Praying in Tongues is Not a Dead Language
In listing the spiritual gifts, one must include the gift of praying in tongues and the gift of interpretation. Although many feel that to speak in tongues is to rattle like a clanging symbol, to retain that belief they must ignore certain parts of Scripture. And on the other hand, some Christians believe that not being able to speak in tongues is to miss the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They too have chosen to ignore the balance presented within the Scriptures.
But I am not here to argue over the interpretation of verses. If you hold that praying in tongues is a dead language, I sorrow for your loss. But likewise, I am not here to argue about when and how the baptism of the Spirit happens and occurs. This process happens only once, at the moment of salvation, and never again. However, in every Christian’s life, there is an ongoing and ever present infilling of the Holy Spirit. Speaking in a tongue is not the evidence of salvation, though it may accompany the miracle. Only the evidence of a changed heart proves the validity of Christ-given salvation.
This discussion is about proper use of the gift of tongues. Not whether or not the gift still exists. And about this matter, the Holy Spirit writes these words via the pen of Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ:
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” (1-Corinthians 12: 3 KJV).
Religion, a Negative Influence on Praying in Tongues and All Other Gifts of the Spirit As Well
As you have likely guessed: I don’t think much of religion and denominational barriers. They merely evoke a sinful form of pride in otherwise decent Christians. I also despise petty arguments about who has the best translation of the Scriptures and who was the first true church assembly. So let no one infer more to this document than that which is clearly stated. I am neither defending nor opposing any specific division of Christian worshipers. I merely present the thoughts that God has given me to write. Love it or leave it, but at least be mature enough to read it before you condemn it.
In 1-Corinthians, chapter 12, verse one the word “Now” is used to mark a stepping forward into the writer’s next subject of interest. In specific, Paul is “now” opening Christian minds to a Holy Ghost inspired explanation of spiritual gifts, their values, and how each gift can fit into the workings of the body of Christ. He does this so that men will not be ignorant concerning these matters.
In verse two, Paul reminds the Corinthians and any other readers of Scripture in matters pertaining to men permitting dumb idols to excite their flesh. Although not described in detail, we can understand (by the context within verse three) that this carnal frenzy includes a senseless uttering of sounds. The principles of which he writes can be equated to the frenzy that sometimes occurs at a modern-day football game as viewers release the same type of delirium. You’ve seen it, hear it and likely even taken part in it. A team of carnally charged players rushes onto the turf, helmets raised and waving, The players roar with wild and ludicrous chants spewing from their tongues. Viewers get carried away by their idols. Fans look on, also becoming involved, also being carried away by the storm of the flesh. This is Paul’s intent of understanding.
Now I am not making a statement to condemn football or any other sport. I am simply showing that you that worship is not a sport, nor a Beatles music feasible, nor a coliseum tractor-pull, nor any other type of secular event. I am simply agreeing with the words recorded by Paul as he reminds the Corinthians and us that that worship is a time for order and self-control – even if that worship includes shouting, dancing or praying in tongues.
Thus when the Corinthian Christians began to display an uncontrolled use of the gift of tongues, many (and of a certain those who had not received this particular gift) must have questioned the sincerity of those who spoke. They were worried about deceivers. How is one to know what is truth and what is self-glory. Perhaps those who made claims of revelation from God were in fact delivering false messages. For this reason, Paul wrote the words in verse three. Let it be certain that those who speak from the Spirit of God speak earnestly.
The following paraphrase does this scripture much justice:
“But now you are meeting people who claim to speak messages from the Spirit of God. How can you know whether they are really inspired by God or whether they are fakes? Here is the test: no one speaking by the power of the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” and really mean it, unless the Holy Spirit is helping him,” (1-Corinthians 12:3, The Way, 1974).
At this point, Paul steps into a discussion of the other gifts of the Spirit. Be certain that he will later condemn such uncontrolled use of this gift of tongues (chapter 14). But note also that the Spirit uses this same chapter to make command that women keep silent in the churches (14:34). Now if we will live by the letter of the law, let us not try to rearrange the words of verse 34 so that ladies may have a higher authority. To hinder one verse is to hinder every verse. This means that God has never used the written word as a taskmaster, but rather as a schoolteacher. If we will walk in the Spirit, we will live by the thoughts and intent of the word, thereby pleasing God by having a bible balance that can adjust to any unique situation..
Order In All Worship, Including Worship That Involves Praying In Tongues
Though I often pray in the Spirit, and on occasion interpret, I find much immaturity and pride in those who are quick to speak in an uncontrolled manner. Be it that of a tongue not interpreted, or be it words of distinct meaning but lacking wisdom, foolish talk is foolish talk.
Yet to be complete, we must look at the end of this particular discussion. In chapter 14:37-40, Paul includes a comment that we are not to forbid the speaking with tongues. Now I understand that this is to be taken in light of the previous discussion. Yet I also know the personal and spiritual value of praying in a tongue. I also understand that there is a difference between speaking and praying. But we will not muddy this discussion by adding unnecessary burden.
It’s really quiet simple. By opening myself to the voice of angels so that the Spirit of God can better plea my cause before the Father, I have seen the doors of great comfort and strength flung open wide. I received this gift in a service that some might conclude was out of control. I would that everyone could get a little wild for God.
Christian Principles: Praying in tongues is not just cheap talk. But know this: We are not all gifted with the same gift. If you do not pray in tongues, it does not make you any less or any better than I. If you do speak or pray in tongues, know also that you too are no less or no better than any other brother or sister in Christ.
Grace, mercy, and peace in the blessed name of Jesus our Lord.