What Is Speaking In Tongues?

Part Five

By

Craig Bluemel

 

The Sin Of Partiality

Recently my good friend Dennis sent me an email letter to share his views on the topic of speaking in other tongues, particularly as it pertains to his own personal experience, and the effect this study series has had upon him.  He has given me permission to share the email with you, my readers, and if you have a testimony or opinion on this topic, please feel free to email me at: craig@bibleanswerstand.org  Please include your authorization (permission) for me to use your email online; confidentiality is respected and adhered to with all correspondence I receive.

 

Dear Craig,

 

To try to answer your questions concerning your study of speaking in tongues: I think that many people are confused about the whole issue of glossalaliá  due in large part to erroneous teaching within the charismatic and Pentecostal churches. I think the popularity of your studies is because you shed the light of God's Word on the issue, and reveal the speaking in tongues experience for what it is.

 

In particular I applaud you for revealing the error that, ‘speaking in tongues is THE evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit'. I definitely agree that the true evidence of the Holy Spirit is a changed life.  Having started my walk with Christ in a charismatic church, but spending the last 12 years of it in a mainstream Southern Baptist church, God has shown me both sides.

 

Your compassion for our brethren in mainstream denominations who don't speak in tongues is clear and right on. How dare anyone say that they don't have the Holy Spirit because they don't speak in tongues!  Some of the most Christ-like people I've known do not speak in tongues, and though they believe that the 'charismatic gifts' are extant, I believe that they are mistaken in this matter. 

 

God clearly does not place the same importance on these 'gifts' that we charismatics tend to; otherwise there would be more clearly defined scriptural references to them.  I thank Him that the only thing necessary for our salvation is faith in Jesus Christ! 

 

Having "been on both sides" of the tongues issue and debate, God has shown me how truly harmful it is to divide the body of Christ over issues that really don't matter in the eternal scope of things.  Dividing over heretical doctrine is one thing, dividing over non-essentials is another; God has given us these "gifts" as He sees our need and they are meant to edify and build up the church, yet we have allowed the enemy to use them to divide us.

 

Yes, I speak in tongues and have for 29 years.  I do it not as a sign, but in order to praise God and pray when I can't seem to find the words.  Paul said that one who speaks in tongues edifies himself and this is the case with me.  I don't believe that God gives tongues or any other one specific spiritual gift to every believer, but to each person, He gives the gift(s) that that individual can best use to build others' faith and his own.

 

In this light, tongues can actually be seen as given to the weaker brethren; those that need extra help in their faith! This is quite different than those who see themselves as spiritually superior because they speak in tongues. I truly believe that this is God's reason for giving it to me

 

Again Craig I thank you for shedding light on what can become a murky subject, and for bringing unity to what our enemy has used to divide us. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Blessed are you, Craig, for bringing peace and understanding to this matter.  Your friend & brother, Dennis

 

Thank you Dennis for your insight and unique testimony; you are endeavoring to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  This should be the central motivation and attitude within each and every Christian man, woman or child, whether it is on the topic of glossalaliá, or any other controversial subject matter.  We are bound to disagree on some things and agree on others, but God is most concerned with our heart attitude, especially in the midst of conflict.

 

·          Ephesians 4:1-4 I therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service, living as becomes you with complete humility of mind, meekness, unselfishness, gentleness, and mildness, with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.  Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of and produced by the Spirit in the binding power of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit--just as there is also one hope that belongs to the calling you received.     AMP

 

Those churches or church groups that speak in tongues (i.e. – glossalaliá) are, as a rule, labeled as charismatics.  Charismatics, more often than not, view their Christian brethren who don’t speak in other tongues as lesser in degree of spirituality.  Here’s the typical Pentecostal jargon, “Oh yeah, Fred… doesn’t he go to Maple Leaf Baptist?  Yeah, I used to go there too, but it’s not a spirit-filled church, so once I got the Holy Spirit I got outta there in a hurry.  You know what they call them don’t you?  God’s frozen chosen! Hahahaha!” 

