Glossolalia: What does the Bible say about Tongue-Speaking? A study.

Published on by Joseph Foray jnr.

Questions are being asked today by those who love Jesus regarding the practice of tongue-speaking. What is the gift in gift of tongues? How did Christians receive this Gift in the first century church? Why did God give such a gift? Should all Christians seek this gift today? Can one be a true child of God and not speak in tongues? What's the nature and work of the Holy Spirit?

What is Glossolalia?   From Oxford Dictionary: the phenomenon of (apparently) speaking in an unknown language, especially in religious worship. It is practiced especially by Pentecostal and charismatic Christians

Glossolalia, also called speaking in tongues, (from Greek glōssa, “tongue,” and lalia, “talking”), utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious experience. The vocal organs of the speaker are affected; the tongue moves, in many cases without the conscious control of the speaker; and generally unintelligible speech pours forth. Speakers and witnesses may interpret the phenomenon as possession by a supernatural entity, conversation with divine beings, or the channeling of a divine proclamation or inspiration.[1]

This account is a sincere effort to present New Testament teachings regarding these and other questions about tongue-speaking.

Before we begin our study, a note of warning must be sounded. The experience of tongue speaking has strong emotional appeal to some that it may be very difficult for them to be objective in their study of the subject, and this may be very true of preachers who earn their living by leading people into such practices.” And he will carefully examine New Testament teachings to find God’s answers to his questions.

Paul clearly warned that those who fail to love the truth will receive a “deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians. 2:11-12; NASB)

Preachers are accountable to God for what they teach on the subject, and all Christians are accountable for what they choose to believe and practice. If is the practice of modern tongue-speaking is from the Holy Spirit, every child of God should desire this gift. On the other hand, if such a practice is counterfeit, the error must be exposed and the movement strongly opposed! In view of this sober warning, let us prayerfully examine God’s pure New Testament teachings on tongue-speaking, and may the Lord bless our study.

It may shock some to realize that the subject of tongues is mentioned in only three New Testament books (Mark, Acts and 1 Corinthians). Jesus first mentioned the subject in the closing verses of Mark’s Gospel as He personally met with His apostles. Please notice that there is a difference between an “apostle” and a “disciple.” A disciple is a learner, so all study the teachings of Jesus (including the apostles) may be called disciples. However, apostles were special disciples whom Jesus authorized to preach and cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15).

Following Pentecost, (Actsc2) the apostles assumed a position of great authority within the Lord’s Church (cf. Ephesians 2:20; 4:11). As Jesus met with His “chosen eleven” in Mark 16, prior to ascending back to His Father in Heaven, He commanded them:

Go into all the world and preach to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; and he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. And these signs shall accompany those who have believed: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover (Mark 16:15-18; NASB)  

Speaking with new tongues” was one of the five signs Jesus promised would accompany those who believed in his name. Today’s tongue speaking points to this passage as scriptural authority for his practice. He argues that “new tongues” were to accompany the believer, and he is a believer; therefore, he can speak in tongues. This raises a question: “Did Jesus promise in Mark 16 that all who believed in Him would speak in tongues?”

In 1 Corinthians 12:30 Paul asked, “All do not speak with tongues, do they?” Paul’s rhetorical question demands the obvious answer, “No.” We conclude that Jesus never promised all believers they would speak in tongues.

Jesus did promise that his apostles would perform all of the signs in Mark 16 as divine proof that they were his true apostles. That all Christians in the early church laying their hands on them, Philip had preached Christ and performed signs among them (VV.5-6). Many believed and were baptized (v. 12), and by faith they have received the “forgiveness of sins; and…...the gift of the Holy Spirit as promised in Acts 2:38.

However, the Holy Spirit “had not yet fallen upon any of them”. (Acts 8:16. Always when it is said the Holy Spirit “fell upon” someone, miraculous activity was involved; cf. Acts 10:44-46; 19:16).

If the argument is true that all believers should speak in tongues, the Samaritans should have possessed this gift after baptism, but they did not!

