Tongues – Part Three
4. It is better to say five words with your understanding than 10,000 in a language that neither you, nor others understand.
(14:19) Let’s keep in mind, now, the purpose of the real gift of languages – to communicate the love of Christ. If I speak in a language about Jesus, and His marvelous love; and express it exactly the way the Scripture states it; if my audience does not understand the language I am speaking, the message is fruitless. The Gospel was to be understood by unbelievers; and, tongues – the genuine gift – was one means utilized by the Spirit of God to reach them.
Take any Sunday, of any week – including Easter and Christmas – and see if there are more lost people inside or outside the church. Obviously, the vast majority of lost people will not be within the church. See the Scriptures –
“Tongues are a sign…to them that believe not.” 1 Corinthians 14:22
These are the people that the gift of tongues was given to reach. Why, then, do churches persist in imitating the mistake, and sin, of the church at Corinth ? Why don’t those who have a genuine Biblical gift of tongues speak those languages in offices, warehouses, food stores, shops, public schools, etc. ? It is simple. Most of them know that no one would understand them…and their failure to communicate the Gospel in another language to people of that other language would be evidence that they did not have the Biblical gift of tongues.
Imagine a Christian with the gift of tongues called out to a new tribe, a new region where he or she has never gone. The language of the people is unknown to them. But, by the gift of the Spirit, they are enabled to communicate the Gospel to those people, even though they have never studied their language. THAT is how the Gospel grew around the world so quickly in the hundred years following the resurrection of our Savior. The Believers depended upon the gifts and moved throughout the world—with no need to go to language school.
Although what I am about to share with you is my own personal experience, I have heard of this happening to others, as well. In the 1980’s I was on business in Peru, South America. I did not know Spanish, so I depended upon the knowledge of English with my associates in Peru had. One morning, outside the city of Miraflores, my associates had sent a car to bring me to a meeting. The driver of the car was the nephew of a very important political leader in the government. I spoke with him in English, but he did not seem to understand what I was saying. As I looked at his face, the Spirit revealed that he was greatly troubled, and needed to know the Lord. I opened by mouth, and began to speak to him about the Lord’s love and care for him, and how Jesus had suffered, and knew more than anyone the pain of suffering. As I continued, I realized that what was coming out of my mouth was not English, but Spanish. When I was through, I looked at him, and tears rolled down his face, and he indicated that he would give his heart to the Lord Jesus. When we got to our meeting, a business associate confronted me, and said, “I thought you didn’t know Spanish.” “I didn’t,” I told him. “Well, our friend said that spoke to him fluently in Spanish of his need to repent to God and receive Jesus Christ as Savior.”
Our Lord did not command the lost to come to the churches; but He did command His Church to go to the people ! “Go ye into all the world…” (Matthew 28:19,20). As they go, the gifts of the Spirit go also, and are used as they were meant to be used. When these gifts remain strictly within the confines of the church, they become self-seeking, self-glorifying, unscriptural, and certainly not according to the purpose for which the Lord gave them.
5. Lost people have enough excuses for not accepting Christ, so why give them reasons to think that Christians are crazy, too ?
1 Corinthians 14:23 – “They will say that ye are mad.”
By clean living, holy living, and taking a firm stand upon God’s word, people will accuse Christians of being “different,” or crazy (while secretly respecting and admiring them in their hearts). That type of criticism is unjust; but, for a Christian who is close to the Lord, it must be expected.
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12.
But, to babble and jabber unintelligible gibberish, label it as “speaking in an unknown tongue,” will give the lost reason to conclude that a Christian may well be on his way to the asylum. That does not bring glory to the Lord ! If we do good, people might criticize, but they do so hypocritically, knowing that we are superior to them. But is we do that which neither God nor man can approve of, we can expect only just criticism and righteous persecution.
In many cases where lost people (and even saved folks) visited an unknown tongues-movement church they returned to their homes terrified of the events which took place. They did not have their understanding increased, nor did they in any way come closer to the Lord. As a matter of fact, many have rejected the message of all churches because of the frightening experience they may have had in a church which spoke in and unscriptural unknown-tongue. You cannot ignore the fact that thousands of people have been turned away from accepting Jesus because they tied in the heresy of the “Unknown Tongues-Movement” with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t ignore the facts ! The “Tongues-Movement” with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t ignore the facts ! The “Tongues-Movement” is hurting, not helping souls !
6. Much emotionalism is simply acted out or worked up, and is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Lest there be some misunderstanding soul who would accuse this writer of being against an honest show of emotions, let me state unequivocally that I firmly believe that a Christian, above all people, ought to be emotional. When the Lord enters into a life, he saves not only the soul, the body and the spirit; but he also enters into every part of that person’s life, including the emotions. For an individual to suppress his joy, or hide his Spirit-given love for the lost, or stifle the tears of compassion for all souls, would be sin !
