Gift of Tongues
By: Donna J. Kazenske

1 Cor. 12:7-10 - "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom, through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another the gift of faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues."

One of the questions that has consistently come up when I teach on the gift of tongues is this: "Why would the Lord speak a tongue through someone? Why not just prophesy?"

For one thing, the Lord is God and He can do whatever He wants to do. :-) Why He chose to use the gift of tongues, I cannot even attempt to answer that question. He has a reason for everthing that He does, but many times we do not have full understanding of "why" He does what He does. Whatever the reason may be, we must be obedient to Him and allow the gift of tongues to flow through us as He wills.

What is the gift of tongues?

The gift of tongues is the God-given ability to speak in different and varied languages. It is supernatural utterance by the Holy Spirit in languages never learned by the speaker, not understood by the mind of the speaker nor necessarily always understood by the hearer.

We could say that the gift of tongues is a "vocal miracle" of God.

1 Cor. 14:1-5 - Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification, exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish that you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

The gift of tongues edifies the whole body. Do not confuse the gift of tongues with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When we pray in the Holy Spirit using our personal prayer language tongue, it causes us to be lifted up or edified. When the gift of tongues comes forth, it edifies the body. When we speak in our prayer language tongue, we speak to God. When we allow the gift of tongues to flow through us, it is God speaking to man.

Edify means to charge up like a battery. It means to lift up or build up.

We all need to hear what the Lord is speaking to us. When we allow the gift of tongues to function properly in the church, the whole body is lifted up, edified, and encouraged.

1 Cor. 14:26 - How is it then brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

According to this verse, we all have something to contribute in our church services. The Scripture said, "each of you" has....a psalm, a teaching, a tongue..etc. When the church is functioning the way the Lord desires it to function, there will be no lack. The Spirit of God will flow through the whole body. Every joint will supply.

1 Cor. 14:27-28 - If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.

Many say this Scripture says that only three tongues should be given in a service. I tend to disagree with this thinking. I've been in many services where there have been more than three messages in tongues, and the interpretation of each tongue was given. The service was conducted decently and in order. God's people were edified as the word of the Lord came forth.

Paul could have been giving the Corinthian church some instruction regarding "order" in the church. The Corinthian church was known for its misuse and abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It could have been that they were all giving messages in tongues and not allowing the interpretations to come forth. This could have been causing confusion in the body instead of edification and comfort.

Another thought on this verse is this: It could be talking about the times when no interpretation is given. If there are three utterances in tongues given and no interpretation is given for those tongues, no further utterances should follow. The Scripture goes on to say, "if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God." I'm sure others have some good insight on this verse as well, but this is the way that I have discerned it. If you are reading this article today and have some insight on this verse, I would appreciate your feedback.

This brings me to another point. The Bible says, that if we operate with the gift of tongues, we should also pray for the gift of interpretation of tongues. If we give a tongue in a church service and no one interprets that tongue, we need to be able to give the interpretation of that tongue.

The gift of tongues is the only gift of the Spirit that is totally dependent upon another gift regarding it's complete operation. The gift of tongues is useless without the gift of interpretation of tongues. These two gifts must operate together in order for the prophetic word to be effective and understood by those who are hearing it.

Tongues + Interpretation of Tongues = Prophecy

Let's allow the Holy Spirit to move in us and through us in whatever way He chooses to do so. He may choose to prophesy through us in our own language so that all present have perfect understanding as to what is being said. On the other hand, He may want us to speak forth in an unknown tongue. We must be willing to speak forth whatever He gives to us. If we speak out a message in tongues, we need to pray for the interpretation of that tongue to be brought forth so the whole church will benefit from it.

God has so much more for all of us. We have only been scratching the surface of all that God has for us. We must begin to dig deeper and go beyond anywhere we've ever been before. We must be willing to step out of our comfort zones and allow the supernatural power of God to flow through us.

All of the gifts of the Spirit operate by faith. If we don't have faith, we will not be obedient to speak forth His messages. If we don't have faith to be obedient to the promptings of His Spirit, we will quench Him.

Have you ever seen a fire start from someone throwing down a cigarette or match? Most people try to stomp it out, or if there is a fire extinquisher available, they will run for the fire extinquisher and start spraying the substance within on the flames below. This is what we do when we quench the Holy Spirit. He begins to burn in us like a flame. The word of the Lord starts to bubble up on the inside of us, and instead of speaking it forth, we run for the fire extinquisher, pull the pin and spray out the fire. God wants that flame to burn in us! He wants His Spirit to consume us, in such a manner, that nothing will hold us back from speaking His heart to His people. He wants His fire to be like the fire that burned inside the prophet Jeremiah. He couldn't hold it back if he tried. It was like FIRE shut up in his bones. He couldn't help but prophesy.

The fire of God within us needs to spread to those around us.

Are you a carrier of His holy fire? Are you willing to be used by the Lord to bring forth a message in tongues?

If you're willing, the Lord will be able to use you. If you're willing, He will use you as a vessel of honor to bring a message of edification and comfort to His body.

Allow the Holy Spirit to flow through you today. Don't quench the Holy Spirit when He starts burning on the inside of you. Let the river flow. Let the word of life come forth to His people. The church needs to hear what the Spirit of God is saying. The Lord just might want to use you to speak on His behalf.