Summary: Focuses on receiving the Holy Spirit with an evidence of tongues. It began with an interview with an SBC Minister who is not Pentecostal. The message was delivered in a Wednesday Prayer Meeting.
Understanding Spiritual Language
Dr. Marty Baker / May 8, 2002
Last week the message focused on understanding the power gifts of the Holy Spirit. From the emails, phone calls and comments that I received since that message, it is apparent that there is a great interest in the exploration of God’s Spirit in the church. People are interested in an openhearted, openhanded look at a biblical experience of spiritual language.
When I use the words "spiritual language" I am referring to what the Bible refers to as "speaking in other tongues." In our culture, the phrase "speaking in tongues" conjures up strange images in people’s minds. They envision people caught up in uncontrolled speech or incoherent babbling. Some people envision a voodoo-like mumbo-jumbo muttered from slightly foaming lips or weird gibberish emitted from a hypnotic trance.
This is not the case. Speaking in other tongues is a very beautiful and Biblical part of the Christian experience. It makes people uncomfortable because it stretches us in ways that we are not used to begin stretched. It also makes people uncomfortable because individuals who have moved into this realm have not always acted with doctrinal integrity.
Our denomination began in 1886 in the mountains of North Carolina. The early pioneers had a passion to experience the presence of God and to follow His leadings. They committed themselves to prayer. Ten years into this journey of faith the miracles that were documented in the New Testament were released in their services.
This was like a fire that swept through the community and the region. People were being saved, experiencing miracles and speaking in tongues. When the news of these occurrences were made public, people in the community did not embrace this activity. In fact, they persecuted these mountaineers by burning down their churches and attempting to run people out of town.
This created a defensive posture and as a result many of the participants developed an arrogant attitude claiming that they were more spiritual than the churches down the street. During this time fanatical teachers came on the scene and led many of them into heresy. They began seeking other baptisms of fire that were not scriptural. For instance, some of the heresy concentrated on receiving "holy dynamite, holy lyddite, and holy oxidite." These experiences were clearly non-biblical and were later considered heresy.
The power of God fell on these seekers, but they did not have enough theological training to communicate a balanced approach to Spirit-led living. If the devil can not stop a person from growing spiritually, he will attempt to drive that individual into fanaticism. This is what happened.
Along with these "baptisms of fire", many of the early Pentecostals had a desire to "come out from among the world" so they refused to go certain places and do certain things. The problem was that they did this in the name of Spirit-led living.
Even with the excesses, the movement continued to grow. It was really amazing. These mountain folks were poor and uneducated, but they had a passion to love God and serve people. As a result, their message spread throughout the South and eventually throughout the world.
In May 1933, something interesting happened. In Morgantown, Mississippi, the superintendent of the High School who was also a local Baptist minister received the gift of tongues. It changed His life. He became the first college educated minister in the Church of God. The church was fifty years old before it had a college educated pastor. Why do I know that? I married his great niece. He died in the 1960’s but I had the privilege of taking his widow to Louisiana for our wedding and I got the whole story.
These excesses and bouts with heresy has stained the movement, but no one can deny the power of God’s activity in these last days. Today, Pentecostals number in hundreds of millions. Jack Hayford states that...
Charismatic / Pentecostal ministries total more converts than any other sector of Christianity today.
The number of Charismatic/Pentecostal missionaries total far more than half of all Protestants today.
The central message of this group is "Jesus Christ and Him crucified," and the sole authority for their proclamation is the eternal Word of the Bible.1
Enough history. What was the distinctive that gave rise to this movement.
Distinctive of Pentecostalism
Belief in the power of prayer.
Belief that miracles are still possible
Belief that the active presence of God can be experienced in worship
Belief that the Word of God is true
Belief in spiritual language.
The concept of spiritual language is completely Biblical.
Jesus prophesied that people would speak in tongues.
15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.