SPEAKING IN TONGUES: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: see also Tongues: Today's Validity, Function & Benefits | Testimony: "How & Why All Can Speak in Tongues" | and "111 Benefits of Tongues Talking"

See also: Power Prophecy from the Lord Jesus Christ: "I Would that Ye all Spake with Tongues"

Condensed from "Praying in the Spirit" by Rebecca Bauer

Thomas Nelson Publishers, copyright 1996

Editor: Jack Hayford

Often questions are present as a result of theological systems people have learned which preclude the possibility of the use of tongues in the church today. Others are vexed by doubts concerning their experience because of the way they were ministered to when they received their spiritual language. Still others are simply ignorant of what the Bible says, so they struggle with the subject. And finally, there are those who have sought the baptism with the Holy Spirit and have not yet spoken with tongues. This can often be a painful and frustrating experience which wearies the soul and casts doubt on a person's sense of worthiness before God.


Q: First Corinthians 13:8 declares that tongues will cease. Did tongues stop after the apostles established the church in the first century?

A: First Corinthians 13:8 also declares that prophecies and knowledge will also stop. However, neither have been identified as stopping with the end of the first century. Daniel writes that "knowledge shall increase" until the return of Jesus. The issue revolves around verse 10, "when the perfect shall come." Dispensational teachers have declared the "perfect" as being the canon of Scripture (our complete Bible as we know it today), and the canon was completed about A.D. 100. This could not have possibly been in the apostle Paul's mind. He had no idea he was writing the Bible at the time he composed the letter to the Corinthians. The "perfect" has historically been judged as being Jesus Christ when He returns for His church. If tongues were only given as a sign to confirm the original WRITTEN Word in the Greek language, that would be well and good for the Greek-speaking people in Paul's day, but for a thousand and more other languages "that which is perfect" had not yet come. No, tongues are given as a sign to confirm the PREACHED word wherever the good news of Christ is spoken. [Mk 16:17]

Also, the Word says, "... ye come behind in no gift waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." So we see that Paul discerned that the spiritual gifts were to abound more and more as the end approaches as confirmed by Peter in Acts 2:17 - "... in the LAST DAYS, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy ..." Verses 19 and 20 speak of the signs in the earth and heavens that parallel those in the Book of Revelation. These things haven't happened yet, so tongues have not ceased either, since it is a companion of prophecy.

Q: Doesn't the Bible say that "tongues are the least of the gifts"?

A: No. In First Corinthians 12:10, tongues are listed eighth in a group of nine works or gifts of the Holy Spirit. Any value judgment of the gifts is pure human bias. If that were true, the same logic could be applied to 1 Corinthians 13:13. Is love to be the "least" because it is listed last? Of course not!

Q: Doesn't Paul say that prophecy is to be preferred over tongues?

A: No. First Corinthians 14:1 says, "Desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy." The context of Paul's remarks concerns the conduct of a public worship service as you read the rest of the chapter (see 14:3,4).

Q: Isn't love the best gift? Is it correct to say that I can't receive tongues or prophecy if I already have love, since all do not receive the same gift?

A: Love is a fruit that comes from the gift of grace which all believers receive. The Holy Spirit gives both love and charismata gifts. Love is not opposed to the charismata gifts, because God IS love Who gives the gifts. He is in agreement with Himself. For example, in the gift of healing, God heals us, because He loves us. Love is the oil that makes the gifts operate without friction. Love binds the body together so that all the members (gifts) work to the good of the whole. The faith to operate in any gift works by love. Faith in the Gift? No. The faith that God loves us and wants to operate in our midst.

The Bible is It's own best commentary on gifts WITH love: "Follow after charity, AND desire spiritual gifts ..." [1 Cor. 14:1], that is, do not exclude one or the other. The "more excellent way" is gifts with love, as compared to gifts without love.

Q: Is it true that all believers will receive the gift of tongues when they are Holy Spirit baptized?

A: The controversy surrounds 1 Corinthians 12:30, "Do all speak with tongues?" The implied answer of the text is "no." However, there are two issues relevant to this question. One, if Paul is referring to the public exercise of the gift of tongues which is to be interpreted for the edification of the congregation, then the answer is no, not all people will function in that exercise. Two, if Paul is referring to the devotional use of spiritual language then the answer is YES, all believers who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit may speak in tongues.

