I never felt led to write on the controversial issues of things like the gifts of the Spirit in tongues and prophesy, until now. As I write today, I write not as one having all the answers, but, as Paul said, I write as one who believes I, too, have the Spirit of God and He has given me understanding that I believe true (1 Corinthians 7:40). The things I share today are based on the understanding I have as one who is taught.
A Christian for 50 years, in the word, digging and searching for God’s answers for over 40 of my adult years, I have studied the gifts of the Spirit many times in those years. I’ve studied these both under the instruction of strong Baptist leaders and on my own in the leading of God’s Spirit, who is THE TEACHER. Every time something happens to make me wonder if I know the truth on any subject, I dig it out again and refresh my memory, watching for deeper understanding. None have I dug out more than on the subject of the gifts of tongues and prophesy.
Some say that the gift of tongues no longer exists. That is not what I have heard any Baptist preacher or teacher proclaim in teaching the gifts of the Spirit. The church I am in now are Christian people of faith not affiliated with a religious persuasion, and their teaching on the subject is not far from all I have heard from those Baptists whose teaching I sat under. Truth is truth, and those seeking truth from God will land on the same Rock.
Those saying tongues no longer exist is like those who say that the cannon of Law no longer applies. Believing either of these requires we skip over a lot of scripture, as if insignificant to life today and no longer needed.
This blog states my understanding, all I have learned, both through the teaching and preaching of others and in my own study on the subject. The gift of tongues is real and it is seen in the earth today in three ways:
- The gift of tongues is seen in those gifted by God to learn languages with ease. These often become the interpreters and missionaries to foreign fields in our day.
- The gift of tongues is seen in the testimony of many who could suddenly / miraculously speak and understand a foreign language.
On a mission trip with a group of Baptist people, headed to a Hispanic country, a nurse I was sitting with shared of an experience she had on a previous trip. Heading to their next visit, their interpreter had business to tend to and was to meet them at their destination, so they were traveling without an interpreter. On the way, they came upon a bad auto accident. The nurse got out to see how she could help, but no one on the scene knew English, so she prayed for God to help her understand and be able to help the injured woman. Suddenly she found herself talking with the native woman in fluent Spanish. She tended her need and prayed with her in Spanish, fully understanding and understood, until medical personnel arrived and took the accident victim off to the hospital. As soon as they took the woman off in the ambulance, the nurse could no longer speak or understand Spanish.
- There is a gift of tongues, a language unknown to man, but only by God. To doubt that, I would have to deny the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians. There Paul tells us that God grants this gift to individuals for the purpose of their spiritual edification (1 Corinthians 12-14).
This is the tongue God was speaking about when He called my heart to attention, asking, “Darlene, what about the language of twins,” leading me to consider that just maybe Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have a language all their own.
There are several lists in scripture of giftedness given to individuals by God, as determined by the Spirit, meeting every need for the common good of the body of Christ as a whole (i.e.: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). “Various kinds of tongues” is on these lists and we find this gift active in the earth in the three ways previously mentioned. Within the 1 Corinthians teachings of chapter 12-14, Paul gives very clear guidelines for the use of tongues.
First Corinthians 13:1 warns, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” This reference to “tongues” again speaks of all three representations of this gifting. It also makes clear to me that some are gifted with the language of the angels. This is one reference used by some who say that the individual-edification-gift of tongues is the language of the angels. The individual-edification-tongue is the one people believe the devil cannot understand. As I stated in the previous devotional, demons being fallen angels know the language of the angels, so that belief never rang true for me.
Demons know the languages of humankind. We know this because every nation in every language struggles in their thought life. That struggle not only comes from our fleshly thinking and worldly viewpoints, but is often egged on by demonic whisperings in the ear of man (a fact I first learned under Baptist teaching and that I happen to agree is true). A proof text that comes to mind for this is found in the book of Acts, chapter 5, where Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?” We are left with the understanding that demons influenced the thinking, desire and decision of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. Therefore, it is vital that we watch our stinking thinking, realize its source, and find the truth of God to counter it.
Angels have a language, and according to what 1 Corinthians 13:1 implies, God gifts some with that tongue. As stated earlier, I believe that this language is not hidden from Satan. He speaks angel.
