The “Gift of Tongues”
This is all far too often confused with the actual infilling of the Holy Spirit evidenced by “Speaking in Tongues”. It is an historical and Theological mistake that has been carried to an illogical end by many institutions that brand themselves as part of Christianity.
When did the confusion begin. I’m not sure that anyone really knows but the Catholic Church, and many other churches for hundreds of year made claims that “Speaking in Tongues” was of the devil. Sadly that thought has not entirely left us and some Baptist Churches believe that as do the Jehova’s Witnesses, and the Church of Christ lean in that direction if pressed. Why? We might ask. I suspect that if the church you go to says that, then no one will want anything to do with speaking in tongues, as any “good Christian” would not want anything to do with anything of the Devil.
It is no surprise then that “Speaking in Tongues” was not heard of or entertained in the mainline established churches, and people that had that experience were expelled from the churches as heretics and devils for many years.
The problem of non tongues speakers trying to pass themselves off as Christians was evident even in New Testament times.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The question goes begging, how does one know that someone else is filled with the Holy Spirit? Just because they say so? We believe God has something to say about how much man can be trusted. He said in
Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, who can know it?”.
So much for taking anyone’s word with out any biblical reference or evidence.
Paul would not have written this without some kind of provocation. He was obviously answering a question. We are not told what the question is, but the answer is obvious. Paul knew what the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit was, and was reinforcing that to the church at Rome. The Church at Rome was a Spirit filled Church, but as often happens prominent people with influence come into the Church and bring with them heretical doctrines. That should not surprise anyone as it still happens today, and the results just seem to get worse and worse as the message of the Bible becomes more and more diluted and forgotten.
On to the Gift of Tongues then. It is strange that the “Gift of Tongues” really doesn’t get a mention in the Bible until Paul writes to the Corinthian church.
The Context of the letter needs to be understood. The Corinthian church was a very out of order church. The city of Corinth, was a very out of order city. It was wealthy, the cross roads of a lot of trade traffic, a port city and a center of the worship if the goddess of fertility, Aphrodite ( she had many different names Eostre or Easter being one of them). The social disorder that existed in Corinth at that time had infected the church, and Paul wrote to the church to bring some order to the thinking and proceedings. In the course of the letter he explained the order of the Spiritual Gifts in the church and how they were to operate.
Please understand here that all the churches Paul started, and that he wrote to were churches that had all had the same Pentecostal experience. There were no other churches at that time. So, everyone in all the churches spoke in tongues as the sign of receiving the Holy Spirit.
As Paul explained to them about the gifts we find that some of the verses are grossly misunderstood by churches today.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul is not talking about the sign of receiving the Spirit, but about the “gift” of tongues, which is a completely different work of the Spirit through people that have already received the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues. If the “Gift of Tongues” is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, why is this the first time it is mentioned, and only in a letter to the Corinthian church that is out of order?
1 Corinthians 14:23
If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
1 Corinthians 14:39-40
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
Let all things be done decently and in order. Unfortunately many churches are emulating Corinth’s bad behavior all over again. Not just about tongues, but about many of the lax moral issues they allow today.
Some might say this is evidence that not everyone speaks in tongues. No, quite the opposite. All can speak in tongues, but should not under certain circumstances in the Church. So we establish that all can speak in tongues.
The verse that confuses,
1 Corinthians 12:28-30
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
— Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
Paul is writing here explicitly about the gifts of the Spirit, not signs. And he explains that not all have the gift of tongues, but he also deals with seven other “gifts” of the Spirit, only one of which is listed amongst the signs that will follow believers in Mark 16:15-20.
Did Paul make a mistake? We hardly think so. Another verse that churches use to deny speaking in tongues altogether,
1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Everyone wants to talk about tongues, but never about knowledge or prophecy. They certainly are being very discriminatory when they do that, plus they totally misinterpret and misunderstand the verse they quote for not speaking in tongues. The verse is all about the work of the Holy Spirit ceasing, and the subsequent return of Christ, and nothing else. Since neither of those two things have happened yet, all the things mentioned in those verse still continue to today. They also neglect to read to see the context in which the verse they quote is written.
The deception. Churches have to divide the haves and the have nots for a very good reason. If they concede the point that “Speaking in Tongues” is the very evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit they lose all credibility over the fact that they have consistently told people that never spoke in tongues that they were saved, when in fact they were not. Most of them were not even baptized, so they miss the boat altogether.
Many people in many churches today speak in tongues. They are told that it is “just the gift of tongues” and that is just not true. Most of those churches do not operate the gifts of the Spirit in their services the way Paul instructed, and would probably not know how to.
We Do, and we absolutely know the difference.