If you want to follow along with my scripture selections I would have you mark Acts chapter 2 and 1 Corinthians with particular attention to chapter 14. Please feel free to check any other scriptures referenced but these are the most important for the purpose of this study and I welcome your using the Bible to follow me.
I want to start with a confession. Trying to settle “divisions and contentions” is not fun. It is not easy for me as a person or a Christian. When areas of contention arise I ALWAYS seek Gods face and read his word. I spend hours evaluating the subject, reading lessons and opinions on all sides and praying before I respond. While reading my Bible I came across something that explains my position on difficult topics better than I ever could.
2 Corinthians 4:1-2,15-17
1Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; 15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
So, the things that I do, I do in service to the lord and the brethren. I truly hope you understand this. Now I will pray before finishing this message.
There is quite a lot of confusion about spiritual gifts and whether they are valid today. Since the vast majority of “gifts” being bestowed and displayed today are “tongues” I will focus mainly on that aspect of spiritual gifts. In every instance the word tongue or tongues in the Bible means a literal physical tongue or a language. The Day of Pentecost was the first instance of the Holy Spirit gifting of tongues. What does the Bible say about it?
Acts 2:1-8,11-12,16-17,21, 23, 32-33,36-42, & 47
1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.6Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.7And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.12And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Reading through this, several things stand out to me.
1. At the first, tongues were accompanied by BOTH a rushing sound before and then a visible sign like “tongues of fire” descending on them.
2. They then began uttering in a new tongue meaning LANGUAGE. This is confirmed by the fact that many took note of the fact that these foreigners were heard to speak in the local tongues and dialects.
3. The tongues were given for a specific purpose! To spread the gospel of Christ! THREE THOUSAND were saved after this awesome display of God’s power! And the LORD added DAILY such as should be saved.
In Mark 16:16-17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. There are so few using the other signs of an Apostle. So why do we see so many churches speaking in tongues? In 1 Corinthians Paul teaches pretty conclusively on tongues.
1 Corinthians 14
1Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.2For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.6Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?7And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?8For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?9So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.10There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.11Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. 12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.13Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.14For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.16Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.18I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:19Yet 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.20Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
21In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.23If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?24But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:25And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.27If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.28But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.34Let 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. 35And 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. 37If 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. 38But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.39Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.40Let all things be done decently and in order.
Let’s dig in here, first, the word unknown is a mistake in translating the original Greek and it’s commonly known that unknown shouldn’t be there. If you insist on using it, unknown within the context of all the other scriptures on the subject only means unknown to the speaker or to those who hear it, not usually both as tongues were meant to be the Holy Spirits supernatural means of communicating the gospel. Later we see WHY it might be unknown: there is no interpreter, the interpreter though had the same job as a UN interpreter. The translator or interpreter would assure things were done decently, in order and to the edification of all. I am going to point out some scripture that is damaging to the modern tongues movement. In 1 Corinthians chapter 14:22-26 we CLEARLY see that the whole church shouldn’t be coming together for “Holy Spirit” on parade events, we are told tongues and prophecy have VERY specific purposes! Tongues as a sign to them who do not believe and prophecy to them that do! That if all speak in tongues that the unbelievers and the unlearned, the LOST that the gift is SUPPOSED to be for; will not only not be edified, they will think you are mad! Verse 26 reiterates the point saying HOW is it then brethren? when ye come together, every one hath a tongue? Let all things be done unto edifying! We also see as we go on that NO more than two or three MEN were ever supposed to be allowed to speak in tongues without interpretation and that without interpretation there was to be NO tongues! Then we see in verse 34 something that could destroy the entire Pentecostal movement! Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 repeats this refrain with; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. Looking at the instructions that Paul gives we can clearly see that most churches today do NOT adhere to proper doctrine as it pertains to tongues.
