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Dear Partner,

One of the most common questions I receive from believers is, "Gary, is it possible for all believers to be able to pray in other tongues? Didn't the apostle Paul say that not all believers speak with tongues?" They usually quote this passage:

1 Cor 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
1 Cor 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

In context, the obvious answer to these questions is "No." Certainly not all believers are called to be apostles, for example. The logical conclusion regarding tongues would be, "No, not all believers are to speak with tongues." As a matter of fact, that logical conclusion kept me from receiving my supernatural prayer language for a long time. My thinking was, "Well, since I am one of the least of all believers, and speaking in tongues is not for all believers, then most likely it is not for me. It's probably just for the select few."

As I continued to read the bible, however, certain other passages caused me to re-examine that logic afresh. For example, the Lord Jesus Christ himself had said:

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

He said that these signs would follow "them that believe," not just a selected, few people from among all believers. What is going on here? I knew that Paul was not teaching something opposite from what Jesus had taught. Perhaps my understanding of the passage in 1st Corinthians was wrong. I began searching all of the new testament again to see if I could gain more light on the subject. As I continued my study I ran across another passage that seemed to contradict the "logic" of what it seemed Paul was saying in 1st Corinthians 12. On the day of Pentecost there were one hundred and twenty believers gathered together in the upper room. Notice what happened when they were filled with the Holy Spirit:

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

They were "all" filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues. This sounded like what Jesus said would happen to "them that believe." It wasn't a selection of a "few" from among the pool of 120 believers. No, every single one of them was filled with the Holy Ghost, and every single one of them began to speak with other tongues.

In addition, I learned over time that there are more than just one kind of "tongues" spoken of in the bible. In fact, the new testament reveals there are four categories of tongues. These are:

  1. Tongues to be interpreted in a public assembly. (1 Cor 14:5)
  2. Tongues as a sign to the unbeliever. (1 Cor 14:22)
  3. Tongues for deep intercessional groanings. (Rom 8:26)
  4. Tongues for personal edification. (1 Cor 14:2-4)

With this knowledge, let's go back to Paul's statements in 1st Corinthians. Look at this verse again:

1 Cor 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Notice how Paul links together "tongues" with "interpretation" in that verse. He is talking about the first kind of tongues mentioned in the list shown above. It is a particular ministry gift that is to be used in a public assembly of believers. Not everybody has that particular gift, just like not everybody is called to be an apostle. In fact, everything that Paul teaches in 1st Corinthians chapter twelve is describing what we would call "ministry" gifts, not a person's individual prayer life. Paul was actually saying, "Do all have the ministry gift which enables a person to speak a message from God in tongues during a public assembly and then give the interpretation?" The obvious answer to that question is "No," just like not every believer is called to be an apostle or a prophet.

In fact, three out of the four different kinds of tongues listed above are ministry gifts and can only be activated "as the Spirit wills." (1 Cor 12:11). But what about the fourth kind of praying in tongues? Is it possible for all believers to be able to pray in other tongues for personal edification? We learned last month that tongues for personal edification is a major tool given to believers to activate the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Coupled with meditation of the Word of God, this method of prayer is a primary way by which the Holy Spirit "guides us into all truth." The very mysteries of the gospel are taught directly to our reborn spirits though this method of communicating divine "mysteries."

1 Cor 14:2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

This is the kind of tongues Jesus was referring to when He said "them that believe" would speak. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, Jesus said. The Holy Spirit has been made available to "all" believers, not just a select few in the body. All of us need to understand the gospel. All of us need to understand the mystery of "Christ in us, our hope of glory." And praise be to Jesus, He has opened the door into what I call PCU. That stands for "Prayer Closet University." All of us can get alone with the Holy Spirit, pray those mysteries as we speak in tongues for edification, and allow the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit to be activated in us.

Thank you for your gift to GCM. Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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