The Gift of Tongues

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Caesarea, Israel is one of the first places where the gift of tongues was given to believers after the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Apostle Peter was fetched by three men in Acts 10 to come & preach Jesus to a devout Roman soldier named Cornelius who lived in Caesarea. And while Peter preached the word, the Spirit fell, the Gentiles spoke with tongues and encountered the Lord in a beautiful way!

Unfortunately, the gift of tongues has received a not so welcomed response by many believers today. Yet, Paul clearly tells us not to forbid speaking in tongues. A lot of the bad feelings towards this gift come from a misunderstanding & abuse of this valuable & blessed gift. Allow me to explain a few key reasons why I believe the gift of tongues is important for the believer!

The Bible teaches that all the Spiritual gifts are available today & that none of them have ceased. Someday there will be no need for the gifts of the Spirit, but when will that be?

-I believe the gifts will cease when the Church is finally gathered to Christ, where He personally will teach us & we will have no further need for the gifts of teaching, prophecy, healing, etc.

(1 Cor.13:8-10, 12) 'Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will fail, whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away...For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.'

Some Bible teachers interpret, 'that which is perfect has come' as being the 'canon of Scripture' coming together. I disagree, I believe it's a reference to Christ's coming & our being gathered together to Him. That's the day when we will see Him face to face & our knowledge of things will no longer be dim.

-I personally believe the gift of tongues has it's best function in a believer's prayer time.

(1 Cor.14:13-15) 'Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.'

-I believe 'the gift of tongues' is valuable for the building up of the believer.

(1 Cor.14:4-5) 'He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself...'

-I also believe that people mis-apply the interpretation of tongues with the gift of prophecy.

Since 'tongues' are addressed to God, the interpretation of tongues should also be directed as 'to God' in some form of thanksgiving & praise. (1 Cor.14:16-17) So often, you'll hear an interpretation of a tongue directed to an individual or the church as a whole. This instead should be considered a 'word of knowledge', 'word of wisdom' or the gift of prophecy, but not the interpretation of the tongue. 

(1 Cor.14:2) 'For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.'

-I believe there is a time for the gift of tongues in a corporate church setting, but it should be in order & two or three at the most with the gift of interpretation following that the church may give thanks at the use of the gift. 

That being said, there should not be the interruption of the Bible teacher for an outburst of tongues. That would be out of order. Why would the Spirit interrupt Himself? For this reason we encourage the gifts to flow freely at our prayer gatherings, specific worship & waiting times called (afterglows) and after the Bible Studies when we are ministering to God & one another.

(1 Cor.14:26-33) 'If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret...And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace...'

-We don't believe the Bible teaches the gift of tongues as the sole evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

-I believe the Bible teaches that God's 'agape love' is the fruit/evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence in the life of the believer (Gal.5:22-23).

-The Apostle Paul teaches that not every believer will receive the gift of tongues (1 Cor.12:30-31) We should desire the 'best gifts.' Which is the gift that God has for you & the gifts that edify the entire body of Christ. Whatever gift God has given you, use it for His glory!

I believe the Holy Spirit inspired the NT writers to include those instances where tongues followed the giving of the Spirit, but the same Spirit also inspired them to omit any (gifts/evidences/tongues) knowing that some believers would claim that 'tongues was the sole evidence of the Spirit's baptism.'

The following is a list of passages where the Spirit was given or salvation occurred and there either was a tongue given as evidence or there was not for your reference.

(Acts2:4) Tongues follow the Spirit's filling on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:38-42) No tongues mentioned of the 3,000 souls added to the church. (Acts 4:31) No mention of tongues when the believers were filled again with the Spirit. (Acts 8:14-25) No mention of tongues after Peter & John laid hands on believers to receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:44-48) Tongues follow the Gentiles being filled with the Spirit at the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. (Acts 16:30-34) No Tongues mentioned following the Philippian jailers' conversion. (Acts 19:1-7) Tongues mentioned following the conversion of 12 men in Ephesus. 

(1 Cor.14:18) Paul spoke with tongues! He said, 'I thank God I speak with tongues more than you all.' (1 Cor.14:5) Paul by the Holy Spirit wished we all spoke with tongues but even more that we prophesied.

-I also find it interesting that the gospel writers never mention any gift of tongues following the Spirit descending upon Jesus at His baptism. (Matt.3:16-17, Mk.1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34)

What's the conclusion? Paul said in (1 Cor.14:39) 'Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and do not forbid to speak with tongues.' And he says this as he wraps up the discussion about tongues, and what he is saying is, 'Don't misunderstand what I'm saying about this gift.'

Don't forbid it! Don't say that it has ceased! Don't put the fire out concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in any person's life! The Holy Spirit gave this gift to the church! Paul the Apostle boasted about his own use of it & wished every believer at Corinth had it! So, if you desire it for your own personal devotional life & believe it will be a blessing to you as it has for me, ask God for it! Because it's the Spirit who gives these gifts as He wills! (1 Cor.12:11). Be Blessed!