I didn’t really want to write about this, but here it goes. And I’m sure there will be trouble.
Some people say that every believer has a spiritual gift. Whether they know what theirs are, or not. Some believe that there are no more spiritual gifts, and that those who say there are, are just fooling themselves. Many people are very opinionated about spiritual gifts. And to a point, I believe that’s OK. However if one gets stubborn and refuses to listen, even to Scripture, well that’s not OK.
One of the common things I hear about spiritual gifts is that you must speak in tongues or some strange language. Why? The Bible doesn’t say that.
I know many people will say “In 1 Corinthians 14:5, Paul said ‘I wish you could all speak in tongues’.” Yet they ignore the rest of what Paul said. I believe this is wrong and dangerous on many levels. I’ll explain why in a minute.
1 Corinthians 14:5 says I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.
Saying that you must speak in tongues isn’t in the Bible. So claiming that it is and that you must do it if you have the Holy Spirit is a lie. 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 says there are different gifts for different people. NOT EVERYONE will get the gift of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:11 says It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. HE ALONE DECIDES WHICH GIFT EACH PERSON SHOULD HAVE. Not you and not me.
I wonder how many young believers, who honestly wanted to follow the Lord with all their heart felt defeated and give up because they were told they did not have the Spirit because they couldn’t speak in tongues. This is evil, because this faulty teaching is dividing the church and driving away some believers.
If somebody prays and heals someone right in front of you, will you ignore the gift of healing and tell that person he or she doesn’t have the Holy Spirit because that person can’t speak in tongues? I would like to see you explain that to our Lord.
For years I have been having trouble with my left leg and left foot. Sometimes it hurts. The pain is on the skin just under that bone that sticks out at the ankle. (The right leg and foot is OK.) The doctors know what’s wrong, they just can’t fix it. A few years ago, a woman asked if she could pray for it. I said yes. She then asked if I speak in tongues. I said no. She told me that if I don’t speak in tongues, it’s a clear sign that I don’t have the Holy Spirit. She even quoted the first part of 1 Corinthians 14:5, but of course not the second part.
I knew what she was saying was wrong, and I knew I should tell her, but I didn’t. I was in pain and I wanted to be prayed for. Well the next day the pain got worse. And for the next two years I had very intense pain, with infections, and even MRSA a few couple of times. To give you an idea of how bad the pain was, one day I had a little discomfort in my tooth. I went to the dentist so it wouldn’t get worse. Turns out the tooth was so bad it needed a root canal. Yet the pain in my foot was over shadowing the pain in my foot.
Many people prayed and I prayed, but nothing happened. One day my pastor and a few people in our church put oil on me and prayed. The pain eased up a lot, but it still hurt. Soon after that I was thinking about that woman who told me the faulty doctrine about speaking in tongues. And how I knew I should have said something about it, but didn’t. I knew it was wrong because I knew the truth but said nothing. I confessed my sin to God and to my wife.
The next day the pain was gone and the infection was gone. In a few days the sore was healing. I was pain free for a whole year! I still have a little pain now. Not much, just enough to remind me. I have other problems now, but that is another story.
The woman claimed to be praying in the spirit. But she wasn’t. I know she’s a Christian, yet she wasn’t praying in the spirit but instead praying in the flesh to show off. That was her sin. My sin was knowing it but not correcting her. And I paid for it.
If you honestly have the gift of tongues, good but use it wisely. If you do not have the gift of tongues, I say that too is good. But I must add, if you don’t have the gift of tongues, I hope you would be brave enough to say you don’t and to not fake it. And try not to let anyone bully you.
I know a man who is in his 30s and have Downs Syndrome. He is friendly and out going. Sometimes during Bible study he speaks slowly and carefully making sure he says exactly what he means to say. (Our church is active in Young Life Capernaum.) One night though, while he was praying during the group prayer, something happened. His speech changed. It was still his voice but what he said and the way he said it was not him. He spoke as clearly and as fluidly as an expert speaker. He prayed by giving thanks for the new bodies we would receive after the Resurrection. Bodies that would not get sick, when there would no longer be any suffering. He was prophesying. The Holy Spirit was speaking through him. I shouldn’t have been amazed to see this, but I was.
We may not know what our gifts are, and I think maybe that’s OK; though it would be nice to know. I may be wrong, but I believe that when needed, we will naturally use that gift. Just keep in mind that God created all of us differently. And He will also gift us differently as shown in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 .