This is a bit extra…
It has recently come to my attention that some of my family members have some Biblical confusion about the spiritual gifts of tongues and laying of hands. Through the instruction I have received from my pastor and other reputable teachers; commentaries from highly educated theologians and from my own praying, I firmly believe that speaking in tongues never equated to a bunch of gibberish. Why in the world would God expect for us to talk to him in code? How does speaking in tongues glorify God?
I look no further than the book of Acts when the apostles first spoke in tongues. In Acts chapter 2, the newly minted apostles are before a large congregation of people on the day of Pentecost. They were able to speak the gospel in a manner that everyone could understand, meaning that they were able to relay the Gospel in languages…tongues… they had never uttered before. One rule of thumb for tongues–there must be a translator. A person with a gift of interpreting tongues was able to understand the speaker when that person was speaking in a language unknown to them. The purpose of tongues was to further increase the kingdom of God, not to call attention to any one individual who either a) is misguided or b) is trying to seem holier or more connected to God than others. The Bible seems to insinuate that the gift of tongues is no longer, and perhaps that is because the Gospel is as far-reaching as it is–the complete Bible is available in over five hundred different languages. Now that we have reached the Church Age and are under God’s grace, the gift of tongues has fulfilled its purpose. The Gospel has reached all corners of the earth and all who want to come to Jesus have that option.
Certain powers were bestowed upon the apostles to provide authenticity to their message and boost their credentials, if you will, or that new believers might receive the Holy Spirit that had not yet come to them. In other Biblical instances, laying on hands occurred when people were blessed, or when they were put into positions of authority. The apostles needed all the spiritual gifts they were given. After all, we’re talking about Jewish people who knew nothing other than Jewish law. They needed visual signs as proof of the ministry of Jesus and now, His apostles. Speaking in tongues was one, laying on hands was another. There were numerous instances in the Gospels where we see Jesus’s healing ministry. The apostles had this ability, which was evidenced by the story of Simon the sorcerer. He was able to see the Peter and John lay hands on new believers in Samaria and receive the Holy Spirit. Simon thought he could buy some of this Holy Ghost power.
When my Dad first passed, I had a relative who came and put her hands on me and starting speaking incoherently. I was a wreck and had no idea what she was doing, nor did I pay any attention. She thought that having her hands on me and speaking gibberish was helping. As much as I love her, it did nothing for me. A simple hug and a prayer with me in the name of Jesus would have done a lot more.
However, we cannot judge another’s salvation. If one says they are saved, that is between them and the Lord. I can see how there are so many denominations in the church–one group thinks speaking in tongues is essential to salvation; another believes we should still observe the Sabbath; another does laying on of hands, etc. But if a person is saved, I wonder if Christians still ought to correct each other in Biblical matters or focus our energy on getting the unsaved’s feet in the doors of the church? I tend to think we ought to do both, but our sense of urgency ought to be more with the unsaved person. A saved person can be led to the Bible in search of a Scripture that either confirms or rejects what they have been taught, and they can adjust their thinking accordingly. But the unsaved person is out there in perpetual wilderness and darkness with no obvious way out.
I have seen people speak in tongues before and I must admit–I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. I cannot imagine that gibberish elevates God in any way. If anything, all it did was distract me from God, because I was too busy watching the people and snickering (I was a lot younger).
Anything we do inside the church and outside HAS to uplift God and be for HIS GLORY and the advancement of HIS kingdom. If we do something that causes attention to ourselves, we have become a potential stumbling block for a babe in Christ or unsaved person. Laying on hands is unnecessary because once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. And we don’t need laying on of hands for healing either–a prayer asking for the afflicted person will suffice.