FAQ ON TONGUES

Premise:  Every believer should pray in tongues.

Question/Objections:


"1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Says that when the, "perfect has come" tongues will cease. The, "perfect" refers to the Bible, so tongues are no longer an active gift."

 

ANSWER:

The passage doesn't say "the perfect" refers to the Bible---Or, at least, not exclusively to the Bible. So that isn't a verifiable claim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“The tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians were all known languages. They were not mindless babble like you see today.”

ANSWER: 

It is true that there is a gifting by the Spirit that causes someone to speak in a foreign language. You see this in Acts 2 and it’s also mentioned here . . .

 

 

To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

1 Corinthians 12:10

In Greek, the word, kinds is genos and means, “stock, tribe, offspring, national descent.” When you read the context you see that this manifestation of the Spirit can be given as He wills (vs. 11). But he mentions another type of tongue that would not fall under, kindred or foreign tongues.

 

2: For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; however in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

1 Corinthians 14

So when we talk about praying with tongues (which is what this article is about), we are not talking about any known language. No man understands. This is obviously different from a foreign or tribal tongue that could be interpreted.

 

A similar accusation is made of Paul. People say because he was a Pharisee he knew multiple languages. And these were the tongues he prayed in when he said, “if I pray in an unknown tongue my spirit prays (1Cor 14:14).”

 

First of all, we already know that when someone prays in a tongue it is not a known language. But besides that, Paul said when he does pray with his spirit, his understanding (GK mind) is unfruitful. If those were learned languages, then his mind would be the very place from which it was coming from. Instead, Paul identifies a distinction between his mind, and his spirit. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

"The usage of tongues today is abused. You shouldn't do it out loud unless there is an interpreter (1Cor 14:27-28)"

ANSWER:

Agreed. There is no profit if people don't understand you. The Bible says you're speaking into the air (1Cor 14:6-9). If there is no interpreter, keep quiet. Having noted this, you should never measure a doctrine based on it’s abuse, and the solution is not to avoid praying in tongues. Instead, the Bible instructs that we should keep quiet, but that we can continue to speak to ourselves and to God. (vs 28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

"Paul spoke negatively about people who pray in tongues because it only edifies that person instead of the rest of the church."

ANSWER:

There is no scripture that says this. While it is important to seek to edify the Church, we are also encouraged to speak in tongues and build ourselves up (1Cor 14:5). One definition for, "edify" in Greek is, "to bring about good." So, contrary to the claim, Paul says it’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“1Corinthians 12:11 says that these gifts are given as the Spirit wills----not given to everyone.”

 

ANSWER:

Correct. The, “gifts” in 1Corinthians 12 are given as the Spirit wills for the profit of all (1Cor 12:7). But it's worth noting that the tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14 which profit the individual (as opposed to all) are never directly referred to as a, "gift." Instead, they're referred to as praying in or with your spirit (14:2, 14-16).

See, if you call it a, “gift” then it leaves the impression that some may have it and some may not. But if you refer to it as Paul did, “praying with my spirit” it's kind of a bizarre idea to assert that only a select number of Christians are able to pray with their spirit, even though all can pray with their understanding.

Besides that, the same verse in chapter 12 that mentions kindred tongues, also mentions prophesying (vs. 10). Yet later Paul says, “You may all prophesy one by one (1Cor 14:31).” This would not be possible if, “given as the Spirit wills” meant, “not all are able to.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

"1Corinthians 14:22 says tongues are a sign for the unbeliever. We should not be trying to use them to edify ourselves or as some secret prayer language."

 

ANSWER:

It is true that the Bible says tongues are for a sign. But the prior verse shows us that the type of tongues he refers to are the kind that are spoken to men. Notice the quote, "With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people yet for all that they will not hear Me . . ." Remember, the subject is the unknown tongue which is spoken not unto men, but unto God (1Cor 14:5).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“1Corinthians 12:28-31, asks the question "do all speak with tongues?" This shows us not everyone is going to speak in tongues

 

ANSWER:

Correct. Not everyone speaks in tongues, nor will they. But that's obvious. Does every Christian you know speak in tongues? Probably not. In fact, most believers I know don't speak in tongues. So we really don't need a Bible verse to tell us this to know it's true.

