Gifts of the Spirit
discerning of spirits
Gift of Tongues
A. What is the supernatural gift of tongues?
A language spoken somewhere in the world
or in heaven either in the past or at the present time. Some call it
a heavenly language. However, Iíve heard languages that sound like French,
Arabic, Italian, Hebrew, Russian, Vietnamese.
It is a fluent language complete with
accents. Not all experiences are the same so I say this with caution,
not to make anyone feel that if their experience is not like I describe,
it means that something is not right. Absolutely not. All we
can go by in scripture is that on the day of Pentecost people heard
the apostles and others speak in the language of the countries they
happened to have come from. There were people coming to Jerusalem to
worship from different parts of the known world. They could all speak
the same language as the apostles because it was the land of the heritage
and faith but, they also lived in countries that spoke different languages
than that which was spoken in Jerusalem so they were amazed to hear
people speak in their own languages where they had come from. This gift is the most controversial because of lack of understanding
or else the tradition of men that changed its meaning over the years.
It is possible for tongues to be understood
by someone or in some place but not always by the one speaking. Even
if we interpret the tongues we speak, we usually do not understand the
words we speak at the time we speak them. Interpretation will usually
interpret the meaning rather than a word for word translation and it
comes after the tongues are spoken in most cases and we donít know ahead
of time what the interpretation is until we speak forth by the spirit
and give the interpretation. So having the gift of interpretation does
not mean that we understand what is spoken directly when it is spoken
unless we happen to naturally understand the particular language in
the natural. I have heard of cases where the Lord gives an interpretation
to someone as the speaker is speaking but it has not happened to me
that way at any time past or present.
Again many experiences are different. I
spoke to one young lady who told me that when the Lord wanted her to
give an interpretation, she saw the words like a ticker tape given to
her in a vision. That has never happened to me in that particular way
but perhaps that is the way God chose to give her the interpretation.
With me, I just open my mouth and start speaking not knowing ahead of
time what Iím going to say. I just know that God wants something said.
We will get into interpretation in a different lesson. All
utterances in tongues do not have to be interpreted if it is worship
and praise and not meant to be a message for others present.
B. What the gift of tongues is not:
Babbling or baby talk
Gibberish- When a person first starts
to speak as the spirit is trying to speak through them, they may sound
garbled at first but as the person yields to the spirit the language
becomes a clear language. Keep in mind that some languages in the world
do sound a little strange so if the speaker is speaking in some native
African tribal language, it may sound a little strange. Lets be careful
not to judge in these cases. We actually do not ever have to judge the
tongues itself but the interpretation or a word of prophecy. The actual
tongues speaking does not have to be discerned whether or not it is
from God because we canít understand what is being said. It is the interpretation
that we have to worry about. It is what is spoke in English that is
the concern if English happens to be the language we normally speak.
If no one understands what is being said then we donít have to worry
about it unless the speaker is interrupting a message the Lord wants
Of the devil Ė Smith Wigglesworth speaks
of a time when someone came into his service speaking in tongues and
it was not of God. While I will agree this may be possible and I myself
did hear someone I thought was ďnot of God,Ē I have no scripture to
back this claim up with. It is safer for me to leave that to God except
to remind us that tongues is a language and someone can come
and just speak another language they know in the natural.
Of no value Ė If tongues are of no value,
why did God choose that particular gift to announce the arrival of the
Holy Spirit that was poured out upon those on the day of Pentecost and
then later in the house of Cornelius? Why did the apostle Paul claim
to speak in tongues more than all of them and did warn us not to forbid
the speaking in tongues?. Why would God even give something that was
no value? No matter whether we understand this gift or not, it is a
gift from God. Any gift from God is bound to be better than any gift
coming from man.
The least of all the gifts- No where
in the bible does it say that tongues is the least of all gifts. Just
because Paul mentions it last in chapter 12 does not mean that it is
the least gift. The only time he hints of any criticism is when he says
that it is better to prophesy that all present can receive edification
than just have people praying in tongues and they only are edified.
He did say that they spoke in tongues well but that there is a time
when they must speak quietly to themselves and to God so prophesies,
interpretations, preaching, and teaching can be done to edify the whole
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some
in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers,
after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities
1Co 12:29 Are all apostles? are
all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
1Co 12:30 Have all the gifts of
healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
1Co 12:31 But covet earnestly the
best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.
The church started with the apostles, then
we see God gave them prophets. He then gave them teachers, miracles,
healings, helps, governments, and different kinds of tongues. He didnít
say one was greater than another or that one was least. In fact chapter
14 shows us the importance of all parts of the body working together.
There is no big me and little you. Jesus refuted that type of teaching
when he taught the lesson of feet washing. That was the whole reason
for foot washing. It as to show the apostles that they were servants
not lords over their brethren. Hierarchy is not taught in scripture
after the coming of Jesus Christ.
