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The Fellowship

April 28, 2010

Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues
By Tom Brown

Speaking in tongues is the most talked about phenomena in Christianity. Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement has brought speaking in tongues to the forefront, and these branches of Christianity are without doubt the fastest growing segments of Christianity. These movements are impacting the world even more than the reformation did.

Yet with all the talk about speaking in tongues, few understand what it's all about. It is the least understood subject among believers. People will be surprise to find that the Bible mentions speaking in tongues thirty-five times. That is a lot, so this subject should not be cast lightly aside as unimportant to the Church. God does not fill His book with things of minor importance.

Many people who have never spoken in tongues speak as though they're experts in this field, when in reality they teach only from theory.

Who should know more about tongues: those who speak in tongues or those who don't? Well, shouldn't we learn from those who do speak in tongues!? Since I do speak in tongues, I feel that I can bring scriptural wisdom with experience in this article. This column will clarify common misunderstandings and show the importance and benefits of speaking in tongues.


WHAT GOOD IS IT?
The Apostle Paul writes, "He who speaks in tongues edifies himself...I would like every one of you to speak in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:4,5). With these positive statement about tongues, why do so few Christians speak in tongues? I believe the answer is because there is very little sound, logical and scriptural teaching as to the scope and value of speaking in tongues.

Recently I spoke to a group of Mormons at the University Ward on North Oregon Street. I shared my testimony on how God saved and filled me with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. After the talk, the number one question the students asked was on speaking in tongues. One inquisitive student asked, "What does speaking in tongues do for you?" I answered, "It does exactly what the Bible says it does: He who speaks in tongues edifies himself." The word "edify" means to "build up" or "charge up"--much like charging up a battery. We all need a spiritual charge. All of us at times feel spiritually drained. One of God's ways to charge your spirit is through speaking in tongues.


A HEAVENLY LANGUAGE
Many people inaccurately define speaking in tongues as "speaking gibberish" or "talking nonsense." The truth is, speaking in tongues is the most intelligent, perfect language in the universe. It is God's language. What language do you suppose people speak in heaven? Languages are given their name based on the countries they come from. For example, English comes from England. Spanish comes from Spain. Italian comes from Italy.

Well, where does tongues come from? It comes from Heaven! Tongues is the heavenly language. It is what is spoken in heaven; the only difference is that the people in heaven understand what they are saying. Here on earth Paul says, "For anyone who speaks in tongues does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understand him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" (v. 2).

Jesus says that those who believe in Him will "speak in new tongues" (Mark 16:17). The word "new" means appearing for the first time. No one had spoken these languages before. Contrary to bad theology tongues is not an ability given to preach the gospel in the language of foreigners. This would make tongues "old" languages. It is only appropriate that "new tongues" should be spoken by those of the "new birth." It is natural and normal to speak in the language of your birth. We are born again from above, therefore we should speak the language from above--that language is called "new tongues."


SHOULDN'T TONGUES BE UNDERSTOOD?
The first to speak in tongues were the disciples. This occurred on the day of Pentecost. People often think that on this day the disciples were speaking human languages, because the people could understand what they were saying.

I don't believe this is true because there was a two-fold miracle taking place on this day: the miracle of speaking and hearing: The first miracle was the speaking in tongues. The second miracle was the enabling of some to understand the tongues. Not everyone understood the tongues, because some onlookers made fun of the disciples and accused them of being drunk (Acts 2:13); this clearly shows that they did not understand the tongues.

And the ones who did understand the tongues were perplex because each one heard only their own native language not the languages of the other people (v. 6). The Bible tells us that there were over fourteen foreigners representing many nations, speaking different languages. Yet each person heard the disciples praising God in their own language. They exclaimed, "How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?" (v. 8) They could not figure out how this was possible.

It is clear that the disciples were not "preaching" the gospel in tongues, they were instead "declaring the wonders of God" (v. 11). They were not speaking "to men but to God" (1 Cor 14:2). The people were simply listening in on their praises to God. It wasn't until Peter stood up to speak to the crowd in one common language that the gospel was preached. So tongues are not supernatural human languages given to the apostles so they could preach in languages they did not naturally learn.

