1 Corinthians 14:4
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
Is your desire to edify the body?
Here is a great truth for you: speaking in tongues doesn’t make you more spiritual! There are those who would try to make you feel less than effective or less powerful if you don’t speak in tongues. As if that is the only evidence of being filled with the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:18-19, 26-28 I give thanks to God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 19 but in the church setting I would rather speak five words that can be understood than ten thousand exotic words in a tongue. That way I could have a role in teaching others.
26 Beloved friends, what does all this imply? When you conduct your meetings, you should always let everything be done to build up the church family. Whether you share a song of praise, a teaching, a divine revelation, or a tongue and interpretation, let each one contribute what strengthens others. 27 If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two or three, one after another, with someone interpreting. 28 If there’s no one with the interpretation, then he should remain silent in the meeting, content to speak to himself and to God. (The Passion Translation)
There are too many who speak in tongues just to “appear” spiritual. If you read the rest of the 14th chapter of 1st Corinthians, you find that if someone speaks in tongues and there is no interpretation; then, only the speaker is edified. When you are in corporate worship, you want everyone to be blessed. If there is an interpretation with tongues, then the tongues become prophesy. A word of prophecy will edify everyone, even if the speaker was addressing a particular person. In your personal time of prayer, praying in tongues can release your burden; give you a sense of being closer to the Lord; give you the words to say when you want to pour your heart out to the Lord and stop your brain from trying to fix your problem.
There are also times when a person is praying corporately, and the fervency and passion of the prayer gives liberty to the Holy Spirit. We understand the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groans that are not expressed in intelligible words (Romans 8:26). It is my belief, when that happens, what the person says after “speaking in tongues”, is an interpretation of what the Holy Spirit prayed. However, this is something that you need to ask the Lord for yourself.
It may seem mystical, but you can study and read articles. God desires to reveal all things to you. Here is a link to an article where you can begin your study, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/march6/32.84.html. Know what the Bible says. You can begin your reading in Acts 2:4-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1 and also the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 14. Then you should pray and ask the Father to give you revelation, clarity and understanding. When you have done all these things, abide by what the Bible says and the clarity the Holy Spirit gives you to adjust your thinking and your behavior to line up with what God requires.
Please agree with me as I pray:
Heavenly Father, today’s lessons brought back to me the scripture where Paul thanked You because he spoke with tongues more than all the Corinthians. But what he thought was more important was for him to speak five words with his understanding, that by his voice he might teach others. Father, help me walk in that place. Help me to be the person who is more concerned about edifying, building up and blessing the entire body than proving to someone I speak in tongues or that I am spiritual. I don’t want to be the person who appears to be divinely elevated, but in actuality am not because I am only blessing myself. I thank You for revelation, and I also thank You for giving me understanding. There were so many times when I was in charge and I didn’t understand what was going on. Everyone was speaking in tongues and I thought there was something wrong with me. Now I have Your word. It lets me know the proper way because You are a God of order. It also gives place for Your sovereignty in all things while still holding to Your order. I bless You today…
Should We All Speak in Tongues?
BY J. RODMAN WILLIAMS – MARCH 6, 2000
One of the most influential and controversial events in the twentieth-century American church was the emergence of the charismatic movement. With its emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit, the movement brought elements of Pentecostalism to non-Pentecostal churches. By the early 1960s, Catholics, mainline churches, and many non-Pentecostal evangelicals were experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit through prophecies, divine healings, speaking in tongues, and various physical phenomena. The movement generated much debate about the purpose of these gifts and experiences in the Christian life. Were they legitimate expressions of worship, or just frenzied spiritual emotionalism?
Today, evangelicals seem to have made peace with the charismatic movement, embracing many of its practices and agreeing to disagree on others. Indeed, it’s not strange these days to find people lifting their hands in the most conservative of evangelical functions. Despite this evolution, many questions remain about the meaning of speaking in tongues.
The phenomenon of tongues (or glossolalia) is identified by many as the supernatural utterance of foreign human languages (Acts 2:4-6); others contend that it includes speaking an angelic language (1 Corinthians 13:1) or some other verbal expression requiring interpretation (1 Corinthians 14). For many years, speaking in tongues was seen as the distinguishing characteristic of the Pentecostal and charismatic traditions within the church. Some Pentecostal Christians, in particular, laid heavy emphasis on speaking in tongues as “initial evidence” of baptism in the Spirit.
