Tongues vs. the message: The gift of tongues has always been a mystery to many, from that Day of Pentecost till that great Day when the Lord will come to receive the church. I see some wonderful blessings that God granted through the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues that was appointed to the church. The understanding that I have concerning these gifts are awesome to me but I strongly suggest, don't take my word for it, let each go to the Lord in prayer and a sincerely seeking heart, and let Him reveal His truths to you. First of all, when you do that, then you know that, that revelation came from the Lord and it becomes a treasure in your heart and the love of God is strengthen within your heart. As in our relationships with each other, it is the same within the fullness of God, as we recognize His caring presence in our lives, we have no choice but to joyfully love in return. Continuing on, let's take notice to what was happening in the early church. As recorded in Scripture, the speaking in other tongues, was the prophesying, that enclosed edification, exhortation and comfort to men of many other languages. In other words, God's plan of salvation was granted for all mankind and for me, that speaking of other tongues is our divine invitation to include all of all languages that want a divine relationship with God through His Son Jesus, our Lord and savior, Amen!
Acts 19:5. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Since they were prophesying, others were hearing for the first time, the good news of what God was promising them. Take note how the bible describes prophecy in this following Scripture.
1 Corinthians 14:3. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. It's awesome to realize that these men were speaking words of instruction and encouragement in this miraculous manner of tongues for all to hear.
Now also consider this, is not the outcome of the other tongues spoken back then, parallel to what the Holy Spirit accomplishes today, within the body of Christ? I think so!
5. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. I see two messages in this verse, the first obvious message Paul is proclaiming is that the gift of tongues is not the emphasis but the message that is given to the world through these many different languages. And the message that they heard, understood and believed, ministered to them in like manner as the Lord ministers to us today through His Holy Spirit. Lets take a close look at 1 Corinthians 14:3 and see how the dictionary defines...But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. This is very important in the study of these gifts of God.
Edify: To instruct especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.
Exhort: --tr. 1. To urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal: exhorted the troops to hold the line. See Synonyms at urge. --intr. To make urgent appeal.
Comfort: tr.v. 1. To soothe in time of affliction or distress. 2. To ease physically; relieve. --com-fort n. 1. A condition or feeling of pleasurable ease, well-being, and contentment. 2. Solace in time of grief or fear. 3. Help; assistance: gave comfort to the enemy. 4. One that brings or provides comfort. 5. The capacity to give physical ease and well-being: enjoying the comfort of my favorite chair.
It's clear that the use of tongues, the interpretation of tongues and the revelations given today by the Holy Spirit, are all given through one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. It is my belief, and I feel an awesome one, that the speaking of tongues in the Book of Acts was an outward manifestation of the ever so gentle inward dwelling Holy Spirit that is experienced by those that have committed their lives to Christ today. One of the wonderful messages that is attached to the gift of tongues is the divine confirmation that the salvation of God was granted to include all nations of other languages that would repent to the righteousness of God. Also the reason the outward manifestation was given in the early church was for it to be a sign to the unbelieving Jews that had rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah. Pay special attention to verse 21.
1 Corinthians 14:21. In the law it is written: "With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,'' says the Lord. 22. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Let us consider this, who is this people? Surely it was the Jews that were rejecting the Messiah, right? So this was a sign to them, but for the believing, this tongue was given in a language that would tell of the great tidings of Christ to those of other nations. One might consider the tower of Babel, where the people were so wicked that God divided them by their tongues. But now God, through Christ was uniting His kingdom and provided spiritual understanding to all that would believe. Consider this, was there interpreters before that Day of Pentecost? I don't know. Was man able to undo what God had done when He divided them by their language. Never the less, on that Day of Pentecost, God granted all understanding of His promise, if they had an open heart to hear.
On that Day of Pentecost, the Promise of the Father, as promised through the prophet Joel, the outpouring of His Spirit on all flesh, was manifested through all the other tongues were spoken, as the Spirit gave them utterance. I believe that today, that same utterance with understanding is found in the hearts of those that are His by God's Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance and today, 1 John 2: 26. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
1 Corinthians 14:39. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. In studying Scripture it becomes obvious why we are commanded not to forbid anyone from speaking in tongues and that is because it is not up to man whether others speak it or not, for that decision comes only from God as God grants that gift. Same way with the Holy Spirit, it is not up to man to forbid anyone from seeking the fellowship that is available through the Holy Spirit of God. It's just not up to man to forbid any gift of God but it's up to each of us to have an open heart before God to receive God's blessings and submit to His service in the spirit of love of which He places in the heart of those that are His.
Personally I do not find any tongues that was spoken in the bible that was not intended to be a language proclaiming and fulfilling the promises of God. Notice that Paul began documenting in chapter 12 the variety of tongues and these tongues were identified in the book of Acts as being understood, each in their own language.
