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 About Speaking in Tongues

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Join date : 2010-09-30
Location : Cleveland, OH

About Speaking in Tongues Empty
PostSubject: About Speaking in Tongues   About Speaking in Tongues EmptyTue Jan 24, 2012 4:29 am

Hello all. I would like to share with you a Sunday School lesson I prepared for my adult class several years ago. It is about speaking in tongues. It was a Baptist Church, that didn't really believe in speaking in tongues, so hence the introduction. I hope you enjoy:

Speaking in Tongues Sunday School Lesson for
Acts 2:1-18

I want us to understand what it means to speak in tongues.

Until recently, I had totally rejected the idea of speaking in tongues. I had always believed that those people looked ridiculous, and that they were uttering complete nonsense. Now while I still believe that many of them are uttering nonsense, after doing a study on speaking in tongues, I have modified my understanding based on the Word of God that some are legitimately speaking in tongues. And while I have never myself attempted to speak in tongues, and I don’t know, I probably never will try it, esp. in public at least, I must give speaking in tongues its proper biblical place and open up our understanding on this unique gift.

I feel that with most novelties that I should give a preparatory foreword. And I do realize that for most, this will be a novelty. For Baptists in general have formed a negative opinion of those who speak in tongues today. I personally don’t conform to tradition, nor do I even rigidly conform to my own personal presuppositional interpretations. If I am shown through scripture that my long term interpretation of a particular passage was incorrect, then I do not allow pride or tradition to keep me from conforming to the truth. If there is a biblical explanation that does not contradict other biblical verses then no matter who the explanation is coming from, I am always ready to listen, assess, and modify my own understanding if I then find no flaws. What I am trying to say my friends is that if you are so learned in the bible that you are not open to modifications along the path of this life long trek of learning, then you are not open to truth. Truth hurts sometimes because it calls for us to submit our pride. Truth sometimes tells us that it is not the way that my mother or father used to say it was. Truth demands that we remain malleable. Truth demands that we conform to truth when we find a closer truth. Truth demands that we sacrifice our pride. There is a standard of truth. God’s word is the source of truth, irrefutably, which means that a new concept which is explained using the bible, if it cannot be refuted from other scripture, then if one were to reject the whole idea because it’s new to them, means that one may indeed be rejecting truth.

Let’s look at what God says about speaking in tongues.
I’ll define tongues in a second, but first…

•Notice that “tongues” is listed with the spiritual gifts in Chapter 12 of 1 Co. Look at 1 Co. 12:1, “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” Since speaking in tongues is a gift from God then that means that speaking in tongues has to be a good thing.

•1Co.12:7-10, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophesy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” The Holy Spirit gifts one to speak in tongues and another to interpret. Notice these are two different gifts. The one who speaks does not necessarily know the interpretation of what he says. Conversely, the one who interprets is not necessarily capable of speaking in the language of the tongue unless of course, the language spoken is the interpreter’s native language. But since it is a gift of interpretation, then God gives to some the ability to interpret a language that they do not speak. Notice too that this passage says that there exist various kinds of tongues. The word “divers” in the King James means “various.” 1 Co. 13:1 says that not only does the term “tongues” refer to the different tongues of men, but that it also refers to the tongues of angels: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

•Who is a potential candidate to receive the gift of speaking in tongues? 1 Co 12:27-28, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.” The list is open to anyone of the Church being a potential candidate to speak in tongues. It is not just limited to the apostles. But of course, as we saw, anyone does not mean everyone has the capacity to do so. I question churches where everyone somehow has the ability to speak in tongues. This is a gift from God. The bible says that Jesus chooses how to administer the gifts. Note also here that Paul lists these gifts in a particular hierarchy of importance from the top down. And he says in verse 31, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” Now verse 31 suggests that we may not necessarily be born with a particular gift, but we can pray for God to grant us a particular gift and then seek out to achieve it through His empowerment. It also is saying that speaking in tongues should be near the bottom of our wish-list compared to the other gifts.

•Our lesson today tells us the definition of tongues in Acts 2:6-8. It reads, “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?’” The term “tongues” simply means the ability to speak in a native language that you have never learned whether that language is Hebrew, Japanese, or even an angel’s language; it refers to a real unmade-up native or spiritual language that is not your own. But the bible as we saw calls this speaking in another’s native language a “gift.” Why would this be a gift? To find out why, we have to do some more digging.

•Now what looks like Paul demeaning tongues from the end of Ch 12 of 1 Co onward is not that at all. Again, Paul says in 1 Co 12:29-31, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” He will then go on to talk about love. Paul’s further points are not him degrading the act of speaking in tongues, but rather he is saying that the value of love surpasses all other gifts including tongues. For Paul says that he himself speaks in tongues in 1 Co 14:18, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” His argument was that they were valuing the gifts over the service of love and that tongues is not as edifying as prophesy because prophesy edifies many instead of just one. He was not saying that speaking in tongues was a negative thing, but in the hierarchy of importance and edification of the body of Christ, it stands low on the totem pole.

