Monday, June 22, 2009
It’s a wonderful thing to experience God’s teaching. He teaches in such unexpected ways that it leaves me in continual awe of him.
By way of example, this past weekend we acquired three chickens and a coop. This may sound strange and I don’t blame you if you think so. After all, it wasn’t as if we were out looking for chickens and a chicken coops. I have a client who wants me to buy and resell his house and he had the chickens and the coop. Just making conversation, I asked him about them out of curiosity and he promptly asked, “Do you want ‘em?” And so, within a few short days our backyard was blessed with the presence of chickens.
Somewhere along the way, my wife reminded me that our daughter was going to be in a dance show at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar. At first glance, this may seem to be totally unrelated to the chickens, but hang in there. I’ll tie it all together for you in a moment. Now, where was I? Oh yes… The fair… we couldn’t see ourselves missing the dance show, so we packed up our little future dance star and off to the fair we went. The dance program was wonderful. My little girl was a joy to watch. In fact, we were so elated by the event that when she asked if we could stay at the fair and ride the rides, her mother and I agreed (much to our collective wallet’s chagrin).
Somewhere in all the fun, my daughter won a fish! Now, it is my personal belief that pet stores are behind this. I say this because it is a well known fact that more fish tanks are sold as a result of kids winning fish at the fair than for any other reason. My wife will attest to this. While she was buying the obligatory fish tank at Walmart another parent was buying one too. Noticing what each other were about, they looked at each other, paused for effect and asked in unison, “Did your kid win a fish at the fair too?” It ended up costing us about sixty bucks to take care of that twenty cent fish. What a deal!
The day after our visit to the fair was Father’s Day. After church that morning we came home and just relaxed. I found myself sitting in the middle of the lawn in our backyard watching three chickens peck their way around the yard in search of bugs. It was one of the most interesting and relaxing things I have had the privilege of doing lately. There I was, sitting in the grass in the middle of the backyard among the fruit trees and chickens petting my dog and wishing it would never end. I must have been there for over an hour. Later that day, I caught myself doing the same thing watching the fish.
Both times I couldn’t help but wondering what Eden must have been like. Wildlife all around just being exactly what God intended them to be. It must have been a tranquil place before the serpent got involved. The memory of it must have tortured Adam and Eve every day of their lives.
Just for the record, I have never been to Eden. But, all of my life I have been drawn to such things. My family and I planted the fruit trees ourselves, we are planning a vegetable garden and I was overjoyed to be given the chickens and yes, even the fish. Somehow I wonder if God hasn’t instilled the memory of Eden in each one of us. Perhaps that is why so many of us are eager to be surrounded by things that remind us of a place where we have never been. Heaven will be like that, I think. It will be a place like Eden, a place where being still and knowing that God is God will be easy. Everything there will speak his name and rejoice at the sound of his voice and the very thought of him. And even better than Eden… there will be no serpents.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
It is every Christian parent’s dream to baptize their children. Dee Anne and I had the joy of baptizing our son Nick this past April (watch the baptism on the video below). Since Nick’s baptism we have learned a few things that I would like to pass along.
The days and weeks building up to a baptism of your kids are times of deep prayer and reflection. Your child is studying the bible several times a week to learn what he or she must know before making the decision to follow Christ. You spend a lot of time begging God for your child’s salvation and looking back at what you did right and where you messed up at the same time. You’ll find that you’ve messed up a lot and this is part of what leads you to much prayer.
It would be nice if that was all it took, but your life will take some interesting turns that you may not expect. First, your schedule will be a disaster because you’ll be doing all the things that parents of teenagers usually do, plus running your child to Bible studies all over the place at oddball times of day. Then there are all the stupid things that come up. Suddenly your kid, who never seems to get into big trouble, gets into big trouble. It could be a problem at school, high school drama with a close friend, a sudden desire to date or you may have the police knocking at your door. The thing to remember is that YOU are in a battle for your child’s salvation. This latest disaster, however terrible it may seem, is nothing more than the devil’s attempt to hang-on to your kid. Never, never, never stop praying and fighting for your child!
When the day finally arrives and your child comes out of the water a saved soul, you truly realize the greatness of God. Baptizing your children cannot be done without God’s intervention and it probably will not be done in your timeframe or in a way prescribed by you. It will happen when God says it will happen. He knows best. God is the one who turns those mistakes you made as parents into good and He is the one who truly brings your child’s heart to Jesus.
