Discipling the children of God is at the very core of the Great Commission of Christ. As a pastor this can become arduous especially when attempting to teach on doctrines which have become a mocking point with contemporary culture. The Church of God believes “In speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance and that it is the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” So whenever I am reading or studying, I look for things that will help teach, especially some of these more “difficult”, doctrinal concepts. I came across this verse in Psalms a little while back:
My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
(Psalm 39:3 ESV)
This psalm is not a typical verse used when teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking with other tongues. However, the more I pondered on it, the more I saw the process of surrender in order to receive the promise of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the initial evidence of speaking with other tongues.
The Book of Proverbs tells us to “keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.” (4:23). Issues of life are most often drawn out of very passionate times. When the passions of the heart become so intense that we cannot take any more of the status quo and we simply must see change, our dependence on the Holy Spirit becomes essential. There we see our need for the empowerment of the Holy Ghost. Without this initial drive pushing us to see, feel, touch, become something more, most of us would likely remain comfortable within our current situation.
“But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you …” (Acts 1:8a)
How can this passion for change become “hot” within us? The prophet Jeremiah was one who mid-way through his prophetic ministry found a passion to speak for God that he said “If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9) This same Jeremiah, at the beginning of his ministry had to be confirmed to the call with a ‘before you were born in your mothers womb I knew you and destined you’ word from the Lord. But now, he has a passion to see change and this passion stirred a fire within him; and this same fire can be awakened within us by the Holy Ghost as we keep our heart set on Him.
Now, I might be throwing a wrench in the motor of some old pentecostal ideology here; but I believe that we are actually to use our minds and think as we seek for the ‘other tongues’ of the Spirit. Growing up in the old Pentecostal church, I can remember hearing preachers say to earnest seekers at the altar, “Don’t think, just speak”. In Philippians 3:10 though, we are called to “know Him“. The common Greek noun for knowledge is Gnosis, which signifies a spiritual knowledge. Since God is a spirit we are then to know Him by the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul advises us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” ( Col. 3:2) As we keep our mind on the Spirit, all the thoughts and cares of this world are diminished. When our focus remains on the Holy Ghost, He aligns our thoughts to His and empowers our thinking. In this empowerment of the mind to the direction of the Spirit flows all the blessings of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the baptism of the Spirit are all part of the Spiritual blessings . Both the heart and mind need to be set on the Spirit to receive the fire of the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking with other tongues.
“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good...” (Proverbs 16:20a)
Paul instructs that praying in tongues should not be with an absent mind, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15) For you see, praying in the Spirit is our weapon of warfare against the strongholds of our thinking; for it is by the Spirit that “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Naturally, speaking in ‘other tongues’ comes from your tongue. The tongue is the most difficult part of our body to control. James said concerning the tongue: “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.” (James 3:5) One’s speech can either bring blessing or cursing, encouragement or despair, be the cause of damage and strife or bring the greatest honor and joy. Communication in speech is the driving force of all business and leadership endeavors; skills in communicating are taught and emphasized to ensure its proper use. But despite all the training and modeling of good speech, James explains that “… no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8) Perhaps this is why it is our tongue which the Lord has chosen to become the ‘initial evidence’ of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. To show that the very thing which no human being can tame, the Holy Ghost can when surrendered to Him.
The Holy Spirit “bears witness to” the words and sacrifice of Jesus. While Jesus was in the flesh, He said that the time will come when we will worship the Father in Spirit and truth. The Scripture then declares that “Through him [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) Praising God with the fruit of their lips is what the angels do in heaven continually. We are called to worship with the angels. It can be said that speaking in tongues is ‘worship in the heavenlies’.
Speaking with other tongues is the burden that the Holy Ghost lays upon ones heart, mind, and tongue. As your heart becomes hot within you and your thoughts burn under the fire of the Holy Ghost; open up your mouth and loosen up your tongue so that the Spirit can speak through you.
“I am the Lord your God…Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10
And so, as a pastor and father, I pray this for my church, just as Paul prayed it for his church: “Now I want you all to speak in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14). Amen.