Prophecy, Speaking in Tongues, Interpreting Tongues
[Deut. 18:18-22; 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 28-31; 14:1-5; 24-25; 30-33; 37-40; Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:11-13]
As I mentioned in my message last Sunday it is important to distinguish the Old Testament ministry of Prophet and the New Testament gift of Prophecy. The ministry of the O.T Prophet was Fore-telling — telling of the coming Messiah or warning of a coming judgment. The ministry of the N.T. gift of Prophecy is one of Forth-telling – reminding the Church of truths or promises of God. True Holy Spirit led prophetic words will never bring additions to the gospel. (See Gal. 1:8-9). The opening words of Hebrews makes it clear that Christ Himself was God’s final revelation:
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Heb. 1:1-2a).
Rather, a true prophetic word will align with the function of the Holy Spirit within every believers heart: remind us of truths or promises of God, proclaiming the Word of God, strengthening, encouraging and comforting the faithful, and bringing conviction to unbelievers.
“…the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” (1 Cor. 14:3).
“the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” (1 Cor. 14:24).
[1 Cor. 12:7-11; 28-31; 13:1; 14:1-40; Acts 2:1-12; 10:44-46; 19:1-7; Mark 16:17; Rom. 8:26-27]
The gift of tongues as an adjunct go personal prayer may be sought by any believer. This praying in tongues edifies the individual believer and brings greater more satisfying articulation of prayers one finds difficult to express in their native language.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-27).
The public pronouncement of a message in tongues however is something quite different. Here, the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer in such a way that they feel compelled to vocalize this message to the assembly. This utterance however is unintelligible to all, even the speaker, unless it is followed by another gift of Spirit the gift of interpretation of tongues. If no one known to demonstrate this gift is present in the congregation the speaker himself is to pray for the interpretation or else remain silent, not giving the message in tongues in the first place.
Interpretation of Tongues
[1 Cor. 12:7-11; 28-31; 14:1-40]
This gift, as indicated above, is the special ability God gives to a believer to translate a message given in tongues. The one who gives this interpretation will most likely not give it having understood what was said in tongues, but as led by the Holy Spirit speaking through him. This gift is necessary if the message given in tongues is to result in the edification of the body. The gifts of tongues plus interpretation equals the gift of prophecy alone so far as bringing a message to the body of believers.
“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 to God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace… everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Cor. 14:27-33a, 40).
If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit has given you a gift too! “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7). You too have a gift to minister to the Body. “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.” (1 Cor. 14:26). Do you know what it is?
Some folks find these tools coupled with much prayer helpful in discovering what the Spirit has given.