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Speaking in Tongues: Its Origin [Ancient and Modern] , Purpose, and Power

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Speaking in tongues is a controversial subject ;largely, I think, because of its widespread counterfeit manifestations sparked by modern short attention spans and the resulting need for instant gratification, which in turn leads to an unconscious attitude that the Holy Spirit must jump when we crack our whip! This thread will begin with a focus on the powerful spiritual impact of the authentic gift.

(1) To that end, I will first post a video on one of the most impactful revivals of all time, the Azusa Street revival that began in 1908, which has ultimately led to the conversion of 600 million Pentecostal and Charismatic converts globally or 1/4 of the world's Christian population!.

William Seymour was the central figure in that revival. He was the son of a Black slave and had been fired in his first pastorate within a week. That failure led to a heroic prayer vigil that ignited the revival, making William Seymour the most spiritually effective Black Christian who ever lived. Yet in my first 21 years in a Pentecostal church, I had never heard of Seymour! Unwitting racist attitudes seem to be the reason why few Pentecostals had heard of Seymour until recent decades. Seymour and his core group of African Americans sparked that revival, only to be forgotten in the aftermath as white leadership took over most of the fledgling Pentecostal movement. Here, then is the documentary on Seymour's role in the Azusa Street Revival:

azusa street revival documenary - Bing video

In subsequent posts, I will share (2) my own experience of Spirit baptism and then (3) my experience-based perspective on the best way to receive the gift of speaking in tongues. (4) Only then will I embark on a detailed defense of the need to strive for spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues. This defense will include a discussion of the role this gift is intended in the private devotional life of believers and a refutation of common counter-arguments.
 
Speaking in tongues is a controversial subject ;largely, I think, because of its widespread counterfeit manifestations sparked by modern short attention spans and the resulting need for instant gratification, which in turn leads to an unconscious attitude that the Holy Spirit must jump when we crack our whip! This thread will begin with a focus on the powerful spiritual impact of the authentic gift.

(1) To that end, I will first post a video on one of the most impactful revivals of all time, the Azusa Street revival that began in 1908, which has ultimately led to the conversion of 600 million Pentecostal and Charismatic converts globally or 1/4 of the world's Christian population!.

William Seymour was the central figure in that revival. He was the son of a Black slave and had been fired in his first pastorate within a week. That failure led to a heroic prayer vigil that ignited the revival, making William Seymour the most spiritually effective Black Christian who ever lived. Yet in my first 21 years in a Pentecostal church, I had never heard of Seymour! Unwitting racist attitudes seem to be the reason why few Pentecostals had heard of Seymour until recent decades. Seymour and his core group of African Americans sparked that revival, only to be forgotten in the aftermath as white leadership took over most of the fledgling Pentecostal movement. Here, then is the documentary on Seymour's role in the Azusa Street Revival:

azusa street revival documenary - Bing video

In subsequent posts, I will share (2) my own experience of Spirit baptism and then (3) my experience-based perspective on the best way to receive the gift of speaking in tongues. (4) Only then will I embark on a detailed defense of the need to strive for spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues. This defense will include a discussion of the role this gift is intended in the private devotional life of believers and a refutation of common counter-arguments.
Of interest we had speaking in tongues phenomena in Cape province of South Africa in the Dutch Reform Church run by Andrew Murray. Long before the Azusa Street revival that began in 1908

wiki ( Murray pastored churches in Bloemfontein, Worcester, Cape Town and Wellington, all in South Africa. He was a champion of the South African Revival of 1860. Through his writings, Murray was also a key "Inner Life" or "Higher Life" or Keswick leader, and his theology of faith healing and belief in the continuation of the apostolic gifts made him a significant forerunner of the Pentecostal movement )
 
(2) At age 16 I was so nagged by doubts about the reliability of Scripture and the authenticity of charismatic manifestations in church that my faith crisis prompted me to spend a week at Manhattan Beach Camp near Ninette, Manitoba with the hope that God would meet me in the Pentecostal camp meetings in the huge outdoor amphitheater there. I responded to the encouragement to seek God at the altar after the services. But my heart felt like stone when I did because I felt tempted to succumb to wishful thinking and just speak gibberish in the flesh. So on Tuesday, I went on a long 7 mile country prayer walk, pleading with God to resolve my crippling doubts and pledging my willingness to die in His service, if He would only make Himself real to me. When I returned from my walk, I was famished and went to the camp dining hall to buy dinner. But then it occurred to me that I should instead fast and put the money I would have spent on dinner into the evening offering plate. So I did and then attended the evening camp meeting.

At the end of the service, I once again walked to the altar up front and knelt in prayer. My heart again felt like stone and I was determined not to succumb to the power of suggestion and wishful thinking by stepping out in faith and speaking in tongues. Soon everyone had left and I lingered in my depressing prayer vigil in the mostly darkened amphitheater. Suddenly I felt a warm breeze, which I assumed had blown in off of the adjacent Pelican Lake. I was shocked when I realized that this breeze was in fact the wind of the Holy Spirit! The Spirit immediately overpowered my resistance and I found myself speaking in tongues at the top of my voice. I was engulfed by wave after wave of liquid love, each wave more intense than the last, until I felt like I might die! At one point, my ego seemed on the verge of collapse into the divine mind. I can only describe this outpouring of divine love as a hundred times more intense and sweeter than I have experienced before or since. This proved to be unquestionably the highlight of my life and, decades later, I continue to draw emotional nourishment from the memory of that epic day.

