I Corinthians 14:18-40 - Speaking with Tongues

This-evening we're going to take a look at the gift of speaking with tongues. This actually means "a single tongue" and not to a faculty for speaking in various languages.

At Babel all spoke with other tongues, and no man could understand his neighbor but at Pentecost "every man heard in his own tongue". Pentecostal impersonators today are the apostate daughter churches of mystery Babylon, and like the citizens of Babel they are seldom inspired of the Holy Ghost to interpret the tongues in which they speak and their services are a "Babel" of confusion.

As Paul set the Gifts in order in the Ephesian Church Age, Brother Branham restored that order in the Laodicean Age, according to his commission in Joel 2:25, Malachi 4:5-6, Matthew 17:11 and Acts 3:21. When asked, "In what order are tongues and prophecies to be used during the service?" He interjected, "It is NOT to be used at all during the service! See? "... to glorify God?" Brother Branham said, "NOT at all" (COD, 533:112).

Asked, "Is there difference between the tongues spoken in PRIVATE PRAYER and in the churches where INTERPRETATION is required?" He replied, "Yes" (COD, 549:240). Unknown tongues are unintelligible, and NOT edifying to the Church unless they are interpreted. "Now if there be no interpreter, ANYTIME in the church, ANYWHERE in the church, keep silent... I heard a precious brother just recently at the altar, just go down and shake somebody on the back, and then speak in tongues themselves, speaking it like they were trying to show them what to do. See, that's kind of ARTIFICIALLY bringing the Holy Spirit... DON'T do that... they should keep SILENT in the church. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifies HIMSELF" (COD, 554:276-277, 298).

Let's read what Paul taught.

I Corinthians 14:18-19, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you 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 MEANINGLESS words in an unknown tongue".

Paul denounces as childish and a mark of immature judgment, the brethren's high valuation of a gift of tongues so fitted to excite great astonishment, yet so unprofitable for the church as a whole. In chastising them he says such childishness belongs to Christians only in respect of evil which may as such be considered innocent, but in UNDERSTANDING we are to be mature.

Paul appeals to the Law to support his disapproval - not of the gift of tongues - but of their use without interpretation, showing that as the Corinthians employed it they were virtually carrying out the Divine threat in relation to the church which was pronounced by Isaiah on unbelieving Israel:

ISAIAH 28:8-13, "For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean" says the Lord.

"To whom does God imagine He is teaching knowledge? Whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Why does He speak to us as if we were babies just weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts," said Israel, "Teaching us precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little".

"For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people" said Isaiah. UNINTELLIGIBLY. "God said to Israel, 'This is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing': yet they would not hear. But the Word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken'."

God pronounced this Divine threat upon unbelieving Israel because of their contempt for His messengers. They asked derisively why they should be treated as little children in being taught line upon line as children are instructed.

In reply, God threatened that because they had despised His simple teaching in their mother tongue, He would thereafter instruct them through foreigners - the Assyrians - who would speak to them in a strange tongue they will not comprehend, and would treat them as contemptuously and they had treated God's servants and His Word.

The Assyrians had only the three fundamental vowels a, i, u, and must have sounded like lisping children against a God who spoke in their own familiar tongue. Although the Israelites heard nothing but childlike short monosyllabic words, they were full of meaning. And because they were ignored, they fell backward, were broken and snared, and taken captive.

Thus, when God speaks UNINTELLIGENTLY, He exhibits Himself as a stranger, veiling Himself from those who will NOT believe, and not as One that is opening His thoughts (as a friend or Father) to His faithful elect. As Paul says in verse 22, "TONGUES are for a sign, not to them that BELIEVE, but to them that believe NOT (or have no faith): however PROPHESYING serves not for them that believe NOT, but for them which BELIEVE". Or have revelation.

Speaking with tongues is very powerful but it accomplishes nothing as it is UNINTELLIGIBLE to the ear or to the mind, so the listener cannot follow the message as was the case when God spoke to Israel through the Assyrians. Israel called themselves His, but incurred His wrath. When someone speaks UNINTELLIGIBLY to the Church, they make it appear as if God has withdrawn Himself as if through their unbelief, as He did from Israel, and that the Church has incurred His judgment. This is the effect of using tongues in the Church without interpretation.

This is how Jesus separates the elect from the non-elect. Those who are not His sheep may hear, but can't UNDERSTAND His Voice.

Matthew 13:10-16, "And the disciples came, and said unto Him, 'Why do you speak to them in PARABLES?'

He answered and said to them, 'Because it is given to YOU to KNOW the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven but to THEM it is NOT given. For whosoever has faith, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has.

Therefore I speak to them in parables: because SEEING they see NOT; and HEARING they hear NOT, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which says, 'By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them'.

But blessed are YOUR eyes, for they SEE: and YOUR ears, for they HEAR."

Matthew 11:25, "Jesus answered and said, 'I thank You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have HID these things from the wise and prudent, and have REVEALED them unto babes'."

