Monday, May 07, 2007

Tongues: Thoughts after thoughts

I asked a question some months back, about the gift of tongues by the spirit.

I want to thank all those that I was able to talk to and for the few sources that I read that started me thinking. Also thanks to those that replied to my query.

So where am I now? Lets start with some assumptions that I have come to that I will base my thoughts upon:

1. Words have many meanings.

A word can mean different things when used in different contexts, and so the word must be read in context to understand its intended meaning fully.

In terms of the word tongues in the bible. Depending on the version of the bible used, the word translated tongues either is from the greek word “glossa” or “dialektos”. The NIV tranlatates the word ‘dialektos’ three times as ‘language’, and three times in conjunction with Hebrew as ‘Aramaic’. The word ‘glossa’ is translated 42 times with ‘tongues’ and seven times with ‘language’. The oxford dictionary has two definitions that are useful in this thought: a language/dialect and, the ability to speak.

There are a few passages that are most significant to the argument about the Spiritual gift of tongues. The first being the passage in Mark 16:17(debated) then Acts 2:4,2:11,10:46,19:6, and 1 Corinthians 12-14.

If we take the word tongues listed in these passages we must see that sometimes it is clear that the languages spoken are understandable human languages (Acts 2 – day of Pentecost – as shown by Acts 2:11) and at other times they may not be understandable (1 Cor 14:2).

2. The Church is for the Church

I believe that the gifts given of the Spirit are given to us for the good and edification (building up, strengthening) of the church (1 Cor 12:7, 14:26b). Paul says in 1 Cor 14:4-5 that whoever speaks in tongues edifies only themselves unless someone interprets so that all can be edified.

I believe that whenever we are together with other Christians, our public sharing should never be just for personal benefit, but also for the building up of those around us. (1 Cor 14:12,18-19,28) We have been gifted the gifts of the Spirit, but with this gift also comes the responsibility to use our gift appropriately.

If anyone has the gift of tongues, praise the Lord. But they must use their gift in a wisely and timely way. If there is no one to interpret, they should keep quiet. Our responsibility is to use our gifts, not for personal acclamation (as seen in many churches today) but for the edification of others, and so we must use our gifts in view of this.

In times of private prayer on the other hand, the use of tongues is excellent and admirable as it edifies the speaker by building up their spirit (1 Cor 14:4) but praying in tongues can never take the place of praying with your mind and with understanding (1 Cor 14:14-15) but rather can be used alongside it. At the same time, it is not required to build up the Spirit. Someone who prays in their own language is not less built up then someone who speaks in an unknown language.

3. God has made each of us diverse

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says this: “there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working but that same God works all of them in all men.” The passage goes on to say that to one is given this and to another that, and finishes in saying that it is the Spirit who determines which gifts are given to which people. Therefore, do not expect to get given of the same gifts.

Our desire as shown by 1 Corinthians 13 should be above that of simply gifts of ability. Paul states that love is above all and without love even the mightiest of works is hollow and useless. Paul talks of desiring gifts in the verses before and after 1 Cor. 13 but this must be taken in light of Paul’s greater desire to see us grow in love and relationship and likeness of Christ. The gifts are not the end, but rather a means to the end. An artist desires a new paintbrush, not so that he can enjoy the new paintbrush, but that he can produce a more excellent painting.

Never worry that you are not gifted with the gifts you desire or others claim you need, worry if you are not growing (yourself and others) with the gifts that you have been given.

4. Spiritual actions don’t make spiritual people.

Finally I am reminded of the passage in Matthew 7:15-23. I know of places where spiritual gifts are a sign of how spiritual you are. People saying that if you speak in a tongue, the Spirit is within you, and if you do not? Well, well well... Or maybe you cannot heal? Prophesy? Interpret?

Building on what I have said about 1 Corinthians 13, your salvation has nothing to do with the abilities you have been given. It is not you outward actions, but the inward reality that determines your place with Christ. Some of the most Godly people I know do not exhibit a single of the ‘spiritual’ gifts as proclaimed necessary in some churches.

Look not to the path but to the goal. Look not at the gifts, but at the heart of a person. Is love the defining characteristic in someone’s life?

In conclusion, one day all tongues/languages will cease for we will see God as he is and we will communicate with Him face to face, and everyone will understand everyone. But for now, we live in wait of that day, and live with our differences, and struggles, and misunderstandings. Pray for unity, growth and love.

May my understanding of the Bible ever increase.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I was reading this article the other day about a man who wanted to invest his money for God. He started to invest it and continued to reinvest and reinvest and never ended up using what he had for God. And it made me think. There is a thought traveling around at the moment that to reach the world we need to first of all invest here where we are, and so the advice is not to go overseas, but stay here and give your lives for the investment of people here. The difficulty i have, is when does that investment start to impact the world? We are a relatively spiritually rich country, and yet we bemoan (and rightly) our spiritual destitution when in reality, the majority of the world is in worse poverty. We do need to be challenged and moved, to serve God wherever we are, but that should never be staying home at the expense of going out. People are more often challenged for God by those who live for God, and more often challenged for mission by missionaries. People are difficult to push, but often willing to be pulled. What pulls people? Example, leaders, those they can follow.
I challenge you, if you want young people to be excited for missions, become a missionary and lead them by your example. The difficulty is that those who go, must look not only forward, but backwards, calling and lifting people up after themselves. We are called to witness to two people, those who do not know, and those who do. To fellowship and encourage our brothers and sisters along the race. The sidelines might sound like a good place to do that from, but an athlete will always listen to another athlete before they listen to a spectator.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


What is the difference between individual and corporate prayer?

What is the purpose of prayer?

How should we pray?

How should we not pray?


What is your understanding of the gift of tongues by the Spirit.

How is this displayed in the Bible,
and how is it displayed today?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

-St. Francis of Assisi

Do you agree with this quote?
What do you think this means in practice?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I am engaged.
I got engaged to Christina Lin on sunday 21, 1, 2007
I am engaged.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
"Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brother, my brother.

there was a twin once who said, "brother, give me your inheritance, for i want it as my own." His brother replied, "and why should i do such a thing?" "For i am your brother," the first replied, to which the second responded, "a true brother would not ask such a thing, therefore you are no brother of mine."

And so the two brothers parted ways in discord and disharmony, and there arose a fued between the two. As one went and called up his friends, so to did the other, and war broke out. And so taken in their wrath were they that thouyght their father sickened, and then died, they did not notice. And so the father died with no son beside his bedside to grieve at his passing. And no son was their to notice as their father passed over the inheritance to another, a stranger, a servant, one not of their blood.

And so the question was, who was to blame, and what, if anything, could have been changed?