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Guided by the Word

All around me sat young people bubbling over about the work of the Spirit in them. Every once and awhile such exclamations as “Praise the Lord” or “Thank you, Father” penetrated the air. I had never seen anything like it. Here were kids my own age filled with the praise, joy, and love of God in them. God was just their whole life. They couldn’t keep this special feeling to themselves, they had to share it with everyone. One girl voiced the experiences of the whole group of some fifteen people. She said that she had been saved for as long as she could remember. She had been brought up in a Christian home and gradually became aware of her salvation when she got older. Many limes she had experienced a spiritual “high point” during which her love and faith for God had really been strong. But after every high point came the low points and it seemed to her that each low had been getting lower. She reasoned that true faith should not fluctuate in this manner. It was at this time that she heard from some friends about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She was told that after this baptism God be¬comes the center of your life. The object of your very existence on this earth becomes praising and glorifying Him. This was what she wanted so very much. One night she prayed fervently all night that, if it would be God’s will, the Spirit would fill her. That same night, she said, God answered her prayer and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. The radiant look on her face told her audience of the joy that filled her then and that continued to fill her after her baptism. She said that she spoke to God in tongues since then also. She didn’t understand what she said but was given the interpretation by God through one of her friends. This showed the complete way God had not only taken over her tongue, but her mind also. Others in the room confirmed her experience and said that now that they were filled with the Spirit they always had the desire to pray and continually read and search the Bible. They had to find more about God and its message to them.

I came away from that meeting feeling dazed and confused. That girl had really made an impression on me when she had told about her “highs” and “lows.” My faith experiences the very same thing. I’ve always wished that I could be filled with love for God all the time instead of having it come and go. I had understood that this was part of my sinful nature and that I would never truly feel the love of God completely all the time until that love was perfected in heaven. But the joy that filled those at the meeting was real and something I would love to have all the time, too. They cited many instances in the New Testament when the apostles and believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. They used such passages as Acts 2, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Mark 16:17, and 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 to justify the speaking in tongues. How was I to condemn such people, when the Bible seemed to justify everything they were doing? I was really troubled.

I began to search the Bible for the answers. I came across Acts 5:38 and 39, where we read of Gamaliel, the Pharisee, telling the Jews to “. . . refrain from these men [apostles] and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” Was this meant as a warning for me to quit questioning the baptism of the Spirit and the speaking in tongues and to wait and see what became of the movement? Was I really “fighting” God? But something kept pressing me onward. I read a good book by Robert G. Gromacki called The Modern Tongues Movement and studied many articles written on the baptism of the Spirit and the speaking in tongues. Throughout all of this research I trusted in God to help me arrive at the right conclusion.

I learned that there are really only two groups of people in this world; Christians who have the Spirit and unbelievers who do not. There is no third group of Christians who have not received the Holy Spirit. This truth is clearly taught in Romans 8:9 where we read, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” This verse reveals the opposite of what was said at the meeting. If a person is truly saved, he already has the Spirit in him and has no need to ask to be filled with it. But then I asked myself about the beautiful joy that came along with this “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Was it a means to end the spiritual low points that Christians experience? I don’t think so. I don’t believe that wonderful feeling is a lasting one. The sinful nature of man will, as usual, demolish it. I use David as an example. He had strong faith and was very close to God but he still sinned just as we do and experienced his low points of faith, also. This was revealed in many of the Psalms that he wrote. He was troubled and grieved many times because of his sins and was not always joyful and did not always praise God. What reassurance, though, that there will be “high points” that bring us even closer to God and that give us a taste of the eternal joy that we will experience in heaven!

I still had the question of private speaking in tongues unanswered. Does God still give the gift of tongues as discussed in I Corinthians 12 and 14? Robert G. Gromacki had a very good point which he made in his book. He said, “Since the New Testament was not written and since there were few apostles and prophets around, God revealed Himself and His truth through these gifts. [Gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 — word of wisdom, working of miracles, speaking in tongues, etc.] Once the New Testament was completed and circulated, the need and purpose of these gifts were removed. Thus, some spiritual gifts must be regarded as temporary, limited to the apostolic era, while others are a permanent part of church life …. If the gift is permanent, it will be seen throughout all of church history because the church couldn’t function apart from it.”1 This explanation can be used in understanding the gift of speaking in tongues. This gift was very prevalent at the time of Pentecost and a short time after¬wards. God had sent this gift at this time to show that His gospel was to be spread to all nations, Jews and Gentiles alike. But the gifts of tongues was not a permanent part of church life. In the post-apostolic era, speaking in tongues ceased as a normal activity of the believers. Justin Martyr, Origen, Irenaeus, and Augustine all testified to this fact. The only occurrences at this time appeared among the Montanists, who were condemned by the church. During the Middle Ages and the Reformation period, certain Roman Catholic saints were said to have spoken in tongues. But the Catholics had a tendency to exaggerate the accomplishments of their saints, so these accounts are questionable. There is no proof that the great reformer, Martin Luther, spoke in tongues. Then after the Reformation period, a rash of tongue-speaking incidents occurred among the Quakers, Mormons, Jansenists (Roman Catholic group) and other similar groups. Our modern-day Pentecostalism has grown out of these.2 1 think, as Gromacki stated, if the gift of speaking in tongues was permanent, we would be able to find it throughout the whole history of the church. There would be no reason, that I can see, to have it used by believers now unless there is someone or something behind it beside God. Some say it is satanic, others say it is psychological or even artificially produced in some instances by the person himself. I know now that God does not give the gift of speaking in tongues anymore.

What a learning experience this whole thing has been! I’m convinced now that God sends different movements such as the tongues and Holy Spirit movement to test His people. I discovered so many things in the Bible that I never knew were there before. My faith has also been strengthened. I can tell people better, now, what my salvation means to me. Isn’t it beautiful the way God teaches His children? I will leave you with this prayer from Psalm 25:4 and 5: “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”

Footnotes:
1. Robert G. Gromacki, The Modern Tongues Movement (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1967), p. 118.
2. Ibid., p. 28.