The prophet Isaiah foretold the use of tongues as a tremendous sign to
, saying, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing; yet they would not hear.” (Isaiah 28:11-12) Israel
Again, the apostle Paul repeated the prophesy of God, saying, “In 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. Therefore 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.” (1 Cor. 14:21-22)
If tongues are for a sign to unbelievers then it would seem that they are in order when unbelievers are present, but let us notice the next verses in 1 Cor. 14. “If 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? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all.” Verses 23 and 24 seem to contradict verse 22. It seems to indicate, if they speak in tongues, instead of it being a beneficial sign to them, the unlearned or unbeliever will think they are crazy. And the prophesying (teaching), instead of being for the believer, seems to be helpfully convincing to the unlearned or unbeliever. These apparent contradictions have presented problems to many through the years.
Again, the key to this text is in rightly dividing the word of truth, especially in regard to that belonging to Israel, contrasted to that belonging to the Gentiles or the church (1 Cor. 10:32). Isaiah 28:11-12 gave a prophecy, foretelling an outstanding sign to “this people” (
) and yet they would not hear. Therefore, the sign was to and for unbelieving Israel . “The Jews require a sign.” (1 Cor. 1:22). Israel
On the day of Pentecost, God spoke to
through the apostles with stammering lips and another tongue. It was stammering lips. It was another tongue, not in anyone’s own presently used language. Those who heard it heard stammering lips and another tongue. It would not have been stammering lips and another tongue to a person if it was spoken in their own language. Apparently, it was one of the tongues of angels, recorded in 1 Cor. 13:1. Israel
However, if they only heard uncomprehensible stammer or an unknown tongue, which they did not understand, it would not have been a convincing sign at all except that God caused them to comprehend in their own language what was said. Yet the sign was to be one of God’s outstanding signs to the nation of
, “and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” (v-21). Therefore, the prophesied tongue used as a sign to unbelieving Israel on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) made them very responsible for their rejection of it. Israel
Jews from among the Gentile nations came to
at the time of the special feasts and in addition to their knowledge of the Hebrew language, they spoke in the language of the Gentile nation from which they had been born. On the day of Pentecost there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5). There were more than a dozen different nations named in the text. Jerusalem
The one hundred and twenty were gathered together in one place and suddenly there came a sound of a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting. There appeared cloven tongues likened unto flames of fire and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. When this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in out own tongue, wherein we were born?
If the apostles spoke in the Hebrew tongue, they might all understand it because they were Jews or proselyte Jews. If they began to speak Arabic for the sake of the Arabians, that would be greater than the normal. If they spoke in the tongues of each person one at a time, that would be greater yet. If they spoke in their Galilaean tongue and all the multitude heard or understood in each of their Gentile tongues, that would be even greater, except to all those who spoke Galilaean. If they spoke with stammering lips in another tongue or unknown tongue and all the multitude heard or understood it in their own Gentile tongue wherein they were born, that would have been the greatest of them all.
Now, when the multitude, having a variety of languages or tongues, gathered around and perceived that the tongues spoken were “stammering lips and another tongue,” not the Hebrew tongue or some other known tongue, they were amazed that they heard or understood in their own tongue wherein they were born. One unknown tongue was spoken, yet it was heard by more than a dozen nationalities and understood in each of the different languages represented there. They were truly amazed.
The tongues spoken were “stammering lips and another tongue” (Isa. 28:11-12). They were “with other tongues and other lips” (1 Cor. 14:21). They were the “tongue of angels” (1 Cor. 13:1). They were the tongues “spoken unto God: for no man understandeth him;” (1 Cor. 14:2)
The tongues were miraculous and they also were miraculously transposed to the hearer so that he heard or understood in his own tongue wherein he was born. If we allow all the biblical characteristics of the tongues with which they spoke, we conclude that it was a most outstanding miracle and sign to
, leaving them no excuse for their disbelief. The long prophesied sign should have convinced every one of them, but it did not; “but for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” (1 Cor. 14:21). Israel
In Acts 2, God was fulfilling his word to the nation of
Israelat a time and in a manner in which the tongues were a sign to unbelieving . Later, tongues were in the church, but they were not given of God for a sign in the church to unbelievers coming into the assembly. There were super-natural gifts of tongues in the church and there were super-natural gifts of interpretation. In the church, no one was to speak in tongues (an unknown tongue), except there was one present, having the gift of interpretation, so that it might be known what was said. God was not transposing the unknown tongue into the tongue of the unbeliever who came into an assembly of the church. The unbeliever could hear the stammering lips and another tongue, but could not understand what was spoken. Therefore, he could only think that they were mad (crazy). Israel
Rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), is again the key to a proper understanding of the subject of the tongues. We must give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the
. (1 Cor. 10:32). Therefore, we must apply to the Jews, what belongs to the Jews; and to the Gentiles, what belongs to them; and to the churchof God , what belongs to it. churchof God
It is unreasonable to think that the unlearned or unbeliever at
must always be of some other tongue or to think that the tongues were merely to break the language barrier. In a failed effort to coordinate such verses, some have mistakenly though the tongues in the church were given to empower believers to speak to unbelievers of other languages and that the interpreter was for the purpose of revealing to the congregation what had been said to the unbeliever. Corinth
“For 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. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I 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.” (1 Cor. 14:2-5).
