The Benefits Of Speaking In Other Tongues
This article is an excerpt from the book, Church, Read The Book Of Acts And Get Ready! by Donnie Swaggart.
“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all.” —I Corinthians 14:18
As salvation is God’s greatest gift to the world, so, too, is the infilling of the Holy Spirit to the believer.
In I Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul is giving instructions regarding the use of the eighth and ninth gifts of the Spirit (tongues and interpretation of tongues) in the local assembly. For clarification, when we say “gift of tongues,” we are not addressing ourselves, and neither was Paul addressing himself, to the speaking with tongues that takes place when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2, 10, 19). Neither are we speaking of those who exercise their prayer language of speaking in tongues in prayer and worship. The gift of tongues is an utterance in tongues given in a public meeting that is meant to be interpreted.
One must understand that the gifts of the Spirit were brand-new, having only begun on the day of Pentecost. While the gifts were obvious in the Old Testament, with the exception of tongues and interpretation of tongues, still, they were not as widespread and had actually only been used by a few.
Of all the gifts, tongues was the most prominent and exotic. Consequently, more people wanted this gift, thereby, yielding to the Holy Spirit to a greater degree, causing an unbalance in the early church. As well, there was no regulation in the early church regarding how this gift should be used, which resulted in confusion. So, the apostle was simply telling them, and us, that everyone should not desire the gift of tongues, but rather that they might have the gift of prophecy (I Cor. 14:1).
There is a difference in tongues, as it regards one’s own personal prayer language, and the gift of tongues. While every Spirit-filled believer speaks in tongues, not every Spirit-filled believer has the gift of tongues.
What Good Is It?
Today, some question the tongues experience, asking, “What good is it?” To answer that, we go to the Scriptures to find the answer, and here is what we find:
(1) The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah nearly 800 years before the day of Pentecost and said, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to His people” (Isa. 28:11). Of course, anything that God said is important and is to be heeded by all of His followers
(2) The last words spoken by our Lord to His disciples were the commandments given in Acts 1:4-5, “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said He, you have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.”
So, anyone who would wonder what good it is, in effect, is saying that the Lord doesn’t know what He is doing. Tongues are important and beneficial to every believer. Let’s look at some of the benefits of speaking in tongues, with the understanding that I am not covering all of the benefits due to space, but only those that I feel stand out in importance and benefit:
• “He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself” (I Cor. 14:4). The word edified or edifieth means to “build up,” to “comfort,” to “encourage,” to “give strength.” A good analogy is a car battery. At times a battery’s power will begin to wane, and it must be recharged. So, too, in life, sometimes our own spiritual battery gets weak and needs recharging. This happens when one prays in tongues.
• “For he who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God” (I Cor. 14:2). This tells us that tongues, as a prayer language, is a divine means of communication between the speaker and God.
• “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). When we pray in tongues, we are magnifying the works of God. It is praise unto the Lord for those great things the Lord has done and is doing.
• “But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy spirit” (Jude v. 20). When one prays in the Spirit, the faith one has is enlarged and developed. I think it goes without saying that all of us need our faith enlarged.
• “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them who believe, but to them who believe not” (I Cor. 14:22). This refers to the fact that praying in tongues is a sign to unbelievers that they will face the judgment of God unless they repent of their sins. The idea of this verse, concerning judgment and tongues as a sign, pertains to Isaiah’s prophecy of judgment on backsliding Judah (Isa. 5:28).
• “This is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest” (Isa. 28:12). Weary in the Hebrew means “languid,” “faint,” and “thirsty.” In this journey of life, we become faint, tired, and beaten down. Rest in the Hebrew, as it is first used in the text, means “resting place.” The second time rest is used in this text, it means to “settle down.” This carries the idea of physical edification. We are weary and tired, but praying in the Spirit brings us to a resting place.
• “And this is the refreshing” (Isa. 28:12). Refreshing in the Hebrew means to “find ease,” and “make to rest.” This carries the idea of something being tossed violently, such as a ship in a storm at sea, and then settling down. It speaks of the mental turmoil that is brought on by the cares of life being settled down or calmed. Praying in the Spirit is God’s mental therapy. This is the answer for the cares of life that vex and frustrate us.
• “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays” (I Cor. 14:14). One’s spirit praying is the highest form of prayer and worship that a believer can engage in. It comes from a person’s spirit and not one’s mind.
Bible Prophecy Fulfilled
I want to close with this final thought: Speaking in tongues is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. In Acts 2:17-18, it says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”
I thank God that I can say as Paul did, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues.”
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