We need pastors and overseers to keep the flock safe from predators,
to watch for souls and take
care of the hurting, hungry, those needing correction but never to lord
over, control or dominate flock. I doubt if I would be part of a church
with no pastor.
We are never to use any position, however,
for self exaltation and be called Rabbi, father or some title that makes
us look higher than others. That is why the some churches use brother
and sister for all believers even those in the ministry.
C. Scriptures that concern the speaking
in tongues associated with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Mar 16:15 And he said unto
them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every
Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but
he that believeth not shall be damned.
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my
name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new
Mar 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any
deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on
the sick, and they shall recover.
Mar 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was
received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
Mar 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the
Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs
Act 2:1 And when the day of
Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one
Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a
rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were
Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of
fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began
to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- Act 10:43 To him give all
the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth
in him shall receive remission of sins.
Act 10:44 While Peter
yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which
heard the word.
Act 10:45 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.
Act 10:46 For they
heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered
Act 10:47 Can any man
forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have
received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Act 10:48 And he
commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then
prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid
his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with
tongues, and prophesied.
Look whose doing the laying on of hands.
It is Paul. It is the same Paul who wrote chapter 12 and 14 of Corinthians.
The same Paul who said that it is better to prophesy than to speak in
tongues was the same Paul who laid hands on some people and they spoke
with tongues. If tongues are such a bad thing, why did Paul allow it
at that time?
Notice that tongues are one of the signs
following believers. Mark 16:17 is not the words of Paul here but Jesus Himself.
Notice also like all other gifts they are associated with the preaching
of the gospel. Signs follow those that preach or bring the gospel. We
have to have supernatural signs to convince the lost that what we teach
is true. Signs also accompany believers as they meet to worship God
and teach the word. So they are used to edify believers as well and
accompany the gospel preaching. Tongues is special in one way in that it
edifies believers in their private prayer life as well. Praying
and even singing in tongues is a way of worshiping God and should never
be taken lightly or be criticized by those that do not understand.
Some people are quick to point out that
the rushing wind and the tongues of fire were not repeated. My answer
to that is how do we know? Why limit God to what we see and know? I
have seen flickers of light and I have heard of rushing of wind entering
into church meetings but even if I had never heard or seen this, I would
not ever say anything that makes the assumption that it was a onetime
occurrence. We have not been in every church meeting since the days
of the apostles. We were not at Azusa Street or the outpouring in North
Carolina. Most people pray with their eyes closed so how would we know
if tongues of fire did not accompany the baptism of the Holy Ghost today?
It is still the same God and the same Holy Spirit with us today as they
We see tongues as another sign in Acts
chapter 10, that
the Holy Spirit baptism was for Gentiles as well as Jews. We should
rejoice in this. They simply heard the word. What word? They simply
heard the word about remission of sins through faith in Jesus Christ
and the Holy Spirit fell upon those that heard the word. How did they
hear? They believed what they heard and their heart received what they
heard. This reception of the word of God was powerful enough to cause
the Holy Spirit to fall upon them and they spake with tongues and prophesied.
This is enough to make us run the aisles with the joy of the Lord. The
word was spoken, the word was believed, the word was received and they
were filled with the Holy Ghost.
Now speaking of this event. If tongues
were only for private times like some are teaching today, why did these
people speak in tongues when they were all together? On the day of Pentecost
all spoke in tongues at the same time as they did when Paul laid hands
on those in Acts chapter 19. Let us stop trying to suppress the worship
of God just because we donít experience the same type of worship. When
its time to worship, praise and pray at the altar, tongues are perfectly
D. Different Kinds of Tongues
Private individual tongues used to edify
the one praying and build him or her in faith. 1Co 14:4 He that
speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth
edifieth the church.
Tongues used to praise and glorify God.
Acts 10: 46- For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify
Tongues used to intercede in the spirit
with groaning that cannot be uttered. Rom 8:26 Likewise the
Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should
pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for
us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
The gift of Tongues given to the church
by the will of the spirit that is meant to be interpreted as a prophetic
message from the Lord for edification, exhortation and comfort of the
church body as a whole. 1Co 14:27-28 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. But if there be no interpreter, let
him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to
E. Purpose of Tongues
A Sign that the Holy Spirit is present.
Acts chapter 2
A Sign that someone has received the
Holy Spirit. Acts 10, Acts 19
A supernatural sign to unbelievers.
They know something is occurring that is supernatural and not the usual.
1Co 14:22 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. Also Acts
2 on the day of Pentecost.