The Church at Corinth was lectured and rebuked REPEATEDLY by Paul for worldliness and carnality. They were in need of Paul’s correction and instruction. So, the “gift” of tongues is not, in and of itself, any indication of one’s standing with the Lord. Chapters 1-11 are all corrective and instructive and when we get to spiritual gifts in chapter 12 this teaching theme continues. When we start to really look at the instruction in this chapter, we also see the violation or cherry picking of scripture that comes into play often when people speak on tongues. Chapter 12 makes clear the SPIRIT is the sole administrator in the distribution of spiritual gifts and that not all will be given the same gifts (this is repeated in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10). It goes even further towards the end in showing us a natural hierarchy of gifts and warning that not all will have each gift. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet I show you a more excellent way. The “more excellent way” Paul writes of is understood when we read 13. He teaches EVEN if he did EVERYTHING else and had all gifts, if he didn’t have actual Christian love and charity he would be nothing! So Paul clearly taught tongues was the LEAST important or valued gift! He says that Apostles, prophets and teachers are more important. Some may say, and I am inclined to agree, that the office of Apostle and Prophet no longer exist or have bearing today due to the fact that there are none today who can lay claim to having physically seen the risen Christ and because the need for prophecy is gone with the finished work of the Bible. Teacher applies to all who preach and teach the word and this is to take preeminence over workers of miracles, healings, tongues and the like. Paul said we should covet earnestly the best gifts, meaning we should desire to be a teacher of the word rather than a healer or tongues speaker. Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
More than this, Paul also taught that tongues would END! How do we somehow miss this?
1 Corinthians 13:8-10,13
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
When one looks at the fact that tongues DID actually cease and fall out of practice within the first century after Jesus death and that it’s return; nearly 1900 years later was heralded by Agnes Ozman at a Topeka, KS Bible study where they were using the ASV, which incidentally was the Bible of choice for the Jehovah’s Witnesses at the time, we begin to wonder if we may have been led astray. Paul says in verse 10 “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” This is both a secondary validation that the sign gifts, like tongues would stop; and a reference to the future completion of God’s work through the finishing of the Bible.
Is speaking in tongues a currently valid gift of the Holy Spirit? Or is tongues, like other signs of apostolic authority, more rightly considered a kingdom sign? Kingdom signs were a specific set of gifts given to the apostles to establish the TRUTH of the Gospel they carried, to and for, a people that REQUIRED a sign, meaning the Jewish people. Ask yourself, where is tongues being used to convince people that Jesus is God? Does the CURRENT use of tongues line up with what scripture says about them? There is a misunderstanding of being filled with the spirit at work here too! In the book of acts there are times when people received the holy spirit at, before, during and after baptism and even after the laying on of hands. Later examples show and teach clearly that we receive the HS at salvation. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. Ephesians 1:13-14In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. All of Romans chapter 8 reaffirms this with a special force and emphasis in 8:9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. All of these verses speak to receiving the HS at salvation and that it is a seal of our inheritance and what’s more, that if we don’t have the Spirit we are not in Christ!
In later writings, Paul makes no reference to tongues OR healing. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12 that he had a thorn in the flesh that he asked the Lord to remove three times! In Galatians 4:13-15 he says he had an infirmity that some held against him and makes reference to his eyes! Epaphroditus was sick unto death in Philippians 2:25-27, Paul advised Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to take some wine for his stomach and his OFTEN infirmities, Trophimus was left sick at Miletus in 2 Timothy 4:20. WHY were all these servants of the living God left UNHEALED? WHY did Paul never write about asking, expecting or praying for their healing? Perhaps he KNEW that healing as an instantaneous act of the Spirit through Apostolic authority in Jesus was done! Kingdom signs served a singular purpose the validation of the Gospel to the JEW. James shows in James 5:13-16 a totally NEW means and method for healing!! Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. WHY were the Apostles told to heal one way, the churches were instructed in ANOTHER way and Jesus healed in yet others? It is clear when you understand the “signs of an Apostle” were given to specific men for a specific purpose for a specific time! Jesus himself only performed miracles for 3 years!
Certain practices might gain prominence due to Christians lack of familiarity with God’s word and the consequent misleading of them by unscrupulous teachers and false prophets. We are supposed to immerse ourselves in Gods word! NEVER take what ANY man tells you without evaluating it within the context of Gods’ word. Acts 17:11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 1 John 4:1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world…..When you study and KNOW God’s word, when someone speaks something wrong the Holy Spirit moves in your head and heart to show you WHY it is wrong. When you don’t know God’s word intimately it becomes easier to deceive you and whats worse you may actually wish to be deceived.