 

When charismatics insinuate that non-charismatics have no sense of what it is like to, “move in the spirit,” because they are, “spirit-filled,” they are guilty of the sin of partiality, something God abhors.  Like so many, I used to join in proliferating this kind of spiritual snobbery, as though God ever intended speaking in tongues to be a ‘badge’ of spiritual honor.  I have long since repented of my charismatic self-righteous snootiness and am now actively seeking to align my perception of Christian spirituality and virtue with what God’s word in scripture says.

 

Conversely, non-charismatics often stew in their own anti-tongues partiality, presuming sole ownership of glossalaliá expertise, often living in denial and utter fear of actually speaking in tongues themselves.

 

To illustrate my point, in a recent television program about medical miracles I saw a a Baptist pastor donate half of his liver to save the life of his wife’s childhood friend at great physical risk of harm to himself, including the risk of death, or perhaps a lifetime of medical complications.  Jeff’s liver, although diseased, was then transplanted into a woman named Lily, who had liver cancer and would have died without a transplant, because she was too far down the waiting list of organ donor recipients; this gave her at least an extra 20 years to wait because Jeff’s liver disease was not life-threatening to Lily, even though it was to Jeff, which meant Lily (a single mom), would get to see her teenage son grow up.

 

Now I ask you, can this Baptist pastor be less spiritual than a charismatic Christian if he doesn’t speak in other tongues?  According to the scripture, what he did mark of a TRUE disciple of Christ, because Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for his friends.”

 

·          John 15:12-14 "This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  13 Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for his friends.  14 You are my friends, if you do what I command you.”   NAS

 

Laying down one’s life for his friend is what signifies true spirituality, not whether or not a person speaks in tongues.  This Baptist pastor love for God, Christ, and his friend IS the evidenced by the sacrifice he made.  This example alone should be testament enough to convince even the most ardent charismatic that LOVE, not tongues, is the divine criteria for spirituality.

 

I have received many responses to the previous four studies in this series on the topic of glossalaliá, revealing to me how relevant this sensitive topic this is.  I now realize there’s no way I’m going to please people on both sides of the speaking in tongues issue.  On the one hand, I can empathize with Christians that have made a personal exodus from some churches that refuse to accept or practice the use of tongues. 

 

Often non-charismatic churches are more sedate in their protocol, and speaking in tongues is an experience that definitely stimulates spiritual enthusiasm.  It is this spiritual zeal that accounts for more exuberant church services in the Pentecostal services.  People need to be in an environment where they feel they have personal liberty to express themselves in freedom, and this varies with each individual.  However, it is vital we Christians don’t confuse true spirituality with how our lively church services are, because the scriptural criteria is how you live your life, not how animated your praise services are.

 

The attitudal problems crop up when Christians, charismatic or not, forget from whence they came to where they are now.  I’m not talking about leaving one church to attend services in a church that has more spiritual enthusiasm.  I am referring to the forgetfulness of any and all Christians, who should remind themselves they are sinners saved from the wrath of God because of the sacrifice made by one man on a cross 2000 years ago.  James 1:22-27-2:1 summarizes this up succinctly and thoroughly:

 

·          James 1:22-27-2:1 But be doers of the Word, and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth.  23 For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his own natural face in a mirror; 24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.  25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the law of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer who obeys, he shall be blessed in his life of obedience.   26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, piously observant of the external duties of his faith, and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person's religious service is worthless, futile, and barren.  27 External religious worship, expressed in outward acts, that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world. 2:1 My brethren, pay no servile regard to people; show no prejudice, no partiality. Do not attempt to hold and practice the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory together with snobbery!    AMP

 

It is unreasonable expect someone not to be delighted about finding a good church home where they can express their heartfelt love and joy in the spirit of God.  After all, the reformers came out of lifeless Roman Catholic Church, and to do so, many were compelled by their scriptural convictions to speak out against the abuses and contradictions promoted within the manmade Catholic religion.  We cannot walk around with blinders on and ignore the obvious fact that some churches have more fervor, more zeal, and a greater passion for God’s word than others.  Neither should we compare our INDIVIDUAL WALK with that of the church, or home fellowship we are part of. 

