Text: Various Text

The purpose of these lessons are to lead the believer to an understanding of the function and purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and to experience the baptism of the Spirit.

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

What is speaking in tongues? It is the ability to speak in a language supernaturally. It is not a natural ability. It is an ability given by the Holy Spirit. At times, the hearers may understand the language. Read Acts 2: 5-8. Those that were gathered in Jerusalem were from many nations yet they heard the disciples speaking in languages that were native to their particular area. But, most often the language is not understood by the hearers. Read 1 Corinthians 14:2.

What is the purpose of speaking in tongues? In the experience of the baptism in or infilling of the Holy Spirit, “tongues” function as a sign (initial evidence) of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In James 3:3-12, the tongue (man’s speech) is described as the most difficult area of a man’s life to bring under control. In fact, “no man can tame the tongue.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit represents a complete surrender of one’s life to the control of the Holy Spirit. Since the tongue (speech) is the last to surrender control, it’s yielding to the Spirit (speaking in tongues) is the first evidence that the Spirit is in control of one’s entire life.

Speaking in tongues is a supernatural medium of prayer and praise (see 1 Corinthians 14:2, 14-16; Romans 8:26, 27). Because of this some have called speaking in tongues a “prayer language.” Praying in tongues edifies (builds-up) the one who is speaking (1 Corinthians 14:4).

Praying in tongues is a supernatural sign that confirms the witness of believers to the Word of God (Mark 16:17; 1 Corinthians 14:22).

Speaking in tongues is one of the manifestation gifts of the Spirit by which God may speak to His people with a special message (1 Corinthians 12:12; 14:27). We often call this a message in tongues. It is always to be accompanied by the gift of interpretation (1 Corinthians 145:5).

What are the dynamics of speaking in tongues? Speaking in tongues is a supernatural phenomenon, but it includes a human element as well. This is true of all miracles. Man must receive what God is doing. Man’s part in speaking in tongues is to yield. The Holy Spirit will not force you to speak in tongues. This would be contrary to the nature of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is no place in the New Testament that says the Holy Spirit speaks in tongues. The believers spoke as the Spirit gave the utterance (words).

The miracle of tongues is not in the speaking (the human element) but in the supernatural gift of the language (divine element). The Bible indicates that the Spirit-filled believer has some control over his manner of speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:27-33)

There is a twofold function (types) of speaking in tongues.In regard to those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Bible describes two basic functions of “tongues”. There are the tongues for personal edification which we call devotional tongues. This is when the speaking in tongues is used in one’s personal devotional life. 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 Corinthians 14:2).

There are tongues for public exhortation called “gift of tongues”. This is one of the nine manifestation gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12: 8-12. The gift of tongues is always accompanied by its sister gift, the gift of interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:5).

In lesson four we will talk more about the functional differences between “Devotional tongues” and the “Gift of tongues.”

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