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Three Views on Speaking in Tongues

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This is a guest blog by my dear Australian friend Andrew Meakins, whom I share Facebook page with.

Pentecostés. Óleo sobre lienzo, 275 × 127 cm. ...

Pentecostés. Óleo sobre lienzo, 275 × 127 cm. Madrid, Museo del Prado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1) The Pentecostal view of tongues: Speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a once only experience. Tongues is for every believer.

2) The Charismatic view of tongues: Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit which usually accompanies the baptism in the Holy Spirit but not always. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a once only experience but a continual infilling that can manifest itself in different ways. Tongues are for every believer who desires the gift.

3) The Third Wave view of tongues: Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit which sometimes accompanies the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a once only experience but a continual infilling that can manifest itself in different ways. Tongues may not be for every believer but every believer is free to ask for it.

I’m inclined to go with the third wave view, because it’s more inclusive of all believers. There are some Christians who seemed to obviously be empowered by the Holy Spirit but never spoke in tongues (as far as we know). John Wesley is an example. The other benefit of the Third Wave view is it doesn’t put tongues as a measure of spirituality or maturity but simply as another gift that can edify us. On the other hand, I’m very grateful I was taught in the Pentecostal church initially because I was encouraged to earnestly desire to speak in tongues. Without that extra encouragement, I don’t think I would have pursued the gift. From my personal experience, the gift of tongues revolutionized my prayer life but having this gift doesn’t make me better than any other Christian.

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.” – 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

The whole context of 1 Corinthians, chapter 12 is community and body. The point is a foot can’t do what a hand can do etc. There are many different functions but one body. So when Paul says “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?” the clear implication is that not everyone has those functions; and when he says “Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret” the clear implication is not all have those gifts. We are to earnestly desire the greater gifts but no one individual will perfectly manifest all the gifts. We need the whole body of Christ in order to accomplish the great commission. When I used to read 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 from Pentecostal perspective, I just didn’t get it. It was one of those verses that made me uncomfortable because it challenged what I believed.

I think there are two different types of tongues; tongues as a gift of personal edification that Paul talks about and tongues as a ministry to others. If ministering to others in tongues, someone with a gift of interpretation of tongues should be present to translate what is being said. It could be a tongue of another language or a language of angels. The example in Acts 2 of people praising God in languages they didn’t know; is actually not repeated in the rest of scripture and I don’t believe it’s a normative experience in the early church or today.

Having said that, on four separate occasions, I’ve personally witnessed people praying in tongues, having no idea what they were saying and people around them realized that they were actually saying something of meaning in another language. One example was a Brazilian friend who was a little skeptical about whether tongues was really from God, suddenly realized that the person behind them, praying in tongues, was in fact saying “believe, believe, believe” repeatedly in Portuguese. The person speaking in tongues had no knowledge of the Portuguese language.

All believers receive the Holy Spirit at conversion. (John 20:21-22.) It’s impossible to proclaim Jesus as Lord without the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). Even Pentecostals agree with this although they sometimes confuse people by saying things like “are you Spirit-filled?” which means “do you speak in tongues?” Terms like that are unhelpful for ecumenical discussion. However it’s the responsibility of every believer to seek the baptism or immersion in The Holy Spirit which is empowerment for Christian living and ministry.

I have personally had three distinct encounters with the Holy Spirit but which one was the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t tell you. That is why I’m more inclined to believe the Charismatic or Third Wave views about a continual infilling. The first one after my conversion was an outpouring of holiness. For about a month I walked around in a state of purity that I could not have imagined before and haven’t experienced since. The second encounter was when I received the gift of speaking in tongues .The third was an outpouring of joy which was accompanied by belly laughter. All of these encounters brought spiritual renewal into my life. The first manifestation passed away, the second exists to this day and the third comes from time to time.

1 Comment

  1. nrichmyleads says:

    I am not sure of the third wave source referenced above and for more details about my response, I urge readers to go to my blog and read from the beginning to present posts in order that I published as I have built up my statements upon the foundations laid by earlier posts. But Tongues are not the gift or even a gift. Holy Spirit is the gift. Tongues is a manifestation of that gift, an expression of that gift if you will. On my visits to a Pentecostal group I guess I never stayed around long enough to hear it expressed that it was a onetime deal. The bottom line is not what one group or another says about it but what does God’s Word say about it. I did not stay around in the above groups because what I heard and saw encouraged in those groups was not correct according to the scriptures. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the tongues I heard expressed were not someone genuinely speaking in tongues, but in the church things are to be done decently and in order. Too many theologians have been discouraged from ever advocating the practice of tongues because the lack of training of born again people in how or when to speak out loud when speaking in tongues. In your private prayer life it is not a problem, but in the church (See I Co 14:6) unless you are going to immediately follow up with the interpretation (or the exceptions in the referenced verse) you are to speak in tongues silently just between God and yourself. Your speaking in tongues is not a license to take over the running of the meeting you are attending. If you are born again you have the ability but it is still your choice whether or not to do it. The person running the meeting is spiritually responsible for the content of the meeting. If he (or she) wants someone to speak in tongues and interpret he should ask for that and expect the mature believers in his congregation to take their turns at doing it up to three. see I Co 14:27 . You can be baptized (totally immersed) in holy spirit and never speak in tongues but what a loss of spiritual self edification. That is why some powerful workers on behalf of God still do wonderfully with the other manifestations. I am sorry about not being knowledgeable of third wave, only in that I cannot address it because I have never heard of it, but from the statement above my main objection is the use of the word gift. Is third wave a new denomination? Is it an Australian movement about manifesting God’s gift of holy spirit to His Children? If it is a title of just a revival movement perhaps I can be behind it, my question is have they resolved the tradition verses scripture discussion. Roman tradition and scriptures just don’t agree with one another. We have gone through Centuries of having the traditions thrown down our throats but intelligent reading of what is written just does not support the traditions. There is no way you get 72 hours from just before sunset “good Friday” to sunrise Easter Morning. Why speak of sunrise when it was yet dark when they found the tomb already empty, It gets light before the sun actually brims the horizon. Shepherds would not be in the fields in December there is no scriptural evidence that the wise men even knew about a manger and Mary’s labor was not 12 days long. The dead do not get up one day a year until Christ comes back to get them up for eternity. And so many other details that just do not line up with what the Word says. Does the Word say you should manifest and should desire to manifest if you don’t yet, yes it does. Is the time when Speaking in Tongues will cease indicated in the Scriptures, yes it is. Has it passed? I, a person sealed to a part of the gathering together am still here so no it has not already come and gone. The Word is all from God if it is the true Word, The Word has internal and external integrity, that is why although attempts have been made to twist the scriptures to say other things than what God inspired, to the diligent workman forgeries and omissions will surface and be identified. The adversary tries to bury the truth but it keeps surfacing century after century. Let us labor for the Lord. Selah.

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The author

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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