#677. CAN EVERYONE HAVE THE GIFT OF TONGUES? (26/10/22)
This week, we continue with our 1 Corinthians series, looking at some aspects of the gift of tongues from 1 Corinthians 14.
Summary: Everyone can have the gift of tongues but not everyone will receive this gift and its interpretation in a public meeting.
‘Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.’ (1 Corinthians 12:29-31)
‘What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.’ (1 Corinthians 14:26-28)
‘Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.’ (1 Corinthians 14:39-40)
As we start, let’s be convinced that tongues is a gift, when used with interpretation, that will build up the church and when used in private prayer, it will ‘edify’ us. Paul encourages us to have a respectful attitude to the different gifts as reflected in his analogy of the body:
‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”’ (1 Corinthians 12:21)
We need the all gifts, including the gift of tongues! It may seem odd to us, but we should not say, “I don’t need this gift in my church”!
We have summarised the gift of tongues as:
‘The gift of tongues is praise, prayer and thanksgiving to God in a God-given language unlearned by the speaker.’
WHO CAN HAVE THIS GIFT?
There is discussion as to whether the gift of tongues (or interpretation of tongues) is for everyone or a select few and we need to be patient with those who disagree with us. Let's understand that although gifts are important, love is more so! Our union in Christ unites us and not our view on gifts of the Spirit. That being said, at CCP we take a view as expressed here.
Those who say that the gift is not for everyone may quote Paul:
‘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 speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues’ (1 Corinthians 12:7-10)
‘Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?’ (1 Corinthians 12:29-30)
This seems clear - surely this means that not all have the gift of tongues. However, it seems to me that Paul is speaking of us not ‘manifesting’ the same gifts in a public meeting. It seems that Paul is saying that not all will have the public gift of tongues or the interpretation of tongues. Paul seems to desire and point toward the possibility of everyone having the private gift of tongues:
‘I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.’ (1 Corinthians 14:5).
What he says in 14:23, intimates, it seems to me, that everyone at Corinth spoke in tongues:
‘So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?’ (1 Corinthians 14:23)
Paul is correcting this congregational use of tongues. Paul’s teaching that not everyone has this gift is, it seems to me, about how it operates in a public setting. Sam Storms agrees with this when he writes:
‘Not everyone is gifted by the Spirit to speak in tongues during the corporate gathering of the church. But the potential does exist for every believer to pray in tongues in private. These are not two different gifts, however, but two different contexts in which the one gift might be employed…The difference between these operations of the Holy Spirit is that not every Christian has reason to expect he or she will necessarily exercise the public gift, while any Christian may expect and welcome the private grace of spiritual language in his or her personal time of prayer fellowship with God (see 1 Cor. 14:2), praiseful worship before God (see 1 Cor. 14:15-17) and intercessory prayer to God (see Rom. 8:26-27).’ (Storms, Sam. The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts)
In summary: Everyone, I believe, can have the gift of tongues but not everyone will receive this gift and its interpretation in a public meeting. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how we may receive this gift, but for now, are we convinced that the gift is for you and me? Without faith, we will not receive any gift, especially one that is so out of the ordinary to our culture.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
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:
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.