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them……. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14 -15; 17- 19)

What Simon saw on that occasion is what all true disciples need to see today! Simon saw that miraculous powers (gifts, signs, and wonders) from the spirit were bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. (Acts 8:18). Until the apostles laid their hands on the Samaritans and prayed for them, they perform no miracles. Since Philip was not an apostle, he had to send the apostles to Jerusalem to come to Samaria and pass on miraculous powers to these new disciples. Why else would Philip send for apostles? He was preaching the truth. He was performing signs and wonders, but only apostles could transfer miraculous powers to the Christians.

An examination of an earlier chapter in Acts reveals that Philip had received his power to perform signs through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. In Acts 6 we read that Philip was one of the seven men appointed to oversee the feeding of widows (v.5). To qualify for this position, Philip had to be “full of the Spirit” (v.3), yet there is no record that Philip (or any of the apostles) performed miracles through the first five chapters of Acts.

In Acts 6 Philip and the other six men were brought before the apostles, who “after praying” … laid their hands on them (v.6).  After the apostles laid their hands on the seven, we read that Stephen (one of the seven, v.5) was “full of grace and power, and was performing great wonders and signs among the people” (v.8). Later Philip (also one of the seven) performed “signs and great miracles” (Acts 8:6,13). We conclude that the Samaritans received miraculous powers in the same way Stephen and Philip received them, that is, through the apostles laying their hands upon them.

Acts 19 further confirms this conclusion. The disciples in Ephesus had been scripturally baptized by Paul, and after the apostles “laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying” (v.6)

As “a true apostle” 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul not only had power to perform miracles, but (like his fellow apostles) he was also empowered to pass miraculous gifts to other Christians. He may have been referring to such apostolic power when he wrote to Timothy………” to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands”. (2Timothy 1:6)

We learn from the book of Acts, both Luke’s inspired statement as well as by open demonstration, that:

  1. miraculous gifts were passed on through the hands of apostles. It was not enough to be a baptized believer. It was not enough to possess “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) and to be “full of the Spirit” (Acts 6:3).

 

  1. In addition, the apostles personally had to lay their hands on these Christians. This is how Stephen and Philip received miraculous powers, this is how the Samaritans received them, and this is how the disciples at Ephesus received them as well.

 

  1. It is most important to notice that though Philip performed sighs, he could not pass the gifts unto the Samaritans. Only by sending for the apostles in Jerusalem could such miracle-working powers be transferred to the disciples.

 

From this brief survey of Acts, we have answered one of our questions:

“How did Christians in the early Church receive the gift of tongues?” Later, we will study how the apostles received tongues and other miraculous gifts.

 

However, before we move on, we need to ask another vital question.

 “Why did Jesus promise miraculous signs in the first place?”

God always has a divine purpose behind his actions, so why did he empower His apostles with such signs?  Mark 16:20 gives the answer to the question: “And they (the apostles) went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.”  Jesus gave miraculous signs to his apostles to confirm the truthfulness of their message.

The gift of Tongues provided them with inspired knowledge to communicate the gospel in languages of people all over the world. Other miraculous signs gave additional proof that the Lord’s power and authority backed the message they proclaimed.

It is important to notice that Jesus said nothing about signs being used to confirm the believers’ salvation, to make the recipients feel more spiritual, to stir great crowds of people into religious fervor, or to indicate spiritual maturity or superiority. Such are the purpose of men, not God! Miracles validated the gospel as being genuine truth from God.  Early disciples had no written New Testament to consult as their religious authority, so God used miraculous signs to confirm the message of the apostles as being endorsed by Jesus’ authority.

 

The author of Hebrews concurred with this conclusion. He stated that the message of salvation “was at the first spoken through the Lord, it confirmed to us by those who heard [the apostles], God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and gifts of the Holy spirit. Once again, an inspired writer clearly stated that God’s explicit purpose for signs and wonders was to confirm His word

 

Jesus came to earth speaking God’s message of truth and performing numerous signs to prove that He was from the Father (John 20:30f…). After His ascension, the apostles continued to speak God’s message of truth, and God continued to bear witness to the validity of their message through miraculous signs. Today we must trust the New Testament writings as “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  The challenge of faith is to place is to place full trust in the authority of the scriptures as the “Lord’s commandments.”

