Before we begin you have to know a little about me. I was born and raised embryonic Nazarene. I was born in June and was at camp meeting six weeks later! So if there’s one thing I know, it’s the Church of the Nazarene. With that being said, if there’s one thing I don’t know, it’s any other denominations other than Nazarene. I can remember getting into my first debate about eternal security with a Baptist friend my freshman year in college. I honestly had never heard the term “eternal security” until I went to college.
Here’s another thing you need to know, up until 1917 the Church of the Nazarene was actually called The Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, so the topic of speaking in tongues isn’t as foreign to our tribe as we may think.
I’ve heard many people tell me stories about their experience with speaking in tongues. A friend of mine was in a prayer circle praying when afterwards was shocked to hear from another person in the circle that one of the girls was speaking in tongues. When my friend asked the other people in the group what they heard they said the same thing. The strange thing was, my friend, who was Nazarene by the way, could tell you everything this girl prayed for that night.
Jim Cymbala tells a story of when he was a teenager growing up in the church. He shared the disheartening reality regarding the pressure to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He tried and tried, but never seemed to get to the point of being able to publicly speak in tongues. He recalled one day feeling as if he was supposed to share, but didn’t know if someone else in the congregation was being led to interpret. Suddenly a man a couple of seats down from him leaned forward, looked him the eye and said, “young man, you better share what the Holy Sprit put on your heart.” Jim looked back and asked, “how do you know I’m supposed to share something,” to which the man replied, “because the Lord told me what to interpret for you.”
On the other side of these stories are the stories of friends of mine who grew up in Pentecostal churches and felt forced to do something they didn’t believe in their heart. They felt further from God rather then closer because of the pressure to speak in tongues.
Now hear me, it would be foolish for anyone to say they don’t believe in speaking in tongues. They may not believe in the practice of speaking in tongues, but speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift and there is evidence of this gift found in scripture.
I’ve been asked a couple of times what I would do as a pastor if someone in the congregation stood up to speak in tongues. I would exhibit 1 Corinthians 14:27 (NLT) 27 No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say. 28 But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.
Our God is not a God of confusion and as Paul indicated to the church in Corinth, don’t let speaking in tongues hinder the people around you. It’s the very reason why the Church of the Nazarene moved away from the Pentecostal side of the church. We still believe there should be evidence to the baptism of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but instead of the evidence being through the “works” of the Spirit, we believe it should be evident through the “fruits” of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).