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SPIRITUAL GIFTS  (8)

 

SPEAKING IN TONGUES & INTERPETATION

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

To people who do not "belong" to the Charismatic or Pentecostal stream of Church life, the movement has always seemed 'strange' and, for some, quite intimidating. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the reaction to the phenomenon called "speaking in tongues".  From time to time this issue has created enormous tension in the Body of Christ and that tension, in turn, has generated all kinds of extreme responses and reactions.

 

The purpose of this brief (and, therefore, inadequate) study is to examine some of the Biblical statements with the hope that some more light may break through. It is designed as a contribution to the discussion - not as an exhaustive or final word on the subject. Throughout your discussion, remember that love must prevail!

 

1. DEFINITION No.1 "The God-given ability to commune with God in a language not previously learned by the speaker."

 

2. DEFINTION No.2 "Speaking in tongues" is a Spirit-inspired verbal release of the human spirit in communion with God".

 

How do you respond to these definitions? In what ways would you modify or change them?

 

3. Let's spend some time with Paul's teaching to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 14. Check the following references and note against each what Paul was seeking to communicate to those people as he corrected their use and misuse of the gift.

v.2 ___________________________________________________________________

 v.4 ___________________________________________________________________

 v.14 __________________________________________________________________

 v.15 ___________________________________________________________________

 vs. 18,19 ______________________________________________________________

v.26 __________________________________________________________________

v.27 __________________________________________________________________

V.28 __________________________________________________________________

v. 39 ____________________________________________________________________

 v.40 __________________________________________________________________

 

As you look over those verses and your notes, do you see anything new that hasn't been part of your thinking on this subject up to this point?

 

4.The following is a comment on the nature of interpretation.

 

"Interpretation is a complementary gift which makes possible and meaningful the use of tongues in corporate worship. Interpretation is not meant to be an accurate translation; rather it is a presentation of the essential content - a paraphrase if you like. The one praying in the Spirit is speaking to God, the interpreter receives his interpretation from God."

 

5.The following quote will be acceptable to some but not to others. How do you respond?

 

"Beyond doubt, one of the greatest theological tragedies to befall the church is the suggestion that tongues is a visible sign of having been baptized or filled with the Spirit. This suggestion finds no warrant in Scripture. Tongues did accompany the Spirit's coming at Pentecost and on some other occasions (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6). But at other times, when the Spirit was received with equal faith, Luke says nothing about tongue speaking (Acts 2:38-41; 4:4; 8:14-17; 9:17,18;).

 

In 1 Corinthians 12:30 Paul clearly inserts the Greek negative to firmly establish that all do not possess the gift of tongues ("Not all speak in tongues, do they?"). To demand the universality of tongues is to demand something which Scripture does not teach. Pushing the gift on everyone is not only unbiblical but can also do great personal damage.

 

Although Scripture rejects the idea that all must speak in tongues, it does not preclude speaking in tongues for some when they are filled with the Spirit. As the Spirit rushes into the corners of their lives, awakening new desires for prayer and praise, speaking in tongues will naturally flow forward in some".

 

6. Read 1 Corinthians 12/7-11.  Especially note v.11.  According to these verses, who chooses what gifts are given to which people?

 

7. How do you respond to the following statements?

 

a."The gift called 'speaking in tongues' continues to be valid for the Body of Christ today".

 

b."This gift is basically a spiritual, verbal communion between the speaker and God which goes beyond the rational mind and allows communication that is not restricted or limited to our normal thought processes and expressions".

 

c."The capacity to speak in tongues does not prove that the speaker is somehow more mature, more holy, more Spirit-filled than those who do not have this gift".

 

d.Since the Holy Spirit is the One who distributes His gifts to the members of the Body of Christ (the Church), it is our responsibility to be unconditionally open to His sovereign choice in this matter of spiritual gifts".

 

CONCLUSION:

 

For some, these notes have gone too far! For others, not far enough! Whatever, my prayer is that each of us will be prepared to wrestle some more with this dimension of spiritual gifts. Some will be intimidated by this phenomenon because it is not part of their experience. Others will be frustrated because this gift is part of their Christian walk and they want everyone else to have this gift, too.

 

That's where love comes in to the equation! That's why Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13. Maybe the best place to end this session is to read again that great love chapter.

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