This is probably one of the most controversial subjects in religious circles today. Great damage has been done to the body of Christ over this subject. I will take my time and deal with this subject in depth. I will use the Bible and what the Bible says about it pointing out from scripture what is wrong with the present day "Tongues Movement."
Now, I realize many readers began building a barrier against anything I might say from this point on, but please, if you have the truth, and know the truth, and are really applying truth, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, you have nothing to fear by reading what I say. In fact, If you disagree with me, and are rightly dividing the truth, you should be able to take the Bible and PROVE ME IN ERROR.
I will take several weeks to cover this subject, so, don’t jump on me the first week. If you do, it just proves you have a weak position and feel your position threatened. I will be comparing tongues in Acts to tongues in 1 Corinthians and will also show 1 Cor. 12 deals with the Gifts (sign gifts and service gifts), chapter 13 the best gift, and chapter 14 the misuse, abuse, and guidelines for the use of tongues.
Many times, after going through the Scriptures with someone about this subject, they say, "I don’t care what you say, I know that I had the experience." By that statement, we know that to them, the Bible is not the final authority for their faith and practice. You had better be ready to match your experience with the Bible or either admit your experience is unscriptural. You may have to answer the question of why you, the Mormons, the Buddhist, the witchdoctors, the Catholics, Methodist, and yes, even some Baptists, as well as the lost New Agers are having the same experience!
The modern day tongues movement had its beginning in 1900. Charles F. Parham opened the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, and under his teaching and ministry, Miss Agnes Ozman was influenced to speak in tongues. Within a short time a dozen more students were "speaking in tongues". In 1906, the Azuza Street Assembly was founded in Los Angeles with a heavy emphasis on "seeking one’s pentecost." A number of denominations were formed and flourished including the Assemblies of God, Four-Square Gospel Churches, Church of God in Christ, United Pentecostal and many smaller groups. Many of the people making up these groups came out of other denominations. Now however, many are encouraged to stay in their denominations and "enlighten" those there.
Today we hear of Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and others speaking in tongues. The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship is working on an interdenominational level to make converts for the tongues movement. Sad to say, but many times the "Tongues Experience" is placed above the "New Birth Experience" and many times I speak with those who have "had the experience" but don’t even know how to be saved!
In fact, Kurt Koch, in his booklet The Strife of Tongues, tells of his visit to the Transvall in South Africa where he was told of the many possessed Bantu natives who spoke in tongues. They are not at all associated with Christianity. On other mission trips to East Asia he tells of Buddhist and Shintolst priests who speak in languages and tongues while in a trance. A Shintolst priest told his life story to Kurt Koch and told of the same experience. In the Philippines, he heard a possessed man speak in foreign languages which he himself had never learned. Spiritualistic mediums all over the world often speak in foreign languages when in a trance. The famous medium Mirabelli of Brazil spoke 25 languages in trance which ordinarily were unknown to him.
I HAVE A VERY BIG QUESTION: "WOULD GOD GIVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE TO BOTH SAVED AND UNSAVED?" ANOTHER QUESTION: "DOES GOD GIVE THE EXPERIENCE TO THE SAVED, AND SATAN TO THE LOST?" OR, "DOES SATAN GIVE THE EXPERIENCE TO BOTH THE SAVED AND THE LOST?" THE ANSWER TO ALL THREE IS THIS: "IF IT CAN’T BE SUPPORTED BY SCRIPTURE, IT ISN’T OF GOD!"
AMAZING INDEED THAT, IF IT WERE OF GOD, THAT GOD HIMSELF HAS VIOLATED THE SCRIPTURES IN THE VERY BIRTH OF THE MODERN DAY TONGUES MOVEMENT. The very chapter in the Bible which condemns the misuse of tongues contains these verses: 1 Cor. 14:33-35 "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 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. 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."
The whole context is in the middle of the subject of tongues and prophesy! If indeed, the modern tongues movement is of God, God himself violated his word. "Let God be true, but every man a liar." Rom. 3:4. Fasten your seatbelt; we have a rocky road ahead! Next week: "Tongues in Acts."
The gift of tongues in the book of Acts is different from that in 1 Cor. Because in Acts there was no gift of interpretation. The hearers, who were lost, understood the language because it was their native tongue.
Tongues are mentioned three times in the book of Acts:
- Acts 2:1-13. The day of Pentecost. 120 people are gathered. They are there to wait for the promise of the Baptizing of the Holy Ghost. John 7:39 "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."
