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Tongues of Fire

Subject: Tongues is biblical and effective in building up the believer.


Some claim that tongues is only used to evangelize. There is not one event in scripture where tongues was used to evangelize. Not even on the day of Pentecost as some claim. No one preached the gospel in tongues on the day of Pentecost and there was no need for an interpreter. The Jews who came from various countries heard them speaking in their own language declaring the wonders of God. The believers were praising God in tongues, not preaching in tongues. Afterward, Peter preached the gospel in a language that they all understood. Either Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. He rose first to explain the phenomenon. Tongues was the fulfilling of the prophesy given by the prophet Joel. They were a sign that Christ was alive and has sent the Holy Spirit as promised. 

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servantsin those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.Acts 2:16-17, Joel 2:28-29.

Even so, we should also recall that the Lord foretold of the gift of tongues. He said, 
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  Mark 16:17

When the believers in Acts 1o and Acts 19 were filled with the holy spirit, they spoke in tongues as a sign that the holy spirit had been given to them. However, tongues was not the only sign. There was also prophecy given as a sign to some.


Acts 10:46
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. 


Acts 19:6
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.


 The Apostle writes to the Corinthian church to bring correction to how they are operating in the gifts of the spirit in the church, among both believers and unbelievers. He tells them. "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 1 Cor. 1-2. He doesn't want beleivers to think only of their own edification , but to desire to edify the whole church, when they are all together. He explains, in Vs. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Since tongues provides personal edification, he tells them to seek rather to prophesy so that everyone is helped. That is the best expression of love. He never and I mean never tells them or gives any indication that they should not speak in tongues at all.

Apostle Paul encourages tongues. And is thankful for his own gift of tongues to use in private times with God. He says, 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. He clearly enjoys the benefit of speaking in tongues often when in times of prayer and thanksgiving to God. Tongues spoken in church should be used as a sign to unbelievers. Therefore you should pray for the interpretation. Tongues in private are used to build yourself up in the spirit, to pray in the spirit, to sing in the spirit and to give thanksgiving to God in the spirit. The Apostle even suggests that you can speak in tongues silently in the church to build yourself up, if there is no one to interpret. Vs. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.

The Apostle in no way suggests forsaking the gift of the spirit, simply utilizing them according to Gods plan and purpose for them. 

Tongues is a gift of the holy spirit that will continue until Christ returns. Apostle Paul explains that ,  " Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away" Cor. 13:8-9.  The question at hand is what does the Apostle mean by "the perfect comes". Paul is speaking of the end of all things. When the Lord returns there will be no further need for self edification  (tongues), for prophesy nor for knowledge. Love, however will continue being that God is love and has shed his love abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit. 1 John 4:8. The Apostle views our present state in the earth as children and our future state as adulthood. It is the difference between heaven and earth. We will love God and one another perfectly.  Presently we see through a glass darkly, our knowledge and view of God is like seeing a reflection cast upon water; some things are yet obscured, barely visible and others are yet unknown and unexplained to us. In heaven all things pertaining to eternal life and God will be seen and known clearly when the face of God is no longer hidden from us. We will look into his fiery eyes and see the pureness of his everlasting love. 

Apostle Paul tells us to Pursue spiritual gifts. He explains that believers are edified by speaking in tongues, but they are also edified through prophesy, through words of encouragement, and through preaching and teaching. Not everyone will speak in tongues but it does not prevent everyone from being edified.  

Since we are told to pursue spiritual gifts we should do it.  However will all speak in tongues? Of course not. No more than all will prophesy or all will have the gift of healing or miracles. Lets lean into what the Apostle says about the spiritual gifts. 

"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.' 1 Cor. 12:7-11.

Sp pursue spiritual gifts, but above all Pursue the gift giver. 


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