Jesus spoke UNINTELLIGIBLY to the seventy as if He were a stranger "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." Jesus didn't explain Himself. It was a REVELATION and it pronounced judgment upon those who could not see It (John 6:53).

He employed the same technique in Matthew 28:19 where He commanded His disciples to baptize "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". Those without the gift to interpret see God as a trinity of three persons, and baptize in three of His many Titles whilst His elect baptize in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ as He commanded.

I Corinthians 14:22, "Wherefore TONGUES are for a SIGN, not to them that BELIEVE, but to them that believe NOT: but PROPHESYING serves not for them that believe NOT, but for them which BELIEVE".

Uninterpreted TONGUES, is a judgment sign, condemning UNBELIEVERS as if by withholding their understanding, God has turned His back upon them. But PROPHECY is a sign and means of communication to those who BELIEVE, or "UNDERSTAND".

As the passage in Isaiah announced judgment upon Israel, the most powerful speaking on God's part would not change the unbeliever hardened in sin. Thus Paul argues that in his day, speaking in tongues without interpretation was a sign from God to unbelievers, and a pronouncement which would produce no repentance.

Brother Branham said in the Seven Church Ages, page 42, "As Joseph stood before his brethren when Benjamin was not with them he spoke through an interpreter though he knew the Hebrew well. He spoke to his brethren in another tongue. Did you know that the first Gentile Age (the head of gold, Babylonian Age) went out with a message in tongues written on a wall? This age is going out the same way. The abundance of tongues in this day is a further proof that the Times of the Gentiles is over and God is turning back to Israel".

I Corinthians 14:23, "If therefore the whole church came together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there came in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, won't they say that you are mad?"

Paul is not condemning the gift but exposing the absurdity of using it in the Church without interpretation whereby NO grace can be received from God as it can through prophecy. Faith cometh by HEARING and UNDERSTANDING by the Word of God. We're saved by grace through faith, or UNDERSTANDING. Without interpretation it's as though God has shut Himself from our apprehension, as He would hide Himself from unbelievers.

If "all speak with tongues" (not necessarily simultaneously), any not familiar with the gift will think you crazy. After all, there is no sense attending a meeting where what the speakers are saying can't be understood - not even by themselves.

I Corinthians 14:24-25, "But if all prophesy (or REVEAL the faith as in inspired preaching and not especially prophetic utterance of future events), and there come in one who believes NOT, or one UNLEARNED, he is CONVINCED of all, he is JUDGED of all: And thus the secrets of his heart are made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is IN you of a truth."

PROPHESY (or revelation) can bring faith and the baptism with the Holy Ghost (which is the new birth) to the unlearned or heathen - TONGUES can not. Inspired preaching can bring conviction, making a man conscious of his own sinfulness, and knowing that he's judged, bring him to repentance and redemption. Prophesy reveals God in the speaker because the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart and the Light or understanding scatters darkness. Uninterpreted tongues are darkness manifest and have NO redeeming power.

Paul now draws some practical reasons for REGULATING the use of the gifts in the assemblies.

I Corinthians 14:26, "How is it then, brethren? (Or WHY?) whenever you come together, EVERY one of you (who HAS a gift,) has a psalm, has a doctrine, a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done unto EDIFYING."

"Decently and in Church order".

I Corinthians 14:27-28, "If anyone speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, each taking his turn; and let one person interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let the those persons keep silence in the church and speak to themselves and to God".

We speak with God all week in our prayers and supplications. We go to Church to hear God speak to us through inspired preaching. When the gifted ones are unable to contain their own enthusiasm in the exercise of their gift they create confusion, and the operation is sensual and not Spiritual. Besides, what is the sense of listening to God speak if we are unable to understand His intended message? God is not the author of confusion, and unless an interpreter of tongues is present, the inspiration is either not of God or the person is untrained.

I Corinthians 14:29-33, "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing is revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace. For you may all prophesy one by one, (but NOT in a regular saint's meeting, because messages must first be judged by two or three before they're told to the Church) 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."

There should be just three messages to the WHOLE Church, but after service there may be additional prophecies to INDIVIDUALS, as in Brother Branham's prayer lines when he discerned the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Brother Branham said, "Here's the way I'd run it: I'd try to find every person in there that had a gift. And I'd have those people to meet about a hour before the services ever started in a room to themselves. Let them sit under the Spirit. And the first thing you know, one comes down. He's got a gift of speaking in tongues, and he speaks in tongues. Everybody sit still. And then one raises up and interprets what he says. Now, BEFORE that can be given to the church, the Bible says it has to be judged between two or three witnesses. Now, that is men who has discernment of spirit (See?), 'cause a lot of times evil powers gets in there. See? Paul spoke of it.... Tell me a congregation where evil doesn't sit. Tell me where the sons of God are gathered together that Satan isn't in the midst of them. It's everything. So don't frown at that. See? Satan's everywhere.

