In my church when people receive the Holy Spirit they scream and jump and do all sorts of weird stuff. One time, when I was at Sunday school, the teacher said: "You have to ask the Lord to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, 'cause if you don't want the Holy Spirit, there is something wrong with you." I was like terrified about it because I didn't want to do any of that stuff, such as screaming, running around the church or falling down to the ground. So I want to know, in order to receive the Holy Spirit (I mean to receive gifts, like speaking in tongues (not that I really want to speak in tongues, that's just an example)), do I have to go through that whole thing I mentioned?

Another question that I have, isn't really a question. I do believe that our God is a God of Love, but when I go to the church, I'm so afraid of God. I know that He loves me, but every time I go to church I get this horrible feeling that God is going to kill me. Most of this fear comes when someone starts saying something really loud in tongues, and they begin to say like: "This is God and something, something, something." And I'm always terrified about it! Every time someone goes to another person to make a 'prophecy' (I mean that God wants to communicate with that person) they always march up to the person, talk with a bit of rage in their voices, and keep jumping and making weird gestures. I'm terrified about it because it happened to me once, and ever since I'm basically terrified of God. That's the weird part: I just get terrified when I'm in the church. I pray every day, I sing songs to God every day, and I know that He loves me, but when Sunday comes, it seems like God is mad at me. Is there any particular reason I might be afraid of God?


Afraid of God? No. Scared by the behavior of your fellow church goers? Yes.

I want you to understand that I teach only what God says in His word (I Peter 4:11). I don't support the endless varieties of teaching that have been promoted in the various denominations. Charismatic groups assume that the spiritual gifts, such as prophecy and the speaking in tongues, were meant to be present throughout the Christian age. The problem is that God never said that. He did say that the gift (singular) of the Holy Spirit would always be given to every baptized believer (Acts 2:38-39), but He states quite clearly that the gifts (plural) would end (I Corinthians 13:8-12). The gift (singular) of the Spirit that is given to every Christian is salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). The gifts (plural) where only given to some Christians (I Corinthians 12:28-30). What I always find amusing is that in the first century many Christians did not have any miraculous gift from the Holy Spirit and that was perfectly fine; yet to hear the charismatic groups speak if you don't have at least one miraculous gift you are less than a true Christian.

I would like you to read through several articles and answers. Look up all the passages and consider them carefully.

What goes for miraculous gifts today are nothing like what was described in the New Testament. Instead of a gift of tongues (the ability to speak in another language without study), we see people babbling nonsense and claiming it is an "angelic" language. The gift of tongues was a proof in the first century that the men speaking were from God. "Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe" (I Corinthians 14:22). How does babbling in sounds that no one can prove is the language of angels impressing the unbeliever? The gift of tongues was to facilitate communication. "So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air" (I Corinthians 14:9). Babbling what I do not understand does no one any good.

I have periodically challenged people to prove they really are prophets of God. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). Most refuse to take me up on the challenge, claiming if I didn't believe the prophecy would not be available. Some do try. When I point out that their prophecy contains grammatical mistakes, and God doesn't make mistakes, they get huffy. Often what is prophesied doesn't come true. Or what is stated contradicts what the Bible says. The tests for prophets was rigorous and precise. I know of no modern-day "prophet" who can pass those tests 100% of the time.

The reason you see people shouting and acting scary is because these people imagine that this is what God is like. Thus in acting in this manner, they think they are impressing people. They jump, run around, etc. because they are seeking after the attention of men. You don't find that happening in the Bible. "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).

You hear rumors of healings, but you never witness a real healing, like a man's withered arm becoming whole in front of your eyes. All the staged healings are about things no one present can verify. But the miracles in the Bible were about things people could see happening and knew that something wondrous just took place.

Have you ever seen someone try to prove a point he can't support? More often than not he makes up for the lack of substance with yelling and screaming. What I'm sorry to tell you is that you have a lot of misguide people around you. They can't show they have gifts of the Spirit so they make up for the lack with noise and theatrics.

If I may suggest, spend time learning from the real word of God -- your Bible -- instead of trying to mimic the fakes.

First of all I'd like to thank you for your answer. I waited the whole day to see what the answer was going to be. And it was worth the waiting. I love talking to you because these days I want to read the Bible, to know how to live just like Jesus. And I never felt like that before.