The disciples were not speaking human languages; they were speaking in unknown tongues. But God enabled those whose hearts were opened to understand what the disciples were saying. Sometimes this happens today. You see, the miracle was in the hearing of the people.



THE BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT
Let us look carefully at the first scriptural account of speaking in tongues:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4).
This experience is what John the baptist and Jesus called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This was the fulfillment of Jesus promise, "In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5). Every Christian believes in baptizing in water. But few accept the better baptism--the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Since you were willing to be baptized in water, shouldn't you also be willing to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?
Theologians often confuse the baptism in the Holy Spirit with salvation. They often regard these two experiences as being the same. This confuses believers. They incorrectly assume that salvation is the same as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not teach this. The Bible clearly teaches that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation and comes after a person is saved, although it can occur at the time of salvation.

The story of the Samaritan converts plainly proves this (see Acts 8:5-25). Philip preached to them about Christ. The people joyfully accepted the gospel and was born again. They confirmed their faith by being baptized as well. Yet, despite the fact that these folks were truly saved, Philip called for the apostles to come and pray for them that they would receive the Holy Spirit. It is clear from this story that being saved is not the same as receiving the Holy Spirit. (Although the Holy Spirit is definitely involved in salvation.)

Another biblical story illustrates this fact (see Acts 19:1-7). Paul met some disciples of John the Baptist. He thought they were believers in the Lord Jesus, because they talked so much about repentance. Paul, unaware that they were only disciples of John, yet knowing something was missing in these men, asked them an obvious question, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

The question itself proves that Paul, including the early church, believed that it was possible to be a believer in Jesus without having received the Holy Spirit. If receiving the Holy Spirit was automatic at conversion, then why did Paul asked the question, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"


THE PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the First Assembly of God church on Montana. The preacher asked for those wishing to dedicate themselves to the ministry to come forward for prayer. The first to come forward was a tall, slender fellow name Timmy. I thought, "If Timmy can go forward, I can too." So I followed him down to the front of the podium.

Without notice, something invisible hit Timmy, and down he went on the floor. Almost immediately, something hit me too. Down I went, prostrate on the ground. I began to weep uncontrollably. God's presence was all over me. This went on for several minutes.

The thought occurred to me, "This must be what my church has been talking about all these years. What is happening to me must be the baptism in the Holy Spirit." No sooner did I think that when I heard this scripture in my mind, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues."
If I'm filled with the Holy Spirit, then I'll speak in other tongues, I reasoned in my mind. Right then, I began speaking in other tongues--and I haven't stopped yet! Glory to God!

You see, the physical proof of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the same evidence that the disciples had: speaking in tongues. You may have other evidences as well, but the one evidence you should have is speaking in tongues.

There are five examples in the Bible of people receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:4; 8:17; 9:17; 10:44; 19:6). In three out of the five examples we are told that specific signs took place. In the other two examples, the manifestation of physical signs taking place are implied, but not mentioned. Based on these two cases we cannot build any solid evidence as to what should happen when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit. However, based on the other three examples we can build a good, solid case as to what should happen when someone is baptized in the Spirit.

We are told in these three examples that certain physical manifestations took place. In each case, more than one physical sign took place, which teaches us that there are usually more than one sign taking place when people are baptized in the Holy Spirit. Yet, there is one sign--and only one sign--that is common to all three examples. The identical sign was speaking in tongues. Based on this observation we can conclude that the standard sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues.

Speaking in tongues is the physical, biblical evidence that one is baptized in the Holy Spirit. We should not settle for anything less than the scriptural evidence.

If you haven't been baptized in the Holy Spirit, seek God about it and pray for it in faith. God never lets a thirsty soul go dry.


DO ALL SPEAK IN TONGUES?
Someone may say, "How can you say that all Christians should speak in tongues considering the apostle Paul's words, 'Do all speak in tongues?'? (1 Corinthians 12:30).

In this passage, Paul is talking about public ministry gifts that are manifested in the church. He is not talking about tongues as the initial sign of the baptism in the Spirit, nor is he talking about tongues as a private, devotional, prayer language.