So, there you are at the baptizmal. You’re clothing is all wet because your kid just came out of the water and gave you the best and deepest hug you have ever received. You’re thinking, “Thank you God… The battle is over.” But, you couldn’t be more wrong. You have just managed to baptize your child. Jesus has forcefully snatched your kid from the hands of Satin and the devil is not a happy camper. What you must know and be prepared for is the simple fact that the war for your child’s salvation has only just begun. By comparison, getting your child baptized was easy. So, now that I’ve frightened you to death, here are some quick tips to help you guide your child to maturity in Christ. They are in no particular order. I typed them for you as I thought of them.
1. Think spiritually: This is a spiritual battle, not a worldly one. If you get caught-up in the worldly view of whatever disasters strike, you will miss the point and lose the battle. You cannot fight spiritual battles with weapons of the world. Use your Bible as the weapon that it is. Your Bible isn’t called a sword for nothing. Gently, but firmly bring your child back to the Bible.
2. Walk with God: Your kids know you better than you do. If you are walking powerfully with the Lord, they will see it and will emulate it. The reverse is also true, so be careful. Your example is the one they will see most. Show them an example of Christ in you.
3. Pray: Pray continually about everything and especially about your child’s salvation. Pray with your children and as a family every single day.
4. Have quiet times with God along with your child. Nick needed that time with me and with God as he approached becoming a teen. He still does. So, I got him up at 5:30AM each Saturday. We went to a different place each time; a place where he could see God. One week we went to the tide pools at the beach. The next week I took him to a mountain lake. We talked and prayed and sometimes we opened the Bible and read a scripture that fit the moment. Then we went to Nick’s favorite taco stand and got a burrito together. We were home by 8:30AM. Nick still asks, “Hey Dad, can we get a burrito?” My answer is always, “You bet!” He cherishes those times. So do I and so does God.
5. Be real: Nothing encourages your children more than when you are real with them. I don’t hide my sin from my kids. I talk about it with them. I’m open about it and I pray to God about it in front of them. Obviously, some sins we commit, such as sexual impurity, are best not discussed with your small children. But: anger, impatience, worry, unfaithfulness, selfishness and the like are all things that our children should see us struggle against in prayer and openness. They need to see us run to God for help. That way they will learn to run to Him too.
6. Patience is the key: Your newly baptized child is now a baby in Christ. You are essentially raising a newborn again. Newborn Christians need to learn everything from scratch. Don’t assume that they know how to get advice or how to read and study their Bible or even how to pray or what to pray about. My son loves to help people who are in trouble. What he doesn’t know, is how to do it. He tends to jump right into the trouble with them and finds himself in trouble too as a result. His heart is in the right place. He just needs training in order to be able to get the job done without getting smashed to the ground spiritually in the process. The important thing is for my wife and I to help him learn how to help others without causing him to lose the heart to do so in the process. This can only be done with prayer, patience and training.
7. Remember the Holy Spirit: Your newborn Christian child has a helper that he or she didn’t have before, the Holy Spirit. You will be amazed as you watch God’s Spirit guide your child and work to mold that young heart. It is truly a miracle to behold. Whatever you do, do not hinder the Spirit of God, not in your own life or your child’s. Listen!
8. Use your team: Work with your teen minister and with the other teens to help your child work through issues and challenges. They will come in great number and you will need the help. You must remember that you are not alone. You have God and you have your fellow Christians. Work as a team.
I hope these things are helpful and I pray that your children will come to Christ as our son has. God is good!
Monday, June 15, 2009
I have been reading the book of Leviticus lately. It’s dry reading, I must admit. I found myself talking to the Lord this morning after reading Leviticus 5 and 6 and confessing that I find it difficult to keep my attention on the scriptures and frankly, just to keep my eyes open. It was at that moment that a realization came to me. It was very cool, so I thought I would share with you.
Each of the sacrifices listed and described in great detail in the chapters of Leviticus worked for one specific type of sin and only worked if done in a specific and precise way. In the same way, getting to God can only be accomplished in one specific and precise way; though Jesus Christ. I cannot come to God through Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism or any other “ism”, “religion” or belief. Neither can I come to God by ignoring everything and just being a “good person.” Each and every one of those things is a false road leading in the wrong direction.
When Jesus said, “I am the way and the trust and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), it was not arrogance or pride that drove him to say it. It was simply a fact of God’s design. God is a god of specific instructions and clockwork perfection in all things. His plans are always detailed, complete and perfect. Thus, there is no need for a Plan B. Plan A works just fine. Plan A always works and no other plan works. Jesus is and always has been, Plan A. Just as the sacrifices listed in Leviticus were the only ones that worked for the ancient Hebrews in order to bring them back to God after they had sinned, the bloody and terrible sacrifice that Jesus made is the only one that will get any of us to Heaven.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I was at a point of desperation, so I lay there in bed and called every demon who was pestering me by name; “The demon of worry”, “The demon of lack of sleep”, “The demon of faithlessness”, and so on. Once I had named them I said, “The Lord rebuke you all. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and King whose name is above all names I rebuke you and demand that you leave me alone.” At that very moment my entire body began to tingle in the way that your foot feels when it has “fallen asleep.” Suddenly, the pressure was gone, I was no longer being beaten down and I went back to sleep.
