So About The Speaking Of The Tongues



Two questions, both anonymous:

how do you know if you have tongues? i went to a retreat a last year, and i received the gift of tongues but i feel awkward using it like i’m just making up my own words.

And:

Hi, until last Sunday I never heard anyone speak in tongues. After hearing it last week … I decided to investigate pretty thoroughly. … I’m concerned my family thinks it is cultish. What are your thoughts on spiritual gifts and also on explaining Christianity is not a cult? Thanks (Edited for length)


Since this is such a cultural issue with tons of history and stigma, I really don’t look forward to answering this one.  Someone somewhere with a degree in something will tell me I’m wrong about this or that.  Okay, cool. I have degrees too, but I prefer going to the Bible.

The two big mention of tongues in Scripture is Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost and 1 Corinthians 14.  About as slow as you possibly can, read 1 Corinthians 14 and look at the plain obvious teaching.  You’ll see that it’s NOT congruent with what you see in today’s church.

Notice these tidbits:


 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.


Notice: Tongues is at the bottom of the list of gifts.  Tongues is a turn-off to non-believers because they won’t get it.  And tongues should be done with an interpreter, among believers, or else the dude speaking in tongues should do it at home with God.  Otherwise it’s disrupting the peace of the church.

Do I believe tongues is still a gift of today’s believers?  Why not.  Cessationists — those who believe in the ceasing of some spiritual gifts — use some weird verses to justify their position (like 1 Cor. 13:8 or Ephesians 2:20).  How do I know you got the gift? I’m not sure. But most people know when they’re faking anything; so are you?  On an interesting note, recent research is showing that speaking-in-tongues doesn’t use the same parts of the brain as regular speech.  So there’s something.

I was once a cessationist myself, and while I believe that many tongues and dreams and “extra words from God” could certainly be delusional, I don’t count them out anymore.  No, they are not normative, but I don’t think God packed up His gifts either. 

We also need to follow the obvious commands of 1 Corinthians 14 and not be yelling in tongues whenever we feel like it, because it does look like a cult sort of thing.  That’s the very reason Apostle Paul says to keep it indoors, with believers, and only with an interpreter.  It’s for the strength of the church, not to cause division or disorder or confusion.  Which it can and often does.

I know: Everyone has an objection to this with some obscure Greek translation or whatever else.  I’m reading the Bible for what it says, and about tongues it’s black and white in there.  I don’t speak in tongues, but if I did I would follow exactly what 1 Cor. 14 says to do.  That’s called — what’s that word again?  Oh right, obedience.

As for looking like a cult: Is that what you’re really worried about? Not fitting in?  Being palatable for your family?  Relevant to the world?

You can’t be cool and follow Jesus at the same time.  No one makes much of himself and also much of God.  Our lives in Christ are foolishness to the spiritually blind and awesomeness for us.  Sooner or later your love for Jesus will even look like hate towards your family, because our loyalty for God can’t compete with people.  Believing in the “Christian religion” has always looked like a cult.  The better question is: You okay with giving your blood-bought life to Jesus?


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19 thoughts on “So About The Speaking Of The Tongues

  1. Just to add a piece of knowledge here, the exhibition of tongues is sometimes categorized as a sign gift, meaning it is used to demonstrate God’s power in the first introductions of the gospel. That is why we hear of it more often in places in which the gospel is new or there is no established church and regular teaching. If the Word of God is faithfully being taught, then there is much less need for God to bring the gift of tongues into the church. But God does what He does and we should know about it and how it is to be used in case God ever tries to send us or our church a message. You dont wanna send that one to voicemail…

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    1. Pastor Brad: thank you always for your patient biblical responses. I always learn a lot from you even if I don’t reply. Also laughed at the “send to voicemail.”

      I do expect some backlash about the post. And again, the Bible is where it’s at. We should take it up with Him.

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  2. This comes from someone who has spoken in tongues and still has friends who do. I don’t do it anymore because I believe alot of what is done now adays isn’t what happened in the early church. I believe it comes from Kundalini, a type of hinduism that has crept into the church. If you do some research on leaders of certain movements in the church you’ll find they studied New age and other scary stuff. That research brought me out of a certain movement. I’m not surprised about using a different part of the brain…it IS spiritual….but which spirit? I really wonder if I’ve ever heard the real thing…..I highly doubt it. It seemed like people were taught nonsense syllables to repeat over and over……that it was learned and not given by the Holy Spirit.

    In my own experience, I read books and had people try to help me because I truly believed I was inadequate as a believer if I didn’t have those “rivers of living water” bubbling up (tongues). It was a mark of true salvation back then. A traveling evangelist came and caused us to fall backwards to the floor (me & my friends-I was a teen). Then he told us to start repeating certain syllables and we did until we started saying other nonsense syllables. There was never an interpretation. It was just our own “private” prayer language….we were told to practice it over and over…that it would help with spiritual warfare. I never felt that it helped at all…though I used it for many years.

    I feel such peace praying in my own language and I have such a deeper relationship with God by studying His word and not trying to work myself into an experience. This will be controversial but it has to be said……if a person has to “Work” up the Holy Spirit then it’s not the Holy Spirit…..it’s witchcraft. There I said it. I’m not judging because I’ve been there but I wish someone would have been blunt with me. I’ve seen way too many demons…..that could have been avoided.

