Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Purposes of Speaking With Tongues

There is a misconception among cessationists, that in Bible-times, the sole-purpose of speaking with tongues, was to preach the Gospel to unbelievers.
But if it was, Peter would not have needed to preach to the multitude after they heard the 120 speaking with tongues.
Despite each person among the multitude having heard the 120 in his own tongue, they still asked, "What meaneth this?" and "What shall we do?"
So if the tongues was the preaching of the Gospel, it must have been some pretty poor preaching!
Peter still had to follow it up with the preaching of the Gospel.
(It isn't even clear from the Book of Acts whether the miracle was only in the speaking, or also in the hearing. Because it says each man heard the 120 speaking in his own tongue.)
But whatever the case, it is evident there were other valid purposes, functions and affects of speaking with tongues in Bible-times - but none was ever a substitute for the preaching of the Gospel.
One such purpose for tongues, was to be a 'sign' to unbelievers - to attract their attention, but not as a substitute for preaching the Gospel;
Another function, was prayer - praying to God, or giving thanks to God, in a tongue - even privately;
Despite the tongue being unknown to the speaker, praying privately in the tongue was still 'edifying' - edifying to one's own spirit (as well as having all of the usual benefits that praying privately with one's own understanding has);
A person who spoke with tongues was said to be speaking not to men, but to God - for no-one understood him; nevertheless he was genuinely speaking mysteries to God.
Another function of tongues, was to address a congregation with the tongue - in which case the spiritual gift called 'the interpretation of tongues' was often required in tandem with the gift of tongues.
If tongues were always known-tongues by a congregation, there would never have been a need for such a supernatural gift as 'interpretation'! The very fact that the gift of interpretation was sometimes needed, shows tongues didn't always have the sole purpose of preaching to an audience in their known-language.
If no such interpreter was present, it didn't mean the tongue was false - rather, in such a scenario, the speaker had two valid options:
He could pray that he himself might interpret; or
He could refrain from addressing the congregation with the tongue, and instead continue speaking it to himself and to God...
...But his tongue itself was not invalid, even though no-one present understood it.
Otherwise, if being unknown by the immediate audience meant it was invalid, the speaker would not have been encouraged to pray that he might interpret it; nor given the option of continuing speaking with that tongue to himself and to God: he would have been told instead to just plain stop, if the tongue was invalid just because it was unknown.
Jesus had said that believers would speak with 'new' tongues.
Also mentioned in the Bible are 'tongues of men', and 'tongues of angels'.
Other Bible-terms included: 'unknown tongue'; 'diversities of tongues'; 'divers kinds of tongues'.
Jesus didn't say anything about tongues becoming a direct means of preaching the Gospel - rather, He said these signs would 'follow them that believe'.
Signs were to 'follow' the word - they weren't meant solely as the means of directly preaching the Word, per se.
It meant speaking with tongues was to become a common phenomenon among the believing-community.
Sometimes, hearers heard their own tongue; other times, no-one in the immediate audience understood.
There were benefits for the unsaved, and the saved.
Public uses, and private uses.
The signs of the outpouring of the Spirit were to continue all the way up until the great Day of the Lord - according to Peter's interpretation of Joel's prophecy.
The promise of receiving the Holy Ghost was said to be for you, and your children, for those who were near, and for all who are afar off - even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

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