That there was some connection in the scriptural record between baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues is apparent from at least …
They were all filled and equipped[a] with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned! 5 Now, at that time there were Jewish worshipers who had emigrated from many different lands to live in Jerusalem. 6 When the people of the city heard the roaring sound, crowds came running to where it was coming from, stunned over what was happening, because each one could hear the disciples speaking in his or her own language. (The Passion Translation)
1 Corinthians 13:1
If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal. (The Passion Translation)
1 Corinthians 14 (The Passion Translation)
Proper Use of Spiritual Gifts
14 It is good that you are enthusiastic and passionate about spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. 2 When someone speaks in tongues, no one understands a word he says, because he’s not speaking to people, but to God—he is speaking intimate mysteries in the Spirit. 3 But when someone prophesies, he speaks to encourage people, to build them up, and to bring them comfort. 4 The one who speaks in tongues advances his own spiritual progress, while the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 I would be delighted if you all spoke in tongues, but I desire even more that you impart prophetic revelation to others. Greater gain comes through the one who prophesies than the one who speaks in tongues, unless there is interpretation so that it builds up the entire church. 6 My dear friends, what good is it if I come to you always speaking in tongues? But if I come with a clear revelation from God, or with insight, or with a prophecy, or with a clear teaching, I can enrich you. 7 Similarly, if musical instruments, such as flutes or stringed instruments, are out of tune and don’t play the arrangement clearly, how will anyone recognize the melody? 8 If the bugle makes a garbled sound, who will recognize the signal to show up for the battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak in a language that’s easily understood, how will anyone know what you’re talking about? You might as well save your breath! 10 I suppose that the world has all sorts of languages, and each conveys meaning to the ones who speak it. 11 But I am like a foreigner if I don’t understand the language, and the speaker will be like a foreigner to me. 12 And that’s what’s happening among you. You are so passionate about embracing the manifestations of the Holy Spirit! Now become even more passionate about the things that strengthen the entire church. 13 So then, if you speak in a tongue, pray for the interpretation to be able to unfold the meaning of what you are saying. 14 For if I am praying in a tongue, my spirit is engaged in prayer but I have no clear understanding of what is being said. 15 So here’s what I’ve concluded. I will pray in the Spirit, but I will also pray with my mind engaged. I will sing rapturous praises in the Spirit, but I will also sing with my mind engaged. 16 Otherwise, if you are praising God in your spirit, how could someone without the gift participate by adding his “amen” to your giving of thanks, since he doesn’t have a clue of what you’re saying? 17 Your praise to God is admirable, but it does nothing to strengthen and build up others. 18 I give thanks to God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 19 but in the church setting I would rather speak five words that can be understood than ten thousand exotic words in a tongue. That way I could have a role in teaching others.
The Function of the Gifts
20 Beloved ones, don’t remain as immature children in your reasoning. As it relates to evil, be like newborns, but in your thinking be mature adults. 21 For it stands written in the law: I will bring my message to this people with strange tongues and foreign lips, yet even then they still will not listen to me, says the Lord.22 So then, tongues are not a sign for believers, but a miracle for unbelievers. Prophecy, on the other hand, is not for unbelievers, but a miracle sign for believers.23 If the entire church comes together and everyone is speaking in tongues, won’t the visitors say that you have lost your minds? 24 But if everyone is prophesying, and an unbeliever or one without the gift enters your meeting, he will be convicted by all that he hears and will be called to account, 25 for the intimate secrets of his heart will be brought to light. He will be mystified and fall facedown in worship and say, “God is truly among you!”
Guidelines for Use of the Gifts
26 Beloved friends, what does all this imply? When you conduct your meetings, you should always let everything be done to build up the church family. Whether you share a song of praise, a teaching, a divine revelation, or a tongue and interpretation, let each one contribute what strengthens others. 27 If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two or three, one after another, with someone interpreting. 28 If there’s no one with the interpretation, then he should remain silent in the meeting, content to speak to himself and to God. 29 And the same with prophecy. Let two or three prophets prophesy and let the other prophets carefully evaluate and discern what is being said. 30 But if someone receives a revelation while someone else is still speaking, the one speaking should conclude and allow the one with fresh revelation the opportunity to share it. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn and in an environment where all present can be instructed, encouraged, and strengthened. 32 Keep in mind that the anointing to prophesy doesn’t mean that the speaker is out of control—he can wait his turn. 33 For God is the God of harmony, not confusion, as is the pattern in all the churches of God’s holy believers. 34 The women should be respectfully silent during the evaluation of prophecy in the meetings. They are not allowed to interrupt, but are to be in a support role, as in fact the law teaches. 35 If they want to inquire about something, let them ask their husbands when they get home, for a woman embarrasses herself when she constantly interrupts the church meeting. 36 Do you actually think that you were the starting point for the Word of God going forth? Were you the only ones it was sent to? I don’t think so! 37 If anyone considers himself to be a prophet or a spiritual person, let him discern that what I’m writing to you carries the Lord’s authority. 38 And if anyone continues not to recognize this, he should not be recognized! 39 So, beloved friends, with all this in mind, be passionate to prophesy and don’t forbid anyone from speaking in tongues, 40 doing all things in a beautiful and orderly way.