A bombshell and what I believe is a harbinger of coming revival was the revelation in very recent days that the Southern Baptist Church has reversed its official stance on the acceptance of the ability to pray in tongues, to pray in a Holy Spirit empowered language, a language unknown to the speaker.  Google “Southern Baptist praying in tongues” and you’ll see what I mean.  At the bottom of this piece is an official statement by David Platt who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board For SBC Missionaries.  Should you need to get up to speed on what it means to pray in tongues, check out my other post here on this blog entitled “Tongues to Edify the Body; Tongues to Edify the Individual Soul.”

Over the past 40 years I’ve had hundreds of people tell me that they believe in praying in tongues and that if God gives it to them, they will happily speak.  Of course, I’ve had others who have said the 1 Corinthians 12 gifts of the Spirit disappeared after the last apostle died and any manifestations after that are instigated by the devil.  The atheists, agnostics,  extreme liberal “Christians,” and the uncaring generally blow it all off as worthless discussion.  Yesterday, a dear friend asked the honest question to the effect of “Really, can one be taught how to pray in tongues?”  So, at 4:00 this morning, my dear Patty and I engage the topic.

Patty noted to me that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, to save mankind, but how does one get saved?  We get saved by looking to that cross and receiving Jesus into our hearts, the process of believing and starting to live in fellowship with God.  We can be taught to be saved.  Billy Graham and millions of other Christians have taught others how to be saved, that’s evangelism.  As with the first believers, after we have believed and asked Jesus to baptize us with the Holy Spirit, we can expect to pray in tongues.  Not everyone does, not everyone will, but it is available to all and the apostle Paul said he wished we all did.

So, really, how can one be taught to pray in tongues?  The groundwork does need to be laid.  A study of world cultures will reveal that, as with all gifts, the devil has counterfeit gifts that mimic the real thing and lead to horrible ends.  The true gifts come from the true Spirit of Jesus.  The groundwork is coming to know the real Jesus as revealed by the Holy Spirit in Scripture and to understand the part in 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians about praying and singing in tongues.

The Bible’s key verse about the first people to speak in tongues is the fourth verse of the second chapter of the book of Acts: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (ESV)  While it has been documented that some during a time of adoration of Jesus have spontaneously started worshipping in tongues (and that is what may have happened on the first Christian pentecost), the vast reports of Christians since report their giving first the voice and tongue movement and then experiencing God’s guidance of unintelligible syllables.

This morning the analogy of riding a bicycle came to me.  When one approaches a bicycle for the first time, he has no sense of the forces in play.  Everyone says it’s easy but you have little sense of the coming stability given by the centrifugal forces of the two spinning wheels, the gyroscopic effect, the power of the momentum, the inertia, the steering by balance of body weight.  You have one foot poised on a raised pedal, but nothing is going to happen until you grip the handle bars, lift your weight with the foot on the ground, and push down forcefully on that raised pedal.  You have to trust that the forces that come into play for every other bicycle rider that ever lived will come into play for you, too.  And, you know what?  They do.  Oh, yes, you may fall a few times and not go very far at first, but you keep trying and you do get it, don’t you?

So you come to the moment that you want to pray in tongues for the first time.  Your heart is right.  You don’t want tongues to be able to say, “I’ve got it.”  You don’t want tongues to fit in with tongues praying friends.  You don’t want tongues to get something special from God.  You want to pray in tongues for the reasons the Bible gives.  You want to praise and thank God in a deeper way and you want to grow, to edify yourself in a way that is directed by God and pleases God.

Jesus gives the gifts of the Holy Spirit just as he gives the Holy Spirit Himself.  If you have an honest heart asking the true Jesus, no counterfeit will come.  Notice Jesus words recorded in the eleventh chapter of Luke’s gospel:

9And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11What father among you, if his son asks ford a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (ESV)

Ever since our experience in 1973, I have listened for and loved hundreds of testimonies of how Christians prayed in tongues for the first time.  Some started in a spontaneous and seemingly effortless way.  Others were like me who looked in praise and worship of Jesus and spoke in halting syllables for a season until fluency came.  I have known some who only had one syllable for quite a while.  I have reason to think that their one syllable meant something like “Praise You.”  The first time I spoke in tongues aloud in the presence of others, two women who were sitting at opposite ends of a large room came to me independently to exclaim their surprise that they were understanding what I had said.  Both said I was repeating, “Praise the Lord.”

My last word here?  Get your heart right toward Jesus.  With a heart of thanksgiving and praise, speak out a non-English word to Him and keep speaking non-English.  Push down on the pedal and ride.  God bless you.

(RNS) The Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board trustees approved policy changes last week regarding baseline qualifications for missionaries. There have been various misunderstandings communicated online and in social media about these policies, and these reports have given us the opportunity to provide necessary clarifications concerning what this policy change means.

The driving force behind all these changes is to unify all SBC churches under the umbrella of theBaptist Faith and Message in order to send limitless missionary teams to unreached people and places for the glory of God.

One issue that has particularly drawn attention is the practice of speaking in tongues or the use of a private prayer language. Up until now, if a person had spoken in tongues or practiced a private prayer language, that person was immediately disqualified from appointment as an IMB missionary. IMB trustees voted last week to remove that automatic disqualification.

Yet this was a vote that addressed issues of qualification for potential IMB missionaries in the church, not the practical work of actual IMB missionaries on the field. That is a critical distinction.

Over the course of appointing, training and supervising missionaries, IMB addresses many significant theological and practical issues, including the use of tongues. Though these issues may not affect our base qualifications, they do affect our everyday work.

IMB’s long-held position remains that these practices cannot be normative in teaching or disruptive in practice. Through careful appointment, training and supervisory processes, IMB ensures that every missionary remains resolutely focused on making disciples and multiplying churches in ways that faithfully represent Southern Baptist theology, missiology, ecclesiology and practice. (See related FAQs and my earlier article.)

The purpose of these changes is to more intentionally unite IMB policies with Southern Baptist belief and practice as expressed in the statement of faith upon which over 40,000 Southern Baptist churches have agreed: the Baptist Faith and Message.

 IMB President David Platt challenges the congregation at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky to go to unreached people living in hard places because we have an “incomprehensibly glorious God." Photo courtesy of IMB

Any changes we make at IMB are not being considered and implemented simply for the sake of change. The reality of today’s lost world leads us to be unified and act with urgency in order to get the gospel to more people and places, all while remaining tightly tethered to Southern Baptist convictions.

As the international missions arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the IMB cannot settle for anything less than a streamlined approach focused on empowering limitless missionary teams to make disciples and multiply churches among unreached people and places for the glory of God.

I have been very encouraged from the spirit of unity among our trustees to the responses we have received from pastors and entity leaders across the SBC since making these decisions. I hope and pray that in the days ahead, the IMB will exalt Christ, mobilize Christians, equip the church and facilitate church planting among unreached peoples in order that we might play our part in the eventual accomplishment of the Great Commission.

(David Platt is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.)


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