I recently sent this note to a friend of mine who had some questions for me about my views on the topic of spiritual gifts.
"...You ask some really good questions, and the truth is that I’ve had some of the same doubts and misgivings myself about the importance of the practice of tongues and other spiritual gifts in the local church. And before I tell you about my own experiences, I first want to explain you what I’ve become convinced of concerning the gifts through studying the scriptures.
First, there are a variety of supernatural giftings as described in the Bible that are made available to the believer as the Holy Spirit decides. We can in no way take ownership of these gifts as their source is not in us, neither can they be brought about or earned by any effort on our part, but are granted only by the grace of God to those willing to receive it. (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Ephesians 2:8)
Not all believers are enabled in the same fashion, in other words, there is no one definitive sign of the filling of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:29-30). The true test of the Spirit’s work in the life of a believer is not in supernatural giftings but as evidenced though the fruit their lives produce. If an individual is truly filled with the Holy Spirit then that person should possess (in ever-increasing measure) a Christ-like character and intimacy with God (1 John 2:5-6).
The purpose of the spiritual gifts is for the building of the church (outward) and the personal edification of the believer (inward) (1 Cor. 14). If for any reason these gifts are practiced with impure motives, they become ineffectual as they remove the focus from the Giver, to the gift (1Cor. 13:1-3).
My first experience with the gift of tongues was through my grandpa. He had come to faith in the Lord after receiving a miraculous healing from degenerative arthritis, which in turn had a great impact on my parents’ own spiritual journey. Grandpa used to speak in a prayer language during church services which were confirmed to be an actual language when a visiting missionary from Israel overheard his prayers and asked where he had studied Hebrew.
Recently Grandpa felt God’s leading to share a tongue with the congregation at Big Flats Wesleyan and asked permission from the pastor to do so. When he spoke, a man named Alex Slater, a young Christian who himself had doubts about the validity of Spiritual gifts, stood up and said that he had heard only English while Grandpa was speaking.
In Jr. and Sr. high my youth pastor was a man named Dean Hillyard (he and his family now attend Victory). Dean’s teachings encouraged me for the first time to personally seek the Spiritual gifts in earnest. Like you I wanted a deeper walk, I wanted more of God, and was careful to seek the proper motives for doing so.
In contrast I’ve been to services where people are paraded around the stage, convulsing, falling over, screaming, and could not say that I felt the presence of God in the midst of all that. It felt like chaos, not worship.
I’m convinced in the power and validity of the gifts as long as they are used properly and in an orderly manner as described by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians"
I just want to add for all of you who are reading that I in no way consider myself an authority on the subject. As with anything there are those who are far more knowledgeable and experienced than I about this topic. I still have much to learn about the way the Spirit works in our lives. But I just wanted to share some of my own thoughts. I invite you to let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree I appreciate your input.