The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–Every Nation and Every Tongue?

Speaking in Tongues

As worship leader at my church, I get approached with different questions all the time. Some are very easy to answer, and some catch me off guard. A friend of mine was considering coming to our church one Sunday in the near future and asked me the following question:

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“Does your church believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?”

At first, I thought, “Of course.” I have always known this as the core of any Christ-centered church in the nation. I thought that everything else was BASED on this main principle. You can’t have Christ without God, and you can’t have the Holy Spirit without God and Christ. The Holy Spirit is present in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This was a very quick answer for me to him, but then I started to think.

There are churches that DON’T believe this? How can it be a true Christian church without belief in this very core “Trinity?” A group that has faith in only God and the Holy Spirit would be hard to be “Christ”ian. To be Christian is to be Christ-like (or to live your life to get closer and closer to that each day–since no one is good, not even one). <<Side note: As I’m typing this, We Believe by the News Boys just started playing>> A church who believes in only in Christ and the Holy Spirit don’t have the Creator God to stand on. And a church that only believes in The Holy Spirit discounts the work God and Christ did for us to forgive our sins!

So, my question to you is this: Can you sing the chorus of the song “We Believe” and be in-line with what your church stands for? Let me help:

We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit and He’s given us new life.

We believe in the crucifiction, we believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection, and He’s coming back again. We believe.

To me, that is the basic Christian faith. I believe this: as stated in their first verse:

In this time of desparation

When all we know is doubt and fear

There is only one foundation

We believe, we believe

Continuing in that verse, there is a second half that isn’t normally heard the K-love radio edit version:

In this broken generation

When all is dark, you help us see

There is only one salvation

We believe, We believe

That may seem like tunnel vision to those who don’t believe the same way. And that’s okay. I think the same when someone is an avid iPhone or Apple advocate. They are such fans that when mentioning something that any smartphone can do (like take a picture), they say something like, “When you take a picture with your iPhone…”

Not everyone believes that the iPhone, or Android, or Windows Phone, or whatever is the only way to go, but those who do STRONGLY believe it. Do you see that as being intolerant? Or do you see that as being very strong supporters? When it comes to true Christianity, I see us being very strong supporters. In love, we should not be intolerant. I believe that there is one salvation through Christ, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else is worthy of being hated. I don’t hate someone just because they use only Apple products. The cynical side of me would say that sin entered the world because of an apple, though! (just kidding!!).

The next thing he asked me was a bit more difficult. I’d like to tackle this in a post all by itself!

“Does your church believe in speaking in tongues of the Holy Spirit?”

This one–is one that is filled with different interpretations. Some scholars believe that speaking in tongues simply meant speaking in the languages of the people at Pentecost. People came from all over to celebrate Pentecost, so their languages were not all the same. The Holy Spirit came to the apostles and they began to “speak in tongues.” This happened in Acts chapter 2. Scholars that base their understanding on speaking as “speaking in other languages” base it on this chapter. The Gospel was then spoken clearly in everyone’s language, causing many to be saved.

Speaking in Tongues

Others view “speaking in tongues” as a God-language. I’m not sure about this, but there are those who whole-heartedly believe that this is what is meant. There are churches that are completely open and embrace it (what others hear as jibberish). I’m not here to say what is right or wrong, however. I haven’t experienced either myself, but I know that the Bible calls it a gift.

Here’s the thing: No matter what interpretation of “speaking in tongues” you are told, the Bible is clear on some things, and it does not say certain things that are being said. If you are told that you have to speak in tongues in order to receive salvation, I challenge you to find that requirement in the Bible. I don’t think it’s Biblical at all. Here is what is clear, though:

In 1 Corinthians 14:26-33; 39-40, Paul lays out a few rules. Let’s put this into perspective:

  • When we meet together, everything we do must be done to build up one another. (v 26)
  • No more than two or three of those gathered should speak in tongues (v 27)
  • If someone speaks, there must be one to interpret (v 27)
  • If there is no one who can interpret present, you must remain quiet when it comes to tongues (v 28)
  • Take turns–don’t be disruptive (v 32)
  • God is not a God of disorder, but of peace (v 33)
  • Be sure everything is done properly and in order (v 40)

So here is my question: if there are 2 dozen people speaking in unknown languages, all on top of one another, where no one can understand them, how is it strengthening the church? And how is it maintaining order? I know that I once went to a church where people were “Babel” ing all over the place. It actually scared me away. I don’t feel like it welcomed people into the church. But, I don’t understand that kind of gift, either. Here’s the key: if it truly comes from God, then I can’t see a way to reject it. That’s my bottom line.

He then asked me:

“If someone were to start speaking in tongues, would they be asked to leave?”

Being asked to leave?

This is where it was tough. Here’s what I know. I think the letter to Corinth is clear that there must be order in the church, and that if someone does speak in tongues, they need to take their turn. And if they do not have an interpreter, they should not speak at all. I don’t think they would need to leave if they were being submissive to the authority of the church leaders (who are in turn submissive to God and the authority of His Word), but I don’t think they should just be allowed to start speaking over other people or the message, in some language that no one knows. For all anyone else would know, they could be speaking in some demonic tongue, you know? Yikes. And disrupting the service, to boot, which is not of God. God is not a God of confusion.

Church discipline is not an easy subject to discuss, but we’ve had to deal with some situations at our church in which people have had to be removed for purposefully interrupting the service and causing trouble, just to be heard above all else. We’ve literally had people walk into the church and interrupt teaching to do anything from start preaching the wrong doctrine themselves, to speaking in tongues, to yelling at people in the congregation. It gets a little crazy sometimes… It’s not something anyone likes doing, but there is a time that certain people should be removed, and that’s the only right course of action.

So, what’s my answer? I don’t know. That’s above my pay grade! I submit to the church authority. And they’re under God’s authority. If you are thinking that something like this may happen to you during the service, I urge you to be familiar with this scripture. Remember that the purpose of anything when we get together is to lift God up and to lift the church body up. My particular church, where any tongue-speaking does not happen outwardly, I don’t know that it would be strengthing the body at all. But, I ramble. It’s a tough question to answer.

What are your thoughts?

There will be a day when all will bow before God. Every nation and every tongue. And it will all be towards lifting Him up! How does this apply to your life today? What do you think about this post? Please leave comments below.

Music Influences

We Believe and He Reigns by the News Boys

      

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