|Questions and Answers: Reader Asks Whether Tongues Are Now Outdated|
why is it that every church & charismatic prayer group that I've been to have people who have an "Unknown Tongue" gift that they say is the Gift of Tongues yet nobody has ever had the gift of Real Languages Tongues?
We never understand the ways of God until He reveals them. We cannot understand the Scripture unless the Holy Ghost gives us the meaning and interpretation. Often, we speculate in our own conceit, but God gently tries to guide us toward Himself if we are not too stubborn.
There certainly are many examples of false gifts. Satan and humanity both counterfeit every good thing, including being born again. However, the fact that there is the false does not make the real any less real. Satan and humanity both make every effort to cause the real gifts to be used in a disorderly way. It is a fight to the death.
Paul warned: "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?" 1 Corinthians 14:23. You have just confirmed this Scripture, "just nonsense, gibberish, twaddle, gobbledegook, drivel" to you, but I would be careful about your references to the moving of the Holy Ghost. You do not want to find yourself as the enemy of God and His work.
In a meeting, tongues are almost always out of place. The gift of "divers kinds of tongues" and "the interpretation of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:10), that is, the tongues of men (1 Corinthians 13:1), would be more in place, but what you hear is "the tongues... of angels" (1 Corinthians 13:1). Paul was obviously trying to set something into order. There is an order to things when we come together, not that many pay any attention to the Word that God has given us in this regard. Maybe it would be helpful to examine what the Bible says:
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not to men, but to God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
Concerning this verse, you stated: "The word "unknown" was added by the translators of K.J.V." The translators added many words in all the translations of the Bible. Sometimes they were correct and sometimes they were wrong. In 1 Corinthians 14, unless Paul was confused, there are two kinds of tongues that are mentioned. In the previous chapter (Keep in mind that Paul wrote one letter--there were not chapters as Paul wrote, but one continuous thought.) Paul mentioned two types of tongues. (Read more about the two types of tongues) He is continuing that thought here. Tongues, as you mentioned, means a language or a dialect. Paul mentions the languages of men and of angels (1 Corinthians 14:1). Since Paul is speaking of a language that is not spoken to men but to God and no man can understand it, this is not a language of man but a language of angels. Perhaps, the translators should have either left it alone or else put a note in the margin that this is the language of angels and not of men. I agree that the word, unknown, is not the best choice, but now has become part of how we talk about this particular expression of the Holy Spirit.
Continuing, Paul states: "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church." (Verse 4) The Holy Spirit is using Paul to tell us that you use the tongues of angels to build up yourself and you use prophecy to build up the Church. These things were lost to the Church at a certain point. You mentioned the date, 70 AD, but it is quite a bit later than this that these things were lost as the Church left the pattern that God had established, the order that we can plainly see in the Bible, and began building on the patterns and precepts of men. From there the Church became increasingly corrupt and finally fell away from God except for a few who were faithful.
Again, Paul states: "I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying." (Verse 5) Talk about driving the point home, Paul takes it even further: "Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?" Do you see what a great disorder it is to speak in the tongues of angels in the Church? Paul goes on from here to show, from nature itself, that this is a disorder in the Church. Now, we have found that there are some rare occasions where it is not a disorder. Some of those occasions are even mentioned in the New Testament. The point is that those things that do not build the Church up are disorders. There are many things that go on in Churches today that are disorders. Some of those things center on tongues of angels, some center on entertainments and foolishness, and some center on false teachings, false prophecies, and false gifts. For every true thing, Satan creates many false counterfeits.
Now, Paul switches to speaking about the gift of tongues: "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful." (Verses 12-14) Now, this is a place where the interpreters made the verse harder to understand because they didn't understand. It should read more like this: "Even so you, in as much as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the building up of the church. For this reason let him who speaks by the gift of tongues pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in the tongues of angels, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful." Now, he may actually be speaking of either a tongue of angels or a tongue of men when there is no one to interpret. Today, we see a lot of action where one person speaks in the tongues of angels and another jumps up afterwards and prophesies. That is because of misunderstanding. The gift of tongues and interpretation does operate, but most of what is called "the gift of tongues and interpretation" is a disorder in the Church.
Then, Paul says: "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." (Verse 15) He may be repeating the command by his own example that they are to interpret if they say something that is in a different language. He may be saying that this is what he does even at home. He goes on to give more of the reasoning for this. It all centers on building up the Church. It is not as if God just has us here waiting for the return of Christ. We are to grow into His fullness in conformity and submission to Him. That will require the gifts of the Spirit operating and a 100% commitment from every member of the Body of Christ who is called to the first resurrection.
In case there was any doubt, Paul goes on to say: "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." (verses 18-19) Then, Paul gives a proof from Scripture: "In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord." Paul then goes on writing about the gift of tongues: "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe." We have witnessed this many times now. It is one thing to prophesy when everyone knows that the prophet or ministry knows the language in which he or she is speaking. The unbeliever can say, well, prove that this is a word from God. It is quite a different thing when the prophet or ministry prophesies in a language, and everyone knows that this language is unknown to the prophet or ministry. This is not a sign to those who believe but to those who do not believe.
