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Posts Tagged ‘tongues’

Verses 7-9: “Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.”

Set the time machine of your memories back to 1974-1981: do you remember a game show called “Name That Tune”? Hosted by Tom Kennedy, this game show offered a musical twist to its questions. (Now the show is actually older than this and had a handful of different hosts, but I remember this one specifically.) Contestants had to name musical pieces through a series of rounds and games, but I remember the Bid-a-note challenge: this was between two contestants and had as its clues a spoken Jeopardy-like hint. Based on the hint, the two finalists would bid down how many piano notes of the answer they needed in order to guess the song. The starting bid was seven notes, but contestants could bid down to one note, at which the other contestant would challenge them to “name that tune”. (Now granted, if they stated they could name it in one note, chances are they knew the answer from the clue, not the notes!) In most cases, the contestant winning the bid would have to recognize the song from several notes…just enough notes to hopefully name that tune.

Did you ever go somewhere and didn’t know what people were saying? The obvious example is to travel to a foreign country and not know the native language. If you were in that situation, you had to have an interpreter: one who knew what was being said and could tell you what it means. Paul here is advising the Corinthians that while it’s good to have the gift of speaking in tongues, he urged them to pray to ask for the gift of understanding/translation as well, whether personally or for someone to be there to interpret. Non-Christians would see someone speaking in tongues and conclude they had a gift, but to Christians in church who heard only the tongue being spoken, it was useless unless someone stood up to interpret. (Look up the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:27-39 for a good example!)

While the gift of tongues is not commonly heard today, Christians still need to tell others about Jesus. Sometimes they need to give their testimony without “churchy” words. Because, believe it or not, there are still those who seek to know who Jesus is, and we have to tell them in a way they’ll understand. Sometimes, we may need to do it in more than one note!

Something to think about!

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verses 2-4: “For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.”

When I was in the 10th grade, I transferred to a private military academy. I had a math teacher who was a native New Englander with a strong New Hampshire accent. During geometry, I managed to comprehend that when he said, “you swing an ahk, then mahk the ahk”, he was actually saying “swing an arc, then mark the arc”. Yet one day, I couldn’t fathom what he meant by “the lair of sine and cosine”. Now, I know I wasn’t stupid, but I didn’t understand. I finally raised my hand, and asked, “Sir, what is a lair”? The teacher, puzzled, then said, “you know, lairs…like the traffic lair against jaywalking in an intersection.”

“You mean LAW?” I gasped out! “Yes, a lair.” he said calmly. My best friend, who went to that school, was suppressing a major laugh beside me, looked over at me, while I looked back to him, and I whispered, “why didn’t you tell me this guy can’t talk?!”

Paul here is not deprecating the use of tongues (a statement from the Holman commentary), but is pointing out that without an interpretation, one who speaks in tongues only edifies himself. He who prophesies edifies the whole church body. We, as Christians, must make sure that when witnessing to non-believers, we make our speech understandable…it is possible to use “churchy” words that a non-believer might not comprehend. Make sure to take steps today when witnessing to someone or talking about a Christian view on a topic, that you don’t sound like you are “speaking in tongues”; don’t water down the Gospel either, but make sure the message…is communicated clearly.

Have a blessed day!

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verses 8b-10: “but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

Why do most folks need training wheels to learn to ride a bicycle? Why do most starting drivers need a learner’s permit (and the accompanying licensed driver) to begin driving a car? Why is a beginner official (referee) started on junior high football games instead of calling the Super 6 championship?

Because they are not mature, experienced, or ready enough at the start of these activities.

According to information in my Bible and my Holman commentary, the young New Testament churches needed the gifts that were sent (prophecy, tongues, etc.). But when Jesus comes again, it will complete and end the maturation process.

Think about it: there won’t be any need for prophecy, for Jesus will be here! There won’t be any need for tongues, for when Jesus speaks, all will listen and understand! There won’t be any need for more knowledge, because the Source of that knowledge will be here!

Whether this happens in our lifetime, or further down the road, doesn’t matter. It will happen in the future, and what a day that will be!

Have a great and blessed day!

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