The gift of speaking in tongues is one of the 9 gifts of the Spirit, and if God has chosen to give it to an individual believer according to His will (1 Cor 12:4, 11), it should not be forbidden (1 Cor. 14:39). However, the gift of tongues goes with a companion gift which complements it – the gift of the interpretation of tongues! The different languages the early disciples spoke on the day of Pentecost was a manifestation of the gift of tongues, but the languages they spoke could be UNDERSTOOD by their hearers, being known and spoken languages of the time (Acts 2:1-11).
At other times, however, the Spirit causes us to speak in an UNKNOWN
TONGUE, that is the language of angels ( 1 Cor. 13:1; 14:2), and that is where the interpretation of tongues comes in for the edification of the Church ( 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:5,13). In 1 Cor. 14, we see the apostle Paul actually put the gift of prophecy ahead of tongues for the simple reason that “he that prophesieth edifieth [strengthens or builds up] the church” (v 4). He explains further in verses 23-28:
“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?
“But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or [one] unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
“And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on [his] face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
“If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.
“But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God”.
So the bottom line is that a genuine gift of tongues MEANT TO BE SPOKEN IN THE CHURCH will be accompanied by the gift of the interpretation of tongues for the edification of the Church. That is the standard in our church.
Some believe that speaking in tongues is the only evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit, citing Acts 2 and Acts 19. But in both instances tongues speaking was NOT the only initial evidence of the Holy Baptism! In Acts 2 the apostles spoke in different tongues (i.e. different intelligible human languages) and Peter preached, manifesting the gifts of the word of wisdom and of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8); in Acts 19, the disciples spoke in tongues and prophesied (vv 1-6). God is a God of diversity, and it is His sovereign right to choose whichever way He desires to manifest His power in His children at any given time. He distributes the gifts and offices in the church to each and every believer individually as He wills it!(1 Cor. 12:28-30 & Eph 4:11-12).
To put it in perspective, there isn’t even a single Biblical record that Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry ever spoke in tongues. YET HE WAS FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Luke 4:1)! So let’s speak and interpret as the Spirit gives utterance and enabling power, as with all the other gifts.
Sometimes we are asked how the gifts of the Spirit operate in our Assemblies. In 1 Cor. 12:31 Paul writes: “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way”. This scripture shows that while it’s primarily the Spirit of God that assigns spiritual gifts to individual believers, we can also as individual Christians or Church ask God for those gifts we desire but which are lacking in our midst.
To operate the gifts of the Spirit requires the exercise of faith. Although faith is also a gift of the Spirit which might be specially given to an individual, we need to appreciate that as believers each one of us has been given “a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). When it comes to the things of God, faith cannot be taken out! God in bringing the universe into being exercised faith (Heb. 11:3). When the disciples of Christ failed to drive out demons from an epileptic patient, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith (Matt. 17:15-20). In John 14:12, He promised that those of us who believe in Him (i.e. have faith in Him) will do His works and even greater works than His. In Him all the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Cor. 1:20).
If we have faith, we can operate the SUPERNATURAL GIFTS OF GOD WITHOUT FAIL! For example, we pray for the sick in our church with complete trust in Jesus that He will perform His word that by His stripes we were healed (1 Pet 2:24). And HE NEVER FAILS! That unyielding conviction is what we need to operate all the gifts, believing that what is impossible with man, it is possible with God (Matt. 19:26; Mark 9:23).
But sometimes it’s also important that those in need of prayers, such as the sick, also respond in faith to our faith. Jesus commended the woman with the issue of blood: “Thy faith has made thee whole” (Matt 9:20-22). When He asked two blind men who kept crying for His mercy, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” their reply was, “Yes, Lord. Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you”
(Matt.9:27-29). On an occasion when Paul and Barnabas were preaching the gospel in Lystra, the Bible reports that “there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked” (Acts 14:8 -10). This was a response of faith to Paul’s message of faith.
But not all situations are the same. On other occasions, we need to add to our faith “prayer and fasting” which Jesus pointed out was part of the reason why the disciples failed to cast out demons from the epileptic patient (Matt. 17:21). Great miracles and wonders were performed by the early disciples when they devoted themselves to ‘prayer and the ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:4; 5:12-16).
Another important factor is the exercise of authority over the devil. As the Lord Jesus Christ sent His twelve disciples (later called apostles) to preach the Kingdom of God, He “gave them power and authority over all devils [demons], and to cure diseases” (Luke 9:1-2; Matt. 10:1, 8). As Holy Spirit-filled believers, we must know our position of authority in Christ and go forth exercising that authority in His Name (Acts 1:8). On returning from their successful evangelistic tour, the seventy disciples Jesus had appointed as missionaries reported with joy: “Lord, even devils are subject unto us through Thy Name” (Luke 10:17). The Lord Jesus then said to them: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (v. 19).
As the Messiah silenced and cast out demons during His earthly ministry, onlookers marveled “and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! For with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out” (Luke 4:36; Mark 1:27).
This was the kind of authority Paul exercised in Ephesus to the extent that evil spirits recognized and feared him for what he was—the power of God in visible human form! (See John 10:34-35). When seven unbelieving Jews attempted to cast out demons, the evil spirit answered them back: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:13-15). In verse 12, we read of the extraordinary miracles Paul performed, operating the great power of God: “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them”.
Indeed, the gospel of Christ is not “in word only, but also in POWER and in the HOLY GHOST” (1 Thess. 1:5).
The last, but in no way the least, point is CONTINUAL OBSERVANCE OF THE SOUND DOCTRINE BASED ON THE KEEPING OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS. John the apostle testified:” And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22; read also Acts 2:42-43).
Speaking of His commandments, we need to remember that accompanying the gifts of the Spirit ALL THE TIME is “the fruit of the Spirit”, also a set of nine (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 5:9; 2 Pet 1:5-8). Those who walk in the Spirit manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:24-25), “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). Halleluiah!
Elder Enoch Ofori Jr