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 Tongues Edifies the Speaker

John Hoole March 15, 2009

Last week we covered 16 benefits that come with speaking in tongues. That list was by no means complete. Neither were each item on the list dealt with at any great depth. Today we will look at several of the benefits in greater depth.

When Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, "Repent, be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," he announced the availability of an enormous package including innumerable blessings. And these blessings - or benefits - are invested with eternal power. And Peter, on behalf of our Lord, invites you and I to participate in their blessing.

Each of the many benefits is wrapped up in the larger gift of speaking in tongues. The marvel of God's individual gifts is that the smaller presents within the greater are laden with His creativity and spiritual wealth. To open any single package is to discover yet again another whole realm of unfolding gifts and graces. The beauty of spiritual language is like this.

Each of the benefits awaits the unwrapping and employment by the believer. None of them occur by some magical means or by a holy seizure. God never deals with his redeemed in occultic or other ways which bypass our choice to participate in His provisions.

In an earlier lesson entitled, "The Feast of Tabernacles and Pentecost." In it we looked at some length at John 7:37-39. In John 7, the Lord was at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. This event occurred about six months prior to His crucifixion. He made an announcement to the huge crowd gathered for the feast's climactic moment. The water-pouring ceremony - commemorating the miraculous supply of water God provided Israel in the wilderness, was just now taking place at the altar of sacrifice (the brazen altar). As the priest began to tip the basin of water over the altar, John tells us what happened.

John 7:37-39 NKJV

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water."
39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

First of all, notice the plural term - "rivers" - of which our Savior speaks. Jesus is detailing the nature of the inner resource which would become available to all those who would later receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Now, I want you to notice the distinct contrast there is between the "rivers" spoken of here and the "well of water" Jesus mentions three chapters earlier (John 4).

In John 4, Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman at a well from which she had come to draw water. This is a woman in need of salvation's promise of eternal life, with forgiveness of sin, and the hope of future glory. He told her, in verses 10 & 14, "If you knew the gift of God......you would ask and He would give you living water......for the water that I will give becomes a well of water springing up to eternal life."

These words, in John 4, are speaking of a well of salvation - eternal life. While, in John 7, Jesus is speaking to people already redeemed and having eternal life about the infilling and empowering of the Holy Spirit, which will be like many rivers gushing forth to take life to others. I don't believe the contrast between rivers which flow from a person, and wells which rise within a person is an accident of figurative speech.

Jesus is describing things that occur within the believer's experience. He is speaking of things which are each designed by God's creative wisdom to accomplish different works. The well of eternal life answers our soul's need for life unto salvation. The rivers of the Holy Spirit answers to our personal need to be fully resourced (or empowered) for doing the ministry Christ wants to work through each of us. Christ wants to work through each believer to touch the world around us. The "well" brings eternal life. The "rivers" surge with holy power. The well is for our salvation - the rivers are for our life of service.

Speaking in tongues will edify the speaker

1 Corinthians 14:4 NKJV

4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself,...

Jude 20 NKJV

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

These two verse are speaking of how a person is built up - edified - when they pray in tongues. The concept of edification is simplest to explain when we remember that a building is often referred to as an edifice. The Bible speaks of at least three ways for the building up of a Christian's life.

1. We, together, are being built up as a spiritual house, by the will and the hand of Christ Himself.

In Matthew 16:18, Christ says, "I will build my church..." And Ephesians 2:21 tells us, "the whole building being joined together grows into a holy temple unto the Lord." Then 1 Peter 2:25 adds that you and I are "as living stones, being built up to a spiritual house." In this respect, we are subjects of a divinely ordained building project, where each of us are being tooled by God's hand to fit us together as parts of a house called the "household of faith."

2. Secondly, we are each called to build each other up

We are to be mutual strengtheners of one another. You and I are called not just to believe, but to belong! "You are members of God's very own family, citizens of God's country, and you belong in God's household with every other Christian." Ephesians 2:19b (Living Bible) We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God's purposes by ourselves.

The Bible says we are put together, joined together, built together, members together; heirs together, fitted together, and held together and we will be caught up together. You're not on your own anymore.

While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God's family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. The Bible says, "In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Romans 12:5 (NIV)

The Christian life is more than just commitment to Christ. It includes a commitment to other Christians. The Christians in Macedonia understood this. About them, Paul said, "First, they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God's will, they gave themselves to us as well." 2 Corinthians 8:5 (Today's English Version)

You become a Christian by committing yourself to Christ, but you become a church member by committing yourself to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship. We are called to build each other up. The apostle Paul instructs us to "excel to the edifying of the church." (1 Corinthians 14:12). Romans 14:19 says, "Let us pursue...the things by which one may edify another." In this respect, we are servants of one another, called to do everything possible to ensure the upward development in each other.

3. Thirdly, we are directed to build up ourselves by a specific plan.

That plan, we are told, is through Holy-Spirit-enabled prayer. "You, beloved, build up yourselves......praying in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20). Again, 1 Corinthians 14:4 reads: "He that prays in a tongue edifies himself."

In comparison with the first two roles we fill as a body and as servants in the edifying process, in this third respect we are stimulators of our own edification. But the Bible, on edifying ourselves, does NOT say we accomplish the building by our own power. However, we ARE the ones who choose to employ the spiritual language, which is God-appointed means for edifying our souls. The power is His as the Holy Spirit flows through and over our being with a river of edification. But the choice is ours - "building up ourselves."

It is important to point out that this self-edification is not a selfish action. It is a scriptural one. Self-edification is a spiritual process of being built up in the inner man, not puffed up with human pride. Building ourselves up is a beautiful benefit of speaking in tongues, something I have personally drawn upon time and again.

Last week I asked you, "Is the structure you are building a skyscraper or a shack?" If you think your structure is small, there is a God-given plan for how you can build yourself up and add to your faith. That is by praying in tongues. We all need our spiritual batteries charged at times. Life can be spiritually draining. Living causes some wear and tear on the soul. One way to charge the spirit is through praying in tongues.

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