The discussion regarding whether the Charismatic “sign” gifts are still present today is a topic which reaches to the very core of our emotions, both for those who believe the gifts are evident today, and also for those who do not. While reading through this topic in our book it is noted that the authors place together those from the extremist side of this debate and those who are just trying to worship Jesus. As one who has been to many Pentecostal (Assemblies of God) churches, it is very rare to find being “slain in the spirit”, “laughing in the spirit”, etc. in their churches, yet one does find speaking in tongues but probably not at every one. However, that said I do believe some of what you see on TV or in certain churches is not of God, or comes very close to crossing a line-It is not beneficial to name, “names” God knows who they are, but we must pray for those acting in ways we question.
With regards to the question of speaking in tongues ceasing, often 1 Corinthians 13:8 is used which states, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where they are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge it will pass away.” The answer to this question comes in verse 11-“when perfection comes” this is referring to when Jesus comes, and then tongues will cease or be “stilled” because tongues will not be needed when Jesus returns. Another section of scripture that is also often used to refer to speaking in tongues ceasing is; Ephesians 2:13, 18-22. Actually what these verses are talking about is how we are one in Christ, we are a family, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…” (Ephesians 2:19) It is very important to note however, when one speaks in tongues or sees someone speaking in tongues that there must be an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:13) this is to edify the church. The tongues debate does cross denominational lines, meaning there are Baptist churches where the gifts of the spirit are evident just as in a Pentecostal church. Is the gift of tongues a love language that only God can understand or is it a foreign language? I do not have the answer, as I do not have the gift however-I have been in both denominations where the gifts still exist and where they have indeed ceased.
What about the sick being healed? Jesus is our great physician who healed many people of their sicknesses whether their ailments were; physical, mental or spiritual. The verses which are most often used with regards to healing are James 5:14-15, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” People are still healed today, whether through the power of prayer or through medicine. Some of the people in the Bible were healed as a result of their faith; Mark 5:28, “because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed”, Mark 10:52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Healings do happen today, and have not ceased, but in the Bible it does not say everyone will be healed. As noted above, with regards to healing some of what you see on “TV” is not biblical and we need to pray for those who are in positions of pastoral authority, for they are accountable to God!
How about the gift of prophecy? “The gift of prophecy is the only gift that occurs in all of Paul’s listing of gifts and is an indication of its importance and priority in relation to other gifts.” It is also noted that Prophecy is according to one commentary, “its primary function is not foretelling the future but rather a telling forth of God’s message.” The Bible gives clear instructions with regards for how to treat the issue of prophecy. We need to; “do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 We need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to share with us the truth regarding what is actually prophecy and what is deception.
Since two of the three main Charismatic gifts are used to edify and build up the church, why would they cease to exist in a time where our churches need to be cleansed and there needs to be more “Holy Spirit Housecleaning”? Sin is running rampant in the church and we need the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to draw us back to the Father.
In conclusion, it is important to note that we all will interpret the Bible differently and none of us have the answers, and we will not until we get to Heaven. However, it is good to study the Bible and apply it to every area of our lives and to do that we need to ask Jesus to open our hearts and minds to the truth, whatever that may be. Until it is shown to me otherwise, I choose to believe that the gifts have not ceased and yes, they are still evident in our churches!
Arrington French, L. & Roger Stronstad, “Life in the spirit New Testament Commentary”, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1999
© 2021, Matt. All rights reserved.
On the gift of tongues, which I confess I do not have, I believe it must be of some distinct language. God is a God of purpose and would not allow a lot of jibber jabber to confuse those in His Church. Of the two instances I have heard about tongues being spoken, both were identified as a language by non-believers. One was by a bored Muslim bartender polishing glasses at a Christian Conference of pastors in a hotel conference room and the other by a women waiting for a couseling session while a meeting of elders was finishing up. In both instances each non-believer was astounded that their language was spoken and though I don’t remember the exact interpretations it had something to do with the Gospel. The tongues spoken by the Apostles in Acts had the same purpose.
Thanks for the comment.
I would agree that tongues are a language. A foreign language (human) might just be “jibber jabber” to us if we don’t know it. That does not mean it is not a true language though. Tongues may just be in a language where there is not a person present who know it (or it could be an angelic or heavenly language). The important thing is that most hearers will not understand it, hence the reason why we are told by the Bible that someone must interpret what is said so that the rest of the church can be edified.
Thanks for the examples you gave…
I speak in tongues and its a wonderful thing. I usually only speak it in my personal prayer time with the Lord and it edifies me and builds me up. Now I’m an old school Pentecostal, and in our church services there will usually be a moment of silence after singing hymns and usually the Holy Spirit will move on a person and they will speak a message in tongues and then immediately after them, a person with the gift of interpretation will interpret the message for the edification of the whole church that’s the correct way it is done. Remember God is not the author of confusion, but of peace so usually the messages will be given in order one after the other never chaoticly or disorderly. I have found that since I was “filled with the Holy Spirit”…(not to be confused with the intial dwelling of the Holy Spirit when one gets saved)…that the Holy Spirit gives me power to preach the Gospel and given me a yearning/burning desire to live a holy life for the our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and proclaim His message to all people. Remember grace and holiness go together to have a balanced sense of God. Most Christians these days live in one end or the other I have found. They either say once saved always saved with a license to sin or they take holiness to far and become legalistic and base they’re salvation on works or trying to be good by on their own merit…both are utterly destructive. If you are having problems with this (as I had in the past) go directly to God in prayer and ask Him to help you and guide you into all truth through His Word. Amen
Our God is bigger than what people say or do. We can not put God or the things of God in a box and conclusively say this or that thing is not of God. On the day of Pentecost people thought those who were speaking in tongues were drunk. Nothing has changed, many are still wondering what manner of God we serve. His wonders shall never end.