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Speaking in Tongues!

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

1 Corinthians 12: 8-10 states the different kinds of gifts that a believer receives through the Holy Spirit. They are distributed to each believer just as He determines. Recently I have been thinking about the manifestation of these gifts and their effects once manifested by a believer. For example, the gift of miracle, once this gift is manifested it is expected that a miracle takes place, e.g., the blind see, the lame walk, the sick is healed.

Another example is the gift of wisdom - once this is manifested, the effects are felt, revelations are made. It imparts on the believers once Wisdom is manifested. There are realizations and revelations leading to the unveiling of the Truth.

Now to the gift that most Christians conveniently claim to have - Speaking in Tongues. According to the principle of first mention - when this gift was manifested at the Pentecost - the effects were interpretation of same tongues; the tongues were heard, understood and imparted on the hearers.

I was about 15 years of age, when I asked a more mature believer during a prayer session in a Pentecostal Church that why is everyone speaking in tongues - he replied that they all had the gift. I followed up with "what language were they speaking?" He again replied that he didn't know, that they were groaning in spirit and speaking mysteries to God. He supported his answer with 1 Corinthians 14:2.

As I grew much older, another question was "Why is everyone speaking the same tongue?" A tongue that had no interpretation. Breaking that tongue down to each syllable gives something like

Ra-Ka-Ta-Te-Sha-Ma....another one is Shi-ba-ro-ka-ta-se...

They were all very similar. This really confused me for such a long time, it was as if everyone learnt speaking in tongues from one source and it was then passed on from generation to generation. These type of speakings became a habit over time and then when put to the test, they are further justified with "groaning in spirit" and "speaking mysteries" clichés.

The issue in today's "tongue speakings" were same encountered in the early churches. This became so prevalent that Paul dedicated a chapter (1 Corinthians 14) to address it. He even made it seem less than other gifts such as prophecies so that such unspiritual habits would stop. This was emphasized in verse 19 when he said

"But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."

and also in verse 9 - "...speaking into air..." if there is no interpreter.

To make matters worse, Paul also hinted that no one should say "Amen" to a tongue that has no interpretation.

16. Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying?

This also emphasizes that the Spirit distributes these gifts for the edification of the church especially during meetings.

More importantly, this chapter also provides a way to identify the genuine manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit - especially speaking in tongues. Having put a lot of "tongue speaking" to this test - I have been in only one gathering where a tongue was spoken and interpreted. I can't say the rest where speaking into air, but every spirit should be tested to know if its true.

I will conclude with Paul's conclusion in same chapter 14 where he states -

39. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.40. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

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