Speaking in tongues is one of the most controversial and most debated topics in Christianity, world wide. There are so many people who have approached me asking about the doctrine of speaking in tongues. All of them come with different expectations and emotions.
I am no one to establish or demolish a doctrine or theology, but I do believe and practice what the Bible says. And that’s why I am not ashamed to admit that I do speak in unknown tongues as the spirit gives utterance. Speaking in tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Almost everyone in the first century church received the gift of speaking in tongues when the Holy Spirit descended on them.
I heard this from a minister friend and I quite agree with him. He said the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, when he goes into somebody’s house he does not walk in empty handed, he will always take some gifts along. Speaking in tongues is one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. Let us go through the scriptures and try to understand the background, the benefits and the misconceptions about the same.
What did Jesus say?
Did Jesus teach about speaking in tongues? Yes he did, He said these signs will accompany them that believe. “in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18) Were any of these limited to just the apostles or the first century church alone? Absolutely not, Jesus said, it will happen with those who believe. We have a lot of unbelievers even from among the believers of today. But the first step towards coming to God is faith and belief. (Heb 11:6) It seldom helps to come before God with reasons and questions, but genuine childlike faith and belief never goes unrewarded.
What did the Apostles practice?
Everywhere there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the first century church, it records the fact that people spoke in tongues. It started on the day of Pentecost with the Holy Spirit descending on the 120 gathered in the upper room of Mark who started speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4) Some time later the gentiles who believed were blessed with the same gift. (Acts 10:46) And it continued to spread through the church by the laying on of hands by the men of God. (Acts 19:6)
What is its purpose?
Now comes the most important question, why should someone speak in tongues? What is the purpose of the same?
Paul says, I pray in the Spirit and I pray with my mind also, (1 Co 14:15) But when we don’t know what to speak, when we don’t know what to pray with our minds, the Spirit helps us and prays with words and emotions that cannot be uttered or understood by human mind. (Rom 8:26) That is what speaking in tongues is all about.
Here are the few benefits of speaking in tongues:
- Praying in the Spirit!
The greatest benefit of speaking in tongues is the way in which it boosts up your walk with God and your prayer life. Because when you speak in tongues you are not speaking to a man but to God. (1 Cor 14:2) No man or Satan can understand it, much less can they hinder it. A man who speaks in tongues speaks of mysteries in the spirit. (1 Cor 14:2) So even without his knowledge he keeps edifying himself, (1 Cor 14:4) thus going deeper and growing stronger in his walk with the Lord.
1. Being led by the Spirit!
Bible says, just like a small rudder directs and controls the ship so does the tongue direct our life. (James 3:4-5) So a person who speaks in tongues is allowing the spirit controlling his tongue to control and drive his life as well. And only they that are led by the Spirit are truly the sons of God. (Rom 8:14 Emphasis Added) So a person who prays in the Spirit will also be led, controlled & driven by the Spirit.
2. Speaking life into circumstances!
Bible says, death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Prov 18:21) Another benefit of speaking and praying in tongues is that by doing that you will be declaring life into your circumstances. Because , life and death are in the power of the tongue! What you speak and pray will decide how your circumstances treat you.
What are the common misconceptions?
Here are some of the misconceptions that many have about speaking in tongues:
- Tongues have ceased – The verse used to support this is 1 Cor 13:8 – 10, however, we have not yet reached perfection, we have not yet entered the perfect world where love reigns, till then prophecies, tongues and knowledge will remain part of our lives and ministries.
- Public speaking of tongues is not allowed – The verse used to support this is 1 Cor 14:28, Apostle Paul is laying down an order for service where unbelievers or outsiders comes in. (1 Cor 14:16) It is not at all for the believers. Instead he encourages them to pray for the gift of interpretation (1 Cor 14:13) and also warns them to not forbid speaking in tongues (1 Cor 14:39)
- Evidence of Holy Spirit baptism: There are some others who teach that speaking in tongues is the evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit, and that everyone baptized in the Spirit should speak in tongues. However the Bible does not support such a view. Though most people who were baptized in the Spirit spoke in tongues, Paul says it is not necessary that everybody should have the gift of speaking in tongues, however we are encouraged to earnestly desire for the higher gifts. (1 Cor 12:30,31)
I hope this post helps you in your understanding on speaking in tongues. If the first century church taught, experienced and practiced it, if the everlasting word of God declares we can desire, ask and pray for it, it is a highly noble thing to speaking in tongues. And it is a gift, freely available for all who will ask Him in faith! God bless you
Do you still have a question you wanna ask, an opinion or an experience you want to share, please use the comments section below.