12/11/11 Job 37-38; 1 Corinthians 12
S: 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!
O: God gives different people different gifts. The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 points out that we are all different members of the Body of Christ, and we don't all have the same gifts, and that's all part of God's design.
I was led to Christ by non-Charismatic Evangelical Christians, and later, I fell under the influence of anti-Charismatic dispensationalist Christians who believed that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit were no longer possible today. They mistakenly applied 1 Corinthians 13:9 "But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless" to mean that the "perfection" that comes is the Bible and so once the Bible is complete, the supernatural gifts would cease. (They never explained why the other gifts don't cease, in spite of all those gifts being all listed together.) (Note, however, that these dispensationalist Christians were very committed to following Jesus as best they understood, and while I now disagree with their theological stand with regards to miracles, I affirm that they are dear and sincere brothers and sisters in Christ.)
But over the years of serving Christ in mixed denominational environments, I came to realise that one could not dismiss all the supernatural as "delusions of the Charismatics". Miracles can, and do, still occur (though perhaps more rarely than some Charismatics would like you to think) and God still does give supernatural gifts.
However, there is a very strong meme among Charismatics that "everyone who is really a Christian filled with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues." This meme is strongly contradicted by 1 Corinthians 12, and in particular, this verse.
Some people try to explain this away by referencing Romans 8:26, "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." However, this is referring to groanings which cannot be expressed, not tongues. Some claim that there's private tongues and public tongues, but I don't see any evidence that these are different gifts -- only the same gift used in different contexts.
I observe that of all the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, tongues are the easiest to fake. All you have to do is to babble some nonsense. With the immense pressure on people to speak in tongues that I have found in some Charismatic circles, I would not be surprised if the majority of people speaking in tongues could actually be just babbling nonsense. I have personally been asked by one church elder in a church I used to attend, "Repeat after me: amanadmaborblaballdla..."! 1
On the other hand, one should not go to the other extreme and claim that all speaking in tongues is mere babbling. The Bible is clear that there are genuine tongues, and there have been (rare) instances in modern times where, like in Acts 2, people have heard the Gospel preached in a language they understand which the speaker did not know.
Human beings are not like cookies all cut out with the same cookie-cutter. God gifts each person individually according to His wisdom.
A: Let us encourage each other to exercise the gifts God has given each of us for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, and not try to force everyone to have the same gift.
P: Father, even as I vent my peeve about extremist Charismatics who try to force these things on other people, help me to see my own areas of error and become more conformed to Your Son. In Jesus' name, amen.
1. This incident (and other subsequent ones) scarred me so much that, even though, as it turned out, God did choose to give me the gift of tongues, I did not speak in tongues until many years later. When I finally did speak in tongues, it was in the middle of a wonderful time of worship and communion with God, where there was absolutely no pressure from anyone for me to pretend to speak in tongues.
Another related type of thing is "anointed" people who push you down to be "slain in the Spirit". If the Holy Spirit truly "slays" you, then there is no need for the preacher to push you!
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)