In reality, however, not all will use their privilege. Paul's remarks in: 1) Romans 8:26--on Holy Spirit assisted intercession, 2) First Corinthians 14:2--on the privilege of speaking to God in an unknown tongue, 3) First Corinthians 14:4--on personal edification, 4) First Corinthians 14:5--on Paul's desire for all to speak in tongues, and 5) First Corinthians 4:18--on Paul's personal commitment to the devotional use of tongues, make no sense if God has sovereignly chosen some for this privilege and rejected others.

Q: Aren't all publicly audible tongues supposed to be interpreted?

A: First Corinthians 14:28 is referring to the public exercise of the charismata gift of tongues, not to the Spirit-baptism sign gift (devotional) use of tongues. Concerning speaking in tongues Paul encourages us to sing in the Spirit (tongues) and sing in the understanding. When we worship the Lord together as a group we are worshiping God, not speaking to men. The members of the congregation and even the worship leaders are NOT out of order if they are heard speaking in tongues in that instance. It is understood by all that we are speaking to God (worshiping Him) at such a time, hence there is no confusion. God loves loud praises. When everyone praises God with a loud voice, because of the volume, we often cannot understand what even the person on the right or left of us is saying even in normal everyday language. It should not offend anyone if a few words perhaps sound like tongues. Your neighbor is talking to God, not you. The forbidding of speaking in tongues in public is of the same spirit that would forbid public worship of God in any language. This is why Paul wrote that we should not forbid it. He foresaw that wolves would spring up in the midst of the church who would attempt to forbid the use of tongues. He knew that we battle the enemy through praise and prayer. To be against tongues is to be against praise and prayer.

In the book of Acts, there is no record of any interpretation of tongues in chapters 10, 11, and 19, although God caused tongues to be manifested in group worship. Even in Acts two, the speakers-in-tongues did not know if their speech would be understood. They did not know if there was an interpreter present. They did not know that there be such a thing as the gift of interpretation. The Pentecostal outpouring was new to them, and First Corinthians 12-14 regarding the use of the gifts was not even written yet. Is God therefore the author of sin, because He initiated these events in Acts? The answer is an obvious "NO." These events were a blessing by God to God and for God, not at all offensive to Him.

Q: Aren't all tongues really just foreign languages to be used for evangelism?

A: Read Acts 10:44. Who was evangelized by the gentiles speaking in tongues? Read First Corinthians 14:2. Who is being addressed when people speak in tongues in this context?

Q: What does Paul mean in First Corinthians 14:15, "I will pray with the spirit ... I will sing with the spirit"?

A: This is prayer and song in a person's spiritual language.

Q: Is it wrong for people to praise the Lord in their spiritual language in church services or sing in their spiritual language at the same time? What about 1 Corinthians 14:27?

A: In First Corinthians 14:27 Paul is addressing the conduct of the overall church service with specific reference to that timely portion of the ministry set aside for charismata gifts. If there is an endless succession of messages in tongues with or without interpretation, the public meeting will become confusing and cease to edify the body. Clearly in Acts 10:46, the believers all spoke in tongues at the same time, and it was received as praise to God. Paul certainly endorses both prayer and singing with a person's spiritual language. There is a proper time and season to sing in the spirit and to praise the Lord in the spirit.


Q: Isn't it selfish to edify yourself by speaking in tongues?

A: No. If it is a good thing for the church to be edified by prophecy, then it is a good thing for the individual to be edified by speaking in tongues. Consequentially, being individually edified prepares one to edify the rest of the body.

However, it is always possible that an insensitive person would exercise his or her personal privilege in a way that might interfere with the rest of the congregation when they gather. Obviously, this should be corrected when it occurs.

Q: Why are some people who speak in tongues so immature in the Lord?

A: The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a gift (Acts 2:38, 10:45). Gifts from God are free, and thereby received by faith without consideration of our personal growth. As a matter of fact, the gifts are given to the immature that we all might mature together. If the gifts were only given to the mature, none would ever reach maturity; hence, there would be no gifts.

Q: Are Spirit-filled believers better Christians?

A: No. However, a Spirit-filled believer has opened up to a realm of supernatural resources by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of expanded ministry to the Body of Christ and outreach to the world (1 Cor. 12:7-31). Whatever one does well without the Spirit baptism he will do better with it.

Q: Are there such things as false tongues?

