TONGUES SERIES—PART 2 OF 2
The SIX BENEFITS of TONGUES
ONE - Speaking in tongues gives us a direct communication between our human spirit and the Spirit of God.
ONE - Speaking in tongues gives us a direct communication between our human spirit and the Spirit of God. For whoever speaks in tongues is not speaking to men but to God -- I Corinthians 14:2a. Tongues is useful in our communication with God, even though it bypasses our understanding. This is the most basic thing to know about the use of tongues.
The word "unknown," as it appears in the King James Version, does not appear in this verse in the Greek. In fact, in no place does the Greek use the word "unknown" when speaking of tongues. In every case translators of the Scriptures inserted it with the intention of making the passage more meaningful. But to persons in whom the gift of tongues is operating, there is little need for the word "unknown," nor did Paul have a need to use it. Words uttered in tongues are generally unknown to persons hearing them, but they are not unknown to the Holy Spirit and to the spirit of the one speaking. As a person who speaks in tongues grows in relationship with the Lord, he ceases ever to think of tongues as "unknown."
When any of us is alone and speaking in tongues, we need have no concern as to whether the words we speak belong to a language spoken somewhere in the world, or not. All that need concern us is that we are speaking to God. It is the communication of something very personal between our spirits and His Spirit in which our understanding has little participation. But, since our spirits participate, we grow. Our wisdom grows, our faith grows, and by these, our understanding grows.
On some rare occasions, another person hearing someone speaking in tongues may recognize it as a known language, as on Pentecost. But this is infrequent and can be considered a miracle.
TWO - Speaking in tongues brings the secrets of God's Spirit into our spirits. Of the person speaking in tongues, Paul says,.. in the spirit he is speaking mysteries - I Corinthians 14:2b.
This speaking of the mysteries by tongues brings them into the human spirit. This prepares the speaker for the interpretation and understanding of secrets and purposes long resident in God's heart and now ready to be made known among His people.
Much of what Paul wrote in his Epistles flowed out of his spiritual communication with the Lord in which the divine mysteries became known to him. Speaking and praying in tongues opened a door from the Holy Spirit into his human spirit. Without doubt, for the moment, his understanding was unfruitful, but the door was opened so his spirit could receive these mysteries and then release them in his understanding. Then, he passed the revelation of truth on to others.
Throughout this Epistles Paul made mention of the mysteries revealed to him. In I Corinthians 2:7-12 he said, We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Indeed, all of I Corinthians may be an exposition of the wisdom and revelation God gave to Paul as he spoke in tongues.
In Romans 16:25,26 he told of the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery and how it works toward the establishing of lives. How valuable this is!
In I Corinthians 2:6,7 Paul said he was speaking wisdom among the mature ones, but it was not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world. He was speaking the wisdom of God which had been veiled in a mystery . . which God ordained before the world unto our glory. To restate this: "What I say to you in this letter is a revelation of the wisdom of God which was once a secret hidden in eternity with Him, but now is made known to us to bring us into His glory." Paul's communion with the Holy Spirit released this within him.
In I Corinthians 4:1 we see how Paul viewed those who minister the Gospel as stewards of the mysteries of God. Steward is from the Greek oikonómos which means "manager of a household." A good steward knows where are stored the commodities of the house under his management. He knows how to procure them. How blessed is the steward in God's house who knows what brings the release of the eternal mysteries that work toward establishing the souls under his charge!
From Ephesians 3:1-11 we find one of the greatest mysteries revealed to Paul was that the Gentile nations should become fellow heirs with the Jews in the body of Christ. This became the foundation of Paul's ministry. He was set in the world to make all people of every nation see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning was hid in God. He said the wisdom of this mystery would eventually reach even unto the spiritual forces in the heavens and show them the prevailing power of the eternal wisdom of God.
Now here is an amazing thing - and something from which we gain a divine check for our own selves. The revelation of the mysteries made known to Paul all flowed in harmony with the Word given through the Prophets - Romans 16:26. Actually, much of the revelation given to him was the opening of the Word of the Old Testament once sealed.
By speaking in tongues, our human spirit becomes friendly with God's Spirit. Friends share secrets. The human spirit perceives the things of God's Spirit, and reaches through into areas the mind alone cannot reach. By this, the human spirit grows both in the perception of God and in relationship with what He is doing. As our spirit grows, the understanding of God's ways and of His holy purposes filters through into our understanding. This causes growth in our conscious awareness of God and brings a spiritual keenness. The mystery of His will -- that is, the depth of God's desire for us -- opens. Darkness departs.