Therefore, greater is he who prophesies or conveys the interpreted message in a known language to the church, that the church might be edified instead of only himself. The ability to speak in unknown tongues was through a spiritual gift of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues was through a spiritual gift of interpretation. (1 Cor. 12:10).
“If 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.” (1 Cor. 14:27).
“If there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” (v-28).“Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” (v-29).“If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.” (v-30).“For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” (v-31).“The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (v-32).“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.(v-33).“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.” (vv-34-35).
“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.” (v-37)
To the honest seeker, there is an open invitation to examine and see if they can find any professed “tongue speaking” church group which follows the above instructions or find any professed “tongue speakers” who acknowledge that they are the commandments of the Lord and obeys the commands.
Through an extensive study of the Scriptures and years of observation of the tongues movement, it has been well noted, that the professed “unknown tongues” of today are neither the tongues of the early church nor are they used according to the biblical instructions. In general, the leaders of these groups try to imitate the early church, thinking that whatever was done at that time can and should be done today. They are famous for quoting, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb. 13:8). They say this to indicate that Christ once gave super-natural gifts to men; therefore, he still does the same, according to their claim. Their argument is neither accurate nor coherent. Were the Israelites speaking in tongues in the days of Isaiah? At that time, the prophecy was given of an event that would have its beginning on the day of Pentecost, many years later. Their knowledge of this fact does not usually slow their misuse of Heb. 13:8. Many years passed before the prophesied tongues began and the Scriptures taught that tongues would cease at a later time. Of course Jesus Christ is the same always, but He is not doing the same things. His program has not always been the same throughout the ages.
Tongues, They Shall Cease (1 Cor. 13:8-13)
8 “Charity 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.9 For, we know in part, and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 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.12 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.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
One or more of the spiritual gifts were given to the apostle Paul and to others, but not all of the gifts to everyone; therefore, they only knew in part. The gifts were given to the church in its infancy and before most all the church epistles were written or before that which is perfect (or mature) had come. It is certain that those things would cease when that which is perfect had come. Paul compared the infant church to a child with its limited knowledge and ability to speak and, likewise, the mature church to a mature man when the childish things were put away. It is in this vein that Paul revealed that the giving of prophecies would fail, the speaking in unknown tongues would cease, and the super-natural knowledge would vanish away. All of these are speaking of the super-natural and spiritual gifts, spoken of in 1 Cor. 12, which was given to the early church which related to God’s continued dealing with the nation of
While the apostles continued to go to the Jews first and also the Gentiles and until the natural branches were cut off and the unnatural branches were grafted in (Rom. 11:13-26), the gift program relating to
continued. After the nation of Israel, as a whole, rejected their Saviour, and Paul declared three times and in three different places, ending in Rome, that the Jews had counted themselves unworthy of salvation, he said he would go to the Gentiles and that they would hear it (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:25-29). Soon afterwards the remaining epistles to the church were written with its complete and mature revelation that they might know how to behave themselves in the church which Christ was building (Matt. 16:18). Paul, for the first time revealed certain mature truth in Eph. 2 and 3 and Col. 2, saying in Eph. 2, Israel
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Paul further reveals the mystery of Christ in Eph. 3, saying,4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.
With the development of these things, God’s gift program was taken away and the mature revelation of God’s word relating to the church allowed believers to understand and speak, not as a child, but as a man. And as a man the childish things were put away. Instead of looking through a glass, darkly, they could see face to face and to know even as they were known. Paul was not teaching the perpetual infancy of the church or that maturity would only come at the end of the church age when Christ comes to take the church away. If “that which is perfect” is thought to be the return of Christ, it would require the infancy of the church, even until it is caught away.
