“Why Speak in Tongues?”
Speaking with other Tongues is perhaps the most misunderstood gift of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at two common misunderstandings.
First, that the gift of speaking in Tongues has passed away. Now I ask you, where does it say that in the Word of God? Not what your preacher says, not what any denomination says; what does the Word say? I realize that in 1 Corinth. 13:8 it says,”…whether there be tongues, they shall cease…”, but before someone proclaims, “ah-ha, see, look at what it says!” Read the whole chapter, read it in context! In 1 Corinth. 12:31 Paul tells us that he is about to show us a more excellent way to the best gifts, he proceeds in 1 Corinth. 13 to tell us that this way is through love. If we read the chapter carefully we’ll see clearly that Paul says that prophecy, tongues and knowledge will pass away when “that which is perfect is come.” (vs. 10)… for “then, (when the perfect comes) we will see face to face.”
Paul also said earlier in the same letter, “…so that you come behind in no (spiritual) gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinth. 1:7) It’s very plain that the “perfect” spoken of is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Perfect! Indeed, then there will be no need for prophecy, knowledge, or tongues, for then we will see Jesus and talk to Him face to face!
Some say that the “perfect” spoken of here is the Bible, the Word of God. Well, God’s Word is perfect, praise the Lord! But if this reference is to the Word then knowledge, prophecy, and tongues has already passed away and today’s Church is perfect and without any spiritual problems. Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that the ministry gifts and spiritual gifts are given “for the perfecting of the saints… till we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (mature, in the Greek) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (vs. 13) No brethren, we have not yet fully attained that goal! Rather as Jesus told the Church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:25, “…that which ye have hold fast till l come. ”
Now, let’s look at a second common misunderstanding, that is, that Tongues is merely some kind of “ecstatic utterance”, as I’ve heard it called. That Tongues is of no useful purpose. Well, once again, what does the Word say? Paul, addressing himself to this question in 1 Corinth. 14 said, “he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” (vs. 2) So then, speaking in Tongues is speaking directly to God! (the Greek here says, “…speaking divine secrets to God.) Tongues is not for preaching or teaching, it is for prayer! Since when is prayer of any kind not important? But, I can pray just as well in English, one might say. Then why does the Word say in Romans 8:26 and 27, “…that the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings which can not be uttered, (the Greek says, words that can not be uttered in articulate speech) In other words, the Spirit helps us pray by making it possible for us to speak in a language that we have never learned and do not understand, which is Tongues. (1 Corinth. 14:14) So then, praying in Tongues is always in line with what the Spirit wants us to pray. Can you honestly say that you always know how to pray with your understanding? So then the need for Tongues! Paul continues in 1 Corinth. 14 that, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself…”(vs. 4) edify in the Greek means to be “built up”, We say that a battery is being “built up” when we are charging it. The meaning is the same here! We are being spiritually “charged up” in our faith by speaking in Tongues.
As Jude verse 20 says, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost…” We feed our body and exercise it, we study and feed our mind and use it; so also do we need to build up and exercise our spirit man. Speaking in Tongues accomplishes this. Paul goes on to ask for balance in the use of Tongues; endorsing its use but saying that in the church (an assembly of believers) that prophecy or Tongues with interpretation is better for the group as a whole’s edification while Tongues as a private prayer language is better for an individual believer. However, the use of Tongues in group praise is acceptable. Paul tells us in this same chapter of 1 Corith. 14 that he will continue to pray and sing with his understanding and he will pray and sing in Tongues, (vs. 15) He does not say that speaking in Tongues is useless! Far from it! He says, “I want you all to speak in Tongues.” (vs. 5, Greek rendering) And, “I thank my God, I speak in Tongues more than ye all.” (vs. 18) He spoke in Tongues more than all of the so-called “over zealous” Corinthian Church he was writing to! Paul must have spent a lot of time building up his spirit man by praying in Tongues! He obviously thought that it was important in his life. We can easily see why he said, “Forbid not to speak with tongues.” (vs. 39)
Speaking in Tongues is also called the rest of God in the Old Testament scripture that Paul Quotes in 1 Corinth. 14:21. This scripture (Isaiah 28:11, 12) says, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. ” What a telling indictment! We see today that many people choose not to hear about Tongues. Many desire the Baptism in the Holy Spirit but ask, “Can’t I receive it without those Tongues?” After all we’ve seen about the benefits of speaking in Tongues why would one want to reject this free gift from God? One example that I’ve heard about this attitude is this – can you imagine going out to buy a pair of shoes and asking the salesman, “Can I get a pair with the tongues cut out?” The salesman would reply, “But they wouldn’t be complete!” And so it is with the Baptism in the Holy Ghost, the experience wouldn’t be complete without Tongues!
Items of Interest in This Issue
Letters from listeners… Itinerary: Meetings in Winston-Salem, NC at New Covenant Church, Bennettsville, SC at Word of Faith Christian Assembly, and the NC Area Campmeeting in Winston-Salem, NC… List of February Spirit of Faith Broadcast Radio Topics