WHAT ABOUT TONGUES?
©Copyright 1993 Randall D. Hughes
When reading the Bible one comes across a subject that can seem quite confusing. It is mentioned as early as Isa. 28:11. "For with stammering lips and another tongue will I speak to this people." What could this mean? Jesus spoke of the "promise of the Father" on several occasions. He instructed them to wait for "the promise of the Father" in Luke 24:47-53. This is repeated in Acts 1:4-9. The promise of the Father is clearly the Holy Ghost referred to in Acts 1:8. The promise came upon those believers who were present on the Day of Pentecost in the upper room. Acts 2:4 records this fulfillment. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." These were the first recipients of the Holy Ghost. We know this because of the words of Jesus in John 7:39, 16:7. Now Jesus was glorified after his ascension into heaven, and it was 7-10 days later the Holy Ghost was given. You will notice Acts 2:4 says they began to speak with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. There are those in religious circles who refer to a prayer language, which is nothing more than gibberish that cannot be understood. This is nothing like what happened in Acts 2! The Spirit gave them utterance. Further reading shows us the people gathered there heard them speaking their languages. Peter said this was the fulfilling of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. Incredibly, tongues are NOT mentioned in this prophecy! When the crowd heard the 120 speaking in tongues they asked, "What meaneth this?" Watch Peter's response carefully. Peter said, "This is that…" Ok, the "this" is clearly the people speaking in tongues. The "that" is the prophecy of Joel being fulfilled. So What Peter is saying is speaking in tongues is the evidence that God was pouring out his Spirit! The Spirit birth is evidenced through tongues!
Now wait a minute! Are you going to base such a theory simply on one Scriptural account? No, there's more! Let's go to Acts 10 & 11. The first few verses (of 10) let us realize that Cornelius was a very dedicated man. He prayed, fasted, and gave much alms. But for some reason God sent and angel to him to tell him how to be saved? No. God doesn't use angels for such a task. He uses men, Rom. 10:14. So the angel told him to send for Peter, "Who shall tell they words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." Acts 11:14-15. Peter said they received the same Holy Ghost they had received in the beginning! "For they heard them speak with tongues…" Acts 10:46. So here is another account of people knowing others were filled with the Holy Ghost because of tongues.
In Acts 19:1-6, Paul ask some disciples of John the Baptist, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" Now these verses put a crinkle in what many modern churches believe. Don't you receive the Holy Ghost when you believe? Or is it when you are baptized? These verses destroy all those theories! The Holy Ghost is obviously separate from both of these experiences! And once again tongues is mentioned with them receiving the Holy Ghost.
There's one other chapter we need to look at before we go into other aspects of tongues. In Acts 8:5-23, we find Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ unto them. In verse 12 we find the people believed and were baptized. Are they saved? Do they have the Holy Ghost? Let's find out what the Bible says. Verses 14-16 tells us they did not have the Holy Ghost! How did they know? Well, Philip sent for Peter and John (remember Peter has the keys, Matt. 16:18-19). And when Peter and John laid their hands on the people of Samaria, they received the Holy Ghost. How did they know? Verse 18 tells us, "And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, give me also this power…" What did Simon see? Think about this. He has already viewed many miracles, verse 6-7, "…seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed." Simon saw something when the Apostles laid their hands on the people and they received the Holy Ghost that he felt was greater than all the other miracles! What could it have been? You think they might have received it the same way it happened "in the beginning?" The Bible doesn't really say how they knew when they had it, or how they knew when they didn't. But if this was like the beginning, they spoke in tongues when they were filled!
So, if tongues is not the evidence for someone receiving the Holy Ghost, what was it for in the Book of Acts? Was it for preaching? It most definitely wasn't in chapters 8, 10, or 19. What about chapter 2? If you read closely you will find Peter is the only one preaching in this chapter! Most knew the Greek language (remember the New Testament was written in Greek), and since these were Jewish proselytes, they most likely knew Arabic also. So finding a common language would not have been a problem. So to say tongues was used for preaching has no Biblical evidence!
Did it require the laying on of the Apostles hands? No evidence that it did in Acts 2 or 10. So this is not a valid argument either.
But is tongues for us today? Remember the words of Jesus in John 7:39, "…they that believe should receive the Holy Ghost." In Acts 2:39, Peter said, "For 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." Does that sound like it could include me? Joel's prophecy quoted by Peter in Acts 2, seems to indicate that the Lord would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh (not just the Jew, see Acts 10). And that it would continue to be poured out until the various signs in the heaven and earth were fulfilled, Acts 2:16-21! So yes the promise is for us today! Even you!
But what about the words of Paul, doesn't he say that tongues isn't for us today?
First lets examine the Book of Corinthians. Who is it written to? 1 Cor. 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is in Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,…" So these are people that have already experience salvation? It definitely sounds like it! These people were already saved!
