1 Cor 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
In the church world, there are doctrines that are taught that says; "Talking in Tongues" is either of the devil, or it is not for today, because it has since "ceased" and or it was only for the Apostles. They strictly base that teaching on one scripture as stated above. In rightly dividing scripture, it is very dangerous to use just one scripture to make a doctrine. So, let's take a look at this subject.
THE FIRST PROPHECY ABOUT TONGUES
Isa 28:11-12 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
In the above scripture, "stammering lips and another tongue" is the very first prophecy on this subject, and is directly linked to the gifts of the spirit of diver tongues (and interpretation). And as we will see in this study, it is also directly linked to the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the sign (evidence) of speaking in new tongues. And, it is also linked to a rest and refreshing (more about Our Spiritual Sabbath Rest here).
JESUS TEACHES SALVATION
As we will read, the subject of "tongues" is associated with the salvation process. So then, we must first hear what Jesus taught on the subject. Briefly stated, Jesus' message of salvation was... A person must believe on the Lord, confess and repent of their sins, be water baptized (have sins remitted and washed away), and receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, with the evidence (sign) of speaking in tongues. Jesus spoke of it in John 3:5, Matthew 28:19 and the scripture below. And you can also read more about the The Born Again Experience here. Let’s look at baptism and tongues real quick...
Mar 16:16-18 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; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Here we have Jesus teaching that a person who "Believeth" (one who believes on the Lord), AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED. And he that doesn't will be lost (damned). It is very obvious here that Jesus is saying that baptism is required to be saved, as He taught in john 3:5; where a person must be born of water (baptism) and of the spirit (Holy Ghost baptism) to even enter the kingdom of God.
But, we also want to notice the other point. A believer will have SIGNS that will follow them; and one of the signs is that they SHALL SPEAK WITH NEW TONGUES. The word "signs" means, an indication, evidence or miracle. As we will see later, this is directly related with the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
Act 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.
The Spirit (Comforter) filled the house where they were sitting and they were ALL FILLED with the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues (unlearned language) as the Spirit gave them the utterance. This is definitely a supernatural move of the Spirit of God. And Jesus told them that this would happen to believers. He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Comforter.
MORE HOLY GHOST OUTPOURINGS WITH TONGUES
Act 10:44-48 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. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Act 19:2-7 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.
In light of the controversial teaching that "tongues" are just for a few, we want to notice that in the three scriptures above every single person got the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues. It was not just a few as some suggest. But, ALL OF THEM GOT IT!!
THE DEBATE ABOUT TONGUES VS GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
Some people teach that tongues have completely ceased based on one single scripture as we stated at the beginning, which we will cover below. However, there is also another teaching out there that teaches that tongues is only for a select few, because tongues is one of the nine gifts of the spirit. While it is true that divers tongues is one of the nine gifts of the spirit, we need to clarify a few things.
Since ALL OF THEM spoke in tongues in the scripture mentioned above. Then a person must ask themselves this question; "If only a few can operate the gifts of divers tongues (according to 1 Corth 12-14), then how come everyone spoke in tongues when they got the Holy Ghost and not just a few?"
We also want to notice, that we do not read of any interpreters in any of those passages (or Acts 2:1-4) where they got the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues. A normal, common sense interpretation would be that there is more going on here than meets the eye. So, what is really happening with "everyone" speaking in tongues?
Jesus gave us the answers!!! He taught that all believers that are baptized would get the Holy Ghost and speak with "new tongues" as a sign (evidence) that followed them. Jesus never taught that only a chosen few would speak in tongues, but that everyone who "believes in Him" shall speak in new tongues.
So, we can only conclude that there is an initial sign (evidence) of speaking in new tongues to every believer who gets the Holy Ghost. Just like on the day of Pentecost. And when Peter visited Cornelius' household they said... WE HEARD THEM SPEAK WITH TONGUES LIKE WE DID AT THE BEGINNING!
Therefore, since scripture teaches an initial sign to a believer that they have the Holy Ghost. Now, we have to address the issue of divers tongues as one of the gifts of the spirit. There is a difference!
THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
To interpret the doctrine of the nine gifts of the Spirit, you HAVE TO READ CHAPTERS 12-14 of 1 Corinthians together. The entire context goes like this...
Chapter 12: About the gifts of the Spirit and what they are.
Chapter 13: Love is more effective than the gifts are.
Chapter 14: How to operate the gifts of the Spirit.
In Chapter 12, the nine gifts of the spirit are; word of wisdom; word of knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; divers kinds of tongues; interpretation of tongues.
We must also note, in scripture a person cannot operate any gifts of the spirit without first initially receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost (with sign of new tongues), because God is the one who decides which gift a person can operate when God chooses for it to operate in a service. A person doesn't operate a gift on their own, God operates it through the Holy Ghost that is already in them. Therefore a person has to have the Holy Ghost on the inside first!! There is more I could say, but I don't have time to explain it all. Read all of 1 Corth 12.
At the end of Chapter 12, Paul says; "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?" The answer is NO, God chooses different people to operate different gifts of the Spirit; we don't all Prophecy or perform miracles!! But also notice this...
1 Cor 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Right off the bat, Paul is telling us to desire the best gifts of the spirit. So, right away we see that Paul is encouraging the use of ALL THE GIFTS. But, he tells us that there is a more excellent way.... What is that?
Chapter 13 starts off to stress that even if we speak in tongues, prophecy and have all knowledge etc, etc... AND DO NOT HAVE LOVE (God's Agape Love), then we are nothing and are like tinkling symbols that have no certain sound. This is the basis and context of Chapter 13, which includes the verse about "tongues shall cease." Paul lists all the attributes of Love in verses 4-7. Now, with that in mind let's look at his next point.
HAS TONGUES CEASED??
1Co 13:8-13 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. (9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. (10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Some believe that "when that which is perfect is come" means it is speaking of Jesus' coming. And though that is applicable when Jesus does come for His people, it is not the context of Paul's discussion.
Paul's first point, and context of Chapter 13... is that LOVE NEVER FAILS!!
Then he makes these three points...
1) Prophecies shall fail
2) Tongues shall cease (fail)
3) Knowledge shall vanish away (fail)
So, please view this in its context correctly... these three points are three of the gifts of the spirit as listed in chapter 12. Paul's main point is that LOVE works greater than these gifts. Because LOVE NEVER FAILS, he is pointing out that without love, the gifts will not be effective (fail) in comparison to what love can accomplish. The gifts of the spirit cannot accomplish what LOVE can do.
Then in verses 9-13 he points out that we prophecy (gift of spirit) in part, then when LOVE has come, then that which is in part (the gifts - prophecy in this verse) will be done away... or in-other-words, the gifts will not be as effective and fail. The point he is trying to make is that the gifts of the Spirit on their own merits (without Love) is not as effective as LOVE is. But, when operated in love, it edifies the body of Christ (as he stated in chapter 12). So, when Paul says "when that which is perfect is come"; he is saying that when LOVE (that which is perfect) is operating in us according verses 4-7 in Chapter 13, then our LOVE (which never fails) will do far more than the gifts can accomplish on their own!
Paul did not teach that the gifts of the spirit have completely stopped or ceased. The word "ceased" means to become idle - fail. As we will see later in Chapter 14, he actually talks about how to use the gifts and that we should not forbid to speak in tongues.
Now ask yourself a question... If tongues have completely "ceased" and we do not have to speak in tongues, then how come Prophecy or Knowledge hasn't ceased too?... We still have those gifts of the spirit operating in the church today!!
USE OF THE GIFTS
In chapter 14 of Corinthians, Paul continues his teaching on the gifts of the Spirit and his first statement is about love and desiring the gifts of the spirit...
1Co 14:1 Follow after charity (Love), and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Why would Paul say that the tongues (as a gift of the spirit) has "ceased," then turn right around and tell everyone to desire them?... simple... because Chapter 13 was about why Love is more powerful than the gifts of the spirit. Paul's teaching about the gifts is very extensive, so because of space limitations, I am only going to make a few more points...
