Do You Speak In Tongues?
According to the WordWeb Thesaurus/Dictionary from Princeton University, a tongue may be defined as a "mobile mass of muscular tissue covered with mucous membrane and located in the oral cavity." That's what a tongue is. But further, regarding what a tongue does, a tongue is a "human written or spoken language used by a community. Everyone, unless they are mute, speaks at least one tongue. Some people, those who are able to speak in more than one language, speak in tongues, plural.
"With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people"
Speaking in tongues, other actual languages, is very useful to the preaching of the Gospel because it enables a teacher to reach people of other nations all around the world. But the preacher isn't necessarily the one who has to speak in other tongues in order for the Gospel to be preached. The people who are being taught may be the ones who can "speak in tongues" - their own native language and the language of the teacher. The worldwide use of English is a prime example. Daily Bible Study is in English (the author can speak and understand some German, Dutch and French, but hardly well enough to teach in those 3 additional "tongues"), but it reaches people all around the world because of the ability of the readers of Daily Bible Study to "speak in tongues" - their own native language and English (which, like Greek in ancient times, has become, in effect, the "language of the world"). It's possible for those being taught to learn one other language while it's impossible for any teacher to learn hundreds of other languages. When it comes to preaching the Gospel, "speaking in tongues" can happen either way.
The apostle Paul's (see Paul's Ministry) teaching about Speaking In Tongues:
"14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
14:2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church [see the Fact Finder question below]. 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 14:9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. 14:10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 14:11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
14:16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
14:17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 14:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 14:21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
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.
14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
14:24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 14:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth." (1 Corinthians 14:1-25 KJV)
Paul continued his exhortation for orderly worship when "speaking in tongues."
"14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
14:27 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. 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 14:30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the Prophets. 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
14:36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 14:38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order." (1 Corinthians 14:26-40 KJV)
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