Salvation is a gift; it is available for everyone. God would not give a gift to an individual and not give it to another. That is why the Bible says that He is no respecter of persons. These verses tell us that there are many members of the body, and the Holy Spirit gives these manifestations as He wills or wants to. That is fine because He is dealing with the corporate body. Every church should have these manifestations, but who they manifest through is up to the Holy Spirit. But, when you look at 1 Corinthians 14, it is talking about individuals. That is why Paul said I speak in tongues more than you all and wish that you would do also.
People take this out of context and will say it is as the Spirit wills, and I guess He just doesn’t will for me to speak in tongues. People will take chunks of scripture out and say this went out with the apostles. No, that is talking about manifestations in the church. Each week He may work through a different person. Individually, he is saying we should all be praying in tongues; this isn’t saying that everyone should be speaking out in tongues in the church. Don’t let misteaching about the Holy Spirit get you. Let me give you an example. If you teach on parenting to a group of people, you will give broad teaching, but if I was to sit one on one in a counseling session with a set of parents, I might give them specific advice for one of their children that I might not give to all children.
“Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality.’” Acts 10:34 NASB
When you interpret corporately, it will be by word. Privately when you interpret, it is just in thought. If you are with thousands of people and someone prays in tongues, and you get the interpretation and only think it, it doesn’t go out to the crowd. Many times, when I interpret to myself, it is just in my thoughts. The word interpret means to explain, bring meaning, and make clear.
“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.” 1 Corinthians 14:1-2 NASB
Paul is speaking here, and he is telling the Corinthian church to seek the gifts earnestly. Not the corporate manifestation, he is speaking individually. As a body or church as a whole, you should be seeking those gifts to be manifested in the body of Christ, but here, he is talking about individuals. Your spirit speaks mysteries; that is why you should ask for the interpretation. Your spirit knows what you need. If you are an adult with older children, you know what your child needs, and you probably pray differently than they do. When you pray in the spirit, your spirit is praying for what you need. Look again at Mark 11,
“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:23-24 NASB
Pray in tongues, believe, and receive it and pray for the interpretation. Do you notice here it never says to pray with understanding, it just says pray? I remember when I was pastoring my first church, I was praying for the church, and for individuals in the church, praying for things I wanted God to show me about the church. When I got done praying, I sat in my office and spent some time praying in tongues. When I got done, I asked the Holy Spirit to interpret what had just come out of my spirit. I meditated on it for a while, and suddenly the Lord spoke to me and said He wanted me to leave the church. He told me to get ready to leave, and when the time came, the church would do anything to try to keep me there but, He wanted me to go. I had just ten minutes earlier prayed for the church, and which direction He wanted us to go, but He revealed to me, I want you to go.
“For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” 1 Corinthians 14:17-19 NASB
Some people will say it is only if the Spirit wills, it is amazing to me how many churches don’t believe in tongues and will say it is not for us today. I am not picking on these church’s I am simply showing you the reality of it. When you look at 1 Corinthians 14, he says you are giving thanks well enough, you can give thanks all you want but how much prayer is that? He says, ‘but the other man is not edified.’ When you pray in tongues, you edify yourself. In these verses, he differentiates between self and corporate. In a corporate situation, if you speak in tongues, other people do not know what you are saying. He is saying you don’t blurt out in tongues in church unless there is an interpretation. Why? Because the church isn’t the place. It doesn’t mean we don’t corporately speak in tongues, but when one person does it louder than anyone else, it has to be interpreted. In the Amplified Bible, 1 Corinthians 14 says,
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive [because it does not understand what my spirit is praying]. Then what am I to do? I will pray with the spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me] and I will pray with the mind [using words I understand]; I will sing with the spirit [by the Holy spirit that is within me] and I will sing with the mind [using words I understand]. Otherwise if you bless [and give thanks to God] in the spirit only, how will any outsider or someone who is not gifted [in spiritual matters] say the ‘Amen’ [of agreement] to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough [in a way that God is glorified], but the other person [who does not understand you] is not edified [and spiritually strengthened since he cannot join in your thanksgiving]. I thank God that I speak in [unknown] tongues more than all of you; nevertheless, in public worship I would rather say five understandable words in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue [which others cannot understand]. 1 Corinthians 14:14-19 NASB
In these verses, Paul is talking about the outsider, the unbeliever. That is why we don’t just go to church and have a bunch of people praying in tongues with no interpretation. Now when it is done collectively as a body, that is not wrong. But when tongues are spoken out, meaning one individual tongue, it has got to be interpreted, or it is out of order.
Have you ever met people who are always unhappy or depressed? Do you know that God gave them something to build themselves up, it is tongues? Most of these people don’t do it even if they know it is right. I can tell you, people that struggle like that don’t pray in tongues. Those that pray in tongues regularly and edify themselves, they get that junk out of there. Most believers who are always unhappy or depressed speak against tongues. What God has given believers to release them out of depression, fear, worry, or trouble, a life vest in the midst of their drowning, they curse. The reason the devil has tried so hard to get religion to fight against tongues is that unbelievers are turned off by religion. When you get around people who understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit and practice it regularly, who edify themselves, you will begin to see people get delivered.
I know a gal one time who was admitted to a mental hospital for trying to commit suicide. Her family was told she might have to live in a mental hospital for the rest of her life. This girl had a master’s degree, intelligent, and I did not think she was insane. When I saw her, she told me she knew she was a believer and that if she died, she would go to heaven but that she was so depressed she wished God would kill her. I told her thank God He isn’t a killer, but that she was opening the door to the devil. I was sitting in the room with her at the hospital, and she was telling me about how depressed she was, the Holy Spirit brought back to me that she needed to edify herself. I asked her if she had ever been filled with the Holy Ghost and spoken in tongues. She told me no that she never really wanted it because people in school made fun of her going to a tongue talking church, and they thought it was weird, so she did too. I showed her all of these scriptures and explained that when you pray in tongues, you are praying your need and edifying yourself. I asked her if she really wanted to die, take drugs and be depressed or if I showed her how to get over it and live a normal healthy life, would she want that, and she said she would. After all of this, I prayed with her, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. I told her that she needed to pray in the spirit all the time. After about two weeks, she was discharged and was a completely different person. She was off all of her antidepressants within six months and has never had another episode of depression since.