All Bible texts are from the King James Version.
What does the word "tongues" really mean?
"By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations." Genesis 10:5.
"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech." Genesis 11:1.
"Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. . . .Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." Genesis 11:7, 9.
"These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations." Genesis 10:20.
"These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations." Genesis 10:31.
From these texts it is easy to see than the word "tongues" in the Bible simply means "language". According to Strong's Concordance the Hebrew word translated 'tongue' or 'tongues' figuratively means speech or language.
In Luke 10:1 - 11 Christ sent out His disciples by two.
Q. Where were the disciples told to go?
A. "Into every city and place, whither he himself would come."
Q. Were they given the gift of tongues for this assignment?
Q. Why not?
A. Because it was not necessary, as they already spoke the language of these people.
Just before leaving this earth Christ sends His disciples out a second time in Mark 16.
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." Mark 16:15 - 20.
Q. Where were the disciples told to go this time?
A. "Into all the world."
All the world spoke in different tongues (languages), therefore it was necessary for the disciples to speak in different languages to fulfil this command.
Let us have a look at what the Spirit through prophecy has to say about this text.
"When the Saviour said, ‘Go, . . . teach all nations,’ He said also, 'These signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.' The promise is as far-reaching as the commission. Not that all the gifts are imparted to each believer. The Spirit divides ‘to every man severally as He will.’ 1 Cor. 12:11. But the gifts of the Spirit are promised to every believer according to his need for the Lord's work. The promise is just as strong and trustworthy now as in the days of the apostles. 'These signs shall follow them that believe.' This is the privilege of God's children, and faith should lay hold on all that it is possible to have as an indorsement of faith." The Desire of Ages by E. White, page 823.
After Christ’s ascension up into heaven, the disciples, brethren and sisters (about 120 - Acts 1:15) assembled in the upper room.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." Acts 2:1.
Through prophecy we are told:-
"Before He left His disciples, Christ 'breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.' John 20:22. Again He said, 'Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you.' Luke 24:29. But not until after the ascension was the gift received in its fullness. Not until through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered themselves fully for His working was the outpouring of the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ. 'When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.' Eph. 4:8, 7. 'Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,' the Spirit 'dividing to every man severally as He will.' 1 Cor. 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God." Christ Object Lessons by E. White, page 327.
So these brethren and sisters were in one accord and were fully surrendered to Christ. Therefore their speaking of tongues at this point of time was to reveal to them that they could speak in other languages, and that is was time to leave the upper room and spread the gospel as they had been commissioned:-
"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me." Acts 1:4.
Notice that Jesus tells them to wait for the promise of the Father to come upon them, without telling them how they will know this has happened. So whatever was going to happen, it had to be something very amazing and unmistakably the sign that they should go forth. Let us read on to see how this promise is revealed to the disciples.
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." Acts 2:3 - 11.
"After the disciples had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the priests and rulers marvelled at the words which they spake, for they knew them as unlearned and ignorant men. But they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.
Their teaching was a second edition of the teachings of Christ, the utterance of simple, grand truths that flashed light into darkened minds, and converted thousands in a day. The disciples began to understand that Christ was their Advocate in the heavenly courts, and that He was glorified. They could speak because the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (MS 32, 1900)." Vol. 6 Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, page 1055 by E. White.
Again we see that what the disciples were given is a gift to speak in different or foreign languages.
What about the Gentiles speaking in tongues in Acts 10:-
"And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" Acts 10:45 - 47.
Although Peter had been given the vision of the unclean animals in the sheet, and the voice saying "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (Acts 10:9-16.), the circumcised believers were still not prepared to accept Gentiles into the church (Acts 11:1-4). So God showed these believers that he had cleansed them, by pouring His Holy Spirit upon them and causing them to speak in tongues. Peter’s response was that if God gave them the Holy Spirit, who can forbid them from being baptised. So they were then baptised and became part of the church.
In Acts 19 we read of more people who are baptised, receive the Holy Ghost, and start speaking in tongues.
"And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." Acts 19:3 - 6.
If all of these people were of one accord, both with themselves and with God, why did they start speaking in tongues while they were still assembled together? The gift of tongues was exactly that, a gift. It was not something they learned. It was something that all of a sudden, quite unexplainably, they were able to do, that is, talk in a different language other than their native tongue. Because this gift was revealed to them, they could, with confidence, go to other nations with people who spoke the same as their newly acquired gift of tongues, and preach the gospel to these people.
