Wednesday, July 28, 2010
What About Speaking in Tongues?
The Gift of Tongues
''I would like every one of you to speak in tongues. . . I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you'' 1 Corinthians 14:5,18.
Tongues (and its accompanying gift of interpretation) is the only gift not operating in the Old Testament - although it is foretold in Deuteronomy 28:49 and Isaiah 28:11 (see 1 Corinthians 14:21). It acts as one of the signs of the accompanying presence of the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4), and is specifically designed by the Lord for the building up of the believer:
"He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself . . . " 1 Corinthians 14:4.
According to 1 Corinthians 13:1, the gift of tongues appears to fall into two main classifications:
The Tongues of Men
These tongues are natural languages that the Holy Spirit can supernaturally enable a believer to speak.
"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them . . . a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked, 'Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!' " Acts 2:4,6-11.
The Tongues of Angels
These tongues are not the natural languages of men, but heavenly languages. As opposed to the tongues of men, the purpose of these tongues is for the edification of the believer as his spirit communicates with God's Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 14:14-18).
"For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" 1 Corinthians 14:2.
Some sections of the Body do not fully understand the gift of tongues, but the Scripture clearly says: " . . . do not forbid speaking in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:39), provided things are done in an orderly way (verse 40).
The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues
Tongues, by themselves, only build up the believer who is speaking, not the rest of the Body, but the gift of interpretation takes a message in tongues and makes it intelligible for other believers. It elevates the gift of tongues from individual edification to Body-edification, so that everyone can be encouraged and built up by what is said. The gift of tongues CAN be used in the church when it comes to individual or corporate worship, because worship is simply between the individual believer and God. But when it comes to a message to the Body, then ''the man who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says" (1 Corinthians 14:13).
''He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, UNLESS HE INTERPRETS, so that the church may be edified" 1 Corinthians 14:4-5 (see also verses 6-19).
Those who exercise in the gifts must remember that the giving of those gifts by the Holy Spirit is for the purpose of building up the lives of God's people in a framework of love and concern for one another.
"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy... Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church"1 Corinthians 14:1,12.
The Promise of the Father
Right throughout the Old Testament, the Bible reveals one major problem in man that God continually came up against:
''The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure . . . '' Jeremiah 17: 9.
In all his dealings with mankind, people would inevitably rebel against God, and through Jeremiah and many of the other prophets. God identified the root cause of this as the heart of man - his nature of sin. But God also gave a special promise that would remedy the problem forever:
''I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees . . . '' Ezekiel 36,:26-27.
God's Power Within
''I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high'' Luke 24:49.
When the Holy Spirit was outpoured on the Church, He fulfilled every detail of the Father's promise in Ezekiel 36. The Spirit's infinite power was given to the believer so that he could live a life pleasing to God. This the Spirit does by: