Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Some of Tongues

In the Acts of the Apostles, the only time we see the whole church publicly speaking in tongues is at the initiation experience in chapter 2. In that specific instance, the languages miraculously had some public good because they were the tongues of men rather than angels; hence, many of the pilgrims gathered for Pentecost understood them and were ministered to by them. Past that, there is no recorded instance of any church publicly, corporately speaking in tongues, but there is the inference that the church in Corinth did so.

Tongues, obviously, had a very minimal benefit to corporate and public gatherings. The instructions Paul gave the Corinthian church concerning tongues revolve around this issue. In the Corinthian church gatherings, everyone was publicly speaking in tongues. There would have been no issue at all if only a few had the ability to speak in tongues, but everyone could, and everyone was. The result was chaotic meetings that accomplished little good for the church, and made no sense at all to visitors. Nothing got communicated!

Paul instructed the church that corporate benefit and sensibility should dictate the practice of speaking in tongues in public gatherings. Though everyone could, not everyone should speak in tongues in public. Only two or three at most would be inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so, and those utterances would have to be interpreted by the sister manifestation of interpretation of tongues for the proper benefit to ensue.

The call is for restraint in public, not to imply that not everyone could speak in tongues in private. In fact, Paul wanted them all to continue to speak in tongues, and admitted that he spoke in tongues more than them all. Some, but not all of us will have a recurring ministry of speaking in tongues in public or interpreting tongues that were spoken in public; but all, not some of us who are baptized in the Holy Spirit have the privilege of praying in the Spirit for our own edification. It is up to the Spirit to determine which of us is the some.