You can recognize this by simply looking at the language Paul uses concerning speaking in tongues. In this chapter he calls speaking in tongues "different kinds of tongues" (see 12:10,28). "Different kinds" means "not the usual." The usual kind of speaking in tongues is a language no man understands or interprets. However, speaking in "different kinds" of tongues enables the speaker or someone else to recognize the meaning of the tongue and thereby interpreting it.

So when Paul ask the question, "Do all speak in tongues?", he is referring to the public manifestation of tongues which enables a person gifted in interpretation to speak out the meaning of the tongue. Not all have been given this gift of "different kinds" of tongues.

In the fourteenth chapter of this epistle, Paul corrects the misuse of tongues in the church. He told them to stop the practice gathering "the whole church [so] everyone [can] speak in tongues" (v. 23). Notice carefully that the "whole church" was gathered and that "everyone" was speaking in tongues. This clearly shows us that everyone in the Corinthian church was speaking in tongues. Most of them should have allowed those gifted in the "different kinds" of tongues to exercise their gift, and the rest should simply "keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God" (v. 28).

Friend, I encourage you to seek the scriptural evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and to settle for nothing but the best.




----------------------------------------------------------------------

I hope you guys have enjoyed the post today! It was acquired from the website: http://www.tbm.org/tongues.htm

I've been curious about speaking in tongues lately and have been doing some research. This is just one of the sites that I have read through. I would greatly appreciate your comments and criticisms (particularly those of Madeline!!)

God Bless,

Squeaks.

14 comments:

  1. I cannot fault your defense of your position, however, I still remain unsure of the role of tongues in today's society.
    Also, my church experiances as a middle-American believer have only brought me into one experiance with the charistmatic movement, and that was...an experiance in the diversity of the body of Christ.
    But one thing we can all agree on is that love is the greatest gift, as said in I Corinthians 13.

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  2. @Galadriel,
    It if is Biblical doesn't it hold true even for today. We should take the Bible as a whole not just the pieces that we like, or find fitting for our society because society changes as the years pass and God's word never changes. His word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
    Yes, love is the greatest gift, without love there is nothing at all.
    1 Corinthians 13:13
    Now these three remain:faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love.

    Kash
    <><

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  3. Anonymous, do you mean the principles behind rules--like the fruit of the Spirit--or the rules themselves--such as the code for sacrificing animals in the Old Testament?
    I believe the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God, but I also believe that certian aspects--such as Levite sacrifices--are more cultural specific than others.

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  4. Matthew 5:17-18 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

    All I am saying is that the Bible is the Living Word of God and all of it has application for today. Here is a thought....if the Bible is a Living Word than that should mean it breaths, if it breaths, then it has life, if it has life then it lives which means that the words of the past are still alive and have application for today. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were not really what God wanted they were only forshadowing the ulitimate sacrifice of Jesus Himself. God wants a humble heart, people who are willing to give up self and worship Him. 1 Samuel 15:22 states..." But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeyig the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

    Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit and is still applicable today just like healing and prophesies are.

    I hope I am coming across clear, if not just ask and I will do my best to answer. :)

    Kash
    <><

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  5. I appreciate you posting this :D Very insightful. And very good scriptural evidence. I am considering his points. He doesn't seem to be taking his major points out of context.

    Some of the verses though don't work. Because in the majority of those passages those who received the gifts of the Spirit had the Apostles lay hands on them. Phillip called the apostles to lay hands on people. So...it seems that they apostles needed to bestow the power. That's, another reason, why I disagree with part of this.

    I think that the baptizing of the spirit comes with the salvation process. but that the receiving of the gifts, if occurs at all in the modern world, would be separate as he says.

    So yeah, those are the thoughts I can think of now (half an hour later lol). Thank you for posting!

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  6. Awesome points guys! Haha, I just tried to sit back and watch for a bit, but low and behold I can't stay in my seat any longer! XD

    Now let me see...okay,

    @ Galadriel, good points. Church experiences are very varied these days. Now I've grown up in a Baptist church and my family has been more on the conservative side. But what I experienced 2 weeks ago was not very conservative. Let me explain it in short.

