“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:4)
After coming to an understanding of the basic definition of a “spiritual gift”, we now need to examine each of the different types of spiritual gifts that God has given to man.
There are three basic types of spiritual gifts given to the Lord’s local churches:
1. Gifted Men – These are men, used by God to serve the Lord as a part of the ministry of His local assemblies.
2. Accrediting Gifts – These are the gifts whose main purpose is to establish and accredit His Word and place of worship. A secondary purpose of these gifts is to minister to others within the context of local church ministries.
3. Ministering Gifts – These are the gifts whose main purpose is to testify of Christ and His Word through the ministries of His local assemblies.
We will continue our study of the accrediting gifts by looking at begin studying the Accrediting Gifts that involve SUPERNATURAL PROCLAMATION OF THE TRUTH.
We began to take a look at the gift of “diverse kinds of tongues” that are found in the division of accrediting gifts involving the SUPERNATURAL PROCLAMATION OF THE TRUTH. In particular, we looked at the first time that the gift of tongues was exercised on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:1-24…
1. The gift was given to the local church at Jerusalem, not to believers in general (vs 1)
2. The gift was given following the local assembly being baptized IN the Spirit (not BY the Spirit) (vs 2)
3. The gift was given following the Spirit filling the church members (vs 4)
4. The gift had a visible manifestation: tongues of fire sitting on their heads (vs 3);
5. The gift had an audible manifestation: speaking in other human languages that were unknown to the speakers but known to the hearers (vs 4-11)
6. The Word of God was used to clearly explain what had taken place amid the confusion (vs 12-21)
7. The message proclaimed through the gift of tongues was proclaiming the wonderful works of their God…. His message of salvation and all that He had done for them. (vs 11-24)
Following this event, when the Bible speaks of the gift of tongues, it simply mentions the gift without a lengthy description of what we have just learned. This principle can be used with many different teachings of the Bible. This principle of Biblical interpretation is described as “The Law Of First Mention”. This principle states that “the very first time a word, doctrine or other teaching is mentioned in the Bible, usually, the Scriptures gives that word, doctrine or teaching its most complete description and meaning.” This is the case with the gift of tongues. This first reference to it has given us the detailed description of the gift which is to be applied throughout all of the other Biblical mentions of the gift.
The “Gift Of Diverse Kinds Of Tongues” Instructions On The Biblical Exercise Of The Gift Of Tongues
The Apostle Paul gives us clear instructions on the Biblical exercise of the gift of tongues in the book of 1 Corinthians. In particular, Paul mentions the gift of tongues in chapters 12-14.
1 Corinthians 12:
In chapter 12, they are mentioned in three verses 10, 28 and 30…
(1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
In this section of Scripture we can learn a bit about the nature of the tongues gift. Note in verse 11, it is said to be worked among men by the Holy Spirit. It is this same Spirit who sovereignly distributes these spiritual gifts to believers as He sees fit.
This scripture gives birth to the question “If the Spirit distributes the various spiritual gifts among men, what determines which gifts are given to which men?”. That question is answered for us in the later verses of this same chapter…
(1 Corinthians 12:27-31)
27) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29) [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?
30) Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Here we read that we are to desire to EXERCISE, not obtain, the best gift for use in an assembly. In verses 27-31, we read that the gifts of the Spirit (including diversities of tongues) are distributed among men based upon the ministry to which the gifted individual is called. In other words, whatever gift is needed by the Christian to faithfully fulfill the ministry to which he is called, that is the gift that is distributed to him. The Christian needs no other gifts to live an obedient life than that which the Spirit sovereignly distributes to him.
Also notice in verse 31, based upon the set of gifts the Christian possesses, he is to desire to exercise the best gift that is needed by the church in any given situation. The practical application of that teaching is two-fold:
1. The gifted Christian is to select the proper gift to use to fulfill a church’s need… for example, if the church needed a message to be spoken using the gift of tongues, the speaker should desire to exercise the gift of tongues, not the gift of prophecy.