 

“But when and how did the apostles receive the authority from Jesus to speak the word of God and to perform signs and wonders?”

Following His resurrection, Jesus met with his apostles, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained” (John 20:20-23).

This was the dramatic way Jesus promised his apostles that in the near future, they would receive the fullness of His authority and power. Prior to His ascension Jesus renewed that promise to the apostles by assuring them that they would “be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” and would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:5,8). Once again, these promises were given to Jesus’ apostles only! Jesus first breathed on them and later personally promised them that He would baptize them in His Holy Spirit.

Most who claim to speak in tongues today also claim to have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Their argument is that John the Baptist promised that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11), and they have simply claimed this promise by faith. The question is “Do all disciples have the right to claim this promise of John?”

The context of Matthew 3 indicates that when John gave his promise, it was directed to a mixed multitude of believers, and he did not promise that everyone present be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire.  In truth, John promised that Jesus would perform two different baptisms, one with the Holy Spirit and the other with fire.

 

The baptism of fire, John further taught, is a baptism reserved for unbelievers when “He (Jesus) will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12). Some disciples today are praying that for Jesus to baptize them in fire, but to pray for such a baptism is to ask for the eternal force of God’s wrath. This is hardly a baptism any disciple should pray to receive from Jesus!

 

The other baptism John promised was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Just as the baptism of fire was not promised to the entire multitude, neither was the baptism of the Holy Spirit given to all who heard it. Jesus will later apply this promise to His apostles only, and on the Day of Pentecost following His resurrection, He Himself would baptize them in the Holy Spirit.

 

Through the miraculous baptism, the church would be born into our world and Jesus would equip His apostles with inspiration from the Holy Spirit and other miraculous gifts. Those who believe and obey the apostles’ inspired message receive all spiritual benefits God has made available to his people since the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost. The bottom line is that John’s promised baptism of fire involves God’s future, eternal condemnation upon unbelievers, while the baptism of the Spirit provides God’s eternal and spiritual blessings for those in Christ.

By the time Paul wrote Ephesians, he said “there is …one baptism” (Ephesians 4:4-5). This “one baptism” has to be water baptism, which was first commanded by Jesus in His great commission. When United with belief in Christ (Mark 16:16) and “obeyed from the heart” (Romans 6:17), water baptism frees us from the heart” (Romans 6:17), water baptism frees us from sin and brings us into a new fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Through water baptism, we are promised forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), resulting in the new birth of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). 

In contrast to water baptism commanded by our Lord, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a promise Jesus made to specific group (the 12 apostles) to be fulfilled at a specific time (“not many days from now”); and to occur in a specific place (the city of Jerusalem”) (cf. Acts 1:4-5).

One receives promises, but obeys commands. Through the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3) is now available to all who commit their lives to Jesus in faith and obedience to His commands to repent and be baptized.

 

The fulfillment of the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit is recorded in Acts 2:

“And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place” (v.1). The is some question as to who was gathered in one place. Was it the multitude of 120 mentioned in Acts 1:15, or was it the apostles? The last group mentioned with “the eleven” along with “Matthias” were all together in one place.  A continued reading of Acts confirms the fact that these twelve received the outpouring of miraculous power and authority which accompanied the baptism of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

 

“Suddenly, there came from Heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). In addition to this audible sign of a violent, rushing wind, God also performed a visible sign as “tongues as of fire…rested on each one of them (Acts 2:3).

Through the miraculous sound of “a violent, rushing wind,” God captured the attention of the multitude gathered to celebrate Pentecost, and through the miraculous sight of “tongues as of fire,” God focused the Jews’ attention upon His inspired spokesmen.

