Tuesday, January 02, 2007finally got to it...
I was first introduced to charismatic "speaking in tongues" at the very first Pentecostal Bible study my mother took me to. I remember thinking: "Okay, this is weird." My mother was also suspicious of the practice, but both of our doubts were eventually supressed by a very convincing study in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. I even remember trying to "speak in tongues" in an evening meeting once... I prayed fervently for the Lord to bless me with this spiritual gift and I started to randomly make quiet sounds with my voice, hoping that the Holy Spirit would eventually take over.
What a downer I was on. I began to question my salvation, and I feverishly sought some secret sins that were in my life that could possibly prevent the Holy Spirit from blessing me. This lasted a short season, and then, my senses came back to me. My analytical mind took over again.
In the five years I spent in charismatic circles, I noticed that "speaking in tongues" had nothing to do with holiness, or even genuine conversion since some of the most worldly souls in our meetings spoke in tongues. And there were even cases of people who once spoke in tongues, leaving, not only the local assembly, but the Faith in total.
Then my mind wandered back to the Baptist church where my mother and I first started attending church. I thought to myself: "There were several holy and godly souls in that fellowship... why is it that they don't speak in tongues?" This question bothered me so much, that I brought it to the attention of my Sunday School teacher.
"The reason they don't speak in tongues," she said, "is because they don't really want it. If they wanted it, then the Holy Spirit would bless them. But because they don't want it, they grieve the Holy Spirit. They're still Christians, they just don't do as well."
This answer did it for me for about 3-4 years. I began to think that speaking in tongues was probably done hypocritically by many, and that's why I was all by my little lonesome in the assembly, who didn't speak in tongues. I remember my mother and several people in the assembly comforting me with this very concept. And that's how things remained... until I learned the definition of grace.
I was in a College and Career meeting (a Bible study meeting for this particular age group) at an AGC church in my city when a tall Romanian (though he liked the term Transylvanian better), my good friend Rob gave me a teaching that has changed my life. He threw his watch at me and said:
"Here you go, Rand. I'm giving you my new watch."
"Okay..." I said, kind of taken aback.
"One question though, Rand..." he continued, "did you ask for my watch?"
"No," I answered.
"Okay... one more question, if you don't mind," he said.
"Shoot," I replied.
"Did you come here tonight hoping to leave with a new watch?" he inquired.
"No," I answered.
"Okay, one final question: do you deserve my watch?" he asked with a grin on his face.
"Uh... what do you mean?" I asked.
"Did you pay me, or do anything for me to earn this favour from me?" he asked slowly.
"Uh, no..." I replied.
"Now you know what the grace of God is like, Rand," he concluded.
It took me a solid year to grasp all the ramifications of this fantastic concept but two things became clear: if all we have, that is of any spiritual worth, comes by the grace of God, then both salvation and sanctification are not of men or the will of men. They both have to come from God.
So if it is by God's grace that we are both saved and sanctified... I began to wonder: "what's this business of 'really wanting to speak in tongues' to get it?"
to be continued...
Labels: Charismatic Movement