The Case For Speaking In Tongues
Speaking in tongues is a controversial subject in the Christian community. It is a controversy that never seems to go away. While the debate over its legitimacy has declined over the last few decades, it remains a hot topic, nevertheless.
DIVIDED OVER TONGUES
The gift of tongues is explicitly stated in the bible. You read about it frequently in the book of Acts. The apostle, Paul, discussed it extensively in his first letter to the Corinthians. The apostles and believers in biblical times spoke in tongues. In fact, speaking in tongues is the first spiritual gift that God bestows on the church.
Yet, Christians are divided over the issue of tongues. Some believers are vehemently against speaking in tongues arguing that it is demonic, and therefore, Christians should have nothing to do with it. Others are less vitriolic. They contend that the gift is not for all Christians. While some might speak in tongues, others do not. They would add that it is not necessary. On the other hand, those Christians who possess this gift and speak in tongues regularly would testify to experiencing God’s power and blessings. It is an indisputable fact that churches that embrace the gift of tongues and the other charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are more alive. They also experience greater growth.
Those who are opposed to speaking in tongues claim that this gift is no longer in operation. It ceased a long time ago. They cite 1 Corinthians 13:10 as the biblical basis for its cessation - “when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” They interpret ‘the perfect’ as the canon of the bible. That is, when the sixty-six books of the bible, which are considered as inspired by God, were put together, ‘the perfect’ had come. When that happened, the ‘partial,’ referring to the spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy and word of knowledge, passed away.
This interpretation is inaccurate. Not much discernment is required to see that both the church and the world are far from perfect. The state of perfection will come only at the end of this age when God brings about the new heavens and earth (2 Peter 10-13).
SATAN CAUSES DIVISION OVER TONGUES
Has it occurred to you that the devil is very afraid of Christians who speak in tongues regularly? So, he strenuously divides Christians over this issue.
The apostle, Paul, speaks in tongues regularly. He told the Corinthian Christians that he spoke in tongues more than all of them (1 Corinthians 14:18). Paul understands the value of exercising this powerful gift regularly. He needs the Spirit’s empowering daily for his ministry.
Let me argue the case for speaking in tongues and explain the reasons for Satan’s apprehension of tongues. Here are the three reasons.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES EDIFIES
Speaking in tongues edifies. “The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself” (1 Corinthians 14:4 - ESV). It builds up his faith and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A victorious and overcoming Christian is a threat to the devil and his kingdom. That is why one of Satan’s favourite weapons against Christians is discouragement. It works on all Christians, including the strongest among us. Discouragement wreaks havoc in the life of Christians. It has the effect of a stun gun. It immobilises and renders us ineffective.
God gives us the gift of tongues as an antidote against discouragement. During crises, when we are so discouraged and at a loss of how to pray, the best thing to do is to pray in tongues. Doing so allow the Holy Spirit to take over and intercede on our behalf. Not only does the Spirit of God empathise with our deepest anguish, He knows our situations better than us. He also knows the will of God better than us. Therefore, there is no better person to intercede on our behalf than the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).
Try praying in tongues the next time you are discouraged and discover the blessing of this gift.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES EMPOWERS
The early church discovered the power of speaking in tongues. From the onset when the 120 disciples gathered in the Upper Room, God baptised them with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke in tongues.
The Holy Spirit came in power and they were empowered. They emerged from that Pentecostal experience remarkably transformed. Saturated with the power of God, they preached, and many people were saved. They prayed, and many people were healed. They were persecuted, but they kept pressing on with new-found boldness and resilience.
God has given us the wonderful gift of tongues to build us up and strengthen the church. Try praying in tongues regularly and discover the power of the Holy Spirit in your life and ministries.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES IS A SIGN OF THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The gift of the Holy Spirit is perhaps one of the most remarkable gifts that God has given to His people. Only selected people during the Old Testament times were filled with the Holy Spirit. However, God promised His people through the prophet, Ezekiel, that “I will put my Spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). Essentially, this is the New Covenant promise. Jesus reminded His disciples of this promise before His crucifixion (John 14:16) and again just before His ascension to heaven (Luke 24:49).
Then, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell dramatically on the 120 disciples in the Upper Room. The Spirit came like a “mighty rushing wind” and appeared as “tongues of fire” resting on each of them (Acts 2:1-3). “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
Fascinatingly, God chose tongues to accompany the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. He chose speaking in tongues as the sign of the manifestation of the Spirit and demonstration of the Spirit’s power. God could have chosen other spiritual gifts like prophecies or miracles. But He did not. He chose tongues instead.
Consider the fact that God has chosen tongues to be the means through which His Spirit intercedes for us, the conduit through which His power is released, and the manifestation of His presence. Therefore, you cannot dismiss the significance of this spiritual gift.
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua