Derek Prince - Exercising the Gift of Tongues
We’ve spoken already about the seal of the baptism in the Holy Spirit: speaking with another tongue or a new tongue. That really is not the gift of tongues. The gift of tongues is called here and elsewhere “kinds of tongues” or “varieties of tongues.” In other words, it’s more than simply speaking with another tongue. I believe every believer baptized in the Holy Spirit has the divine right and gift to communicate personally with the Lord in another tongue at any time. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 about that, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not to me, but to God. For no man understandeth it. Howbeit in the Spirit he speaks mysteries. He that speaketh in another tongue edifieth himself.”
So there are three functions, three reasons for speaking in another tongue. Number one, you’re speaking to God. That’s a privilege. How many of you would agree that’s a privilege? Direct communication Spirit to spirit with the living God. Number two, you’re speaking mysteries, secrets, things that haughty little mind of yours doesn’t understand. And three, you’re edifying or building yourself up. A lot of people will ask you, “What’s the use of speaking in tongues?” Well, there are three precise answers. The use of speaking in tongues is to communicate direct with God, to speak mysteries, and to build yourself up. If there were no other reasons, those would be sufficient.
I believe that the full gift of kinds of tongues goes on beyond that. Kinds of tongues is different uses of tongues. Another kind of tongue is to speak out loud in the assembly in an unknown tongue with something that is to be followed by an interpretation. Another use of tongues is a sign to unbelievers. This is very rare, most Charismatics don’t think about it. But it happens at times that when God’s people are together or God’s people are ministering, a believer will speak a language which he doesn’t know but an unbeliever present understands that language. That’s a sign to unbelievers.
I remember one case of a young man who is now my son-in-law, many years ago was brought in from a street meeting in London. He was from Wales. As you probably know, the Welsh people have their own language which they’re very proud of. It was, quote, a gospel service and I’d just preached my gospel message and I was about to make my gospel appeal. An elderly gentleman there spoke in an unknown tongue. I was indignant; I thought, That’s altogether out of order, he’s ruined my appeal. I don’t remember what followed that but one of my daughters had brought this young man into the meeting and he nudged her and said, “Why is that old man telling everybody about my sins in public?” It took ten minutes to convince him that the man didn’t know a word of Welsh but he was speaking Welsh, you see.
In Seattle, Washington some good many years ago now, from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church there, there was a lady visiting the sick in a hospital and she came to a man and she spoke to him in English and he didn’t respond, he didn’t understand. He was there in bed sick, so being one of those crazy Charismatics, she just spoke to him in tongues. He brightened up, answered her, she answered him back and they had a little conversation. The man was greatly encouraged. She didn’t know what language she’d been speaking. She learned later it was Canary Island Spanish, that was his language.
A friend of ours was in Russia not so long ago, a lady. And she was sitting next to a Russian in the subway and the man looked so sad and so downcast she thought, “I’d love to do something for him.” So she just trusted the Lord, opened her mouth and started to speak to him in Russian. Those are exceptions, they’re not normal but they’re one of these. And then I think there are many different forms of speaking in tongues like how many of you have ever had the experience of seeming really angry when you’re speaking in tongues? You know? I mean, you can’t believe it, it comes out like a torrent. I believe that’s when you’re confronting evil forces. You don’t know how to pray, you don’t know what to say, but the Holy Spirit comes through them. And then there’s tongues which is just for worship. It’s just simply communication with God. In other words, tongues is a very rich field.