Guilt By Association & Church Insecurity

Christians in America have been lulled to sleep by apathetic attitudes and the misguided notion that church attendance equals fellowship with God and the brethren.  We are commanded in scripture to work out our own salvation, with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-16).  Remember, each and every one of us with give an account of himself or herself to God (Romans 14:4-12).  A good church and pastor, while helpful, are never enough to save you.  I tire of hearing Christians venerate their local pastor and/or church; it belies their immaturity and lack of reliance upon their own pursuit of God in His word, in the spirit, and in the relationship they have with Him, and with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Because a great many prominent televangelists involved in the satanic faith-and-prosperity movement also speak in tongues, charismatics are often wrongly stereotyped as avaricious, selfish and fanatical due to guilt by association.  These preachers of self-indulgence are imposters and they are wolves leading many of God’s children away from the faith by turning the grace of God into material gain.

 

Technically I suppose I am considered a charismatic, since I pray in other tongues, but in no way would I ever associate myself with the gospel of greed promulgated by the likes of the televangelists like you-know-who.  Though I have made it a practice not to mention names, I make no bones in my condemnation of the likes of the men and women that defile the true temple of God, the church, by merchandising the precious sacrifice and name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Their judgment is certain, and was foreordained long ago; read Jude and the entire book of Second Peter, along with Paul’s epistles to Timothy, all of which, along with the teachings of our Lord, warn of these false prophets.

 

Our society used to associate Pentecostal ministers with old-time tent revivals and preaching described as, “Hell, fire and brimstone.”  Today, if you ask John Q. Public what he thinks about charismatic preachers, you’re likely to hear, “Oh, you mean those guys on TV that are always asking for your money?  They remind me more of a used car salesman than a preacher.” 

 

It is a travesty the devil has succeeded in dividing the Christian church over the issue of speaking in tongues.  As my brother Dennis pointed out in his email, glossalaliá was given by God to strengthen and build up the church in love.  Two major battle tactics used successfully by Satan to misrepresent speaking in tongues are:

 

1.      Aligning charismatics (and therefore glossalaliá) either with greedy false teachers that preach wealth, health and prosperity, or discrediting glossalaliá because of the nonsensical antics and fanaticism of Pentecostals who have little or no discernment and quite frankly, do some downright foolish and bizarre things in the name of Christ.

 

2.      False doctrine promulgated by evangelical Bible ministers that teach tongues ceased existing once the last book of the Bible was written.

 

The Southern Baptist, Missouri Synod Lutheran, John Knox Presbyterian, Wesleyan Methodist, and Independent Bible Church of North America (IBC) and other mainline Evangelical denominations focus their seminary training and apologetics regarding glossalaliá on two major fronts; trying first and foremost to prove that speaking or praying in tongues no longer exists in the church. 

 

The typical Evangelical doctrinal position claims speaking in tongues ceased along with the other miraculous “gifts” of the spirit, once the last canonical book of the New Testament was completed, and once the last apostle on earth died.  The primary text of scripture used to support this position is, ironically, a verse that refers to God’s love:

 

·          1 Corinthians 13:8-13 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. NAS

 

One need only look at the context to see that the “perfect” in verse 10 is not a reference to the canon of scripture, but to the perfect love of God.  Evangelicals say that “tongues have ceased” because we now have the “perfect” or complete canon of scripture.  Aside from violating the context, they conveniently ignore the mention of “knowledge” and “prophecy” which also are said to be “done away” with when the “perfect comes.”  In my study series, titled, ‘When The Perfect Comes,’ proves beyond question this context from 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen is speaking of when the church matures to the point of showing “perfect” agape love to each other, then, at that moment in time, there’s no need to prophesy, or speak in tongues with an interpretation.  The gifts of the spirit are meant for believers to build up the body of Christ in love.

 

The greatest error of Pentecostal and charismatics churches in this age is the incessant pursuit spiritual “gifts” or “manifestations of the Holy Spirit,” instead of simply serving others in love.  Recently one of my very close friends and I discussed the topic of tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy.  He told me how, at his charismatic church, the pastor was teaching people to “prophesy” to one another, subject of course to scrutiny, and to speak forth in the first person singular, “Thus says the Lord.” 

 

My friend was very uncomfortable with the notion of speaking on behalf of God in the first person, saying no one should ever claim to do so, “Unless you’re darn certain it’s God.”  I totally agree with him, and this is a clear indication that whomever practices this is messing with people’s lives showing a certain disregard toward the fear of the Lord.  This practice is not only dangerous, but is becoming increasingly popular, especially in light of the many so-called, “schools of the prophets,” popping up around the country. 