It was later in the morning during my prayer walk that the spirit revealed a lesson from this experience. James 4:6-7 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." I used to resist by gritting my teeth and muscling my way through. But, this is not resistance; it is the prideful taking of a beating while gritting one's teeth and saying, “I can take it!” God opposes this, which is why it never works.
True resistance is accomplished by humbly accepting the fact that I am too weak to fight the devil or even survive his mildest attack. It is accomplished by running to Christ and bringing him into the battle, just as the Archangel Michael did (Jude 9). It was instructive for me to remember that Michael had faced the devil before and defeated him (Rev 12:7-9). Yet, even knowing that he had defeated the devil before, Michael was humble when he faced him again over the body of Moses and called upon the name of the Lord. Michael set a great example for me. My only chance of resistance is to run to Jesus and call upon His name. He is the only one who can win, and He will!
Monday, July 09, 2007
Recently I have been doing some deep thinking about Superman. It may sound nuts, but I have always liked Superman. He was my favorite superhero when I was a boy and I still like Superman today. But, there is one thing that troubles me about the guy and it relates to my life as a Christian. Superman lives a double life.
I really had to think about it in order to realize that it was Superman I liked as a boy, not Clark Kent. Oh sure, Clarks is Superman and there’s really no reason not to like him. Just the same, the guy has always bugged me and I recently understood why. Clark is only being true to himself when he’s wearing the red cape and the big “S” on his chest. When he is pretending to be less than he is as the mild mannered reporter, he is being false and living a lie.
As a Christian, I take my Christianity everywhere; to my home, my job, and so on. I wear it like a robe. When I am at home or at work, I am a Christian. But my home and work are not part of my Christianity. They are simply places where I dawn my robe. I take my Christianity to these parts of my life, but I don’t take these parts of my life to my Christianity. It’s as if, like Superman, I live a double life. I am SuperChristian at church and the mild mannered guy in a robe everywhere else. And, just like Clark Kent, my secret is safe as long as I remain in my false, public disguise.
Having come to this realization, I am determined to take my life; all aspects of my life, to the Lord. I have started with my work. I am a real estate broker and I have written my business purpose statement and posted it on my website. I pray through it before I go to work each day and it has changed my focus and brought my working life to Christ. I have printed it here for you:
My business purpose:
The purpose of my business is to honor and glorify God. Otherwise, I’m just working to make money and die (which seems like a petty and small use of my life).
- Colossians 3:17 “… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I get to do my work and serve my clients in the name of the Lord and give thanks for the opportunity regardless of the outcome.
- Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Serving my clients well is easier when I am mindful that I am service the Lord. Even when clients are being difficult I get to serve the Lord by serving them well. My reward is with God in heaven, not here. The money I make here is meant to sustain this life and be used to glorify God. It is not meant to build a heaven on earth.
I get to honor God in my work by taking the following steps:
- Devote myself to pray and pray for God to give me the strength, wisdom, courage and words to share my faith at every opportunity. Col 4:2-4 says. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
- Pray for every opportunity to serve my clients as Jesus would, and through that service plant the seeds that may one day bring them to Christ. Col 4:5-6 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
- Pray to be humble and gentle with everyone. Corinthians 4:21 “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?” 2 Corinthians 10:1 “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!” Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
- Pray to the Lord giving him the glory and praise. Rev 3:7-8 says, “What He (the Lord) opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” As long as the Lord gives me an open door to work with people in my life I am determined to give him everything I’ve got in an effort to accomplish His will in their lives, even though my strength is little. As for my life, whether He opens doors or shuts them, I will keep His word and I will not deny His name. If I succeed, I will praise him. If I fail, I will praise him.
- Pray for His will to be done in my client’s lives: Acts 17:26 says, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Therefore, I pray for every listing I have asking God to send the person whom He has chosen to live in that house. My prayer is that His will may be done in that person’s life and that living in that house may help accomplish that goal. With every buyer, I pray for the Lord to lead me to the house that He has chosen for them, so that His will may be done.
- Psalm 9:9 says, “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” My clients are often in financial or marital trouble. I pray that I may be an ambassador for Christ, showing them the love of God in troubled times.
