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Opinions of Friday, 17 September 2010

Columnist: Agbetsiafa, Pastor Cheslyn

The Mystry Of Speaking In Tongue

In the recent past of about two to three weeks ago, both Christian and Non-Christians alike made comments on the subject of speaking in Tongues. Whilst some have been commenting partially particularly Dr. Tony Aidoo on the subject, some are playing politics with it which should not be the case. It is my desire that this short writing may stop the twist and turns on the subject.

The foremost truth is that the subject of speaking in Tongues is the most confused and abused gift in the body of Christ. This abuse mostly occurs in the Pentecostal and Charismatic circles of the Christendom, it is due to lack of proper teaching in the church. Some of the abuses occur during prayer sessions whereby the prayer topics raised by the leader will not be followed by the members of the congregation but instead start praying on topic by praying in Tongues hence, praying amiss.

The translation of the word “TONGUES” in the bible have different words and meanings. This is because various Greek and Hebrew words were used in the original writings which the English language lack hence, the use of tongues to convey the messages. The following are some of the translations as tongues in the Bible with their right meanings:

A. Heteroglossos - means of strange tongues.
I Corinthians 14:21

B. Dialektos - Tongues
Acts 1:19; 2:8; 21:40; 22:2; 26:14

C. Dilogos - Two-worded or double-Tongues
I Timothy 3:8

But most words translated as Tongues in English could be coming from “lashon” and “glossa” which convey meanings of physical organ (Exodus 11:7, Mark 7:33) and Languages (Genesis 10:5, Acts 2:4). In other words, the tongue could be referred to as an organ on human body or languages. But for the purposes of the subject matter it means a language. This language is not to be a newly created or unheard off but an already existing spoken language of a tribe or a country.
In the bible, the first clear mention of tongues occurred on Genesis 11:1-9. This account shows the common language that is spoken by the people and its effect on the purpose of God on the habitation of the whole earth by human beings after the flood. The tongue translated here means the actual spoken language which the people are using to thwart the plan of God. In this account, the people are united to the extent that there is clear understanding of what is being communicated and it shows in their performance of building to challenge God. The challenge of God leads to the change of their languages. The lesson here is that we must seek the fulfillment of the purposes and instructions of God rather than pursuing our selfish interest.

The other account is when Jesus gave some signs which will have to associated with or follow a believer or a follower in the teachings and practices of Jesus Christ in Mark 16:17. This states that a child of God who believes in Jesus must cast out devils. So why do many Christians run around to some pastors to deal with their demonic problems? It is also a sign for a Christian to speak in tongues. But many do not speak in tongues because of the many wrong teachings on the subject and those who speak also abuse it as well. It should be noted that the Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church speaks in tongues, some churches do not speak due to lack of believe and wrong teaching that it is old fashion.

The Apostles who were the first to have this experience in the church era and carried the message of tongues speaking wherever they went, thus in Acts 2:4 it is stated “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enable them”. It could be seen in the book of Acts that many believers spoke in tongues after the Apostle’s experience. The experience must be engineered by the Holy Spirit. The emphasis here should be placed on the speaking in tongues which should be rendered as “speaking in other languages”. When the Apostles were speaking, others who were there in Jerusalem realized that the Apostle were speaking their native language and understood what was being said.

The church of Corinth present to the church today what was happening then and how it was addressed by the Apostle Paul. They abused this privilege that it creates confusion in the church forcing the Apostle Paul to set in order what it must be. The first of all the Apostle begun with the value of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church which was detailed in Chapter 12 of the book of first Corinthians. The gifts must be used for the benefit of the church as a whole and not an individual.

Furthermore, Paul let the church knew that the nine [9] gifts outlined in the Chapter 12 could not operate effectively in the absence of LOVE hence; he advocated that they must have love among themselves. It is clear even in my personal experience that without love, praying for the sick or comforting the hurt will not be achieved. Therefore, the Apostle asked that all Christians must pursue love or charity in other to unite the church.

In order that the church will be the utmost beneficiary of the gifts stated in chapter 12, Paul emphasis on prophesy as against tongues in chapter 14. In this chapter, Paul stated that prophesy must bring edification (strengthening), encouragement (exhortation) and comfort. This is the purpose of prophesy (I Corinth. 14:3) whilst that of tongues is the edification of the one speaking in tongues (verse 4). This calls into mind the question, the reason why Christians must meet for fellowship. It is for all to benefit or get strengthen by each other. It is for reason that is why we attend church services. Then Paul says that by only speaking in tongues will not be of use to the whole church but an individual. Therefore, calling for prophesy which everyone will understand. When the congregations are worshipping God, tongues spoken must always be understood by someone in the church service at the time. For instance, a man of Dagbani decent in the service and tongues came in the form of Dagbani addressing an issue peculiar for this fellow alone. But if there is no one as this in the service then it must be interpreted for the church. This situation calls another gift into action known as the gift of interpretation of tongues. This gift make known to the church the meaning of what is been communicated through tongues.
Now if there is no one to interpret to the understanding of the whole congregation; Apostle Paul says the one speaking in tongues should shut up because what he or she is saying is of no benefit to the church (I Corinthians 14:27-28). What is then the use of speaking in tongues to an unbeliever (verse 23), when someone speaks in tongues without an interpretation? The unbeliever will only know what was spoken when he or she understands hence the church must be interested in prophesy rather than tongues when there is worship service. The fullness of tongues to an unbeliever is when as a result of tongues, he or she will worship the Lord (verse 25).

However, it is strange that the church is abusing this wonderful gift and even the rules and regulations governing the level of sound use in the country. The city authorities are also not enforcing the rules of the nation. How many church leaders know the noise level in residential areas? This should not be the case because noises from musical and public address systems are completely different from speaking in tongues.

The act of speaking in tongues is very important to the growth of the child of God and the following is just but a few benefits:
A. Speaking to God directly (I Corinthians 14:2)
B. Edification of self (I Corinth. 14:4; Jude 20)
C. Praying in accordance to the will of God (Romans 8:26)
D. Interceding for the saints (Romans 8:27)
E. Praying for long hours when short of words.

To conclude, there is no distortion in the Bible on any subject matter hence the subject of speaking tongues could not contradict any part of the Bible. This is because the interpretation of the bible must take into account the original language in which the writers of the Bible wrote it, the culture of the people it is addressed to, the geographical location, paragraph and even the passage of the verse for accurate meaning. It therefore means that what Dr. Tony Aidoo is saying will be taking the true meaning from its context.

Pastor Cheslyn Agbetsiafa
Assemblies of God, Ghana
Central Assembly