 

The topic, however, is whether every believer should pray in tongues. And the passage simply does not answer this. Now, there are many who believe the passage implies this idea.

So let's unpack that for a moment:

So

There is usually a short, and a long answer when you're dealing with abstract ideas like what a passage implies. The short answer (my personal favorite) is that the text simply does not say that. It can't be verified. People are free to speculate, but insofar as what we actually can observe in the passage, it's isn't falsifiable

 

Now, if one insists on entering the realm of speculation by talking about what they believe is implied (something I don't recommend because it can turn very subjective, very quickly), then there are plenty of explanations that could be made to account for why tongues are mentioned in this list.

 

For example, someone could argue that all of the positions named in the passage (apostle, prophet, healings, etc) minister to other people, therefore, the tongues would also be in reference to the type which can be interpreted and edifies the Church. But it would exclude the prayer tongue of chapter 14 because it only edifies the individual and is thus, not technically a gift.

 

Now, again----Some of that is speculation and some of it is probably just bias on my part. But it does demonstrate how easy it is to come up with reasonable explanations if Inference is the name of the game. At which juncture, the opposing party will submit a reasonable sounding counter-point, and we could be here all day, all week, and all year, volleying this back and forth. 

But again, as far as the actual text goes (the verifiable and authoritative part in all of this) it doesn't say anything about whether or not everyone should or should not pray in tongues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“There is no Scripture that tells us God wants us all to pray in tongues.”

 

ANSWER:

Let's take a look at what the Scriptures do tell us.

But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in/with* the Holy Ghost,

Jude 1:20

 

 

18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in/with* the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18

 

 

Here, God tells us all to pray in the Spirit. What does that mean? Do the Scriptures tell us what it looks like when someone prays in the Spirit? They sure do.

 

 

2: For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; however in the Spirit he speaks mysteries.

1Corinthians 14

 

 

Here we see what a person is doing when they pray in tongues. What's it say? They're speaking (or we could say, praying, because that's what speaking to God is) in the Spirit.

14: For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15: 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.

1Corinthians 14

 

(*Read the above passages in different translations, and look up the definition of the word "in"/"with" and it will help you to see it even better.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

Speaking in tongues is only one form or one type of prayer in the Spirit. Not the only one.

 

ANSWER:

That is a good observation. Let’s look again and see if God addresses this as well . . .

 

 

18: Praying always with ALL prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18

 

Some translations say, “all kinds of prayer” or, “every kind of prayer.”

If he told us to pray with all kinds of prayer, that by itself, would be enough to know that prayer tongues would be included. But he actually takes it one step further and says to pray with all kinds of prayer in the Spirit---making it unmistakable.

Finally, the easiest way to know God wants all of us to speak in tongues is because He said so, word for word.

 

 

5: Now I want you all to speak in tongues but even more to prophesy . . .

1Corinthians 14

 

 

Prophecy is important. Even more important than speaking in tongues. But He still tells us He desires we do both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions/Objection:

"If God wants me to speak in tongues then it'll happen--- until then I'm not going to try and force anything."

 

ANSWER:

Right. And if God wants you to pray at all, then it'll happen. And if He wants you to read the Bible then it'll happen. And if He wants you to go to church then it'll happen---- but until it does no use in trying to force it, right?

No. You can't make God's responsibility what He has already made your responsibility. He told you to pray in the Spirit.

Also, for the record, this idea that it will, "just happen" with no effort or involvement on your part is unscriptural. There isn't a single place in ALL the New Testament that says, "The Holy Spirit will speak through you" or, "a power will come over you and make you do it." No, in every instance, it is the person who does the speaking.

Now, that isn't to say the Spirit won't prompt or inspire you, but we often have these strange and mystical expectations of things that can hinder us from true, biblical experiences. It may or may not happen the way we are expecting, but the safest way to a true experience is to stay with what the Bible actually says.

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