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The Gift of Tongues

Speakers Outline
I. Introduction.
A. We all have been prayed with for baptism in the Spirit. Having asked and received, the
Holy Spirit is at work in us in a new way.
1. Part of the Spirit's work is implanting a desire in our hearts to have more and more of God,
to continue to experience Him more intimately.
2. One powerful experience some lack is speaking in tongues.
B. In the Bible, we first encounter speaking in tongues in the book of Acts, on the day of
1. It was something totally new, appearing only at this time.
We have encountered the other spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8 10) in the Old Testament
and the gospels (Note: an example of interpretation is Daniel figuring out the handwriting on
the wall). But the gift of tongues is new.
2. The gift of tongues is also unique. It is a prominent feature in the church established at
C. Speaking in tongues is for all of us. "Now I should like all of you to speak in tongues" (1
Corinthians 14:5).
II. What is the gift of tongues?
A. A definition: Speaking in tongues is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit where one speaks
an unintelligible utterance or a language which he does not know, and which he does not
1. It is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
a. Acts 2:4, 10:45 46, 19:6.
b. It is directly connected with the outpouring of the Spirit on people.
2. It could very well be an actual language.
a. There are many different languages in the world (1 Corinthians 14:10). In fact, there are
over 6,000 languages and dialects. Some of them sound like gibberish. Some are merely
b. Actual sentences can sound like baby talk. A Filipino example: A conversation between an
elevator operator man and a passenger. "Bababa ba?" (Is this going down?). "Bababa." (Yes,
it is going down).
B. Speaking in tongues is speaking to God. 1 Corinthians 14:2.

1. It is speaking to God beyond the limits of human intelligible language. It is expressing

the inexpressible.
2. Being addressed to God, there is no need for people to understand what is being said.
God understands.
III. Why is the gift of tongues important?
A. The gift of tongues is important because it is a gift of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4,10.
1. Every gift from God is good and desirable.
2. Tongues was a common experience in the apostolic Church.
B. The gift of tongues is important as a gift of prayer.
1. Prayer is one of the most basic components of the life of a Christian. We all want to
experience prayer in a more powerful way.
2. Tongues connects us directly to God. 1 Corinthians 14:2.
3. Tongues allows us to pray with our spirit and not merely with our mind. 1 Corinthians
C. Tongues is important because it helps build up the body of Christ.
1. It is an important ministry in the Church, a ministry designated by God Himself. 1
Corinthians 12:28.
2. Ministries in the Church are designed to build up the body. Ephesians 4:11 12.

IV. What is the value of tongues for us personally?

A. Tongues gives us a new dimension in prayer. It can revolutionize our prayer life.
1. It gives us a greater awareness of God's presence. 1 Corinthians 14:2,14.
Our spirit connects with God's spirit.
2. We pray more profoundly, even without realizing it.
1 Corinthians 14:2 "he utters mysteries in spirit".
3. When we are no longer able to express ourselves as we encounter the overwhelming
glory and majesty of God, the Spirit itself helps us in our prayer. Romans 8:26.
4. We are able to intercede for what we need to live according to God's will, even when we
may not know what this is. Romans 8:27.
B. Tongues builds us up, edifies us. 1 Corinthians 14:4a.
C. Tongues has a transforming effect on one's spiritual life.

1. Tongues is often the gateway to the charismatic dimension. It gives us a spiritual

breakthrough. We enter into a new spiritual realm.
2. Many experience a deeper faith and a deeper working of God in one's life.
V. Some pastoral notes.
A. Tongues is important, but we need to see it in its proper place.
1. The baptism in the Holy Spirit, with its manifestation of tongues, is not needed for
salvation. Salvation comes through the cross of Christ.
2. Many Christians experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives without experiencing
the gift of tongues.
Consider the apostles and disciples sent on mission by Jesus and performing signs and
wonders, all prior to Pentecost and their receiving the gift of tongues.
B. Tongues is important, but it should not be over-emphasized.
1. It is only one aspect of our life of faith. It is not the focal point of our faith.
There are more important things. 1 Corinthians 14:18 19.
2. Love is the most important. 1 Corinthians 13:1.
Unlike tongues, love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8.
C. Given the above, still tongues is important and desirable, since it results in further
blessings and more power for the Christian life.
VI. How do we receive the gift of tongues?
A. If we are to receive the gift of tongues, we should first of all desire it.
1. God will never force anything on us, even if He knows it is for our good.
2. Paul advises us: "Pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts" (1 Corinthians
B. Desiring it, we should then ask for it in faith.
1. Matthew 7:7 11. This is God's promise. If we ask, then God will give. It involves our act,
and God's response.
2. We should be like little children with childlike faith.
C. Then we yield to and cooperate with God's Spirit.
1. We open our mouth and speak out.
a. We lay aside any known language, and just speak out.

b. It may be "la, la, la" or "ba, ba, ba" or "alleluia" or any other syllable or sound. God will
shape these sounds into a language of prayer and praise.
2. We focus on Christ and not on the words.
"My Spirit is at prayer but my mind is unproductive" (1 Corinthians 14:14).
VII. Obstacles to receiving the gift of tongues.
A. Fear
1. Fear of looking foolish (1 Corinthians 14:23), of being taken over and losing control, of the
2. Antidote: Trust in God. God will not do anything to us that will not be beneficial for us.
B. Doubt.
1. Doubt regarding the desirability and usefulness of the gift.
2. Antidote: In faith, accept that any gift from God is good and desirable.
C. Feeling of unworthiness.
1. Being a sinner, or just being a baby in Christ, we may think that the gift is reserved for
those more worthy.
2. Antidote: Know that the gift is not based on one's worth or on good works. Rather, it is a
free gift of God for every Christian who desires and asks for it.
D. Pride
1. Thinking that we do not need this gift, that we are already doing well in our Christian life
without it.
2. Antidote: Humble yourself, realizing how far you still are from the righteousness and
holiness of God, and how utterly dependent you are on His grace and His gifts.
E. Wrong expectations or attitudes.
1. An attitude of waiting on God for something to happen without doing our part. One may
even just sit there with mouth closed and arms crossed, saying that if God wants to give the
gift, then He will.
Reality: God does not force us. We need to cooperate. Open your mouth and speak out.
2. Expecting to have a very dramatic and emotional experience (e.g., trembling, distorting
of mouth, etc.).
Reality: While you may have an emotional experience, it is not necessarily to be expected.
There may be no extraordinary experiences or emotions at all.
3. Trying to psych oneself up.

Proper attitude: Just relax. This way the gift will flow more easily.
4. Unwillingness to experience the unknown, or something totally new, or something
Proper attitude: Know that while there are things we believe in because we understand, in
our life of faith there are things we have to believe in even before we can understand.
VIII. Conclusion
A. God loves us so much that He wants to pour upon us His bountiful grace and gifts.
B. One important gift is the gift of speaking in tongues. This gift is important for personal
edification, for building up our community in CFC-SFC, and for opening us up for greater
empowerment for our mission.
C. God wants to give you the gift of tongues. Desire it as well and accept His gift.