After several minutes, I noticed a few spectators sitting reverently nearby. I asked one lady why she was staring at me and she replied, "Don't you know? Your face is glowing in the dark!" I returned to my knees to continue feasting on God's presence. Then I was interrupted by a Lutheran minister, who tapped me on the shoulder and said he was there only as an interested spectator of other religious traditions and didn't believe in speaking in tongues. But he could sense that God was doing a special work in my spirit and he asked me to pray for him. I just touched him gently on the forehead and he exploded in other tongues!

When I returned to my cabin, I realized that God had spoken to me, though not in an audible voice or a message printed on the neon screen of my mind. God told me, "You desperately need answers to your vexing questions. But right now answers are not good for you because answers would lead you to live too much in your head rather than from your heart. I'm calling you to live the big questions until they lead you to the center of my heart." That calling led me to get an MDiv from Princeton and a doctorate in New Testament, Judaism, and Greco-Roman religion from Harvard.

Like many others, I believe that speaking in tongues is like a gateway drug that leads to other gifts of the Spirit. Shortly after the experience, I had my first of many experiences of "the word of knowledge (see 1 Corinthians 12:8-10)." I suddenly knew that I would obtain the highest GPA in high school as a gift from God to signify my academic calling. At a funeral a few years ago, my cousin reminded me that I had informed him of this divine message before it was fulfilled. Previously, my academic performance had been nothing special. So I believe that my Baptism in the Holy Spirit had "renewed my mind (as per Romans 12:1-2). Duff Roblin, the Premier of the province, awarded my a scholarship in recognition of this achievement. I believe this recognition supported my earlier attempts to witness to classmates, which had seemed to give me a reputation as a religious fanatic. To God be the glory!
 
(3) HOW TO AUTHENTICALLY SPEAK IN TONGUES
Bible commentators generally agree that Paul intends speaking in tongues to be included among the spiritual gifts we are to strive to exercise:
"Strive for the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31)."
"Strive for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy (14:1)."
Prophesying is Paul's top priority because, unlike private prayer tongues, prophecy edifies the whole church. But in the context of both quoted texts, Paul discusses speaking in tongues. So just how are we supposed to "strive?"

First a word on what not to do. Pentecostal pastors tend to be results oriented. So they often advise seekers to "just step out in faith and speak it out," with the result that wishful thinking prompts the seeker to experience counterfeit tongues. Similarly, if the pastor lays on hands to incite you to speak in tongues, the pressure you feel to comply with his intent may spark a counterfeit outburst in tongues. As I like to say, the Holy Spirit doesn't jump just because we crack our whip! As a teen, prior to the epic life-changing experience of tongues described in my last post, I had occasionally spoken in tongues "of the flesh." My counterfeit tongues were part of what led to the disillusionment that my later epic experience had to remedy.

The real thing may take a considerable amount of time as a seeker, but it is well worth the wait. Here are 5 tips you might find helpful:
(1) First ask the Lord to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and express your desire and willingness to speak in tongues.

(2) Then replace your petitioning with seeking the Giver, and not the gift. God may choose to baptize you in the Spirit without the initial evidence of tongues.

(3) Then allow your longing for more of God to intensify and until your words seem woefully inadequate to express the purity of your longing and how lost in praise and gratitude you feel for your blossoming intimacy with the Spirit. Meditate on this divine promise:
"When you search for me, you will find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)."

(4) Your breakthrough may take several prolonged prayer vigils. So remember the caution hat qualifies the glorious promise in Psalm 37:4, 7:
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart...but be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."

(5) At some point, perhaps when you least expect it, the inadequacy of your contrived words will be compensated by a heavenly language you will find yourself spontaneously speaking and you will be engulfed by wave after wave of liquid love. The way you will discern that you have experienced the real thing is that later in retrospect it will be impossible for you to doubt the genuineness of this self-authenticating experience.
 
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Speaking in tongues is a controversial subject ;largely, I think, because of its widespread counterfeit manifestations sparked by modern short attention spans and the resulting need for instant gratification, which in turn leads to an unconscious attitude that the Holy Spirit must jump when we crack our whip! This thread will begin with a focus on the powerful spiritual impact of the authentic gift.

(1) To that end, I will first post a video on one of the most impactful revivals of all time, the Azusa Street revival that began in 1908, which has ultimately led to the conversion of 600 million Pentecostal and Charismatic converts globally or 1/4 of the world's Christian population!.

William Seymour was the central figure in that revival. He was the son of a Black slave and had been fired in his first pastorate within a week. That failure led to a heroic prayer vigil that ignited the revival, making William Seymour the most spiritually effective Black Christian who ever lived. Yet in my first 21 years in a Pentecostal church, I had never heard of Seymour! Unwitting racist attitudes seem to be the reason why few Pentecostals had heard of Seymour until recent decades. Seymour and his core group of African Americans sparked that revival, only to be forgotten in the aftermath as white leadership took over most of the fledgling Pentecostal movement. Here, then is the documentary on Seymour's role in the Azusa Street Revival:

azusa street revival documenary - Bing video

In subsequent posts, I will share (2) my own experience of Spirit baptism and then (3) my experience-based perspective on the best way to receive the gift of speaking in tongues. (4) Only then will I embark on a detailed defense of the need to strive for spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues. This defense will include a discussion of the role this gift is intended in the private devotional life of believers and a refutation of common counter-arguments.[/QUOT how could we conclude the speaking in tongues is a controversial subject. When we recieve the holy spirit annointing , speaking in tongue is a sign. See acts chapter 2...
 

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