    I was at a conference and Heidi Baker was speaking. She's a beautiful woman of God who is very close to Jesus...like...very close. Anyways, the last day of the conference was upon us and she called down everyone who wanted more of Jesus. So...I came to the front, not expecting anything major. I sat among the rest of the people and waited for God to show up, like she said he would. Anyways, before long people around me were praying in tongues and doing things like that. All of a sudden I felt this still small nudge in my spirit and felt that I should start singing. Being a singer, I was like, okay, whatever. So I started to sing. I then felt God's presence...it's something that you get to know after a while :)

    Anyways, before 30 minutes had gone by I felt this huge joy well up inside of me...it was like...wow. So I couldn't contain it, and I did feel a little odd laughing for no apparent reason. Soon enough I was in stitches on the floor rolling around laughing. I was thinking about what was happening as laughs erupted from my mouth and I was like, "this just has to be God." I don't know how much time passed, but I began to feel this energy running up my legs and back. It was so cool. And then I began to shake. I really can't explain much more folks. It was sweetness! Every time I called on Jesus' name I was energized and went into more fits of uncontrollable laughter. People would walk over me (I was conscious of that lol) and they'd say stuff like "More Lord!" And then it was like I was boom, hit by the Spirit. It was a perceptible force!

    So Galadriel, I must disagree with you. God works in the church in ways that are huge. HUGE! Check out Bethel church, if you're interested (they're in Redding California). I went there for a visit once and saw a lady have her leg grow out. Pastor Johnson prayed over her and her leg started growing (it was at least 1.5in shorter than her other one). I saw it with my own eyes. If I hadn't I don't know if I would have believed it! Wow eh!? Now that's God moving in the Church today.

    (gotta split this thing into two parts b/c it's so big LOL!)

    ...here's the second...

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  7. ...now the second part...

    @ Nathan, I agree that we should be wary of the points that people make. The receiving of gifts is not separate, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate from salvation.

    You see, the receiving of gifts...every human is equipped with gifts that God has given to them. When they become Christians, they can use those gifts to bring glory and honour to Christ's Church. So really, gifts (such as helps, healing, encouragement, and even prophecy [think of the psychics)occur before salvation. Now, gifts of the Spirit (tongues) come as proof of the Holy Spirit baptism. If you think about it...why would God give the Apostles something to aid them in their walk with Jesus and not give that same thing to us? Pentecost was definitely a one time event...it was special BECAUSE it was the first day that the Holy Spirit was let loose to indwell a huge group of believers. Before Pentecost, He had only indwelt prophets and the odd king or two (and even then it was for shorter periods of time).

    I know that I have the Holy Spirit in me...He came to dwell in me just a little while ago, even though I've been a Christian for quite some time. Now I'm not saying that I've never had the HS, He's been with me since salvation, but I never gave Him the opportunity to dwell within me and manifest His power until a little while ago.

    Oy oy oy, it's a complicated matter folks :P If you have anymore questions, or if I didn't address your questions appropriately, please do let me know. And keep the comments coming! I love comments (uplifting or criticizing, so long as they're good).

    Now...half an hour later... XD

    Squeaks.

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  8. @Squeaks, Sounds like one awesome experiance :D Honestly, I have no issue with allowing for the possibility of tongues and such. I think that the modern church has suppressed their power through lack of faith. I can't decide if I completely believe they still happen, but I am leaning there...heavily lol Certainly healing and such. Tongues had a different purpose however.

    I don't see any evidence in the bible that the baptism by the Holy Spirit is seperate from salvation. However, the gifts of the spirit is obviously seperate. In Romans, or Phillipians, I think it is Paul says that the Spirit will "seal us" for salvation. So...if we have no seal then we couldn't really be saved. So then to say you could be saved without the Spirit makes little sense.

    Spiritual Gifts of the Spirit and plain talents are different. One all people have, as you stated, the others are given supernaturally. No one heals or speaks in tongues without being saved. Those came after/with salvation.

    I would say that the Holy Spirit comes at salvation. But that, maybe, the believers don't always allow Him to work.

