For those who say, “The gift of tongues doesn’t belong to me,” then my question would be, ‘does edification belong to you as a Christian?’ Of course, it does. It is the will of God for every believer to speak in tongues. I want to shed insight on the differences between 2 types of tongues – one for private edification and one for public edification. The tongues for the edification of the public are to be spoken only when an interpreter is present.
I want to share with you a few Biblical reasons why speaking in tongues is for every believer, and how you can receive this gift.
Tongues for Private Edification
To begin with, the tongues for self-edification don’t need to have interpretation. 1 Corinthians 14:2-4, shows us that these tongues are your prayer language. This tongue belongs to everyone.
There are a few examples in the Bible depicting this. Jude 1:20 is an example of believers praying in tongues in a public setting without interpretation. The 120 disciples in the upper room began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4), and nobody was there to interpret. Another example is the house of Cornelius when they began to speak in tongues (Acts 10:6). This gift of tongues, the prayer language, belongs to every believer; we should all desire this gift and practice this gift. The Bible says, “These signs will follow those who believe… they will speak new tongues…” (Mark 16:17).
Tongues for Public Edification
Then, there are also the tongues for public edification of the Church. These tongues are to be accompanied by an interpretation. We see this example in 1 Corinthians 14:5-18, 23-25. Tongues are not only something that we can pray in, but we can also speak in tongues. It’s not just in prayer, we can speak and sing in tongues. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:14 that we can pray in tongues, in Acts 2:4, we can speak in tongues, and in 1 Corinthians 14:15, it shows that we can sing in tongues. As a person filled with the Holy Spirit, it’s one of the most beautiful things we can experience.
How Can You Receive This Gift?
- First, you have to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. The Bible says, “He who believes… out of his belly will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The prerequisite to this river flowing out of you is your faith in Jesus Christ. Now, it’s important to understand, when you believe in Jesus, you receive the Holy Spirit. When you’re speaking in tongues, you release the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “out of his belly,” it doesn’t say that this river will flow out the throne of God. It says it flows out of your belly, out of your spirit, or your innermost being– where the Spirit of God lives. You don’t need to speak in tongues to be saved, you need the blood of Jesus for that. You’re saved through the gift of Jesus’ grace. Once you are saved, you have this well, “a river of living water,” that wants to be released through your mouth. That river is the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and that river is a precious gift from the God called tongues.
- Relax. In other words you need to surrender. In Acts 2:2 it shows us that the disciples were not were striving, they were not struggling, it doesn’t even say they were kneeling and praying – they were sitting. Sitting is a relaxed position. The Holy Spirit came upon them while they were sitting. A lot of times, when prayer is being offered for the infilling of the Holy Spirit, people are striving and pleading that God would give it to them. My friend, it is a gift. You don’t receive this gift by working hard or praying earnestly. The harder you try to earn it the more it’ll escape you because it’s a gift you receive and it’s a gift you release. The action of speaking in tongues is the Holy Spirit you already received at Salvation, being released through you. It’s not about striving for it, it’s about surrendering. Relax. Rest in His love for you and in the fact the Spirit of God is in you. Rest in the fact the river of living water is in you. It’s about releasing it. It’s no longer about receiving the Holy Spirit but about releasing the Holy Spirit. When you understand that, it takes the pressure off. Your striving is not nessecary. Having child-like faith and surrendering is the key.
- It involves your choice. God’s Word gives us a few examples. The Bible says in Psalms 81:10, “open your mouth and I will fill it.” Another passage says, “they spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). It does not say that the Spirit spoke – they spoke in tongues. The Lord is not gonna force it upon you; He will not override your free will. This is not domination or control because the Holy Spirit doesn’t not control believers. He gives self-control. The Spirit leads us, He doesn’t drive us. Everything that has to do with the Holy Spirit involves your choice. It’ll have to be your choice to open your mouth and release the sound. For example, when the water pipe is connected to your house, the water is there but it will not come out if the faucet is closed. In the same way, you already have the Holy Spirit as a Christian, but your choice is involved. Anytime I need to drink water from my house, I don’t call the city, now, it’s up to me. It’s on me to use as much as I want or not to use it at all. Many times people say, “if God wants me to have it, I will.” No, it’s up to you.
- You need faith. Some people believe that something just comes over you and you begin to speak in tongues, but that’s not the case. Everything with God requires faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “…for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Speaking in tongues will require faith. It takes faith to trust that God will add meaning to the sounds you release as the Spirit of God fills you. This reminds me of the story I heard about a little girl whose dad overhears her reciting the alphabet in prayer. After several nights of this, the dad asks, “why are you saying the alphabet when you’re supposed to be praying?” The little girl responds and says, “I’m just giving God the letters and I’m trusting God to rearrange them as He wants.” That’s the same with speaking in tongues. You release the sound by faith and God adds the meaning.
- You must remove the fear that the tongues you speak may not be from God. So many are afraid that what they are going to speak will be demonic. I want to clarify this point. The tongues you speak will come from you in the sense that you are the one who will begin to speak them, but they won’t be demonic. The Scripture clearly says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13). Your heavenly Father is not going to give you a stone. He won’t give you a demon and fill you with a demonic entity when you ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Spirit because you asked Him to. Trust In God and in His Scripture.
Faith in Action
If you desire to speak in tongues, pray this:
Lord Jesus, Fill me with your Spirit. Lord Jesus, baptize me into your Holy Spirit.
Begin to release the sounds that come not from your mind, but from your spirit, and continue in prayer.
It’s that simple.
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