Speaking in Tongues
We believe we are baptised into the Body of Christ (the Church) through the Holy Spirit, with the Bible evidence of speaking in tongues
Speaking in tongues is to speak in a new unlearned language miraculously. The gift of tongues is spoken of prophetically in the Old Testament: “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord”, (Zephaniah 3:9). Jesus said believers would speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17). Sure enough, when the day of Pentecost came, that’s exactly what happened.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4)
When did it start?
Speaking in tongues first happened on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the death of Jesus, at the moment the Church began. Speaking in tongues was the very first utterance made by the Church. It was the first crowd-gatherer at what became the first ‘outreach’ of the Church. It was the subject matter of the first question asked of the Church. It was the cause of the first ‘sermon’ of the Church.
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God – 1 Corinthians 14:2
On the day the Church began, the Apostle Peter explained that speaking in tongues was the sign of the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. He said that Jesus, who had died at their hands and was now raised from the dead, was the one who was sending the Holy Spirit with this accompanying sign.
Is it important?
Speaking in tongues was prominent at the birth of the Church and its use is not diminished by the passage of time. Speaking in tongues has a described role in Church meetings, and its significance for the individual believer is amply demonstrated by the momentous timing of its introduction. Indeed, Paul the apostle, in the midst of instruction to a church that had ‘gone overboard’ in its use of speaking in tongues in public meetings, nevertheless made this statement:
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all – Paul the Apostle (1 Corinthians 14:18)
The same experience
Receiving the Holy Spirit today is the same as it was then. It is a personal experience. And the same clear and unmistakeable ‘receipt’ is given to all who have received God’s Holy Spirit. In the Bible we read of those in the Church having been “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal we are given. Speaking in tongues is the outward manifestation of this inner reality.
Is this for today? Some say that speaking in tongues passed away during the time of the Bible. This is clearly wrong. The Holy Spirit is still being sent to people today, with the same outcome as in Bible days. They speak in tongues.
Is it for you?
Why speak in tongues? Apart from being the unmistakeable and personal evidence of having received the Holy Spirit, and apart from its use in meetings of the Church, speaking in tongues has further personal benefits.
Paul the Apostle spoke of his personal prayer life in this way: “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also…” (1 Corinthians 14:15). The context makes it clear that “praying with the spirit” is him speaking in tongues in his prayer life. In the last of the letters to the early church in the Bible, Jude, having opened his letter with talk of the “common salvation” they enjoyed, gives this advice to the Church during a period when false teachers were infiltrating it: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost…” (Jude 20). You must be filled with the Holy Spirit to ‘pray in the Holy Spirit’. The advice (to all in the Church) was to spend time praying in tongues that they may be built up in their faith.
Some can’t see the benefit. But Paul the Apostle was glad that he spoke in tongues. So are we. Rather than rely on religious opinions, ask God to confirm your believing, with ‘signs following’.
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