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  • QUESTION:

    How do you feel about speaking in tongues?

    Thank you for visiting Search the Scriptures and for caring about the way we feel concerning this question. There was a time where I avoided teaching or writing about the doctrine of tongues. The reason was because I believed what I was being told, that the "speaking in tongues" is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The problem I had was I could not verify that this was the only evidence there was in scripture for being baptized in the Holy Ghost. I realized that salvation and the baptism of the Holy Ghost were two different experiences. This became clear by reading the end of the gospel of John when Jesus breathed on the disciples and said "receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22) and later in Acts 1:5 the disciples are told they would be "baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence". I constantly had the phrase "the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues" fed to me but I was never comfortable teaching it. The phrase itself is not in scripture and today I am not convinced that speaking in tongues is the only evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

    MY EXPERIENCES

    I have been to churches where tongues is abused and I have been to churches where it is avoided. I have also been to churches where "speaking in tongues" was done decently and in order. Based on what I have seen being referred to as "speaking in tongues", if I were forced to choose between keeping my experiences with it or not having it all together, I would have to choose without. I honestly believe if it had to be without, it would not have been detrimental to the edifying of the congregation in any way. This is not to say that at times the church was not being edified, but that it was not detrimentally edifying to the church to have it. There were times where I would have loved to take a friend or family member to a church service but because of the atmosphere that was allowed to take place I would have never done so for fear of forever losing them. Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of abuse in my 13 years of being saved being labeled as "speaking in tongues".

    From the sound of what I have just written, you would probably think that the rest of this letter would be condemning the use of tongues but this is the farthest thing from the truth. When it comes to how I feel it really does not matter anyway! What really matters is what the Bible says about tongues. To condemn speaking in tongues all together is a big mistake. Concerning the speaking in tongues the Bible says:

    (1 Cor 14:39 KJV) Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

    (1 Cor 14:5 KJV) I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

    (1 Cor 14:18 KJV) I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

    There are a few teachings today that are popular in the church that are in no way supported in scripture. One is that the "speaking in tongues" was for Pentecost and is not for today. This teaching is derived from one verse:

    (1 Cor 13:8 KJV) Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

    Usually when someone is teaching that tongues are not for today and they utilize this verse I ask them one question; "explain to me the verse below?"

    (For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known) 1 Cor 13:12

    Usually I get an answer that sounds something like this: "O that is when we will be with Jesus and get our glorified bodies" and my answer to them is "I agree". But then I have them read 4 verses prior.

    (1 Cor 13:8-13 KJV) Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. {9} For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. {10} But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. {11} When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. {12} For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. {13} And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

    Chapter 13 is commonly referred to as "the Love Chapter". The subject that is detailed in it is love, but there are some that run with verse 8 and interpret it to mean that tongues are no longer for today because "that which is perfect has come". They believe when the Old Testament was completed with the writing of the New Testament that this was what Paul was referring to as being "that which is perfect" and, because of this, tongues have ceased. I know they do not believe knowledge has vanished away (although there are times I wonder) but that phrase is overlooked and the "tongues have ceased" phrase is isolated and exalted with no care to read on. When verses 8-13 are read together it is obvious "that which is perfect" is our being with Jesus with our glorified (perfect) bodies because it is only then that we will know Him as he knows us. This makes even more sense because at that time we will not need the gifts of the spirit for the edification of the body. What is being said is that when we are with Jesus love will continue but the gifts of the Spirit, for the purpose of building the body, have an end. There is not a place in scripture that says that God no longer uses "speaking in tongues" in the church body or that it was only intended for the early church.

    Another popular teaching is that the only time tongues are to be used properly is when there are those in the congregation that are foreigners and they are blessed or encouraged by someone "speaking tongues" in their native language. This is what happened in the day of Pentecost but it is not consistent with the rest of scripture detailing the procedure and examples of how "speaking in tongues" is to be utilized in the church. Corinthians 14 lays out how tongues are to be used in the church. Unfortunately there are those that would like to take the whole chapter and rip it out of the bible. When describing how tongues are to be utilized it states:

    (1 Cor 14:27-33 KJV) If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. {28} But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. {29} Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. {30} If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. {31} For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. {32} And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. {33} For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

    If tongues were only to be spoken to foreigners present in the congregation then what need would there be for an interpreter? They would be able to understand perfectly, by themselves, if the one doing the speaking was speaking perfectly in their language. Besides this the Bible says that one can:

    (1 Cor 14:14-15 KJV) … pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. {15} What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also…..

    One can pray in an unknown tongue in the spirit and then pray for the understanding. So here it is not being used for foreigners but for their own understanding. The bible also says:

    (1 Cor 13:1 KJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

    So there is speaking in the tongues of angels which is different than the tongues of man. This again makes void the teaching that tongues are only to be used as they were used in the day of Pentecost.

    When read in context 1 Corinthians 12 starts off by saying "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." It then details the offices and manifested gifts of God, which include the speaking in tongues. Chapter 12 then ends by saying "and yet I show you a more excellent way". This excellent way is then detailed in what is commonly known as the love chapter (chapter13). Next chapter 14 goes into how the gifts are to be used in the church (in love and decently and in order) and these 3 chapters all flow together as one letter as the author originally intended when it was written.

    CONCLUSION:

    The bible nowhere teaches that tongues are not for today and it nowhere teaches that it is only to be used to preach to foreigners in their native language like it was used in the day of Pentecost. I myself wonder if most of what is being labeled today as "speaking in tongues" is really the same tongues that is spoken of in scripture, but apart from what we have in some church’s today I would say that speaking in tongues is scriptural. I know that there are many in the church today that have never seen or experienced "speaking in tongues". Hopefully this will help them not to be afraid of it and turn to explaining it away with false teachings.

    (Mark 16:17 KJV) And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

    (1 Cor 14:21-22 KJV) In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. {22} Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

    (1 Cor 12:7-11 KJV) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. {8} For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; {9} To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; {10} To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: {11} But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

    (1 Cor 13:1 KJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

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