I have been asked about “speaking in tongues,” I will answer to the best of my ability. If you want to open a discussion in the comments, I will be available.
Holy Spirit from above,
Tender, undefiled Dove,
In my spirit have Thy way,
Blessed Companion from on high,
In thy comfort ever nigh;
Bind my heart to Christ in love,
O Thou precious, Heavenly Dove.
This cold heart and these dull eyes,
So unfit for Paradise,
Fire with Thy sacred flame,
Show the power of Jesus Name.
Weak I in myself may be,
But my strength shall be in Thee.
Sweet provision of God’s grace;
Is Thy gift His love I trace.
I could not Thy coming earn,
Could no more Thy wooing spurn.
Take control and bless and use
As the Infinite shall choose.
—Patsy Adams 2016
What God’s Word tells me about speaking in tongues…
Let’s begin with Jesus in the Upper Room at the Passover meal, on the night before he was crucified. He told his disciples he was going to his Father (God) via the cross, They didn’t get it at that hour.. But he told them he would send his Spirit back to them, to be with them, dwell IN them, and stay with them forever.
“If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, for it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, for he lives with you now and some day shall be in you.”John 14:15-17.
Notice the words with you now. Jesus was with them, speaking to them. …and some day shall be in you. The promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit to come.
After Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again, the disciples, and hundreds of others walked with Him, talked and ate with him. They touched Him, felt his body, knew that the was “flesh and bone.” Luke 24:38-39
For fifty days before he went to the Father he continued to prove himself the “Living Son Of the Living God.” The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and Acts 1 give eye-witness accounts of those events.
Before Jesus went to be with the Father, He told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they would receive POWER—until the Holy Spirit would come and enter into them to give them the power the Spirit bestowed upon Jesus when Jesus walked the earth doing miracles, healing the sick and raising the dead. Acts 1:8-9
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were all together in one place, and the Holy Spirit came and filled the house. Acts 2 :1-4
The Holy Spirit appeared to them as tongues of fire
…sometimes that image may also cause confusion. The answer can be found in the Old Testament where Jesus Christ and the ministry of The Spirit are concealed from sinful man, but every image points to Him. In the New Testament Jesus Christ and the ministry of The Holy Spirit are revealed to man in order to free him from sin and enable him to come boldly into fellowship with God. So… we can say, in Psalm 78:14, where we see God leading the children of Israel as a cloud by day and a “pillar of FIRE by night” we are seeing the HOLY SPIRIT in action as a type of the Fire in Acts 2:3. [A scriptural type equals a picture of what will come later.] The fire of His presence represents guidance and provision, as the pillar of fire and the infilling of the Spirit. So the fire that led Israel out of Egypt is a picture of the Holy Spirit who will lead us in our lives today…tongues of fire. God is three in one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever
Now, back to Acts…the apostles—filled with the Holy Spirit—went about the business of establishing the Church.
Peter preached in Acts 2:14-41 and 3,000 people were saved in a single day. Remember, Peter was a fisherman. Not educated or a public speaker. Before the indwelling of the Spirit Peter was far from being a preacher, yet the power of the Spirit enabled him to preach powerfully and draw believers to Christ.
The ministry of The Holy Spirit
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church grew and spread dramatically. Thousands were saved and many gave their lives because of their belief in Jesus as a personal Lord and Savior. Stephen was stoned to death because of what he held to be true.
Eventually the church was scattered throughout the middle-east, sprinkling the seeds of Jesus teachings everywhere they went. Acts 8:2-3 We see the Holy Spirit in action, empowering the Gospel message everywhere God sent His messengers.
Awww yes! Paul…who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. Acts 9:1-31 Paul who, by the power and inspiration of the Spirit, gives us the answers we are looking for regarding speaking in tongues.
In Acts 19…where Paul prays for some Ephesian believers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he asks, “did you receive when you believed.” My understanding is that EVERYONE who calls on the name of Jesus to be saved receives the Holy Spirit and is, at that moment, reborn a new creation. But this portion of the Word tells me there is more—a greater gift available to all of us.
The difference, as I understand it, between the Gifts of the Spirit as described by Paul in 1 Cor 12 and a personal and private angelic prayer language (also referred to as tongues) is vast and causes much confusion among believers. Tongues is one of the corporate gifts, which can be spoken in any gathering of Christians to edify and uplift, IF it is followed by an interpretation of what has been spoken. It seems anyone can be given the GIFT of tongues or interpretation of tongues. Not everyone, however, is given this gift.
In 1 Cor. 14 Paul addresses the use of tongues in a corporate gathering. He explains how the GIFT is meant to be exercised, but in verse 14:15 he seems to be speaking of the prayer language of an individual. He says I will ‘pray with the Spirit.’ “I will sing in the Spirit.”
In my understanding, praying in the spirit, and speaking in tongues are two entirely different manifestations of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians 6:18 Paul writes “Pray at all times ‘In The Spirit.”
In Romans 8:26-27 Paul tells his readers “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. He (the Spirit) intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray.”
In 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 Paul writes, “Pray and sing in the Spirit and with the mind also.
And Jude writes “Build yourself up on your most Holy Faith. Pray IN the Spirit.” in verse 20.
Let me get personal to finish here
When I was new to the faith, at age 33, coming from divorce, abused and bitter, I was told I could have a ‘prayer language’. All I had to do was ask. I asked, God delivered. I pray “in The Spirit” often…always in any situation where I do not know specifically what to ask for. I have never been used by God to deliver a message in “Tongues” to a church gathering. Speaking in Tongues is not my gift.
There are denominations that say unless you speak in tongues you do not have The Spirit living in you.
I DO NOT agree with that teaching. Mr. Lebsock,
who Jesus appeared to in a vision,
who was saved from drowning by what could only be an angel of The Lord,
and who God annotated to pastor a church,
and who God uses in healing
has asked repeatedly for a “prayer language” God gave him 5 Hebrew words…and said, that’s it..that’s all you need. He has never been used to deliver a message in Tongues either. The thing is…when he lays hands on the sick…God honors his prayer and they are often healed.
God is all mighty, all powerful and often unfathomable. Why some things happen as they do is totally and completely up to His wisdom and His grace.
All I know for certain is that when men start saying God can only do things this way, or that way…they simply DO NOT know the unsearchable riches of God.
I pray this will help you to understand some of what you’ were wondering about.
And as I said at the beginning, I will be available for further discussion if the Holy Spirit hasn’t already given you what you needed.
Follower of Christ, writer & artist.