We are in the process of seeking God – already knowing how awesome He is, that there is none like Him and that He loves us with an everlasting love according to His character of goodness and truth. We are now knocking at the door of heaven, praying in the Spirit that Jesus promised, reaching out to the power of heaven to change our circumstances and our community.
In the light of all of heaven’s splendour, our fears and worries have quietly moved into the background as we dwell in the presence of the Almighty, Who holds heaven and earth in His hand. Our focus on His love and power, deals with our earthly concerns.
In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 Paul discusses the gifts of the Spirit as well as the manifestation and practice of it in the gatherings of believers.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: or to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)
The gifts are distributed by the Spirit as He wills and according to the need.
Paul also speaks about the gifts in Romans 12. We need the Holy Spirit to live like he says in this chapter. The standard is high and we need every powerful endowment of our Father’s promise to live the life of excellence.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best (those needed in a specific situation) gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12: 28-31)
The more excellent way is the next chapter – 1 Corinthians 13 – LOVE. Anything without love is useless. The love he describes is agapé – love by choice, not by chance. It is love that is not dependent on a feeling, or an affinity or any chemistry. It is love that practices unconquerable benevolence and undefeatable goodwill towards a person, without expecting anything in return. It is love that liberates us fully from the wiles and wills of the people around us.
In this chapter he mentions the tongues of men and of angels.
Let us back up to the Tower of Babel. You know the funny story in Genesis.
The story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is indeed one of the strange stories of the Bible. The people of the earth come together after the flood and plan a city. The chapter states that they had one language and one speech. They want to build something magnificent – isn’t that good? Still, the unity that comes by language would have enabled amazing power. God Himself said that nothing would be impossible for them. He confuses the speech at Babel and the people scatter to fill the earth as He originally intended they should do after the flood.
Centuries later a miracle of speech unites a people for whom nothing would be impossible. On the day of Pentecost, God uses language to establish His church and give those converts the power that comes from unity. (Acts 2:4)
They spoke in known languages of the people present to spread the Gospel . The word in Greek is dialektō (Acts 2:8).
Twenty years after the day of Pentecost, Paul asks converts in Corinth whether they have received the Holy Spirit. They were rebaptized (the only place in the Bible), because John’s baptism was already happening before the ministry of Jesus and Paul wanted to establish the principle of baptism in Jesus’ name.
And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)
Tongues, translated from the Greek word glossolalia – served as a sign of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, assuring a believer to be an invigorated living witness.
It can be explained as languages, and infers from 1 Corinthians 13:1 that the glossolalia in 1 Corinthians was the speaking in angelic languages, whereas Acts 2 indicated they spoke in known human languages.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels…
The characteristic of this mysterious language is that it betokened a converse alone with God, such as the angels have. But rising out of this, is that the Holy Spirit gave impulse and power to the speaker to make his language for himself for what he had to utter at that very moment, so that the language moulded itself specially in the mouth of each individual respectively for that which had to be uttered.
This is a pillar in prayer. We need to take the time and seclusion to allow the Holy Spirit to make intercession for us. Sometimes it is part of day-long communication. Thinking about a difficult situation with a sigh and a sore heart, submitting it to Kingdom authority just there and then – in the car, in the kitchen, amongst the sisters, amongst the difficulties of life.
Once again in the prayer of the Holy Spirit and the operating of the gifts, it can only happen in accordance to the principle of Jesus in Matthew 6. It is received in private.
What now? Be the church of Berea.
These were more fair-minded [open-minded] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)
They checked up on Paul. That is how we should operate – always! We have the Bible available to each individual. These days we have commentaries and other tools at our fingertips. The most important “tool” to understand and practice Scripture however, is the Hoy Spirit.
If we humbly ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds to the deeper and the more of God’s presence and power, He will lead us in all truth. Jesus said His words are Spirit and truth (John 6:63).
Your next step is exactly the same as those overwhelmed people on the day of Pentecost when they asked Peter:
Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,
Brethren, what shall we do?
And Peter answered them, Repent, change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise of the Holy Spirit is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, even to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. (Acts 2:37-39)
Go back to your closet and study the Word. In humble submission ask the Holy Spirit so that He will reveal Himself to you. There in His sweet and loving presence, you will mould your tongue in praise and the utterance of unknown sounds.
It is not the object of obsession,
it is the consequence of submission.
Forming the tongues of angels in your own mouth,
is an utterance of faith.