Why Do I Believe in Tongues and Prophecy?

Stephen Sanders
Stephen Sanders
2012 27 Nov

Our culture has abused the Gifts of the Spirit in a very, very big way. Many of us, if we are familiar with these gifts, automatically associate them with what we have seen on television. I think we need to be very careful not to do that, but instead, focus on what the Bible says.

In my own life, I spent many years in a leadership role with one of these tbn-style churches. In these church services, I’ve seen a lot of really unusual things such as people falling in the floor and rolling around, random people slowly gravitating towards a spot on the floor that they weren’t able to touch because there was “too much of an anointing there”, random and uncontrollable jerking, laughter or shouting, fortune-telling/”prophesying” who the next president would be (God told this particular pastor that McCain would be our next president and not Obama… I guess God was wrong) and other occurrences that closer resemble new-age mysticism than anything you’ll find in the teachings of Jesus or the New Testament Apostles.

In other words, I’ve seen a lot of people become more excited about spiritual gifts than what scripture actually teaches. This attitude is exactly what the Apostle Paul was addressing in his letters to the Corinthian church in 53-57 AD. I highly suggest that anyone who seeks clarification on the Gifts start by reading 1 Corinthians 12:1. Another terrific audio resource for getting a more biblical understanding of the gifts of the Spirit can be found here.

So what do I believe? Let me start with 1 Corinthians 13:8-12

Love never fails ; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away ; if there are tongues, they will cease ; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part ; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child ; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith,hope, love, abide these three ; but the greatest of these is love.

First of all, it’s important to notice that “faith, hope and love” take priority over Spiritual Gifts. That’s something that needs to be a constant focus in the life of a Christian for sure. Secondly,”the perfect” that will come is clearly referring to the second coming of Jesus. Paul is talking about a time in history where we will “no longer be seeing in a mirror dimly, but face to face.”

So, I do not believe these gifts of the Spirit have ceased.

With that said, there are a few things that I am currently “on the fence” with. For one thing, I used to pray in tongues religiously because I was taught that I had to in order to be a “real Christian.” However, I do not anymore because I now believe that it is not, in fact, a gift for every believer. Am I one of those believers who have that gift? I do not know.

Also, my definition of prophecy has changed in recent years. I now believe that prophecy is only “true prophecy” if it is consistent with the teachings of scripture and if it edifies the church as a whole.

Another thing that I like to keep in mind when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit are what the Apostle Paul called the “fruit of the Spirit.” In other words, what does the life of a Christian look like? Galatians 5:22-23 says,

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

These characteristics come in very handy as a reference point for true spiritual gifts. Anything a Christian tries to display as a gift of the Spirit will never go against these fruits. For example, a loss of bodily control or a random interruption of shouting or jerking in a church service would not qualify as a biblical gift of the Holy Spirit because that would go against “love and self control”. Make sense?

I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on these matters so I encourage anyone who desires to learn more about these things, as I mentioned earlier, not focus on what is the predominant example in culture but simply read what the Bible says about it.