Our worship team was deeply engrossed in performing our song. During an instrumental interlude, the music was interrupted by a loud shout emanating from a woman in the congregation. She was a first time visitor to our church and I did not recognize her.
“Ooh! Praise Jesus!”
That was the last intelligible phrase she uttered. What followed was a garbled collection of words and phrases, some recognizable, others vaguely sounding like a foreign language. We continued to play during this chaotic interruption, attempting to foster an atmosphere of tranquility, though at times, the volume of her speech drowned our playing. After she finished, I looked to our Pastor who had closed his eyes and was praying. We quietly ended our song and the Pastor continued to silently pray. A few moments later, he opened his eyes and addressed the woman and congregation.
“What you have all witnessed is what some would call speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit bestowed the gift of speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost after the resurrected Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven.”
He then read the following Bible verses.
If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
1 Corinthians 14:27-28 (NKJV)
Our Pastor continued. “I have waited for an interpretation but the Holy Spirit did not give one to myself or anyone else in this congregation. Thus I must conclude that this message is not meant for our congregation. God’s Word is very clear.” He then read the next two verses.
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:32-33 (NKJV)
After reading the verses, the Pastor looked at the woman and nodded, “Thank you, Sister. God bless you.” She quietly sat down for the rest of the service.
I was thankful for our Pastor’s graciousness to this woman and his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and obeying the Word of God. The Holy Spirit bestows many gifts upon believers in Jesus Christ. There are the gifts of teaching, service, and prophecy-just to name a few. The gift of speaking in tongues still generates much controversy amongst Christians. Whether it means a person speaking in a foreign language or a completely unknown language to this world, it was bestowed by the Holy Spirit to empower a believer to praise and worship God.
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
1 Corinthians 14:2 (NKJV)
If someone speaks in tongues in a public setting, if it is meant for the edification of the church, the Holy Spirit will enable another believer to interpret for the rest, so all will understand the message.
When the Holy Spirit empowers a Christian believer, it is a powerful affirmation of God’s power. He may enable a believer to defend their faith under persecution. He may heal an addiction to drugs or alcohol. When it comes to the gift of tongues in the public setting, everything is to be done in an orderly manner. God is not the author of confusion but of peace.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.