My bunkmate, Emeka, returned from the impartation service held at the Corpers’ Fellowship at the NYSC Camp looking worried. A senior pastor had come from town to lay hands on those who had responded to the altar call. They were told that speaking in tongues would be the sign that they had been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Emeka couldn’t speak in tongues like others and so he thought something was wrong with him.
Emeka’s experience brings the following questions to one’s mind:
1. Are all believers expected to speak in tongues and perform miracles?
2. Are these gifts for all Christians of all time?
3. Who benefits from speaking in tongues?
4. Who benefits from miracles?
5. Have these gifts ceased today?
Shall we listen to the Bible?
In Mark 16:17-20, Jesus tells His disciples that they would do many signs, among which are speaking in tongues and miracles. But verse 20 affirms that these signs were *to confirm the Gospel preached to those who heard them*.
✔Note that not all Christians in the first century spoke in tongues or performed miracles. 1Cor.12:5-10
✔1Cor. 12:11 shows us that it was the Holy Spirit who determined which gift to give to those who had spiritual gifts.
✔Because these gifts could only be received by the laying on of the Apostles’ hands, it indicated that they were for a specific period. Acts. 8:17-19; 1 Cor. 13:8 No pastor today reserves the right to lay hands on you to receive gifts of the Holy Spirit talk less of determining the gift you are to receive.
✔Possession of spiritual gifts did not make the possessor more spiritual. Otherwise, Paul would not have had to write to the Corinthians rebuking some of them for abusing the gifts. Also, God would be partial for not giving these gifts to all the Christians then and now if the gifts enhanced the spirituality of the possesors. 1 Cor. 12:28-30
✔ What All Christians of All Time share in common is the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Acts 5:32; 2:38; Romans 5:5.
✔The Holy Spirit indwells Christians who obey the Gospel of Christ by being baptized. Acts 19:1-7
✔The Apostles and first Christians on whom the apostles laid their hands did not use their gifts indiscriminately. They used it solely for the purpose of confirming the message preached. 2 Timothy 4:20b and 1 Timothy 5:23 affirm that Paul had companions who needed healing but did not use the gift of healing on them. Even he was not healed of a ‘thorn in his flesh’ 2Cor.12:7-8. The signs and wonders performed by the Holy Spirit through them was for confirmation of the word. Hebrews 2:4
✔Those who claim to speak in tongues today do not speak in human languages but claim to speak in ‘angelic’ languages whereas those who spoke in tongues in the Bible spoke human languages could be understood and interpreted. Acts 2:1-12; 1Cor.12:10b shows that some had the gift of interpreting tongues(languages).
✔The tongues spoken today are for their edification and not for unbelievers but 1Cor.14:22 says tongues are to benefit unbelievers and NOT for believers.
✔Our focus as Christians should be on the salvation of our souls and worshipping God in an acceptable manner. Jesus said one could perform miracles and still go to hell. Matt7:21-24.
I hope with these truths, you, like Emeka my bunkmate, will be equipped to know the truth about speaking in tongues and miracles. Prove all things and hold fast to the truth.
Written by Daniel ‘Jimi for evangelismportal.org