Well, even if tongues are available, can't tongues can only come by the laying on of apostles hands?
I've been warned that tongues is of the devil, or that some tongues are. Isn't it too dangerous to try?
The question is 'What is the Holy Spirit?', but probably the better question would be 'who is the Holy Spirit?', because the Bible talks of the Holy Spirit as a person. It identifies it as a personality in thinking terms as opposed to just an object.
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in (John 14:26) "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost is made available to us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus also describes the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth. (John 14:16-17)
It is this same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11) which is available in giving us rest and refreshment from the cares of this life (Isaiah 28:11, 1 Corinthians 14:21) and will prepare us for eternal life.
Similarly, in Romans 8:26 (Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.) the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf, giving us the confidence and assurance that our prayers are not only heard but answered.
When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus told them to "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Luke 11:9-10). Jesus then makes the analogy between a natural father and son regarding nurturing needs and concerns and then makes the comparison to God giving the Holy Spirit to those who ask "….. how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." (Luke 11:13).
Likewise on the day of Pentecost, Peter, when questioned by the crowd "what shall we do?", answered and said "Repent and be baptised, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38). Therefore repentance and baptism are steps towards God and the indication of a willing heart in asking for His Holy Spirit.
The sign of receiving the Holy Spirit was first displayed in Acts 2, where all who were gathered together on the day of Pentecost "spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). This was identified by Peter when some bystanders were confused by speaking in tongues and asked "what meaneth this?". Peter's answer began by quoting the prophet Joel (Acts 2:17-18 "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh."), and finished by identifying speaking in tongues as the pouring out of God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33).
A man named Cornelius, known to have many outstanding traits (devout, god-fearing, alms-giving, always praying, seer of visions, just, of good-report and fasting often) still lacked the Holy Spirit and was not saved. Whilst Peter expounded the Gospel, he and his family received the Holy Spirit. This was made evident to Peter and the other apostles present -"For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (Acts 10:44-48).
One of the last things Jesus said to his disciples before returning to heaven was that one of the signs identifying believers would be that "they shall speak with new tongues" Mark 16:17. Strong's Concordance, a generally accepted index of Bible words translates "tongues" to mean "by implication a language, especially a naturally unacquired tongue" (Strong, 1990).
In the Bible, Speaking in Tongues refers to a language or languages not previously learned by the speaker (Acts 2:6-12); an ability gained in an instant of time (Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19); not learnt over time; acquired when being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19); not understood by the speaker; nor generally understood by other humans and certainly not for the purpose of communicating with them (1 Corinthians 14).
Speaking in tongues is the outward manifestation of the in-filling of God's Holy Spirit and is a tangible experience promised to all.
The Holy Spirit is the only means of entering in to the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."
In a world of spiritual darkness, Jesus tells us He is "…the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6). In verse 17, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth which will dwell within us when we receive it. It makes sense then to have the truth which will grant you access to God.
God establishes his people, his church, through his son Jesus Christ. Acts 2:38 - 39 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For 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."
The Bible says quite clearly that a person must have the Holy Spirit to be saved. For example, "… Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Romans 8:9), and "…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5).
The Holy Spirit also endues us with power from on high (Luke 24:49) and leads us to follow God's ways in that upon receiving the Holy Spirit we become the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14-17). As mentioned before, the Spirit therefore acts not only as a comforter for this life but is essential in preparing us for Jesus' return.
Tongues is not for preaching but for prayer to God (Jude 20-21). It is sometimes proposed by those who are not filled with the Holy Spirit, that tongues was a tool given by God to preach his word to those visitors to the region at the time of Pentecost. Superficially, this argument appears plausible. However, the story told in the first two chapters of Acts demonstrates that the disciples were not preaching but rather praying in the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:1-4). Although the visitors overheard the Galileans speaking miraculously in foreign languages, they were not being spoken to per se. Indeed, the tongues did not "preach" for Peter had to speak to the crowd in his own understanding (Acts 2:14-40).
