What Does The Bible Mean By ‘Speaking in Tongues?’

Chances are you know someone who ‘speaks in tongues.’ If you run in a church crowd or have friends who do, you most certainly know someone. This practice is linked to the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, described in the Acts of the Apostles and by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.

Though the first instance of speaking in tongues is without a doubt related to known languages … that fact has been lost. In fact, some believe it was lost at the time Paul was writing to the Corinthians.

I came across this YouTube teaching that summarizes the issue very well.

 

This vlogger is not what folks would call a “cessationist,” or one who believes the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament were only for that short period. But he also isn’t one who believes the babbling “spiritual language” of the charismatic movement is genuine.

I don’t believe any of God’s gifts have ceased any more than they had stopped between Elijah and Moses. God decides when and how His power will be shown.

In every instance, God’s power is dispensed according to His will and for His glory.

To illustrate this, look at the healing ministry of Peter in Acts 5:14-15: “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.”

Some will argue that the Bible doesn’t say the shadow healed anyone. But, that appears to be the obvious intention of the passage, since there’s a comma after the multitude that is being added to the Lord. And the very next verse says that all who came to him were healed.

But, this power didn’t continue. Paul couldn’t send a hankerchief to his friends to heal them. He couldn’ be healed himself of his “thorn in the flesh.” None of the other Apostles could heal Paul.

It’s obvious from the context that, in contrast to Jesus’ ministry, which healed people apart from the Gospel, the Apostles healing came after the people believed and were added to the Lord.

Does this mean that everyone who repents of their sin and believes on the Lord Jesus as their Savior will have their sickness healed? No.

The point of the healing appears to be a sign, like Elijah’s signs, like Moses, like Jesus. If it became a celebrity status for Peter or Paul, it would no longer be glory for God.

The Almighty doesn’t share His glory. His people give it to Him without holding on to a single bit. And without remorse.

So, think about that when someone talks about the “gifts of the spirit” or of speaking in tongues. Who is being honored? How is God being glorified?

For my part, I believe God can and does perform miracles. He may choose to do so in the presence of a particular person to authenticate their message (as with Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, etc.). Or He may do it apart from any human agency. But there is only one who gets the glory.

Amen?

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