NOT BEING INFLUENCED BY OUR BACKGROUND, TEACHINGS, OR MENTALITY
Some have said that they cannot prove that their speaking in tongues is genuine and real. They themselves even doubt it. However, they say that when they speak in this way, they feel happy and they are helped. This is because as long as we have a heart to seek the Lord, He is always willing to meet us, and He is always gracious to us. Many Pentecostal believers have a heart to seek the Lord and to seek the Spirit, so the Lord meets them, not in the so-called Pentecostal way but in a general, spiritual way. Therefore, they feel very happy with the Lord. However, because they have the background of the Pentecostal teachings, influence, and mentality, they add the false speaking in tongues to their good experience of the Lord. This kind of speaking is not the genuine and real one. It is something they add on by exercising their mouth to change their tone of voice.
When I was in China, I spoke to many Pentecostal brothers about these things. I told them that we experience the Lord just as they do. The difference between our experience and theirs, however, is that they have the Pentecostal mind and background, so when they have a good experience of the Lord, they add on speaking in tongues, although I doubt that their speaking in tongues is genuine. Because we do not have this kind of background, we experience the Lord without adding on anything.
I also asked certain ones who insist on speaking in tongues what the result of their work is, how many people they have won for the Lord, and whether the ones in their meetings are more spiritual than others. I was able to point out to them that there were one thousand brothers and sisters among us who have a good experience of the Lord; they are living, yet very few of them ever spoke in tongues. Those among us are never taught to speak in tongues, and they are never forced to do so. Because they do not have the idea, the mentality, or the background of this kind of teaching, when they have a good experience of the Lord, they do not add anything on.
Those among the Pentecostals, however, are often taught, forced, and influenced to speak in tongues. When they have a good experience with the Lord, they have the mentality, the idea, the background, and the teaching of tongues, so they simply exercise their mouth to change their tone and add something on. I doubt that what they add on is the real speaking in tongues.
This does not mean that I oppose the real speaking in tongues. I do not oppose it. I believe that even in these last days there is the real speaking in tongues. However, I doubt that what is added on by believers under the influence, force, and teaching of the Pentecostal movement is genuine.
BEING MODERATE, GENERAL, AND OPEN TO THE LORD
Recently, many people on the West Coast of the United States have been brought to the Lord by this kind of movement. However, in the Far East also many people were brought to the Lord by us, yet very few of them spoke in tongues. The great majority did not speak in tongues, but many were added to the Lord and are very much going on with the Lord. I do not like to criticize, but among those who have been brought to the Lord by the recent movements, I do not know how much real experience of the Lord they have. Rather, they are taught and influenced to add something on, which they say is speaking in tongues.
We are clear from the teaching of the Scriptures that speaking in tongues is but one of many items of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit upon us as power. If we spend time to objectively study the present situation, we will be clear that only a small portion of what is called speaking in tongues is real and genuine. The majority are human imitations and manufacturings. Therefore, we conclude that there is no need to insist that speaking in tongues is the necessary and initial evidence of the Spirit.
On the other hand, we should not oppose the real speaking in tongues. We must be very moderate, general, and open to the Lord. If the Lord gives us this gift, we simply receive it. If He does not give it to us, we just go along with Him. We leave this to the Lord, neither opposing it nor imposing it. We are open to Him.
Today we need the real experience of the Holy Spirit upon us as power. We should not be frightened away by the wrong teachings. We should not consider them. We simply must be clear that we need the Holy Spirit within us, and we also need the Holy Spirit upon us. We need to be filled with the Spirit as life within, and we need to be clothed and empowered with the Spirit as power outwardly.
In these days may we all go to the Lord to deal with Him about this, saying, “Lord, I do realize that I need this experience of the Holy Spirit as power to me.” Then we should leave this open to the Lord. We should not regard speaking in tongues, and we should not oppose it. Leave it to the Lord, and have the real experience of the Holy Spirit as power. There are many aspects of the manifestation of the Spirit, of which speaking in tongues is only one. What we must experience is the Holy Spirit as power upon us.
(The Work of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)