|I am doing a Bible study called Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore. We are all human, and I dare say that no one person, including me, has anything 100% right when it comes to knowing the truth that God has shared with us. Usually 99.9 % of what Beth teaches blesses my socks off, but there is always one or two paragraphs that raise my hackles – that don’t seem to exactly line up with God’s Word. Most times it is a little thing that ultimately doesn’t really matter, but this time the hackles were raised big time. I am going to share what concerns me, but each person must make up their own minds according to the scriptures. It is an area that causes division between some churches today and my desire is not to bring division, but to share my concern. There are many baptisms in the Bible, and differences between them. I think Beth Moore is mis-reading the passages on tongues.
Here is the passage (p. 36-37) “The third ministry of the Holy Spirit is baptism. The Greek word forbaptizing is baptizo, which means “to dip, immerse, submerge, to overwhelm, saturate….First Corinthians 12:13 refers to this Spirit baptism as “an act performed by God in joining all true believers to the body of the Lord Jesus.”
(Heather’s note, I do agree that when we have been saved, dipped in the precious blood of the Savior, we do emerge white as snow. No problem there. I also know that when we are saved, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. My problem with this passage has to do with her interpretation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and tongues.
Lets look at the verses that Beth uses for her proof verses to make her point. But instead of reading just the two verses she shared, let’s read the whole passage to get the context.
1 Corinthians 12:1 -11 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: you know that you were gentiles; carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I made known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all, the manifestation of Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as he wills.
So this chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 is dealing with SPIRITUAL GIFTS – and from this passage, Paul is talking about the various gifts which are word of wisdom through the Spirit, word of knowledge through the same Spirit, faith by the same Spirit, gifts of healings by the same Spirit, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different tongues, the interpretation of tongues. These are specific ministries given to people for the EDIFICATION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST. They are not private gifts, but are used to help others in Christ. They all stem from the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and are given to us to use to help others.
We are individuals and God deals with us individually. Paul points that out to us with the next few verses. 1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
OK, we are all one Body in Christ Jesus, and just like our human bodies have many members – feet, eyes, toes, ears, hair, elbows, so do all those who are one Body in Christ Jesus. Please read carefully verses 1-12 – does it mention anywhere BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit – no. It is talking about GIFTS of the Holy Spirit. These Gifts come to us after we have the Holy Spirit within us, after we are saved. There are other places in the Bible where it mentions Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but here Paul is talking to us about the gifts that are given through the Holy Spirit – it is a very different thing.
Now the word baptism does occur, but hear its context – 1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. This is talking about what happens to us when we are saved – we are baptized into ONE BODY, drinking ONE SPIRIT. This shows that once we are saved and accept Jesus Christ – we are part of the Body of Christ. But that is ALL this passage is talking about – and then if you go to the previous verses you see that the ONE SPIRIT then gives gifts to the members of the ONE BODY – each gift is given according to the individual.
Paul continues on in verses 14-16 to elaborate about how the different parts are made to do different things, an eye cannot be a foot, etc.
Verse 18: But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
We do not become clones when we are part of the Body of Christ, God deals with us individually, and we cannot reject any part of the body, he continues, the eye can’t tell the hand I don’t need you, etc. Paul also points out that we are part of a whole body and if one part suffers, so does the other. We can think of that in our own lives, if we are in pain in one part of our body, then we are not able to do other things that we might need to accomplish. Not to mention that a body composed of all eyes, or all hands would be rather useless.
From a previous teaching I learned that the parts of the body mentioned here are all the extremities, but no where is the head mentioned – our head is Jesus Christ. And Paul says that greater honor is given to that part (Jesus). so that there should be no schism in the body. Our body needs a firm head – and Jesus provides that. When we are in Christ, we are operating through him, much the same way that our brain causes the rest of our body to function. Without the brain, without Christ, the body parts would again be useless.
Verse 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
I just love that individual part. It took me a long time to realize that God does not want clones, does not want robots, he knows us. He has formed us from before the beginning of the earth, shaped us, molded us, we are the clay and He is the potter, but He is going to use his creation in the best possible way. And His best for us coincides to what our best for us is. When I quit fighting against God’s desires for me and came in line with them, my life improved exponentially.
Then Paul talks about the various ministries and gifts that God appoints to the believers. Verse 28: And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
Now that last phrase is interesting – varieties of tongues – variety means more than one kind of. The tongues mentioned in this passage in verse 10 is a specific kind of tongue – the kind that is used to help the whole Body of Christ. If we read further we will see that there are tongues for our private prayer life, and that there is an appropriate way to handle tongues in a corporate setting. When we read about tongues we have to see the whole context of what the passage is talking about. The gifts and ministries that Paul is talking about here are ones that are used for the WHOLE BODY of Christ, not the individual cells (ourselves), and the gifts are given to people INDIVIDUALLY, as God deems appropriate. Not all of us will be pastors, not all of us will be prophets, or apostles, not all of us have the gift of administration, and not all of us have the varieties of tongues for corporate ministering.
1 Corinthians 12:29-31 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
Within the above passage is Beth’s other proof passage. No where except being baptized into Christ Jesus is the word baptism mentioned, and definitely not baptism of the Holy Spirit. But this whole passage talks about the gifts of the Spirit. Not all have the same giftings to help the Body of Christ, but we are told to desire the best gifts, then God will show us a more excellent way. I wish they had not divided the chapter where they did because I think that Chapter 13 dovetails into Chapter 12 and is very important, so we will continue.