The Spirit through prophecy tell us concerning these texts:-
"Then the apostles set before them the great truths that are the foundation of the Christian's hope. He told them of Christ's life on this earth, and of his cruel death of shame. He told them how the Lord of life had broken the barriers of the tomb, and risen triumphant over death. He repeated the Saviour's commission to his disciples: 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' He told them also of Christ's promise to send the Comforter, through whose power mighty signs and wonders would be wrought, and he described how gloriously this promise had been fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.
With deep interest and grateful, wondering joy, the brethren listened to Paul's words. By faith they grasped the wonderful truth of Christ's atoning sacrifice, and received him as their Redeemer. They were then baptized in the name of Jesus; and as Paul 'laid his hands upon them,' they received also the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which they were enabled to speak the languages of other nations, and to prophesy. Thus they were qualified to labor as missionaries in Ephesus and its vicinity, and also to go forth to proclaim the gospel in Asia Minor." Review & Herald article 31-8-1911, by E. White.
So far we have dealt only with one of the gifts of the Spirit. Now let us have a look at the others:-
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." 1 Corinthians 12:7 - 11.
After Paul speaks about all members of Christ’s church being members of one body, he then goes back to the gifts and places then in order of importance to God, and explains them:-
"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way." 1 Corinthians 12:28 - 31.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1, 2.
"It is not the ready speaker, the sharp intellect, that counts with God. It is the earnest purpose, the deep piety, the love of truth, the fear of God, that has a telling influence. A testimony from the heart, coming from lips in which is no guile, full of faith and humble trust, though given by a stammering tongue, is accounted of God as precious as gold; while the smart speech, the eloquent oratory, of the one to whom is entrusted large talents, but who is wanting in truthfulness, in steadfast purpose, in purity, in unselfishness, are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. He may say witty things, he may relate amusing anecdotes, he may play upon the feelings; but the spirit of Jesus is not in it. All these things may please unsanctified hearts, but God holds in His hands the balances that weigh the words, the spirit, the sincerity, the devotion, and He pronounces it altogether lighter than vanity (Letter 38, 1890)." Vol. 6 Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, page 1091 by E. White.
So according to Paul the best gift is charity or love, which is the first fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatian 5:22, 23.
In these verses he also speaks of the tongues of angels. If the gift of tongues was given so that the disciples could speak with people of other nations and tongues, then this gift of speaking in angels tongues must have been given to Paul (and others) so as he (they) could speak with angels e.g. in vision. Several prophets were taken to heaven and were able to understand everything that was being spoken by the beings that they saw, even if they did not understand the message that they were given.
The Lord, however, spoke to some in their own tongue:-
"Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue." 2 Samuel 23:1, 2.
Back to 1 Corinthians 13. Paul then goes on to say that charity never faileth, but prophecies and tongues will fail and cease:-
"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." 1 Corinthians 13:8 - 10.
In verse 10 it says that when that which is perfect is come? Who is coming that is Perfect? Christ. So when Christ comes there will no longer be a need for prophecy or tongues so they will fail or cease.
1 Corinthians chapter 14 has a lot so say about talking in tongues - that is people talking different languages. It also speaks a lot about "an unknown tongue". If we look in the KJV we will see that the word "unknown" in every case in relation to "an unknown tongue" in this chapter, is a supplied word, and not in the original language. The Greek word for "tongues" after "unknown" is always "glossa" which means either 1. the tongue, a member of the body, an organ of speech or 2. the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations. Keeping this in mind let us now go through this chapter.
"Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." 1 Corinthians 14:1.
Paul tells us that we are to follow or seek charity/love. We are also to desire spiritual gifts, namely tongues as this is what this chapter is about, but far better than speaking in tongues is that we may prophesy. Tongues and healing were highly sought after gifts by the Corinthians and considered by them an exalted gift above prophecy. This came about as speaking in tongues and healing attracted more attention than most of the other gifts including the gift of prophecy.
"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying." 1 Corinthians 14:2 - 5.
Here we again see that to prophesy is greater than talking in tongues or another language. If we are to talk in another language with which we are also familiar, but the others around us are not, we are to interpret what we say so the other may also understand.
"Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air." 1 Corinthians 14:6 - 9.
Paul tells us in these texts that we should speak in a tongue that is easy to understand, or what we say is of no value and is likened to that of a barbarian just below.
"There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." 1 Corinthians 14:10 - 12.
We are to seek the edifying of the church before gifts, and then the gifts of the Spirit will be given to us.
"Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." 1 Corinthians 14:13 - 19.
Although Paul could talk in many languages, he would rather speak five words that he understood, that he might teach other, than 10,000 in another language.
"Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe." 1 Corinthians 14:20 - 22.
For those who do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ talking in tongues is a sign that can be used to convince them. For those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ prophecies are given to show them more light and truths, as they accept what they have already been shown.
"If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God." 1 Corinthians 14:23 - 28.
If anyone is going to speak in another language, he must first ensure that someone else knows that language and can interpret it so all can understand. If he cannot he is commanded to keep silent.
"Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
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 churches of the saints." 1 Corinthians 14:29 - 33.
"What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
Let all things be done decently and in order." 1 Corinthians 14:36 - 40.
Here Paul tells us not to forbid to speak with tongues, which is the same Greek word as above, which means "the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations", as long as it is done decently and in order.
Jeremiah tells us of some prophets who the Lord is against:-
"Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD." Jeremiah 23:30 - 32.
By reading what God says in the Bible, it is clear that the gift of talking in tongues is given to people who truly serve God, and need this gift of talking in other languages so as to present God’s message to people who speak a different language to themselves.
Now that we have seen what the Bible says about the gift of tongues, let us have a look at what the Spirit through the gift of prophecy showed E. White about both the true and the false gift of tongues.
"Some of these persons have exercises which they call gifts and say that the Lord has placed them in the church. They have an unmeaning gibberish which they call the unknown tongue, which is unknown not only by man but by the Lord and all heaven. Such gifts are manufactured by men and women, aided by the great deceiver. Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church. Some have been deceived here. The fruits of all this have not been good. ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.’ Fanaticism and noise have been considered special evidences of faith. Some are not satisfied with a meeting unless they have a powerful and happy time. They work for this and get up an excitement of feeling. But the influence of such meetings is not beneficial. When the happy flight of feeling is gone, they sink lower than before the meeting because their happiness did not come from the right source. The most profitable meetings for spiritual advancement are those which are characterised with solemnity and deep searching of heart; each seeking to know himself, and earnestly, and in deep humility, seeking to learn of Christ." Vol. 1 Testimonies for the Church page 412, by E. White.
"According to the light which God has given me, there will yet be a large company raised up in the East to consistently obey the truth. Those who follow in the distracted course they have chosen will be left to embrace errors which will finally cause their overthrow; but they will for a time be stumbling blocks to those who would receive the truth. Ministers who labour in word and doctrine should be thorough workmen, and should present the truth in its purity, yet with simplicity. They should feed the flock with clean provender, thoroughly winnowed. There are wandering stars professing to be ministers sent of God who are preaching the Sabbath from place to place, but who have truth mixed up with error and are throwing out their mass of discordant views to the people. Satan has pushed them in to disgust intelligent and sensible unbelievers. Some of these have much to say upon the gifts and are often especially exercised. They give themselves up to wild, excitable feelings and make unintelligible sounds which they call the gift of tongues, and a certain class seem to be charmed with these strange manifestations. A strange spirit rules with this class, which would bear down and run over anyone who would reprove them. God's Spirit is not in the work and does not attend such workmen. They have another spirit. Still, such preachers have success among a certain class. But this will greatly increase the labour of those servants whom God shall send, who are qualified to present before the people the Sabbath and the gifts in their proper light, and whose influence and example are worthy of imitation. " Vol. 1 Testimonies for the Church page 414, by E. White.
"Some rejoice and exult that they have the gifts, which others have not. May God deliver His people from such gifts. What do these gifts do for them? Are they through the exercise of these gifts, brought into the unity of the faith? And do they convince the unbeliever that God is with them of a truth? When these discordant ones, holding their different views, come together and there is considerable excitement and the unknown tongue, they let their light so shine that unbelievers would say: These people are not sane; they are carried away with a false excitement, and we know that they do not have the truth. Such stand directly in the way of sinners; their influence is effectual to keep others from accepting the Sabbath. Such will be rewarded according to their works. Would to God they would be reformed or give up the Sabbath! They would not then stand in the way of unbelievers. " Vol. 1 Testimonies for the Church page 41,8 by E. White.
"God's Purpose For His People God has in store love, joy, peace, and glorious triumph for all who serve Him in spirit and in truth. His commandment-keeping people are to stand constantly in readiness for service. They are to receive increased grace and power, and increased knowledge of the Holy Spirit's working. But many are not ready to receive the precious gifts of the Spirit which God is waiting to bestow on them. They are not reaching higher and still higher for power from above that through the gifts bestowed, they may be recognised as God's peculiar people, zealous of good works. " Vol. 8 Testimonies for the Church page 247, by E. White.
