing I disagree with! You two are truly anointed! I'm looking forward to spending time with you via this website for a long time to come. You have explained many questions I had about other faiths. I have felt an overwhelming desire to become knowledgeable about various denominations and cults so in contending for the faith I would have specific knowledge about that which I confront (the various and numerous false doctrines which seek to pollute the minds of the innocent, gullible and the lost). If I could hug the both of you right now I would! Never have I come across anyone, in person or on the internet who has been able to explain various issues or scripture passages so clearly as they relate to this. You have clarified so many things for me that I knew to be true but couldn't put into words (when it comes to refuting false doctrines). I was "raised" for lack of a better word, Catholic but never ever understood or accepted Catholic doctrine which unfortunately drove me away from God until my early 30's (I'm 37 now) over the past 5 or 6 years my eyes and heart have been opened to the truth in the Word alone and the assurance that Jesus is the only way to salvation not manmade doctrine. I have been blessed with discernment and consider myself to be a radical follower of Christ! Amen!!!!! I pray constantly for increased boldness to share the truth with unbelievers and those adhering to false doctrines (my family and best friend) sadly their eyes and ears are blinded to the Truth. I won't give up though!
I'm looking forward to any future discussions you share regarding Spiritual Gifts. I believe in them 100% and have been a witness to some of them, however, I believe the "gift" of tongues is abused and misused by the majority of people professing to possess it. I believe so many people claim it because who can nay say it? (Hhmmm... could you interpret that please?) mass confusion 99% of the time in my opinion and since God is not the author of confusion . . . I'm going to have to pass on the gibberish. Prayer language? That's cool. I believe in that also, however, I believe that's a private thing between a person and God and not really meant for the ears of others unless overheard accidentally (and since God knows I speak english that does just fine for me). And if meant to be heard then how can a person who doesn't understand say amen to the prayer right? But I believe that there are so many Christians who think that to be filled with the Spirit they must exhibit a Gift of the Spirit and since claiming healing, prophesy, knowledge etc. could be revealed as false if they didn't happen (statements later found to be false, non-healing, or prophesies that don't come to pass) tongues is the "safe" gift. For allot of people claiming it too, I think puffs them up in front of others. They totally disregard that tongues (in this instance I mean a language recognizable to at least one person on the planet who just happens to be in hearing range of the speaker) is supposed to be a sign for non-believers and that the other gifts (especially that of prophesy) should be desired above that of tongues and that there is a specific rule about how it is to be used during church services (no more than 2 or 3 and with interpretation). I do have one question about tongues for you. Is tongues as "prayer language" the same as the gift of tongues as described in Acts 2:1-12? I believe they are separate. I believe tongues is the ability to speak or be heard in a recognizable language so that someone within hearing distance (who does not speak the language being spoken) can understand what is being said and I believe that prayer language occurs when someone speaks mysteries to God with his spirit. So is "prayer language" one of the gifts of the Spirit?
Thanks in advance for your response and may God continue to bless you both! You have an awesome ministry and I pray many will be saved because of it.
In His Service!
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi Beth! Thanks for contacting us at Contender Ministries. First of all, God bless your socks right off!! We can't tell you how encouraging and heartwarming it was to receive your email. God blesses this ministry through people like you Beth, who write us words of encouragement that lift us up. It is a blessing to hear that God has used our ministry to touch someone's life. We are worthless without Him, and our words are empty, but He breathes life into them and uses them to achieve wonderful things. We're both happy to share a "virtual hug" with you, and are happy to count you as a sister in Christ.
We will be preparing another study on the gifts shortly. Tongues is probably the gift that is the most controversial. Tongues as a prayer speech IS meant to be private, and I believe is separate from the gift of tongues. You are right that it is "praying in the spirit" in which words are not necessary to communicate what is on your heart. It is, I believe, a moment that is shared strictly between you and God. That is why I consider it separate from the gift of tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:22 says that tongues is a sign for unbelievers. Tongues as a prayer language is private, and can therefore not be a sign to unbelievers.
I agree that tongues is often a gift that is misused. Some churches hold to the doctrine of "initial evidence". That doctrine is one that states that acceptance of Christ will be immediately followed by "baptism in the Spirit," as evidenced by the speaking of tongues. In other words, if someone does not speak in tongues, they are not truly saved. I can't emphasize strongly enough how much I disagree with that doctrine. It is simply not scriptural. Believers in that doctrine base that belief on several conversion stories in the Book of Acts in which people spoke in tongues after accepting Christ. Yet they ignore other conversion stories that do not mention this. Also, should we believe that small flames will appear over the heads of new converts, because that happened in Acts as well? Of course not. That's patently silly.
Yet because of this doctrine, many people feel pressured to "prove" their salvation by speaking in tongues. If they are not gifted by the Spirit to do so, some will probably fake the experience. I feel sorry for people that are convinced that their salvation is not real, simply because they have not been gifted with tongues. My heart weeps for them. This pressure causes people to doubt their salvation, and/or to fake or misuse the gift of tongues. 1 Corinthians 14 is clear that tongues may be spoken only if someone interprets the tongue. In fact, in verse 28, Paul said that if no one is interpreting the tongues, then the tongues-speaker needs to "keep quiet" and speak to himself and God. Why this rule? You alluded to it in your email, and you were exactly right - in verse 33 Paul said, "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace."
Discernment is a wonderful gift, and I urge you to thank God for blessing you with such a gift. In fact, all spiritual gifts are gifts from God, and we should all give thanks for our gifts and use them for His glory - no matter what that gift may be. We thank you for your prayers for this ministry. Such prayers are needed and so important! We will pray for you too. May the Lord richly bless you as you contend for the faith!
With love in Christ,
Ben and Jennifer Rast