Because the tongues of Pentecost were intelligent foreign Languages they served as a sign to the Jews who at the time did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

 

 

The powerful effects of the Holy Spirit baptism upon the apostles are manifested in the authoritative role they assumed following their experience. The apostles as “men of Galilee” (Acts 2:14-36). Following Peter’s sermon, the question “Brethren, what shall we do?” was directed to Peter and the rest of the apostles” (v.37). After obedience to Peter’s commands to “repent, and be baptized,” the new Christians were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching…” and “many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” (vv.42-43). Whatever happened on Pentecost qualified the apostles of Jesus to be His authoritative, miracle- working, multilingual spokesmen!

 

The apostles spoke with tongues on Pentecost in fulfillment of the promise given in Mark 16:17. These tongues were intelligent foreign languages which Jews “from every nation under heaven” fully understood (Acts 2:5-6). This miracle amazed the multitude, who asked, “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 2:8,11).

Notice that the words “languages” and “tongues” are used interchangeably in these verses. Paul did the same thing in 1 Corinthians14:10, 13.

 

Because the tongues of Pentecost were intelligent foreign languages, they served as a sign to the Jews who at the time did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Paul later wrote, “So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers;(1 Corinthians 14:22).

As the Holy Spirit spoke through the apostles in the native tongues of the Jews, God demonstrated a special sign as well as fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah 28:11 that “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people…” 1Corinthians 14:21).

Anyone who claims to speak in tongues today must speak intelligent foreign language(s) they have never before studied if what the apostles did on Pentecost is to be duplicated. They must also speak in native tongues of people who know that what they hear can only be a miracle from God! Anything less does not serve as a sign to those (including this author) who do not believe such gifts exist today.

The final mention of tongues in the Book of Acts concerns Cornelius and his family in chapters 10 and 11. As Peter preached to these Gentiles, “the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message” and they began “speaking with tongues and exalting God” (Acts 10:44, 46). Remember that tongues were a sign to unbelievers.

In the case of Cornelius, Peter and his Jewish brethren were believers in Jesus, but they did not believe that Gentiles could become Christians. God Himself had to convince them that such was His will, and He did so by giving Cornelius and his family the gift of tongues. When Cornelius and his family began speaking in tongues, Peter asked, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” (v.47). Through the miraculous gift of tongues from God, Peter and his Jewish companions were convinced that it was God’s will for them to accept the Gentiles into His eternal family.

Later in reporting this incident to the church in Jerusalem, Peter said that what had happened to Cornelius reminded him of the promise Jesus had given to His apostles: “…but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:16). Peter related Cornelius experience to the only thing he had ever witnessed comparable to the events of Acts 10, and that was Pentecost. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the apostles received the gift of tongues directly from God. Cornelius and his family received “the same gift” (Acts 11:17) in the same way (directly from heaven, without human intervention).

If God had been the authority behind what happened on Pentecost, Peter was forced to ask, “Who was I that I should stand on God’s way?” When the Jerusalem Christians heard Peter’s story, “they quieted down, and glorified God saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life” (v.18). God’s gift of tongues to Cornelius was all the evidence Peter and his brethren needed to be convinced that “God made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith” (Act 15:9)

 

The incident of Cornelius and his family completed the fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy that God would “pour forth of my Spirit upon all mankind” (cf. Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17). The apostles received the baptism of the Spirit as Jews. Cornelius and his family received the gift of tongues through a special, miraculous outpouring of the Spirit upon them as Gentiles. When one understand the purpose of those two unique miracles, he can also understand why such miracles would never be repeated. The twelve, through the baptism of the Spirit, were miraculously equipped with power from on high for their ministry (ch. Acts 1:8). Cornelius and his family received the gift of tongues directly from God to convince the Jews to cross racial lines and accept the Gentile. Those who ask God to pour His Spirit out today are asking Him to keep a promise he has already fulfilled!