- They did not all 120 speak in tongues. "Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?" Acts 2:7.
- There were no interpreters necessary. "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." verse 5. Verses 9-11 list 16 nations from which people had come to observe the Jewish Pentecost. When the Galilaean disciples spoke, the "devout men" from these 16 nations clearly understood what was said. "...we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." Acts 2:11.
- There is absolutely no connection between the tongues in Acts and the tongues in 1 Cor. 14. They were of an entirely different nature. (Explained later).
- There is no evidence that the 3000 who were saved spoke in tongues, then or ever.
- These 120 believers were not seeking any special gift of power at that time. Acts 2:2, Luke 24:49.
- The cloven tongues in verse 3 has been falsely taught to be the "baptism of fire" that John the Baptist preached about Matthew 3:11-12 "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." THE BAPTISM OF FIRE IS THAT FOUND IN REVELATION 20:15 "AND WHOSOEVER WAS NOT FOUND WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE WAS CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE." The "cloven tongues like as of fire" that "sat upon each of them" was a divine manifestation at the initial gift of the Holy Spirit that they would now speak the Word of God with Authority and power.
- Acts 10:38-48. The house of Cornelius.
- About 8 years have passed with no mention of tongues at all!
- No interpreter was needed at the Gentiles’ house either. "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." verses 10:46.
- The door of faith was manifestly opened to the Gentiles here, something that was not known until now!
- Acts 19:1-7. The third and last mention of tongues in Acts takes place at Ephesus, the jumping off place of the world that then was. It was a sea port from which ships went to all parts of the world.
- It has been 12 or 13 years since Peter preached in the house of Cornelius and about 20 years since Pentecost!
- Much error, misunderstanding, and misuse of these Scriptures has resulted in confusion for many people.
- A clear understanding of verse 2 is necessary. It says, "He said unto them. Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." Paul arrived at Ephesus and found about 12 men who claimed to be disciples of John the Baptist. He obviously saw something that caused him to doubt the Holy Ghost dwelt in them. Thus verse 2, he questioned them. NO NEED TO CHANGE THE KING JAMES VERSION TO "WHEN YE BELIEVED", "SINCE" IS RIGHT! If these men had really heard John preach, and if they had truly believed in the Lamb of God whom John preached, they would have known about the Holy Ghost and received Him the same time the other believers received Him at Pentecost! Acts 2:39, "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord God shall call." Their reply to Paul’s question makes it clear that they had NEVER HEARD JOHN PREACH. "...we had not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." John said in Mark 1:8, "I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." Verse 7, "And preached, saying, there cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." THEY NEVER HEARD OF CHRIST OR THE HOLY GHOST! "Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." Acts 19:4. They had never heard John preach, and they had never heard John’s message. When they heard of Christ Jesus, they believed. Their speaking in tongues, along with those in the house of Cornelius, and those in Jerusalem are in direct connection with our Lord’s promise in Acts 1:18, "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." The tongues in Jerusalem, Samaria, and Ephesus were simply confirming the Word with signs following as in Mark 16:14-20 (it’s amazing that most of those who claim tongues, don’t practice the rest of the signs.)
- Tongues in Acts were never perpetuated nor were they intended to be. They were never referred to as a gift in Acts.
Tongues in Acts 2 confirmed the Word of the Gospel by Jews to Jews. Acts 10 confirmed the Word of the Gospel by the Jews to the Gentiles, and Acts 19 confirmed the Word of the Gospel to the world. TONGUES IN ACTS ARE TOTALLY DISTINCT AND DIFFERENT FROM TONGUES IN 1 CORINTHIANS.
Tongues in 1 Corinthians are totally different from tongues in Acts. There was ONLY ONE PENTECOST! THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER PENTECOST. YOU CAN’T HAVE THE PENTECOSTAL EXPERIENCE! NO ONE HAS SINCE PENTECOST! NONE OF THE PRESENT DAY ELEMENTS OF THE TONGUES MOVEMENT MATCH THE ELEMENTS OF PENTECOST IN ACTS.
In 1 Corinthians 14, there are at least 10 rules or guidelines for the use of tongues:
- Prophesy (preaching or teaching) was edifying to the Church and more to be desired than tongues. verses 1-6.
- Uncertain sounds such as tongues cause confusion. verse 7-17.
- Five words understood are of more value than 10,000 in an unknown tongue. verse 19.
- Tongues were for a sign to them that believe not. verse 22.
- Gibberish turns unbelievers away from the truth. verse 23.
