A Question about Speaking in Tongues

Robby Bradfordbaptism in the Holy Spirit, Charismatic Christianity, discipleship, gifts of the Spirit, Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism, prayer, speaking in tongues, spiritual disciplinesLeave a Comment

Q:  What are the physical gifts of the Spirit (i.e. speaking in tongues) and where are the passages that talk about them?

This question was handed in on a note card a couple of weeks ago.  In some ways, I would say that all the gifts of the Spirit are “physical” in that they all (whether the gift of serving or leading or prophecy) involve some way that God’s Spirit is made known and all involve some action on the part of the person who manifests the gift.

However, I think the question probably addresses speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy.  These three gifts are spoken in the worshiping assembly for the mutual benefit of everyone who is present.  As 1 Corinthians 12:7 reads, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

Speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy are all covered extensively–as far as the scriptures instruct us in their use in public worship–in 1 Corinthians 12-14.  However, be careful to note as you read that in Paul’s instructions, he allows that there might be both a use of tongues that is for personal benefit and prayer to God, that we might term “private tongues” or “devotional tongues” or “praying in the Spirit”, as well as a use of tongues that is intended to be interpreted and is of use in the public worshiping assembly.

I point this out because many well-meaning believers have used 1 Corinthians 12-14 as a grounds to say that not all believers might speak in tongues or that all tongues must be interpreted.  Both positions involve lifting verses like 1 Corinthians12:30 and 14:13 and misapplying them to the private use of tongues.  It would be difficult to find any believer in the New Testament who was baptized in the Holy Spirit, in the sense that Luke uses this term in the book of Acts, who does not speak in tongues.

Whatever the case, seek the Holy Spirit would use the words of your mouth–that’s the point of the Spirit’s gifts!

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