Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Speaking in Tongues and my Private Prayer Life

Here at Grace Church we do not believe that sign gifts such as speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit that is operational today. We believe that these sign gifts were needed for the Apostles in the early church to validate that their message was really from God. Today it is the Bible that validates if a message is from God, but back in the days of the early church the Bible was not yet complete so sign gifts were needed. Today, because we have the completed canon of Scripture, we no longer need sign gifts.

But what about the usage of speaking in tongues in my private prayer life? Is this a legitimate usage of the gift of tongues? Is that a Biblical concept? There are several Scriptural problems with this that are identified by Dr. Ronald Showers in an article in the March-May 1988 issue of the magazine Israel My Glory.

First, using tongues in our private prayer life would violate the God-intended purpose for spiritual gifts which is to minister to others (1 Peter 4:10). No spiritual gift was for the purpose of self-edification. This also goes against the major teaching of 1 Corinthians 13 that spiritual gifts are meaningless without love. Spiritual gifts in our lives are for the benefit of others not for our own benefit. Private tongues speaking for self-edification would not be a ministry to other people which is the design and purpose of spiritual gifts.

The private usage of tongues also goes against the Biblical purpose of tongues as seen in 1 Corinthians 14:22 where Paul states that tongues are for a sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers. Speaking in tongues was to be a sign to unbelievers that validated the message of the Apostles. This purpose is not fulfilled at all in the private usage of tongues in our prayer lives. The very word “sign” (also translated “miracle”) indicates that it was intended to be a public event not something done in private. Sign gifts were always public (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:22; John 2:23; 6:2, 14; 12:37; Acts 2:22; 8:6, 13; 15:12; and 2 Corinthians 12:12).

Many would point to Romans 8:26 as Biblical support for using tongues in our private prayer lives. In this verse we learn that in our infirmities, when we don’t know what to pray, that the Spirit of God prays for us and makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. However, it is quite a stretch to interpret this verse as a validation for the usage of tongues in our private prayer lives.

When this verse describes the Spirit’s praying for us as groanings which cannot be “uttered,” this word literally means “wordless.” It is related to the word which speaks of being “mute or dumb.” A literal translation would be that the Spirit prays for us with groanings that involve “no speaking.” Paul is in no way referring to praying in tongues. He is referring to the totally silent praying of the Holy Spirit on behalf of believers. This is not the person praying, it is the Holy Spirit interceding on behalf of the believer. This praying involves no sound that is audible to the human ear. There is no other evidence in Scripture that would encourage the usage of tongues in our private prayer lives.


Anonymous said...

i suggest you read your bible again 1 corinthians 14:4

Gary Underwood said...

Brother Scott. I am a pastor also, however I find that churches always like to throw out gifts they do not understand and for us pastors we keep the ones that keep us employed. The teaching gift, the preaching gift, etc. Brother if we keep one of the gifts we must keep them all. However related to the gift of tongues we must follow Pauls teaching on how the gifts should be used. Also keep in mind Pauls exact words, I speak and pray in tongues more than any of you. That is prayer language my friend. Thanks for reading. By the way I am not charismatic, I am a conservative Anderson Indiana Church of God pastor.

Scott Gage said...

I was doing a search on "speaking in private" for a English paper I am writing and your page concerning speaking in tongues came up first on my list. There are some answers I can give you which may shed some light on the question of speaking in tongues, which ultimately will only be answered between you and the Lord. I also make clear that the word of God is our plumb line and source for validation of truth in Christ. If you recall in scripture Luke 1:40-43 when Mary was pregnant with Jesus she went to see Elizabeth. Upon Mary greeting Elizabeth John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth's womb, recognizing the presence of the Spirit of God. We know that Mary carried the spirit because Christ was in her. Keeping that in mind, that Christ already had the Holy Spirit in Him from Conception, as He was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Consider that everything Christ did modeled for us behavior and a faith to follow in. As part of His body, we all have Christ in us, Pentecostal and Baptist alike. Christ did not call us to be Baptist or Pentecostal, but to be His disciples. I am explaining this in this way to illustrate how Christ modeled for us a pattern of spiritual growth in his example and teaching. The definition of discipleship implies a search and learning of the more unfathomable riches of Christ which is not discovered by us but revealed by the Holy Spirit. That is why John 14:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things. The fact that we do not know all things implies there are indeed mysteries to be revealed. John 15:15 also implies more is shared with His friends than servants. He is speaking of relationship.
Well I have said all that to illustrate Jesus did have the Holy Spirit from Birth, but when he went into the Jordon to be Baptized by John, John said the heavens opened and he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove and remain. I noticed the other day when reading scripture that it reveals that there was a second Holy Spirit event, followed by a time of testing in the wilderness. John recognized that He was the Christ even before the baptism, as he recognized the Spirit of God on Him. This even prompted an immediate recollection to the last chapter in Luke when the disciples had been commanded to go to the nations and preach the Gospel, that Jesus had told them not to leave the City of Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on High. I believe this is an equipping from on high to do His works, led by His Spirit, with this baptism of fire that occurred in the upper room. The scripture is clear that the flesh profits nothing, and we can do nothing without him. Of ourselves we are useless. He that builds the house labors in vain unless it is the Lord that builds it. This understanding does not imply God is not using people without a baptism of fire. It speaks of the positional relationship of spiritual maturity, not just knowledge of scripture. John 7:38 says out of the belly will flow rivers of living water. In revelation is says Jesus will come back with a voice of many waters. I believe the words spoken through the body from the belly are the rivers of living water, because they are His words and not our own and they carry redemptive power for deliverance from worldly bondages because they are words of the Holy Spirit.

