July 1, 2013 Posted by admin in Prayer

Ask Donnell: What Exactly Is Speaking In Tongues?

Ask Donnell: What Exactly Is Speaking In Tongues?

We received the following question from Charlene;

"Hi Donnell, please could you explain speaking in tongues? My children who are in their 20's keep questioning me and saying I am babbling. My son who reads the bible says that it is blasphemy to the Holy Spirit but I know God has done a lot for me and has brought me through fire and high water. So I just want to know how to deal with the topic in a non-hostile environment. My prayer is for salvation for them and unity."

Excellent question Charlene. People question the gift of speaking in tongues all the time including some who read The Bible like your son. I think the only way to address an issue like this directly is through the specific use of scriptures. What we don't want is a war of opinions and ideas where each side argues for their respective personal positions. All we should care about is what The Bible says. We can only present opinions until we figure out what God has to say. Once we find it in The Bible the arguments need to end there.

Let's start by using "The Law of First Mention". Where was the concept of speaking in other tongues introduced in The Bible and how was it done? With that understanding we can start our discussion and take it on the right track. I know what some people are probably thinking. We're going to start in The Book of Acts. That's what I thought also but that's wrong. The concept of speaking in other tongues was introduced years before by Jesus at the same time He gave The Great Commission.

Mark 16:15-18(NKJV) - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

If you believe that we are supposed to preach the gospel to every creature then you should also believe in casting out demons, speaking in new tongues, supernatural protection and supernatural healing. You can't have one and not the others. It's a package deal according to Jesus Christ. When people believe the gospel, Jesus said that there are certain signs that WILL follow.

These signs are not reserved for Charismatic Christian denominations like the Pentecostals or Church of God in Christ. These signs are supposed to follow every single believer in Jesus. Therefore, if the signs are not following the preaching of the gospel either people are not believing or the gospel is not being preached right.

John 3:8(NKJV) - The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

When I see the leaves of trees moving that's a sign that the wind is blowing. If the leaves on the trees don't move the wind is not blowing. No movement, no wind and no wind, no movement. Therefore, where there are no signs of the moving of The Holy Spirit, He is not moving. So when people try to separate the signs of The Holy Spirit from The Holy Spirit they are trying to separate the moving of the leaves from the wind. That's practically impossible. They may be able to theorize how it could happen but it can't.

Let's move on to The Book of Acts now. There are two main dimensions of speaking in other tongues, both of which are prophetic. In one dimension a message is delivered from God to people and in the other, declarations are made directly to God.

Acts 2:1-13(NKJV) - When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

Here's where the gift of speaking in other tongues is fully demonstrated for the first time. Once again let's look at this using The Law of First Mention even though technically it was mentioned before. Jesus first mentioned it but it wasn't until The Book of Acts that we can actually see it in manifestation. Hence, this is the first time that what Jesus only spoke of in Mark 16 actually happened. Let's pay close attention to some specific details.

The first thing we need to notice is that as soon as the people were filled with The Holy Spirit they spoke in other tongues. What were these other tongues? These were at least sixteen languages outside of their native language. Every person who listened to them heard them speaking of the wonderful works of God in their own unique language. That was the true mystery. The crowd wondered how people who could not speak their particular language in an instant fluently delivered a message of God's goodness in every single language represented. That was not the only miracle.

How is it possible that one hundred and twenty people (see Acts 1:15) all said something different at the same time yet each person in the crowd ONLY heard God's Word in his/ her language? That is amazing! Why weren't they confused listening to so many languages simultaneously? Why is it that not one person's language was drowned out by someone else? One hundred and twenty people speaking in sixteen different languages at the same time? Not twenty people! One hundred and twenty! Think about it! What if a person in the crowd who only understood Greek was standing on one side of the room while the person speaking in other tongues in Greek was on the other side? Which disciples spoke which language?

If one hundred and twenty of us say something different in English at once it would sound like utter confusion farless for using different languages. So speaking in other tongues had to be supernatural for it to even work the way it did. Only The Holy Spirit would have known which languages needed to be spoken and which of the one hundred and twenty people speaking stood closer to the people in the crowd who spoke that particular language. That's a complete miracle! If The Holy Spirit gave the gift of speaking in tongues and only He could have directed the process with such precision how could we ever question the power behind it?

By the way, I have three blogs I want you to read for more of the background details on the gift of speaking in tongues; "The Mystery Of Tongues", "Coded Messages" and "How Do I Speak In Tongues?" We won't repeat what's already in there but we will look at something else. You can read those once we're done here. Let's now continue our discussion by focusing on this first account of people speaking in tongues in The Book of Acts.

Ask Donnell: What Exactly Is Speaking In Tongues?

Acts 2:13-21(NKJV) - Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.” But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’

People tend to ridicule what they don't understand. Even though it was clear to most that there was supernatural power at work as the one hundred and twenty people spoke in other tongues some people listening started mocking them. At that moment the twelve disciples stood up and Peter responded. He made it completely clear that the gift of speaking in other tongues was a sign of the fulfillment of a specific prophecy from Joel 2:28-32. The Holy Spirit had been poured out and they were the first fruits of that outpouring.

There are many gifts which come from The Holy Spirit but take it not lightly that the first one He gave was speaking in other tongues. What exactly is speaking in other tongues? It's quite similar to the gift of prophecy where God speaks through a human being. However, it's done in a language outside of the native language of the person speaking and without any access to the person's understanding. Apostle Paul explains it best in 1 Corinthians 14.

1 Corinthians 14:2,4-5,13-14(NKJV) - For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries....4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church...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.....13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

When all of us speak the same language and God wants to deliver a message to the group He can speak through a person in that language. In the case of The Upper Room there were many people listening who spoke different languages so God delivered a message to them through the gift of speaking in other tongues. So in that case the gift of speaking in other tongues served the specific purpose of communicating a message of God to many different people in many different languages at the same time. On the other hand, when everyone in the room speaks the same language the gift of speaking in other tongues takes on another dimension of importance.

Since the need for multiple languages is not a priority for communicating the message to others this case is a little different from The Upper Room experience. In The Upper Room those one hundred and twenty disciples were prophesying by The Spirit. They were delivering a message from God to people. In the case of everyone having the same native language, speaking in other tongues can be described as praying in The Spirit. Why the difference? Prophesy is a message from God to people. Prayer is a message from people to God. When you pray in The Spirit, God understands what you're saying and that's all that matters.

Therefore, we must understand the difference. If a message needs to be delivered to people and The Holy Spirit inspires someone to speak in another tongue He will also inspire someone to interpret what was said so that people would understand. However, when it's time to speak mysteries to God and make spiritual declarations without the limitations of time, space or human understanding we don't need an interpretation. That's between the person speaking in tongues and God who gave the person the words to speak. The Holy Spirit is behind the gift so He knows what dimension of speaking in tongues is needed at the time.

In conclusion, let's see how Apostle Paul ties up the discussion.

1 Corinthians 14:15,18,19,39-40(NKJV) - What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding....18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue....39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

Speak in tongues and speak in your native language. Prophesy in tongues and prophesy in your native language. Pray in tongues and pray in your native language. The gift of speaking in other tongues cannot be neglected. Apostle Paul spoke in other tongues more than anyone else in The Church but knew that for the benefit of others if a message was to be delivered from God it could not be done in a language people could not understand. For that reason only, it's more valuable to prophesy in your native language. Outside of that one reason, "do not forbid to speak with tongues."

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