1 Corinthians 12:28. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
Acts 2:7. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8. "And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9. "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10. "Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11. "Cretans and Arabs we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.'' 12. So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?''
1 Corinthians 14:9. So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10. There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance.
It appears to me that some of the Corinthians, may of been operating in the flesh, drawing attention by their display of tongues, rather than focusing on the message that was to benefit the hearers, so Paul was trying to re-direct them in his letters (chapter 14) to the importance of the message, rather than the messenger.
14:11. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. 12. Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 13. Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.
It also seems to me in the following verses that the ones that spoke a foreign language, even if they themselves may of not understood that language, they must of known which language they were given to speak or they would not of known if there was an interrupter there before they spoke, so that language could be interpreted. My point is this, each tongue had an understanding, and someone understood it and someone with divine or maybe natural understanding had to be present before that language was to be used. You'll see in the next verse that, that decision was made before that tongue was to be spoken.
1 Corinthians 14:27. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Take notice, for this almost sounds like Paul was forbidding, but he wasn't. For he said, "let him speak to himself and God", silently, emphasizing that there would be no benefit to others without understanding.
When Paul began to speak and gave instructions about the speaking in tongues, let us begin by putting his writing in order. He began in chapter 12 talking about the spiritual gifts and opening dialog on other gifts to include tongues and the interpretation of tongues. In Chapter 13 he passes on acknowledgment that tongues would cease, prophecies would fail and that knowledge would vanish. He also shares in chapter 13 that love has the preeminence in the body of Christ and without love, tongues alone would be "as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal" leading to nothing. But in chapter 14 Paul really left good instructions as to why the tongues were given, the benefit of the varieties of tongues and the great value of the prophecies that edified and exhorted and brought comfort to the church, of which was given through the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 13:1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5. does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6. does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11. When I was a child, I spoke 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 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. 13. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Here is a personal thought of mine, in Genesis 11 there was a city named Babel.
Genesis 11:1. Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. Because these men were one and had purposed to build a tower and a name for themselves 4. And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.'' and the Lord saw that ..."nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them", confused them by confusing their language and this is where all the varieties of tongues originated. 5. But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6. And the Lord said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7. "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.''
But when the new covenant by the blood of Jesus was fulfilled by His sacrificial death and resurrection, God purposed to unite all that would believe in His Son Jesus into one body, the church, and the Holy Spirit is the one language that we all can share and be one, with the Lord. The variety of tongues that was being heard in the book of Acts was the outward manifestation of this precious gift of the Holy Spirit that unites all in the body of Christ where we are to be all like minded in the spirit of love. I personally believe the reason that Paul stated that the tongues would cease is that today many that take claim to Christianity do not recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit and therefore the edifying and the exhorting and bringing comfort to men is not being done in the faith as God has provided and therefore prophecies are failing because they are not being recognized and spoken, and therefore the knowledge of God is vanishing before us in our great land that God has given us. I believe this is why Jesus said these words:
Luke 18:8. ..."Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?''
Faith has been demonstrated in many ways and ideas but how many really depend upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in God's plan of salvation?
Romans 8:13. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
The intended purpose and manifestation of the Holy Spirit, even back in the book of Acts to this present hour is the same. For God's intent is for us to share His "Way" of divine direction and understanding, opening the doors to His refreshing presence to all that are open to seeking His will. As Christians, we all need each other, we need this edification, we need this exhortation, and we all need the comfort of His presence, for without it, we are isolated from the body of Christ and can become vulnerable to the savage attacks of the evil one. Today, I do not see a need for speaking in an unknown tongue for beginning in verse 28 Paul is saying, if there is no interpreter, then there is also no need for the tongues but in verse 31 he continues to say, let's not stop the message, for each of us that have an understanding from God, will have the opportunity to share it with others, one by one. Check it out!
14:31. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 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 the churches of the saints.
I just like this verse so I added it! (Smile) 2 Timothy 1:7. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Just an added thought here on how the Apostle Paul declared that the gift of tongues was the least of all gifts, yet the message that was given through it and now through the Holy Spirit is amongst the greatest gifts of God for in it is found our relationship within the fullness of God for our lives today and throughout all eternity! I just want to re-emphasise how God had placed on Paul's heart that, tongues was not the focus, rather the message with understanding that is given through the Holy Spirit. It's the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin. It's through the Holy Spirit that we have divine direction from God. The Holy Spirit is still speaking in tongues, but not an unknown tongue but the language of understanding from the heart of God as He has poured out His Holy Spirit upon all flesh. You see, God's will is being recognized and spoken through the many tongues of the world through those that have committed to the anointing of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the only language of God that is spoken to all of every tongue and it's through this divine anointing that we find a bonding fellowship within the fullness of God and the true body of Christ as the Apostle John was also proclaiming in the following verse.
1 John 1:3. that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full
Thanks be to God, from the heart in sincerity, for this wonderful opportunity of having the anointing of Christ in us!