Paul tells us that it is the language which one speaks with understanding, and not a tongue of the Spirit that is to be used for preaching. "…I had rather speaks five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in a unknown tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:19). The apostle had earlier told us that tongues is for speaking to God, not to man (1 Corinthians 14:2).
Indeed, there are no accounts in the Bible of tongues being used for preaching. There is only one reference which possibly infers that people were trying to preach in tongues, and even then this behaviour was frowned upon (1 Corinthians 14:19).
The Bible first prophesied that believers would speak in tongues in Isaiah 28:9-13, a Scripture to which Paul referred in his writings on the subject (1 Corinthians 14:21). Jesus commenced His ministry by telling Nicodemus that being born of the Spirit, accompanied by a "sound" or "voice" was essential for salvation (John 3:5-8). His parting words in Mark 16:15-20 included speaking in tongues. If the message were to be different at some other later date then it would make the Word of God into a lie when it says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, tongues is for today.
Yes, Paul did say that in 1 Corinthians 13:8. However, this is a quotation that is commonly taken completely out of context. What Paul said was that tongues, prophecies and knowledge would all cease when "that which was perfect was come" - the Lord Jesus Christ. That appointed time according to the Bible was to be when we would see the Lord "face to face," that is, when he has returned (1 Corinthians 13:12) We know that we are now in the last days when "knowledge shall increase", and many prophecies are being fulfilled. Clearly, as knowledge and prophecy have not ceased, neither have tongues. Thus, tongues shall cease but not until the Lord returns.
Well, even if tongues are available, surely tongues can only come by the laying on of apostles hands?
We see various accounts in the books of Acts where people received the Spirit with the Bible evidence of speaking in tongues. In Acts 2:4, 120 people including the apostles themselves received the Holy Spirit/Tongues, on the day of Pentecost, without the laying on of hands of any other human. Later, in Acts 9:17 Paul the Apostle received the Spirit when Annanias laid his hands on him. Yet Annanias was not an Apostle, simply a disciple. Subsequently, in Acts 10:44 Cornelius and his household were converted as Peter "spoke" the words of salvation. No "laying on of hands" occurred here.
Those who would wish to deny others the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues often quote 1 Corinthians 14:11 which says (in relation to speaking in tongues) "…therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me". Here Paul is not squashing the use of tongues but rather expressing concerns about the misuse of tongues. He explains that tongues is not for preaching as no one will understand it, and if nobody understands it why speak to them in tongues? Speaking in tongues in private communication with God does not make you a barbarian. In any event to say that speaking in tongues would make you a barbarian adds weight to the argument that tongues is not for preaching.
Jesus lived under the Old Testament Law, of which tongues was not a part (although it was prophesied in it, in Isaiah 28:11). He came to usher in the New Testament, but not actually live it in person. In Acts 1 and Mark 16, Jesus indicated that tongues would be one of the signs that would follow New Testament believers. Hence speaking in tongues was neither a part of the law nor of Jesus' personal ministry. The New Testament and tongues could only come into force after the death of the testator (Jesus himself). "Hebrews 9:15-17". Thus tongues could not be in force while Jesus was alive. Jesus did not speak in tongues because he was not supposed to. As His obedient followers, we are commanded to (Mark 16:15-20).
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were speaking recognisable languages and God went so far as to ratify this by having many witnesses there at the day of Pentecost to testify to the fact that they were speaking identifiable languages. We are told however, that some of the languages given by God may not necessarily be identifiable by man since He said that there would be tongues of men and of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). Since angels and men and women of all nations and tongues are not available to ratify whether the tongues are of men or of angels, or not, it is not possible to prove whether a tongue is a known language on every occasion. There is no basis, however for concluding that because there is no-one there to understand a tongue that it must be a babble.