Verse 26 gives the order for the service. Note that the Body of Christ ministers. It is not a show put on from the front. It is not a carefully planned sequence of events but is rather a fluid moving of the Spirit of God among the people, each one of whom is a vital member of the Body of Christ, most of whom have some gift of the Spirit that has been imparted through prophecy and the laying on of hands. (1 Timothy 4:14) Paul follows this by giving really specific direction for the Church service in 1 Corinthians 14:27-35. Note that the part about women keeping silent is linked to asking questions of their husbands. Otherwise it would be in conflict with Paul's statement earlier in this letter, in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, where he tells us that women need to wear a head covering when they pray or prophesy in the Church. This is all in harmony with Paul's direction to the apostle (deacon) Timothy when he said that he does not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man but rather to listen quietly. (1 Timothy 2:12) This is more of a protection for the woman and for the Church than anything else. When the Body of Christ is allowed to enter into the Spirit, it is very easy for Satan to try to worm his way in, especially if the orders of God are not being followed. For a woman to turn a Church service into a theological debate or to begin to take command is a disorder because of the order of creation. Women are to set the example of what true willing submission is. It is part of how they build up the Church. Of course, every member is to submit to every other member, but the women lead in this role.
He again says: "covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues." (Verse 39) And then closes with a final admonition: Let all things be done decently and in order." (Verse 40)
Tongues became the greatest blessing to the Church and the greatest disorder. This is to be expected because of human failing. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul clearly states that this type of tongues, the tongues of angels, is for believers in private, not for the assembly. Of course, the gift of tongues is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14, and Paul clearly states that this kind of tongues, the tongues of men, is for the unbeliever so that they will believe.
Whenever God moves to restore, a great deal of resistance comes from those who should be receiving Him. This is why the most religious of the Jewish people rejected their Savior. God has been restoring what the Church lost for hundreds of years, and each time God moves, there are some Christians who reject Him. They want to say that they have it all and they don't need any more--just as unbelievers say that they don't need forgiveness and don't need a Savior. At every move of God, there are those who say that they don't need it. Some of them even belittle those who are willing to move on with God. Some even resort to violence. It was no different at this time. The Newspapers poked fun. The self-satisfied Christians ridiculed those who were walking with God. They called them holy rollers and other mean names.
Unfortunately, most of those who received this gift from God didn't want to continue to allow God to give more unfolding revelation either. They stopped with tongues by claiming to have it all. They cried, "Completeness, completeness," when there was no completeness. They became proud and named themselves "Full Gospel" to prove that they had it all. Everyone wants to be the top of the heap and the big shot.
At the same time, there were counterfeit tongues. Satan makes a counterfeit of every real thing. He counterfeits miracles, the gospel message, prophets, apostles, and even counterfeits being born again. Of course, Satan would counterfeit tongues.
A few decades later, God sent out healers, but many of them also grabbed the glory for themselves. And about half way through the 20th Century, God restored the nine gifts of the Spirit, the office of apostle (elders and deacons), local elders and deacons, and many of the Biblical orders of the Church.
Some people were able to walk humbly according to the unfolding revelation of Scripture and the power of the Spirit. Others took the parts that they wanted and ran, though they were not sent by God. God never sent them, yet they ran. Some began to call themselves the latter rain, but the latter rain has not yet come. This label is just a slogan to show that they have it all. There was a lot of disorder and the Charismatic movement came out of this move of God. Though there was terrible "wild fire" in the Charismatic movement, God used it to move by His Spirit among the denominations.
One of the nine gifts of the Spirit is the gift of tongues. Another is the interpretation of tongues. These are gifts of revelation. Let me give you an example of how these operate. Taking the revelation of God through the Bible, gifts are given by the laying on of hands of the presbytery and prophecy. There was a man who was prophesied over with the hands of the presbytery laid on him, and he was given the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues. That does not mean that he knew how the gift was to be used. Keep in mind that all of this is relatively new revelation and much must still be revealed concerning this.
This man was preaching at an Indian reservation. He was preaching in English because he didn't know their language. Suddenly, he felt a very strong urge to speak in tongues that he didn't understand. He resisted for a while because of Paul's teaching on tongues and not using tongues in a service. Finally, he spoke for a long time in tongues. He then began to prophesy for a long time. When he had finished, one Indian asked him why he gave the same message twice, first in their language, then in English. This is the gift of tongues. It has not been restored fully to the church yet. At least we have not learned to walk in it as we should.
The language of angels is available to every Christian. It is also imparted, in the Bible, by the laying on of hands, but not with prophecy. Intercessors often pray not knowing for whom they pray. Later, they find that sick were healed, accidents were avoided, people were saved from snow storms, and many other things. This language builds up Christians in their spirits but their minds are not edified. We need to be built up in our spirits and we need our minds edified. Paul said that he speaks in this type of tongue more than the whole Church at Corinth.
So the reason for disorder is human weakness. The reason we don't see the gift of tongues more often is because of human weakness and perhaps God's timing. The reason we see fake tongues is the enemy of our souls. We need to be careful about cutting parts out of the Bible by declaring such things as the imaginary "Age of the Apostles." There is no such age, by the way. By this same method, some are trying to justify the disorder in Church government, the role of the pastor, the entertainment atmosphere, the introduction of sexual perversions of all sorts, and many other destructive doctrines.
Last updated: Oct, 2011
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