In this article on speaking in tongues, we
compare the differences some find between the speaking in tongues of Acts 2:8
and 1 Corinthians 14:2. It appears that those present in Jerusalem at Pentecost
made the observation, "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we
were born?" There is no suggestion here that this was anything other than a
sign to those from other countries prompting them to ask, "What meaneth this?"
It was Peter who described what was happening as he
preached to them about the promised outpouring of the Spirit. He spoke in a
language common to all (probably Aramaic) as the observers asked for an
In 1 Corinthians 14:2 we have the answer to this
dilemma, "For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto
God: for no man understands (comprehends) Him; howbeit in the Spirit he speaks
mysteries." When the church comes together and the gift of speaking in tongues
is operated, God gives another Spirit-filled person the gift of interpretation,
to speak out and thereby edify all.
Unbelievers do not understand just how speaking in
tongues can happen. How can they? There is much advice from Paul in Romans
chapter eight about the inability of the carnal (without the Spirit) mind to
comprehend spiritual truths. Rather than look for loopholes and make excuses
for rejecting speaking in tongues we should emulate Paul who wrote: "I thank my
God, I speak with tongues more than ye all."
SPEAKING IN TONGUES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Israel nation constantly defied the Lord and
fraternised with pagan nations. Isaiah 28:11,12 describes some of the problems
that resulted from this disobedience. Israel was invaded time and time again
and over-run by foreign enemies. The strange tongues of the invaders heard
among them reminded them of their misdeeds. It was a contrasting preview of the
"rest" (from their enemies) and the "refreshing" (from the Lord) which was yet
to come. The writer to the Hebrews reminds Spirit-filled people of God's
"rest", of the necessity for entering into this rest, and of Israel's failure
to appreciate the promise (Hebrews 4). Peter referred to conversion at
Pentecost as " ... the times of refreshing ... from the presence of the Lord"
Paul reminds the Spirit filled that, as in the Old
Testament, " ... tongues are for a sign ..." (indication, miracle, token,
wonder) and explains that this manifestation of the Holy Spirit evident in
believers would be a sign " ... to them that believe not ... " (1 Corinthians
14:22.) In the preceding verse he quotes our original scripture from Isaiah 28.
Speaking in tongues is to remind us that Israel was subjugated by her enemies
because of unbelief and that likewise those who will not hear (comprehend
because of personal experience) will fail to enter their rest (Sabbath) unless
they receive the Holy Spirit as directed.
Speaking in tongues is not an incidental,
unnecessary additive, but is a profound, wonderful, God-given, prophesied
experience resulting from obedience to God's Word.
Speaking in tongues is not only a gift of the Holy
Spirit, it is the identification of the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers and
is to be seen and heard. (Acts 2:33). speaking in tongues is also used as a
manifestation in the Church for the purpose of indicating the presence of the
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to
every (Spirit filled) man to profit withal." (1 Corinthians 12:7.) and which
manifestation includes the gifts as listed in the next verses. But not
according to the critics!
NOT DUMB IDOLS !
Paul wrote to the Spirit-filled (all speaking in
tongues) Church and made a point of reminding them that before they moved into
this Pentecostal scene they were worshipping dumb idols. (I Corinthians 12:2.)
The Greek word for dumb is 'aphonos', meaning 'mute'
or 'voiceless'. The same word is used to describe our Lord when he willingly
died so that salvation (the Holy Spirit) could come. " ... He was led as a
sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he
not his mouth" (Acts 8:32).
Speaking in tongues in the Church is a manifestation
of the Spirit. It is God speaking through His chosen vessels. Many mystics like
to sit around and meditate, assuming that God will speak to them in some way as
they endeavour to make their minds a blank. To communicate with God the Bible
says to "... bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2
Corinthians 10:5). In the Old Testament God promised that He would communicate
with us. Since the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost nearly 2000
years ago, He communicates with us through the Holy Spirit manifestations.
In the episode at the well in Samaria Jesus said to
the Samaritan woman, "Ye worship ye know not what: (but) we know what we
worship ... But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall
worship the Father in (by the) spirit and in (according to) truth: for the
Father seeketh such, to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him
must worship Him in (by the) Spirit and in (according to) truth.'' (John
4:22-24.) The Word of God is truth. To worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth
is to worship Him as Paul directs in Corinthians where he describes the
operation of the Holy Spirit.
Critics endeavour to use the advice Paul gave to the
Spirit-filled Church about the importance of speaking in tongues and its
orderly use, to eliminate speaking in tongues from their considerations. By
doing this they revert to the worship of dumb idols.