Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Tongues
1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to other divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
I feel led to review a topic that may be old hat for some of us, but one can never exhaust the revelation in any portion of the Word of God. I am going to do a brief overview of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, explained to us by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, in the twelve chapter.
Now if you were Baptist, you would never have studied this particular portion of Scripture, nor the fourteenth chapter, for as far as they are concerned, these particular things have passed away. Yet, if you are a Berean Christian, who believes the Bible is the Word of God, you will study to see if these things be so, and you will quickly see that God and His Word, have never changed, and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, and become Baptistcostal!
To do any of these gifts justice, I would have to devote a lifetime to each of them, for though the basic understanding of the gift is for everyone, like many things in God, the applications of each of these are limitless.
Of the gifts of the Spirit, there are three types of gifts:
The power gifts: healing, miracles, and special faith. These gifts Do something.
The revelatory gifts, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and discerning of spirits. These gifts Reveal something.
The vocal gifts are what I feel led to discuss with you today, tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy. These particular gifts Say something.
Now 1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
Some would say, well, that’s nice for you pastor, you pray all day and know lots about God and the Bible and stuff, but I’ll just stay over here in the middle of the road. Some of these spooky spiritual people are a little too weird for me thanks.
Well, God’s right over there in the middle of the road with you, friend, because He said in
1 Corinthians 12:31 “But covet earnestly the best gifts: ” He wants you to have these gifts, He shed His blood to get them to you.
Well, let’s look at them. Now in Bible school, we take an eight-week course on this particular topic, three days per week. Today, I am only going to teach one portion of it, but our spiritual father, Kenneth E. Hagin, taught this subject for over 25 years straight, and never exhausted the revelation of these verses because the Holy Spirit is Alive! I heard him say that after 25 years on this topic, he was still learning!
Know this: I believe you are all doers of God’s Word, and as you stir yourselves up in these areas, expecting God to manifest these things there is much more we can grow in here. This is an area of intimacy with the Holy Spirit that is inexhaustible.
Well, let’s look at the gift of tongues. God said this gift would come to the church.
Isaiah 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
Isaiah 32:4 The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.
Isaiah 33:19 Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand.
Now there are three kinds of tongues mentioned in the Bible. In no particular order, let’s start with the tongues mentioned here, and again in 1Cor 14. This type of speaking in tongues or supernatural utterance would be the one you might hear in a public meeting. You know, where you are in worship, and someone cries out in a supernatural utterance.
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
1 Corinthians 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
1 Corinthians 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
So of the vocal gifts, the Bible teaches us that the greatest of these is prophesy.
Now we are speaking here about the public usage of tongues in the congregation. Paul, in bringing order to worship services acknowledges that tongues could and should manifest, but that the giver of the tongue should pray that they interpret what they uttered. Why? So that the church is edified or built up.
I was taught that if a valid tongue was given in a meeting it was because God had something on His heart that He wanted us to pay attention to. It was a sign to get quiet before Him in His presence. He was speaking, and we needed to listen.
I was also instructed back in those days, that if a tongue was given in public service, that there would always be an interpretation given in that meeting. I don’t know how many times someone would give an utterance, and we would all get really quiet, and as I was growing in God, often I would hear God’s still small voice inside of me giving the interpretation. Often my pastor would speak the very words I heard God whisper to me. During these years, it gave me the confidence to know I was actually hearing God, not simply my own thoughts. As I grew in God, I would whisper these words to myself, often hearing them echoed throughout the congregation.
As time went by, I hungered to hear what the interpretation was, and then little by little, I felt brave enough to speak out some of these things in public. Eventually, what I heard, I spoke, whether or not there was a tongue given to prime my pump so to speak, and so began a season of flowing in the prophetic, for tongues plus interpretation equals prophecy.
Well, that is one type of tongue. In my church, I used to teach the people, that if in worship or prayer you feel a supernatural language bubble up inside of you, speak it out. We all want to hear God. If they missed it, I wasn’t going to embarrass someone. If I felt they were off Scripturally, I would lovingly correct it from the pulpit, while encouraging, and congratulating the person for bravely stepping out in faith. Sometimes, people became so vocal, I had to ask them to be quiet, and write their words down, as it seemed they were always giving a word, that drew attention to them, instead of to God. In a large church, it might be difficult to allow much public prophecy, but there can always be believers meetings (small group Bible studies) where church members can learn to practice flowing in the Holy Spirit.
1Cor 14: 26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
The Second is like the early church received on the day of Pentecost. Where they spoke supernaturally in a known language, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
Now notice here that although they spoke supernaturally in a language unknown to them, the language they spoke was perfectly known to the people hearing.
I had a wonderful experience of this.
When I was at Dayspring Church, in Ottawa, Ontario, we started a bus ministry to reach the lost at any cost.
We picked up a black man one night at the Salvation Army and brought him to church with us.
Well, to make a long story short, the time came when people came forward for prayer, and Tasso asked me to pray for him. I didn’t know what to pray for, so I began to pray in other tongues, seeking the Lord that I may interpret so that I might have something meaningful to say to this man.