THE SHARING OF secret things also works in another way. By speaking in tongues, we can release to God the deep thoughts and secrets of our hearts, some of which we cannot express with clear understanding. This helps us bring the things in our spirits - sometimes things that have darkness and pain associated with them - into relationship with Him. Then, the burdens of our hearts become absorbed in His greatness and power.
Our spirits are more perceptive than our minds. The human spirit can see things before the mind sees them. It knows things about us that our mind does not know. God has made us this way. Our minds are near the surface of our beings. Our spirits are at the core and are more capable of receiving guidance, ideas and knowledge than our minds.
Not only does the Holy Spirit reveal the mysteries of God in us and absorb our secret darkness, but He also brings spiritual revelation and knowledge of natural things that we cannot naturally know. One day as I waited on the Lord, praying quietly in tongues, it came to me that I should call a certain brother and arrange to visit with him that day. After we had spent some time together, he admitted he had been very depressed. He said, "When you called this morning, I was lying in bed considering how I might take my life." Only God's Spirit knew of this brother's despair. By my spirit communicating with the Holy Spirit, there came in me the desire to call the brother. My mind didn't know the reason, but the Holy Spirit within my spirit did.
Frequently we find that by tongues the deep needs of another human heart may be revealed. When we minister to people seeking help, Glenda and I have found that by praying quietly in tongues, revelation comes regarding the needs in those to whom we minister. Things we cannot naturally know, and which the persons are not free to express, are brought to light by the Holy Spirit. Healing and deliverance can then take place. The gift of tongues working within us leads to the gifts of discerning of spirits, and knowledge, and wisdom. With these comes the gift of faith. These operations of the Spirit enable us to move with accuracy in setting persons free.
I've watched Glenda counseling people in need, often with problems for which there was no human answer. She has learned to pray in tongues quietly, in her spirit, without anyone being aware. I've watched words of wisdom and revelation come I knew could not have originated with her - and souls are set free.
The secrets that can be made known by the Holy Spirit touch infinity. There is no realm of being or human involvement where the wisdom of them cannot reach. For this reason the gift of tongues, and the release in our spirits of the divine secrets that come with it, is of value for every phase of life there is.
THREE - When we speak in tongues, we work toward the building up of our own spiritual strength. We learn this from Paul's statement: Whoever speaks in a tongue edifies himself - I Corinthians 14:4a.
As we learned, the word edifies in the above verse is from the Greek oikodoméo. It literally means "to build or establish a house." But now -- tongues is not useful in the building up of the church as it assembles, unless it leads to the release of other spiritual gifts. The gift of tongues is for the building up of the individual. It is prophecy that builds up the church - I Corinthians 14:4b. Under the next point we will discuss this.
We've seen some believers who feel they can speak in tongues only when they are expressly "moved upon by the Holy Spirit" and lose control of their speech. This generally happens at the altar call closing an emotional and spiritually high pitched meeting. It is often a rather ecstatic speaking with little more meaning than that of a baby learning to make his first sounds of speech. But the tongues of which Paul is speaking in I Corinthians 14 is of much greater value than this, just as the speech of a person who can talk is better than the first sounds of a baby. But, those baby sounds are a necessary beginning. Only, one should not remain with this kind of speaking.
God made man in three dimensions: spirit, soul, and body. He designed the spirit to be the controlling part, the soul to be the conscious part, and the body to be the servant of these two. In many people the spirit is weak, so the control of affairs goes either to the soul or to the body. This throws the person off balance. It may not seem so to the one who is accustomed to the rule of the mind, or the emotions, or the physical drives. But, sooner or later, these faculties fail. The mind becomes baffled, the emotions run amuck with confusion, the body sends wrong signals leading to weakness. Particularly in a time of trouble, a person with no government in his life, other than from these lower parts of being, be comes, in some degree, dysfunctional. As the fury of the last days comes on, it is more important than ever that we have the stabilizing power of the Holy Spirit working inside us.
The Holy Spirit comes to bring the control of our lives back to the realm of God's Kingdom. He does this by making our spirits alive, bringing our minds to soundness and by strengthening us with His wisdom and faith.
IN ANOTHER ISSUE of MASCHIL, I told of a time when the use of tongues for self- edification became real to me. I retell it now because what I learned in that experience has proved helpful ever since.
For years speaking in tongues had been my daily practice. But one day something happened that brought about a new appreciation for the gift. It was during the time of darkness and tragedy that struck our family, about which I told in Putting Off the Old Man.
