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Church Scared Me

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I used to go to a Pentecostal church. During one service everyone was in a big circle holding hands and screaming in tongues (words nobody understood, but they said it was the language of heaven). I got scared and ran out and cried.When I told my mother about it, she said, “If you got scared in that church, God was probably telling you that you shouldn’t go there.” Do you agree?


Steve Answers:

No, but here’s what I don’t agree with: selecting a church based on whether or not it makes you feel good. I've heard people say, "I won't go to that particular church because I just don't feel comfortable there."But the purpose of going to church is to worship God. And being part of a church means more than attending the church service. There are ministries and fellowships that take place beyond the worship service.As you become involved in a church, you might get a word from the Lord about changes you need to make in your life. Would you be open to that—or would that make you uncomfortable?As you can tell, I react pretty strongly to the idea of a person's religion being merely comfortable.

Now, I'm not suggesting that if things are miserable, that makes them spiritual. I'm simply stating that just because a person likes something doesn't make it right or godly. It's better to have our tastes become more like God's tastes than to try to make God's tastes more like ours.Now let’s talk about the other part of your question—speaking in tongues. The term “speaking in tongues” refers to two kinds of things.The first kind involves being able to speak (or interpret) a language you haven’t known before. In Acts 2:1-8 it’s clear that on the day of Pentecost people from many language groups heard the good news about Jesus in their own language. As a result, many of them accepted Jesus as their Saviour (Acts 2:41).

So the purpose of speaking in tongues is to spread the gospel to others by being able to communicate to them in a language they understand.But the kind of speaking in tongues most Pente-costals seek is what they claim to be a language of heaven.Some people see 1 Corinthians 14:2 as a text that endorses a mysterious language that nobody understands. But in 1 Corinthians 14:19 Paul states that he’d rather speak five words worshipers could understand than 10,000 words they couldn’t understand.Some Pentecostals used to stress that everyone needed to speak in tongues. They claimed that was the best evidence that the Holy Spirit was in a person.But some Pentecostal churches don't emphasize that as much anymore, especially as they've understood that the Holy Spirit gives whatever gift(s) the Spirit decides (1 Corinthians 12:11). And because the Holy Spirit doesn’t give everyone the same gift, not everyone who has the Spirit will have the gift of speaking in tongues (verses 8-11, 27-31).But some people who claim to speak in tongues are very moved by that experience and don't want to give it up, even if it's something they make up or work themselves up to do.Personally, I’ve never spoken in tongues (although I've asked God to give me the gift of speaking Spanish during many mission trips to Central America!). So I can't say what it's like or what it's not like based on my experience.

But from what the Bible says I believe there’s a spiritual gift of speaking a language that can lead others to Christ. I also understand, though, that it's a gift the Spirit gives to whomever the Spirit decides.When the Spirit does give gifts to people, those people can be tempted to think they’re better than everyone else because they have special abilities that come from God. But that kind of showing off makes it obvious that the people don't remember where the gift came from or what its purpose is.

So, should you go to the Pentecostal church? I encourage you to make your decision based on Bible principles we’ve talked about and not on feelings.I'd also like to invite you to attend a Seventh-day Adventist church. Depending on where you live, the nearest Seventh-day Adventist church might be small, medium, or large. But I can assure you that you won’t get scared there. And you can worship God with other believers who make Him number one in their lives and are committed to living for Jesus as they eagerly anticipate His return.Many people have joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church because the beliefs and message are Bible based and make so much sense. Also, they’ve joined because they felt convicted by the Holy Spirit that God wanted them there.As for me, I've found that the sooner you get involved in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the better it is. So shall I look for you next Sabbath?

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