As I spoke what sounded like gibberish to me, Tasso perked up and seemed very attentive to what I was saying. I figured that maybe the Holy Spirit was touching him somehow, so I kept on for quite a while, perhaps ten or fifteen minutes. Finally, within myself I felt I was finished, so I asked this man if he understood what God was doing for him.
He smiled at me like we had known each other for years, and said, “You speak my language!” I said what language do you speak? He said “Ethiopian, and that I had been speaking to him in an Ethiopian dialect from his village back home.”
Well, I explained to him that I did not speak Ethiopian, that what he heard was the gift of tongues in operation by the Holy Spirit. I asked him “What did I say?”
He said he had come to church that night very lonely and troubled. He was living at a street mission and had recently arrived in Canada as a refugee from Ethiopia. He had left all of his friends and his wife back in Africa and was presently dating another Ethiopian woman here in Canada. He had asked God if he should divorce his wife and marry this other woman and then had been approached by us to come to church on our bus ministry. He came and came forward for prayer. He said that when I prayed, I told him the story of Samson and Delilah from the Bible in great detail and that as I spoke, he saw that it would be wrong for him to leave his wife for this other woman. He had been so lonely and scared he said, yet as I spoke he knew that God had made a way for him and his wife to be together again. He was going to leave this woman, and trust God with his future.
He hugged me with such love and tears; I’ll never forget it.
Now, to my knowledge, this is the only occasion I know of where I have been used in this manner. If God could use me, He can just as easily use you!
There are hundreds of known testimonies of missionaries being used in this manner to reach other people groups. There is a book we read in Bible school, that recorded many of these, most famous is the one in Topeka Kansas in 1901. I encourage you to get it, “Bright Wind of the Spirit.”
Well, the third type of tongues is the one described to us, when the apostle Paul exhorted all Christians.
1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues,
1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
This tongue is the regular supernatural prayer language of every spirit-filled Christian. An evidence of the power of God come to your life.
This is the type of praying that one must cultivate as a daily discipline. One where you deliberately seek God, in obedience to the Scripture.
1Cor 14: 1 ¶ Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
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.
I remember one day here when I was seeking God, singing praises to Him, and speaking to Him in other tongues. He said He liked hearing me speak in tongues, it was refreshing to Him. So I asked Him why? He said because he had heard all of the songs I sing before, but that when I spoke in tongues, it was new, fresh, and more intimate and personal to Him.
Some say, do I have to speak in tongues. Well, if you want to please God you do. Why?
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Faith pleases God, and Mark 16: 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
If you believe, you will speak in tongues. If there is anyone who does not yet speak in tongues, well, today is your day. You no longer have to tarry for the Holy Spirit, He’s already been sent into the earth, you don’t need to wait for Him, He’s waiting on you.
Now, if you are one of us tongue talking radicals, Shundai, Rundai, run around the room die. What are you doing with the gift God gave you? The Bible says to stir up the gift of God within you. God told Gloria Copeland, that if she prayed in tongues one hour a day, all would be well in her life. Well, she happily testifies thirty years later, that all is well with her. The ministry is well, her marriage is well, her children are well, and her grandchildren are well. Her finances are well, her health is well. God has been faithful to her obedience, and all is well. Practically, I wondered how on earth she managed to do it, faithfully, cheerfully, praying out mysteries, every day, day in, day out, month in, month out, year after year.
One day listening to her teaching she told me. She has a walker at home, and she puts on either a good teaching tape or music, and she walks and talks to God every day. She gets her exercise in and begins her day in prayer every day.
Well, look at the woman. She’s past seventy years old, and she looks great. If she can do it, so can we. Laying aside the sin and the weight that does so easily beset.
OK, let’s briefly look at the gift of prophecy. I alluded to the interpretation of tongues earlier. For the record I’ll give a definition of the interpretation of tongues: It’s the supernatural showing forth by the Spirit the meaning of an utterance in other tongues.
I alluded to it in public meetings, but you can also pray that you interpret your own private prayer language. Often when I am here at the altar praying for people, I pray in tongues inwardly asking God, what does this person need Father? Often, He will cause me to know what it is, I just prayed out in other tongues.
I need to make one statement for some of you intercessors here. Often I take prayer journeys with God. I get unrestful in the Spirit and need to know why. Rather than worry or fret, I have been known to jump in the van and drive for hours praying in tongues. On one trip to Tulsa, I prayed for the entire twenty-seven hours on the road in other tongues, and would have gone longer, had the release not come.
Well, I don’t want to keep you here all day, so I’ll whet your appetite so to speak, for the prophetic, but we will deal with it more fully, in another teaching.
For the record, prophecy is a supernatural utterance in a known language.
Rather than blow this off, we’ll get into it in more detail next lesson. Let’s pray:
Father, I pray that you grant us the gifts of speaking in other tongues. Father that you would give us the time, and help us discipline ourselves to spend time speaking in tongues in our own personal prayer language, that you would grant public utterances of other tongues in our midst, and that you would grant us the interpretation of tongues, both personally and privately. Father, I desire to prophesy, to speak your Word supernaturally to encourage, and edify your people. We trust these things to come forth as you will, for we ask for them in Jesus’ name. Amen.