Speaking in Tongues: What is it and is it Biblical?

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There are many times when I get so overwhelmed seeing all of the corruption and wickedness in the world, I just don’t know how, or what to pray. That is when I am so thankful that I have the Comforter to Speak to the Lord for me!!!

The Greek word “glóssa” translated tongues literally means languages. Someone who is Speaking in Tongues, is not speaking the language that they know, ie, their native language. It is another one they are NOT familiar with,  one that is spoken currently, or one that has been spoken at some point around the world. Remember that God confused the people when they were building the Tower of Babel and there are many different languages.

Genesis 11:1-9 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

According to Ethnologue, there are approximately 7,111 languages being spoken today, but this number is constantly fluctuating — and this does not include dialects either! The Tower of Babel incident occurred around 4,200 years ago, about 100 years after the Great Flood. So it is possible that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands more!

There is one thing you NEVER do, and that is Mock, or Blaspheme the Holy Spirit. If you are claiming to be a child of God and Mock Tongues, you are in danger of losing your salvation. You do not attribute the work of God to the devil, as the Religious Idiots of Jesus’ days here on earth did!

The Day of Pentecost

Acts 2:1–4 “and when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as a fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

The word “Pentecost” in the Hebrew means “fifty” or “fiftieth.” It refers to fifty days after the Passover. The “Day of Pentecost” was one of the great Feast Days of the Jews. It occurred probably in late May.

It was on this “Day” that the Holy Spirit came to this world in a completely new dimension, all made possible by what Jesus did on the Cross. Incidentally, the scene of this outpouring, as described in this Chapter, took place in the Temple, probably in the Court of the Gentiles. It took place fairly early in the morning.

The great characteristic of this outpouring was that, for all who were there that day, possibly 120 or more, when they were “filled with the Holy Spirit,” they all “began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” In fact, the Bible teaches that speaking with other tongues is the initial, physical evidence that one has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. There is no infilling without this particular sign. The Prophet Isaiah, in fact, some 750 years prior, had predicted this phenomenon, and was quoted by Paul (Isaiah 28:11; 1st Corinthians 14:21).

There are five accounts of outpourings of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. Three of those accounts emphatically state that the recipients spoke with tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:26; 19:1–7). The other two occasions give no details, just saying, “They received the Holy Spirit” (8:17; 9:17). This doesn’t mean they didn’t speak in tongues, only that it is not mentioned. In fact, there is evidence they did.

Regarding the revival in Samaria, when Peter and John laid hands on these individuals that they might “receive the Holy Spirit,” Simon the Sorcerer saw this taking place and offered the Apostles money that he also may have power to do such. Peter answered him forthwith, “Your money perish with you … You have neither part nor lot in this matter” (Acts 8:20–21). The word “matter” in the Greek is “logos,” which should have been translated “utterance, talk, word.” This strongly implies that they spoke with other tongues.

When Ananias prayed for Paul to “be filled with the Holy Spirit,” the Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened. But Paul, concerning himself, said, “I thank my God, I speak with Tongues more than you all” (1st Corinthians 14:18). So, the Biblical evidence is replete that all Believers will, without exception, speak with other tongues upon being baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Tongues are not incoherent babble or chatter, but rather a language known and spoken somewhere in the world, but not by the speaker who has been baptized with the Spirit. A perfect example of this is found on the Day of Pentecost. When the Jews were filled with the Spirit, there were other Jews in the Temple, many hundreds, no doubt, who were from all parts of the Roman Empire, and who also spoke the language of their respective area. They heard these “Galilaeans” speak their languages (Acts 2:7–13).

Some foolish souls have maliciously stated that speaking with other tongues is of the Devil. Of course, the statement is false, to say the least. But, for the sake of argument, we will say the following: If it is of the Devil, then it’s the only thing the Devil has which makes people love the Lord supremely, love His Word supremely, and desire the things of God supremely!

Furthermore, when Peter began to minister on the Day of Pentecost, he didn’t say, “This fulfills that spoken by the Prophet Joel,” but rather, “This is that which was spoken.…” This means it began on the Day of Pentecost, and it continues unto this hour.

I speak with Tongues more than ye all

1st Corinthians 14:18 “I thank my God, I speak with Tongues more than ye all” 

Regarding speaking in tongues, many have asked the question, “What good does it do?” Perhaps the following will be of some help:

1. It is the Holy Spirit Who said that speaking with tongues would be a part of the Believer’s experience. He said it some 750 years before the fact (Isaiah 28:11).

2. Paul said, “Wherefore Tongues are for a sign, not to them who believe, but to them who believe not” (1st Corinthians 14:22). This means that speaking with other tongues is a sign to the entire world, and we speak of unbelievers, that we are coming down to the end. Jesus is about ready to come.

3. When one speaks in tongues, one is speaking unto God (1st Corinthians 14:2). To be sure, anything that one speaks to God, especially when controlled by the Holy Spirit, cannot be anything but beneficial.