I had been invited to speak to a gathering of the Full Gospel Businessmen, about two hours away by car. That day, before leaving for the meeting, I was confronted with a horrifying fact of something that had happened in our family. Had someone blasted me in the stomach with a shot gun, it would have been more welcome. My mind became addled. Darkness closed in, along with fear, guilt, oppression, bewilderment and the inability to think clearly. I could remember that I was to go that night and speak at a certain address which I had written down, but I was in such a state of shock that I could not engage in any sort of conversation with anyone.
As I traveled, my oppression increased with the thought that soon I was expected to stand before a congregation and give testimony of God's faithfulness and power. Through this darkess the Lord spoke to me. What He said was so secret and what I was released to do was so private that for years I never spoke of it to anyone. Yet it has continued as a practice bringing much spiritual edification. It has become useful especially in praying with the Spirit.
Breaking through the darkness of my own soul that day, the Lord said to me, "Think in tongues."
I'd never heard of this, nor did I know of a Scripture supporting it, but I began doing it. With no movement of my tongue or lips, there came a movement through my brain, like words I could not myself understand, but they carried away the darkness. My mind was purged and I could think clearly -- and I became aware of the Lord's presence.
What took place further in our lives or in the meeting that night are not of significance at this point, except to say that God proved Himself faithful. I am simply relating what was the begin- fling of a practice that has continued with me for years. As I said, it has been mostly a very private, even secret, thing.
One day many years later, I shared with Glenda what I had been doing and what a benefit it had been. She said, "Oh, I have been doing that for years."
She said one day as she was praying in tongues, the Lord spoke to her, "Swallow." Precious woman that she is, she was not deeply rooted in "theology." When God spoke so simple a thing to her, she had no theological hang-up against doing it. She swallowed and the tongues went down into her spirit where she could hear herself speaking in tongues even though she was not speaking with her mouth.
In recent months, this spiritual practice has proved more and more valuable to both of us. As the attacks of the enemy have become more fierce, they have frequently left our minds tired and unable to come up with right answers. Just allowing this powerful sweep of the Spirit through our brains has brought peace and revelation as to what is right from God's standpoint. Often it's been right simply to stand still and see His salvation.
Sometimes, the work of edification requires the tearing down of old structures to make way for the new. The Holy Spirit, with the tongues He brings, is powerful at doing this. While the reception of the Holy Spirit and His gifts is not a guarantee of purity, the gift of tongues, properly understood and practiced, will lead to purity.
Let me give as an example a woman who came to our house for help. Even though she was married, deeply spiritual, and involved in ministry, a terrible obsession had taken hold on her. She was infatuated and secretly involved with another woman's husband, also a minister. They both claimed to be servants of the Lord and knew their relationship was wrong but had not been able to free themselves from their feelings for one another. In seeking help, the woman said she had received counseling and had asked for prayer, had fasted, and had submitted to the ministry of deliverance. Still the unlawful and secret infatuation continued. It had found its way into her spirit. This hold was so strong in her it was corrupting her walk with the Lord and was nigh unto destroying two families. She was desperately ready for cleansing.
I told her, apparently led by the Lord, "Some bondages are so deep only the Holy Spirit can break them." Now when I said this, I did not know the extent of the bondage. She had not told everything, which is often the case with those who come for help.
The statement had a profound effect on her, and released a ray of hope. Sparked by what I said, she went home and for some time alone poured out in tongues the deep secrets of her spirit. Things she could tell no one, things that could not even find expression in her mind, she was able to pour out to the Lord in tongues. The Holy Spirit took those dark secrets and consumed them. The next day she saw the man with whom she had been infatuated and found there was no more attraction to him. She was free from her bondage of corruption.
FOUR - Speaking with tongues leads to the speaking forth of much that is profitable for others to hear. I haven't learned this from the King James Version which says, I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied -- I Corinthians 14:5. This seems to say, while tongues would be nice for everyone, it would be better for each one to prophesy, instead.
Understanding becomes clearer when we take note of the Greek words translated but rather that ye prophesied. The form of the word from which prophesied comes is an Aorist Subjunctive. The word that preceding it is from the Greek word hina. When it accompanies a Subjunctive, it means, "in order that." This would make Paul's statement say: "I would that you all spoke in tongues, but rather in order that you might prophesy." In other words, he was saying that tongues would be great for everyone, but not as an end in itself. Tongues should lead to prophesying.
What is prophesying? It is from the Greek word propheteúo which in ancient times meant "to be a spokesman for the gods." In the New Testament, it means "to be a spokesman for the Lord God." Paul is saying that tongues should lead to the release of prophecy, or wisdom, or revelation, or knowledge from God. The Holy Spirit can release these in the human spirit as a result of speaking in tongues.
