Monday, February 21, 2011

The Significance of Tongues in Relation to Praise

“Speaking the Wonderful Works of God”
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (languages) as the Spirit gave them utterance…. Then they [Jews from foreign nations] were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language? ...we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2: 1-11;

Tongues: for Prayer and Praise, Not for Preaching.
People who do not understand the purpose of tongues use 1 Corinthians 14: 14-26 as a basis for forbidding them altogether. The following paragraph is my understanding of what Paul meant.

The praise in tongues on the Day of Pentecost was not meant to edify the listeners, but was a sign that captured their attention and drew them to the gathering. The foreigners thought these worshippers were drunk. This is a good illustration of what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 14: 23 where he says that an uninformed person or unbeliever may think you’re crazy. The Day of Pentecost exemplifies Paul’s teaching that prayer and praise in tongues are directed to God and not to man. Tongues edify the speaker but may in some cases be a sign to the listeners (1 Corinthians 14: 22).
The crowd heard their own languages, and knew these people were praising God. However, the praises did not explain anything to the listeners, but rather, got their attention and raised the question, “What does this mean?” Peter then stood up and gave the sermon that provided the answer. The “10,000 words in tongues” did not edify the crowd but did give praise to God and served as a sign to gather the multitude to hear Peter’s message.

A Form of Praise We See in the Psalms
The worshippers on the Day of Pentecost were speaking to God, recounting and rehearsing his mighty acts and thanking Him for all He has done. This is a form of praise we find throughout the Psalms. Praying in tongues enables us, like the Psalmist, to “speak the wonderful works of God,” but supernaturally in earthly languages (tongues of men) or in heavenly languages (tongues of angels).
”Though I speak with the tongues of men or of angels…” 1 Corinthians 13:
"Who can speak of (utter) the mighty deeds of the Lord, or can show forth all His praise?" Psalms 106: 2
"Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, for His wonderful works to the children of men." Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, 31
"Oh give thanks to the Lord… make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him. Speak of all His wonders (wondrous works). Psalm 105: 1-2

“Spiritual Songs” Are Songs of the Spirit.
“What is it then…I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding…for indeed you give thanks well…” 1 Corinthians 14: 15-17.
“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5: 18-19
“…in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colosians 3: 16

The verses above speak of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. “Psalms” refers to songs which take their general character from the Psalms, usually accompanied by musical instruments, and repeating the wonderful works of God. “Hymns” speaks of songs of praise. In early Greek writings from Homer on down it referred to praise of heroes and conquerors. “Spiritual songs” are songs sung in the Spirit, a person’s spirit singing by the Holy Spirit.

"Spiritual songs" is a translation of the Greek words "hodais pneumatikois."  "Hodais" is the generic term for "songs," whether praise song or songs about any other subject. "Pneumatikos" is the word for "spiritual," or "belonging to spirit" and is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 12: 1 referring to "spiritual gifts," meaning “that which operates in the realm of spirit.” Paul is not using the term “spiritual songs” in the same way our contemporary culture uses it to refer to “spirituals” (gospel songs) as opposed to “secular” music. In this context (1 Corinthians 14) he is talking about spiritual gifts, and tongues in particular. “Spiritual” here refers to spirit as opposed to the mind, singing in tongues as opposed to singing with the understanding. “Spiritual songs,” therefore, refers to the Holy Spirit working through the human spirit, singing in tongues.
“I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14: 14-16

God is Great and Greatly to be Praised
Praying in the Spirit enables us to enter a deeper dimension of praise and worship. To appreciate tongues we need to appreciate praise itself. In a previous post I referred to the many various expressions of praise we see in scripture, such as lifting the hands and voice in praise, dancing before the Lord, clapping hands, leaping for joy, and singing songs to God both a cappella and with every form of musical instrument. We now add  tongues to that list.  The psalmist said, "God is great and greatly to be praised." We, therefore, should praise Him greatly and with every tool He has made available to us.

“Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.” - Charles Wesley.


Lydia's Heart said...

....tongues of men and of angels....understanding and spiritual......and more....oh, how great an explanation! Thanks!

Michael said...

Thanks Billy this has been a source of encouragement to me and an opportunity to put into practice.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these posts. It answers a lot of questions that I have been afraid to ask and also gives balance to some crazy teachings that I have endured over the past recent months!
Love you and Laurel!

Truth lover said...

Hebrews 13:15 (King James Version)
15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Great post bringing in I Corinthians 14 on the specifics of speaking in tongues in the body of Christ. The beauty of Pentecost was that people heard the apostles speak 'each in our own language' as a sign on that important day.They heard them speak the wonderful works of God!. Otherwise tongues is for our own personal edification. Since tongues could be a language of men or of angels (I Cor 13) it is not usually in the language of the people present therefore I Cor 14 is necessary. The words 'edify and edification are used 7 times in I Cor 14!

Thanks for the recommendation of the book !