As we have previously discussed, speaking in tongues is designed by God for speaking to Him and to no other (1 Corinthians 14:2). In James we are told that the tongue is an unruly member that no man can tame - on the one hand we can praise God with it and the next we can curse our brother (James 3:3-13). It is not surprising that God has chosen to tame and take control of the most unruly member of our body and use it to create a new language, pure and undefiled with which we might speak to Him.
Paul writes "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that can not be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, for he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8 :26-27). Jude tells us that prayer "in the Spirit" edifies (builds us up) spiritually (Jude 20).
I've been warned that tongues is of the devil, or that some tongues are. Isn't it too dangerous to try?
In Luke 11, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray, particularly so that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). Interestingly, the next story in Luke relates to Jesus casting a demon out of a dumb man and being accused of having done so by the power of the devil. Jesus Christ, who was perfect, blameless and without sin had an impeccable testimony. He demonstrated all of the fruit of the Spirit. He loved, forgave, uplifted, helped and healed. He demonstrated mercy, kindness, temperance, gentleness, faith and miracles. Finally he gave his life for mankind. He was the epitome of love and yet for all of his righteousness the religious leaders of the day said that he was of the devil. Jesus said in Matthew 10:25 "…if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household…"
In fact, when a person receives the Holy Spirit, that is, when they speak in tongues, it is common that then or shortly after, ungodly practices and influences such as alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, bad language, immorality and so on leave them. In other words the conversion is to a Godly life, not the opposite.
There are definitely accounts of people speaking in tongues in the Bible where no interpreter was present. For example, Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44) and the conversions at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-4). Indeed, the comment about needing an interpreter for tongues, stems from a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 14 where it says "…if any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most three,…and let one interpret…". To explain; the key to correctly understanding this passage of Scripture is to recognise that it relates specifically to the context of a meeting. 1 Corinthians 14:26 "…When you come together brethren…every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue,…".
While Paul acknowledges that all can speak with tongues, he exhorts that in the context of a meeting, all shouldn't. As such, Paul records the prescribed manner in which tongues should be heard in any one Christian meeting (That is, two at the most three) and these tongues should be interpreted.
People quote the list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and make the assumption that because tongues is the last mentioned that it must be the least important. Some even go so far to say that it's not necessary at all. There is no evidence to suggest that the order in which items appear in Scripture signifies the greatest to least importance. For example, consider the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). Can we say that the 4th commandment (keep the Sabbath day) was more important than the 6th commandment (thou shalt not kill) ?
Consider also the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. Would one then say that "murder" which appears 15th down the list is less a work of the flesh than say "wrath" which appears at position 10?
The Bible says quite clearly that a person must have the Holy Spirit to be saved. For example, "…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9), and "…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). As we have said before "these signs shall follow them that believe …they shall speak in new tongues" (Mark 16:15-20). Further, the literal translation of Jesus' comments to Nicodemus in John 3:8 reads: "…The Spirit breathes where he will, and you hear his voice, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes to. So is everyone born of the Spirit."
This text clearly demonstrates that everyone born of the Spirit will have the voice of the Spirit. Jesus spoke these words and as such we can correctly and confidently say that the infilling of the Spirit does include a voice. As with the birth of a child the waters break and you first know that the baby is alive when you hear the "voice thereof".
If there is any doubt to what this sound or voice or language might be, we have complete clarification in Acts 2:4 when the Spirit was first poured out where they spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
An inspection of the story of Cornelius tells us that he possessed at least seven fine qualities in the eyes of God. He was a devout man, feared God, gave alms to the poor, prayed to God frequently and often, saw visions from God, a just man, who prayed and fasted. However, Cornelius was not saved (Acts 11:14) until he heard the words of salvation. As the words of salvation were preached, he and his house hold spoke in tongues.
Jesus said that true worshippers "must worship God in the Spirit" (John 4:24) The only Bible clarification for this is given in 1 Corinthians 14:14 where Paul identified that praying in the Spirit was praying in tongues. "…If I pray in an unknown tongue my Spirit prays."