It is not necessary that prophecy be loud or ecstatic. It can be quietly spoken, even whispered in the ear of one other person. As a word from the Lord, it will carry with it the power to accomplish its end without the person speaking finding it necessary to shout. On the other hand, if a Prophet is inclined to shout out his word, it doesn't lessen the power of the word. It may even, indeed, intensify it to some hearers.
In the next verse Paul says, If I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you except I speak to you by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? - I Corinthians 14:6. This verse lays out four kinds of public speech that can edify the church. Without doubt, Paul is of the impression that much speaking in tongues will enhance these ministries. Thus, tongues has its value before one stands to speak -- perhaps while on the way to a meeting, or in the hours and days prior to it.
I believe, if we had been traveling along the road with Paul, walking to a meeting in which the Word of the Lord would be expounded, there would be little idle conversation. Paul would be praying in the spirit, talking in tongues, edifying himself for speaking forth the Word to the people gathered. I also believe that if we had been close by when his Epistles were being born, with our heads right next to his, we could have heard him speaking and praying in tongues.
The same can work for us. Speaking in tongues can lead to an anointed insight into truth, the release of knowledge, the speaking forth of words directly from the Lord, or to the teaching of God's Word.
The ministry of revelation is a full dimensional exposition of truth. The Greek word, apokalúpsis, is also in the title of the final book of the New Testament. It means "a disclosure or unveiling" of some one or some thing. As Paul used it here, he had in mind the disclosure of truth. It could be the unveiling of truth contained in the Scriptures but not easily understood. It could be the disclosure of truth about a person or a situation. The revelation of truth can give guidance that will prompt a person to move in a certain direction, or else not move. It can bring about the disclosure of unhealthy conditions in persons needing inner healing. The spirit of revelation can move in many directions. It is needful and beneficial.
The ministry of knowledge associated with the Holy Spirit is also needful. Through it, things that cannot be known by the natural mind are made known, as when Jesus ministered to the woman at the well (John 4:17,18).
The ministry of teaching can also be helped greatly by the Holy Spirit. This is the ministry of laying out truth so it can be easily grasped by the hearers. It is necessary for the teacher to have spent much time studying the Scriptures and waiting before the Lord for truth to become real and understandable in his own being. He can more properly lay it out before others with anointing and conviction when he Holy Spirit has had free course to work in him. Much speaking in tongues in private will enable a teacher to present lessons that can be easily received by the hearers and put to work in the living out of life.
FIVE - Tongues is beneficial in praying. Paul made a simple statement about this. He said, I will pray with the spirit- I Corinthians 14:15.
At one time I thought praying with the spirit meant praying with fervor and emotion - in one's own natural language. But from the context of I Corinthians 14, we find Paul was laying out principles regarding speaking in tongues. To him praying with the Spirit meant praying with tongues. I Corinthians 14:14 makes this clear.
Insight regarding this unusual kind of praying comes from a statement he made in Romans 8:26,27. If we look carefully at this, we find three important principles. Likewise (1) the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but (2) the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And (3) He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God - Romans 8:26,27.
We all have an infirmity. It is our weakness in praying. The Holy Spirit will help us in this weakness by doing the praying for us and in us. Sometimes He does this with groanings which cannot be uttered. Always He prays according to what is right from God's viewpoint.
Helps, as used in this verse, is from a powerful Greek word meaning "to take hold of a burden with someone." Not knowing how to pray is a heavy burden. When the necessities facing us demand answers, and we are baffled as to how to pray, the Holy Spirit takes up this burden and does the praying for us. He does this from within us with groanings so deep they cannot be spoken.
What could the unutterable groanings be? As we've walked with the Lord for years, we've come to the conviction it is that gift of tongues that takes off into the deep parts of our spirit much like the thinking of thoughts works in the deep parts of our mind.
Many times situations baffle us while our humanity fails to come up with a solution, or even with enough understanding to ask God for the solution. It is in these times, when our intellect is at a loss for words and divine intervention is so necessary, that our spirit teams with the Holy Spirit for the intercession.
Praying with the spirit is an operation that can go on at any time, even in the midst of other activities. It is not necessary to close the eyes, move the lips or make strange expressions while doing it. One of the things I appreciate about Glenda is that whenever she is with me in a meeting where I am ministering, she prays in the spirit. I do the same for her when she is ministering. This is like one member of a team running interference while another member carries the ball.