 

Many of these directly or indirectly seem to find the root origin in the Midwestern United States, particularly in and around Kansas City area, but I have also heard of so-called prophetic schools in Washington State, Alaska, and Canada.  In Part Six I will prove, using only scripture, that nowhere in the new covenant are Christians ever allowed to say, “Thus saith the Lord,” unless they are quoting from scripture.  Old Testament prophets spoke for God’s voice, but once Jesus came, he became the ONLY MEDIATOR between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5); more on this later.

 

UNKNOWN Tongues verses KNOWN Tongues

Before I can engage in-depth dialogue regarding the nature of glossalaliá as it pertains to the wisdom and revelation (apokalúpsei), first it is needful to discriminate between the KNOWN tongues and prayer in UNKNOWN tongues.  In a recent conversation with a brother I know and love dearly, and with whom I enjoy regular fellowship, the topic of the relevancy of modern hetérais glossa came up.  My friend does not speak in tongues, and has developed an opinion that speaking in unknown tongues does not exist as a practice for private prayer. 

 

My friend went on to share how he, at one time in his Christian walk, was open to seeking glossalaliá, and even prayed to God for the ability to speak in tongues.  When this did not occur, being a man who needs answers, he sought consultation from a variety of sources.  He found one man who taught modern tongues are fallacious, because the only ‘proof’ one has to validate the authenticity of individual hetérais glossalaliá is to record the tongues with a microphone onto cassette tapes, and then have 4-5 different people try to, “interpret” what was being said in unknown tongues.  His conclusion was this: If the “interpretations” are not exactly the same, one must deduce the tongues are false.

 

From what my friend told me, apparently this minister encountered a lot of criticism and even ridicule for his methodology in evaluating glossalaliá.  While I strongly disagree with his techniques, because they rely on the flesh and secular science to appraise spiritual things, neither do I condone ridiculing or mocking anyone.  This minister made the same mistake many Christians do, not understanding the intrinsic differences between the KNOWN tongues and UNKNOWN tongues.

 

·          Tongues that are KNOWN are given supernaturally as a SIGN (Greek = seemeíon) to unbelievers, as occurred on the Day of Pentecost.

 

·          Tongues that are completely UNKNOWN are limited to the individual prayer language, previously discussed as hetérais glossalaliá.

 

·          A third category of tongues that exists is usually misidentified as the gift of tongues.  This is prophecy, or inspired speech revealed in various modes, and sometimes results from a spiritual understanding (interpretation) of one’s prayer in other tongues, aka hetérais glossalaliá.

 

Below I have provided a very basic list of SOME of the differences between the known and unknown tongues.  Keep in mind the list is by no means comprehensive, because often in Paul’s writings to the Corinthian church he alternates between his corrections and his instructions.  The Corinthian churches had unique circumstances, which remain unidentified to researchers to this day.

 

No one is personally familiar with the exact circumstances Paul encountered with this particular NT church, but it is my hypothesis the Corinthians confused the three different forms of glossa (listed above).  The context of 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14 contain words of exhortation and even harsh rebuke for the spiritual snobbery exhibited by those who claimed exclusivity for the ability to reveal prophetic knowledge. 

 

Worse yet, and much like what is seen in the upper echelon (so called) of the spiritual elite in charismatic prophetic circles today, unwarranted recognition was given to some for their interpreted tongues, and the apostle Paul speaks very sternly to them for this.

 

·          1 Corinthians 14:36-38 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth?  Or has it come to you only?  If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things, which I write to you, are the Lord's commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. NAS

 

Known (interpreted) Tongues verses Unknown (individual prayer) Tongues

1.      Interpreted tongues are exercised in the church for the common good (12:7, 10,11). Prayer in unknown tongues is generally practiced in one’s private prayer closet. (14:2)

 

2.      Interpreted tongues (aka prophecy or prophesying) are for church edification only (14:3-5). Prayer in unknown tongues is for self-edification only (14:4).