Scott Gage said...

The prayer language you were writing about comes at a certain time as God directs. It does not mean someone has more of God than someone else, how could that be? The same Jesus is in all of us who love Him. But what it is, is an equipping of the saints to minister as a gift. We all have different gifts. It is not an event that distinguishes that someone is more loved of God than another, as every good thing comes from Him by grace, not by any performance. The only reason to seek gifts from God is to help the body and deliver those in bondage to their own lusts and influence of Satan. Where ever there is something real, there is a counterfeit. I believe psychics tap into the spirit realm of the demonic. But just as the disciples in scripture like Ananias who prayed the scales be removed from the eyes of Paul was told by the Lord to do so, and Joseph hearing in a dream how Mary was caring the Christ conceived by the Holy Spirit, we too at times, as God wills can hear from Him supernaturally to do His works.

I noted in my scripture reading that Jesus was 12 when he first was about His fathers business, learning in the synagogue. For eighteen years He was being prepared until a point in time when He advanced to a baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon Him and Remained, then went into the wilderness and was tested for forty days, then after all of that began a ministry of signs and wonders. In Mark Jesus said these signs will follow those that believe:

Mark 16:16-18 (NKJV) says: 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Scott Gage said...

Can we say we are operating with those signs following us? If we cannot say they follow us, it may indicated there is an equipping or clothing of power we need from the Holy Spirit which we have not yet received. I believe because the body is lacking true discipleship and we are just being converted to Christ, we are lacking the operation of the gifts which He bestows on the mature who can handle the gifts without pride etc. Like babies that can only drink milk, but are not mature enough for the solid food. Considering Babies are not mature enough to reproduce (make disciples) we should mature. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.... implies heaven on earth or open heaven. Jesus said in Matthew that the "the pure in heart would see heaven" and when he first met Nathaniel, Jesus said here is an Israelite in which there is no guile or nothing false (speaking of a pure heart), you shall see heavens open and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man..." This verse reveals that those with a pure heart seeking Him as Nathaniel's was under the fig tree will see heaven open. I believe we are on this highway walking toward His truth and He is trying to tell us more all the time, as He said to the disciples: "there is so much more I want to tell you but you can not bear it" Jesus is positioning us for more all the time. Paul wrote that it was not with creative words of man that he preached this Gospel, but by a demonstration of His power." We have to come to grips that there indeed is more for those who will stay in school so- to-speak. It is not an issue of value or prestige, but as functioning in Him responding to His signals by the Holy Spirit, much like your hand and arm do what your head tells it to. What if your hand and arm was not hearing the signal? It would be paralyzed and useless. Not that it was not supposed to do a work. But as a member of His body I can only function when he tells me what to do.
You made the comment we did not need the gifts today. God is the same, people are the same, what has changed? I can do nothing without Christ in the equation. It is his power that delivers and transforms.

Brother, please pray and ask God to reveal this to you. You have a responsibility as a pastor not to encourage people to deny the power of God and the gifts He has given His body.

Love in Christ,

Scott Gage

Anonymous said...

Hi there brothers and sisters,

The Bible advises us to not lean on our understanding. Let us not draw a conclusion about tongues. Whether they ceased or are applicable today. Ask God, "if tongues help me in my spritual life and if you still give them, please give me" Then if He gives it to you, then speak and use it. You will be edified. If he does not give it you, either keep asking or say nothing about them. May God richly bless you all!!