Sep 19, 2016
John Piper: 'The Bible Encourages Us To Speak In Tongues'
Of all the spiritual gifts, tongues is perhaps the most controversial. Many simply believe that a modern day gifting of tongues has more to do with spiritual hype, and getting whipped up in a charismatic service. But others believe that the gift of tongues is a wonderful thing, and is fully applicable to today's Christian. John Piper gives us his thoughts.
"I don't see any mandate that we not pursue it, but I see in fact encouragements that we do," Piper writes. "I see two kinds of expressions of it. One where it is an actual language. My sense is from reading 1 Corinthians 12 that that's not what was going on there. But it was more of an ecstatic utterance that didn't have any ordinary human meaning, but tongues of men and of angels. It's a kind of utterance where your heart is full to the point of overflowing with the Holy Spirit."
Piper asserts that the words spoken in the spirit can be valuable to you, and, if there is someone to interpret them, they can be valuable to others. But Piper also believes that tongues is best suited to "smaller groupings" in the Church, so that people who are functioning in this gift can get alongside those with the gift of interpretation.
"I think the typical use of them to just speak them out in public as a kind of corporate ecstasy, I don't find warrant for that in the New Testament. In fact, I think Paul is trying to discourage that because he says people will come in and think 'you're crazy,' says Piper. "But if everybody's prophesying, if they are speaking the word of God, if they are one by one speaking out of what God has shown them in the world and in their experience, then the person might fall down and say 'God is in this place.'"
Piper says he has never authentically spoken in tongues but continues to ask for this gift. He says recently he just paused in his living room and asked God "Lord, I'm still eager to speak in tongues. Would you give me that gift?" "Now at that point you can try and say banana backwards if you want to," Piper says. Though God has not bestowed this gift upon Piper, he insists that God reminds him of the gifts he has given him; teaching, preaching and shepherding those who speak in tongues.
"I don't think tongues is a primary or prominent gift," Piper concludes. "It tends to become that because it's so strange, and so rare and so unusual. I don't feel guilt for not having it I feel like I'm submitting to my Father in heaven."