About Speaking in Tongues - 02/26/2005


   I'm just curious to know. What's your view of speaking in tongues? I understand that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to proclaim the gospel to someone who's language we do not know how to speak. However, I've noticed many people in churches nowadays speak and pray in tongues during worship service. This usually occurs when the pastor tells the congregation "let us now pray in tongues", and the whole congregation just goes into tongue language. Is this appropriate? I mean no one understands what they are saying. Some pastors even go to the extend of telling others that if they do not know how to pray in tongues, they are not close to God. And on top of that, they claim that tongue language can be learnt. This shouldn't be the way, am I right? What's your view?

  I do not speak in tongues by the way. But I believe in Jesus.



Hi Martin.  Tongues is a touchy topic for some people, but it doesn't have to be if we heed the Word of God.  In Acts chapter 2, the disciples at Pentecost began speaking in tongues and Jews from every nation were amazed to hear them speaking in their own languages.  This is a tongue-speech that is obviously a known language on earth, but unknown to the speaker.  In this passage in Acts, it caused the unbelievers to be amazed and ask questions.  As for the rules of speaking in tongues, we go to 1 Corinthians, chapter 14.  In this chapter, Paul lays out the rules for speaking in tongues, but he also seems to make a distinction between speaking in tongues, and praying in tongues.  Let's look at the following verses from 1 Corinthians 14:
v. 2: "For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit."
v. 4: "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church."
v. 5: "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified."
v. 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."
v. 13: "For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful."
v. 18-19: "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."
v. 22: "Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers."
Now, verses 26 - 28 give the rules for speaking in tongues in a church: "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. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God."
So, if you go to a church where people are speaking in tongues, and no one is providing an interpretation, they are violating the biblical rules for speaking in tongues.  They need to rest their tongues and exercise their eyes as they read the Word of God. :)  Now, given what Paul said in verses 5, 18-19, anyone who claims that people must speak in tongues is just plain wrong!  Now, if you go back and read 1 Corinthians chapter 12, you'll find that tongues are but ONE of the gifts of the spirit, and not everyone is granted that gift.  Other people are given other gifts.  1 Corinthians 12:28-31 says, "And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts."  Obviously, Paul's questions are rhetorical, and therefore the answer is obvious -- no.  We do not all speak in tongues.  Romans 12:6-8 lists other gifts of the spirit, such as serving, teaching, encouraging, leadership, and others.  Now regarding all of these gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:11 says, "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."  In other words, the Holy Spirit may decide to give you the gift of serving, rather than the gift of tongues.  If someone tells you that you are not close enough to God because of this, then they are questioning the judgment of the Holy Spirit, which is, in my humble opinion, blasphemy.  Also, tongues is a miraculous GIFT of the Holy Spirit.  This is not something that can be taught or learned.  If they believe this, they are adhering to an unbiblical view of tongues.  I hope this helps.  If I just confused you, please let us know. :)  God bless.
In Christ,

Ben and Jennifer Rast
Contender Ministries