Before we leave the question of how the apostles received miraculous powers from Jesus, we need to take a brief look at Paul. Paul was not one of the original twelve, so his apostleship was questioned by many in the first century. He vigorously defended his apostleship as being by divine appointment, maintaining “that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).

 

Paul’s apostleship involved a special mission to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). Though Paul admitted that he was “one untimely born” (1    Corinthians 15:8), his work (1Corinthians 9:1-2) and miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12) proved that his appointment was from God. For one to serve as an apostle, qualifications had to be met (cf. Acts 1:21-22). Paul met those qualifications because he had seen the Lord (Acts 22:6-10) and Jesus had personally selected him to be an apostle: “For he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear my name before the Gentiles and Kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

 

There is no question about it; Paul’s apostleship was from God. How he received miraculous power is not revealed to us, but it is interesting to note that Paul was baptized in water (cf. Acts 22:16), not in the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, there is no record that the original twelve apostles were ever baptized in water. Could it be that Jesus himself baptized the twelve in the Holy Spirit, there is no record that the original twelve apostles were ever baptized in water. Could it be that Jesus himself baptized the twelve in the Holy Spirit, miraculously creating His Church? Let us examine this thought.

 

In the physical, God first created man and woman. All other beings have come into the world through the national birth process. Jesus miraculously created His Church on the day of Pentecost by baptizing the twelve in His Holy Spirit. Later, “there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). Those added to the Church on Pentecost came into the church the same way all Christians come into it today, through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38).

 

Paul was not promising a miraculous baptism of the Spirit in this passage. He was simply stating that those who obey the plan of salvation as delivered by the Spirit are baptized by water into the one body of Christ and are made to drink of one Spirit (as they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; cf. Acts 2:38,39).

 

The promise of Acts 2:38 -39 is to all penitent, baptized disciples, and not just a few elites who claim to be miraculously gifted by the Spirit. From the miraculous birth of the Lord’s church on Pentecost to this very moment, all who obey the Spirit’s message through repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins are added to the church (Acts 2:47), and they all drank of the one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).

 

As we test the Spirit by the written word of God, we are driven to the conclusion that those claiming to be apostles today are “false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13. They meet none of the qualifications laid down by the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:21-22). They do not perform all the signs of an apostle (2 Corinthians 1:21-22), and they are powerless to pass miraculous signs on to others through the laying on of their hands. Beware of any twentieth century man who claims to be an apostle of Jesus!

 

We have examined New Testament evidence on tongues from the Gospel of Mark and the Book of Acts. The final book mentioning tongues is Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian Christians. In this epistle Paul listed tongue speaking as one of nine gifts (1 Corinthians 12: -10), and he listed it along with “the interpretation of tongues.” The gift of the interpretation of tongues involved miraculous ability to translate the foreign of the tongue-speaker. Tongues and the interpretation of tongues both involved miraculous, inspired knowledge of a foreign language never before studied by the speaker or the interpreter.

 

Another of the nine gifts from the Holy Spirit involving miraculous knowledge was “prophecy” (1 Cor. 12:10). Prophecy was the ability to speak by inspiration as “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21). Those possessing the gift of prophecy were known as “prophets” (cf.1 Corinthians 12:28). The “mystery of Christ” was miraculously “revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4-5). Through these two inspired offices, the Lord’s will was delivered. The message of the apostles and prophets is the foundation of truth upon which the Lord built his Church, “Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

 

Apostles and prophets held authoritative offices involving inspiration of the Holy Spirit and miraculous gifts. No one today can meet the apostolic qualifications, and no apostle is around to lay hands on Christians to transfer miraculous gifts. We must seriously question today’s so called gift of tongues as being “of God”! Paul soberly warned all Christians that “the activity of Satan” includes “all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9); emphasis mine). Satan is performing counterfeit miracles in our world today, even using the precious name of Jesus to perform them, as Jesus promised he would (cf. Matthew 7:22,23)”

 

If tongues and interpretation of tongues is still given to the church today, the other seven gifts must also be available. (including the Gift of prophecy). If prophesy is available today, then God is still revealing His truth to mankind. Such cannot be the case, because Jesus promised His apostles the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:13; emphasis mine). Through the apostles and prophets, the faith has been “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). God’s word miraculously revealed from heaven in the first century, was confirmed by God Himself through the signs which followed.