Now, here we are. Someone speaks in tongues. Now, there's three sitting there that's got the Spirit of discernment. And one speaks in tongues and gives a message. Now, it cannot be quoting Scripture, 'cause God don't use vain repetitions, and He told us not to. See? So it isn't that; It's a message to the church."

"... your part in the church should come BEFORE the main service starts, because the UNLEARNED is going to be among us... there has to be three men that have the spirit of discernment ... They write down on a piece of paper. That's what the Spirit said... The ones with the discernment of spirit - two or three of them - sign their names to it. ... Then they bring these messages, lay them right here on the desk... the pastor walks out ... picks up this. "A message from the Church: THUS SAITH THE LORD, ... so and so".

Then he takes his message ... Nothing's to interrupt; it's ALREADY taken place. ...When the message is over, the healing line starts. Here comes a woman. Someone spoke in tongues and said she was coming. See? Every one of us KNOWS what's going to happen. Every one of us KNOWS it. See how the faith begins to build...

Now if it doesn't happen after they've said it. Then you've got an evil spirit among you.

(Speaking with tongues is not evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit ... you could be baptized into the Devil's power, and speak in tongues with the baptism of the Devil's deceiving spirit, COD, 524:89-90. I know plenty of people that speak in tongues and hasn't got the Holy Ghost, COD, 1017:96).

Now maybe there's been no message. Now the service is over; ... the chance comes where everything's in order, then if the Holy Spirit jumps on him to give the message, then give it ... Then the interpretation comes" (COD 439:124 - 148; 563:Q119; Q221). "Before that person gets out of the building, let the deacon take them to one side and talk to them ... this is the orders and the way our church does it" (COD, 883:55).

God only anoints one individual at a time for prophecy or inspired preaching of His Word. While the anointing is upon an individual to speak, the rest of the congregation pay attention, discerning his message that they may learn.

There is a distinction between the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy. Prophets are born from the cradle like Jeremiah, John the Baptist or William Branham. They have THUS SAITH THE LORD and there is no judging of them. But the gift of prophecy must be judged before two or three witnesses, and it will always foretell the future or expose something hidden. Otherwise it would not be edifying.

Interpreters of tongues don't "know" or recognize the language of the speaker. They are hearing what he said in English, and just repeating what they have heard. This is as it was on the day of Pentecost when the saints emerged from the upper room, they spoke in Galilaean, but every one of the different nationalities present HEARD them in his own tongue. Each sound has some significance. So the interpreter is PROPHESYING what he has heard under inspiration in his own tongue. The Holy Spirit has interpreted it for him and he is speaking THUS SAITH THE LORD what the Spirit has said.

I Corinthians 14:32-35, "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (or harmony through agreement), as in all churches of the saints." (The evidence of His indwelling Presence is that He guides into ALL truth ... That's peace or agreement).

By not maintaining control over their enthusiastic (mortal) spirit those exercising the gifts would appear unlearned and not led of the Spirit, creating disorder in the Church and confusion among strangers.

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands AT HOME: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

Paul is referring to the garden of Eden where Eve sought to learn hidden knowledge through the Devil-incarnate serpent, usurping her husband's authority, which caused her deception. She next tried to bring Adam under submission to her by teaching him. Thereafter God placed man and woman under two separate covenants and woman serves God as she obeys her husband.

The woman is not to make a public spectacle of her husband or seek his instruction publicly before many potential commentators but should ask him to expound the Word at home. Women are forbidden to preach. The Fall resulted from one woman's deception woman and her attempt to teach her husband her errors (Genesis 3:16). Yes, a woman may speak with tongues or prophesy but then she is merely the mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost. Her words are not her own. Once she has said what was inspired through her, she sits down without comment, and remains silent.

I Corinthians 14:36-38, "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."

Paul sets himself against all spiritual presumption regarding the vindication of his prophetic office and the THUS SAITH THE LORD of his teaching. And he challenges anyone who claims to be a prophet or simply baptized into the Body of Christ to fault his teaching. Paul knew such a one would fail the test for a prophet, and as the elect receive God's Word, would demonstrate that they were without the Spirit.

He declared in Galatians 1:9, "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed." He was a prophet who knew that heavens and earth will change before his prophecy could fail and stated, "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to MY gospel".

Those who seem contentious about Paul's teachings are without the Spirit of revelation and ignorant like the "unjust" of Revelation 22:11 after God has revealed "the sayings of the prophecy of this Book" through Brother Branham, have no relationship with God. (See also Titus 3:10-11). It's as if God brought them under judgment, and addressed them in unknown tongues, as when He spoke to Israel through the Assyrians.

Paul concludes by again emphasizing the preference of prophesying: inspired preaching and teaching of revelation, to edify the church and quicken men's souls over speaking in unknown tongues for self-edification.

I Corinthians 14:39-40, "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order".

This Church Order laid down by saint Paul in the Ephesian Church Age has been restored to us in the end-time by the prophet to the Laodicean Church Age. bb980508.htm

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