• Matt Beaney

#676. WHAT IS TONGUES? (25/10/22)

This week, we continue with our 1 Corinthians series, looking at some aspects of the gift of tongues from 1 Corinthians 14.

Summary: The gift of tongues is praise, prayer and thanksgiving to God in a God-given language unlearned by the speaker.


What is the gift of tongues? what is interpretation of tongues? It’s important that we define these gifts. ‘Glóssa’ can be translated the tongue or a language. Here are three definitions of gift of tongues:


‘The gift of tongues is simply the Spirit-energised ability to pray, worship, give thanks or speak in a language other than your own or one you might have learned in school.’ (Storms, Sam. The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts)
‘Speaking in tongues is prayer or praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker.’ (Wayne Grudem)
‘The gift of tongues is praise, prayer and thanksgiving to God, in a God-given, language, unlearned by the speaker.’

This definition (ours at CCP) is derived from a number of Biblical texts:


i. TONGUES IS PRAISE- DECLARING THE WONDERS OF GOD:

‘…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ (Acts 2:11)

ii. TONGUES IS THANKING GOD AND PRAYER:

‘For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.’ (1 Corinthians 14:14)
‘…When you are praising God in the Spirit [in tongues], how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.’ (1 Corinthians 14:16-17)

iii. TONGUES ARE GODWARD - TO GOD:

‘For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 14:2)

iii. TONGUES IS A LANGUAGE UNKNOWN TO THE SPEAKER:

Tongues can be translated as ‘languages’. One could say that tongues is the ability that some people have to be bi-lingual. This, however, does not fit the way that the Bible speaks of this gift.

‘For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.’ (1 Corinthians 14:14)

iv. TONGUES ARE GOD-GIVEN - A GIFT FROM GOD BY THE SPIRIT

‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ (Acts 2:4)
‘Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.’ (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

v. TONGUES CAN BE A HUMAN OR HEAVENLY LANGUAGE

Tongues can be an earthly language or that which is heavenly/angelic.

‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.’ (1 Corinthians 13:1)

I believe that speaking in tongues in a human language is rare - the Acts example is not to be our model in this regard. What Paul writes seems to lean toward this idea, for example:

‘For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 14:2)

If ’no one understands’ it seems logical to presume that tongues are usually heavenly rather than human languages.


It’s normal, I believe, that when one speaks in a tongue in private or public, no one, not even the speaker, understands what’s being said. The gift is ‘speaking mysteries by the Spirit’. This is why there is always the need for interpretation.


RESPONSE

The church is strengthened when we use God’s good gift of tongues. I hope you can see that tongues are Biblical, this gift is for now and it builds the church. Perhaps you'd like to pray and ask the Father to lead you into receiving and usind this gift.


Here is a helpful video by John Piper on this subject:



 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

 

2. Icebreaker

What has God been speaking to you about from His word recently? How would you like prayer?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday, we continued in our series from 1 Corinthians looking at the gift of tongues from chapter 14.


Please read Acts 2:11; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 13:1; 14:1-2, 14:18, 14:23, 14:39-40.


WHAT IS THE GIFT OF TONGUES?

The gift of tongues is praise, prayer and thanksgiving to God in a God-given language unlearned by the speaker.

i. Tongues is praise and prayer (See Acts 2:11, 1 Corinthians 14:14).

ii. Tongues is to God - Godward (See 1 Corinthians 14:2)

iii. Tongues is a language unknown to the speaker - (See Corinthians 14:14, 16)


WHAT IS THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES?

The interpretation of tongues is the God-given inspiration to speak in the language of the hearers, the dynamic equivalent of what was spoken in a ‘public tongue’. (See 14:26-28)

i. This, I believe, ranges from translation to the sense - a paraphrase - of the revelation given in the tongue.

ii. In a public meeting, tongues must always be interpreted. Without interpretation, tongues can create confusion and fails to edify the church.


I encourage you to watch this video together:



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii) How would you define the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues?

iii. How are tongues to be used in a public worship gathering?

iv. What is the purpose of tongues in our private devotions?

v) Do you speak in tongues and how did you start operating in this gift?

vi) Would anyone like prayer to receive this gift?


SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?

SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?

SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.






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