 

3.      A believer that interprets tongues ALSO prays in unknown tongues (13:1-2; 14:5). All believers have the ABILITY to PRAY in unknown TONGUES, but not all have the ability to prophesy (12:30; 14:5).

 

4.      Interpreted tongues are the same as the phrase, “if I speak with the tongues of angels,” because the word, “angels,” is literally, “messengers” (13:1) and refers to someone speaking forth a prophetic message (i.e. - interpreted tongues); whereas prayer in tongues is the same as the phrase, “if I speak with the tongues of men,” (13:1), and refers only to the prayers that “men” (anthropos) speak to God. There is a possibility that 13:1 also refers to ordinary speech, or inspired, anointed words spoken in a known dialect by one believer to someone else.

 

5.      When tongues are given as a supernatural “sign” to unbelievers, there is a subsequent translation (14:21-22).  When interpreted tongues are spoken within the church, it is done for exhortation, consolation and edification of the assembly by means of revelation, teaching, psalms (songs), etc.(14:3-6).

 

6.      No one except the spirit of God understands the individual prayer in tongues because it is a mystery (i.e. – sacred initiation oath) to all persons, (14:2). As the Parákleetos the spirit of Jesus, who is the mediator between God and men, makes intercession within the human spirit.  Jesus makes this intercession as the person takes hold of the spirit (to pneuma) of God, together with Him, while he or she prays in tongues (Romans 8:27, 34; Hebrews 7:25 with 1 Corinthians 14:2, 14).

 

7.      Interpreted tongues, (as a prophetic utterance), is an imperfect message, (i.e. – done “in part”; see 13:7-11); whereas each individual’s prayer in an unknown tongue (i.e. – hetérais glossalaliá), is done perfectly (14:20-21). 

 

8.      Unknown tongues is the prayer language of individual believer working together with Jesus, who always knows the Father’s will and mind in the spirit, and always ‘hits the mark’ intended, because it is the byproduct of Jesus’ intercession, even though unknown to the initiate’s logical reasoning, intellect and rationale (Romans 8:26-27, 34; 1 Cor 14:10 in the Greek only; Hebrews 7:25).  Known tongues as prophesying in the church always includes some element of human reason and therefore cannot be spoken as directly from God, “Thus says the Lord” (13:8-10).

 

9.      An interpreted tongue speaks to men for consolation, exhortation and edification of the church (14:3).  Prayer in unknown tongues is speaking only to God with one’s own human spirit & no one understands (14:2, 14-15).

 

10.  An interpreted tongue is a manifestation of the spirit, given to each one for the common good, according to the effectual working of each member (12:5-7, 10,11).  Prayer is not given as a manifestation for common good, but is the individual believer’s operation of the human spirit in discourse to God (14:2, 4-5,13, 14).  However, individuals that pray in unknown tongues while among others in the church assembly are admonished to pray for the interpretation, or understanding, that he or she might edify others thereby (14:12-13, 31).

 

11.  Once someone has interpreted unknown tongues, it is considered to be equal in value to prophecy for the overall edification of the church (14:5, 13).  Prayer in tongues is not the same as prophecy, but the individual CAN pray for understanding of his or her language to bring revelation, knowledge or teaching (14:6).

 

12.  An interpreted tongue is the pursuit by the individual believer to manifest of God’s love to the church, using his or her apportioned gift as the means (12:31; 13:1; 14:1).  Prayer in tongues is the pursuit of God’s love for the edification of the initiate, who can mature in love for others by it (12:31).

 

13.  Interpreted tongues may be included as one of a variety of gifts, ministries, effects & manifestations apportioned, divided & distributed by the Spirit of God (12:4-7, 10-11).  Prayer in tongues is individual speaking God’s wisdom in a mystery by use of the human spirit, aided by Christ the Parákleetos, taught BY the spirit, (2:6-16 with 14:2).  NOTE: This point is similar to the points made in #5 above.

 

14.  An interpreted tongue if used as prophecy is distributed INDIVIDUALLY as the Spirit of God wills for the benefit of all members (12:11).  Prayer in tongues is part of the promise of the Father; it is access to His spirit thru the Jesus the mediator (Acts 1:8).

 

15.  An interpreted tongue is to be used in public decently & in order (14:27-40).  Prayer in tongues has no public restraints because it is to be used privately (14:2).

