There are actually three biblical lists of the “gifts of the Spirit,” also known as spiritual gifts. The three main passages describing the spiritual gifts are (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; and 1 Corinthians 12:28). The spiritual gifts identified in (Romans 12) are prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy. The list in (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) includes the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues.
The list in (1 Corinthians 12:28) includes healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Speaking in tongues – The gift of tongues is one of the temporary “sign gifts” given to the early Church to enable the gospel to be preached throughout the world to all nations and in all known languages. It involved the divine ability to speak in languages previously unknown to the speaker. This gift authenticated the message of the gospel and those who preached it as coming from God.
The phrase “diversity of tongues” (KJV) or “different kinds of tongues” (NIV) effectively eliminates the idea of a “personal prayer language” as a spiritual gift. The apostles were for the most part ordinary men and only a few of them knowing another language other than their own. Even though there are those who teach that the gift of speaking in tongues is no longer a valid gift, in (1 Corinthians 13) we are told that at some time the sign gifts will cease. Some theologians say that the word “perfect” in verse 10 refers to the completion of the Revelation of God.
Others teach that it refers to the resurrection. I believe that God can do whatever He wants. I don’t believe that the way we see this gift portrayed today is neither edifying to the church nor honoring God. If the gifts such as healing and speaking in tongues are still viable today, I believe that the gifts would be used in such a way as to never bring attention or glory to the one who possesses the gift, which is the opposite of what we see today. Even Paul said, “yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may reach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:19) I do believe that the Holy Spirit can lead any one at any time to speak in tongues if required by God to do so, with certain rules to be followed. In today’s churches, I find the rules not to be followed, so therefore I choose to believe it to be misguided and generic at best, due to lack of interpretation. Interpretation of tongues – A person with the gift of interpreting tongues could understand what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language that was being spoken.
The tongues interpreter would then communicate the message of the tongues speaker to everyone else, so all could understand. “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two — or at the most three — should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. ” (1 Corinthians 14:26-28).
In this passage Paul gave instructions for orderly worship. In his instructions we are told that if anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be two or three at the most and someone must interpret. What we see in most charismatic churches is contrary to these guidelines. I have visited several Pentecostal churches and have never seen a scriptural display of the gift of tongues. As I said before, if the gifts such as tongues and healing are still viable today, they would be used in such a way as to not draw attention to one person. What I have seen did not edify the church and it did glorify God.
The sign gifts were given to confirm apostolic revelation. In “Theology Today”, Elmer Towns states, “When constructing a building, it is necessary to erect scaffolding to aid construction. When the building is built, the scaffolding is removed. The sign gifts were the spiritual scaffolding that God used as His authority to build the church…When the authority of the written Word of God was complete, God took the scaffolding down. ” Whenever I come in contact with someone who objects to my views on tongues I just explain that the Bible spends so little time on the subject yet we spend too much of our time arguing about it.
There are several places in Scripture I could take the time to make my views understood, but like many others, why waste the time on it when it does not serve a purpose pleasing to God? Along with the gift of tongues, there are other gifts listed that are still viable and useful and could be used in service to edify the church and bring glory to God. The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment of salvation. We are all given the same portion of the Holy Spirit; but the Christian life is all about the Holy Spirit gaining more territory in us.
There are three occasions in the book of Acts where speaking in tongues accompanied the receiving of the Holy Spirit—(Acts 2:4, 10:44-46, and 19:6). However, these three occasions are the only places in the Bible where speaking in tongues is an evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. Throughout the book of Acts, thousands of people believe in Jesus and nothing is said about them speaking in tongues (Acts 2:41, 8:5-25, 16:31-34, 21:20). Nowhere in the New Testament is it taught that speaking in tongues is the only evidence a person has received the Holy Spirit.
In fact, the New Testament teaches the opposite. We are told that every believer in Christ has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14), but not every believer speaks in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:29-31). The baptism of the Holy Spirit does two things, first it joins us to the body of Christ, and second it actualizes our co-crucifixion with Christ. Being in His body means we are risen with Him to newness of life (Romans 6:4). We should then exercise our spiritual gifts to keep that body functioning properly as stated in the context of (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Experiencing the one Spirit baptism serves as the basis for keeping the unity of the church, as in the context of (Ephesians 4:5-6). Being associated with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection through Spirit baptism establishes the basis for our separation from the power of indwelling sin and our walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-10; Colossians 2:12). Ephesians 4:5-6 (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.