- There was a limit of three placed by the Holy Spirit that were permitted to speak in tongues in any service. THESE HAD TO SPEAK ONE AT A TIME. verse 27.
- An interpreter must be present. If one was not present, the speaker in tongues must remain silent! verse 38.
- All confusion is prohibited because it is not of God (see #2). verse 33.
- THE WOMEN WERE NOT PERMITTED TO SPEAK IN TONGUES. vs. 34-35.
- All things were to be done decently and in order. verse 40.
A STRICT ADHERENCE TO THESE GUIDELINES WOULD ABOLISH THE MODERN DAY TONGUES MOVEMENT!
I am going to go through 1 Corinthians 14 in detail later, but for now, let me ask a few questions: DOES THE MODERN DAY TONGUES MOVEMENT GO BY THE BOOK? Isaiah said in 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to his word, it is because there is no light in them."
I didn’t quote Isaiah 8:20 to anger or to alienate anyone. I quoted it to show that the WORD OF GOD IS TO BE OUR GUIDE IN ALL OUR FAITH AND PRACTICE. Many people today are involved in things which can’t be backed up by scripture, for example:
- Why emphasize tongues above the gospel message?
- Why make uncertain sounds that cause confusion?
- Why try to imitate a sign which served its purpose and ceased according to 1 Cor 13:8?
- Why violate the Scriptures and turn unbelievers away with gibberish which is forbidden by Scriptures? verse 23.
- Why violate the Scriptures and allow and encourage more than three to speak at a time, when in the Scriptures plainly say, verse 27, "let it be by two, or at the most by three?"
- Why violate the Scriptures and allow someone to speak in tongues when no interpreter is present? verse 28.
- Why let women speak in tongues when the Scriptures PLAINLY PROHIBIT WOMEN SPEAKING IN TONGUES? verse 34-35. Now listen, Paul said in Galatians 4:16, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" I have yet to find a person who talks in tongues who does so by the Bible, and yet, in order to be scriptural, it must be according to the law and the testimony, otherwise it is wrong. Does your practice match the scriptural qualifications?
- If tongues are so important and for that matter, scriptural, why aren’t they mentioned again between 1 Corinthians and 1900 A.D?
- Why do Charismatic missionaries learn a foreign language before going to a foreign field? Why not just speak in tongues?
- Why ignore the Biblical rules for speaking in tongues, especially if what you have is real?
- Why become involved in an activity which takes away the ears of people from the Gospel of Christ?
- Why are "tongues" only mentioned in one of Paul’s 14 Epistles, and then only in a disciplinary and restrictive manner? There is no evidence that any other New Testament church spoke in tongues!
- Why place unscriptural emphasis on the Holy Ghost when Jesus said in John 16:13-15, the Holy Ghost will:
- Why submit to an unscriptural practice which glorifies man and not Jesus Christ our LORD?
- Why let anyone sell you on an experience which they cannot support from the Bible?
- Last of all:
If tongues are in fact, of God, why are churches split, homes split, friends split, and many of those people who talk in tongues left empty, depressed and oppressed in their minds after the experience?
NOW BACK TO CORINTHIANS:
- The Corinthian church was:
- Contentious ch. 1:11.
- Confused ch. 1:18-31.
- Carnal ch. 3:1-3.
- Comfortable ch. 4:8.
- Corrupt ch. 5:1-2.
- Cheap ch. 6:1-8.
- Collapsing ch. 7:1-40.
- Compromising ch. 8:1-13.
- Critical ch. 9:1-6.
- Casual ch. 10:1-33.
- Condemned ch. 11:17-34.
- Corrected ch. 12:1-31.
- Compared ch. 13:1-13.
- Childlike ch. 14:20.
- Challenged ch. 15:58.
- Constrained ch. 16:1-3, 10, 13-16.
- No other church in the Bible had as much wrong with it.
- No other church was rebuked or corrected like it.
- No other church was called carnal.
Friends, the truth of the matter is this: the Corinthian church was a hotbed of sin, corruption, ignorance, confusion, rebellion, criticism, worldliness, laziness, and the misuse of gifts. Any church which patterns itself after Corinth is not wise.
First let me say thanks for all the mail, both positive and negative. The positive encourages me to write on and the negative enlightens me to know more of the weak positions people hold on the subject. For example, one lady said, and I quote, "First, you are talking about things you never experienced, (and maybe heard about) so you don’t understand the whole thing." My response is this: "Do I have to EXPERIENCE immorality to understand it is wrong?" "Do I have to become a thief to understand it is wrong?"
