The Gift of Tongues

In view of the interest concerning the gift of tongues and its relationship to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, it is most timely that we search the Scriptures diligently to learn the truth concerning the bestowal of this sacred gift and its place in the furtherance of the gospel.

KATHERINE B. HALE, Retired Bible Instructor, Central California Conference

In view of the interest concerning the gift of tongues and its relationship to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, it is most timely that we search the Scriptures diligently to learn the truth concerning the bestowal of this sacred gift and its place in the furtherance of the gospel.

I. Introduction

I. There are three members of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19, 20).

2. Since our Saviour's ascension the Holy Spirit now has charge in the earth as Christ's per­sonal representative (John 16:7-13).

//. Spiritual Gifts

1. At His ascension and inauguration as our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary, He gave gifts unto men (Eph. 4:8-16). Observe gift of tongues not here included.

2. Diversity of gifts in His church (1 Cor. 12: 1-14).

3. Order of importance of these special gifts of the Spirit promised to His church-"His body." Christ, the head of the body (1 Cor. 12:27-31).

III. The Gospel Commission

1. Following His resurrection they were to go into all the world, and "preach the gospel to every creature." They were to speak with new tongues (Mark 16:15-17).

2. Commanded to preach "in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." During the personal ministry of our Saviour, from His baptism until His ascension, He had re­stricted His work largely to His own nation. This was according to the prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 9:27). There had been no general call to those of the Gentile world.

3. Now a wider work of witnessing was outlined by our Lord: "Tarry ye in the city of Jeru­salem, until ye be endued with power from on high." They were there to begin to witness "to every nation." Hence this special outpouring of this special gift at Pentecost (Luke 24:47- 49) .

IV. Pentecost

Ten days after the ascension of our Lord, "devout men, out of every nation under heaven" were in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, and in answer to earnest prayers of the believers a special outpouring of power came in fulfillment of the promise that they were to witness in Jerusalem-to witness to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-5).

2. On Acts 2:6-11, refer to informative article by Earle Hilgert, THE MINISTRY, August, 1955.

3. Text of Peter's discourse heard by each (Acts 2:14-40). See The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 39, 40.

4. Those added to the church by baptism, follow­ing repentance, were given the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38, 41).

Y. The Gift of Tongues Always Met a Special Need at a Special Time

1. At Caesarea, home of the devout Italian, Cor­nelius, "his kinsmen and near friends" as­sembled, and the gift of tongues was supplied to these Gentile believers (Acts 10:1-6, 21-24, 44-47). Caesarea, a prominent seaport. Many nationalities to be reached there.

2. In Ephesus, an important city in Asia Minor, twelve disciples formerly baptized by John in Judea were specially chosen and empowered by this gift to witness to the gospel in this foreign seaport. The apostle Paul prayed that they might receive this gift. Now they could witness as did the disciples at Pentecost in the lan­guages of the people of this seaport (Acts 19:1-7).

3. "A sign . . . for them that believe not." Thus the gospel to the Gentile world was greatly hastened; also to the unbelieving Jew was this special gift a "sign"-a fulfillment of the prophecy (1 Cot. 14:22).

4. "With men of other tongues . . . will I speak unto this people" (1 Cor. 14:21). See Isa. 28: 11. What was not accomplished through His chosen nation during the centuries before Pen­tecost, the Holy Spirit began to accomplish through these special outpourings in the gift of tongues. This was the last "sign" to the

Jewish nation-God's last effort to arrest their attention to their Messiah, whom they had re­jected and crucified. He was fulfilling His promise "to confirm the covenant" with His own "for one week" (Dan. 9:27).

VI. The Gift of the Holy Ghost in Its Fullness Not Necessarily Accompanied by the Gift of Tongues

  1. At baptism of our Lord-the Holy Ghost in visible form. No accompanying demonstration of "tongues" (Matt. 3:16, 17; John 1:32-34; (Acts 10:38).
  2. About three thousand souls repented and were baptized. There is no record of special language demonstration. Each had heard previously "in his own language" and could now give the gospel in that tongue (Acts 2:6-8).
  3. Philip preached Christ; Peter and John joined in prayer far Holy Spirit to be given these believers in Samaria. No demonstrations of gift of tongues at this time. They could hear the Word of God in their own language. They preached in many villages of the Samaritans. Samaritans were close neighbors of the Jews (Acts 8:5-25).
  4. Paul's conversion and healing. Ananias sent by Jesus that Paul might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:17). No account of gift of tongues in connection with this filling with the Holy Ghost.
  5. Holy Spirit promised to all commandment keepers (John 14:15-17).
  6. Given to all who obey (Acts 5:32). Not neces­sarily accompanied by gift of tongues.

