Is “speaking in tongues” still possible today? Do they speak in a language some people would understand or only God would understand? What is the purpose in today’s society for speaking in tongues?

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Is “speaking in tongues” still possible today? Do they speak in a language some people would understand or only God would understand? What is the purpose in today’s society for speaking in tongues?

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:02 am

Speaking in tongues is clearly labeled in the Scriptures as a spiritual gift. They first appear in Acts 2 where Luke records the following: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them—Acts 2:1-4. The key is found in Verse 4: The ability to be able to speak in tongues was “as the Spirit enabled them.” And later on in that same chapter, we see what tongues in this instance actually meant: Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”—Acts 2:5-11. These were not heavenly languages, in some way known only to God, but rather in languages that were completely known to the audience hearing them. The great miracle was that people before this unable to have spoken in these languages was now doing so. And the purpose? “Declaring the wonders of God.” To those who wondered what was going on, Peter declared this moment to be the fulfillment of prophecies spoken through the Old Testament prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-32). The point was God pouring His Spirit through His people to impact an audience with His message. We certainly know that Jesus did the same thing, only with His words AND His works—in concert together for the same outcome. John the Baptist said, For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God—John the Baptist, John 3:34a and, as Christ added, [T]hough you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father”—Christ speaking, John 10:38. Later on, during the ministry of Paul, he shared God’s insights, not only on tongues, but on other spiritual gifts. He gave us three lists of spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6-8 (seven gifts listed); I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-31 (thirteen gifts listed); and Ephesians 4:11 (five gifts listed). Most scholars consider these to be “example” lists and not exhaustive (meaning that all gifts are listed). And it is noteworthy that, for instance, “prophecy” is listed in all three lists, but “tongues” is listed in only one. Paul spends a good deal of time in his writings talking about “tongues” not due to its importance but more due to confusion about it. He himself points out that he considered “tongues” one of the minor gifts, and he encouraged the churches to seek out the gifts that contributed greater measure to the edification (building up) of the church. The most important consideration? Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. . . . All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines—Paul, I Corinthians 12:7, 11. And, as the author of Hebrews points out, This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will—Hebrews 2:3b-4. And how should we approach the use of gifts? While Paul encouraged us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, we should first and foremost follow the way of love—Paul, I Corinthians 14:1.
YES—speaking in tongues is still possible today, especially in opportunities to share the gospel where the printed word or other modern communication is not possible. It is no less possible than any other manifestation of any other spiritual gift. In many areas of the world that are remote and undeveloped, God may still use His “signs and wonders” to communicate His message. Certainly we continue to hear stories from reputable missionaries who report such incidents. God is still God and fully capable of using His gifts wherever needed. Ultimately it is God deciding when, how or even if any of His gifts need to be employed.


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