Speaking in Tongues

I’ve been asked to do a thang on tongues.  Speaking in tongues, that is.  And frankly, I have little experience with tongues.  I’m not gifted with them, and therefore have never spoken in them.  However I have witnessed someone speaking in tongues.  A college girlfriend of mine invited me to her Assembly of God church once, and in the middle of the service, she started clicking and clucking like a hen.  Tatatatatat clicklicklickliklick  Ta-ta-tat tututututut….  And I rose my eyebrows.  Ooookay.  You’re nuts, but ooookay.

I do know that what she was doing was completely contradictory to scripture and highly questionable… and I figure the best way to explain is to show you what the Bible says about speaking in tongues and explain what exactly the problem is with some church doctrines today.  Sound good?

First of all, tongues are a gift given to Believers by the Holy Spirit.  Here’s the verses“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”  I Corinthians 8-11

Important fact #1 – Tongues is a GIFT.  It’s not a requirement.  This is vital, because there are a LOT of Charismatic (Pentecostal, Assembly of God, etc.) churches out there that teach that you are not saved if you don’t speak in tongues at your conversion.  This verse disproves that flat out.  The Spirit gives as He so chooses to… and the Bible is clear in Ephesians 2:9 that salvation is a gift from God, too – and speaking in tongues would be a work we would have to do if their doctrine was right.  That’s not scriptural.

Important fact #2 – Not everybody has the same gift.  This is vital in disproving their ‘Speak in tongues, or y’ain’t saved’ doctrine, too.  You may recall last week I posted a thang about Prophets, because my primary gift of the Spirit is Prophecy.  Not every person has the gift of tongues.

1 Cor 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

We see in this verse that the gifts of the Spirit are given with a distinct purpose – to edify others.  It’s for the common good, and not for personal gain or private use.  A lot of people claim they only use tongues in their private prayer time – that’s not scriptural – because it’s not being used to edify others.  The same instructions regarding tongues is given here:

1 Corinthians 14:14-15 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

We aren’t to use tongues in private, because it’s too easy to slip into mindlessness and be unfruitful.  But Anna, you say, isn’t there a verse about the Spirit interceding with groans for us?  Yes!  But that’s the Spirit interceding on our behalf… that’s not us using tongues in private.  Big, big difference!

1 Corinthians 14:27-28 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. {28} If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

This is another vital verse… because nobody was translating for my friend when she was ‘clucking’.  The Bible clearly states that nobody should speak in tongues without an interpreter.  This happens ALL THE TIME in Charismatic churches, and they go “ahhh… kewl!  It’s the Spirit!!”

1 Corinthians 14:16-17 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.

My mom went to a church once where this woman started spouting off in a tongue, and there was a person there who could translate… and what was being said was not in accordance to scripture – it was praises to satan.  Kinda scary… and sobering, considering satan and his host are completely capable of possessing a nonnie and causing them to ‘speak in tongues’.  This is why it’s stated clearly not to speak in tongues without an interpreter.

1 Cor 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church

Also… if the gift of tongues is clearly given as a gift to edify for the common good, how can that be accomplished if nobody understands a stinkin’ word you’re saying??  That’s just ridiculous!  And worse yet – look at this verse and think of the testimony ‘cluckers’ have on outsiders:

1 Cor 14:23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

Heck, if I think they’re nuts, a nonnie would turn tail and run… pro’ly think they’ll be bringing out snake baskets or something next!!  Not a good witness.  So… what’s the point of tongues, then?

1 Corinthians 14:22  Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers…

Whoa, now – back up.  How can clucking be for nonnies?  ((LoL!!))  I’m so glad you asked.  It’s not.  In fact, clucking, ticking, gabbering, and laughing uncontrollably is not tongues at all.  ((Well, dang, Anna, why didn’t you get to that part at the beginning???))  To be frank, these freaky, off-based denominations claim that ‘tongues’ is a Heavenly Language only for God.  Only… that don’t match any of the scripture out there.  Why?

But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions… Matthew 6:7

Tatatatatatatat, my dears, is vain repetition.

1 Corinthians 14:7-9   Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? {8} Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? {9} So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

Ouch for the Charismatics, eh?  And further ouch is this:  the first time tongues were given as a sign by the Holy Spirit, it was Pentecost.  The disciples were in Jerusalem, and there were thousands of people from all corners of the region there.  When they spoke in tongues, the nonnies listening understood and said “Yo, whoa… these are stupid Galatians?  And they’re speaking in our languages???”

It just so happens Hebrew for the word ‘tongues’ is Glossa… meaning ‘foreign tongues’… not some heavenly language.  Not once in the Bible does God speak in some heavenly language to anybody – he spoke to Adam and Eve and Moses and Abraham in their own language.  It’s preposterous to think God would give us words and then use something else to communicate with us!

Wait, Anna… there’s that ‘Love’ verse that says ‘if I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels but have not love, I’m as a banging, clanging gong.’  That verse says there’s a tongue of men and of angels.   Yes it does.  And you know the word for angels there means “messenger”.  And is not a prophet a messenger?  Are not Christ and the apostles messengers?  So in the context of that verse, it looks very much like there’s not a Heavenly Language.  And even if there were an Angelic language, it would not be vain repetitions, and he certainly wouldn’t give that language to man when it wouldn’t edify a single person!

1 Cor 14:39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

There are other churches that go the opposite way and say that speaking in tongues was something needed just after Christ left to prove that the apostles were acting under divine authority… and they’re not needed now, so they aren’t given out anymore.  I don’t know – I can’t eke out what the Spirit has chosen to do or not, and I cannot say that scripture backs that up.  But the Bible does say not to forbid speaking in tongues… so I’m not going to.  AS LONG AS there’s an interpreter, it’s done in an orderly fashion, it’s not vain repetition or ‘clucking’, and it’s used to edify for the common good.

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