Question: I had a friend from another church ask me, "Why don't you speak in tongues at your church?" I didn't know how to answer her.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

The apostle Paul is asking a series of rhetorical questions that all imply a “No” answer.  “Do all speak in tongues”?  The answer would be, “No.”  So, your easy answer to your friend is this: I don’t speak in tongues because God hasn’t granted me the gift to do so. But the discussion you might want to have with your friend, is asking her what is her church’s understanding of the gift of tongues?  You see, there are a handful of Christian denominations who hold to the teaching of the gift of tongues in a way that is foreign to Scripture. They confirm their error by using these Scripture to support their holy utterances. 

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

“Wordless groans,” is how they describe their utterances that they make that have no meaning.  However, if you look closely at the text in Romans, it is not the person doing the groaning, but the Holy Spirit.  The word that is used to describe the gift of tongues in the book of Acts, is the Greek word, Glossolalia, which is where we get our English word, glossary from.  So, this word, Glossolalia, isn’t even used in Romans 8:26.  So their wordless groans or utterances are not the same comparisons from the book of Acts when the apostles were speaking in Glossolalia.

Some charismatic churches, like the United Pentecostal Church, go so far as saying that unless a person demonstrates the ability to speak in tongues, he/she is NOT a Christian.  This is a gross distortion of the Holy Scriptures and the actual word that is used to describe the gift in the Bible.   

On the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, when Peter and the apostles began speaking in tongues that day – it was clearly a known language to all the different ethnic groups that were up at Jerusalem that day.  God was using all these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit to help blend his Jewish/Gentile church into one body under Christ as its head. 

Think about this for a moment.  The Jewish Messiah, Jesus, came through a lineage of people dating back to the time of Abraham, and for 2,000 years they followed Jewish prescribed customs from God.  From the food they ate, to the clothing they wore, they were set apart culturally and spiritually by God, who was protecting his people so that the Savior of the world might be born through them. 

Though Christ our Savior was born through the Jewish people, he is the king of all, who laid down his life as an atoning sacrifice for all mankind’s sins.  What better way for God to unite this church as one, than by equally dispensing these gifts of the Holy Spirit to both Jew and Gentile alike to help mold and shape this body under Christ as its head?  Listen to the report given in Acts 10:44-46 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.  The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.  For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” 

So, now, the reason I believe the gift of tongues dissipated sometime in the late 1st century is because there doesn’t seem to be a reason for God to continue to give this gift to the people of this world.  For God has said all that he has needed to say to us through the testimony of the Bible, which both Jew and Gentile had been given in their possession for 2,000 years. 

Thanks for the Question!  Blessed day,

 

Pastor Matthew P. DeNoyer