Assurance that God is real, that He
is with us and that the word is true. When someone who has never studied
a foreign language and does not know how to speak any other language,
speaks by the spirit a language they do not understand, I would say
that was a sign of the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit. This
miracle of tongues also can be one proof of the power of the resurrection
of Jesus giving us hope of a resurrection. It is supernatural
and not just an ability to speak foreign languages that we learn when
studying a language.
F. Misconceptions of Tongues
1. Not of the devil. No where in the bible
can you find that any supernatural speaking in tongues is of the devil.
If there is such thing as false tongues or tongues that are of the devil,
the bible doesnít cover it so we canít really get into it too deeply
because then we get into words and stories of man instead of the bible
itself. We can suppose that there is fake tongues, we may have heard
them ourselves and have seen it, but we have no scripture to back it
There is an old story and a rumor that
someone in church was speaking in tongues and there was a person from
another country present who heard the tongues and said that the tongues
were actually cursing God, not praising God. This rumor is as old as
the hills with no eye witness or documentation to back it up. I heard
it first when I was a young person in the church of God, I heard another
brother mention it in more recent years, the exact same story. I heard
Chuck Smith repeat it once but he was totally debunking the story as
just a rumor.
This is why we must be very careful not
to base doctrine or theology on rumors, words of men, experiences of
men or even our own experiences. Use the bible. The bible is itís best
interpreter. Stories are just that. They are stories. Someone can make
them up. That visitor could have misunderstood or was lying. The devil
could have sent him instead of God. We just do not know.
If Jesse so and so is full of the Holy
Spirit, heals the sick and does miracles yet he has affairs without
repenting, does that mean that affairs are okay with God? I believe
the church needs to get back to scripture and get our eyes off peopleís
experiences, words of men, rumors, stories and holding menís persons
in admiration. If we want to prove something is for us today, is holy,
is from God, then lets use the word of God to teach it and not the experiences
of men. I do describe my own experiences now and then but with caution.
Do not base the truth on my experiences either but on the word of God.
2. Not to be forbidden in public assemblies-
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14 that we are not to forbid the speaking
in tongues. He has to mean in public assemblies because there is no
way to forbid someone to speak in private. Also every time someone spoke
in tongues in the New Testament, they were in a public meeting. If it
was not wrong then, how can we say it is wrong now?
3. Not for baby Christians only- Tongues
is not a sign of immaturity or a baby Christian. We cannot use 1 Corinthians
13 to call this a childish gift that is done away with when we grow
in the Lord because that chapter also speaks of knowledge, understanding
mysteries, giving to the poor etc. Are we going to stop having knowledge
4. Not something just for the apostles.
To all are afar off means us too.
Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them,
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Act 2:39 For the promise is unto
you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many
as the Lord our God shall call.
When Peter got up and spoke those words,
he was addressing their confusion over hearing people speak in tongues.
Tongues was definitely associated with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost
even if modern teachers are straying away from that fact today. We cannot
get away from it. If it was for that day, it is for this day also. If
it accompanied the Holy Spirit outpouring on the day of Pentecost, then
we can expect it to accompany any outpouring of the Holy Spirit today.
5. The gift of tongues is not the ability
to learn foreign languages.
I have a son that is learning Hebrew. He
is able to pick it up faster than I can. Iím still on the alphabet.
So the ability to learn languages is not the gift of tongues. Rich also
has the supernatural ability to speak in tongues by the spirit. I only
have heard him one time when he was praying for his dad but it is different
than when he speaks in Hebrew that he has studied. He spoke in tongues
supernaturally long before he spoke in Hebrew.
I donít want to get into experiences too
much here. I never spoke in tongues before the day when I was baptized
in the Holy Ghost. It was completely supernatural. I was not worked
up. No one was laying hands on me. I was not even in church. I was not
trying to speak in tongues. He just came out of the blue as I was sitting
in the car and thinking about God. It was a fluent language and not
gibberish although when the spirit first was trying to speak through
me, the first couple of syllables did sound a little strange. After
a couple of seconds a fluent enunciated language poured forth that I
had never spoken before. If scripture does not back this up, ignore
it as just a personal experience but since it did happen in scripture,
we cannot say it does not exist.
6. It is not to puff up self and exalt
oneís self Ė It is to magnify God. Paul says that he that speaks in
tongues edifies himself, not magnify himself. Edify is to build up,
strengthen and is like a spiritual refreshing or restoration. It is
not something selfish.
Remember the place in scripture where Jesus
said that if these held their peace, the rocks would cry out. People
back then tried to silence the worship and praise deserved by our Lord
as they do now. Speaking in tongues is another way to glorify and praise
the Lord. The only people offended are those that do not praise the
Lord themselves. When it is time for praise and worship, praying in
tongues is no different than praying in English. It does not have to
be understood by those present because they should not be listening
to anyone else praying, they should be praying themselves.
