Friday, February 10, 2006

Speaking in tongues

“It would be an arbitrary and strange interpretation of Scripture that would make tongues-speaking in the New Testament anything other than known languages. There is no trace of Scriptural evidence that tongues were ever heard by anyone as incoherent, incomprehensible babbling.”-Lehman Strauss, “Speaking In Tongues”

“All these things being true, it is not difficult to see why God would use the speaking in tongues to express the greatest, most wonderful experience that mortal man could receive. In the baptism of the Holy Ghost, His Spirit and yours become one. He uses your tongue and voice to express it. It is a wonder of wonders, chosen not by man, but by God, the sovereign ruler of the universe. Why be found fighting against Him? Believe His Word, accept what He says and you too can receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”-Fred E. Kinzie, “Why Did God Choose Tongues?”

“Finally, I must conclude that I am convinced both biblically and experientially that when people receive the Holy Spirit they do indeed speak with other tongues. Now it is not tongues that we should seek for. As I heard one preacher say, "You don’t go to a shoe store and buy tongues. You buy shoes and the tongues come with the shoes." So it is with the Holy Spirit. We should seek to be filled with the Spirit and when we are we will speak with other tongues.”-William Arnold III, “Why I Speak In Tongues”

“Some gifts were intended to be temporary. I Corinthians 13:8—“where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” Notice tongues is associated with prophecy and knowledge. They always go together. These three gifts were given for the introductory stage of the church until the complete revelation of God was given. We now have that revelation in the Bible and we have no reason to expect any new revelation. Since there is no new gospel truth, there is no need for these gifts.”-Randy Childress, “Why I Don’t Speak In Tongues”

Interesting. One says that tongues are for today, one says they aren’t. They both turn towards the Bible to buttress their claims. The "cessationist" says that speaking in tongues means speaking in an actual language that someone understands. The miracle of different languages was needed in the beginning for the furtherance of the gospel, and was meant for the apostles to found the church. Once they died, tongues disappeared. Are they right? Let's see.

MARK 16:14-18
Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The general argument against speaking in tongues usually begins by saying that the word “tongues” in the Bible means languages. It most certainly does. In this passage it may mean languages; it may mean a private prayer language. But this passage doesn’t support the claim that they were only for the apostles. Jesus in this passage makes a connection between preaching the gospel, seeing people baptized, and seeing them perform miracles. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe….” The cessationists will argue that tongues have passed away; if they have, then why do they still baptize? Has that passed away also? Most certainly not. Yet the order here is “believes- baptized- signs.” "These signs will follow those who believe.” It isn’t saying that the signs are only for the apostles, only for the preaching of the gospel. The signs come after the gospel has been preached. They follow the belief.

ACTS 2:1-8
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

This is a definite case of people speaking in actual languages. Some have suggested that the miracle here was that the crowd heard the apostles in their own language; I would differ. The passage says that they (meaning the apostles and their posse) spoke in other tongues. But that’s neither hear nor there. These people were from many nations, yet they all understood the preaching. Mark one up for the cessationists here.

ACTS 8:14-19
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

This passage doesn’t specifically mention tongues, but let’s look at it a minute. Samaria had received the word of God and they were baptized. There wasn’t a need for a miracle to further the preaching of the gospel; it had already been preached. And Simon had already been following Phillip and conversed with the apostles; he didn’t need the use of another language to understand. So how did Simon know that the Holy Spirit had fallen? Was there some tangible sign that He had? Based upon all the passages in the book of Acts where the Holy Spirit fell, I believe that the sign was speaking in tongues that were unknown to all present.

The entirety of Acts 10 is devoted to the story of Cornelius, a centurion in an Italian regiment. He saw an angel who said that Simon Peter was coming. At the same time Peter saw a vision concerning animals that Jewish people considered unclean. A voice said “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” three times, and when Peter refused the voice said “What God has cleansed do not call common.” The message here is that Peter needed to preach to the Gentiles and not avoid them.

vv. 24-28
And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

Notice that Peter conversed with “them”, meaning that Cornelius wasn’t the only one that spoke Peter’s language. There wasn’t a need for a language miracle to preach the Gospel, as we see in vv. 34-35:

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”

And vv. 36-43 are the rest of Peter’s sermon.

vv. 44-46
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

How did “those of the circumcision” know that the Holy Spirit had fallen upon the Gentiles? “They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” Remember, they all spoke the same language. I propose that the only way they knew the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Gentiles was that they were speaking in languages unknown to both the speaker and the hearer. Why? You’ll have to take it up with God.

Next time I will cover 1 Corinthians 12-14 and further show that there is a definite difference between the tongues on the Day of Pentecost and tongues in the regular life of the church.


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