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Speaking In Tongues; 10 Amazing Truths Alive with Faith & Love

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Speaking In Tongues; 10 Amazing Truths Alive with Faith & Love
The first mention of speaking in tongues in the Bible comes from Jesus. His words identify a tongues speaker as belonging to Jesus.

Speaking In Tongues; 10 Amazing Truths Alive with Faith & Love

These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; – Jesus in Mark 16:17

Speaking in tongues in the Gospel

The first mention of speaking in tongues in the Bible comes from Jesus. His words are at once a prophetic statement and an identification of a tongues speaker as belonging to Jesus. (Truth #1)

The One who spoke the world into existence, here speaks into His church an amazing gift to show that those who use it belong to Him. Hallelujah!

Speaking in tongues in Acts

Ten days after Jesus says that new tongues will be a confirmation of belief, the tongues appear:

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. Acts 2:3

This KJV verse has always mystified me. The Good News Bible makes it a little clearer:

Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. GNB

That’s better, but still beyond me. Matthew Henry expounds:

(2.) The sign given was fire, that John Baptist’s saying concerning Christ might be fulfilled, He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; with the Holy Ghost as with fire.

He goes on to show that although this was something new, that had never been seen before, it was linked to manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament; (Truth # 2)

In the feast of Pentecost, they were now celebrating the memorial of the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai; as that was given in fire, and therefore is called a fiery law, so is the gospel.

Ezekiel’s mission was confirmed by a vision of burning coals of fire (Eze_1:13), and Isaiah’s by a coal of fire touching his lips, Isa_6:7.

The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, separates and burns up the dross, and kindles pious and devout affections in the soul, in which, as in the fire upon the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered up. This is that fire which Christ came to send upon the earth. Luk_12:49.

How wonderful it must have been to those who had waited for ten days, wondering what they should to, to find that the Spirit-filled them as they rested in obedience to Jesus’ command:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4

Once filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke words the thousands of Jews gathered to celebrate Pentecost heard celebrating the mighty works of God. And although they were all in Jerusalem talking with one another in Aramaic, each one heard the words in his native language!

This hearing of the word brought faith, repentance, and conversion from Judaism to the church of Jesus Christ. 3,000 in one day.

The next time speaking in tongues is mentioned is 9 years later when Peter (died between 64 – 68 AD) preaches to Cornelius and his household of Gentiles in Caesarea.

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening to his message.

The Jewish believers who came from Joppa with Peter were amazed that God had also poured out his gift of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles.

For they heard them speaking in strange tongues and praising God’s greatness. Peter spoke up:

“These people have received the Holy Spirit, just as we also did. Can anyone, then, stop them from being baptized with water?” Acts 10:44-47

Here we see clearly that both the Jews and Gentiles recognized speaking in tongues as evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Truth # 3)

The final reference to speaking in tongues in Acts comes 15 years after Peter’s ministry to the Gentiles in Caesarea, 24 years after the day of Pentecost. Paul*(5-67 AD) had just arrived in Ephesus and met 12 disciples who had become Christians through the baptism of John. *means that person is in my book SPIRITUAL LIVES

He asked them:

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit,” they answered.

When Paul explained the Gospel to them, they were baptized in the name of Jesus:

And as Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:6

Here again, we see speaking in tongues recognized as evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that it can be given by the laying on of hands. (Truth #4)

Speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians

All other references to speaking in tongues occur in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians. The church had by this time (55 AD) 25 years of experience with this phenomenon, and Paul here examines, explains, and expostulates on the gift of tongues.

In his first teaching, he categorizes speaking in tongues among the gifts of the Spirit and explains how they are distributed to different individuals: (Truth #5)

and to another kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues.

But the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each one as He desires. – 1 Corinthians 12:11

Here we see that there are “kinds of tongues,” i.e., more than one, as well as interpretation of tongues. Note that “interpretation” is used and not “translation.” (Truth # 6)

An Old Testament illustration is of value here. When a mysterious hand appeared and wrote upon the wall of the king’s palace, the king was terrified and called on Daniel*(623-570) to explain:

And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. – Daniel 5:25

There are only 3 words, one repeated. But Daniel’s interpretation is 31 words, ten times as long:

This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it.

TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

PERES: Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Daniel 5: 26-28

Paul goes on to explain in the rest of the chapter, that tongues are placed in the church and distributed as they are needed, to a limited number of people:

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? – 12: 28 & 30

The answer to this rhetorical question is obviously “No.”

At this point, the Apostle interrupts his discussion of speaking of tongues to clarify that they need to be spoken in love to operate. (Truth # 7)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. – 1 Corinthians 13:1

What is new here is the reference to the tongues of angels, clearly differentiated from the speech of men. He also tells us that Love never fails but that the gifts are temporary: (Truth #8)

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 13:8

Paul finishes his teaching on tongues with these points:

  • That speaking in tongues is subordinate to prophesying (what we would call preaching)

  • That speaking in tongues is understood only by God

For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:2

Speaking in tongues in the church is limited by conditions of number, interpretation, and attendance of unbelievers.

That we are to speak in tongues in church only when an interpreter is present: (Truth #9)

But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. – 14:28

Paul closes with personal testimony and a commandment:

I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: – 14:18

forbid not to speak with tongues.14:39 (Truth # 10)

The New Testament contains no more on speaking in tongues, but the first Christians spoke in tongues in the local churches.

Practice after the apostolic era

Irenaeus*(130-202) gives this testimony:

“In like manner do we also hear many brethren in the Church who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of language and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostles term spiritual.” Against Heresies

Tertullian (160-220) appeals to the interpretation of tongues in a challenge to an opponent:

“Let him exhibit prophets such as have spoken, not by human sense but with the Spirit of God, such as have predicted things to come, and have made manifest the secrets of the heart; let him produce a psalm, a vision a prayer, only let it be by the Spirit in an ecstasy, that is, in a rapture, whenever an interpretation of tongues has occurred to him.”

Coptic St. Pachomius the Great (292-348) “after seasons of special prayer, spoke the Greek and Latin languages, which he had never learned, under the power of the Spirit.”

Shortly after this, Augustine of Hippo (354-430) reported

“We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them by the laying on of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues.”

But with Augustine, we have signs that the prophecy of St. Paul, (as for tongues, they will cease; 1 Corinthians 13:8) was coming true. He and John Chrysostom (347- 407) taught that individual speaking in tongues was no longer necessary because the church now spoke the universal language all could understand.

Tongues in the Dark Ages

As the Church and its clergy became more powerful and Latin the universal language, speaking in tongues became a thing of the past. The Venerable Bede* (672-735) wrote on it but only as an intellectual exercise, and Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) declared tongues no longer necessary.

About this time St. Hildegard of Bingen (1094-1079) experienced a series of visions and is also reputed to have spoken and sung in tongues. Contemporaries referred to her spiritual songs as “concerts in the Spirit.”

The Waldenses and some Franciscans all reportedly spoke in tongues.

St. Vincent Ferrer, (1350 – 1419) was reported to have been understood in the Alpine regions and other parts of Switzerland, in Brittany and Flanders, in the Savoy and Lyons, by people who knew only the local tongue.

While in Genoa he spoke to a group of men and women of mixed linguistic backgrounds, all of whom were said to have heard him in their own language.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that many biographers of Saint Vincent have held that he was endowed with the Gift of tongues. This is perhaps the closest parallel of Acts the second chapter that we find recorded in early Church History.

Saint Francis Xavier (1506 – 1552) the great missionary to Asia, was widely reported to have been given the gift of tongues, but this has been rigorously denied by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Protestant Reformation opened the Bible to believers and taught about the gift of tongues, but reformed churches were as closed to the public speaking in tongues as the Roman Catholic Church

The reappearance of tongues in the church.

The first testimony to this comes from the Quakers:

“We spoke with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and His Spirit led us”. Edward Burrough (1634–1663)

His Spirit led to the 1st Great Awakening of 1730s to 1750s, and the 2nd 1795-1835.

These were gathering of “enthusiasts” at camp meetings and other settings where the preaching was compelling, and evangelists and people were urged to give their lives to Jesus.

