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WHAT IS IT THEN?

By Beatrice Mantock

 

My burden is to remind us all of some Scriptural truths about speaking in tongues.

First of all, in case you are not sure whether this gift is for every Christian, look at this verse: “I would that ye all spake with tongues” (1 Cor. 14:5).

As Paul wrote down the will of God in his epistle to the Corinthian church, so it is God’s will for the church today. Would Paul write something that is not God’s will? Would God exhort us all to do something that isn’t important, let alone possible?

Maybe you have heard or even used the argument of “love is more important than speaking in tongues,” seemingly based on some verses in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
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.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

For logic’s sake, if speaking in tongues were meant to be replaced by charity, so should be knowledge, faith, and giving to the poor. It is not “instead of” but rather “as well as.”

1 Corinthians 14:2:
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.

So, speaking in tongues equals speaking unto God equals praying in the spirit. Since no man understands, it is for our private prayer life. Surely you agree that there is no need to explain the importance of prayer in general. Whether it is praying with the understanding or praying with the spirit, it is important. The same goes for singing!

1 Corinthians 14:15:
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.

The Bible also tells us that by speaking in tongues we edify ourselves. To use the argument that this is selfish would just be silly. How important is it to be edified, built up, if we want to give our life in service to the Lord and to the people? I am sure you know the answer.

1 Corinthians 14:4a:
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself....

God knew what he was doing when he invented those gifts and gave them to his children!

One day, when I was thinking about this gift and wondering why some Christians can’t be convinced that it is a good thing, the following thought struck me: Usually, what is interesting for man either appeals to his emotions or to his intelligence. But speaking in tongues does neither of the two. As it says in 1 Corinthians 14:14: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” That is probably why it just seems silly or unprofitable to some people, even Christians.

I believe it is one of those challenges that God puts in front of us, and I think it is just beautiful. I almost want to say, “It’s so cool.” Do we believe that his Word is the truth, even if we don’t understand everything? Then, will we show him that we trust him by obeying his commandments, even if it doesn’t make sense to our senses?

John 3:6:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

And so, as we desire to serve and obey our Lord in everything, we need our spiritual eyes to be opened.

Psalm 119:18:
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Colossians 4:12:
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

This is also my prayer for us all. So please, let us “desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 14:1) and “forbid not to speak with tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39).

 

 


From the March 2007 issue of The Vine & Branches