A: There are demonic counterfeits to many of the supernatural gifts God has given His church. Of recent date the fascination with New Age healing, prophecy, and knowledge is very pronounced in our culture. Matt. 24:24 warns of "great signs" done by "false christs and false prophets." The imitation of Holy Spirit gifts is not new, read Acts 8:9-11, 13:8.

Q: What if a person says he or she has received the baptism with the Holy Spirit and has yet to speak in tongues?

A: First, do not argue with them. What God begins in a heart may take some time to complete. Second, encourage them to receive everything that is available in the Holy Spirit: the Word says, "I would that ye all spake with tongues ..." [1 Cor 14:5]. This is God's desire. When people open to the miracle power of the Holy Spirit, it is usually just a matter of time before they begin to speak with tongues. It is crucial that they be in an environment that supports and believes in the exercise of tongues. Jesus could do few miracles in His home town due to the local lack of belief.

However, for your own reference, if a person is against any manifestation of tongues without interpretation, that is a good indication that the person actually has not received the baptism with the Holy Spirit. A person who does not speak with tongues but is truly baptized with the Spirit will be supportive of and in fellowship with those who do speak in tongues. Generally, a person who is against tongues without interpretation is in a fellowship where there are no tongues at all. A church which manifests tongues WITH interpretation subsequently has the revelation concerning the proper use of tongues without interpretation.

If a preacher consistently avoids teaching about tongues, this is tantamount to forbidding others to speak in tongues. The Word says, "...covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues" [1 Cor. 14:39]. Silence from the pulpit regarding tongues shows indifference, and indifference breeds ignorance, and ignorance leads to contempt towards tongues.


Q: How can I be sure that I'm not just making up this new language?

A: Luke 11:13 promises that you get from the heavenly Father exactly what you ask for. He does not disappoint His children who seek Him. By faith we receive this gift from the Father. Be confident that He is at work as you have asked.

Q: Why does my language not sound like a language to me?

A: Not all earthly languages sound alike, so why should heavenly languages sound alike? There are fundamental differences in sound between Romance languages and Oriental languages--is one set more authentic than the others? In Africa one of the tribal dialects sounds like a succession of clicking noises to the outsider. But to members of that dialect group, it is a full language. Trust the Holy Spirit; after all, "he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God" (1 Cor. 14:2)

Q: Why didn't I feel anything special when I received my spiritual language?

A: Personal experience varies widely on receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Just as with salvation, some people have dramatic testimonies of deeply moving emotional experiences when they receive the Lord. Others give their lives to the Lord in a rather sober and unemotional fashion. Some of the differences are personality-based. Some are related to the circumstance in which they occur. Both are completely valid.

Q: Why is it that when I use my spiritual language it does not feel "natural" to me?

A: We do not "learn" our spiritual language--we speak as the Holy Spirit "gives utterance" (Acts 2:4). We do, however, need to learn to allow ourselves to speak this new language without our need to consciously direct our speech patterns in our mother tongue. For some people this takes time and use. Using your spiritual language for 15 minutes daily during your devotional time will help you become more "fluent" in your spiritual language.

Q: Is it possible that I am simply imitating the spiritual language of the person who prayed for me when I received my spiritual language?

A: This question occurs because some people instruct those they pray for to begin their spiritual language by repeating phrases from their own spiritual language. This sows real doubt in the minds of many who have received their spiritual language this way. When you pray for someone to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, trust the Holy Spirit to give them their language from the beginning. If you have these doubts, they are either born of human fear or a devilish lie--once again read Luke 11:9-13. The Father does not allow us to receive a cheap imitation of the real thing! (TOP) | Tongues (Part 2)

See also: Amazing Prophecy from the Lord Jesus Christ about Tongues Today!


Related Topics:

Testimony: "How & Why All Can Speak in Tongues"

One Hundred Benefits of Speaking in Other Tongues

Surprising pentecostal quotes from the Church fathers

The end-time apostles and signs & wonders following

Slain in the Spirit: How It Is Shown in the Holy Bible

Yes! Holy Laughter. God laughs, and you should too.

16 Bad Excuses Not to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit

How to Retard Revival <> The spirit of the Pharisees

Holy Spirit Experiences<>Manifestations of the Spirit

The  Need  for  Tongues<>Is Tongues The Least Gift?

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