A man wrote and said I was wrong about tongues in Acts not being referred to as gift and he gave Acts 2:38 as proof. Now look at it. Does it say tongues is a gift? NO, IT SAYS THE HOLY GHOST IS THE GIFT. Not all who received the gift spoke in tongues!
I invite your comments, but please, make them scriptural and sensible.
Now back to the subject in 1 Corinthians 14:
Paul is CORRECTING Corinth for their abuse and misuse of tongues. Notice verse 1, "Follow after Charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." Preaching was the important thing! verse 2 is a rebuke of those who were not doing verse 1. Notice verse 4. shows that he "edifieth himself." Now, verse 3. shows that "he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Verse 5 shows Paul’s attitude toward the subject: he wished they all prophesied and even said the preacher was greater than the tongues-talker! Verse 6 He poses a question: "What good is my tongues-talking unless it profit you?" In order for it to be right and profitable, it has to have four boundaries: revelation, knowledge, prophesying, or doctrine. In Paul’s day, tongues had to result in one of these, but never self-edification.
Verses 17-11 show the utter ridiculous, useless practice of "speaking into the air" and makes the one doing it to appear as "a barbarian." PLEASE READ verse 12, "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, see that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." Friends, it is obvious that they were not edifying the church and Paul is correcting them! He had just told them in verse 4 that he that spoke in tongues edified himself. That is also why Paul said in verse 12, "pray that he may interpret."
IF THE CHURCH ISN’T EDIFIED, IT ISN’T SCRIPTURAL. To further correct this problem in the Corinth church, Paul tells those who had been "praying in tongues" verses 14-17 (edifying themselves) that he would pray in an understandable language so that unlearned people can say "Amen!" See, friend, verse 17 shows us we can be edified by hearing someone else pray or they can be edified by hearing our prayers. But in Corinth, the child-like (verse 20) wanted to edify themselves and pray in the assembly in tongues, displaying their gift.
It should be noted that tongues in 1 Cor. 14 were discernible languages. Notice verse 7, "except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?" and verse 8 says, "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself unto the battle?" And verse 9 says "so likewise ye , except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?" Verse 10 says, "There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification." Face it friend, scriptural tongues were languages spoken by people who never learned them and interpreted by people who never learned them!
Now back to verse 21. Will you please open your Bible to Isaiah 28:11-13?
Question: Tongues in Isaiah 28:11, were they foreign languages or some heavenly language?
Answer: It was the Assyrian language! Israel had refused to heed the Prophets. They had been told they would go into captivity. When the unbelieving Jews heard the Assyrians coming through the fields, speaking the Assyrian tongue, it was a sign to them that Judgment was coming.
Paul explains tongues to the Corinthians in verses 21-22. Why? Because they didn’t understand Scriptural tongues and were misusing tongues!
Look at verses 23-26. I can’t remember the great number of people who have visited tongues churches and come away saying, "Those people are crazy." Now, you may say, "Well, they are lost, so they don’t understand." But will you look at verse 23? On the other hand, if one goes to a church and there is preaching, "he is convinced, judged, the secrets of his heart are made manifest: and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report the God is in you of a truth," verses 24-25. How reversed that is today!
Paul, in verse 26, shows what they were doing in their services, for he had heard and that is why he was correcting them. Notice: "How is it then, Brethren...?" It was utter confusion which did not edify the believers, and in fact ran away potential believers, therefore Paul said, "Let all things be done unto edifying."
In regard to verse 26 please read 1 Cor. 12:29-30, where Paul previously told them not everyone had every gift, and yet they were trying to exercise every gift. It was mass confusion. That is why Paul said in verse 19, "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."
In taking a stand for the truth, it is necessary to stand against error. We can not teach truth without exposing error. These articles are not designed to attack people, rather to teach truth. Therefore I will not use this space to attack people, but to expose their error. The big question is: "DO YOU GO BY THE BOOK?" Let’s see, how does a man’s wife speak in tongues in the church and "be silent in the churches?" (1 Cor. 14:34). Maybe someone missed verse 27 which says, "If any man..." or verse 28, which says "but if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God." Paul, the same writer of 1 Cor. wrote 1 Timothy 2:11-12, which says, "Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer (allow) not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, BUT TO BE IN SILENCE."
I can hear someone say, "What about Joel’s prophesy and Phillip’s daughters?" (Read Acts 2:17-18) "...and your sons and daughters shall prophesy... and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit..."
