SPEAKING IN TONGUES - by Paul M Hanssen
Updated: Jul 13
SPEAKING IN TONGUES
By Paul M Hanssen
Jesus spoke about speaking in tongues only once.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (Mark 16:17)
It does not specify why, where, or under what circumstances believers would speak in tongues, but simply that as believer’s tongues would be an evidence of faith.
John the Baptist, never spoke about tongues, but he did say that the one coming after him, Jesus, would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire. (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost and the evidence of the gift being poured out in the upper room was the speaking in tongues.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)
What was SEEN and HEARD on the that day was the promise of the Holy Ghost being poured out. The people acted in such a way that many perceived that they were drunk. So mighty was this outpouring.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:32-33)
Later, Peter had the experience of introducing Cornelius and his household to Jesus Christ. Here, in this gathering, or church service (church simply means assembly or gathering), the Holy Ghost fell on all who heard the Word. They all spoke with tongues and magnified God. On this occasion, the tongues were for praise, edifying, and the evidence of the moving of the Spirit. There was no mention of interpretation given on this occasion.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. (Acts 10:44-46)
But when Paul visited the Ephesians, they too received the Holy Ghost, but on this occasion it states that they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)
In the case of Cornelius, tongues were associated with praise and magnifying God, but in the Ephesus case it was connected to prophesying.
The point here is that we are to RIGHTLY divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Churches, as well as individuals, get themselves in a snare when they attach their beliefs to only one side, or one opinion, or to one perspective of Truth. You can mark in down, if there is one side to anything, there will always be another side. God is the God of perfect balance. Everything He designed and created has balance. Hot and cold; male and female; mountains and valleys; summer and winter; heights and depths; death and resurrection; sowing and reaping; crying and laughter; pleasure and pain; and the list goes on. However, the reason, or one of the reasons, the religious world is missing out, losing out and not experiencing so much of what God wants to give His people, is because we are so quick to latch on to one side of truth while we ignorantly ignore the other side. We fall into the trap of believing that the 'one side' of truth is ALL truth. Yet the opposite side of that truth is missing. Hence, we can quickly become unbalanced in our belief.
Tongues are indeed for the purpose of giving messages of prophecy and should therefore be interpreted. If one person stands up publicly in a congregation and speaks out in tongues there should be an interpretation. But tongues are also for praise, magnifying God, and for the edifying of the believer.
It is also true that all things are to be done decently and in order.
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:39-40)
Paul was writing to a church, the church in Corinth, who were babies and spiritually immature. There was a lot of contention in their midst and a lot of competition going on between the brethren.
(And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Within the Corinthian Church, the things of the Spirit were being used as a platform for people to be heard and seen. Some used their spiritual gifts to flaunt and display their spirituality. This is always a danger in any church. Paul was cautioning them to bring order into the church.
Paul did not, however, forbid people to speak in tongues since he cautioned them NOT to forbid to speak with tongues. But he was teaching them to bring order in the use of the gift of tongues for the purpose of bringing forth messages, or prophesies. Not everyone who speaks in tongues has this gift. For some, the gift of tongues is given for the purpose of prayer, magnifying God, and/or edifying themselves. On the other hand, some have the specific gift of prophetic tongues in which case the public speaking of tongues should be interpreted.
We consider ‘church’ as a place and building where people gather. However, in the days of the early ‘church’ the gathering of the body was more spontaneous. They gathered here, there and everywhere and not always at a designated time. Church simply meant to gather together. The upper room experience was the beginning of the New testament gathering. The upper room was church; they all spoke with tongues. Cornelius’ house was church; they all spoke with tongues. The Bible teaches that there is a time and a place for everything under heaven. When the people are praising God together, it is proper and acceptable to praise God in English or in another language or spiritual tongue. When the people are praying, it is proper to pray, in English or in another tongue. When God desires to speak to His people, it is proper for two or three to speak in turn, (decently and in order) each waiting patiently for the right moment, and for the others to sit quietly or to pray quietly to themselves. We cannot confuse the two sides of this ministry but must realize one side does not invalidate the other.
1. Here we see one side of truth:
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. (1 Corinthians 14:2)
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. (1 Corinthians 14:4)
2. Here we see another side of truth:
Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Corinthians 14:13-15)
Speaking in tongues therefore is not always for the purpose of prophecy. Sometimes it is simply for prayer, edifying oneself, and worship. However, those who have the very powerful gift of prophetic utterance in the Spirit and publicly speak in tongues should wait on God for interpretation so that the whole body can be edified.