Tuesday, September 1, 2009
In the great mountain range a curious imaginary line is drawn to show the point of division between waters which run eastward and waters flowing westward. This is a matter of gravity, topography and vapour. It is called the watershed. It is considered in the positioning of communities, livestock and crop acreage.
In 1982 when I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, I had gone through a study of what the Bible had to say about the Holy Spirit. It was as if I had to come to real terms with each person of the Trinity before moving forward. I soon learned that the Spirit would expose my shortcomings, then offer a revelation of the Gospel rescue plan and make me a lover of Jesus. He was certainly on my case. The discovery was wonderful!
Soon I was hearing about the possibility of a baptism in the Holy Ghost, a second visitation of grace, which purportedly would assist in intimacy with God, desire for holiness, prayer efficacy and power for testimony and service. Friends directed my attention to the phenomenon experienced in the early church and chronicled in Acts chapters 2, 10, and 19. In each case the event was evidenced by the believers speaking in languages which they had not been taught- tongues. The prospect was both exciting and suspicious.
It became apparent to me that "speaking in another tongue as the Spirit gave the utterance" was a significant watershed in the Church. Others suggested that the phenomenon had passed with the apostles. That it had only been allowed to give credence to their spoken word and ministry. That when the full counsel of scripture arrived in written form, the sketchy or childish revelation had passed away. Any manifestation at present, they said, was at best wishful thinking or imitation; at worst confusion or dark influence.
For slightly short of a year I appeared to be taking the latter position, but some dear and patient friends (who were very well grounded in the faith) encouraged me to keep an open mind as to what God might desire to give me. A conference featuring a barrel-chested, bearded Mennonite teacher laid another plank. He suggested that tongues need not be an ecstatic utterance. Indeed Paul had said in First Corinthians 14:
14For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
There was the question. Was I willing to relinquish my tongue on occasion for the Spirit's use? Could areas be covered in prayer which were beyond my understanding? Could praise and communion reach a different level in the Spirit?
One thing is certain. There are committed, joyful, equipped, heaven-bound believers holding each of the two points of view. We must operate in love toward all who embrace Christ and Him crucified and risen.
Perhaps some find themselves right now at the watershed. Lord, grant that these remarks might help them to ascertain Your will for their walk.