I came from one of the most traditional of Church backgrounds where I did not receive much teaching about the gifts of the Spirit. I was religiously pious, observed all rites and necessary sacraments and I was self-righteous and prideful - there is no surer way to oppose God than to be prideful! Later, I went through a bad patch called life and fell away for a few years. One day He called me back through a convicting message I heard on the internet. For the first time, I truly knew grace and was hungry again for God. But this time, my search was for Him and not the religion that left me empty.
I was led to a Pentecostal church where all of my religiousness began to be peeled away by convictions and then one day the preacher spoke about the Holy Spirit and made an altar call for those who wanted to be baptised in Spirit. I was the first to reach the altar (and I had never before responded to an altar call). A pastor prayed with me and for a while I was resisting but as I began to let go and submit to the Spirit, I felt wind upon me. My body began to shake, my lips quivered and my jaws chattered. Remembering at this point that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32), I tried to take control and was relieved I could. Even in gifting us, God leaves our free will intact... I was sure then that it was God and I didn't want to control it because it was a wonderful washing over of peace and love. As I submitted to it again, I began to speak in tongues and was slain by the Spirit (again a first for me). I don't know how long I was slain for but I got up still shaking and since then I've spoken in tongues. I sing in tongues and pray in tongues a lot.
As distinguished by tchable, the tongues that we speak is a personal language of edification (1 Cor 14:4) that is spoken directly to God (1 Cor 14:2) and is often an uttered intercession of the Spirit for us (Romans 8:26). It is not the same as tongues of prophecy where interpretation is required.
Previously, I was made to understand that there is no tangible distinction between the baptism of the Spirit and water baptism. However the experience I had indicates otherwise. I now understand that the Holy Spirit is certainly "with" every Christian but is not "in" us until we are baptised in the Spirit and receive Him in us. They are two distinct experiences of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples in John 14:17: "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells WITH you and will be IN you." (NKJV, emphasis mine).
When I used to wonder about people speaking in tongues and didn't "get" it, I took the common positions opposing it. I searched the scriptures to be "right" and I thought my doctrine was sound because I was based on scripture but all I had done was to use the parts of scripture that justified my position to refuse the Spirit - I refused to come to God. I thought I was opposing misled people with a different doctrine but I was really opposing God Himself - and that's sin of course... Now having experienced it myself, I am humbled and repentant and cannot refute the experience of baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I must also add that being baptised in the Spirit doesn't make someone a "better" Christian but it does empower the Christian walk. And having any gifts of the Spirit is not a sign of God endorsing either the person or the ministry. The gifts are given by grace and cannot be earned. The gifts are for service to the body and receiving them is a blessing of subservience and surrender to Him.
Christians who speak in tongues or demonstrate gifts shouldn't flaunt it to those who don't but instead we are to encourage others to seek the gifts by first seeking God. We are encouraged to seek the gifts not for power (that's witchcraft) but because it is an empowerment of servanthood to our brothers and sisters in Christ. The purpose of the gifts is to serve. Having the gifts puts us in a position of servitude and humility, not superiority. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit leads us to Jesus and The Father and enables us to help others do the same. He helps us draw close to God and keep us holy. How could we ever not want that?
Being non-denominational, I think CB is an ideal forum to dispel the abundant misunderstanding of tongues and gifts of the Spirit. We can be open with each other and discuss doctrinal standpoints without being disagreeable. And I hope this discussion will go on...
Thank you B2Y for another wonderful post and for the boldness to put out the posts that needs to be posted! ... Keep sharing! :)