    Like I said, I'm on the fence lol

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  9. @ Nathan,

    LOL so much stuff I could talk about...concerning tongues, let's say that I'm looking into things and I'll post more when I've acquired some strong facts (or no facts :P )

    Concerning the Spirit...I mustn't have wrote clearly. :P I believe that the Holy Spirit is given to the believer at the time of salvation...but there is a big difference between being baptized in the Spirit and in water. Paul and Jesus made a distinction between to two. I'm a little pressed for time, so I can't write everything I'd like to...but check out this link:

    http://www.letusreason.org/OCC15.htm

    So yeah, the spirit comes to us when we are saved, but the baptism is different...Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them they were clean (etc, he gave the the Spirit), but he told them they would have to wait a little while long before they could receive the power of the Spirit through its baptism. I suppose it's similar to being saved. When you're saved, some people go for years without being baptized, even though the Bible says you should as a statement of faith. It's the same with the Spirit, many people go for years living with the Spirit, but not in Him.



    Squeaks.

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  10. @Squeaks, oh totally. I agree. Believe it or not most denominations understand that baptism with water is just a picture and that the baptism with fire is what matters.

    So if I'm hearing you right, you're saying exactly what I already said lol. All Christians have the Spirit but not all use its power.

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  11. I read this post earlier, and I thought it was quite interesting... Especially the comments. I believe the anonymous person (Kash, I think?) and Galadriel said something about the Old Testament laws being applicable (or not) today.

    I think I have a Bible verse about it somewhere... Just a second.

    Ah, here it is! I read the context (because Scripture is often misquoted because people don't read the context), but if you have an opinion on it, please say so.

    Romans 7:4-6 [NIV]
    "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you may belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at word in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."

    This is part of the chapter mostly about struggling with sin, but I'd like to know you're opinion on it. Here's a part after;

    Romans 7:7-13 [NIV]
    "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.

    "For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful."

    And here's another verse I found interesting;

    Ephesians 2:14-16 [NIV]
    "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility."

    I also read the context of this one, and it was about being one in Christ. So I'm not sure if this qualifies for my verses about the Old Testament laws, but I took it for the "by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations," part.

    [continued in next comment]

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  12. [Continued from last comment]

    And here's one more verse. The context is about Christ being the highest priest.

    Hebrews 9:7-14 [NIV]
    "But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

    "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!"

    This might be a little off the subject, [of tongues] but I'd like to know your (anyone's) views on it.

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  13. I'm flattered, Squeaks. =D Sorry I took so long to reply. This weekend had us running around constantly.

    Anyway, I had my dad read what you said about your experience with the Holy Spirit to get his take on it (since I actally don't have the Spirit at the moment I'm not sure my advice/comments would be too helpful). It seems, from what you said, that he thought that you might have had some kind of encounter with God, but that you may want to keep praying and trying to recieve the Spirit. He said that you don't have to TRY to speak in tongues (and yes, they are the sign of someone who has the spirit) - it just happens and you can't stop it. He gave the example kind of like that accepting Jesus is being concieved - then you're in the womb, ready to be born again (get the allusion? That's what Jesus was talking about to Nicodemus!! The Holy Spirit is being born again!). When a baby is born, the natural thing for it to do is cry. My dad said that's exactly what it's like. You don't have to try, you just DO. He said God literally takes control of your tongue - and from then on, during your lifetime, you can pray in the spirit (in tongues) whenever you want - in the car, in bed, in the shower. He said it feels so refreshing that God can pray through you when you can't think of anything to pray about or don't know who needs prayer. And he also said the world looks so different with the Holy Spirit - he can't really explain it, but he doesn't know where he'd be without the Spirit.

    Now, please understand I'm not trying to discredit what happened to you!! I'm just saying that, really, there is only one sign that you can be sure you have the Spirit - and that's tongues. So what I would say is KEEP PRAYING for God to give you his Spirit! Anyone who asks will recieve.

    I'm praying for you, Squeaks!

    ~Madeline

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  14. This whole article is intereting, I have wondered about it before. I had a friend of my friend tell me to pray and ask God for the gift of tongues. I am not sure what gift I have really...

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