Speaking in Tongues
In Part one of this series, we discussed Authority and demonstrated that the Charismatic Movement elevates men’s words over the final authority of God’s Word – the Bible. Charismatics have a variable authority changing from emotions, experience, and dreams.
Proverbs 29:11 (KJB) “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”
Ecclesiastes 5:7 (KJB) “For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.”
We also touched the topic of the temporary gift of prophecy. Charismatics believe they possess the gift of prophecy. As we mentioned in part 1, “if this were true, then the Bible would not be finished and what is prophesied should be written down and added to the Bible, contrary to the very clear warning not to.”
Deuteronomy 18:22 (KJB) “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
Revelation 22:18 (KJB) “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:”
We also briefly discussed the ultimate deception of the last days, and the tribulation will occur through “signs and wonders,” according to God as spoken in His Word.
Matthew 24:24 (KJB) “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
The word Pentecostal comes from “Pentecost,” which is the day when the first incident of “speaking in tongues” occurred. Charismatic comes from the Greek word for gifts, “charisma.” Miraculous gifts are essential to these movements. “Speaking in tongues” is considered the most important gift in the movement and people are taught that each Christian is to exercise this gift.
God provided the gift of “speaking in tongues” too early disciples providing them the ability to preach the gospel in languages they had not learned. In the book of Acts, many Jews heard the gospel in their language and were saved. This miracle was given to the disciples for two fundamental reasons. 1.) To break language barriers, so many could be saved in the early days of the church. 2.) As a TEMPORARY sign to the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:22, 14:21-22) so they would know that the message was from God since the New Testament had not been written yet (Hebrews 2:2-4; Mark 16:20.) “Speaking in tongues” was one of the “signs of an Apostle” which are not mentioned from 2 Corinthians to Revelation.
2 Corinthians 12:12 (KJB) “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
In part 2, we want to address what has become a significant doctrinal error in the Charismatic movement, and that is “speaking in tongues.” We will look at speaking in tongues from the context of the Bible to discover if this gift were for today are the biblical guidelines for “speaking in tongues” that are clearly outlined in scripture, in 1st Corinthians 14, being followed. We will discover that the “experience” in the Charismatic movement is the authority and not God’s Word.
“Speaking in tongues” was a “gift” from God. It was not something that you learned or taught as some churches teach today. If the Biblical “gift” of tongues is present today, why do missionaries, even Pentecostal Charismatic’s spend years learning new languages so they can preach the gospel?
Charismatics teach that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the filling of the Holy Ghost.
Luke 24:49 (KJB) “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
In the above verse, Jesus prophesied about the filling of the Holy Spirit but did not mention speaking in tongues. What are we to thing regarding this prophecy? Did Jesus forget to mention that speaking in tongues would be evidence of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps Jesus didn’t know that tongues were a requirement?
Acts 1:8 (KJB) “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 clearly defines what the filling of the Holy Spirit was for – to be witnesses! To preach the gospel. There are many places in the book of Acts where people are filled with the Holy Spirit but they never speak in tongues.
Acts 4:8 (KJB) “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,”
Acts 4:31 (KJB) “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 9:17-18 (KJB) “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”
Acts 13:9-10 (KJB) “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
Acts 13:52 (KJB) “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”
Seventeen times in the book of Acts when people are saved, there are only three occurrences of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31 (KJB) “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
In 1st Corinthians 12, it says that not every Christian would receive this gift, which is listed as the least of the gifts. What are we to conclude from these verses when compared to the Charismatic Movements teaching that speaking in tongues in the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit? Is the Bible mistaken? The question is if God’s Word says that not everyone will receive this gift then according to the teachings of the Charismatic Movement, not everyone receives the Holy Spirit? This teaching contradicts the teaching of scripture.
Fortunately, God has given us in the Bible a lesson regarding the gift of speaking in tongues. The Corinthian Church was excessively magnifying speaking in tongues and mistreating the gift. This church was very worldly, and the book of 1 Corinthians is to rebuke and correct them.
2 Corinthians 7:8-9 (KJB) “For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.”
God provides guidelines for speaking in tongues in chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. These guidelines were given to ensure that everything was done decently and in order. For those who believe that the gift of speaking in tongues is for Christians today, these guidelines would be applicable by the Holy Ghost, who is the author. Any church that encourages speaking in tongues should ensure that these guidelines are being followed. Otherwise, perhaps the Holy Ghost is not the One motivating the tongues. (See Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10; Matthew 24:24 which demonstrates that Satan can also work through miracles).
Here are the guidelines provided in Scripture:
- 1 Corinthians 14:21-23, a sign for Jewish unbelievers only. 1 Corinthians 14:21-23 (KJB) “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” The gift of tongues was a sign to the Jewish community close to the very Jewish early church. It was a sign to that significant majority of Jews who refused to believe on Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 14:12, 26, for the edification of others. 1 Corinthians 14:12 (KJB) “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:26 (KJB) “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” Rather than seeking their recognition and importance in the church through their display of the gift of tongues (which edified no one), he advised them to seek the edification of the church. Seek that which will help others. Get your focus off yourself and try to build up others.
- 1 Corinthians 14:27, only two or three in a church service. 1 Corinthians 14:27 (KJB) “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.” In a church service, there should be no more than two speak in tongues, and at the most three. Also, they were to be “by course,” that is, one at a time and not whenever they felt like it. Furthermore, it was directed that one be able to rise and interpret what had been expressed.
- 1 Corinthians 14:28, must have an interpreter present or keep silent. 1 Corinthians 14:28 (KJB) “But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” In service, if there was no one able to naturally, or by gift, to interpret something to be said in tongues, Paul directed then to keep quiet. It is clear tongues were a chaotic disruption in the Corinthian church as they are today.
- 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40, no confusion; decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJB) “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:40 (KJB) “Let all things be done decently and in order.” There was disorder in the services of the Corinthian church. However, Paul makes clear the origin thereof was not of God.
- 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, women not to participate in speaking in tongues in the churches. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJB) “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Paul orders (it is in the imperative mode, which means it is an order), “Let your women keep silence in the churches.” It would seem that more than one woman was rising to speak in tongues, teach, or otherwise publicly participate. The modern Pentecostal and charismatic movements would do well to pay attention to this instruction. Paul continues, “for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” God has divinely appointed leadership and authority in the church through men.
Most churches that still allow speaking in tongues today do not follow Biblical guidelines. If the current practice of speaking in tongues break these guidelines, then it cannot be from God, as God never violates His own word. If the gift of speaking in tongues is viable today, then so is interpretation. However, what most often occurs is multiple interpretations of the same unknown phrase, which is not possible if God were involved.
1 Corinthians 14:14-15 (KJB) “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”
The Bible also warns us regarding praying in tongues because understanding is not there. We should all agree with Paul, the inspired writer, when he states:
1 Corinthians 14:19 (KJB) “Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
Speaking in tongues is being used by Satan to unite non-Biblical churches, even churches that fail to preach the gospel.
Acts 5:29 (KJB) “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. “
Below are links to additional articles in this series.