I got it. There is no more speaking in tongues nowadays, people are just blabbering. And I realized that I'm not afraid of God, I'm afraid of the church people that act weird. But I'm still concerned with one thing: When they're speaking in tongues, or prophesying, they make it look so real! I don't want to believe that that it is real, but I'm afraid to judge them, saying "That's not God who's speaking" because I'm quite sure that they'll think something bad about me, like I'm possessed by a demon, or something like that. And I don't know where, but I know that the Bible says that if God is in the middle of something, and you say that it's the devil, you're sinning against the Holy Spirit. Therefore, there's no pardon for that (in other words, you lose your salvation. That's what I'm afraid of.

When you say it looks real, how do you know? What I mean is, have you seen the real thing so that you can accurately state that what you are seeing at your church looks like the real thing? What often happens is that people assume that what they grew up seeing must be real, but that is only because they have nothing to compare it against. What I'm suggesting is that you compare what you see against what the Bible says, then we have a solid standard for judgment.

Let's take speaking in tongues as an example. When it first happened, it was described: "Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?"" (Acts 2:7-8). Is that what you see happening? When a tongue speaker speaks to you, does he or she talk in your native language? Wait a minute! That won't be impressive would it? They all speak your native language. And that is exactly the point! These people are wanting to do something to impress other people, but they are unable to a Filipino man and speak Tagalog (and without having to ask him what region of the Philippines he grew up in). So they babble and claim to speak a language no one on earth speaks. They move from impressing with the provable to claiming the improvable. Is this what happened in the Bible? No!

I do know the event you mentioned. Let's look at it.

"Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"

Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come"" (Matthew 12:22-32).

Take note of what happened. A man was blind and unable to speak. Everyone understood the man's condition. Jesus healed him before the crowd's eyes. The man was able to instantly see and hear. Everyone recognized it and wondered if, perhaps, Jesus really was the Messiah. Even the Pharisees did not deny the miracle. They didn't say it was a fake. They admitted that it happened. The problem was that they decided to say it was because Jesus was in cahoots with Satan.

Jesus, being God, could see into their hearts and knew what was motivating these Pharisees. From Jesus' response, we know that these men knew the truth but they refused to admit it. The charge they said against Jesus wasn't what they really believed. Jesus pointed out that it would be silly for Satan to help cast out his own demons. And if Jesus did it by Satan's power, well the Pharisees had people claiming to be able to cast out demons, whose power were they using?

What these Pharisees didn't want to face was the fact that promised kingdom of God had come and it didn't include them. Jesus was demonstrating his power over Satan, a necessary step before he destroyed Satan's power over the world when Jesus died for mankind's sins. If the Pharisees insisted on standing against Jesus, then they were on the opposite side of the battle -- they were serving Satan.

Jesus warned that that blaspheming the Spirit was dangerous. Blasphemy means to deliberately, purposefully ruining the reputation of another, knowing all along that the person was really a good person. Jesus wasn't saying that God would refuse to forgive such a person. What he was warning is that people who do this, as the Pharisees were doing, would refuse to repent of their sin. The reason they were denying that the Holy Spirit was behind the miracle is because of their stubborn refusal to support Jesus. Such stubbornness would never allow themselves to change their minds. Without repentance, they would never have forgiveness.

Now, let's look at what you are facing. There are claims of miracles, but no evidence that they are happening. Babbling isn't speaking in tongues. And I know if we put what was being said in the name of prophecy to the test, it would fail as well. (See: Prophets for more details.) Such a stance would not be blasphemy. The miracle didn't exist in the first place. God said the miracles would end. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23).

God has never objected to people putting His works to the test. In fact He commands that people do so. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). What He does demand is that when you know that something is from God because you see the proof, then you follow God. I follow the Bible because in numerous ways it proves itself to be the work of God. I reject the modern-day claims of tongues and prophecy because it contradicts the Bible and it proves itself to be false.

If you stated the truth, saying that the prophecies and tongues you hear are not like those in the Bible, the people will turn against you. Their beliefs are not based on reason or God's word, so they will use emotional-based, unprovable charges against you so they can continue to feel good about what they want to believe.

I thought hard about how to explain all of this too you. Most people have a hard time when they realize that what they always assumed to be true, isn't. I'm not saying that your family and friends are not good people. I believe they are deluded, seeing only what they want to see (II Thessalonians 2:9-12). I'm glad you are willing to look for truth, even though it might make you unpopular for a bit (Luke 14:26-27).