 

16.  An interpreted tongue AND prayer in tongues ARE BOTH “kinds” of tongues appointed by God in the church (12:28), differing only in that an interpreted tongue is interpreted and therefore fulfills a different function than prayer in tongues.  Both are considered as genuine “languages” with various unique sounds (14:6-12).

 

17.  An interpreted tongue is a “gift” (charismata; 1 Cor 12:31), from God given for the purpose of church edification, whereas prayer in tongues is never identified as a gift of the spirit, but simply the operation of the spirit (pneumatos; 1 Cor 14:1).

 

NOTE: This list is thorough, but not comprehensive, as there are many more aspects of discussion to both the unknown and known tongues.

An Interpreted Tongue Is Not, “Thus Saith The Lord.”

If you have ever been in a Pentecostal church service when somebody utters a ‘tongues and interpretation of tongues,’ you have likely heard the one interpreting say, “Thus saith the Lord thy God… and then whatever message he or she brings.” 

 

Afterwards, everyone sits silently and reverently in great awe because God has just spoken.  I heard so many of these when I was part of the Pentecostal church we used to call them, “T & I” for abbreviation.  Is there any biblical basis for such utterances, and if so, how does one judge whether or not the message is truly from God, or whether it is well intentioned, badly misguided human utterance?

 

I know some readers are going to be upset at me, and perhaps regard me as speaking blasphemy for questioning whether or not a T & I is really from God.  First off, the scripture admonishes us to test the spirits to determine whether or not they are from God.

 

·          1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  NAS

 

Where in scripture is one single example of a NT believer interpreting an unknown tongue while speaking on behalf of the Almighty (i.e. – ‘Thus saith the Lord”)?  Even many Evangelicals get this one wrong, when they claim that Peter was interpreting the language of tongues on the Day of Pentecost, so he could preach to the Jews from surrounding nations.  Peter spoke fluent Greek, as did nearly all of Rome’s citizens, otherwise how would he have dialogued with the men who were mocking the disciples in Acts 2:12-15?

 

Some Pentecostal teachers point to 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 and use verse 21 as ‘proof’ that God uses T & I to speak directly to His people because of the wording, “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord.”  They say, “See, the Lord is telling us He will speak to this people thru strange tongues, which is speaking in tongues.” 

 

While I empathize with the Pentecostal position, and can even see why they would view the verse as if God was speaking directly thru an individual in the first person, (i.e. - ‘Thus saith the Lord’), but there are several problems that contradict this conclusion; below are but a few:

 

1.      Paul isn’t describing tongues and interpretations (per say) by partially quoting from the Law; in fact he is rebuking the Corinthians for their immature and self-centered use of tongues, and quite probably for exhibiting an elitist attitude in determining who was or who was not allowed to publicly speak with tongues and interpretations (i.e. – prophesying).

 

2.      There is no established precedent in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 that indicates God speaks directly thru Christians, using possessive pronouns in the first person.  The OT and NT prophets that spoke on behalf of the Almighty in the first person had their words engraved in scripture so we know what is and is not truly ‘prophetic.’  Everything else is done in part (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-10).  No one in the NT ever directly prophesies in the name of the Lord using, “Thus saith the Lord.”  There are zero examples of this in the NT where one believer practices such means of prophesying.

 

3.      The previous chapter (13) says the Corinthians only prophesied, “in part” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10), showing the human fallibility in their prophetic utterances and ability to speak on God’s behalf, therefore it would be entirely inappropriate to say, “Thus saith God,” and do so by prophesying, “in part.” 

 

4.      The next verse in 1 Corinthians 14: 22 says that tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for those who believe.  If anything were applicable to God in the first person, it would happen thru a believer while being directed at an unbeliever’s ears and heart.  This is NOT what Pentecostal churches believe or practice, and sadly, many of its church members rely on bogus T & I messages given the grand title of, “a word from the Lord.”

 

5.      The scriptures are the more sure word of prophecy, so there is no longer a need to hear from God audibly in the first person, particularly as it is practiced week after week, in many charismatic churches.  In fact, Peter’s epistle warns of a time when preachers of greed would use these so-called prophetic utterances to deceive people, and he commands us to rely on scripture for the sure thing (2 Peter 1:15-21 with 2:1-3).

