I Wish You All Spoke with Tongues
(Part 2 of 2)
There are some who go to great lengths to say that Paul did not give the same prominence in scripture to speaking with tongues that is given by Pentecostals today. These people observe that Paul wrote only to Corinth, the carnal church, about this experience and therefore did not highly esteem the gift. For the same reason we could say that Paul did not highly regard the Lord’s supper because he mentioned it only in his Corinthian epistle.
Pulpit commentary makes the following observation about first Thessalonians 519: “By the Spirit here is usually understood, miraculous gifts of the spirit- speaking with tongues or prophesyings; and it is supposed that the apostle here forbids the experience of these gifts being hindered or checked.”
My answer to those who say that speaking with tongues is not set forth in other epistles in the gospels is that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. Was not Acts inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore infallible? Why would there have to be further scripture to validate this record? Is the theology of one portion of the scripture more authentic than another? The answer is obvious.
It must be recognized that God set “diversities of tongues” in the church (I Corinthians 12: 28) Church in this verse refers to the body of Christ and not just the church at Corinth. Some will admit that God placed tongues in the New Testament church then contend they are no longer operative because Paul said, “tongues shall cease” (13: 8). An examination of this scripture will readily reveal the time at which tongues shall cease. It will be at the same time that prophecies shall fail, and knowledge vanishes away. This reference does not deal with the church age but with the coming of Christ at the end of the church age. We now live in the age of “part,” and admittedly we do not have full knowledge,” but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” So, I Corinthians 13: 8 – 10 is a positive statement for speaking with tongues as long as the church is in the world.
Paul had amplified this earlier by encouraging the Corinthians to “come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:7). In that perfect age there will be no need for speaking with tongues. We shall be like him, and our knowledge will be unlimited. Everything will be made new. But we are not there yet.
The questions raised by Paul in I Corinthians 12:30 must be answered to dispel doubt about the availability of the experience of tongues for all believers. Without a doubt, scripture substantiates that speaking with tongues accompanies the infilling of the spirit. This is normal for all who receive the Holy Spirit baptism.
In three of five examples the scriptures state that the recipients spoke with tongues (Acts 2:4; 10: 44-48 and 19:2-6). In the other two cases, where speaking in tongues is not recorded (Acts 8 and 9), there were outward and observable signs when the spirit baptism was received.
So with a great deal of earnestness, I want to join the apostle Paul in saying, “I wish that you all spoke with tongues.”
Dr. Robert Bryant