2. The Christian is to only select ministries for which he has been gifted…. for example, if the same church needed the gift of prophecy to be exercised, only those Christians who possessed that specific gift should intervene and take responsibility to fulfill that ministry. Anyone without the gift of prophecy should not attempt to fulfill that specific need of the church.
These two principles are what is meant by the phrase “covet earnestly the best gifts” (ie sincerely desire to EXERCISE the best gift to meet the need of the church at that time.) This phrase has nothing to do with desiring to OBTAIN a specific spiritual gift.
Notice the final phrase of vs 31… and yet I will shew you a more excellent way”. What is Paul speaking of? We find the answer to this question in chapter 13…
1 Corinthians 13:
In 1 Corinthians 13, we find the gift of tongues mentioned in two verses, 1 and 8.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13)
1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2) And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing
13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
We find that the “more excellent way” to exercise the spiritual gifts is to exercise them out of a heart of love. The spiritual gifts were never given for personal gain. They were not given for the gifted individual to receive praise, honor, or money. They were given to be sacrificially used to help others motivated by love and mercy.
In the church at Corinth, we find that the members were submitting to the temptation exercise these gifts based upon selfish desires and motives. Paul is clearly explaining that no personal gain should be desired, or requested, concerning the exercise of the spiritual gifts (including the speaking of tongues). This is the more excellent way to exercise the gracious gifts given to men by the Spirit.
Please note the phrase “the tongues of men and of angels” found in verse 1. This phrase describes two very important aspects to the gift of tongues…
1. “The tongues of men” obviously describes the human languages that existed in Paul’s day. This emphasizes for us the type of language the gift of tongues uses…it is always a HUMAN LANGUAGE.
2. “The tongues of angels” is describing the same set of languages. Keep in mind, EVERYTIME we find angels speaking in the Bible they are delivering a message to man in the human language spoken by the hearers. There is no exception to this. NO PLACE in the Bible are we told, by teaching or example, that angels speak a language reserved for the inhabitants of heaven. This emphasizes for us the goal of the gift of tongues… IT IS DELIVERING A MESSAGE TO MEN USING THE HUMAN LANGUAGE THE HEARERS UNDERSTAND.
Therefore, another way to phrase the beginning of verse 1 is simply … “Though I speak with the tongues shared by men and angels,”, by which he is speaking of human languages.
Also in 1 Corinthians 13: we find tongues mentioned in verse 8. In this section of Scripture (vs 8-12) we find teaching concerning the ceasing of the spiritual gifts. We will reserve our comments on this text, and others, for the upcoming section of our study on the ceasing of spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:
In 1 Corinthians 14:1-40, we find the majority of Paul’s teaching about the Scriptural exercise of the gifts of tongues. But before we take a look at those instructions, it is important we understand some of the misuses of the gift of tongues by the Corinthian church:
1. vs 2- when the church met, they all spoke the same language. There was no need for the exercise of tongues and, yet, they did exercise the gift.
2. vs 2, 4, 13,14,19,27 – the term “unknown” is not in the Greek language, this is why the KJV puts brackets around and italicizes the word unknown. What the KJV translators were trying to express is that, when a foreign language was spoken (as the gift of tongues was exercised) the human languages being spoken were unknown to the hearers, because of the gift’s misuse.
3. vs 4 – Again, we see the gift of tongues was being used in an Unscriptural way because the members of the church were not being edified by the gift.
4. vs 12 – The gift of tongues was being used in a ridiculous way, which was motivated by a misdirected zealousness to exercise the gifts although they were not needed nor helpful to the assembly.
5. vs 1-12 – Teach us that prophecy was the correct gift to use in this situation, not tongues. Why was prophecy the “gift of choice”? because through it, the church could be edified. They were not gaining anything from the misuse of the gift of tongues. As the tongues speaker spoke in a human language unknown to the hearers, it sounded to them as babbling which they could not understand.
