Speaking in Tongues, Pt. 2

Scripture: Acts 2:4-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Corinthians 14:
The Bible talks about the gift of tongues. But what is it? Where was it manifested in the Scriptures? Was it a known language or an unknown language?
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word. [music out]

John Bradshaw: Hi friends and welcome again to Bible Talk were we talk about what the Bible has to say to us today. I'm John Bradshaw and with me today is Gary Gibbs. Hi Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi John. On Bible Talk today we're talking about talk. We're talking about the gift of tongues as it's mentioned in the scriptures.

John: Yeah, interesting. The last time we were here we found out that the gift of tongues it isn't mentioned that often in the scriptures. The way some Christians go, you'd think that's all the Bible talks about. Although the Bible does talk about it so, it's very important. We'll talk about it too.

Gary: I want to ask you as we begin this program to explain to us what did we learn last time regarding the gift of tongues? As I've gone to churches through the years, I've discovered that the gift of tongues according to the churches I've attended is it's a prayer language. It's a language that comes from Heaven. When I hear somebody speaking in tongues, I don't really understand, John what they're saying. It's a lot of uga nog ongyag da, that type of stuff. I need somebody to interpret it.

It's just like when I go to Africa I don't understand what they're saying. Somebody has to interpret. What is this gift of tongues that I'm hearing in the churches and what does the Bible say about it?

John: Well, I haven't been with you when you hard it. But, what you're describing to me does not sound much like what the Bible talks about. The Bible very clearly defines the Biblical gift of tongues.

Gary: Wait a minute John. You say that gift of tongues that I'm hearing in churches is not what the Bible says?

John: Well, it's not what Acts two says and it's not what Acts 11 says, and it's not what Acts 19 says, and it's not what 1 Corinthians says either. Maybe there's some passage in the Bible I don't know about. It isn't any of these passages that are the well known texts that deal with the gift of tongues.

Gary: Well, we need to look at it then because we don't want to do something the Bible doesn't condone. I know a lot of Christians would agree with me on that.

John: Yeah, I hope so. I hope every Christian is willing in her heart, his heart, to be lead by the spirit of God. We found out in Acts 2, you see, this is where you see the gift of tongues manifest for the first time. It was the Feast of Pentecost. There were believers from all around. I don't want to say the whole world but the known world, the near world at that time. They came to the feast, they spoke all different languages.

God wanted to communicate the gospel to them so He moved miraculously upon his consecrated, converted, and dedicated servants and filled them with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gave to them this miraculous gift of tongues, the ability to speak in the languages of these other people.

Gary: That sounds fine. But, prove that to me. Show that to me right in God's word.

John: It says in verse four of Acts two now. I would recommend that any Christian just pick-up a Bible and read through the beginning of Acts two because it becomes very clear. I can't read every verse right now. Just hit the high points. Acts 2:4, it says they began to speak with other tongues. There's that word. Then in verse six it says they were all amazed and confounded because they heard them speak in his own language. Defining a tongue as a language.

Verse 8, how hear we every man in our own tongue? Verse 11, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

According to Acts chapter two this gift of tongues that was demonstrated was a gift whereby the disciples spoke known languages. It even lists the countries and the regions that these people come from.

Gary: The people listening did not need an interpreter. Is that what you're saying?

John: That's what happened right there. Now, that is if the guy was given a gift to speak in Cyrenian, for instance. I'm not sure what language was spoken in North Africa then. The people from Cyrene heard that and they understood perfectly in their language. Now, let's say somebody who didn't understand what was being said, this is where the interpreter would come in and say to the one who is in ignorance. This is what the guy's on about, this is what he's saying.

Gary: OK. Let me ask you this John. That's fine for Acts chapter two someone's going to say. But, in I Corinthians chapters 13 and 14 it's a different type of tongues there. The type of tongues mentioned in Acts two is a known earthly language. But, there's also a language they speak in Heaven. When I go into that quiet place with God or I'm worshiping God in church, God gives me the language of Heaven.

Let me read to you the text. You'll read it there in 1 Corinthians 13 verse 1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. Tongues of men, now that word tongues means language. Though I speak with the language of men or the language of angels and have not love or charity I become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

John: Now Gary, nowhere in the Bible do we read a definition of the tongues of angels as being any kind of babbling or utterance or anything like that, that a person doesn't and cannot understand. We just don't read that. What you're doing there is what people are doing there, reading into that text and saying well, he says tongues of angels, so this has got to be what my sister does down at her church.

Gary: It doesn't mean it could not be.

John: Well, it could not be as long as you stick with the definitions given in the Bible, you see.

Gary: Let me take you over to 1 Corinthians 14 then. It says I follow after charity and love and desire spiritual gifts but, rather that you may prophesy for he that speaks in an unknown tongue. This is a tongue you don't understand, speaks not unto men but unto God. He's speaking in his prayer language. He's speaking in the language of angels that God understands. So, he's not trying to communicate to man. He's communicating to God.

John: Well, that's an interesting thing but, you cannot go and ignore the rest of the passage of scripture. You've got to take this chapter in its totality. If you just fish out just one verse, you could wind-up floundering on the rocks of theological impossibility.

Gary: Then what is the tongues of angels?

John: Well, let's go right on through this and see whether we can figure that out from the Bible. It says in verse 3, He that prophesies speaks to men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaks in a tongue edifies himself. He that prophesies edifies the church.

The thing you've got to do here is never move away from the foundation that is being laid for us in the Bible.

