Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why tongues?

If you have have not read my previous post, I encourage you to do so now. It explains the fact that all born-again Christians can have the gift of speaking in other tongues. In this present post, we will explore some reasons why you might want to.

But first, I want to counter a couple of ideas about why some do not want to speak in tongues. One thing that I have heard some say is that they want nothing to do with this tongues business because they have seen or heard about some people who misused the gift and acted foolishly.

My response is this: I have known of some people who have suddenly become millionaires and they have acted foolishly. Should we then turn away a gift or inheritance of a million dollars because of that? I wouldn't. It makes more sense to make sure that one uses the money wisely rather than foolishly. Any gift, even those from God, can be misused. We just need to use them wisely.

Another common objection to speaking in tongues is that tongues itself is foolish. After all, you cannot understand what you are saying and it seems to be nothing but gibberish. Its value is not immediately apparent.

The problem with this view should be obvious to us. Why would God give a gift to the church that had no value? God is not foolish, is He? No, He gives gifts to the church so that the church may grow and be blessed and be a blessing to the world.

I mentioned in the previous post that there is such a thing as a ministry gift of tongues and interpretation which is the equivalent of prophecy. Since prophecy is given for "edification, exhortation and comfort", so is the gift of tongues with interpretation in the public assembly. (1 Cor. 14:3) However, since not all ministries are given to everyone, you can only use tongues in this way if you are called to it.

But we also find that the gift of tongues has private uses as well. "If there is no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God." (1 Cor. 14:28) So someone can use tongues apart from the public ministry of tongues and interpretation.

"He who speaks in tongues edifies himself." (1 Cor. 14:4) Tongues is a means of edifying oneself, or building up oneself, spiritually. Do you ever need to be built up spiritually? I do. Now I can get that in church or in times of fellowship with other Christians, but I often need it when they are not around. I am glad that God has provided this supernatural means of edification.

Paul says, "I will pray with the spirit (tongues) and I will pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit (tongues) and I will sing with the understanding ... [by doing this] you give thanks well." (1 Cor 14:15,17) Also, in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church and they all began to speak in tongues, others heard them declare in their own languages "the wonderful works of God." They were praising God for His wonderful works.

I have noticed in my own life when I wanted to praise God that I often had trouble fully expressing myself to Him. I used all the adjectives that I could think of, yet my spirit was unsatisfied. Now, when I express praise toward God in tongues by prayer or singing, my spirit is free to fully express itself toward Him. So I am satisfied when I leave the place of prayer. I can praise God more fully.

In the above verses, Paul also said that he prayed both in this own language and in other tongues. We need both kinds of prayer. I think the reason should be obvious: we don't know everything, but God does. "We don't know what to pray for" in most instances. (Romans 8:26) That is why Paul says, "Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, be watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18) We have to pray in tongues because the saints have many needs that we don't know about. Tongues allows us to pray about these things. It helps us overcome a great weakness we have as human beings - a lack of knowledge about what is needed. Even when we know about a situation, we often do not discern the real need. Only God knows it perfectly. And He will give us the words to pray that meet that need. Wouldn't you like a gift that gives you the ability to pray for loved ones whose needs you cannot anticipate? How wonderful that is!

There are more reasons that I could give for desiring the gift of other tongues, but I think that these should be sufficient for our purpose. I hope that you can see that speaking in tongues is of great value to any believer. I also hope that you will see that God would not give this precious gift to just a few of His children and leave others without access to it.

Remember: We cannot have all the ministry gifts, but supernatural manifestations, like prophecy and tongues, are available to all.

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