What Known Tongues Are NOT

I once attended Pentecostal church service, just out of curiosity, because having encountered some members of this particular denomination, I noted a good percentage of them were lacking in their expression of feeling, particularly of Christian brotherly love.  The women all wore dresses down to the ankles, and hair tied up in buns up to the ceiling; nobody had any jewelry on and I was the only guy wearing a watch.  My long hair marked me out in their minds as a rank heathen, and I was obliged to play the role, which landed me a front row seat to witness the what came next.

 

Long before I got inside the church, I could hear what sounded like people screaming and shouting, which was nothing compared to what I observed walking through the doorway of the church sanctuary!

 

Everywhere I looked, people were bellowing out loud with ear-piercing shrieks, blaring like human loud speakers, running up and down the isles around and around and around, (even between the pews), sweating profusely.  I could hardly believe these were the same emotionally sterile and standoffish folks I’d seen around town in the small community where my wife and I live.

 

In various areas of the church, women stood together in small groups, eyes closed, hands raised high, and all of them were shaking and their arms were quivering. Obviously engaged with great intensity and fervor, as they shouted, “JESUS! JESUS!  JESUS!  JESUS!  JESUS!”  If I didn’t know better, I would swear that Jesus had very poor hearing and needed to have the decibel level at ear-splitting volume to catch what these sisters were a hollering!  In between the cries to Jesus, they were uttering equally loud verbiage in other tongues, which DEFINITELY could not be understood.

 

Here and there a few men and women were clanging and were banging their large custom made tambourines, while others were loudly clapping their hands, and all throughout I heard profuse intermittent articulation of “other tongues,” between voluminous shouts of, “HALLELUJAH… GLORY… HALLELUJAH… GLORY!”

 

Now I grew up in the Lord going to charismatic churches, and I have seen a lot of emotion, and even some goofy things, but this experience almost left me partially deaf, and I certainly had no clue what was being done to edify the church.  It’s not that clapping, shouting, or even dancing before the Lord is new to me, and in fact, if God’s presence is pouring out joy, it’s hard to stand still.

 

I am not opposed to praises, and singing, and shouting to the Lord.  I even like to kick up my heels and dance before the Lord on occasion.  However, this Pentecostal church scenario is replayed every Sunday in nearly every charismatic church, and if it bothers me, I can only imagine what a turn-off it is to non-charismatics.  Witnessing something like this is enough to make them all the more resolute in their anti-tongues position, determined they want nothing to do with such fanaticism.  Who can really blame them?

 

The apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians exhorted them to stop this profuse and uncontrolled exercise of glossalaliá when assembling together, because it simply is not edifying to everyone in the church.  It may be edifying to the individual that is speaking in tongues, but the other man is not edified, which is the entire point of Paul’s rebuke and instruction given to the Corinthians.

 

Notice Paul uses the quote from the Law, to illustrate that even though God desires to speak prophetically to the church through the interpretation of strange (hetérais) tongues, He says, “… even so they will not listen to Me.”

 

In other words, there are always those more centered on SELF and what gratifies SELF than on what is most edifying and serves others.  This is why Paul’s words to the Corinthian church encourage us today; whenever we meet TOGETHER as a CHURCH, we must make certain that any utterances aloud of other tongues are also interpreted for the prophetic edification of everyone.

 

·          1 Corinthians 14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.   NASU

 

There is a substantial need to expound on the way Jesus mediates for us thru the use of prayer in other tongues, and I may be able to do this in Part Six, but will likely have to extend the series to Part Seven, as this is integral to continuing in the series, ‘When The Perfect Is Come.’

 

Please, if you enjoy these studies, please take time to email me, and let me know the impact they have in your life, and why you feel this subject needs further investigation and teaching.  Without your input, I have no idea whether the studies have value, and when you write, and tell me the specific reasons you feel the topic is important, it inspires me to continue, and fends off the discouragement and attacks of the devil.  My email address is: craig@bibleanswerstand.org

 

 

Go Directly to Part Six

 


Links to the entire "What is Speaking in Tongues” Series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

 


 

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