Gifts of the Spirit

Gifts of the Spirit

discerning of spirits

Interpretation of Tongues

Audio Version

A. What Does Interpretation of Tongues Mean?

A Supernatural manifestation that comes at the will of the Holy Spirit to give meaning to a message one has previously spoken verbally in tongues (language) as the spirit of God gave the utterance. Both the tongues and the interpretation are spontaneous unplanned and by the will of the Holy Spirit. Like all the gifts of the spirit, we do not plan ahead of time that we are going to have a message in tongues or an interpretation of tongues.

All supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are unexpected, unplanned and spontaneous just like the coming of the Lord is going to be. Maybe these things prepare us for that great event.

B. The reason for Tongues and interpretation

1.To give us a message from the Lord- God cares that we know He is with us. That is why Jesus left us the Holy Spirit until He returns again. He knows that we need a reminder, a comforter and a teacher.

2. To get our attention so that we hear the message from the Lord- This is the reason we have many different types of preaching, teaching, methods and such. God wants to get our attention. Hearing someone speak in tongues and then another interpret the tongues really gets attention.

3. To remind us of the presence of the Lord in our midst and to show us that we are not alone. I know we have to live by faith and not by sight or feeling but Iím thankful that our merciful God sent the Holy Spirit to us so that we can sense His presence once in a while.

This is one reason also for our private speaking in tongues when we worship and pray. It reminds us that He is there and on time. He doesnít speak to everyone in the same way. I rarely have visions and dreams of spiritual significance but that is the way God speaks to some people. 90 percent of my praying is done in tongues and that is the way I worship. I will not apologize for that just because everyone does not pray like that.

We must not limit God to our own way of thinking or say that just because someone doesnít worship the way I worship that something is bad wrong with them. First of all, all these things are gifts from God. Letís not get all bent out of shape if God uses people differently.

4. To remind us that God is still head of the church - Sometimes we think that we are running the church. If God doesnít move in our midst, it may be that we donít let Him but try to plan, work and run around doing the Lordís work but ignoring the Lord who is standing in our midst waiting to be recognized.

5. To edify, comfort and exhort the body of Christ Ė If God didnít think we needed to be edified, exhorted and comforted, He wouldnít have sent the Holy Spirit in the first place. The gifts were given by God for a purpose. To ignore them is to ignore God because if they were not necessary, He would not have given them to the church.

6. To convince an unbeliever that he needs to Lord- All gifts of the spirit is to save the lost as well as exhort the body. What if a message in tongues speaks to one present who is unsaved and causes him to receive Jesus Christ when nothing else has worked previously? He might have sat through thousands of sermons but just once a message in tongues and an interpretation finally reaches him? If we are not willing to receive and be used by the Holy Spirit, we may miss someone's need.

7. Because God gave this gift to the church so that means we must need it. This is the best reason of all. If God gives something, it is for a reason. Why do we attempt to explain it away. The temptation to think, ďWell Iíve never spoken in tongues so it must not be from God.Ē Or ďIíve never seen the sick healed so God must not heal today.Ē ďIíve never given a message of prophecy so that was just for the apostles.Ē Tradition of men is a big hindrance to the work of God; sin is not the only hindrance.

C. Interpretation and the gift of prophecy

Interpretation of tongues is equal to the gift of prophecy and similar to that gift. Prophecy is the same thing only without the tongues preceding it.

Wouldnít prophecy without the tongues be better? Whatever the Holy Spirit prefers at the time is best. Tongues preceding a prophecy get more attention but God may see that there is someone present who would benefit more by a message of prophecy without tongues preceding it. A message in prophecy is harder to recognize as a message from God. Someone could think a person was testifying, just giving a word of exhortation, praying out loud or just talking.

D. Misconceptions

A translation Ė Interpretation is not a word for word translation but an interpretation of the meaning of the tongues spoken. Two people can give an interpretation and say it differently yet it will mean the same thing.

Someoneís imagination Ė Interpretation is not someone imagining what is spoken. Someone may use their imagination and the interpretation is wrong which is why all messages must be judged but a true message is not oneís imagination.

Someone understanding the message as it is spoken- One giving an interpretation usually does not understand the message in tongues when he or she hears it but only can give the interpretation when they start speaking out the interpretation.

They do not supernaturally understand the tongues at the time itís spoken like they would if they understood the particular language. In other words the interpreter does not understand in the natural what is being spoken and usually doesnít understand it supernaturally either until he begins to speak forth the interpretation. In my own case I usually do not remember what I said afterwards if I'm the one who gives the interpretation. 

Since I donít want to limit God by my own experience, someone may have understood the tongues when it was being spoken but Iíve never heard of it and it has never happened to me in that same manner. If I ever interpret tongues, I never know what Iím going to say ahead of time. I do not understand the tongues when it is being spoken.

The one who interprets can always interpret Ė That is not necessarily so. Just because we may give an interpretation once does not mean we can do it every time someone gives a message in tongues. I have heard pastor of a certain church online who is able to interpret every message in tongues one in his congregation gives forth, and I believe they are for real. He certainly has that gift operating in him most of the time. Others can't always interpret everytime so again I can say we do not limit God in these gifts. 

