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My experience of talking in tongues is congruent with my understanding of the spirit of Pauls teachings; personally edifying, absurd to the uninitiated, 'divine' in its orientation. To those who have not recieved the gift, the common response is to try and alienate those with the gift, so as to justify their lack of it, and maintain the suggestion of their piety, in the absence of outward 'gifts'. I have experienced 'interpretation' of what others deem 'glossolalia'.and sometimes can discern the 'spirit' of prayer language myself- Always purposed to exalting the most high, and edification. Trying to be authoritative on the gift of tongues, without the gift itself, is like trying to understand God outside of a relationship with Him. Some prophesy, some heal, some talk in tongues - its not a status symbol, or an indication of worth, and its dispensation does not follow our 'reason.' It does concern me, however, that some are ignorant of scriptural guidelines of its usage, and make spectacle of insane babbling - precisely what Paul intended to curb it seems.
The mystery of the Pentecost manifestations of Acts 2 have captured our imaginations for almost 2000 years, just as the 'Shekinah' presence of the OT. The testimony of Acts 1 reports that (vs 15) about 120 persons were gathered in the upper room where this outpouring occurred. Key components were obedience, prayer, & unity. In this setting the "first mention" of tongues occurs with the 'Shekinah' presence manifested "as" wind and fire. The individual experience & participation for all of them was tongues. This birth of the church spilled out into the streets where (I Corinthians 13:1) tongues of men & angels were heard. Many dozens manifested this new gift, and of the many dozens of languages spoken, 15 are documented as known languages (Acts 2:8-11). The Apostle Paul clarifies (I Corinthians 14) the uniqueness of the only manifestation gift of the Holy Spirit that is yielded to the one receiving it, tongues. It has three primary manifestations and purposes; the individual initiated self-edification(vs4), the Spirit initiated prophetic utterance (vss 12-13) and the miraculous form of evangelism (Acts 2:8). It is interesting that tongues for self-edification are considered the least of the gifts. This is due to the fact that it is primarily for the edification of the gifted whereas the remaining 8 manifestation gifts of I Corinthians 12:7-11 are primarily for others, prophecy being considered the greatest. Paul reports that "not all speak in tongues" but the Scripture does not limit the gift. It does not say "not all can speak in tongues." It is my experience that you have not because you ask not.
Tongues, like all of the other miraculous gifts, was given to individuals at the discretion of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ. The oft wrongful cited scripture that is used to support the false idea of praying to God in tongues for one's own self is 1 Corinthians 13:1 which states that the speaker "edifies himself" this is Paul being sarcastic for he knows that it is an impossibility for one to "edify" his own self because the definition of the word negates that possibility the word "edify" means to build someone else up. This is entirely in keeping with the purpose of the miraculous gifts which, again as aforementioned, was given by the Holy Spirit for building up the body of Christ. In this capacity, tongues had other important uses it was used to acclimate foreigners into the body who did not speak the language; tongues was used as prophecy, and not the type for foretelling the future, but more for the coming forth of the Word of God that is why an interpreter is required to be present. That interpreter need not be some with the knowledge of languages, but most often someone who spoke the language the tongue speaker was speaking meaning that the language the tongue speaker is speaking is not an "unknown language". It is always a known language that someone speaks and understands on the planet. The greatest example of tongues given in the Bible is the miraculous day that the church came to the earth on Pentecost with the disciples in the upper room. The many peoples outside the upper room heard the disciples, (the 120), in the room speaking in their own languages. Not everyone is given the gift of tongues, and no where in the entire by is it ever said that speaking in tongues is a requirement for salvation. Peter said under the power of the Holy Spirit to "repent, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the Holy Spirit. Not one word of Acts 2 mentions tongues.
I understand that when the apostles and others spoke with 'other tongues' at pentecost they were not speaking known human languages. In Acts 2:7 it says the people all 'heard 'in their own language. In other words they were given the gift of interpretation of tongues. This happened in a church I attended. Someone came to visit (an unbeliever) who spoke a different language.There was a message in 'tongues' given in the church and this visitor was amazed to hear the Lord speaking to him personally in his own language.
I believe there is fundamental confusion between what occurred at Pentecost and the ensuing filling with the Holy Spirit and the 'Gift of Tongues'. For 7 yrs (through John and Jesus) the message went out to the Jews. However, by crucifying Jesus they had rejected God's salvation. The Parable of the Fig tree had been a message to the Jews that God had given them three years to turn to the Messiah, even then in grace He gives them another year, half way through that year He was crucified but God gave them another half year which ended when Stephen was stoned (after telling them "Jesus Christ is the Messiah"). Tongues (i.e. other human languages - not ecstatic words) was given at Pentecost as a sign to Israel, that their time was coming to an end and that they should turn to the King of Peace and Glory. There was meant to be a fulfilment of Joel 2:28 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions". Instead none of this happened. Instead the words of Isaiah: Is 28:11 "Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue", became manifest. The speaking in other human languages at Pentecost was a warning that the Jews were in danger of being cut-off - they would not hear the word of God in their own language if they were disobedient. But rather God hoped that they would hear the word of God in foreign tongues and repent. The birth of the Church came after the stoning of Stephen. The coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had foretold and promised was accompanied by different gifts, amongst which were: - tongues as a spiritual language to praise God (when we cant find the words to give him the glory) and intercession (when we don't know how to pray) - interpretation (not translation) of tongues as a prophetic word/word of encouragement. Finally, in all this we must remember that God has not forsaken Israel and His people will come (back) to Him.
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