logo The Paraclete Forum Archive

Singing in toungues


Singing in tongues
I am a music director and worship leader at a large church which God
is blessing abundantly. Recently, I have been approached by several
people wanting to know when we are going to start,"singing in the
Spirit" or,"singing in tongues". A few of these people have offered to
talk with the worship teams about it and even demonstrate. I sense the
Holy Spirit telling me to wait. So, in the meantime, I have been
searching the Bible trying to find what God says about this issue. As
you can probably guess, I have found very little. I have spent a lot
of time in first Corinthians and Acts but am still unclear. I am also
getting the sense that we, as worship leaders, should be cautious
about going down this path. We do expierience, "spontaneous worship"
but, what some of these people are asking for is different than
that. I would really appreciate some thoughts and insight on this

first response


"Tongues" in the Bible simply means "languages."  You will find a 
series of four excellent sermons on the true and the false gift of 
tongues on Ray Stedman's web site at the following URL:


Also, my great friend Ted Wise has a great article on tongues on his pages:


I am all for spontaneity in worship myself, but I don't think 
singing, or preaching, or speaking in church should be done in a 
manner which confuses people rather than edifying them.

Let us know if you'd like to discuss this further. Our email team is 
ready to help in any way we can.

sincerely, for the Paraclete Forum,

second response


As one of the paraclete team, may I add a thought or two to the 
excellent counsel you will receive from the references suggested.

I think we might ask just what is "spontaneity"?  A dictionary 
definition of spontaneous is "happening or arising without apparent 
external cause; self-generated".  Even a superficial reading of I 
Cor. 14 makes it clear that "all things should be done decently and 
in order".  And in that passage it is clear the aim should be "that 
the *church* may be edified", as opposed to self-edification.  I 
would ask, if those who advocate singing in "tongues" can show 
you/demonstrate how it is done, is it not already a programmed 
(So just how "spontaneous" is that anyway?)

I want you to know that both of Ray Stedman and I
have experienced first-hand the excesses of the kind of public 
worship you have described.  I mention this because the argument 
resorted to by advocates of such is "you have to have been there". 
We have been there, done that, and found it both confusing and 
unbiblical.  It feeds into emotional excesses rather than worship 
directed toward the "renewing of our minds so as to prove what is the 
will of God".  In my opinion, worship is most edifying when it 
incorporates doxology (as in Rom. 11:33-36) and teaching. The 
"worship service" should be a public expression of personal intimacy 
with Christ, and should complement the teaching of the Word from the 
pulpit.   My opinion, for what it's worth :)

Grace to you and peace,


I have just finished reading Ray's writings on the tongues question. It has
helped me a great deal. Please pray that this issue does not divide us. I
thank God for your insight and I thank Him for leading me to the PBC web
sight. It has been a blessing.

third response

You are certainly right in pursuing this subject cautiously because
tongues have been such a divisive issue over the years.  However,
anyone who looks carefully to the Bible for his leadership won't go wrong.

The first thing I noticed was how old this controversy is.  Paul wrote to
the Corinthian Church a long time ago to correct a lot of the same problems
we have today concerning the use of the Spiritual Gift known as speaking in
tongues, (a language that one did not learn).  Like all things Christian,
motivation was the source of the Corinthian's problems.  They had forgotten
that the flesh loves to be religious in a Parasitical manner.  They had
forgotten what they had been taught about how critical Jesus was of the
Pharisees because they loved, "the upper most seats".  They liked to be
praised for being super spiritual.  Always doing their religious service in
order to be seen and praised by men.  They loved recognition and so did a
lot of the Corinthian's.

We believe that God still gives the members of His Body, the Church,
Spiritual Gifts. "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the
common good" (1 Cor. 12:7).  These gifts are for building up one another in
the Lord.  They are not for entertainment.  Talents are for entertainment.
Each Christian has been given one of more Spiritual Gifts, but God has not
given everyone talents.  I sing very badly and I'm not sure that Jesus had
entertainment in mind for us when we gather together as a local body.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists these Spiritual Gifts: wisdom, knowledge,
faith or what we would call faith/vision, (the ability to see what God
wants done like establishing a hospital in the jungle somewhere). This gift
is manifested by folks who seem to do what seemed impossible to the rest of
us, (but God does it anyway).  People with this gift keep a Church alive
with the good works they do.  The next gift mentioned is healings, (meaning
thoroughly healed; physically, emotionally, and spiritually). Listed next
are miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, various kinds of tongues
and interpretation of tongues, apostles, prophets, teachers and at vs: 28:
helps, administrations and exhortation, Rom 12 lists giving with
liberality, leadership and mercy.

Paul wrote a word of caution about Spiritual Gifts,  "But one and the same
Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just
as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all
the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is
Christ." (1 Cor 12:11-12).

With all of these possibilities of being Spiritually gifted, it seems like
the Lord would rather we find out what our particular gifts are and make
use of them.  One of the problems that comes with dwelling on the gift of
speaking in other languages is that it is the easiest to fake and when one
does it, how are we to know if what we are doing is the same thing the
early church did?  The critical issue in all use of our gifts is wether or
not we are motivated by the Holly Spirit or the flesh.  The Bible says they
spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  According to Paul, the Spirit
always does His speaking in a proper and orderly manner.

As to singing in tongues?  It is not in the Bible and all speculation about
it is equally unbiblical.  What we know for certain about tongues is in the
passage below.  Certainty means a lot when it comes to studying the Bible.

"If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three,
and each in turn, and let one interpret; but if there is no interpreter,
let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to
God." (1 Cor 14:27-28)

I know it's fun to do, but what you are calling "singing in the spirit
probably isn't.  Ask your self if you are being motivated by the Holly
Spirit or because it's fun and you want your friends in church to like you.
 Worship God any way you please and don't let anyone judge your worship.
God, through faith accepts your worship because of Jesus' free gift of
righteousness.  However be careful that you accurately teach the Word of
God through what ever language you agree to sing in.

My heart sings my amazement of His grace,

fourth response

By the way,

I have been thinking back over my life and I remember several worship 
service-- all in English, old hymns and choruses, nothing out of the 
ordinary--when the Holy Spirit was there and really blessed us. Those 
were very special, even unique, occasions for me--it seemed as if the 
roof of the church just melted away and we were all in the presence 
of the angels. The music took on a loftiness, a transcendence that 
was very deeply moving. Only a few times in my life have I sensed 
this sort of thing happening.

These were not overly emotional times but rather I would describe 
them as full of awe and wonder at the majesty of God.

True worship is so hard to find!

Ray Stedman has two fine sermons on the subject of worship:


The reason spiritual worship is so rare probably has to do with the 
general carnality of the church.

The body of Christ builds itself up in love only when each member is 
working together properly, --Eph. 4.

best regards,