Isn't Tongues Elitist? – Spiritual Gifts Q and A 2

Isn't Tongues Elitist? – Spiritual Gifts Q and A 2 June 2, 2009

I continue to receive some questions arising from my sermon on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I thought I would try and answer a couple more today.

Q – I have been told that if I don’t pray in tongues there is something wrong with me and I am a second class Christian. I don’t know whether to give up or keep asking God for tongues.

Nowhere does the Bible say that people who speak in tongues are better than those who don’t. It is listed as one of the gifts, and Paul says clearly that prophecy is more valuable to the church. One of the things that can put people off from receiving this gift is bad teaching that leads to self-consciousness. If you have become anxious about it, and told that you are somehow inferior because you don’t speak in tongues it is no wonder that you would find it hard to receive. In my experience tongues is something that requires you to be God-focused. If your focus instead is on whether you are reaching the expectations of another Christian who has told you that you are a bad Christian, you are unlikely to be able to receive it. Tongues is not a sign of how much God loves us. Our security comes from knowing that Jesus died for us and loves us with an everlasting love.

As far as whether you should ever give up asking for tongues, we should remember that Paul said he wanted everyone to be able to speak in tongues. Thus, it is not wrong to ask God for this gift. But, having said that , our focus should not be so much on the gifts as on the giver. If you seek the fullness of the Spirit and then start to praise God in prayer for who he is, and what he has done, and you become aware of the Spirit welling up within you, then maybe you will find that your words just no longer feel “full” enough to describe the wonders of our glorious savior. As your passion and excitement for God rises, if you find yourself no longer mouthing English words, don’t focus on what you are saying focus on the glory of Jesus and speak out of the overflow of your love for him.

I have been told that my loved one wasn’t healed and died because I didn’t have enough faith, and that if I just speak in tongues for a while I will start dancing rather than grieving for him. What would your response to that be?

Nowhere does the Bible say that if a loved one dies then you had insufficient faith. Every one of the apostles died. Every Christian throughout thousands of years of church history died. Every believer alive today will also die, unless Jesus returns before that happens. Hebrews 9:27 says “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”. We believe in a God who is sovereign over all things.

When it comes to grieving, even Paul said that if his friend had died he would have experienced “sorrow upon sorrow” Philippians 2:27. Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died, even though he know he would raise him from the dead! Its not wrong to grieve, though of course the nature of our grief should be different from unbelievers since we do have hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says that we can grieve, just with a grief tinged with the knowledge that Jesus has conquered death.

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