4. Paul also said, “Howbeit in the Spirit he speaks mysteries” (1st Corinthians 14:2). The word “mysteries” actually means that the person speaks “secrets” unto God.

5. Luke wrote, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful Works of God” (Acts 2:11). So, when a person speaks in tongues, he is not only declaring secrets to the Lord, but also “the wonderful Works of God” (Acts 2:1–13).

6. Paul said, “He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself” (1st Corinthians 14:4). Every Believer needs edification.

7. Tongues and interpretation are used to give Messages from the Lord to the people. Anything from the Lord is of great blessing (1st Corinthians 14:13).

8. Jude said, “But you, Beloved, building up yourselves on your most Holy Faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). This tells us that speaking with other tongues builds up the Believer regarding “Faith.”

9. Isaiah, in predicting the coming time when Believers would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, with, we might quickly add, the evidence of speaking with other tongues (Isaiah 28:11), also stated, “This is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest” (Isaiah 28:12). As one goes through life, one periodically needs “rest.” Speaking with other tongues helps provide that “rest.” The Bible says so!

10. In the same Verse, Isaiah also said, “And this is the refreshing.” So, not only is “rest” provided, but speaking with other tongues rejuvenates the Believer also. It is sad that the modern Church has, by and large, opted for humanistic psychology, which holds no answers whatsoever (Isaiah 28:11–12).

11. Concerning the episode involving Simon Peter and Cornelius, Luke wrote, “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:46). We are plainly told here that speaking with other tongues magnifies God. Anything that does this is beneficial, as should be readily understood.

12. Concerning the Day of Pentecost, Luke also wrote, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Anything which the Holy Spirit originates is profitable.

13. Speaking with other tongues is the fulfillment of Bible Prophecy. Peter said so, quoting the Prophet Joel (Acts 2:16–18).

14. Concerning praying in tongues, Paul said, “For if I pray in an unknown Tongue, my spirit prays” (1st Corinthians 14:14). One’s spirit praying is the highest form of prayer and of worship, that which every Believer ought to desire.

The Biblical account is replete, not only with the veracity of tongues, but also of its advantages and profitableness.

The Spiritual Gifts

1st Corinthians 12:1 “Now concerning Spiritual Gifts, Brethren, I would not have you ignorant” 

There are nine Gifts of the Spirit listed here by the Apostle Paul. For one or more of these Gifts to be resident in the heart and life of the Believer, one must be baptized with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking with other Tongues (Acts 2:4). All Believers who are Spirit-filled should “covet earnestly the best Gifts” (1st Corinthians 12:31). This speaks of that which the Holy Spirit wants a particular Believer to have.

Every Spirit-filled Believer probably has one or more Gifts of the Spirit, but needs instructions to know how those Gifts are developed.

In brief, the following, hopefully, will present some understanding of the Gifts.

1. “The Word of Wisdom”: This pertains to people, places, and things, as they relate to the future. The Holy Spirit will not give total information concerning the subject, but rather only a “word.”

2. “The Word of Knowledge”: This concerns people, places, and things, as they regard the present or the past. Once again, total knowledge will not be given, but rather just a “word.”

3. “Faith”: This could be translated “Faithfulness.” This Gift probably works in tandem with any of the other Gifts, because faith is required regarding anything done for the Lord.

Several of the Gifts work in tandem, meaning if a person has one, he probably also has the other.
4. “Gifts of Healings”: While any Believer can, and should, pray for the sick in the Name of Jesus, there are those who have this special Gift, and who obviously will see more people healed.

5. “The Working of Miracles”: This Gift constitutes a suspension of natural laws in some manner or way.
6. “Prophecy”: This Gift is not so much in the realm of foretelling as it is in forthtelling. It is mostly for “edification, exhortation, and comfort” (1st Corinthians 14:3).

7. “Discerning of spirits”: This is not the gift of discernment, as some think, but rather the discerning of spirits, which pertain to evils spirits, even Angels, and, at times, even human spirits. The person with such a Gift understands more readily the type of spirit in operation and its purpose. Oftentimes, this Gift works in tandem with the “Word of Knowledge” and even “Gifts of Healings.”

8. “Kinds of Tongues”: This does not pertain to one’s prayer language of worship, but rather to utterances given in a public assembly, which are meant for interpretation. (Tongues, which every Spirit-baptized person has, and which are used for prayer and worship, do not fall into this category. In other words, no interpretation is required.)

9. “Interpretation of Tongues”: At times, the person with the Gift of Tongues, referring to this Gift of the Spirit, will also have the Gift of “Interpretation of Tongues.” But at other times, one person will exercise the Gift of Tongues and another person will exercise the Gift of “Interpretation of Tongues.”

In every Church, there should be some Believers who have these Gifts, and their operation (done in order, of course) should be encouraged

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