Speaking in Tongues

A. Issue
In the New Testament era, speaking in tongues was one of the miraculous gifts God bestowed upon some believers for the communication of gospel truth and to validate the presence of the Holy Spirit. Some believe God also gives the ability to speak in tongues for the purpose of personal prayer.  In some religious circles, speaking in tongues is considered an obsolete gift which served its purpose but is no longer needed. Among other churches, however, it is seen as the ultimate sign of one who is truly baptized in the Holy Spirit.

B.The Biblical Teaching

We should eagerly desire spiritual gifts.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. (1 Corinthians 14:1)

We must remember that it is the Holy Spirit who distributes them as He determines.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the
message of wisdom, to another the 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 gives them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

Not every believer has been given the gift of speaking in tongues.
Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?  (1 Corinthians 12:30)

The biblical word “tongues” refers to languages, whether human or heavenly.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels…. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

In each of the cases when the Spirit came upon people, speaking in tongues was given as a sign of acceptance by God and a testimony to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, though biblical evidence does not show that the gift of tongues was bestowed upon every conversion as proof of salvation.
Jews on Pentecost:  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)

Gentiles in Cornelius’ household: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the
message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured
out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. (Acts 10:44-46)

John the Baptist’s Disciples: Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one
coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed
his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:4-6)

Speaking in tongues was to be a sign of the Church age.
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues.
(Mark 16:17)

While tongues will cease someday, there is no indication that God has discontinued bestowing these gifts in this generation.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is
knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

The purpose of spiritual gifts is to build up the church.
So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12)

If tongues are not interpreted, they do not edify the body.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue
does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who
prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself,
but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you
prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be
edified. (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)

Therefore, believers are not to speak or sing in tongues during public worship unless the message can be interpreted.
For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. For if I pray in a tongue, my
spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will
sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself
among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? You may
be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. (1 Corinthians 14:13-17).

If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. (1 Corinthians 14:28)

Those who speak in tongues should pray for the ability to interpret what is spoken.
For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. (1 Corinthians 14:13)

C.Conclusion
1.We believe that God may still choose to equip believers with the gift of speaking in tongues.  We do not believe the Holy Spirit has ceased to give any of the gifts, though they are given as He determines. We should desire spiritual gifts, particularly those that build up the Body of Christ.

2.If someone claims to possess this gift, it ought to be exercised with an interpreter present. Because the potential for abuse and error are so great, we are cautious about incorporating it into the public worship of this church. The elders are willing to listen and evaluate such messages to discern whether or not they are consistent with Scripture.

3.Because speaking in other languages is a phenomenon found also in non-Christian religions, it is important that the fruit of the Spirit Christ-like character be the identifying mark of a Spirit-filled believer. While all believers will not possess the gift of tongues, all should give increasing evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.

4.Regarding tongues as a personal prayer language, we believe a person’s private prayer life is a very personal matter between the believer and God. Since the Bible clearly teaches that God responds readily to the prayers of His children when spoken in their native languages, we encourage people that they can pray in this manner with confidence.

[Approved: June 2012]