Text: Various Text

Special Note: In order to maintain continuity of thought and for understanding, parts 3 and 4 are best studied together.

The most noted controversial aspect of the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic movement has been the phenomenon of speaking with tongues. For Pentecostals and Charismatics the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of tongues are a repetition of what happened on the Day of Pentecost.

The spectrum of opinion on “tongues” runs all the way from sturdy opposition to an insistence that it is the first physical sign of a person’s being Spirit-filled.

The fact that the church was born at Pentecost with this sign: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” makes it impossible to consider it insignificant. With His creative resources as God Almighty, He might have designed any one of ten thousand things as indicators or signs of His working on so historic an occasion as the beginning of the church. God chose “speaking in tongues” as one phenomenon to be included, and considering its reoccurrence elsewhere in the early church, it cannot be consigned to a “one-time-occurrence.”

God must see some importance in the practice, otherwise He probably would not have started the church with this sign.

Is there a sign that a person has been filled with the Spirit? The New Testament incidents where believers are specifically said to be filled with the Spirit help us answer this question. Let’s look at these incidents:

  • At Pentecost the miracle of worshiping God in new languages occurred (Acts 2:1-13).
  • At Samaria the text Acts 8:9-24 clearly indicates that something remarkable enough to capture Simon’s attention occurred.
  • In Acts 10:44, following Peter’s ministry to Cornelius’ household, the Holy Spirit “fell upon them” and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
  • Paul’s ministering the truth of the fullness of the Holy Spirit to the Ephesus disciples resulted in their speaking in tongues, Acts 19:1-6.

The significance of the four cases cited is that they are each “initiating” experiences; that is, those being filled with the Holy Spirit are experiencing their first taste of the fullness of the Spirit. Something supernatural ought to be expected when a person is initially filled with the Spirit. Based on the Scriptural evidence found in the book of Acts, “tongues” function as that sign (initial evidence) of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.In regard to those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Bible describes two basic functions of “tongues”. Without an understanding of these two types of “tongues”, much of the Scriptural teaching in this area will seem contradictory.

Tongues for Personal Edification

  • This is when the speaking in tongues is used in one’s personal devotional life.
  • To pray in tongues occurs when one’s spirit is in a state of communication with God. even though one’s mind does not understand what they are saying (1 Cor. 14:14.
  • The Bible states there is no need for interpretation of this type of speaking in tongues because the believer is speaking to God, not to man (1 Cor. 14:2.
  • The blessing of this type of prayer is that the Holy Spirit is assisting the believer in intercession to the Father, expressing many things that there would be no capacity to articulate (Romans 8:26,27).
  • Devotional tongues are for a person’s own spiritual benefit and has little benefit for public ministry (1 Cor. 14, 6, 9, 16, 17, 19, 28)

Tongues for Public Exhortation – called the gift of tongues.

  • This gift is proper in public ministry when it is accompanied by the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:28).This is one of the nine manifestation gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:8-12.
  • The gift of tongues is always accompanied by its sister gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:5).
  • This gift occurs when God desires to speak to His people in a special, supernatural way.
  • This gift is proper in public ministry when it is accompanied by the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:28).
  • Tongues and interpretation together have the same value as the gift of prophecy with respect to the edification of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:5).
  • Tongues and interpretation together have the same value as the gift of prophecy with respect to the edification of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:5).
  • Limitation is placed on the order and number of the messages of tongues in a worship service to maintain order and balance (1 Cor. 14:27-28).

The Functional Difference -Devotional Tongues and The Gift of Tongues

  • Devotional tongues are intended for private use and is communication directed toward God.
  • The gift of tongues is intended for public ministry and is communication directed toward man.

The question “Do all speak in tongues?” in 1 Corinthians 12:30 implies a negative reply. Two points of clarification:

  • Paul is referring to the gift of tongues because not every Spirit-filled believer will be used with this gift.
  • It does not refer to devotional tongues because Paul said that he desires all Christians to speak in tongues (devotional tongues) (1 Cor. 14:5).

Question: “Have you received since you believed?”

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