I Corinthians 14
Growing up, there was a classic cartoon called, Casper the Friendly Ghost. Casper was a nice ghost that went around doing good and getting into trouble for it. I remember thinking the Holy Spirit was like Casper. The Holy Spirit was called the “Holy Ghost,” which is terminology from the King James version. I believed the Holy Spirit was part of the God-head, yet there was mystery about his role and purpose. Finally, in my late twenties, I began to gain a revelation of the Holy Spirit.
I was like some of the converts in Acts that had received Jesus and had been sealed by the Holy Spirit upon salvation, but I had not embraced the Holy Spirit. I had friends who referred to the Holy Spirit ‘speaking’ to them and giving them ‘gifts.’ I could see the fruit in these people’s lives and I desired the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life as well. So, I repented of treating the Holy Spirit like Casper the Friendly Ghost and received the Spirit and all that he had to offer.
One of the gifts I received was the gift of speaking in tongues. I had been afraid of speaking in tongues; suddenly I didn’t care anymore about what people thought or the awkwardness I felt.
I just wanted everything the Holy Spirit had to offer.
The most controversial gift the Holy Spirit gives us is speaking in tongues. The apostle Paul is helping the church at Corinth sort out issues about speaking in tongues. Apparently, some had abused their gifts in the public meeting and caused confusion. Paul explains, in I Corinthians 14, that tongues (unless it is for public edification with an interpreter) is a private prayer language.
The main evidence of being filled with the spirit is not speaking in tongues, it’s love.
Tongues are not necessarily evidence of deep spiritual maturity. Love is always the measuring stick of spirituality. God gives us gifts of power to be witnesses for him and to glorify him.
I encourage you, whatever your position is on speaking in tongues, to study the issue, pray about it and also to teach your children. This gift does not make sense to our minds. As a young man, I had my list of arguments against speaking in tongues; they were all intellectual in nature. Once I received the Holy Spirit in his fullness, I embraced the gifts as well. My mind was declaring this is really strange, but my spirit was communing with God in a fresh way. And I began to have a better understanding of this “controversial gift” of tongues.
James says, “but you can’t tame a tongue – it’s never been done.” (James 3:8). It seems ironic that God gave us a gift that deals with the untamable tongue. Through tongues, he controls the very tool that James says is untamable. This is encouraging to me. The other wonderful issue about speaking in tongues is that it is a language that glorifies God. When I speak in tongues I am communicating with God and my spirit man is encouraged and edified.
Every Christian father wants his children to embrace the fullness of all that God gives us. The Holy Spirit and the gifts he gives us are part of the inheritance God has available to us as fathers and children.