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Isn't there more than tongues?

Submitted: 11/14/2012
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Question: I have read your commentary in your library. I'm not trying to be contentious, i just really want to understand, with God's understanding, the phenomenon of tongues.i researched dorea vs charisma, and found that dorea is used also to describe the gift of grace, and as the gift of Christ, so its not limited to tongues. it seems to be used in Acts as the bestowment of the Holy Spirit, but not as the description of what that entailed,(dorea doesn't = tongues). tongues did manifest at pentecost, but not at Stephen's stoning, when he was so strongly in the Spirit, that he saw all the way to heaven, but didn't glorify God with a prayer language, instead he glorified Him in common language.it seems judgemental to say that you have never received the Holy Spirit unless you have spoken in tongues. it seems purposely confusing to call (prayer language) speaking in tongues, and use verses that endorse tongues to support that, except when rules are given by God as to how the gift is to be used, and that not everyone receives the same gift, then those verses aren't talking about prayer language, but about tongues, but the Bible never shows a real difference between the two. lastly, it seems dangerous to believe that you HAVE to speak in tongues as the proof of the Holy Spirit, because that can and has lead people to fake it until they make it. That kind of thinking has lead people to believe they are filled with the Spirit because they yell out strange words, but they won't let the Spirit take away the addiction to cigarretes, or alcohol, or weed, or pornography. they won't let the Spirit convict them on their pet sins, but they are filled with the Spirit and proof of that is the yelling of strange words. You don't have to post this, but i would like appreciate some insight on this. God bless you.

Answer: You raise some intersting questions. First, let me clarify my point in differentiating between the Greek words 'dorea' and 'charisma.' The word 'dorea' means a freely given gift. When it's use with the Holy Spirit, it simply means that God freely gives the Spirit to whosoever He wills. It means the same thing when used with God's grace or anything else. I did not mean to suggest that dorea equal tongues. I am only saying that speaking in tongues is the way we know a person has received this remarkable gift.

The word 'charisma' means literally the results of grace. It is used to describe the various spiritual abilities the Spirit imparts to those who have received it. For example, some Spirit-filled people are able to speak out a message in an unknown language to the church; others are able to interpret that message; still others are able to prophesy. These gifts are the results of God's grace working in us.

Misunderstandings arise when we fail to understand the difference in meaning of these two words, since both are translated 'gift' in English language Bibles. A simple way to differentiate is by saying that everyone who receives the dorea of the Spirit speaks in tongues. This is how we know it has been received. The Bible gives us no other immediate sign to look for. But not everyone who has received the Spirit has the charisma of speaking a message in tongues to the assembled church. This is a different function of the Spirit. This is what Paul was referring to when he asked, 'Do all speak in tongues?'

You stated, 'It seems judgemental to say that you have never received the Holy Spirit unless you have spoken in tongues.' But this is no more judgmental than saying that a person has never received the forgiveness of sins unless he has repented and been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. The point is, we are not being judgmental as long as we are only looking for the same thing the apostles looked for. What other way is there for a person to know that he has received the Spirit?

As for your concern about people just uttering strange words to prove that they have received the Spirit, this seems to be a failure of leadership. We would never want to suggest that a person must prove he has received the Spirit by manufacturing some kind of utterance. The Bible says that the original believers began to speak with other tongues 'as the Spirit gave them utterance' (Acts 2:4). If it is not coming from the Spirit, it is meaningless.

Having said that, I can also tell you that some people actually do receive the gift of the Spirit but never submit to the Spirit. In other words, they have the experience but they never really walk in it. This is what Paul meant when he wrote, 'As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught' (Colossians 2:6-7). Sadly, some people never live out their new birth experience. This does not mean their experience wasn't real; it only means that were of the sort who call Jesus 'Lord, Lord,' but won't do the things that He says (Luke 6:46).

Hope this helps. Please ask whatever other questions you have.