So what is Paul writing about in 1 Corinthians 12-14? His main subject is the Gifts of the Spirit. Notice the gift of the Holy Ghost is not one of the Gifts of the Spirit! There is a distinct difference and purpose for the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Gift of tongues. In 1 Cor. 12:8-10, we find Paul introducing the none Spiritual Gifts. One of these Gifts is tongues. This chapter shows how the Gifts are to work together for the edifying of the body. In Chapter 13, Paul explains that without love the gifts are not effective. In chapter 14, Paul gives some restrictions on the use of the Gift of Tongues. 1 Cor. 14:27, "If any speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let another interpret." Now look back to the Book of Acts. There is NOT a single place where this rule is followed! Did the Apostles not follow the proper procedure? Or is there a difference in the gifts? Do we ever find a tongues and interpretation in the Book of Acts? Oh there are places where the individual speaking tongues spoke the same language as someone present, but 1 Cor. 12-14, is speaking about the Gift of Interpretation! It doesn't take a gift to interpret a language you know.
So is there a difference between tongues in Acts and 1 Corinthians? Yes! In fact if we read 1 Cor. 14:4, we find a tongue that can edify oneself. Then verse 5 tells us there is a tongue that can edify the church (if it is interpreted). So if there is someone who is always speaking in tongues and there is never an interpretation, they should make effort to not disrupt the service with their speaking in tongues 1 Cor. 14:28, 32. They have the gift of tongues for self-edification. If there is an interpretation they have the Gift of Tongues for the edifying of the church. So there are three kinds of tongues. 1. Evidence that God has poured his Spirit into your life (Acts). 2. A Gift of Tongues to edify-oneself (1 Cor.14:4). 3. A Gift of Tongues for interpretation to edify the church (1 Cor. 14:5). So now with this understanding, lets look further at what Paul is saying. Remember Paul is talking to people who already have the Holy Ghost, (the Holy Ghost is like a diploma to practice the Gifts of the Spirit) discussing the Gifts of the Spirit of which one is the Gift of Tongues. Some have tried to say that only those that are weak speak in tongues. Well, what are we doing reading Paul? If tongues is a sign of weakness, Paul would have been weaker that all the church of Corinth! Because he said, "I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all." 1 Cor. 14:18. So is Paul weaker than the rest? You know better!
So what about 1 Cor. 12:30? "Do all speak with tongues?" Of course not! Look at the other gifts in the list. The answer is no to all of them. But he is still referring to the Gifts of the Spirit. Not tongues as the evidence of the infilling of the Holy Ghost. So is tongues not for us today? What could 1 Cor. 14:39, possibly mean if they are not? "…forbid not to speak in tongues."
Would Paul write this, if he had told us earlier that tongues would cease and be out of order? Think about that. The context of the three chapters here: Chapter 12, introduces the Gifts working together in the body. Chapter 13, expresses the necessity of love to make the working of the Gifts effective. And Chapter 14, gives the guidelines by which tongues is to be operated. Looking at the context of these chapters, which do you think would include a command to cease using tongues? Chapter 14 would seem most logical, right? But the verse that modern Christianity uses is found in chapter 13.
The main argument in found in 1 Cor. 13:8-12. "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophesies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then shall that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." The argument they offer is the Bible was not complete (in part) at this time so thus we "know in part." That which is "perfect" refers to the completed Bible. So now the completed Bible is here, tongues have ceased. I wonder if knowledge has vanished also? If their argument is correct this is simply the Gift of Knowledge, but that would also mean just the Gift of Tongues, not the evidence of the Holy Ghost!
Is there anything in the context of that chapter that would give anyone the slightest clue that it is speaking of the Bible? Yes, the Bible gives us knowledge, but our knowledge will always be in part until we are face to face! That hasn't happened yet!
In the context of the chapter, Charity (Love) is the necessary ingredient to win souls to God. No matter how spiritual I may seem it doesn't even ring the bell if I don't have love! Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35. So irregardless of the Gifts of the Spirit you may have, you must have love or you are nothing. This is the message of this chapter.
We can have the earnest of our inheritance, Eph.1:14, the Holy Spirit of promise, the Holy Ghost. But there is only ONE Biblical way to know. "For they heard them speak with tongues."
Is it necessary to have the Holy Ghost? Jesus said, "Verily , verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5.
Peter said that what occurred on the Day of Pentecost was the outpouring of God's Spirit. Jesus said that if you believe you should receive! "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Rom. 8:9&11.
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Gal. 1:8. Do you need to be reminded what the Apostles preached? Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19? They preached you should receive the Holy Ghost! The ONLY evidence recorded in the Bible that people knew they received the Holy Ghost is speaking in tongues! Remember the "Gift of the Holy Ghost", "promise of the Father", "Gift of the Spirit" are synonymous terms. But there is a distinct difference between these and the Gift of Tongues!
EVIDENCE (Holy Ghost)
All references in Acts where
believers first received the Spirit.
Immediate outward evidence Announcing the arrival of the Spirit.
All believers speak when they receive the Spirit. Any # may speak at once. No interpretation required. Uniform evidence for all.
All references in 1 Cor. were saints who already had the Spirit. Not all saints have this gift, Spirit divides severally as He will.
Divers Kinds of Tongues
2.Edify self-----------------------2.Edify Church
3.Man to God-------------------3.God to man
4.No interpretation------------4.Interpretation required
5.No man understandeth----5.Understood by interpretation.
6.No limit on number----------6.Two or 3 by course
Chart by Rev. S.G. Norris
©Copyright 1993 Randall D. Hughes
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