If there is a ‘controversial’ topic in the Church, it’s speaking in tongues. Some say it’s only for select individuals, while others believer it’s for everyone. However, this ought not to be so because the Bible is clear on this subject.
One thing every Christian needs to know is that there are no contradictions in the Bible. If we read two scriptures and find them ‘contradictory’ it means we are the ones who didn’t understand them. When it comes to speaking in tongues, there are two scriptures that some find ‘contradictory’.
“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues…” (Mark 16:17)
“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:29)
People who believe that speaking in tongues is for every believer base their belief on the first verse while those who say it’s not for everyone, quote the latter. Does it mean the two are conflicting? Not at all! We need to understand the context of the two scriptures, lest we come up with a wrong interpretation.
Jesus Himself says it very clearly in Mark 16:17 that everyone who believes in Him shall speak in tongues. This means that speaking in tongues is not for a few people in the Church but for everyone who believes i.e. believing in Jesus qualifies you to speak in tongues.
This is not only for a few people but for everyone who believes. 1 Corinthians 12:29 does not contradict Mark 16:17 neither does it say that there are few individuals in the Church who God has given them the ability to speak in tongues.
Interpreting it this way is big an error. It is the same as using 1 Corinthians 11:34 which says, “if any man hunger, let him eat at home”, as an excuse for not sharing your food with someone. Some scriptures are better understood when you know the background of the story and 1 Corinthians 12:29 is one of them.
To gain a better picture of this scripture we need to go back to verse 1 and know the topic that was being discussed. In 1 Corinthians12, Apostle Paul talks about spiritual gifts therefore, the whole story till verse 34 is talking about spiritual gifts.
The tongues in 29 are tongues that are given as a spiritual gift. According to Mark 16, every Christian is entitled to speak in tongues but there are some people who the Holy Spirit gives them tongues as a gift.
These can speak in diverse tongues. Working of miracles, healing and everything Apostle Paul lists down in verse 10 and 29 are gifts of the Spirit but every Christian can flow in them only that they manifest to a greater extent in someone who has them as a gift.
Speaking in tongues is the same as prophecy. The Spirit gives prophecy as a gift to some people in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:10) but every Christian has the ability to prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:5).
There are many advantages to the believer, to speak in tongues including building up yourself in the faith as you pray in the Spirit.
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