    God bless bro and thanks for keeping it real!

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    1. Sorry about this. While I do think tongues is a legitimate gift, your story is one of many that shows its illegitimate abuse.

      There was an Asian retreat here about a decade ago where the guest speaker was aggressively tapping kids in the mouth to make them speak in tongues. When the students returned home: well, the parents were not happy. While Jesus loves that preacher too, this sort of negligence shows how quickly we chase everything else spiritual except Jesus himself.

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      1. definitely….I saw alot of angel and gold dust chasing….was apart of it too. I found myself in a scary place. I was naive not to test the spirits sooner. It’s not like my leaders were bad people either….the blind leading the blind 😦

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  3. Great post. You said it almost exactly how I would have and more!
    I’ve not had any success getting documentation on some of the missionary stories I’ve heard, but I know there are a number of them who used tongues to communicate with the locals just like there in Acts 2. One story was of a guy tied to a stake who started babbling and they let him go. Later he came back and they allowed him to learn their language and live among them. I believe that was in the Congo.

    Anyway, I really liked you pointing out the passages that actually apply to this issue. Especially having us read “as slow as you possibly can.” LOL Ain’t that the truth!!!
    And the verses the cessationists use: there are a number of doctrines that no one would believe if they hadn’t been carefully trained to believe them. You can’t find them in the Bible.

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  4. Good word J.S. I do speak in tongues and use it primarily as a prayer language for private times with the Lord. I have been used in the gift once or twice in the church and always with an interpreter. As the apostle says it is better to prophesy.

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    1. I also use it primarily as a prayer language and in private. My own belief is that to speak in tongues in public without someone with the gift of interpretation present draws folks away for the Lord rather than toward Him. Afterall, we are not truly giving prophesy if we do so in a way that cannot be understood and thus we only draw attention to ourselves, not Him.

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  5. I received he baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues 20+ years ago after months of thoroughly researching the scriptures and reading several books on the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues in order to confirm that this was indeed a gift from God thzt he wanted me to have… Shortly after completing this research I was in a service where Pastor Myles Munroe was praying for those who desired to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After explaining to everyone that the baptism was a gift from God that he said he would give to each believer through the Holy Spirit and that we did not have to beg or pray for the gift but just begin to thank God for it in advance and receive it… No babbling or repeating of words that some one else had given us to say just receive it. As we raised our hands and begin to thank God for the baptism the pastor begin to quivkly go down the line laying hands on each person saying receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and then going on to the next person. As he was walking toward me I could quite literally feel what I can only describe as a force field of heat enamanating from his body. When he tapped my hands that were raised I felt like I had bee plugged into an electric socket and that s volt of electricity was preceding from the tip of my hands to the bottom of my feet making my legs feel like jelly… At the same time as I was praising God and thanking him for the baptism of the Holy Spirit my words that I was speaking in english supernaturally changed from english to an unknown tongue. But it doesn’t stop there…. As a result of receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit I also received even more of a passion… hunger and thirst for God and his word… a supernatural boldness for God and a desire to witness and evangelize more than ever… not to mention that this gift has taken my relationship with God to an whole new level… and guess what? After more than twenty years after receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit I am more in love…. on fire and passionate about loving and serving God than ever…

    “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is what gives you the “Power” to serve God!!!”

    Blessings-

    Mary-

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    1. The problem is is that you are speaking and interpreting with your experience. How can Myles Monroe be giving out gifts when he teaches doctrines that are completely heretical?

      Google Myles Monroe and read.

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  6. I used to be a Charismatic Pastor, but after a thorough study of this subject, I am a cessationist. In other words I believe the apostolic gifts have ceased. No one is going around today and raising the dead, healing the sick, etc…

    Many will say that these gifts were for the edification of the church, but the Bible does not make this claim. Hebrews 2:4 states that God confirmed the word spoken by the apostles with supernatural signs. We see this pattern throughout scripture. Moses wrote the first 5 books and God confirmed what he wrote with signs. God later introduces the writing prophets and some of them were given signs. Third the New Testament is written and backed up with signs.

    As for the letter to the Corinthians, if we read this letter in its entirety we will see that this entire letter is one of rebuke. Paul gets on to them for division, defiling their bodies, taking brothers before the courts, taking communion while drunk, and yes, for speaking in pagan gibberish by the idols the used to be lead away with 1 Cor 12:2. In this pagan gibberish they were cursing Christ 1 Cor 12:3.

    Now Paul did not list gifts that are given to everyone in 1 Cor 12. Notice Paul states that unto one was given this gift and to another that gift. Who is he speaking of? 2 Cor 12:12 gives us a clue when Paul says surely the signs of an apostle were wrought among you…… If everyone had the signs, then how could one identify the apostle?

    Finally in 1 Cor 14:21-22 Paul tells us that the gift of tongues were.a sign to unbelieving Israel. Paul even quotes Isaiah. But believers do not need this sign.

    So as far as tongues are concerned: I would watch what I was speaking because if you do not know what is coming out of your mouth, then you dont know if its of God. Mormons speak in tongues, Jehovah Witnesess, Hindu’s, occultic religions, etc……

    We are different because we speak the word of God and not pagan gibberish.

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