Like other gifts (the revelation gifts and power gifts) which we have already studied over the last three weeks. You will all agree with me that all are the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, with reference to our last lesson on “The Power Gifts of Holy Spirit“. They are not simple characters or learning abilities. They are from the Holy Spirit and they are supernatural. Each one is a visible evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
There are three gifts under the vocal category: prophecy, diverse tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 4:2-5
Prophecy – Joel 2:28
Prophecy is a vocal miracle of speech in one’s own language. It is speaking under the inspiration of God for “edification, exhortation, and comfort.” The Hebrew word for “prophecy” means “to flow forth or to spring forth.” It means to “speak for another.” It also means to be the spokesman for someone else. Literally, it means to speak for God or to be His mouthpiece.
Prophecy and What You Need to Know
Pastor John MacArthur (a popular preacher on many radio stations) claims that the gift of prophecy is merely the gift of being able to preach the gospel. However, to preach means to proclaim, to announce, to cry to tell. Prophecy is not simple oral ability. Many people, politicians, lawyers, and teachers have oral ability even though they have never received the Holy Spirit. There is nothing supernatural about oral ability. An oral ability can come through education and training, but prophecy only comes through the Holy Ghost. Prophecy is a supernatural gift and should not be confused with the natural ability some people have to remember and quote Scripture. Even the devil can quote Scriptures.
The Relationship Between Preaching and Prophecy
Sometimes there is an element of prophecy in preaching when one is anointed by the Spirit and is inspired to say things which come from the spirit rather than just from the mind, but that is only one of many ways in which prophecy is expressed. Sometimes a Spirit-filled believer may be witnessing to someone when the Lord suddenly anoints the witness to say things which he or she didn’t plan on saying. They are inspired by the Holy Spirit to say it, and it causes the person to break or to repent. That is another way the gift of prophecy is applied in our Christian walk. Prophesy always exalts Jesus as the only Savior of men (Revelations 19:10). It is for women as well as for men (1 Corinthians 11; Acts 2:15-16). It is to be “desired” (1 Corinthians 14:1). It always agrees with God’s Word.
Some have claimed that the gift of tongues is nothing more than the ability to learn foreign languages. They have claimed that this is an ability which God sometimes gives those who are preparing themselves to go into a foreign country to preach the gospel, so they can communicate with those whom they are going to witness to. However, this idea does not line up with the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 14:14 where Paul plainly states that he doesn’t know what he is saying when he speaks in tongues. Paul says his spirit (the inner man) knows, but Paul’s mind did not understand it. 1 Corinthians 14:14 says: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” This plainly rules out the ability to learn a foreign language because a person who speaks in a foreign language is both able to speak it and understand it.
Some have claimed that the gift of tongues is a childish thing which was meant only for the most immature Christians. They have claimed that the more mature Christians go on to better things and eventually cast off the gift of tongues. However, if this was the case, the Apostle Paul (a mature Christian and Apostle) would not have claimed that he spoke in tongues “MORE THAN…ALL” of the immature believers at Corinth. Paul makes this statement in 1 Corinthians 14:18 “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:”
What is Speaking in Tongues? (1 Corinthians 14:4)
The gift of tongues is a supernatural utterance in a language or languages (earthly or heavenly) which the one doing the speaking does not understand. It is a vocal miracle. It is a miracle of speech (Acts 2:4-8; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:1-6; 1 Corinthians 12-14).
What Can We Use Speaking in Tongues for?
The gift of tongues can be used to witness (Acts 2), to pray (1 Corinthians 14:2), to sing (1 Corinthians 14:15), to give thanks (1 Corinthians 14:16-17), and to praise the Lord (Acts 10:46). Tongues with interpretation is equal to prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:5). The gift of the Holy Spirit prays through a believer and make intercession according to the will of God causing everything to work together for Good (Romans 8:26-28).
The gift of tongues has a multitude of purposes. but I will list a few to give a general idea. Jude 20 states that the gift of tongues builds up the believer. Romans 8:26-27 teaches us that the gift of tongues allows the Holy Spirit to help us pray right or pray according to the will of God. 1 Corinthians 14:16-17: the gift of tongues helps us to “give thanks well” (when we don’t know what else to say and we still have a heart full of thanksgiving, we can pray in tongues to give thanks to God).
Interpretation of Tongues (1 Corinthians 14:13)
It is a spiritual gift of the Holy Ghost for the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit of God using one’s vocal organs, giving utterance in one’s own language, telling the meaning of the words which have been spoken. It tells the meaning of what is spoken in a supernatural language. It is a vocal miracle. Paul says that interpretation of tongues is equal to prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:15). He says this gift helps us to profit as a church (1 Corinthians 14:16). God says for us to pray for this gift if we speak with tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5), and for us all to speak with tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5 & 1 Corinthians 14:13). Paul said LET someone interpret (1 Corinthians 14: 27). There should be SOMEONE to interpret each message. It doesn’t need to be a CERTAIN one, neither should there be competition (1 Corinthians 14:27).
What You Need to Know
Interpretation of tongues is not the ability to translate languages. It is not a written word and it cannot be written. Though one without the Spirit of God can have the natural talent of translating languages, he or she will never hear or understand or translate the tongue of the spirit of God.
Because the interpretation of tongue is not a word for word translation, it may be given in first, second, or third person. Which means God can pass a message in different ways but with the same meaning.
It is not the gift of interpretation, but the interpretation of tongues. It is not, and cannot, be used if there have been no supernatural tongues spoken. It is not an interpretation of people’s, thoughts, or hard sayings, actions, riddles, dreams, or anything in the natural; but it is the interpretation of supernatural tongues. It cannot be learned at school in a million years but can be given by the Holy Spirit in a moment to any Spirit-filled person.