Speaking in Tongues: Speaketh Unto God
When we speak in tongues we are actually speaking directly to God with our spirit. Let’s heed Paul’s exhortation here to begin speaking unto God in the language of the Spirit.
“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” (1 Corinthians 14:2).
The Apostle Peter had been invited to the house of the Gentile Cornelius. After a revelation from God, Peter made his way to the home of this devout Roman soldier, “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway” (Acts 10:2). Upon arriving, Peter began immediately to preach the full Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter’s sermon was powerful! He proclaimed that:
- Jesus was preached by John as the Messiah (Acts 10:37).
- That God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power (Acts 10:38).
- Jesus “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
- Christ was crucified (Acts 10:39).
- God raised Him from the dead on the third day and showed Him openly (Acts 10:40).
- Salvation was through Christ (Acts 10:42-43).
While Peter spoke these words, “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44). The scriptures declare that those men who were with Peter could say nothing against it “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:46). Notice that these Gentile receivers spoke to and magnified God! When Paul urged the Corinthians to desire spiritual gifts, he was quick to add: ““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” (1 Corinthians 14:2).
The ministry of “tongues” affords the believer the distinct privilege of speaking directly to God, not only with his understanding, but also with his spirit. The scriptures declare: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 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” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
Paul was very clear to state that when a believer speaks in an unknown tongue, he speaks unto God. The believer magnifies God with his spirit. His understanding is unfruitful (he doesn’t know what he is saying), but in his spirit he prays and worships God. As I will show later, tongues are for personal use, for personal edification and for personal benefit in devotion and worship. However, the ministry of tongues is also for the Church, when there is an interpretation of tongues.
I know many who, because of wrong information and misunderstanding, feel the ministry of tongues is no longer of value to the Church. However, Paul says more about this gift than any of the others in this discourse on spiritual gifts here in chapters 12 through 14. He also tells us that tongues and the interpretation of tongues are as equal in power, authority, ministry and benefit to prophecy. He says, “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” (1 Corinthians 14:5).
Notice the word “except” in verse five. The ministry of tongues does not profit the Church unless there is an interpretation so the Church can understand what is being said. Prophesy is always beneficial to the Church, because the language of the Church is employed ( language understandable to the body). We must bear in mind that tongues accompanied with interpretation are equal to prophecy.
“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God” (1 Corinthians 14:2). You can never imagine the joy and blessed communion which the ministry of tongues affords the believer until you have experienced this blessing. When we seek God like Cornelius, our hearts will also overflow and those around us will testify, We “heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:46).