II. THE GIFT OF TONGUES
A. WHAT IT IS NOT
1. NOT ABILITY TO LEARN FOREIGN LANGUAGES
Some have claimed that the gift of tongues is nothing more than the
ability to learn foreign languages. They have claimed that this is
an ability which God sometimes gives those who are preparing themselves
to go into a foreign country to preach the gospel so they can communicate
with those whom they are going to witness to. However, this idea
does not line up with the Word of God in 1Cor 14:14 where Paul plainly
states that he doesn't know what he is saying when he speaks in tongues.
Paul says his spirit (the inner man) knows, but Paul's mind did not understand
it. 1 Cor 14:14 says: "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth,
but my understanding is unfruitful." This plainly rules out the ability
to learn a foreign language because a person who speaks in a foreign language
is both able to speak it and understand it.
2. NOT SOMETHING WHICH HAS PASSED AWAY
Another common argument which is used against the gift of tongues is
the idea that this gift has ceased or has been done away with. This
faulty idea comes from a misinterpretation of 1Cor 13:8-10. It is
claimed that this passage of Scripture teaches that the gift of tongues
ceased when the canon of Scripture was completed and that the gift of tongues
is no longer in existence. This is based on the idea that "that which
is perfect" of verse 10 is a reference to the canon of Scripture.
I firmly agree that the Scripture is perfect, but I disagree that the perfect
thing mentioned here is the Scripture. If we allow Scripture to interpret
Scripture, we have an interpretation of Paul's meaning back in 1Cor 1:7
where Paul prays under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the church
would not lost any spiritual gifts until the perfect Lord Jesus returns.
Thus, the gift of tongues will definitely be a part of the church and its
ministry until the coming of the Lord.
3. NOT JUST PUTTING AWAY A FILTHY MOUTH
Some have claimed that the gift of tongues is just a reference to the
sanctifying of the tongue of born again believers. This faulty idea
quickly falls apart when one looks at the gift of tongues on the day of
Pentecost in Acts 2. It plainly states that those from foreign countries
were amazed to hear them speak in their own foreign tongues. Why
would anyone be "amazed" or "marvel" at someone speaking without cursing?
Acts 2:5-8 says:
4. NOT A SIGN OF IMMATURITY
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every
nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and
were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold,
are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Some have claimed that the gift of tongues is a childish thing which
was meant only for the most immature Christians. They have claimed
that the more mature Christians go on to better things and eventually cast
off the gift of tongues. However, if this was the case, the Apostle
Paul (a mature Christian and Apostle) would not have claimed that he spoke
in tongues "MORE THAN...ALL" of the immature believers at Corinth.
Paul makes this statement in 1 Cor 14:18 "I thank my God, I speak
with tongues more than ye all:"
5. NOT A FALSE GIFT
Some have told me that the gift of tongues is a false gift and that
those who think they are speaking in tongues are actually just fooling
themselves. However, our Father in Heaven has promised us in His
Word that we would receive the Holy Spirit WHEN WE ASK FOR HIM and NOT
a serpent, a scorpion, or ANYTHING FALSE (Luke 11:11-13).
6. NOT OF THE DEVIL
A Baptist preacher once told me that I was full of the devil because
I speak in tongues to which I answered, Acts 2:4 "they were all FILLED
WITH THE HOLY GHOST and began to speak with other tongues..."
7. NOT SOMETHING TO BE FORBIDDEN IN CHURCH
When I was pastoring a Baptist church (almost 20 years ago) I was forbidden
to speak in tongues. A deacon stood up in the church after a Sunday night
service and plainly told me, "I forbid you to speak in tongues."
I simply read 1Cor 14:39 to him: "1Cor.14:39 says `Forbid not to speak
8. NOT A SIGN OF EMOTIONALISM
I've been told that tongues is a sign of emotionalism to which I have
answered with Mark 16:17 "These signs shall follow them that beleive...they
shall speak with new tongues..."
9. NOT MAGNIFYING SELF
I've been accused of magnifying myself because I speak in tongues to
which I have answered Acts 10:46 "For they heard them speak with tongues
and MAGNIFY GOD."I've been accused of edifying myself when I speak in tongues,
to which I have answered that we all need to be edified from time to time.
1Cor.14:4 "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself..." "Edify"
is the Greek word "oikodomeo" and it literally means to house-build, to
strengthen, to restore. Isaiah 28:10-11 says that tongues would be
a part of a rest and a refreshing. Jude 20 says it builds you up
on your most holy faith. Tongues is a gift from God to strengthen
you and charge you up to work for Jesus.
B. WHAT IT IS
The gift of tongues is a supernatural utterance
in a language or languages (earthly or heavenly) which the one doing the
speaking does not understand. It is a vocal miracle. It is
a miracle of speech (Acts 2:4-8; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:1-6; 1Cor 12-14).
