Speaking in Tongues
What do we learn about it from the Bible?
1. It was prophesied in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 28:11, "With stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people." In the chapter on Tongues and Prophecy, Apostle Paul quotes this prophecy (1 Cor 14:21).
2. It was foretold by Jesus Christ.
Mark 16:17, "These signs will follow those who believe; In My Name... they will speak with new tongues."
3. It was a normal experience of Christians in the early Church.
Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, Alphaeus, Simon Zelotes, Judas the brother of James, Mary the mother of Jesus, the brothers of Jesus, and others spoke in tongues when they were filled with the Spirit. They were about 120 (Acts 1:13,14; 2:4).
Apostle Paul spoke in tongues in the power of the Spirit (Acts 9:17; 1 Cor 14:18).
Cornelius, an official of the Italian Army, his relatives and close friends spoke in tongues when the Holy Spirit fell on them in a Gospel meeting (Acts 10:1,24,44-46).
The 12 Ephesian disciples spoke in tongues when the Holy Spirit came on them (Acts 19:1,6,7).
4. It is a blessed experience for us today.
(a) It enriches praise and worship.
The 120 disciples in the Upper Room were speaking "the wonderful works of God" in tongues (Acts 2:11). "I will sing with the spirit.... when you bless with the spirit.. you indeed give thanks well" (1 Cor 14:15-17).
(b) It enhances prayer.
"He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God" (1 Cor 14:2).
"If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays... I will pray with the spirit" (1 Cor 14:14-15).
When we pray in tongues we bypass the intellect.
(c) It is a great boon for self-edification.
"He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself... I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all" (in private, of course/ implied) (1 Cor 14:4,18).
(d) It keeps us fresh.
Referring to tongues, it is said in Isaiah 28:11,12, "This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing."
See also the foreshadowing experience of David in Acts 2:25,26.
(e) It has a wonderful ministerial value.
i) As a sign to the unbelievers who might be listening to tongues.
"Tongues are for a sign to unbelievers" (1 Cor 14:22).
ii) As a means of edification to the believers if it can be interpreted.
"Let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret...
that the Church may receive edification." (1 Cor 14:13,5).
Tongues and Interpretation are in the ninefold "manifestation of the Spirit given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Cor 12:7-10).
5. It must be regulated against misuse.
(a) Tongues and Interpretation
"If anyone speaks in tongues, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God" (1 Cor 14:27,28).
(b) Tongues and Orderliness
"Brothers, desire earnestly to prophecy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order... For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Cor 14:39,40,33).
(c) Tongues and Love
"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" (1 Cor 13:1).
6. It is meant to function till Christ comes back.
"Whether 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 prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (1 Cor 13:8-10).
We are perfected only at Christís return.
"When He is revealed, we shall be like Him" (1 Jn 3:2).