 

Today we have access to the complete, written word of God, and we must trust it alone to make us “…adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). No additional revelation or miraculous signs are needed! Faith comes from the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), and we are commanded to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthian 5:7).

Today some are apparently not satisfied with God’s arrangement of walking by faith in His Word. They crave signs, including personal and emotional experiences, as divine proof that God is with them and that they are saved; but we remember that Jesus taught that “an evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign” (Matthew 12:39.

In their search for special signs, some claim that God has given them a “prayer language” given strictly for one’s own personal edification? While it is true that “one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (1Cor 14:4), Paul lamented that prayer in a tongue leaves the mind “unfruitful” and the church is not edified. He argued that the tongue-speaker should pray that he may interpret “so that the church may receive edifying” (1 Corinthians 14:12). Christians who focus on personal edification, rather than the edification of the body, fail to place the emphasis where the Lord has placed it!

A serious warning must be sounded regarding the spiritual danger of trying to bypass the mind or silence the intellect in an effort to receive direct communication from God. Some false teachers claim that the mind and the intellect interfere with the working of God’s Spirit.  This view contradicts Paul, who wrote by inspiration, “I shall pray with the Spirt and I shall pray with the mind also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). He exhorted brethren to be mature in their thinking (1 Corinthians 14:20) and declared that he would rather “speak five words with my mind…then ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19).

These admonitions force us to conclude that if Paul were on the earth today, he would denounce much of what is being practiced “in the name of Jesus” as contradictory to his plain teachings which we know are from the Holy Spirit. If one’s mind is not engaged as he prays, how can he know he is praising the Lord and not doing the opposite? How can he be sure that the Spirit of God, rather than the Spirit of Satan, is leading him into prayer? Remember that demons believe (James 2:19), pray (Matthew 8:31), and call on the name of Jesus (Acts 19:13-17). Jesus warned that on Judgement Day many who thought they exercised His power and authority will discover they were deceived all along (Matthew 7:22-23). Please do not become a fulfillment of this prophecy!

It is spiritually dangerous to Trust any personal experience as a confirmation of one’s relationship with God. Such a self-centered perspective results in pride and immaturity of thought and leaves the spirit wide open for Satan, who is more than willing to fill us with his presence and to provide a carnal thrill or two!

Satan will use the name of Jesus or any other tool to deceive our hearts and leas us from God’s truth. It is frightening to realize that Satan has access to our minds and emotions and is capable of making us “feel good” and even “feel righteous” to achieve his ungodly purposes. Only as we trust God’s word as our soul authority in religious practices can the Lord protect us from the deceptive lies and vicious attacks of Satan upon our souls!

One may argue, “God has given me the tongue of an angel, and no man can interpret it.” Where in the Bible did an angel ever speak to a man or a woman in a language that was never interpreted? Paul advised that an interpreter be used when tongues were exercised in the assembly (1 Corinthians 14:27), so he did not believe that any one in Corinth could speak a language which could not be interpreted!

The careful student of God’s word will not that Paul never exalted the gift of tongues as a superior gift in the church. Just the opposite is the truth. Tongues and the interpretation of tongues were listed last in his list of spiritual gifts (cf.1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28 -30). Paul also wrote, “Greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues…” (1 Corinthians14:18). This does not mean that Paul spent more time speaking in tongues, but he spoke more languages than anyone else. Paul’s argument must have had a humbling effect upon the Corinthians who were so proud of their showy gifts, especially the gift of tongues!

This brings up some vital questions. If tongues are so important for Christians today, why do none of the Gospel writers even mention tongues in their writings, with the exception of Mark 16:17? Why did Luke mention tongues only three times in the book of Acts? Why did Paul downplay this gift in 1 Corinthians and not mention it in 2 Corinthians or in Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, or Thessalonica?