The gift of tongues may be used to witness (Acts
2), to pray (1Cor 14:2), to sing (1Cor 14:15), to give thanks (1Cor 14:16-17),
and to praise the Lord (Acts 10:46). Tongues with interpretation
is equal to prophecy (1Cor 14:5). The gift of tongues is a sign to
the unbelieving Jew who has read or heard the O.T. prophesies concerning
this gift (compare 1Cor 14:21-22 with Isaiah 28:11). Through this
gift, the Holy Spirit may pray through a believer and make intercession
according to the will of God causing everything to work together for Good
The gift of tongues has a multitude of purposes.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I will list a few to give the
general idea. Jude 20 states that the gift of tongues builds up the
believer. Romans 8:26-27 teaches that the gift of tongues allows
the Holy Spirit to help us pray right or pray according to the will of
God. 1Cor 14:16-17 teaches that the gift of tongues helps us to "give
thanks well" (when we don't know what else to say and we still have a heart
full of thanksgiving, we can pray in tongues to give thanks to God).
The gift of tongues is a free will gift.
God doesn't force anyone to speak in tongues. This gift is received
by faith and stirred up by an act of the will. 1 Tim 4:14 states
that a person can NEGLECT a spiritual gift. 2 Tim 1:6 states that
a person can STIR UP a spiritual gift. 1 Cor 14:32 states that the
spirits of the prophets ARE SUBJECT to the prophets. It is obvious from
these passages that God DOES NOT FORCE a person to use a spiritual gift.
God doesn't just take over a person's spirit (inner man) and control that
individual's body and mind. This is also why we are encouraged to "DESIRE
SPIRITUAL GIFTS" (1 Cor 14:1). We are to desire this gift and seek
it according to 1Cor 14:1. God will not force it on us. On
the other hand, God does not tease His people. He doesn't tell us
to "desire" something and then refuse to give what He has told us to desire.
C. BIBLE EXAMPLES
There are five passages in the book of Acts which record how people
received the Holy Spirit. They are Acts 2:1-4, 8:14-18, 9:17, 10:44-46,
and 19:1-7. Three times out of these five it states that they spoke
with tongues when they received the Holy Spirit, and the other two infer
that they did. The three obvious passages are:
1. THE UPPER ROOM
Acts 2:1-4 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come,
they were all with one accord in one place.
2. CORNELIUS' HOUSEHOLD
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty
wind, and it filled all the house where they were
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and
it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak
with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (KJV)
Acts 10:44-46 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy
Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
3. CERTAIN DISCIPLES OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as
many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out
the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered
Acts 19:1-7 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos
was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus:
and finding certain disciples,
4. THE SAMARITANS
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?
And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they
said, Unto John's baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance,
saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come
after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on
them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7 And all the men were about twelve. (KJV)
Acts 8:14-18 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem
heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter
5. SAUL OF TARSUS
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might
receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized
in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands
the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, (KJV)
We know that the Samaritans spoke with tongues, because the early church
fathers say that they did and because it is implied in the fact that
Simon observed something when they received the Holy Spirit.
to be some kind of sign or evidence that registered on Simon's physical
senses for him to know that the Samaritans had received the Holy Ghost.
Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house;
and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus,
that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou
mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (KJV)
D. THE INITIAL EVIDENCE?
Paul himself said,"I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye
all"(1 Cor.14:18). We know that he didn't receive the gift of
before he received the Holy Spirit, so it is logical to believe that
received the Holy Spirit the same way that everybody else did -- with
the evidence of speaking in other tongues.
I've often been asked "Do you believe a person can be baptized in the
Holy Spirit and NOT ever speak in tongues?"
Let's look closely at one of the passages mentioned above. In
Acts 8:18 it says that Simon "SAW" that through the laying on of the apostle's
hands the Holy Ghost was given.
Acts 8:18 "And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles'
hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money..."
We know that a person cannot see the Holy Ghost with his physical eyes
because He is a Spirit. Therefore, there had to be some physical
sign or evidence that registered on Simon's physical senses for him to
know that the Samaritans had received the Holy Ghost. What was this
that Simon saw?
1) It wasn't just JOY. The Samaritans already had joy.
Acts 8:8 "And there was great joy in that city."
2) It wasn't DELIVERANCE or that devils were cast out, because the
devils had already been cast out.
Acts 8:7 "For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of
many that were possessed with them..."
3) It wasn't HEALING, because this had already occurred.
Acts 8:7 "...and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were
4) It wasn't SALVATION and water baptism, because they had already been
saved and then water baptized.
Acts 8:6 "And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things
which Philip spake..."
Acts 8:12 "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning
the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both
men and women."
What was this sign or physical evidence that registered on Simon's physical
senses for him to know that the Samaritans had received the Holy Spirit?
It is logical to assume that it is the same evidence that was registered
elsewhere. It was the same evidence that convinced the six Jewish
brothers who went with Peter to Cornelius' house. "For they heard
them speak with tongues, and magnify God"(Acts 10:46).
To answer the question, "Is it necessary to speak in tongues?"
Let me put it this way: If you want a New Testament experience and
want to make sure you have the same Holy Ghost that the apostles and the
early church had, then you want to speak in tongues.
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