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The Ultimate Purpose Of Speaking In Tongues

Miracle Blog Post

          This week at the Journey, Cody concluded his "miniseries" on the gift of tongues.  We learned a great deal more about what the Bible teaches about the gift of tongues and how that teaching has been understood, and at times misapplied within the Church, all the way back to the 1st century Church at Corinth.  As Cody mentioned, there is a lot more that could be discussed on the topic, but for now, he has decided to move on.  My intention then this week is to simply highlight a few final points regarding miracles and the sign gifts, such as tongues.

1.  The ultimate purpose of miracles is always to glorify God.

          Miracles, like speaking in tongues, always have a purpose.  To put it most succinctly, a miracle (in theological terms) is an event that defies the natural and scientific laws of the universe.  In other words, a miracle, by definition, can only be attributed to some supernatural power.  As believers, we understand that power is God.  During his earthly ministry, Jesus performed many miracles...not to wow people, like a magician, but rather to authenticate his message by proving that he spoke with divine authority as God and Creator.  True indeed, we (humans) are often the benefactors of God's miraculous work, however we are never intended to be the central focus of it.  Miracles are God's power on display for all to see and serve to remind us of his sovereign rule over all things, which in turn should inspire us to worship him more fully.

2.  Miracles are intentional.

          As stated above, the ultimate purpose of miracles is to bring glory to God.  However, for every miracle, there is always a penultimate purpose as well.  In other words, they are meant to accomplish something, and it is through accomplishing their intended purpose that they fulfill their ultimate purpose of glorifying God.  So, we see in Acts chapter 2, when the Apostles are given the gift of speaking in tongues, God's intention in that is for foreigners to be able to hear, understand, and respond to the proclamation of the Gospel.  There was no internet, no printing press, no easy way to spread the Gospel around the world...it had to be shared audibly.  According to sources such as Ethnologue and the Wycliffe Global Alliance, as of October 2015, at least one book of scripture has been translated for 2932 languages.  The New Testament is available in 1333 languages, with portions in 1045 others.  The complete Bible has been translated into 553 languages.  This at least begs the question, are tongues still necessary today?  The answer to that question is ultimately one that God alone can answer, however, we can all agree that there is significantly less need than there was in days of the early Church.  Has God not given men and women the ability to learn and develop new technologies for his glory and the good of mankind?  It is, at least, food for thought.

3.  Miracles teach us about God.

          How and when God acts, it reveals something to us of his character.  Jesus used his miracles to heal, to protect, to instruct, and to provide for people.  God has used miracles to exact his justice upon wickedness.  In these ways, and so many others, we learn who God is through observing his actions.  Therefore, when/if we observe something that seems to be miraculous, one of the first things we should ask ourselves is, "What does this teach me about God?"  Our ultimate source for revelation about God is his Holy Word.  The Bible tells us about who God is and how we are to live in light of that revelation.  So we must always filter everything else that we experience through that lens.  If what we are seeing or hearing doesn't align with what scripture teaches us about God, we must reject it as false and heretical.  If we don't, we allow ourselves to be led astray.

          Again, there is much more that could be written over miracles in general, and specifically, the gift of tongues, although I fear dwelling upon it any longer may lead us to become lost in the weeds.  That is the risk you run when discussing any divisive issue such as this one.  In the end, the goal of all believers should be the pursuit of truth through the careful study of God's word for the edification of the believer themselves, and the Church as a whole, so that we can stand firmly upon the foundation of that truth and not be tossed to and fro when we encounter new things.  I pray our time in this study has helped us in that endeavor.

In Grace,
Chris Morris

If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Part 4 - Speaking In Tongues...Again

Questions discussed in this sermon:

1.  Does Paul teach that Christians can speak in an angelic language?
2.  Do other religions speak in tongues?
3.  How should we develop what we believe about the gift of tongues? 

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