II. Theology of Tongues
1. The Lord Who Entered Us Through the Light
Salvation is the light of God’s life coming into us.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of all people” (Joh 1:4).
God led the Israelites and moved them into the
It is not that we asked for God, but that God intruded into our life on his own merit, and that is what we call salvation (Joh 15:16). Salvation belongs exclusively to God’s right. Salvation is not something we can acquire by our own efforts. Salvation belongs exclusively to the right of God forcefully moving into us.
Since God chose us as his own prior to the beginning of the world, the Lord came into the human world and bought us by his own blood (Rev 1:5-6). Moreover, by having us to be bonded with the Spirit, God freed us from the captivity of the devil and gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:8-9).
Therefore, through the work of the Holy Spirit the life of believers will be changed with the life energy of God coming into their life. The movement of their hands will be different, the activity of their tongues will be different, and the pattern of their thinking will become different. This is salvation and the gifts of God.
Through the physical eyes they could see only the worldly things, but through the work of the Holy Spirit they came to discern even the depths of God. This is what faith is, being able to see the things not seen (Heb 11:1).
“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:9-10).
Through the physical ears we were able to hear only the sound of the world, but now we can hear the voice of God and become obedient to God, and this is the gift of salvation. Furthermore, as sinners we could only think of the thoughts of the world, the thoughts of death given by the devil; now through the mind of the Spirit we possess the wisdom of heaven. This is the gift of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:4-11). Since the body of believers is the containers to hold the words of God, the activity of God gets expressed throughout their whole body, and this is the gift of the Spirit.
2. Believers’ Signs and Tongues
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mar 16:17-18).
When the activity of the Spirit gets expressed through a tongue, this is speaking in tongues (Act 2:4). Tongues is at work when our spirit begins to talk about the mysteries of God and extol God in the Spirit (Act 10:46; 1 Cor 14:2).
Therefore, like all the other spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues is a sign of believers (Mar 16:17; Heb 2:4). As healing the sick is a sign of believers, either casting out demonic spirits or speaking in tongues is a sign of believers, as well.
A sign is a symbol, a means to make invisible things into visual ones. Oxygen is not visible, but in chemistry oxygen is described through the symbol of “O.” Likewise, salvation God has given us is not visible to human eyes. It, however, gets expressed through the activity of believers’ body.
Moreover, since salvation is given by the resurrected Lord sitting on the right side of throne of God, this becomes a sign that testifies the resurrected Lord (Act 3:13-15). The Holy Spirit is the one trying to fulfill in our midst the salvation of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (Mat 28:20).
How then can we believe the resurrection of the Lord? As given in the promises of the Lord, God has given us his spirit, enabling us to experience him, and this is what helps us believe the Lord (Joh 17:3).
We do not believe the Lord because of our learning of him from the others, but the resurrected Lord has given us the spirit of the Son, consequently helping us understand things we did not understand and helping us think of things we could not think of. As a result of these changes, we were guided to believe the Lord (Rom 8:15).
When we say we can think of things we could not think of and do things we could not do before, it means that we could heal the sick and make offerings to God. We can love people and things we could not love previously. Likewise, people who could not speak in tongues could pray in tongues. Through these changing phenomena, the Spirit testifies to us that the Lord is with us.
Some theologians argue, “The early churches did not have clear evidence to prove God’s existence, to build up their case in the Bible they worked with various gifts of the Spirit. However, as the Bible began to be accepted as valid in their arguments, the churches did not need these gifts any more.”
On the other hand, it was only through God’s help that Peter could believe Jesus. Otherwise, on his own Peter could not believe Jesus, standing right in front of him (Mat 16:17). Peter might have been familiar with the Old Testament. Without being guided by God, either the Pharisees or the scribes, who were supposedly expert Bible scholars, failed to believe Jesus (Joh 5:39). It is impossible to have faith in Jesus only through Scriptures. There has to be the witness of the Spirit. The witness of the Spirit is the gifts of the Spirit. The stories in the Bible are not editorials to persuade us to believe God, but they are the stories of spiritual gifts.
“How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will” (Heb 2:3-4).
The apostles heard the words of the Lord and in turn told us what they have heard from him. Yet, even if they have told us everything they had heard from the Lord, unless the Holy Spirit prove that to us through the gifts of the Holy Spirit present in us, how can we believe that?
No matter how hard and diligently an evangelist may preach the gospel, without the actual experience by the listeners, it will be hard to believe. Even if they preach something existing in their lives, unless there are outward identifiable proofs, they cannot convey experiences. Consequently, even if you talk to them, they will not believe you. Furthermore, the words of God cannot be proved by knowledge and wisdom of this world, because they are completely opposite from the common knowledge.
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That’s why the Lord is the master of our faith, and we believe him through our experience of the Spirit, an individual entity. Without the Spirit working in us, no one can believe God. Faith comes to us as a God’s gift; it is not something we can acquire through our reason. Even now, faith is given to us as God’s gift.
Since our whole body is a container to hold the soul, the presence of the Spirit is revealed and manifested through our whole body. It gets expressed through our head, lips, chest, mind, arms, hands, and feet. Particularly, our tongue is firmly bonded to mind. As the mind gets excited through the work of the Spirit, it becomes happy. Then the tongue begins to move and generate the voice of the Spirit. This is speaking in tongues.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another, various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Cor 12:7-11).
3. Varieties of Tongues
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor 13:1-3).
There are two kinds of tongues: one, the tongues of human beings, that is, other language (Act 2:4), the other, tongues of angels (1 Cor 13:1). In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Apostle Paul speaks on gifts and love. Apostle Paul spoke the tongues of men and of angels, had the prophetic power, had the strong faith to move mountains and had deep commitment to give himself away. Even if he had received many gifts from God, unless he had the love of God, Paul states that all these gifts will not benefit him at all. Paul spoke of him speaking the tongues of mortals and of angels. As he had stated, Paul spoke other languages well.
What, then, is the tongues of angels? Apostle Paul was caught up into the third heaven and there heard the tongues of angels (2 Cor 12:1-3). Those were not the words of the world, but of heaven (2 Cor 12:4). The language of heaven is the tongues of angels, and Apostle Paul said he spoke the tongues of angels. The angel’s tongues is, neither to be understood, nor to be used in the world, but in heaven.