This was the situation Paul was addressing in this letter to Corinth. The above abuses of the gift of tongues helps us to understand more about the instructions he gave to the church in chapters 12: and 13:. It also helps us to clarify what he has written in this chapter. Now let’s turn our attention to this chapter to learn more about the appropriate use of the gift of tongues…
(1 Corinthians 14:1-40)
1) Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.
2) For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
3) But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4) He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
5) I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
Why were they desire to exercise the gift of prophecy over that of tongues? In this instance, since the church at Corinth all spoke the same language, the gift of prophecy would result in the edification of the church.
If the gift of tongues were to be exercised only the speaker would profit from the experience. The only possible remedy for this situation would be if the unknown human language would be interpreted into the language that was spoken by the church at Corinth.
6) Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
7) And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
8) For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9) So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
10) There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them [is] without signification.
11) Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh [shall be] a barbarian unto me.
12) Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
In this situation, since the church at Corinth all understood the same language, there is no reason for the gift of tongues to be exercised. As a matter of fact, the use of the gift of tongues would be of no value whatsoever to the assembly.
If tongues were exercised, you would have a speaker stand up and speak in a human language that would be unknown to the assembly. Therefore, speaking in tongues would be like sounds and babblings holding no meaning to the assembly. It would be as if the speaker is simply speaking “into the air” without any hearers that could understand.
13) Wherefore let him that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue pray that he may interpret.
14) For if I pray in an [unknown] tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15) What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
16) Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
17) For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
18) I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19) Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that [by my voice] I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an [unknown] tongue.
20) Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
Based upon the above teachings (vs 1-12), if the gift of tongues is used in the church at Corinth, the only solution would be for someone to interpret the unknown human language into a human language known by the assembly.
Paul continues to expound absolute necessity for everything to be done in an assembly for its edification… When we sing or pray, it should be in a human language known by the church and any lost individuals who may be are present, so all can be edified by our acts of worship.
Paul concludes this section by telling the church to “grow up”. Stop using the spiritual gifts to bring honor and glory to themselves, but instead, to use them for the building up of the assembly and the salvation of the lost in their midst. They were to come to a level of spiritual understanding and maturity, where they use the spiritual gifts to benefit others and to never exercise them for selfish purposes.
21) In the law it is written, With [men of] other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
Paul refers to Isaiah 28:11-12. In the context of this OT passage, the Lord was describing the use of foreign nations to enter into Israel as an act of chastening. The Lord’s desire was for Israel to repent and come back to Him as a result of this invasion. In that sense, He would use this broken, unknown human language of the invaders to bring about the spiritual renewal of Israel.
The Lord desires for the gifts of the Spirit to be used properly for the benefit of others, by using them to present the truths of God to them in an understandable fashion. Just as the Lord used the broken unknown speech of the invaders to show Israel their need of repentance and renewal, so too, He wanted to use the gift to tongues to show the lost their spiritual needs.
Although the Lord uses the proper use of the gifts to share His Word with the lost, there is no guarantee His Word will always land upon hearing ears and result in spiritual benefit to the hearer. Just as the Lord’s efforts using the invading forces entering Israel “fell on deaf ears” and did not produce the desired response of repentance.
The gifted saint was never held responsible for the RESULTS OF THE EXERCISE OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS, they are only held responsible for the SELFLESS EXERCISE OF THOSE GIFTS MOTIVATED OUT OF A HEART OF LOVE.
22) Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying [serveth] not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
23) If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in [those that are] unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
Paul also reminds the church that the main purpose of tongues was a sign to unbelievers that the local assembly and the message of the local assembly are sanctioned by the Lord. And to share the truths of the Word to the lost in a language they understood.
It is the secondary purpose of tongues to be used for the edification of the saved.