Praying with the spirit has continually proved to be a cleanser and healer for my mind. Praying with the spirit can be one of my best kept secrets, though it proves to be of such value that I want everyone to know it. When Paul said, in I Corinthians 14:15, that he prayed with the spirit, he also said he prayed with the understanding. We have much to learn from him at this point. Apart from writing his Epistles, prayer was probably the most important ministry he had. In his closing years while a prisoner in Rome, he wrote Letters to the churches he helped establish in Asia Minor. In these Letters he told what he was praying for the believers in those churches. His prayers are a help to us today as we learn to pray with the spirit and with the understanding also.
We can find what Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:15-20; Ephesians3:14-20; Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9,10. We call these Paul's Prison Epistle Prayers.
Great strength can come to our praying when we couple the understanding of Paul's prayers with praying with the spirit. This becomes powerful intercession.
Jude adds his admonition with this insight as to what praying in the Spirit brings to pass in us. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God... Jude 20,21a. Wow!
SIX - Tongues releases us to a very high and wonderful form of worship. Paul gives insight to this when he says, I will also sing with the spirit - I Corinthians 14:15. This is one of the greatest delights there is. Sometimes our human words of worship and praise are not good enough to express the glory that should be given to the Lord. Then we can sing with the spirit.
After I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and began speaking with tongues, I remained for a while with the denomination of which I was a part. During this time I found it was best to remain somewhat quiet about the new gift working in my life. When we met together to worship, it was our common practice to sing from hymnals. Apart from this and singing a few short choruses, it was the only opportunity I had to sing with others. While singing those hymns, I really wanted to continue longer in worship and sing with the spirit.
Not knowing any place where the gift of tongues might be practiced, I found it was quite nice to sing with the spirit along with others in the congregation as they sang from the hymnal. Now this is not to say that hymns and gospel songs in English have no value. Many are the times my soul has worshipped the Lord while singing "All Hail the power of Jesus Name," or "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," or "How Firm a Foundation, Ye Saints of the Lord," or a gospel song like "No Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus." The hymns of the church have done much for me in establishing my faith in the Lord Jesus. But frequently, just the singing of the hymns, or of Gospel songs and choruses, leaves my spirit on a lower plane than it wants to go. That's when singing with the spirit became so useful.
I MET FOR FOUR DAYS with a group of 25 pastors near the border of the troubled nation of Mozambique. Some of them were so poor and unsophisticated they didn't know the difference between men's and women's clothing. One of the mightiest men of God I think I have ever known, jailed several times for preaching the Gospel, was among them wearing a woman's coat. Day after day I taught these men and one woman about the use and value of the gift of tongues. Basically what I laid out before them was what I have laid out in this article. I was never more aware of help coming from the Holy Spirit to teach.
The interpreter I was called upon to use was a young African named David who had been trained by the Evangelicals but whose ministry had come to a stand still. He had been taught that tongues is "not for us." Yet he faithfully stood by and interpreted as I laid out what the Holy Spirit desires to do in us.
On the last day of the conference, I asked how many present had never received the Holy Spirit baptism. One half of them indicated they had not. I asked these to come to the front and stand. I asked another one who did speak in tongues to come and stand by each of them. Then I explained to those who had never received that we would lay hands on them one by one and impart the gift -- myself in agreement with the one standing by each one. I kept David at my side for I could not tell if those on whom we laid hands began speaking in tongues or in an African dialect.
To each one we came and laid hands upon them, praying a simple prayer of impartation. In each one the Spirit moved. Each time I asked David, "Is this one speaking in tongues?" Each time he said, "Yes, brother." The entire group received. Then I asked David, "Wouldn't you also like to receive?" He replied, "Oh yes brother!" Several of us then laid hands on him and he instantly was baptized in the Spirit and began speaking in tongues.
About two years later, I went to David's village for another Pastors' and workers' conference. A congregation of spirit baptized believers had come forth there. His brother who works in a medical clinic told me how David had come back from the conference changed and taught them the things we had taught before. He said that now they also had received. I saw this was so.
Many people have not received the Holy Spirit baptism because they have been taught, as David had, that it is not for us. Others have never received because they have never been in a meeting where the Spirit is allowed to move. Others have never received because they, like the people to whom Paul went in Acts 19, have never heard whether there be a Holy Spirit. Others have never received because they have never opened their hearts to receive.
Whatever the reason, The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call - Acts 2:39.
If you, dear reader, have never received, or if the gift in you has been neglected, find some Spirit filled prayer group or anointed meeting. Press in like a hungry soul and ask for prayer from some anointed person. Or, if you cannot find such a meeting or person, ask God privately. Jesus said, If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Luke 11:13. Amen!
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