2 Timothy 4:2-4
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
You also can’t trust you heart or feelings in regards to what is right! Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? You MUST filter what you think, feel and believe through what Gods’ word actually says! There is an incredible element of personal emotion at the CORE of the tongues movement. You hear folks say speaking in tongues gives you a better, sweeter relationship with God. You hear people encourage others to pray for and receive tongues for themselves. You hear people talk about firewalls, fire tunnels, impartation’s, anointing and many other things that have absolutely NO parallel or support in the Bible. When you point these things out people may accuse you of blasphemy against the Spirit or heresy for thinking the Holy Spirit doesn’t work the same way today as he did in the past or that he couldn’t act in new ways today. They somehow miss the ridiculousness of saying God is the same always and that he could be doing new things. They also miss that Hebrews 13:8 actually says JESUS is the same yesterday, today and forever. God the father and the Holy Spirit have changed numerous times in the way they deal with man as evidenced all through scripture until the CLOSING of the New Testament canon. NEW things and NEW ways that are not supported by scripture should rightly be refused as they are not of God. IF it lines up with scripture it is truth if it doesn’t it isn’t.
I know people who call themselves Christian saying they won’t be held to solely what scripture says, twisting scripture, taking it out of context or telling me that we need these gifts to do Gods work: to which I offer 2 Timothy 3:16-17All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
These verses CLEARLY show God’s word ALONE gives us what we need for all good works! When you couple these verses with the FACT that there are NO displays of sign gifts in ALL of the later epistles (written after Acts, for details on the timeline of the writings of the epsitles please cut and paste this address into your browser http://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/articles/1064006213.html) along with the confirmation of a CHANGE in the gifts and the administration of healing things start to look different! Follow me now; and give attention to the word of God! In Ephesians 4:11-12 Paul writes: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
There is a great deception working in “Spirit Filled” churches and movements. The tongues they use and the so called healings they offer are just not done or offered scripturally. Look through modern history at the Charismatic movements. There are all sorts of FRAUDS, scandals, divorces, financial investigations and congressional hearings in the “ministries” of Benny Hinn, Kathryn Kuhlman Jessie DuPlantis, Kenneth Copeland and others. Oral Roberts once held a healing meeting where a tent collapsed and over 50 people were injured. He didn’t heal anyone or pray, he called 911! Several people died over the years at his healing revivals and one woman died 12 hours after testifying to a healing!
Here comes something we miss when we evaluate many preachers of the word…God doesn’t want his ministers hungry or begging bread and they should be able to take care of their families in reasonable comfort; however, MOST of the well known “Servants of God” live in multi-million dollar homes, have expensive tailored clothing and fly around in private jets! What would Jesus make of such extravagance? The combination of unscriptural practices, teachings and movie star lifestyles clearly mark these people more as false prophets and heretics than legitimately scriptural Christian leaders.
We live by faith and not by sight and we shouldn’t be like the lost in the world. THEY crave signs always. Look at them flock to the latest UFO hotspot, lake monster sighting or haunted location. Many Christians find parallels in crying statues and various “blessings” (Toronto etc). Look into the research on Glossolalia (speaking in tongues) over and again secular professors AND Bible believing Christians find similarities and duplications in the Pentecostal, Hindu, Charismatic Catholic and yes even SATANIC examples of trance behavior and ecstatic utterance.
Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8-9ut though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Paul prophesied the rise of religions whose founders would claim to have seen angels, Jesus or God the father and he realized there was even the potential that Apostles might be led astray! Satan was an angel and he lives to destroy us. Barring that he will do ANYTHING he can to keep us misled. It is my belief that modern tongues are demonic, I know many can’t accept this because it feels good and right to them. I wager most drug addicts and deviants feel the same way. Just because it feels good it doesn’t mean it is of God. Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
People often manipulate God’s word to support what they believe. I have caught myself, making intuitive leaps from the scriptures to prop up a position. I consider the Bible to be the ultimate proof of ALL things and yet I have caught myself doing this before. I have encountered some who make decisions about whether they will listen to me or accept my calling in the Lord based on where I stand on certain issues, like tongues! Psalm 105:14-15 reads “He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” This is sometimes, completely and improperly used to protect ministers from criticism and simultaneously discounts MY calling and work for the Lord. I can’t speak against something some mulit-millionaire preacher says? MY ministry efforts are 100% funded by my family! I have thus far not made a single dollar from the website, my writings or my preaching!
PLEASE remember 2 Peter 1:20-21Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
If we are not to interpret PROPHECY ourselves, the most figurative and difficult to understand parts of all scripture, why should we really think we have a right to “interpret” any of it. I don’t “interpret” the Bible, I read it and try to take God at his word without placing my own meaning, emotional context or understanding upon it
I pray God’s blessings upon us all and that the Holy Spirit would stir our hearts with a gift that is KNOWN to still be available to his people…discernment.