Summary: The gift of tongues and its companion gift of interpretation are often misunderstood and misapplied, and it’s no surprise they are often called “the least of the gifts.”
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit - part 3
THE GIFTS CONCERNING TONGUES
Text: 1 Corinthians 12:10 August 27, 2000
By: Pastor Rick MacDonald
ILLUSTRATION: Dwight L. Moody once demonstrated the principle like this: "Tell me," he said to his audience, "how can I get the air out of the tumbler I have in my hand?" One man said, "Suck it out with a pump." But the evangelist replied, "That would create a vacuum and shatter it." Finally after many suggestions, moody picked up a pitcher and quietly filled the glass with water. "There," he said, "all the air is now removed." He then explained that victory for the child of God does not come by working hard to eliminate sinful habits, but rather by allowing the Holy Spirit to take full possession.
There is debate as to what is the initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. For most it is the gift of tongues. There have been incidents where other gifts have been manifest first, but it is definitely more the exception than the rule. So lets look at the rule, lets examine the gift of tongues.
The gift of tongues and its companion gift of interpretation are often misunderstood and misapplied, and it’s no surprise they are often called “the least of the gifts.”
That phrase is used with such frequency—usually to demean speaking in tongues—that we might be inclined to presume the words “the least of the gifts” must be somewhere in the Bible. But they aren’t.
None of the precious gifts of God’s Spirit—tongues included—should ever be deemed “less that the rest.” The gifts are all from Him—the sovereign Spirit, who distributes them at His will(v. 11). Their source should forever preclude us from placing a diminishing value on any of the gifts, as though the order of their listing indicated divine preference. (If that were true, “faith, hope and love” are listed in the wrong order in 1 Corinthians 13:13 because the last on the list is named “the greatest.”)
Nevertheless, there are biblical grounds for designating “the best gifts” (v. 31). The “best gift,” quite simply, is the one most suited to a given situation. When the apostle Paul exhorts us to “earnestly desire the best,” he isn’t setting up a competition, but he is urging us to be open to the full and free working of the Holy Spirit.
In the atmosphere of love (1 Cor. 13), the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts (1 Cor. 12) will edify the church when used in orderliness as submitted to the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 14). So where do tongues and interpretation fit in?
I. VARIOUS KINDS OF TONGUES
A. Earthly tongues: Acts 2:1-8
B. Tongues as a personal prayer language:
a. Tongues used in prayer are to build us up, encourage us.
b. Tongues used in a public setting, should be interpreted, and in then considered to be prophecy - which edifies the church
a. Praying in the Spirit, a phrase that clarifies Romans 8:26-27.
b. In 1 Cor. 14:14-15 Paul clearly shows that such praying may include prayer “in a tongue,” not known to the person praying