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The variances in spiritual gifts



I have written about some mimicking of the gift of speaking in tongues, of how some people unashamedly pretend to be speaking in tongues when in prayer, yet no one can understand the language nor that which is being spoken.

I have labelled this practice to be a perpetuation of the “curse of Babel”, when the Lord our God deliberately brought a confusion of languages so that no other person could understand what the other was saying. It was meant to bring confusion, not understanding, among the people who wanted to make a name for themselves.

In order to curtail their unholy schemes, God said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:1-9).

Speaking in tongues as a spiritual gift was conferred upon man, to overturn the purpose of the “curse of Babel”, so that people of different languages can understand one another as if speaking in one language. Whatever language the other person is speaking should be understood clearly by the listener, as if it is being spoken in the language of the recipient.

A person who can speak a language that can be understood by those around him is blessed with the spiritual gift of tongues. Unless there is another person close by who possesses the spiritual gift to interpret, let the speaker of the ‘tongue’ be ordered to be silent and to sit down. He/she is speaking the “curse of Babel”, of confusion, if no one understands the language.

Acts 2:1-13, gives us the original purpose for the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. At Pentecost, different nationalities speaking different languages were gathered together in worship to the Lord our God. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterances. The most important factor of all in this was that each one heard what was being spoken as if being spoken in the language of the listener, although spoken in a different language.

In essence, that is the purpose of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues — to spread the Lord’s gospel among people of different languages. If you were to speak in tongues to your own people, of the same dialect as yours, of what benefit is speaking in tongues to them, except to bring forth the “confusion of Babel”?

Corinthians 14:9-11: “So with yourselves; if you in a tongue utter speech that is no intelligible (understood), how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are many different languages in the world and none without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.”

In verses 27-28, St Paul continues: “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God (silently)”. I have observed in some churches however, that every week and at every church service, almost all the members of the whole congregation pretend to be speaking in tongues. Paul writes of himself: “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all; nevertheless in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue”.

(1 Corinthians 14:18-19) St Paul was earmarked by the Lord Jesus Christ to spread the gospel to the Gentiles across the world who spoke different languages. He had to be equipped to preach the gospel to people of various languages; hence he was blessed with the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, which the people of other languages understood. Speaking in tongues is thus an enabler, to spread the gospel across the world to many nationalities and across many languages. Christ in spirit spoke of Paul, “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and Kings and the sons of Israel.”

I have also written about the spiritual gift of prophecy, the ability to foretell of the future by the divine channel. Only the one bestowed with that gift can be called a prophet. However, today we have many evangelists labelling themselves as prophets when they possess no such a spiritual gift. Just preaching and teaching of the gospel does not qualify one to be called a prophet, or to call oneself as such. The ability to preach the gospel is itself a spiritual gift, distinct from that of prophecy. It is, however, possible for one to be endowed with more than one spiritual gift.

In the past, I penned about the healers of today, some of whom have perfected the art of fake healings. Healing again is a spiritual gift, if it’s of divine origin. It is also a separate gift that should not be confused with the others.

Yet we find nowadays the healers, whether of the genuine divine spirit or of the fake dramatists, clamouring to call themselves “prophets”. No, that is not right. Let us distinguish one spiritual gift from the other, and label ourselves accordingly. Better still, let our religious designations and titles be bestowed upon us by the people, who can identify the gifts in individuals.

Let also those who are schooled and certified in the various religious disciplines qualify and then automatically be designated as such, according to the learned discipline.

Prosper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email:

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