VII. Tongues Not Always a Special Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

1. Most important of utilitarian gifts is gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1-4). Because of a present-day overemphasis on the gift of tongues and its ecstatic manifestations, the Bible teacher should teach the following points from Paul's experience with this gift at Corinth:

2. 1 Corinthians 12 sets forth a great variety of gifts, all useful in their place. [The teacher should emphasize the instruction of 1 Co­rinthians 12:5-7, observing the significance of such words as "administrations" and "operations."-EnrroRs.]

3. The chapter closes with admonition to "covet earnestly the best gifts."

4. Paul also refers to a "more excellent way"-the gift of love, in chapter 13. Paul's pre­sentation on love closes with the three abid­ing gifts or graces-faith, hope, and love.

5. Then set forth the gift Paul next urges upon all Christians-the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1).

6. Where there is an issue regarding the gift of tongues, it helps greatly when the Bible instructor teaches chapter 14 verse by verse. This may require another lesson, however.

1. Paul here presents strong evidence that the gift of prophecy has utilitarian value. He is dealing in these chapters (1 Cor. 12; 13; 14) with superlative values, and we should carefully study the context to avoid any over­emphasis or distortion of truth. Both tongues and prophecy have their place, but when the gift of tongues is for the benefit of edifying the individual rather than the church, Paul raises a warning.

2. The church in Corinth more zealous of spirit­ual "gifts" than of spiritual "fruits" (Matt. 7:15-20; Gal. 5:22, 23). The bestowal of all spiritual gifts in the church is "as he [the Holy Spirit] will." No gift is to glorify the individual. Recipient of the Holy Spirit is em­powered to witness. The true gift of tongues is always to edify and reach those of a tongue not yet enlightened with the good news of the kingdom.

3. This gift is definitely not to bring confusion into the assembly of God's people. (Paul's re­buke to Corinthian believers [1 Cor. 14:22, 23, 26-34].) "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen" (Ps. 46: 10). (Italics supplied.)

VIII. Test the Gifts of the Spirit by God's Word

  1. To the law and to the testimony (Isa. 8:20).
  2. Many false spirits: try them (1 John 4:1).
  3. Jesus met Satan and spirits of devils in Sab­bath meetings and rebuked them (Mark 1:23­26; Luke 4:33-36).
  4. Spirits of devils to become more active in counterfeiting spiritual gifts before Jesus comes (Rev. 16:14).

IX. God's Remnant Church to Be Known by All True Gifts

1. "Come behind in no good gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:6, 7).

2. The message of the three angels to go to every nation, tongue, and people (Rev. 14:6-12).

3. "Great was the company of those that pub­lished it" (Ps. 68:11). His Word is to be pub­lished to the world—it is being published.
4. "Then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14).

a. The gift of the printed Word to the world in all the major languages and many of the heathen dialects is a definite fulfillment of this "sign," and the gift of the Holy Ghost to our generation.

b.Examples of the oral gift can be cited also. Here is one: A young evangelist preaches the words in English; a foreigner listens and hears the message in his own tongue. At the door the speaker greets this radiant-faced foreigner, full of joy at having heard the preaching! He cannot understand or con­verse at all with the evangelist at the door. Was it not the gift of the Holy Spirit to him that brought joy that night?

X. Conclusion: God's Special Exhortation to His People Concerning Spiritual Gifts

I. Whatever gift one receives, let it be translated into everyday living (1 Tim. 4:13, 14).

2. Let us not be desirous of vainglory (Gal. 5: 22-26).

3. Let us not covet the "gift of tongues" or any other gift of the Spirit above the gift of love (1 Cor. 13).

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KATHERINE B. HALE, Retired Bible Instructor, Central California Conference

March 1957

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