Generally, the professed “tongues speaking churches” of today portray themselves as the most spiritual people of all, because of their claims of possessing the spiritual gifts of 1 Cor. 12, including miracles, healings, tongues, etc. They don’t realize that it was because of the immaturity of the early church and of the written word, that God gave those gifts for the time then present along with His continued sign program to
. Without the written word, the spoken words of the early disciples were vindicated by the witness of God’s power. Professed “tongue speaking” ministers and evangelist have exhibited their prolific “tongue speaking” ability for years and were later found out to have been living in severe moral sins at the same time. How can these things be? “The United Pentecostalist,” (“The Jesus Only” or “Oneness”) claim their “tongue speaking” to be valid, but relegate the “tongue speaking” of others to falsehood and visa versa. The point is, professed “tongue speaking” persons reject the “tongue speaking” of other “tongue speakers” and deny that it is a valid sign of having been baptized by the Holy Ghost, while they claim it as a viable or undeniable sign for themselves. “God is not the author of confusion.” (1 Cor. 14:33) Israel
The inspired apostle Paul said, “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God” (Col. 1:25). If Paul, as the apostle to the church, has fulfilled the word of God for the church, we should know that his written epistles are the complete revelation for the church age. If they are “the fulfilled word of God” for the church, what could be said in tongues that we do not already have? Likewise, if the, so called, tongues speaking of today was truly the word of God, they most surely need to add the message to the Bible.
Does only a select few have a straight line to heaven and does the Lord inform them of things which others cannot know, verify, or prove by the written word of God? On a questionable issue, they justified themselves, saying, “The Lord spoke to me and told me the truth of the matter.” If you disagree with them, they further justified themselves, saying, “You are arguing with God, not with me, because He told me this or that.”
In Philippians (Phil 2:26-27), one of Paul’s later prison epistles, E-paph-ro-di’tus was sick, nigh unto death. Also, in 2 Tim. 4:20, Paul said, “Troph’i-mus have I left a Mi-le’tum sick.” Why didn’t Paul heal these men by the gift of healing as he had previously done? We find no conditions similar to this prior to Paul’s imprisonment and very well may indication that God’s gift program relating to
had ended. God remained able to heal the sick and answer the prayer of his children according to His will, but the spiritual gifts, or that which was in part, ceased. Israel
The Purpose for Holy Ghost Baptism
In Mat. 3:11-12, John said to the multitude, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but he (Christ) 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:”
Take note that John was speaking to the whole multitude, who came to him to be baptized. And he said that those, he was baptizing, were going to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. In other words the whole multitude would be baptized either by the Holy Ghost or with fire. Believers would receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the unbelievers would receive the baptism of fire. (Explained in verse 12)
John continued, saying, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John describes the separation of the saved and the lost as the separation of the wheat from the chaff on the threshing floor. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is described by saying it will gather the wheat into the garner (the place of safety). And the baptism of fire is described by saying it will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (the place of torment).
John’s description and explanation, clearly contradicts the unbiblical claims of the tongues movement.
1 Not one of them would receive a baptism with both the Holy Ghost and with fire. If they were baptized with fire, it would be because they were chaff or unbelievers.2 Christ was to be the baptizer and the baptism of the Holy Ghost was not merely the receiving of the Holy Spirit, but it put the wheat into the garner. It put the believers into the place of safety. All the believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit at salvation.4 The baptism with fire had nothing to do with the appearance of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which appeared like as tongues of fire as it sat upon each of them. The baptism with fire burned the chaff with unquenchable fire.
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:26-27). Water baptism cannot put anyone into Christ, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit can.“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13). It is by the baptism of the Spirit that we are put into the same church as the apostles were.
Therefore, Paul taught that we are baptized by the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus Christ into Christ and into the church which is his body.
It is in the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we are spiritually circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; being buried with him (not like him) in baptism, wherein also we are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col. 2:11---)
With the revelation that the middle wall of partition had been broken down and the law ordinances had been nailed to the cross, the fleshly washings, cleansings, purifications, etc. ceased to be observed by believing Jews.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. (Eph. 2, and
In Eph. 4:1-6, Paul named the seven fold unity of the spirit. All of them were spiritual. They were not a mixture of flesh and spirit. From this time forward, he declared that there was only ONE baptism in the unity of the Spirit for the church.
The truth has been in our Bibles all the while. Traditions and the doctrines of men have corrupted the minds of many and have held the attraction of their followers through subjection to ordinances,
“which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” (
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” (Acts 16:31).
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mk. 16:15-16.
Those, who believe the gospel of salvation, will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and be baptized into Christ and will put-on Christ (Gal. 3:27), receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Those, who believe not, will be damned; they will go where both body and soul will be destroyed in hell (Mat. 10:28).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
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