If tongue speaking is a genuine proof of one’s salvation in Christ, would not Paul have addressed the subject as he wrote to his personal friends; Timothy, Titus and Philemon? Why did James and Peter totally ignore the subject in their epistles, as is always true of the epistle to the Hebrews? Why did the New Testament writers, miraculously inspired and guided by the Spirit into every word, all but totally ignore this subject?

In contrast to the obvious silence of inspired writers, many preaches today cannot discuss religion without mentioning tongues. Some churches make tongues a test of fellowship, even though Paul wrote that not all Christians will speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30). Some insist that one cannot be a spiritually matured child of God unless he speaks in a tongue. Is such the teaching of Jesus? Is this the emphasis of the New Testament?  Or can it be that tongues are inspired by an evil spirit who “disguises himself an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14)? You must answer the question and one day give an answer for your practices. Jesus warned, “The words I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48). He added, many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness”. (Matthew 7: 22 -23).

Today, many churches claiming the gift of tongues totally ignore Paul’s instructions in exercising their gift. Paul wrote, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at most three, and in each 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” (1Corinthians 14:27-28). Paul concluded, “But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner” (verse 40).

 Some churches today set aside periods during their assemblies and encourage all who desire to speak in tongues to do so.  A roar of voices arises from the assembly as each person tries to out speak the others. Total confusion reigns as emotions run rampant, and this in spite of the fact that the Bible clearly says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints”.  1Corinthians 14:33). How can such confusion be from the Holy Spirit who teaches that “two or at the most three, and each in turn should speak in the assembly? How can God’s Holy Spirit inspire tongues when modern churches ignore the Holy Spirit teachings to “do their own thing”?

Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 14:37, “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lords commandment.”

Miraculous signs in the first century were gifts Jesus gave to His apostles when he baptized them in His Holy Spirit. [Through the hands of the Apostles, the Spirit distributed those gifts “to each one individually just as he willed]” (1 Corinthians 12:11).  When the last apostle died, the channel through which these gifts flowed into the church came to an end.

This is not to say that the Holy Spirit is no longer personally involved in our lives today, but it is to affirm that he does not work in the same miraculous way He worked while His written revelation was being delivered and confirmed through the apostles and prophets of the first century.

Someone may ask, “Is Jesus not the same yesterday, today and forever?” (Hebrews 13:8). YES, but this does not mean that He works in the same way in every age of mankind. “By Him all things were created, both in the Heavens or on earth…” (Col 1:16).  Jesus still has the power to create anything he desires, but His creative handiwork is complete. The fact that He no longer possesses such miraculous power, it only means that there is no need to employ such power today.

What is true of Hos physical creation is just as True of His spiritual creation, the church. Jesus died only one time for His church. His resurrection was a once-for-all time –event. The word of God was miraculously delivered and confirmed “Once and for all the saints” (Jude 3). The church had only one Pentecostal Birth.  Jesus is the same in His nature, but he does not work the same work in every generation.

The gospel message entails three major events (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), which are never to be repeated. Jesus ascended back to the Father one time only. He baptized His apostles with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost following His ascension, and through, the chosen twelve He revealed the truths of His covenants, confirming those eternal truths “both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will” (Hebrews 2:4). There is no need for Jesus to continue to confirm the truths which have been revealed once and for all to the saints.

Miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit have served their purpose. While God’s Spirit continues to work supernaturally in the lives of Christians today, He no longer works miraculously as He did during the first century as the word of God was being revealed and confirmed. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and walk by faith to the glory of our Lord! (Hebrews 12:1 -3)

May God bless us as we seek to understand fully His work in Christians of the first century and in Christians today!

 

This write up was written by: Ralph Weinhold. World Bible school, Visalia, CA, 93278. Illustrations, links and supporting definitions by the publisher.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Retrieved on 18th October, 2019 from https://www.britannica.com/topic/glossolalia

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