We are told in Acts 2, Acts 11, and Acts 19 that what a tongue is, is a known language for the sharing, the communicating of the Gospel. So you can't flip over to another chapter and just go and change the definition. See that's, that's theological impropriety.

Gary: I...I guess I can see your point because right here he doesn't really define what tongues is.

John: Oh, no, he doesn't. Further on...he comes up...in fact, in fact, let us say, in verse 5, he says "I would that you all spoke with tongues but I prefer it if you prophesied" and I'll go down to verse 6, "Brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues what shall I profit you except I speak to you either by revelation, knowledge, prophesy, or doctrine" and then he goes on to talk about the, the trumpeter giving an uncertain sound. "So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? You will speak into the air." He's saying, "Man, if you're going to speak in public, speak in a way that people can understand. Otherwise, it's a waste of time." Now, let me come back up to your verse 2.

Gary: [agrees]

John: "He that speaks in an unknown tongue isn't speaking to men, but to God." You're reading from 1stwhat book are we in? First what?

Gary: First Corinthians.

John: OK. Now this gives us the background to understand this. Corinthians was a bustling seaport. You've been in port cities.

Gary: Yes, in fact I've been to Greece, haven't been to Corinth, but I've been to Thessaloniki and other places like that.

John: So you know that in port cities, there tends to be a more international mix of people there.

Gary: [agrees]

John: More languages spoken. So here in Corinth, you've got people who spoke various languages and the guy is saying, "Well, listen, if you are speaking in a language that nobody understands, what God understands, you can communicate with Him, but if you can't be communicating with the others in the church, it just doesn't work and it will fall flat, so we've gotta do something about that."

Gary: So the point here, then, in 1 Corinthians 14, over and over again is, when you speak in your tongue, it needs to be understood by the others around you or otherwise it's unprofitable.

John: Well, it says as much in verse 13. "Wherefore, let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue", and you know, that word "unknown" is a supplied word, that doesn't appear in the original text.

Gary: Well, that's not in the original language?

John: Oh, no, if we were to read the original language, it would say "Let him that speaks in a tongue".

Gary: Boy, that's interesting, isn't it.

John: Sort of changes things little bit.

Gary: Why did they put "unknown" in then?

John: You know, it's pretty hard to know just exactly what the translators were thinking.

Gary: It's probably because it was unknown to the people who were listening.

John: This is what I think. That's right. You know, I'm speaking to you in Maori, from New Zealand, and that's unknown to you, you see, you're not going to understand it. Let him that speaks in that tongue pray that he may interpret, because if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, that is the Holy Spirit is motivating, moving this prayer.

Gary: [agrees]

John: But my understanding is unfruitful. So he's saying, "Man, I'm praying in this thing, and if somehow it's not understood, then this is unfruitful business that's being, that's going on there, see."

Gary: Right. 'Cause, you know, I've, I've traveled a lot, John, overseas and so have you, and I've been in churches where I did not understand the language. I've been speaker, a speaker at many services like that.

John: Sure.

Gary: And I'm sitting there and they're introducing me and they're ade-da-da-da-da-da in whatever language, Twee or Gah or Swahili and all I understand is "Gary" and "Amazing Facts."

John: That's all.

Gary: I know they're talking about me, I hope it's something good...

John: [laughs]

Gary: [laughs] They're saying about me. But I know they're talking about me. I have to have an interpreter lean over and tell me. Otherwise, it's an unknown language and I am not profited by it.

John: Absolutely.

Gary: When they pray, when they preach. My spirit is in tune with God, but I'm not profited by what they're saying.

John: And that's the point, exactly. He says, "What is with me? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also". Then he says, "I will sing with the spirit." You know, it's interesting. Now someone's going to call me out and contradict me, but you hear of people praying in the spirit, and it's this, I don't want to be disrespectful, but it's this babbling sort of utterance.

Gary: M hm.

John: Personally, I've never heard anyone say that singing in the spirit is the same thing. Although, you know, someone's going to say, "Oh, I do that, or I know that." But...

Gary: There must be somebody that's done that.

John: But generally you don't find whole congregations singing in the spirit the way they would speak in the spirit, or claim to. Paul is saying, "If you're going to pray, man, pray in a manner that you understand and that other people can understand as well."

Gary: That's very good. I love this chapter, 1st Corinthians 14, because once you get that view of it, that he's trying to bridge the language barrier, trying to, Paul's trying to give instruction to show that when you have all these cultures come together in one church setting...

John: Sure.

Gary: Worshiping together, with many different languages, how do you keep order? Otherwise you have one person speaking in Italian, one speaking in Spanish, another in Babylonian, and they're all speaking at the same time, you must have chaos if that's what's happening.

John: In fact, later in the very same chapter, this is where Paul says, "Let everything be done decently and in order." He says, "How is it, brethren, when you come together, everyone's got a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue and so on. Let all things be done to edify." He gives instruction. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let it be two or three people at the most, and that by coursethat means, one at a time

Gary: M hm.

John: Not fifty people doing it all at onceand it says, "Let one interpret." So these are known languages.

Gary: M hm.

John: You've got to have an interpreter. Keep it orderly. It needs to be understanding and coherence in the worship of God.

Gary: I've been in churches where I spoke and I was interpreted into two other different languages [music begins] and Paul's very practical. If you interpret it into more languages than that, church gets really boring and complicated. So he wanted church to be a living experience where we connect with God.

John: Likewise, I've been in churches where you've got a hundred different people babbling in a hundred different utterances. Paul is recommending against that practice too. Oh, there's so much more to cover on this so friend, be sure to join us next time for more here on Bible Talk. [Music changes]

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