Summary: From James & Dave’s Bible Page: A detailed, question and answer study of a vitally imporatant topic to the Christian life today.
As we begin our study, I encourage you to ask yourself this question: How intimate with Jesus do you want to be? Consider for a moment the wonderful possibility that we can communicate with our Heavenly Father in a way that is totally unlimited by our finite minds. A way that we can receive from Him in fresh, wonderful new ways. If this appeals to you, I encourage you to read on with an open mind, and an open Bible as I share with you one of the most cherished elements of my Christian life: The practice of speaking in tongues. Although tongues have raised a degree of controversy within the church, more and more Christians are discovering the life-changing power that comes through communicationg with God in this manner.
This message will be in an FAQ (frequently asked questions) format.This will be a three part message.This one will deal with general questions about tongues, the second one will deal with questions concerning the availability of tongues to all Christians and the third one will deal with the actual benefits of speaking in tongues (and there are many!) So without further delay, let’s look at God’s Word together!
I.WHAT IS SPEAKING IN TONGUES?
First,let’s look at a few things that speaking in tongues is NOT:
1.Tongues are not a status symbol, indicating that one Christian is more spiritual than another. The Corinthian church was a hotbed of tongues speaking, yet the Apostle Paul still chastised them for being carnal (1 Corinthians 3:3.)
2.Tongues are not a shortcut to instant spiritual maturity.
3.Tongues are not a hypnotic, zombie like state in which the person has no control of his faculties.
Speaking in tongues is, to put it simply, Holy Spirit inspired speech in a language unknown to the speaker. As we will examine, it can be spoken in a Christian’s private prayer life, or in a public worship service with interpretation.
People have a natural hunger for the supernatural. Unfortunately, many turn to the false, satanic supernatural found in psychics, the New Age,and other cultic activity rather than seeking the true supernatural power of God. This is tragic.God is a supernatural God! He can fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts with His love and power. Tongues are one of the avenues that He works through in order to do this.
II. ARE TONGUES STILL IN OPERATION TODAY?
Yes, there are more Christians on earth today who speak in tongues than there have been at any other time in history! Although they have always been around in varying degrees throughout church history, there has been a strong revival of tongues in this century.
It is true that the Bible refers to a time when tongues shall cease (1 Corinthians 13:8) (1).However, this same passage also tells us when this will happen: When perfection comes, we see face to face, and we know, even as we are known (verses 10-12.) Have these other verses been fulfilled yet? Obviously not,since true perfection will not happen until after Jesus returns (1 John 3:2-3; Ephesians 5:27.) We are still very much "seeing through a glass darkly," as Paul put it in verse 12 .Until the veil of our mortality is removed, and we see Him face to face, our communication with God will always be filtered through our finite, human limitations.We don’t always know how to pray properly. This is why God has made available to us this Heavenly prayer language, that takes us beyond our infirmities (Greek:inability to get results) and help us pray with the Spirit making intercession with us through groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26.) According to respected Greek scholar P.C. Nelson, the literal Greek translation of this implies "groanings which cannot be uttered in articulate speech." We need the Holy Spirit to help us this way just as much, if not more,than the first century church did.
In 1 Corinthians 1:7, Paul expresses his desire that we come behind in no spiritual gift, as we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, until Jesus does return, the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, including tongues,will be in full operation, and we should not be lacking, or come behind, in having these gifts in our own lives.
III.HOW DOES SPEAKING IN TONGUES OPERATE?
In order to answer this question properly, we must look at the fact that the Bible describes three different manifestations of speaking in tongues:
1-Evidential tongues-The initial evidence when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1- 4;10:44-46;19:2-7.) More on this in part 2 of this study.
2-Intercessory tongues-the ability to pray in other tongues, or "In the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 14:14- 16; Ephesians 6:18;Jude 20) in order to pray beyond our limited human understanding , speak mysteries to God ( 1 Corinthians 14:2) and edify (build up) ourselves (1 Corinthians 14:4.)