- Pray for God to send the right agents to me. James 4:13-15 says, Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." What happens in my business is not for me to say. Therefore, I am not actively recruiting other than praying for God to bring those to me who wish to honor him in the same way that I have chosen to in my business. If God sends someone to me, I know I have the right person. If I find them by hunting them down, I have left God out of the picture. This is something I am not willing to do. Therefore, in each case I will explain the purpose of my business as I have here and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me in selecting the right people. I intend to follow the Lord’s guidance every time. If nobody every comes along, then as far as I am concerned God has decided that I should work by myself until such time as he decides differently.
The one thing I know for sure is that selling real estate for the sole purpose of making money is a waste of the life God has given me. I have only a short time and I have wasted enough of it already.
Monday, January 01, 2007
- Who is the Holy Spirit?
- What does he do?
- What should our response be?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
In order to understand who the Holy Spirit is, we must first look to the Trinity.
The heart of Christian faith in God is the revealed mystery of the Trinity.
Trinitas is a Latin word meaning “threeness”. Our Christianity rests upon the doctrine of the Trinitas, the threeness, the tri-personality of God. We talk about God the father and the son, but seldom speak about God the spirit. But, God cannot be split into only the parts we wish to address. Our God is a triune God.
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In this scripture, John sets out the mystery of one God in two persons. But this is not all that John means us to learn about the Trinity. In John 14 Jesus is about to leave, but promises the gift of “another counselor” (Jn 14:16). Let’s take a look at this counselor to get a clear picture of the third person of the Trinity.
The word translated as “counselor” is Parakletos. My study Bible defines it as follows: comforter, encourager, helper, etc. Christ designates the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” (Jn 14:16), and calls Him allos, another, which means another of equal quality (and not heteros, another of a different quality). Therefore, the Holy Spirit is designated by Jesus Christ as equal with Himself, i.e., God. This new Paraclete, the Holy Spirit is to witness concerning Jesus Christ and to glorify Him. The Holy Spirit is called a Paraclete because He undertakes Christ’s office in the world while Christ is away from the world (Jn 14:26; 16:7-15).
The word Paraclete is rendered in a variety of ways in different translations: counselor (NIV, RSV), comforter (KJV), friend (Message), helper (NAS), advocate (Weymouth), one “to befriend you” (Knox). J.I. Packer in “Knowing God” wrote - The thoughts of encouragement, support, assistance, care, the shouldering of responsibility for another’s welfare, are all conveyed by this word. Another comforter – yes, because Jesus was their original comforter, and the newcomer’s task, the Holy Spirit’s task was to continue this side of His ministry. It follows, therefore, that we can only appreciate all that our Lord meant when he spoke of “another comforter” as we look back over all that Jesus himself had done in the way of love, and care, and patient instruction, and provision for the disciples’ well being, during his own three years of personal ministry to them. “He will care for you,” Christ was saying in effect, “in the way that I have cared for you.”
Jesus named the new comforter. He is the “Spirit of Truth”, “the Holy Spirit”. This name denotes deity. Packer writes – In the Old Testament, God’s Word and God’s Spirit are parallel figures. God’s word is His almighty speech; God’s Spirit is his almighty breath. Both Phrases convey the thought of His power in action. The speech and the breath of God appear together in the record of creation. (Gen 1:2-3) “The Spirit [breath] of God was hovering over the waters. And God said… and there was…”. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath [Spirit] of his mouth” (Ps 33:6). The Spirit is Holy. He is God the Spirit and one with God the Father and God the Son.
What does he do?
The work of the Holy Spirit is vital. “…were it not for the work of the Holy Spirit there would be no gospel, no faith, no church, no Christianity in the world at all.” - J.I. Packer “Knowing God”.
When Jesus left the world he committed His cause to his disciples: But how could they be counted on to get it right? They were not good students; they consistently failed to understand His teaching and missed the point throughout his ministry. They were stubborn, prideful, uneducated and often thick. How could they be expected to do better now that he had gone?
But they would not fail because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to them, to teach them all truth and so save them from all error, to remind them of what they had been taught already and to reveal to them the rest of what their Lord meant them to learn. (Jn:14:26; 12:49-50; 17:8,14; 16:12-14; 15:26-27) Packer wrote – The promise was that, taught by the Spirit, these original disciples should be enabled to speak as so many mouths of Christ so that, just as the Old Testament prophets had been able to introduce their sermons with the words, “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah,” so the New Testament apostles might with equal truth be able to say of their teaching, oral or written, “Thus saith the Lord Jesus Christ.” And the thing happened. (1 Cor 2:9-13)
The Spirit testified to the apostles by revealing to them all truth and inspiring them to communicate it with all truthfulness. Hence the gospel, and hence the New Testament. But, the world would have had neither without the Holy Spirit. – J.I. Packer – “Knowing God”
… without the Holy Spirit there would be no faith and no new birth – in short, no Christians. – J.I. Packer – “Knowing God”.