The use of tongues within an assembly that all speaks one language, when no interpreter is present, is actually harmful to the cause of Christ. When the unbelievers hear the human languages spoken that are unknown to all those present, they will think that the church is insane. Why speak in a human language that is unknown to everyone when no benefit can be received from it?
24) But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or [one] unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
25) And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on [his] face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
Instead of the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy was to be exercised in the church at Corinth. Why? By proclaiming God’s Word in a human language that is understandable to the hearers, great benefit can be had by both the membership of the church and the lost who are visiting in their midst:
1. The saved could be built up through the instruction of the Word.
2. The lost could hear the truth of the Word, be convicted by the Spirit, come to a place of repentance and faith resulting in their salvation.
26) How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
27) If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.
28) But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
The main point in all of this chapter is that all gifts are to be exercised so that the assembly may benefit from them:
1. If the gift of tongues is exercised at Corinth, they should always have an interpreter present to clearly reveal the teachings that God has given to them. Before the Word was completed these truths of God could come to them via songs, teachings from the Word, or divine uncovering of the truth (through visions, dreams and such like).
2. To achieve maximum benefit from the Word of God, the tongues are to be exercised in an orderly fashion with the tongues followed by the interpretation.
3. Also, it is to be limited to up to three individuals who would take turns to speak in tongues.
4. If no interpreter was present, then no tongues were to be spoken.
(all of this was to avoid confusion)
29) Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
30) If [any thing] be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
31) For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
32) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33) For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
This orderly type of presentation of God’s Word extended to those exercising the gift of prophecy as well:
1. Once again, the number exercising the gift is to be at the most three.
2. They are to take turns in revealing the prophecy they had received and then judging the validity of the message of the other speakers.
3. They are to take turns in speaking and then confirming the prophecy. Never speaking over themselves.
This was all to be done to make the presentation of the truths as clear as possible leading to both the teaching and the comforting of God’s people.
34) Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
35) And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
Another way the truth was to be presented clearly was in the fulfillment of the proper gender-specific roles within the church worship. Paul addressed the need for women to refrain from teaching the mixed assembly. This would be done to respect the levels of authority and responsibility that has been placed upon the man to lead the assembly, as the men will be held accountable for the teachings within the assembly.
36) What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
37) If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
38) But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
To conclude these teachings, Paul now challenges those who are spiritual and gifted members of the assembly to acknowledge that his teachings are from God, and therefore to be followed explicitly.
If any man is ignorant concerning these things, recognize he is not spiritual, nor gifted and allow him to continue on as is. Do not push him to take upon himself a ministry he is not prepared nor taught to fulfill.
39) Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
40) Let all things be done decently and in order.
Verse 39 must be kept in context of the rest of the Scripture. The brethren of the church at Corinth were to desire to exercise the gift of prophecy in the church, not the gift of tongues, why? This is because the gift of prophecy would be of the greatest benefit to the assembly. However, they were to not forbid the speaking of tongues in this church (as long as an interpreter was present – 14:28). Why? It is because a secondary purpose of tongues was for the edification of the assembly. This could be accomplished when an interpreter would reveal the teachings that were presented in the unknown human language through the use of a language that was understood by all.
The summary of all of this is very simple:
1. ALL SPIRTUAL GIFTS WERE TO BE USED FOR THE EDIFICATION OF THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY, NEVER FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GIFTED INDIVDUAL.
2. THE GIFTS WERE TO ALWAYS BE EXERCISED FOLLOWING THE LORD’S DIRECTION. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY THAT THEY BROUGHT HONOR AND GLORY TO THE LORD.
In our next lesson, we will answer the question when will these sign gifts come to an end.
Accrediting Gifts (Sign Gifts)
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith 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: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
The “Gift Of Diverse Kinds Of Tongues” Instructions On The Biblical Exercise Of The Gift Of Tongues
(1 Corinthians 13:8-12)
Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This [is] the rest [wherewith] ye may cause the weary to rest; and this [is] the refreshing: yet they would not hear.(Isaiah 28:11-12)