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Speaking In Tongues (Part 2)

(Read Speaking In Tongues, Part 1 First)
Speaking in Tongues: Paul's Instructions to the Church
Speaking in tongues is addressed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14. The church in Corinth was experiencing problems with tongues becoming a disturbance. Many believers spoke in tongues freely during public worship, but since no one understood what was being said, many people were being stumbled (vs. 23). In chapter 14, Paul instructs the church on the proper use of tongues. Though many Christian teachers disagree on the proper interpretation of this passage, there are several points Paul makes about tongues that are clearly evident:
  • Speaking in tongues is a legitimate gift of the Holy Spirit and can be distinctive communication with God (vs. 2).
  • Speaking in tongues is edifying to a believer's private life (vs. 4).
  • Public speaking of tongues must be done by no more than two or three people at the same time, and tongues must be interpreted so as to edify others (vs. 27-28).
  • Discerning people must weigh the validity of what's spoken (vs.29).
  • Praying in tongues should be accompanied by praying with the mind (vs. 14-15).
  • Speaking in tongues can be a stumbling block for non-christians if done carelessly (vs. 23).
Speaking in Tongues: Christian Viewpoints
Speaking in tongues is an issue that has been widely debated within the Christian community. Many credible "non-charismatic" Christians hold to the view that this spiritual gift ceased after the apostolic age. They believe that speaking in tongues mainly served as a sign for unbelievers and edified believers at the start of the church. They point to Hebrews 2:1-4, in which the writer uses past tense when he declared that God had confirmed the apostolic church age with "signs and wonders" and "gifts." Since we now have the Bible as God's revelation and guide there is no longer a need for tongues. Also, church historians have not found evidence of speaking in tongues in the writings of the church fathers during the 2nd century. However, most will also readily admit that the Bible never explicitly claims that tongues will cease after the apostolic age.

The Pentecostal movement of the last century is credited for the resurgence of tongues today. Many of these credible "charismatic" Christians believe that a genuine revival in the church is happening, part of which the Holy Spirit is revealing Himself and blessing believers through the gift of tongues. They encourage Christians to seek this gift as a resource for prayer and praise. Some more extreme groups believe that speaking in tongues is required evidence of one's salvation, but this viewpoint is opposed by most Christians, and finds no credible biblical support (see 1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

Speaking in Tongues: What Does This Mean to Me?
Speaking in tongues is a spiritual matter that requires prayer and discernment, but keep in mind that speaking in tongues is not necessary for salvation, neither is it a sign of spiritual maturity or immaturity. In Acts, what was important wasn't so much that the believers spoke in tongues, but that the event marked the coming of the Holy Spirit upon every believer. The Holy Spirit resides in us to guide us, convict us, and comfort us in our Christian walk. Ultimately, what truly matters is that we have welcomed the Holy Spirit into our heart by committing our lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

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