A friend asked me about the Holy Spirit, so I thought Iâ€™d post thoughts here and see who can correct me.
Many now agree that there is an initial incorporation/indwelling work of the Spirit (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:13) and also an ongoing empowering work which can be quite dramatic at times (e.g., Acts 4:31ff). Which gets the title â€œbaptism of the Spiritâ€ is still point of controversy as is how much emotion is good in a normal church service.
I think the very common absolute distinction between talents and gifts is very misleading. Paulâ€™s point is that whatever ability the Spirit has given should be used for Jesus. When you get the ability or whether it is more â€œsupernaturalâ€ or more â€œordinaryâ€ is not a major point. If you are good at prophecy (supernatural), use it for Jesus. If you are good at computers (natural), use it for Jesus. Thatâ€™s why no Bible passage ever goes into discovering your spiritual gift. You already know what you are good at and what you enjoy doing, though there may be more to learn there, of course. The emphasis in Romans 12 and 1 Cor. 12 is how to use it. I concur.
On tongues, there are a number of levels. In Acts 2 it is speaking human languages unknown to the speaker for the sake of ministry. It shows that the Babel curse is being overcome in the New Covenant (lots to say here!) That is the supernatural gift. It still happens today where people speak in unknown languages to preach the gospel, for example. Iâ€™m inclined to think the 1 Cor. 14 interpreter thing is about people speaking Phrygian in Greek churches. Let them speak in Phrygian only if an interpreter is present since the point isnâ€™t display, but edification.
Another level is praising God in non-linguistic ways. Itâ€™s what many call spiritual languages. I think thatâ€™s fine. Just donâ€™t say thatâ€™s a better or more spiritual way to do it. Especially in our â€œspiritualâ€ culture, people often think things that are â€œmysteryâ€ are more special than things that are rational. Itâ€™s not so. Remember that all the Bible was done in rational language and Jesus never used a spiritual language, apparently. I also want to extend that from speech to music or images and such. There are many ways to praise God.
At another level, there is a gift of being able to learn languages quickly or to communicate even when there is no common language. I have a gift of being able to minister effectively through a translator. Whatever the talent is, use if for Jesus.
The heart of prophecy is proclaiming the Word of God powerfully. In most cases, OT, NT and today, the Word is the Bible. Sometimes it is new revelation. The old distinction between forthtelling and foretelling is an attempt to get at this, though I think that divides into two categories more so than it should.
Pingback: Linkathon 4/7: Part 2 » Phoenix Preacher
Gerry, this is one the most concise and helpful commentary I have read on basic controversies surrounding “spiritual tongue” gifts of the spirit. Thanks Gerry! I know you’re not Obsessive Compulsive- just careful- but don’t let that keep you from writing more. Great stuff!