Paulís instructions concerning tongues
are not to put down tongues or to discourage its use. It is to silence
us when itís time for preaching, teaching, giving a word of prophecy,
giving a message in tongues and interpretation and edifying the whole
body. When itís time to pray and worship together as a group, tongues
are not to be forbidden. There is always in every worship service, a
time for prayer and a time for silence so the whole body can be edified.
If a pastor was preaching and someone decided
they wanted to start singing Amazing Grace and interrupt the message
that God lays on the pastorís heart, then they would be making the same
kind of mistake that a person that spoke in tongues out loud when a
message is being preached would also be making. I would venture to guess
that the Corinthians were all excited about receiving the Holy Ghost
and speaking in tongues that they just didnít know when to stop. They
assumed that since it was from God, they could speak anytime they felt
like it. Remember though that the bible says the spirits of the prophets
are subject to the prophets. The gifts are from God but we are to exercise
them at the right time and the right place.
If the pastor was giving a message that
he knows for sure God wants him to give, it would not be the time to
lay hands on the sick either. It would not be time for us to have fellowship
or shout in English. So we must not just pick on tongues as an unwelcome
So if we break out in tongues while the
pastor is preaching, does that mean we are not of God?
Did Paul say anywhere in his writings that
the Corinthians were ďnot of GodĒ or ďof the devilĒ or even ďout of
order?Ē No. he did not. They were just a little over zealous in their
praise and worship. That is also what tongues is by the way, ďPraise and
Tongues are the only one of the nine gifts
that is for individuals rather than for the whole body. It is the one
gift that is individualized and is meant to be given to individuals
whereas the other gifts are for the church as a whole body. Some believe
the gift of tongues is different than the private tongues that accompany
the baptism in the Holy Spirit and it is the gift of tongues that is
meant to be interpreted not a personís private prayer language.
So now we will address what Paul meant
when he said, ďDo all speak with tongues?Ē Many assume this means that
not everyone who is baptized with the Holy Spirit shows the sign of
speaking with tongues. First of all that is not what Paul said.
He said also that he would that all spoke
with tongues. We know that all do not speak with tongues. We know that
all do not heal. Paul was saying a fact. All do not speak in tongues
and all do not prophesy. He was not saying that all could not heal,
prophesy or speak with tongues but just stating the fact that all do
not do these things.
He was not saying that tongues do not accompany
the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We see from the book of Acts that it
did in every case. Even when it wasnít mentioned Simon the Sorcerer
saw something that caused him to desire the power to lay hands on people
and give them the Holy Ghost. If there was no visible sign why would
Simon ask for this power?
If it was not for tongues, how would we
know that we were baptized in the Holy Spirit?
Iím not going to tell someone that they
do not have the Holy Spirit baptism if they say they do yet have never
spoken in tongues. We shall know them by their fruits. Most of us can
usually spot a spirit filled person as opposed to one that is not spirit
filled even if we do not hear anyone speaking in tongues. They will
usually desire to seek the face of God. They will not be bound by the
love of the world. They will hate sin. They will love each other and
love righteousness. They will love the bible and believe it as the word
of God. So there are other signs to look for but for the one being filled
with the Holy Spirit, they would have to have some kind of a sign that
the Holy Spirit filled them. Tongues make a good sign is all Iím saying.
If someone never spoke in tongues yet gave
a message of prophecy or an interpretation of tongues, I would assume
they were spirit filled so all we can go by is what Thus saith the Lord.
Has anyone ever noticed that most controversy
over the bible and most divisions that concern scripture in churches
are over the writings of Paul?
2. Head covering
3. Women cutting the
4. Women wearing jewelry
5. Women keeping silence
6. Women preachers
8. Once saved always
9. Replacement theology
10. Kingdom now theology
11. Grace vs worksThere
is probably much more than those things but its all Paulís writings.
Peter actually tells us of this in his writings:
2Peter 3:15 And account that the
longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother
Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
2Pe 3:16 As also in all his epistles,
speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be
understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they
do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.
2Pe 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved,
seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away
with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and
in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory
both now and forever. Amen.
Does this mean that we throw out the writings
No. Peter shows us that God gave Paul the
wisdom to write what he did. It shows us though that his writings are
deep and very hard to understand by the natural man. It takes the spirit
of God to understand the writings of Paul. This is why so many misunderstand
because they want to interpret it to what they want it to mean instead
of what it actually means. We must not base interpretation by our own
desire but have the attitude that we are willing to believe what God
reveals to us even if we do not like it personally. I will close out
this session by reminding us of the other words of Paul. "covet
to prophesy and forbid not to speak with tongues."
If we forbid this in our churches we are being disobedient to the word
Interpretation of Tongues