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SPEAKING IN TONGUES
Having stated my position concerning emotions, let me go further. Without question, many people are worked-up into an emotional frenzy by skillful manipulators of men’s souls. Many so-called “Spirit-baptisms” are nothing more than the result of nerves so strung-out emotionally, that they respond to every suggestion by these so-called preachers. To say that of such behavior is of the Lord is deceitful and unscriptural !
A Christian does not lose control of his senses when under the control of the Holy Spirit, although this is what many churches say. The Lord has given to each man the ability to make personal decisions. That is why, when Adam and Eve were created, the Lord God did not make them as machines or computers who do everything they are told to do, and have no choice of their own. God wants us to submit to Him because we love Him, not because we have to. If you have children, you know how much it means when your little son or daughter would come to you, put his arms around your neck, and say, “I love you.” If you forced your child to say the same words, they would be meaningless. Much in the same manner, God wants us to submit to His will by our own choice and desire, not because we come under and “inescapable baptism” which forces its will upon us.
Hundreds of churches pass off and falsely act out a display, of worked up emotionalism as the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Some of the most disgraceful and morbid displays which have occurred in some churches have happened when so-called Christians come under what they call “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” During this time, some have rolled in spasms on the floor. Some have screamed horribly, as though dying. Some have lost control of their organs. Some have shaken violently, and been convulsive. There are a variety of things that people blame on the Holy Spirit; but be assured, whatever spirit these people came under was not the Holy Spirit of God ! He is not the author of such confusion ! See 1 Corinthians 14:33 for this.
Some will be angered by the Truth, suggesting that this study is designed to discredit the Holy Spirit. No such thing ! They say, “My Aunt So-and-so had such and experience, and if anybody was saved, she was !” Others say, “Old Mr. Jones was a real godly man, and he spoke in and unknown tongue all the time.” The story could go on and on. But the issue here is not what someone says that they experienced, but whether you will accept the authority of the Bible over and above the testimony of anyone else.
Look at the Book. You do not lose control of yourself under the power of God. You are given a choice to determine whether you will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. You are given a choice to determine whether you will obey the Holy Spirit or not. You can choose to yield to the Holy Spirit, or grieve Him through disobedience (Eph. 4:30). This ought to show that you have the option, to obey or disobey, and that you maintain complete control over your senses.
The widely circulated notion, however, is that “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you cannot help but speak in tongues, uncontrollably.” Whatever spirit brings about the shameful displays which turn sinners away from a loving God, is clearly not God’s Holy Spirit ! “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” 14:32
7. Women, the principle leaders in the tongues-movements, are commanded to maintain silence in the churches. 14:33-34
Many are the excuses for disobeying this clear command of God. Preachers who claim to be preaching the full Gospel, are often the guiltiest in leaving 1 Corinthians 14:33-34 out of their Gospel. Woe be unto any who would take away from the Word of God !
But, in spite of their logic and reasonings, this command does appear in the context of tongue-speaking. Evidently, the heresy at that time centered around women, much the way that it does today. Certainly, a woman has an important ministry to perform for the Lord. This writer does not intend to take away from the role of women in their Scriptural blessedness. Jesus recognized their dedication and usefulness in bringing souls to Him. They are compassionate – many times, more so than a man ! They care about little children – often more than a man will express. But, in spite of their blessedness, the Bible states that they are not to have positions in the church which will be over a man. Nor are they to speak in the church . . as we see in the context of speaking in tongues. How can the Scriptures be ignored as they are ? If a person eliminates one passage of Scripture, they will son find themselves leaving out others, and still others !
A large number of preachers in the “unknown tongue” churches are women. An even larger percentage of people who speak in “unknown tongues” are women. To enforce 1 Corinthians 14:34, would be to deal the death-blow to the Charismatic Movement as we know it today !
Who initiates “unknown tongues” in many non-charismatic churches ? It is often times the elder’s wife, the deacon’s wife, or the preacher’s wife ! Enforce the Word of God, and the present error will cease in a short time !
To summarize the answer to the original question, let us say that in the Bible there is nowhere any record of, endorsement of, or possibility of speaking in “an unknown tongue” as supposedly given by the Holy Spirit. There is obviously the command to be yielded to the Spirit of God, and use spiritual gifts—INCLUDING speaking and interpreting languages—to glorify our Savior. That includes the use of the true Biblical gift of speaking in actual languages, or tongues. What we generally see and hear about happening within many churches who have been influenced by Western show-business churches is non-Biblical, and nonsensical, and has done much to turn precious souls away from knowing Christ as Savior !