The person giving the message should never interpret the message themselves Ė Iíve heard this said from the pulpit but the scripture does not back it up. Paul said that if any speak in tongues that he should pray that he interpret. If someone is willing to interpret the message given in tongues that is great but sometimes the one giving the message also gives the interpretation either because God just gives it to them or else no one else is available to give the interpretation.

Not just repeating scripture- Scripture is often used in messages and that is fine, the word of God is the ďword of God.Ē But a message in tongues and interpretation may not contain any quoting of scripture. However it is never to contradict scripture.

One bad misconception is that if no one interprets the message in tongues, then the speaker is out of order, not of God or of the devil. Ė This is the worst of all of the misconceptions and is totally false. How can someone interpret a message in tongues if someone doesnít obey the Holy Spirit and speak it forth? If there is no interpretation then, either no one is available, someone isnít obeying the Lord or itís just a mistake and the tongues are just for praise and worship rather than a message.

Letís give people some slack. We are never going to get people to obey the Holy Spirit if we are ready to pounce on them with accusations the moment they try to listen to the spirit. I hope we all quit being so scared, judgmental and fearful that the devil is going to bring us something instead of God. Remember if we ask God for His Holy Spirit, will He give us something from the devil?

This was a common misconception in the past the an interpretation will sound like the voice of God Ė We use to think that in order for it to be a message from God, we had to speak in the same language as King James English or in a voice that is scary sounding, shaky or with vibrations that sound different than we normally speak. Thank God weíve come out of that because our voice is used by the Holy Spirit and we donít have to change our voice. Sometimes we may speak louder than usual in order for everyone present to hear but that is all. How would we know how God sounds anyway?

E. Who can be used to give messages in tongues?

1. Men, women or children who are filled with the Holy Spirit

2. Anyone who is listening to the Holy Spirit and has made Himself available to the Holy Spirit.

3. Whoever God chooses to use

F. Will the same person always interpret the tongues? The same person may not be used all the time. Sometimes a person may be used only once in a lifetime. He doesnít just receive the gift of interpretation and can be used all the time in that gift. He may be used all the time but someone else may give the interpretation at another time. It is possible that more than one person may receive the interpretation.

This is one area that we canít develop a set of rules and expect the Holy Ghost to follow our rules and limitations. This work is His, not ours. The biggest reason we may see only one person being used in any of the gifts is because only one person is making himself available, not because God chooses him over everybody else.

This is for all of us but all of us are not seeking God for these things. We are being constantly scared off by the teachings of men against these things. We are bombarded with more warnings against the misuse of the gifts, or warnings against the gifts or stories of false manifestations that so many of us are afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to use us. Why do you think we see more miracles and signs when the spirit is first outpoured on certain groups of people? Because they have not had time for the skeptics and unbelievers to talk them out of it and tell them God doesnít work that way anymore.

We will hear of people being raised from the dead in third world countries, instant healings in the same places. I believe itís because they just simply believe what they hear and things happen. No one has told them that it just isnít done like that in todayís world. No one has told them that they have to be perfect in order to receive from God. We receive God first and He begins the work of perfection within us, not the other way around.

I used to think we had to be so holy and perfect before we could be used of God in the gifts of the spirit. I was wrong. If God fills someone with the Holy Ghost, then they can be used in any of the gifts. Are people going to make mistakes? Of course they are. We all have preconceived ideas, formulas, faults and wrong thinking to deal with but we must start seeking God for all that is available for the church of today and quit waiting around for Mr. Right to come along and do everything for us.

G. How does the interpretation come?

God puts words in our mouth and we speak. Usually we do not know ahead of time what we are going to say. This is never forced on us. God never forces His spirit upon anyone. We can always resist the Holy Ghost and refuse to give a message in tongues or give the interpretation. People use to warn against not obeying the Holy Spirit and that God will stop using us if we donít obey the spirit but I have no scripture to back up anything like that. I believe the minute we are willing to be used, He will use us.

I remember the days people use to guilt us into testifying saying that we will miss a blessing if we donít testify. As a result we use to have to sit through so many boring testimonies that people had to think up just to keep from missing a blessing. I was blessed to have went into a church later that didn't teach that way. There is no such thing in the scripture that says we will miss Godís blessing if we donít stand up in church and tell a sad boring story.

If God wants us to testify, we will know it. We donít have to sit and think of something to say just because we are afraid we might be doing wrong if we keep silent. If the Holy Spirit isnít prompting us to testify, then we will most certainly should keep quiet.

Some have seen the words visibly similar to a ticker tape and they just simply read the words. This type of revelation has never happened to me but a preacherís wife told me this is the way it happened to her. This was when she was young and before her husband was called into the ministry.

God speaks to someone audibly. Again Iíve never seen or heard of this way in my own experience but I still believe He can do things that way. God is so good and faithful. We are the ones that set limitations. 

God speaks to our spirit. This is the most common way.

There may be others ways also. We cannot limit God to our own experience. Letís not be tempted to limit God to our own thinking but stay very close to the word itself for our interpretation of scripture.

I canít find one biblical example of a message in tongues and interpretation but there are many times when the spirit of God spoke in both the Old Testament and the New but it doesnít say whether it was tongues, interpretation or a prophecy. I have no doubt that it did occur but the scripture doesnít tell us the method only emphasized the message and that is what we must do. We must emphasize the message itself, not the way it was given or by whom it was given.


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