The Explanation: Acts 21:8-9 tells us that Paul came to Phillip the Evangelist’s home. "And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." Phillip was an evangelist, therefore he traveled about in the ministry. He had four daughters, virgins, no husbands, no homes, no children, no hindrances, and they helped their father in his ministry, I am convinced, by helping with the women in the areas he evangelized. As further proof, will you notice in Acts 21:11, while Paul was in Phillip’s home, God sent a certain prophet, named Agabus, to prophesy to Paul! Friend, if the four daughters were prophets in that sense of the word, couldn’t God just as easily used them? No, no, no. And for a good reason. God will not violate his Word. They didn’t prophesy to Paul, because it was unscriptural for a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man, but to be in silence! No doubt these young ladies were valuable to their father’s ministry helping teach women and children. However, when it came time for prophesy, God sent a man. (I have written before, "What does the Bible say about women preachers?")
Now notice 1 Cor. 14:35. "For it is a shame (Greek ahee-skhron from ahee-akhros, which means shameful filthy) for women to speak in the church." That does not mean she is lower than a man. It means she is assuming the position of submission to the man as her head, verse 34. Please read 1 Tim. 2:11-15, Ephesians 5:23-24, 1 Peter 3:1-6, and then explain how a woman can have the experience in light of the Word of the Almighty God. It can’t be done. And to say, "All I know, is I had the experience" isn’t enough. YOU MUST HAVE BIBLE ANSWERS TO PROVE YOUR POSITION.
Even though this is the final article on tongues, it is not all that is to be said on the subject. In fact, you should do your own study of the subject. Don’t just take my word for it. Don’t just believe what others say about it. SEE WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT IT. When someone attempts to get you involved in a cause, doctrine, or movement, check it out from the BIBLE. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask why, what, how, or say "Show me."
1 Cor. 14:36-37 shows that Paul anticipated those who would question his authority to correct or rebuke them. Obviously there were some "ringleaders" in the church who would say "Who is Paul? He has no business in this matter." Verse 36, Paul shows that they don’t have a corner on the Word of God. In verse 37, in effect, Paul says, " If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." Then in verse 38, he adds what seems to be a cutting, smart-aleck statement: "But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." That is like saying, "Okay, you are bound and determined to be wrong, so be wrong."
Now verse 39. The most quoted of all the chapter, "Wherefore, Brethren covet to prophesy and forbid not to speak with tongues." People realize that ‘forbid’ there does not mean forever. For example: I forbid my daughter to go to the store. However, one day I did let her go. Upon what basis would tongues be forbidden or cease? 1 Cor. 13:8, "Charity (love) never faileth: but whether there be prophesies, they shall fail (to be given); whether there be tongues, they shall cease (to be operational by the Holy Spirit); whether there be knowledge (revelation knowledge), it shall vanish away."
Verses 9-10 tell why. When the new Testament was in the writing stages, Prophesies, Tongues, and Knowledge (revelation) were the gifts of God used to open His word. WHEN HIS WORD WAS COMPLETE, THESE THREE "FAILED", "CEASED", AND "VANISHED." Check it out, it is in your Bible (KJV). Notice verse 9, Paul acknowledged, "We know in part, and we prophesy in part." However, he looked forward to a time when they (we) would have the completed Revelation of God! Verse 10 says, "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part (verse 9) shall be done away." "That" is Greek neuter gender, refers to a thing, not a person. However, in Luke 1:35, "That..." Greek masculine gender, means a person, "...Holy thing" is talking about Jesus. So, dear friend, with the completion of the New Testament comes the end of tongues, prophesies and (revelation) Knowledge.
In closing, I would like to show how tongues fits in with the end times. During the tribulation, there is going to be in place a One-World Church. That One-World Church will be made up of various peoples of various beliefs. So, how can these people all get together and harmonize? Through a common experience and a common Bible.
I personally believe the two greatest building stones to the One-World Church is the Charismatic Tongues movement and the flood of "easy to read," so-called Bibles on the market today. You can believe what you want, but during the first half of the tribulation, while the Buddhist, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Episcopalians, Catholics, and all others who were never born again are bringing the world together, I’ll be praising the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the World!
One final thought: If the greatest experience you have ever had (as a recent rebuker stated) was speaking in tongues, you will spend eternity in hell because you never had the greatest experience that can happen to mortal man... the new birth, through the blood of Jesus Christ. (John 3:1-21, 1 Peter 1:23) You should take your Bible and read Matthew 7:21-23 intently!