YOUR PRAYER-PRAISE TONGUES
There is an "unknown tongue" that is spoken by a believer that is between him and God only. This is the tongues he speaks when he prays (prayer tongues), sings in tongues (1 Cor 14:15) and magnifies God. He is able to do this when he first got the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence (sign) of speaking in new tongues. This "unknown tongue" is his personal edification to God and can also be the gift of "divers tongues" as one of the nine gifts of the spirit. Paul explains the prayer tongues part, the key verses being...
1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
1Co 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
THE GIFT OF DIVERS TONGUES & INTERPRETATIONS
The gift of "divers tongues" (also can be unknown tongues) is the tongues that requires an interpreter. This person only operates this gift when God chooses them to operate it during a service. What happens when the gift of tongues and interpretation goes forth in a service is a person would speak in tongues real loud above the voices of everyone else. Then silence comes over the congregation, and then an interpreter would follow. Here is the key verse...
1Co 14:27-28 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. (28) But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
Paul stresses, that if a person is speaking in tongues and there is no interpreter, then he is to keep silence. This phrase "keep silent" doesn't mean to completely shut-up, but to lower his voice so that he isn't heard above the congregation. The reason that is true, is because he also says... "and speak (in tongues) to himself and to God" alone. This is what we referred to above as your "prayer language or prayer tongues" that edifies ones-self. The person can still speak in tongues, but with a much lower volume so he is not heard by the entire church.
The gift of "divers tongues" (with interpreter) and Prophecy are two different gifts of the spirit. The tongues and interpretation is for when unbelievers are present in a service, while prophecy is for the unlearned and for them that believe. Prophecy is a prophetic word that is spoken in the same language as the entire congregation. Prophecy does not require an interpreter.
That is why in Acts 19:1-10 (stated earlier) that the twelve believers ALL spoke in tongues (with no interpreter) after getting the Holy Ghost. Because these were all believers and they prophesied (gift of the spirit) and did not use the gifts of "diver tongues and interpretation" as Paul wrote about in Chapter 12. The speaking in tongues in Acts 19 is their initial sign, evidence (prayer and praise tongues) that they received the Holy Ghost. The gift of Prophecy just followed after the initial infilling of the Holy Ghost because they stood and entertained the presence of God for a while.
This is a very deep and complex subject. However, when you realize what Paul was teaching in all three chapters of 1 Corinthians 12-14, you will realize that the gifts of the Spirit never ended with the original church and it is still active today. With that being said, here are some points to ponder...
1) If you believe that only the "gift of tongues" is for a select few, and that a person doesn't have to have the initial evidence (sign) of speaking in new tongues, then how would you explain in the passages stated above that everyone who initially got the Holy Ghost... ALL SPAKE WITH TONGUES! Where was the interpretation of those tongues?
2) Paul distinguished the difference between prayer-praise tongues and the gift of divers tongues. Do you or any other believers you know pray or sing in tongues unto God??
3) If tongues have "ceased" as some declare, then why did Paul teach three chapters on how the gifts are to operate? Why didn't he just stop at chapter 13? Or why did he do all that teaching and then in mid-sentence say they have ceased... that doesn't make sense!
4) If you believe that "tongues" are of the devil, then I would be very careful with that statement and what you believe. Because Jesus taught that blaspheming the Holy Ghost means that a person speaks against the Holy Ghost calling it evil... basically calling the Spirit of God (Holy Ghost) evil (unclean). And speaking in tongues directly comes from the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Mar 3:28-30 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
5) And if tongues have "ceased" (as some propose), then why did Paul say these things...
1Co 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
1Co 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
So, we can conclude that there is the initial sign (evidence) of speaking in new tongues (prayer-praise language) when someone receives the Holy Ghost; and there is a different operation of the gift of the spirit of divers tongues and interpretations.
And we can see that Paul was not teaching that the gifts have ended, but that LOVE works a lot better than the gifts can on their own; and that the gifts are indeed a very important part of the church.
And if someone doesn't believe that they have to speak in tongues, then they are missing the most powerful part of their salvation. And not to mention... if your church doesn't have the gifts of the Spirit operating in it... then you are also missing the very demonstration and power of God in your midst!!!
COVET THE BEST GIFT AND CLAIM ALL THAT GOD HAS FOR YOU!!!