What Are The Biblical Guidelines For Speaking In Tongues (Outline)

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Are Tongues For Today?

What Are The Biblical Guidelines For Speaking In Tongues?

“In the NT, the baptism in the Holy Ghost is always accompanied by inspired speech, and that inspired speech tends to be tongues and/or prophecy.”


       First, because this is a very controversial subject, I do not need—nor am I trying—to make anyone agree with me.

       Secondly, I am not trying to make anyone speak in tongues.

       Thirdly, I want the same courtesy that I am giving.

Fourthly, my understanding of these things comes from much, much study of Acts 2, 8, 10, 19, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and the surrounding passages.

       Fifthly, our church will be a church where both those who speak in tongues and those who don’t will attend.

·        Speaking in tongues is not a status symbol.

·        Speaking in tongues is not a substitute for spiritual growth.

·        Speaking in tongues does not render one sinless.

       Now, in the Bible, I believe there are two different kinds of tongues:  known human languages and unknown preconceptual languages.

Jack Hayford, The Beauty Of Spiritual Language.

1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

·        Some call these tongues angelic language, because it is the languages of angels.

·        Some call these tongues heavenly language, because angels speak human languages on earth—but may speak their angelic languages in the heavens.

Now, in addition to the fact that I believe there are two kinds of tongues, I also believe there are two kinds of preconceptual tongues. 

1 Corinthians 14:5 (NASB-U), “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”

1 Corinthians 14:18-19 (NASB-U), “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

Let me state this in my own terms:  “In private, use the grace of tongues profusively, but in the church, use your known language to instruct others and build them up!!!

The Grace Of Tongues

The grace of tongues is the manifestation of spiritual language that graciously accompanies the baptism in the Holy Ghost, which empowers believers to be witnesses unto Jesus Christ and to transact Kingdom business, with miracles, signs, and wonders, and is available to every believer.

The guidelines for its usage can be deciphered primarily from 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14.  Basically, the provision or resource of the grace of spiritual language is a personal spiritual language for prayer, praise, worship and spiritual warfare, which is to be used in private or in an unobtrusive way in the assembly.

1 Corinthians 14:28 (NASB-U), “But if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.”

The Gift of Tongues

The gift of tongues is the manifestation of spiritual language that is graciously given for the purpose of giving a message, word, or prophecy to the gathered assembly.

1 Corinthians 14:26-27 (NASB-U), “…has a tongue, has an interpretation.  Let all things be done for edification. [27] If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret” (emphasis mine).

1 Corinthians 12:29-30 (NASB-U), “All are not apostles, are they?  All are not prophets, are they?  All are not teachers, are they?  All are not workers of miracles, are they?  All do not have gifts of healings, do they?  All do not speak with tongues, do they?  All do not interpret, do they?”

1 Corinthians 14:39-40 (NASB-U), “Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. [40] But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”

!!! The Grace Of Tongues Versus

The Gift Of Tongues

| !! The Grace Of Tongues

(Spiritual Language)[1]  | !! The Gift Of Tongues

(Spiritual Messages)(A burden of the Holy Spirit) |

Accompanies the baptism in the Holy Spirit Given by the Holy Spirit

| On the Day of Pentecost and the Advent of the Holy Spirit to different nations in Acts (Acts 2; 8; 10; 19) | !!!! At other times (1 Corinthians 12-14)


A resource or provision A gift or spiritual manifestation

| A personal spiritual language (Spoken to God) | !!!! A public proclamation (Spoken to people)


| !!!! For prayer, praise, and worship, and spiritual warfare

| For prophetic utterances |

For use in private (or quietly in public) For use in public
For personal growth For public growth
Does not need interpretation, but may need explanation, if it breaks out in the assembly Always needs interpretation


[1] Jack Hayford, The Beauty Of Spiritual Language, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1996.

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