The people sought the Lord urgently and strove to live holy lives. The love of Jesus was stressed, vast numbers of working-class people and the poor came in, and assemblies grew through revivals. Women played a greater role, encouraged by the songs of Fanny Crosby*. (1820-1915)

The revivals played out across the nation, in cities, small towns and rural communities. Towards the end of the 19th century, there were isolated “speaking in tongues” reports in both America and the United Kingdom.

Pentecostal outpourings

On January 1, 1901, Agnes Ozman (1870-1937), a Bible school student in Topeka, Kansas spoke in tongues after the “laying on of hands.” A few days later, one of the people laying on the hands, Charles Parnum (1873-1929), began speaking in tongues himself, and this gift began to spread.

It spread to Los Angeles to a small mission led by William Seymour*(1870-1922) an African American preacher.

In 1906, his preaching ignited the Azusa Street Revival, now recognized as the birth of the Pentecostal movement.

The revival was characterized by spiritual experiences accompanied with testimonies of physical healing miracles, “laying on of hands”, and speaking in tongues.

The following year, the wife of an Anglican pastor laid hands on plumber Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947) who spoke in tongues and became a great evangelist with a powerful gift of divine healing.

This event, on October 28, 1907, marked the beginning of the Pentecostal movement in the United Kingdom and started a revival

Aimee Semple McPherson* (1890-1944) was baptized in the Holy Spirit at 17, spoke in tongues and founded a Pentecostal denomination based on taking the Gospel and the gifts of the Spirit to the world.

As of 2016, there were 1,700 U.S. congregations and 66,000 worldwide with eight million members.

Fred Francis Bosworth (1877 – 1958) was baptized in the Holy Ghost in 1906.

He began to preach, broadcast on the radio, and was a founder of the Assemblies of God in 1914.

Reinhard Bonnke*(1940-2021) was baptized in the Holy Ghost when he was 11 years old:

“the strength of God poured over me and into me inside. An inexpressible joy filled my heart, and I began to speak in tongues as the Holy Spirit gave me utterance.”

He became a missionary to Africa in 1977 and people were saved, healed, and delivered from demon possession.

“When the Holy Spirit sweeps in, evil spirits come out and to the African people, it is the miracle of miracles to see such individuals freed by the Holy Spirit.”

According to Wikipedia, “Bonnke has overseen 75 million recorded conversions to Christ.”

Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn*(1952- was saved in high school and began studying the Bible under the guidance of a Pentecostal minister.

While sharing his testimony, he felt the power of the Holy Spirit loosening his tongue, and the stuttering he had been plagued with all his life disappeared.

He began a daily talk show This Is Your Day, which to this day is the world’s most-watched TV program.

He has preached to over 1 billion people, 7.3 million attending one healing service over 3-days in India.

Justin Welby (1956 – Archbishop of Canterbury prays in tongues every day as part of his morning devotions:

“It’s not something to make a great song and dance about, given it’s usually extremely early in the morning it’s not usually an immensely ecstatic moment.”

Speaking in tongues is a lot more common than many outside observers might assume. Often the gift is expressed in personal prayer and devotions.

But you’ll also find it happening collectively in public across the world as every Sunday worshippers in many churches lift their voices to God.

Justin Welby was a member of one such church, Holy Trinity Brompton before he became ordained.

Indeed, globally there are over half a billion charismatic and Pentecostal Christians, the fastest-growing part of the church in the world. Praise God!

Please sing with us, or listen here:


O for a thousand tongues to sing

My great Redeemer’s praise,

The glories of my God and King,

The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,

Assist me to proclaim,

To spread through all the earth abroad

The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,

That bids our sorrows cease;

’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,

’Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,

He sets the prisoner free;

His blood can make the foulest clean,

His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,

New life the dead receive,

The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,

The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,

Your loosened tongues employ;

Ye blind, behold your Savior come,

And leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ your Head, you then shall know,

Shall feel your sins forgiven;

Anticipate your heaven below,

And own that love is heaven.

Charles Wesley, 1739 (#57 UMC Hymnal)

I…heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands. –Revelation 5:11

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