Almost from the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was encouraged to seek the baptism in the Holy Ghost, which was said to be evidenced by the speaking in tongues. I am not exactly sure why, but over the forty years since becoming a child of God, such conversations have become so infrequent that I cannot remember the last time someone was concerned enough to mention it. Perhaps the word has spread that I am hard-headed and unteachable. Perhaps I am so spiritual that they assume I have already received "the gift." No, there is no way that is the reason; most people who know me, know that I struggle every day with the old sin nature. Like with my namesake, the battle rages on (Rom. 7).
Perhaps folks are intimidated by the fact that I attended a conservative Bible College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I was Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church. After all, Baptists don't speak in tongues, right? If that is the reason, they could not know me very well. I was ordained into the ministry by Graceland Baptist Church, a charismatic Southern Baptist Church, where I had been a member for over ten years. The church that called me was in danger of splitting over the issue of tongues. They actually called me because the pulpit committee, which was made up of half charismatics and half non-charismatics, knew of Graceland by reputation, and both sides felt I would lead the church according to their way of thinking.
It did not take long for both factions to realize they had made a mistake. My first sermon consisted of three points: 1) 1 Corinthians 14:39: "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues." 2) Romans 14:13: "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." 3) The importance of Christian unity as expressed by Jesus in His prayer just before He was to be crucified (Jn. 17:11, 21-23). It took over two years before unity was achieved enough to vote me out as Pastor. Ironically, we had been doing a verse-by-verse study of First Corinthians and chapters twelve through fourteen loomed large on the horizon. I wonder why they decided that was the time to remove me? Perhaps both factions were afraid I would choose the others side. Only God knows.
To begin this study, we probably need to define some of the Scriptural terms such as: the baptism in the Holy Ghost, spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Due to a lack of space in today's posting, I do not think it would make sense to do so now. Lord willing, that is where we will begin tomorrow.