"Miracles No Encouragement to Blind Superstition.
As Paul was brought in direct contact with the idolatrous inhabitants of Ephesus, the power of God was strinkingly displayed through him. The apostles were not always able to work miracles at will. The Lord granted His servants this special power as the progress of His cause or the honour of His name required. Like Moses and Aaron at the courts of Pharaoh, the apostle had now to maintain the truth against the lying wonders of the magicians; hence the miracles he wrought were of a different character from those which he had heretofore performed. As the hem of Christ’s garment had communicated healing power to her who sought relief by the touch of faith, so on this occasion, garments were made the means of cure to all that believed; 'diseases departed from them, and evil spirits went out of them.' Yet these miracles gave no encouragement to blind superstition. When Jesus felt the touch of the suffering woman, He exclaimed, 'Virtue is gone out of me.' So the Scripture declares that the Lord wrought by the hand of Paul, and that the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and not the name of Paul (LP 135)." Vol. 6 Seventh-Day Adventist Bible commentary page 1063 about Acts 19:11, 12, 17, by E. White.
An article from The Signs of the Times 8-3-1910 by E. White:-
The Gifts of the Spirit
Before He left His disciples, Christ breathed on them, and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ Again He said, ‘Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you.’ But not until after the ascension was this gift received in its fullness. Not until through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered themselves fully for His working, was the outpouring of the Spirit bestowed. Then in a special sense the goods of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ.
’When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.’ ‘Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ,’ the Spirit ‘dividing to every man severally as He will.’ The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God.
Talents and Gifts
The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. ‘To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.’ Not all the gifts are imparted to each believer, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised, according to his need for the Lord's work.
In all the Lord's arrangements, there is nothing more beautiful than His plan of giving to men and women a diversity of gifts. The church is His garden, adorned with a variety of trees, plants, and flowers. He does not expect the hyssop to assume the proportions of the cedar, nor the olive to reach the height of the stately palm. Many have received but a limited religious and intellectual training, but God has a work for this class to do, if they will labour in humility, trusting in Him.
God has different ways of working, and He has different workmen to whom He entrusts varied gifts. One worker may be a ready speaker; another a ready writer; another may have the gift of sincere, earnest, fervent prayer; another the gift of singing; another may have special skill in explaining the Word of God with clearness. And each gift is to become a power for good, because God works with the labourer. To one God gives the word of wisdom, to another knowledge; but all are to work under the same Head. The diversity of gifts leads to a diversity of operations; but ‘it is the same God which worketh all in all.’
Different gifts are imparted to different ones, that the workers may feel their need of one another. God bestows these gifts, and they are employed in His service, not to glorify the possessor, not to uplift man, but to uplift the world's Redeemer. They are to be used for the good of all mankind, by representing the truth, not testifying to a falsehood.
It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow labourer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one labourer, only to open their hearts to the same truth as presented in a different manner by another, they will hopefully endeavour to labour together in unity. Their talents, however diverse, may all be under the control of the same Spirit. In every word and act, kindness and love will be revealed; and as each worker fills his appointed place faithfully, the prayer of Christ for the unity of His followers will be answered, and the world will know that these are His disciples.
Former and Latter Rain
The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the ‘former rain;’ and glorious was the result. But the ‘latter rain’ will be still more abundant. What is the promise to those living in these last days? - ’Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope; even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.’ ‘Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.’
Christ declares that the divine influence of the Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. But by some this promise is not appreciated as it should be; its fulfilment is not realised as it might be. Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner won to Christ. When His disciples are connected with Christ, when the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, even the poorest and most ignorant of them will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe.
As the divine endowment - the power of the Holy Spirit - was given to the disciples, so it will to-day be given to all who seek aright. This power alone is able to make us wise unto salvation, and to fit us for the courts above. Christ wants to give us a blessing that will make us holy. ‘These things have I spoken unto you,’ He says, ‘that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’ Joy in the Holy Spirit is health-giving, life-giving. In giving us His Spirit, God gives us Himself, - a fountain of divine influences, to give health and life to the world.
The promise of the gifts is just as strong and trustworthy now as in the days of the apostles. ‘These signs shall follow them that believe.’ The gifts of Him who has all power in heaven and in earth, are in store for His children, - gifts so precious that they come to us through the costly sacrifice of the Redeemer's blood; gifts that will satisfy the deepest craving of the heart; gifts lasting as eternity.
Will you not come to God as little children, appropriate His promises, plead them before Him as His own words? If you do, you will receive fullness of joy.
© S. D. Goeldner