What is speaking in tongues?

Yesterday in our church small group the subject turned to the weirdness of tongues. Most people at our church don’t speak in tongues and really haven’t been around it much. I grew up the same way so I get where they’re coming from. After several shared stories of experiencing fake spirituality in various places I jumped in with both feet and told them a portion of my story when I first spoke in tongues. My story breaks a lot of the barriers people have actually. I was alone, no one coached me, I wasn’t seeking tongues, I was just seeking God and praying.

I really killed the mood as everyone had to come to grips with the reality there was one of those tongue talkers among them and they now had to make a decision about my sincerity. It can be hard for people to make those kinds of decisions but I think that’s why God puts us in situations that challenge those around us. He wants them to grow as much as He wants us to grow. That was day before yesterday but last night I had a dream. I was in a church meeting and people were trying to bring up the subject of the UN and the New Age and it was basically dismissed as silly that those things were somehow an issue worth addressing. I kept wanting to recommend books to everyone to help them understand the bigger picture, but I waited for an appropriate time. After the service I was getting ready to drop book mentions on people who seemed interested or uninformed but I was stopped by people coming up to me and telling me the strangest thing. Even the pastor came and said this same thing, ‘it’s ok that you have fleas’. LOL no it isn’t! But I didn’t have fleas in the dream or real life for that matter. Later on I helped them pack up a truck for ministry and many youth began showing to help.

This morning I could see it as I wrote it down, the ‘fleas’ was speaking in tongues. Everyone was ‘ok’ with me speaking in tongues, but they didn’t want that to get on them. I remember what this was like, I thought it was weird when I was younger too. Now there’s more of a war in the church than ever to keep the tongue talkers out of many churches. It’s militant because it’s a military strategy of the devil himself. The truth is that even the little gifts of the Holy Spirit like tongues, are very powerful and the devil doesn’t want God’s power in the church. The Bible describes a church in the end times that has a form of Godliness but denies the power thereof, this is the frontline of that battle. In order to advance the church we have to get power into believers and get them to use it.

The first thing to do is break down these strongholds in our understanding of what the Bible says about things. Many people form opinions on tongues from other people but in the Bible there are not that many places where it is described. 1 Corinthians 14 is the primary chapter about tongues so let’s just dig into some of the details from the apostle Paul about the gift of the Holy Spirit that is speaking in tongues.

In verse 1 Paul tells us to seek love and spiritual gifts, specifically prophecy.

In verse 2 Paul tells us tongues is prayer, speaking to God. He also tells us that people don’t understand tongues when they hear them.

In verse 3-4 Paul tells us that speaking in tongues is edifying for the person speaking in tongues, but it doesn’t edify others, prophecy does that.

In verse 5 Paul says he wishes everyone spoke in tongues and even more that they all prophecy. Then he explains prophecy is better because it helps other people.

In verses 6-12 Paul tells how people don’t understand tongues so if you get up to preach, use your words. Build up the church when you are at church.

In verse 13 Paul tells us to pray for the added gift of interpretation of tongues.

In verse 14 Paul says when he prays in tongues his spirit prays but his mind is unfruitful. Paul used tongues to pray and in his mind he didn’t understand what he was saying.

In verse 15 Paul say to learn to pray with both the Holy Spirit and the understanding of the mind.

In verse 16-17 Paul says this is because the uninformed won’t understand in the group if you don’t tell them words they understand and they won’t be edified in church if they don’t understand.

In verse 18-19 Paul say he speaks in tongues more than all y’all but in church he talks in words.

In verse 20-25 Paul interprets some scripture and teaches a mystery from the Old Testament and how it plays itself out in the church through both tongues and prophecy.

The rest of the chapter he talks about keeping order in the church while using spiritual gifts together as a group. He wraps up by saying to desire to prophesy but never forbid people from speaking in tongues.

So Biblically, tongues are unintelligible words, from the Spirit, prayed to God, that the mind doesn’t understand and those prayer edify the person who is praying. The apostle Paul says this is good thing, that he does all the time and never to forbid it in church. When you take that standard and apply to the church today, there are many unbiblical views among people who want to make sure they have biblical views. So many sincere Christians are divided by the doctrines of demons that would forbid tongues and teach that unintelligible speech is evil. When in fact the evil comes in teachings that are directly opposed to the Bible. May the light of understanding shine on you. May you love those who speak in tongues even if you don’t understand. May you mark those who cause disagreements among you and get away from them and may God bless all y’all.

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