•Look at vs. 4: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” Most people use this verse to disclaim speaking in tongues. But such advocates are reading the verse too fast. Paul’s point is that prophesying edifies many, but don’t skip or throw out the first part: speaking in tongues edifies the one who speaks it. I don’t know about you, but if God says that I can be edified by doing something, I want to learn all I can to take advantage of that. Go back to verse 2 of chapter 14, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.” See that? Those who speak in tongues in the Church are having a personal conversation with God. Speaking in tongues is a way of praying to God. We all need to pray all kinds of prayers in all possible ways we can for we are in a spiritual war against spiritual forces that can only be fought using spiritual weapons. You recall in Ephesians when after we were told to put on the whole armor of God, Paul then says in Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers…” What does he mean by pray in the Spirit, with all kinds of prayers? I believe he is referring to praying your normal prayers and also pray in tongues to God.

•Paul addresses the personal nature of praying in tongues in 1 Co 14:5, he says, “I would like everyone of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.” If there is an interpreter, then speaking in tongues would be equally as edifying as prophesying because then everyone would be edified by the tongues because the whole church would be able to get the message of the prayer. Let me remind you here that “tongues” is a Godly blessing. It edifies the one who speaks it, and the one who hears with understanding.

•We already saw that speaking in tongues is a prayer to God. Look at vs. 14, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” (“But my mind is unfruitful”—means I do not know what I am saying). It is doing something to my spirit, but I haven’t a clue as to what that is without an interpreter. In vs. 15 he says do both: “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” We would say, I will speak in an unknown tongue to God with praise and singing, but I will also speak in English to God with praise and singing. He says to mix the two so that you will come out of the praise service mentally edified as well. Praying in tongues edifies the spirit. Praying in your own native language edifies the mind. So “tongues” is prayer, and we see here in verse 15 that “tongues” is also a way of praising or thanking God.

•Notice 1 Co 14:39, “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” So we are not to forbid another to speak in tongues. It may not be included in our so called denomination, but the bible commands us that if a person were to walk into our church right now and was the lone sole who shouted out in tongues that we are not to stop that person from doing so. They are in a personal prayer to God, and we cannot bar someone from praying to God.

•So here is what I conclude from everything put together. The bible says that speaking in tongues edifies the one who speaks it. And we saw that speaking in “tongues” is another form of praying and praising God. We also saw that the one who speaks in tongues does not always know what they themselves are saying. So putting these together along with Ro 8:26-27, which reads, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” I conclude from this that when you speak in tongues you are praying to God for that which you are incapable of expressing in your own words; and you are also tapping into what you should be praying for that aligns with the will of God that which God did not reveal to you. You are speaking with the mouth a substance of faith that completes the prayer that you did not know how or what to pray. So with tongues, you are tapping into the mysteries of God (the words of the Holy Spirit) that you would not otherwise be able to pray about. You are praying about the unknown that only Heaven knows the answers to.

•For example: if you are walking down the street and you are already all prayed up to God from your native tongue, and you don’t know what else to pray about, so along the way you begin to pray in tongues for your own edification, (so that means that your prayer is now in words that the Holy Spirit provides) and before you cross the street when the sign says walk, someone bumps into you causing you to drop whatever was in your hand and you pick it up only to discover that had that person not caused you to stop at that moment, then you would have gotten hit by a speeding driver who ran through the red light. We don’t know what will happen in the future. Therefore we don’t know what to fully pray for because it hasn’t happened yet. So your prayer in tongues was a prayer that tapped into the mysteries of God that you didn’t know, and completed your prayer expressing in another language that you didn’t know, so that you can communicate to God that which you don’t know that you ought to be communicating with him about.

•So I ask how do we know that we have the gift of playing the piano if we never in our lifetimes touch a piano? And how do we know if we have a God-given artistic gift if we never draw? And how do you know that you have the gift of speaking in tongues if you never open your mouth to try? It is an act of faith on our part to at least open our mouths and allow God to take over our vocal chords and speak on our behalf the things that we should be praying about that only He knows that we need to pray about. We ought not to think when we open our mouths because remember, there is no comprehension; therefore it takes no thought to speak in tongues. Just let whatever comes out flow out. It is trusting that God’s words will flow through our mouths and by that prayer and praise, we are in his protection for the day and therefore will be fully equipped for our spiritual warfare. Now let’s turn to Acts 2 to look at the rest of our lesson for today…
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