The Bible Truth About the Gift of Tongues
We will now study the gift of speaking in tongues from the New Testament. Does the New Testament teach us that speaking in ecstatic tongues is a gift from God? If so, why did it only start happening in early 1900? We've learned that tongues in the Old Testament is basically speaking another language, so let's find the New Testament truth about speaking in tongues.
The gift of speaking in tongues is deeply involved with the great commission that Christ Jesus gave to His disciples before He ascended to heaven. Take a look at what Jesus said to them about speaking in tongues:
Mark 16:15-17 .....'And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.'
This is the great commission from Jesus for His followers to go into the world and preach the good news of the gospel message. Now we know that the world is full of different nations, with people speaking different languages, so what gift would the disciples need in order to preach the gospel to these different nations? They would need the gift of tongues, to be able to speak the various languages of the world. Now were the disciples trained in speaking different languages? No, they would need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to start speaking in tongues (languages) to preach the gospel. And Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for the power of the Holy Spirit, which would empower them to start speaking in tongues (different languages):
Luke 24:49 .....'And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.'
This is why the disciples were all gathered in Jerusalem. They were waiting for power from on High, as Jesus told them to. The gift of speaking in tongues was given on pentecost up in that room where they were gathered, as we can see in the following Bible verses:
Acts 2:1-4 .....'And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.'
This is where taking in the WHOLE council of God is very much needed. Now many Christians will take these couple of Bible verses above and apply it to the gift of tongues as being able to speak in ecstatic "heavenly" tongues, the way millions do in churches throughout the world today. But we cannot just take Bible verses out of the context in which they were written. And if we carry on reading in Acts 2, we will find out the truth about speaking in tongues and what the gift of tongues was for:
Acts 2:5-11 .....'And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.'
What a glorious God we have. He always exlpains His truth to us in a clear way, so that there be no need for misunderstanding. We can clearly see that the purpose of the gift of tongues was so that the people from other nations who spoke in different languages (tongues) could hear the good news of the gospel of Christ Jesus. The gift of tongues was given to the disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, and they were just speaking as they normally would, BUT the Holy Spirit had enabled them with the gift of tongues to speak in the various languages of the people listening. Are you seeing this Bible truth about speaking in tongues? If you take a look at the following verses, you will even see that the Old Testament teaching on tongues has carried on into the New Testament.
John 5:2 .....'Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.'
Acts 21:40 .....'And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue.'
Revelation 7:9 .....'After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.'
You see, God's Word does not change. God Himself does not change and niether does His Word. His Truth is as sure today as it was 6000 years ago. Do you see the truth about speaking in tongues above? Right throughout the Bible the word tongue means language, NOT some ecstatic utterance that many people do today. So who is it that gives people this ecstatic utterance if it is not a Bible teaching? It must be Satan. Which is why we must stand firmly on the truth of God's Word.
Was the gift of tongues given to other people throughout the New Testament? Yes, the Holy Spirit fell upon many others which enabled speaking in tongues (other languages) to bring glory to God and the gospel message.
Acts 10:44-46 .....'While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.'
So the Gentiles were given the gift of speaking in tongues. But what tongues were they speaking? Were they speaking ecstatic tongues like so many do today? No, the gift of tongues that they were given was to speak in other languages, and the Jews heard the Gentiles give glory to God in their very own language. Peter confirms this point when he went back to Judea to tell of the story:
Acts 11:15-17 .....'And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.'
Do you see what Peter is saying about these Gentiles speaking in tongues? He confirms that God gave them the VERY SAME gift as He did with the disciples on the day of Pentecost. What gift? The gift of speaking in tongues. And what were the tongues that the disciples spoke on the day of Pentecost? Different languages! It's that simple! This gift of tongues was certainly not the ability to speak ecstatic tongues that no one could understand, because God could not be glorified that way.
It is well known that the apostle Paul could speak a number of different languages, more than any of the other apostles and disciples. And what did he say about his ability to speak in different languages?
1 Corinthians 14:18 .....'I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.'
So Paul attributes speaking in different languages as speaking in tongues. This is Bible truth! And Paul also tells us what the purpose was for the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:22 .....'Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.' ..... Did you catch that? Paul says that the gift of speaking in tongues is for a SIGN to those who don't believe. Which makes complete sense when you think about what happened on the day of Pentecost. Because the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the gift of speaking in tongues, and the people there could hear them speak in their own language. Many of them believed the gospel and 3000 people were added to the faith that day.
Think about it. Could speaking in ecstatic tongues like many Christians do today be a sign to those who don't believe? Not a chance! Why? Because they do not understand what is being said, and they will just think those Christians are just plain crazy! Does that bring glory to God? No!
So where would you see true Bible tongues being spoken today? Most likely out on the missions field. Let me give you an example of what the true Bible gift of tongues is; An english speaking Christian missionary is speaking to a crowd of African people and he needs a translator for the people to understand what he is saying. While he is speaking, the translator stops interpreting and the missionary wonders why he has stopped. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has filled the missionary and given him the gift of speaking in tongues, and the African people can hear him speaking in their OWN language. Friend, this is true Bible tongues, not ecstatic utterances behind closed doors.
Satan has a counterfeit for many of God's truths in the Bible, and he has a counterfeit for Bible speaking in tongues. That counterfeit is this ecstatic "gibberish" that is heard in many churches today. Please don't be fooled into thinking that speaking like that is the true gift of tongues, because it is not. Many people will even teach that you don't have enough faith if you are not speaking in tongues. This is nothing but deception, because God gives different gifts to different people. So what is the gift of speaking in tongues? It's the gift of suddenly speaking fluently in a different language that people can understand.
To continue with this study of the gift of tongues, see Tongues of Angels.