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Speaking in tongues: the way it's supposed to be

1 Corinthians 14:1-11 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh, with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

 

 

The bible makes it clear that the gift of speaking in tongues is predominantly meant to edify yourself. However, he or she that possesses the gift of prophesy can edify, comfort and/or admonish others. Therefore, according to Paul, the gift of prophesy is more important than the gift of speaking in tongues, unless someone also possesses the gift to interpret tongues. If someone has this gift, he can also edify, comfort and/or admonish others. This is all very logical and easy to understand. If you were in a meeting or gathering where someone was talking Russian, whilst there is no one else that understands Russian, it becomes very difficult (and actually impossible) to understand the message that this person is trying to bring across. When a interpreter is present, and he or she can make clear what is being said, the problem is solved instantly. It is just the same with speaking in tongues.

 

Paul starts his argumentation in 1 Corinthians 14 with a plea to follow after charity (if you want to know more about charity, have a look at 1 Corinthians 13). By publically speaking in tongues without taking your direct environment into consideration (meaning having no interpreter present), you are actually being very selfish and are not following after charity. Without charity, all our efforts are useless, it does not matter how well meant they are:

 

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

 

 

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

 

 

1 Corinthians 14:12-13 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

 

 

In the verses above, Paul is talking about something you will rarely hear in the Pentecostal and charismatic environment: let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. Only then it becomes possible to use the gift of speaking in tongues to edify, comfort and/or admonish others.

 

 

1 Corinthians 14:14-19 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

 

 

The bible is very clear about how the gift of speaking in tongues should be used in public:

 

 

1 Corinthians 14:23-24 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

 

 

1 Corinthians 14:26-33 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

 

 

Basically, these are all very clear instructions that do not need any further clarification. Unfortunately, these biblical instructions regarding speaking in tongues are being completely ignored. In a lot of Pentecostal and charismatic movements, each and every single (prayer)opportunity is used to speak in tongues (by multitudes, not by two or three, as the bible teaches us), WITHOUT ever having an interpretation afterward.

 

We found a 'bible study' from a Pentecostal church explaining (according to them) when we should be speaking in tongues. This 'bible study' is in Dutch, therefore we have a translated a passage. Have a look for yourself:

 

Quote (translated from Dutch to English)
When should one speak in tongues
Paul says in Ephesians 6 verse 18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. In 1 Corinthians 14 verse 18, the apostle thanks God that he speaks in tongues more than others. You are allowed to speak in tongues in every occasion. The bible does not say that you should always speak in tongues, but in every occasion. This also accounts for when you are at home in your private room. When the pastor makes an alter call for converting. When we pray for/with those that are ill. While you are in the kitchen preparing your food and so on and, and so on. Speak in tongues. It is good and necessary. We can encourage each other to speak in tongues. Paul says through the Spirit: AND FORBID NOT TO SPEAK WITH TONGUES. 1 Corinthians 14:39.

End of quote (translated from Dutch to English)

 

Where in the bible can we find that we should be speaking in tongues when we are praying for and with those that are sick? NOWHERE! This is not in line with scripture. We have just showed you in the bible that all things should be done unto edifying and that if there is no interpreter, one should not speak in tongues in the church. Ephesians 6:18 is presented as an argument that one should speak in tongues in every occasion. That is not what Ephesians 6:18 says and this verse is not talking about speaking in tongues! Paul is talking about praying in the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is not the same as speaking in tongues. If that were true, than someone that does not speak in tongues cannot pray in the Spirit (you are probably not surprised that this is exactly what is being taught, which puts greater pressure on people, causing them to reach out even more to obtain this gift). This would mean that Paul is giving us an assignment that cannot be executed by everyone. By taking bible passages out of context in this way, there is room for false teaching. Those of you that want to take the effort to study Ephesians chapter 6 completely, will find that this chapter is about the necessity to put on the complete spiritual armor, in order to be protected against the cons and attacks from the devil (Ephesians 6:11-13). A very important part of the spiritual armor is to always pray. This is a summon that we can find in many different places throughout the bible (a few examples are placed below).

 

Praying IN the Spirit is a prayer in which one is inspired and led by Holy Spirit. Praying IN the Spirit and speaking in tongues are two different things. Have a look and judge for yourself: in 1 Corinthians 14 verse 15, Paul is talking about praying WITH the spirit (no capital 's'!) and not about praying IN the Spirit (with a capital 's'). In 1 Corinthians 14 verse 14 Paul says 'For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful'. Again, 'spirit' is not written with a capital ‘s', because this is NOT about the Holy Spirit but the own human spirit. When someone speaks/prays in tongues, his spirit prays, but the understanding is unfruitful. This makes perfect sense, because the one that is praying in tongues does not know what he/she is praying!!

 

 

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

 

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

 

 

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

 

 

Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

 

 

Colossians 4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

 

 

In 1 Corinthians 14 verse 39, Paul says that the speaking in tongues should not be forbidden. When talking about speaking in tongues, this is a commonly heard verse in the Pentecostal and charismatic denominations to kill every form of resistance. Yes, it is true that speaking in tongues should not be forbidden, but that only accounts for those circumstances where the gift is used as instructed in God's word (see paragraphs above)! It must be clear that this verse is not applicable in a place or situation where Gods word is being ignored! Moreover, verse 39 is another example of a bible passage that is usually read partially and taken out of context. Before Paul talks about not forbidding speaking in tongues, he (again) stresses the importance to covet to prophesy. Next (also not for the first time), he calls us to let all things be done decently and in order. If Paul lays the emphasis on these things, should not those be the things that we lay emphasis on as well? And if one knows 1 Corinthians 14 verse 39 so well, then what about verse 38 and all verses prior to verse 39? Do we just skip and ignore them because we don't like what it says?

 

 

1 Corinthians 14:39-40 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

 

 

This article will surely not be received well by everyone. So be it, because where the truth is told you will always find resistance. Where the truth is told, you will always find people that do not want to hear it. We could see that when Jesus was here on earth and this has never changed. When dealing with something that has been accepted for years and years and has even become a feature of certain 'Christian movements', like the speaking in tongues, it will only be more difficult to find ears that are willing to hear. We pray and trust the Lord that He will open the eyes and ears of those that truly desire to serve and follow Him.

 

 

James 1:19-21 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

 

 

There is one more important thing that needs attention in this article and that is the testing of the gift...

 

 

 

 

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