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Speaking in tongues is and age old discussion of does it exist. Moreover, how does it exist. There are different variations of what actually speaking in tongues are and can be. Is speaking in tongue speaking in some type of gibberish that is not known to man? or is speaking in tongues simply speaking in a language you had no prior knowledge of to spread the gospel? And to what purpose is to speaking in tongues and does it exist in this modern day?
The first occurrence of speaking in tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The apostles went out and shared the gospel with the crowds, speaking to them in their own languages: “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11).
The Greek word translated tongues literally means “languages.” Therefore, in this context the gift of tongues is speaking in a language a person does not know in order to speak to someone who does speak that language. So therefore speaking in tongues would merely be speaking to someone in a known language but maybe a language that you had not been taught.
1 Corinthians chapters 12-14, Paul discusses miraculous gifts, saying, “Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?” (1 Corinthians 14:6).
According to the apostle Paul, and in concurrence with the tongues described in Acts, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated. In the same context speaking in tongues in a room full on non-believers would be counterproductive. Speaking in tongues with a room full of non-believers would only confuse the nonbeliever more.
A person with the gift of interpreting tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30) could comprehend what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language that was being spoken. The tongues interpreter would then converse the message of the tongues speaker to everyone else, so all could understand. “For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says” (1 Corinthians 14:13). Paul’s conclusion regarding tongues that were not interpreted is potent: “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19).
Is the gift of tongues for today?
First Corinthians 13:8 mentions the gift of tongues stopping, although it connects the stopping with the arrival of the “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10. Some point to a difference in the tense of the Greek verbs referring to prophecy and knowledge “ceasing” and that of tongues “being ceased” as evidence for tongues ceasing before the arrival of the “perfect.” First Corinthians 14:22 describes tongues as a “sign to unbelievers.”
According to this argument, the gift of tongues was a warning to the Jews that God was going to judge Israel for rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah. So, when God did in fact judge Israel (with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70), the gift of tongues would no longer serve its proposed purpose. While this view is possible, the primary purpose of tongues being fulfilled does not necessarily require its ending. Scripture does not irrefutably assert that the gift of speaking in tongues has stopped.
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If the gift of speaking in tongues were active in the church today, it would be performed in agreement with Scripture. It would be a real and understandable language (1 Corinthians 14:10). It would be for communicating God’s Word with a person of another language (Acts 2:6-12). It would be in conformity with the command God gave through the apostle Paul, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, two-or at the most three-should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God” (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). It would also be in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”
In Corinthians Paul is discussing the gift of tongues not in a bad way but rather laying down some rules for tongues. He affirms the gift is from God and its purpose. He discusses it is for edification of the church and for glorifying the church. The gift of tongues is to strengthen and not to harm the church. It is to communicate and confirm Gospel message.
I believe that God most definitely can give a person the gift of speaking in tongues to enable him or her to talk with a person who speaks another language. The Holy Spirit is supreme in the distribution of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11).
Just imagine how much more missionaries could do if they did not have to go to language school, and were instantly able to speak to people in any language.
Does God give the gift of tongues to all believers? Are you not a true believe if you cannot speak in tongues? I believe the gift of tongues is accessible to all but it is a matter of whether you are open to it or willing to invest your time in discovering your gifts. The bible also says to rejoice and making a joyful noise to others but not all believers sings in public but they do sing and rejoice in the Lord. It might be in a private moment at home or while in the car or just sitting in the pew and singing along with others. However, it depends on the believer and what they are willing to invest in finding their spiritual gifts.
If you cannot speak in tongues does it mean you are not truly saved? No, just like because you do not sing in public does not make you a non-believer. Not experiencing all gifts described in the bible does not mean you are not saved. Salvation is and intimate commitment between you and the Lord and what gifts the Lord provides to you is between you and him. And again, I think it what you are willing to invest in finding your gifts.
Speaking in tongues does not seem to occur today in the way it did in the New Testament, despite the fact that it would be useful. It seems the vast majority of believers who claim to practice the gift of speaking in tongues do not do so in agreement with the Scriptures mentioned above. These facts lead to the conclusion that the gift of tongues has ceased or is at least a rarity in the church today. But, it remains to question is it because God is not bestowing the gift, or more that men aren’t really looking into the gift of tongues and opening their minds and hearts up to this gift.
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