But I want to say something about gifts. When I give my kids a gift I sure hope that they open it and enjoy it. I get great pleasure from watching them enjoy the gifts I have given to them. I really hope I have picked the right ones and that they find pleasure with them. I think God feels the same way with the gifts that He bestows on us. He wants us to use them and find pleasure in them, whatever the gifts are that He individually picked for us. Will I cease loving my kids if they reject a gift I have given them? No. Will God cease loving us if we do not use the gifts? No. Will we still be saved and go to Heaven? Yes. Will God love us? Yes. But again, just like my children, I know their potential – I expect them to do well in school. If they refuse to apply themselves to their studies and get failing grades, I am going to poke and prod them to do better, but if they refuse, will I cease loving them? No, of course not. I will love my kids passionately, no matter if they succeed or fail, if they use their talents and gifts wisely or not. But my heart will break because I would know that they could do better. I think sometimes God’s heart breaks when we reject a gift of his.
If someone gives us a million dollars, deposits it in a bank account with our name on it, gives us the checkbook and tells us to use it as we will. The money is ours, but if we choose not to believe that it is there, choose to eat cat food and struggle for every penny, if we wear rags because we think we can’t afford new clothes, the person who gave us the million dollars might be rather puzzled. The money is ours, but if we don’t use it, it is useless to us. I think Paul was exhorting us to choose the best gifts – to open up the presents that God has given us and use them, to desire the best gifts. Using the gifts God gives us makes us more effective in His kingdom. They are for the whole Body of Christ. We will be loved no matter what we do or don’t do, but just like with our kids, God wants the very best for us.
Now Paul ends chapter 12 stating that he will show us a more excellent way. What is that way.
Chapter 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbol. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. While we are to desire the gifts of chapter 12, and while God will bestow them on us, if they are not used with love, they are nothing. They will not bless anyone else, nor will the use of them please God. Paul then continues to talk about what love means. This is an important prelude to chapter 14 which deals again with tongues. Paul is going to talk about the proper use of tongues, when to use them, and we will see that there are two types of tongues – one for the corporate body (church) and one for personal edification.
Chapter 14:1 Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophecy. Paul is telling his followers to pursue love and DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS (one of which is tongues, and interpretation of tongues). And that we prophecy – which means speaking forth God’s Word. In fact, if you ever hear a prophecy that is not confirmed in God’s Word, don’t believe it, for the Spirit and the Word must agree.
Chapter 14:2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him, however in the spirit he speaks mysteries. When we speak in tongues we are talking to God – it is mystery to us, but God understands perfectly.
Verse 3 But he who prophecies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. Prophecy – speaking forth God’s word edifies and exhorts and comforts others.
Verse 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself but he who prophecies edifies the church. When we speak in a tongue in private we build ourselves up, but for the church our personal tongues do not edify the church, that is where prophecy comes in.
Verse 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied, for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets that the church may receive edification. Paul here is wanting all to speak in tongues, but in the church itself, unless tongues is accompanied with interpretation it is “not a blessing” (as Beth Moore says). But if tongues are spoken and then interpreted so that all in church are on the same page, then it is a blessing.
Paul realizes that the Corinthians are desirous of spiritual gifts, but cautions them, verse 12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. For personal vanity, for being puffed up, for one’s self alone is not what the gifts are for.
Paul states, verse 13-15 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Paul says that he will pray both with the Spirit (tongues) and with understanding (prophecy). He asks people to pray that they may learn to interpret tongues. So therefore the tongues that seem like gibberish to some, can be interpreted, and God, through the spirit will give interpretation. Paul does not reject tongues, but wants them used properly.
Verses 18-19 But I thank my God that I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, then ten thousand words in a tongue.
Paul, implies that he speaks more in tongues than any of his listeners – so he must be praying in tongues in private, but in a church setting, unless there is interpretation, he would rather speak clearly. But that does not mean that Paul is stating not to use tongues.
Here is an interesting passage to consider verse 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. To an unbeliever tongues is a sign and wonder – and for believers speaking forth the Word of God in prophecy.
Paul then continues on about order in the church – the idea being that unbelievers will be convicted by words of prophesy, and come to God. That in the church if all spoke in psalms, hymns, and spiritual tongues, then there would be chaos. He suggests that when someone speaks in tongues in church (2-3 at most) that there must be an interpretation of what is spoken, or the tongues were spoken out of order.
Again, in all three of the above chapters there is NO MENTION of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
For clarity, lets check out the Infilling of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1-4 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
They (the disciples, Mary, Jesus’ mother, and the other women) were gathered together IN ONE ACCORD – one Body. Now did they already have the Holy Spirit in them? Yes – remember John 20:21-23So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to You! As the Father as sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”
The Holy Spirit was breathed into the disciples but they did not receive the Power of Holy Spirit until Pentecost, when they were infilled with the Holy Spirit and tongues. In fact, they were speaking tongues, and in that coastal town were many nationalities were represented, all heard in their own language what the disciples were saying. And the disciples after that infilling were made into bold warriors for Christ.
Now one more passage might show that there are two baptisms. Acts 19:1-6 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples, he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit. And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Now one more passage, Acts 10:44-48 This passage is very interesting because here tongues are given to gentiles BEFORE they are baptized into Christ.
Notice also that the gift of the Holy Spirit was identified because the gentiles SPOKE IN TONGUES.
I think that the Scriptures speak for themselves. And it becomes a choice about what you believe or don’t believe. But for sure, we cannot put God in a box, and He does act as He will. And He loves us so much that He wants to bestow precious gifts upon us. I want to use as many of the gifts that He is willing to give me. I hope this has helped to clarify about tongues.
Have a great weekend.
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