Then we come to 1 Corinthians 14, verses 1-5:
“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”
“For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for NO ONE UNDERSTANDS, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.” This verse clearly teaches that there is a tongue (language), gifted to individuals, that is between the individual and God alone. Only God understands it and only He can gift another to interpret it. As I understand it, this would have to be a language that is God’s alone, accessible only by His giving it to the recipient. To deny this is to call the scriptures a lie, and if one part is false, how can we believe any of it to be true?
I believe God, so I believe there is a tongue (language) gifted to those the Spirit decides should have it, and one way of that gifting is a tongue that is understood by God, alone.
Scripture warns in chapter 14, verses 39-40 to not forbid the use of tongues. As you have probably surmised, I grew up in Baptist churches. There are many Baptist groups, some more legalistic than others: not all Baptists believe the same. Many fear falling back into what was named the Charismatic era. Misuse of tongues was prevalent in that movement. It was a time in Christian history when people chased after the sign gifts and many fell to false sightings and experiences that fooled even the elect (those chosen by God as His own).
I know Baptist people who have the gift of tongues, but they dare not tell just anyone about it for fear of being ostracized. This is sad to me. Fear hinders the work of God more than any other, thus God warns of falling prey to fear more than He warns of any other sin of man. Fear denies all that stretches our belief in an attempt to keep oneself safe. Fear, based on lack of understanding, denies the work of God around us. Unfortunately, for every truth of God I can think of, there is a false representation that feeds fear, giving one cause to doubt.
- There are false tongues: Demons know all languages except the language that is God’s alone (if my recent revelation is correct – and I believe it is). This being true, if we seek a sign instead of God and His will done His way, the devil can respond to lead astray. A tongue unknown to the recipient can easily mimic the tongue of God to the one looking for a sign, and the recipient will be none the wiser. However, I have heard from people who received the false tongue, and there is one tell that signals it: the effectiveness of their ministry and witness suffered. As the demonic takes hold, ground belonging to God is overtaken by the stronghold of Satan, and the person finds the power of God for service and testimony diminished.
- There is a false prophesy. Demons whisper in the ear of man to feed them, and, as Jesus taught, if we fail to realize the voice of the stranger, we will follow them to false understanding (John 10). Many false prophets exist today. Know the voice of God and follow Him. We do not learn truth by studying falsehood. We learn truth by studying to find the truth. When we seek to know truth by studying what is false, we not only can be fooled as to what truth is, but that focus leads one to being overtaken by a judgmental, fearful spirit that sees the false everywhere they turn. Learn truth, watch for truth, and the false will not fool you.
- There are false interpretations of tongues and of dreams, and of messages. Like with the missionary friend of a trusted friend mentioned in my previous blog, if one does not know a foreign language and someone speaks it, that person speaking may be cursing God while claiming to be speaking in His name. Surrounded by others who do not know the language spoken by the one using a tongue, these may express agreement thinking they are praising God when in truth, they just agreed with blasphemy. We must take care that we heed the Spirit and walk in the light of God.
Scripture teaches that there is a proper way to use tongues. First Corinthians 14 lays out the order we are to follow with any tongue:
“What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God” ~ Vs. 26-28.
The church I currently serve with does not forbid tongues, but they do require the gifted follow this guideline. We have many in our body who have the gift of the individual-edification-tongue, but seldom do you hear any verbalize the tongue in the assembly. We have one, sweet older lady, that when the message or a worship song grabs her heart with conviction or praise, she may sound off a few words for a few seconds. Her Spirit grabs us and leads to many “Amen” agreements, bringing us to join her heart of repentance and praise. It is never disruptive and always unifying.
When I first joined this church, another woman used to come who was constantly “praying” loudly in her tongue. It was disruptive to the service, hindering the ability of others to hear the message, and it was grating to those hearing it. These unknowingly play the devil’s advocate, as he uses such disturbances to stop what God is doing. I many times prayed, “Father, let every tongue not of You be hushed.” She would cease immediately, and the Spirit brought peace again. Our elders went to the lady, giving her every opportunity to obey the teaching of God through Paul in verse 26-28. The woman replied, “I can’t help it. It is the Spirit causing it.” The very command in these verses proves the spirit that does such is not God’s Spirit, for the Spirit of God does not break the law of God. After a time, they asked her to go elsewhere.