The light of the gospel shines, but (2 Cor 4:4)“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
What follows, then? Should we conclude that preaching the gospel is a waste of time and write off evangelism as a hopeless enterprise, fore-doomed to fail? No, because the Spirit abides with the church to testify of Christ. To the apostels, he testified by revealing and inspiring, as we have seen. To the rest of us, down the ages, he testifies by illuminating: opening blinded eyes, restoring spiritual vision, enabling sinners to see that the gospel is indeed God’s truth, and Scripture is indeed God’s Word, and Christ is indeed God’s son. (Jn 16:8)
It is not for us to imagine that we can prove the truth of Christianity by our own arguments; nobody can prove the truth of Christianity except the Holy Spirit, by his own almight work of renewing the blinded heart. It is the sovereign prerogative of Christ’s Spirit to convince men’s consciences of the truth of Christ’s gospel; and Christ’s human witnesses (you and me) must learn to ground their hopes of success not in clever presentation of the truth by man, but on powerful demonstration of the truth by the Spirit. – J.I. Packer – “Knowing God”. (1 Cor 2:1-5)
Because the Spirit does bear witness in this way, people come to faith when the gospel is preached. But, without the Spirit there would not be a Christian in the world.
What should our response be?
1. Do we honor the Holy Spirit by recognizing and relying on his work? Or, do we slight him by ignoring it, and thereby dishonor not merely the Spirit but the Lord who sent him?
2. In our faith; do we acknowledge the authority of the Bible which He inspired? Do we read and hear it with the reverence and receptiveness that are due to the word of God?
3. In our testimony: Do we remember that the Holy Spirit alone, by his testimony, can authenticate our testimony, and look to Him to do so, and trust Him to do so, and show our trust by chucking the gimmicks of human cleverness?
4. In 1973 J.I. Packer wrote – Can we doubt that the present barrenness of the church’s life is God’s judgment on us for the way in which we have dishonored the Holy Spirit? And, in that case, what hope have we of its removal till we learn in our thinking and our praying and our practice to honor the Holy Spirit? “He shall testify…” He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Thursday, February 02, 2006
When studying a subject in the Bible I like to go back to the meaning of the words in the original language or tongue if you will. So, I dug out the old study Bible and away I went.
The word that is translated as tongues or tongue in the English Bible is the Greek word Glossa. Its definition as presented in the New Testament Lexical Aid of the Key Word Study Bible is as follows:
The Lexical Aid then goes on to explain as follows:
The Greek word Charisma mentioned above is defined in the following way as it relates to 1 Corinthians:
Armed with this new knowledge I decide to read every scripture I could find that related to tongues. Here’s what I learned:
- The word tongue is used throughout the bible to refer to languages of various peoples.
- Jesus predicted events in which believers would miraculously speak in different languages in Mark 16:17 (17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues…)
- The first recorded instance of someone speaking in a foreign language that was previously unknown to him happened at Pentecost (Ac 2:4-11). These “tongues” were real, foreign, human languages. Acts 2:5-11 reads “5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism) Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
- The next instance appears in Acts 10:44-46 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”
- And the last time it was recorded was in Acts 19:6 “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
- In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes about tongues at some length. Particularly in Chapter 14. It appears that his main point is the necessity for someone to interpret for a person speaking in tongues so that the church may be edified. Without someone to interpret what is said, Paul tell us 1 Cor 14:2 “anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.” And in vs 13 “For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.”
- Paul comes to the following conclusion in 1 Cor 14:22-24 “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"
So here’s my conclusion thus far (and I would love to hear from you if you think differently or have more insight into this matter than I):
- The Bible does not appear to record any instance of a person praying by the use of unintelligible babbling. This type of prayer is often what I hear referred to as “tongues”. However, the Bible refers to tongues as real, human languages and the miraculous speaking of tongues as a gift of the Holy Spirit. According to the Bible it is a sign of the power of God in which a person speaks in a language he did not previously know for the edification of those around him who speak that tongue.
- Paul makes it clear that if I speak in a foreign tongue which is not understood by those around me, regardless of how great the miracle, only God understands and those around me receive no benefit.
So, I know that the next time I’m in church and I feel the urge to pray by babbling, I’ll hear the words of the Apostle Paul ringing in my ears “Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” (1 Cor 14:9). As a result, I'm just going to pray in English. That way, if God desires to do so, I will have presented a clear opportunity for Him to use me to edify others.