Over the years the Lord has brought me face to face with the gift of tongues.  Using different people, whom I respect, at different times in my life, to teach me different things.  This issue comes up in conversation at a bible study, or service and I camp on it, trying to come to a decision in my mind as to where I stand on what the Word really teaches about the gift of tongues.  Then life happens, I get distracted and I never come to any real conclusions.

Recently, I determined to stay in the Word and not let go of seeking God on this issue of tongues until God gave me some answers to some very basic questions. 

So here I am going public with a very brief summary of my studies.

1) What is the gift of tongues?

Acts 2:4-6 describes the Holy Spirit descending upon them and they spoke in languages foreign to themselves, and were understood by men who spoke that as their native language.

2) Are there two distinct gifts of tongues?

I have been told that there is a gift of tongues to be spoken and interpreted for the edification of the body and a second gift of tongues that is a private prayer language.  This distinction is made quoting Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14.

I see no evidence that Paul is speaking of two different types of tongues. Chapter 12 is simply a list of gifts given by the Holy Spirit.  In Chapter 14 Paul is explaining how tongues should be used and interpreted to edify the body.  i see no distinction there from the gift of tongues demonstrated in Acts. 

Gifts of the Spirit are clearly distinquished, even to separating wisdom and knowledge.  why would God via His penman Paul, not differentiate between tongues (a foreign language unbeknownst to the speaker) and tongues (a private prayer language).  After all, God is not the author of confusion.  And it seems an interpretation supporting two types of the gift of tongues would bring some confusion.

3) Is tongues a gift of the Spirit given to all believers?

The distribution of gifts according to 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 “to one is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge…to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” seems to indicate that not all believers receive the gift of tongues.

The most common argument I have heard opposing this position is from Mark 16:16-18 “and these signs will follow those who believe, in my name they will cst out demons, speak in new tongues, they shall take up serpants, if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hur them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they will recover”

in response to believing this vers supports all believers having the gift of tongues I find Vernon McGee’s remarks illuminating “if you want to accept any of these sign gifts, then you must take them all, brother, I will be glad to prepare you a formaldehyde cocktail if you think you can drink it.”

4) Can a believer be taught to speak in tongues?

This takes the cake for me to be told that one who doesn’t speak in tongues simply hasn’t been taught.

Go with me on a tangent for a moment:

The other morning I was in my dressing room preparing for the day.  Tiny Dancer was in her exersaucer jabbering away in a flow of syllables strung together creating her own baby language.  I began mimicking her noises.  First interjecting only a syllable here and there, then stringing them together as she did, communicating my own message.  I laughed out loud to myself as I thought, ‘my baby just taught me to speak in tongues’

Is this idea as silly to anyone as it is to me?

But the answer is not in my opinion, it’s in the Word of God…1 John 2:27 “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you…”

When I look to the Word for answers on the subject of tongues, the truth seems simple,and clear. 

There is a gift of tongues, given by the Holy Spirit, for interpretation which results in the edification of the body of Christ.

As far as a gift of tongues that is a private prayer language which can be taught among believers I see no scriptural evidence.  In fact, to the contrary, the Word says in Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can not be uttered.”

‘Cannot be uttered” does not indicate to me that the Spirit will grant us an additional prayer language.

It appears to me that this idea of a prayer language can only be supported by reading between the lines. 

I prefer to stick to the text.