Through the years, each time I have considered the teachings on tongues and dug it out again, I was drawn by a desire to have all of God that He has for me. I have many times prayed that if there is more of God to experience that requires a tongue, I want it. I do not want to miss out on any of my Father’s presence and power. Every time I do, including this time, He tells my heart, “Darlene, you do not need it.” I know His Presence and experience His power. Often I think perhaps He skips the “tongue” with me and goes straight to interpretation: which is required for one to prophesy.
The gift of prophesy is for the edification of those who hear. It warns of sin, instructs in the righteous paths of God, and makes application to current situations so the people know how to live life in any circumstance. Even in Old Testament prophesy, the prophets not only warned of what was coming, they told what the people did to bring it on, what, if anything, they could do to avert it, and how to live in the midst of it. We find all of these components in the messages of true prophets today. It always leads the listener, giving opportunity for repentance and instruction for a godly life. The prophet:
- Expounds on the word of God, bringing to light its application for today’s life situations.
- Receives revelation of deeper truths, found in scripture but sometimes hidden from those whose eyes are blinded, their minds darkened by sin or immaturity.
- And yes, I believe God still has prophets that receive warning from God of things to come. In my experiences, those messages always come with instruction for living godly lives, preparing all to weather the storms of life found in the days of trouble.
I cried with the Spirit of God, deep weeping within me, for two weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing, knowing something horrible was about to happen, calling all who would hear to prayer. On the day it happened, a friend called to ask, “Darlene, could this be what The Spirit has us praying over?” I had no idea why the Spirit wept so, but when I turned the TV on and saw the destruction, I knew this was it. I cried with the Spirit, that same weeping, for days, watching emergency personnel go through that rubble.
For over two years, God had me lead people to pray regarding what God described to my heart and had me write to those praying as “A destructive force that will hit the US, bringing devastation from New York City to Washington, D.C. It’s destructive force will affect the entire nation and, indeed, the whole world. Its damage will be likened to that of an earthquake.” He had me call others to pray with me, telling them what the Spirit told me, because we were heading into an election year, and “if God’s choice for a President is not in office, the response to the destruction will fall short of God’s will.” For two years we prayed, and when 911 happened, no one had to ask, “Is this it?” Several times I heard reporters say, “This looks like the destruction seen in a high intensity earthquake.”
God’s word says that the prophesy is known as coming from Him when it comes to pass. I’ve experienced it over and over again, in great ways and in small ways, so I know the gift is real and effective today. I have experienced tongues as well. Only once, I heard the language of God within me, so peaceful, rising up in praise. I asked, “Lord, that was beautiful! What did I say?” He replied, “You simply said, ‘Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Jesus.’” I have had Baptist friends call me. “Darlene, I keep hearing this word from the Lord, and He says you have the interpretation.” God would give it.
I have been in prayer sessions when someone used a tongue that disturbed my Spirit, which comes from the gift of discerning the spirits. A quick prayer for every voice not of God to shush, hushes it every time. I have also experienced a strong prayer in tongues of every sort that were of God. It always raises up an “Amen” with praise.
Tongues are for edification of the individual, and with correct interpretation, it edifies those hearing. Some tongues gifts are in known languages, so interpreters and missionaries can go to the people and teach them of God. The individual-edification-tongue I believe exists and is for those who need a sign of God’s presence with them: either they need it for their own ability to believe, they need it for a time of ministry, or it is needed so those around them believe.
God draws near to speak mysteries to the heart, edify the spirit, lifting the recipient to higher ground where increased faith resides. And when He desires to do so, God gifts some with interpretation of His language, so that the mind of the individual and those hearing may be edified.
Truth is what we need, beloved. I am so grateful that God taught me long ago to dig out His truths and believe in Him with trusting faith. How many fail to experience God for fear of the false, not knowing the truth? That is very sad to me.
Hear the teachings of others, but don’t take my word or any others as gospel until you get alone with God and ask the Spirit-Teacher to show you. Until He shows you, stand firm in the faith you have and do not let fear get hold on you.
In reverse, do not let fear keep you from studying God’s word to discover the truth. If you have a tongue and are afraid you may discover it to be a false tongue, fear falling away from the living God more than the loss of a tongue that makes you feel special while it sets up strongholds in your life.
Take care, beloved, not to call tongues “evil” when God’s word clearly teaches it is a gift from His Spirit for a purpose. Know the truth that sets free indeed. Then walk in the faith that you have while waiting for ever-growing understanding in the deep things of God.