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"Tongues," Questioned and Answered Pt 2
Seekers and Skeptics
In the first part of this hub I told you I was writing this to two groups. The seekers, to encourage there decision to seek what they believe to be a deeper relationship with Christ, by receiving the infilling of the Holy Ghost. And to the skeptics not necessarily to convince them of our beliefs, but rather for them to at least understand why some of us believe the way we do concerning this issue.
To accomplish this I said I was going to go over the questions I have encountered most about this subject. There are 8 in all. Although I cannot speak for all Charismatic and Pentecostal believers my answers are according to my own personal beliefs.
I also explained, that I believe with all of my heart that this is a minor issue. That although very interesting, has no relevance whatsoever to the salvation of any believer.
So please by all means if you believe I’m wrong tell me why. I may respond that I have considered your argument and then explain why I still disagree. If that happens we then agree to disagree and we do not enter into foolish contentions.
So far I have only covered the first question.
1. “Isn’t tongues always an earthly language only given in order to preach the Gospel to unbelievers?”
In this hub I will be covering the next 4 Questions. 2. “If I hear someone speaking in tongues and they seem to be saying the same words over and over again, or stuttering over there words, could that be evidence that this person is faking?” 3.” Doesn’t the Spirit only give the gift of tongues to certain people as He wills, and not to everybody who would ask for it?” 4. “Paul said he would rather speak with understanding than with tongues. Isn’t he saying there that tongues are not desirable?” 5. “Aren’t the gifts like tongues passed away, and not for the church today?”
Now onto the second question.
2. If I hear someone speaking in tongues and they seem to be saying the same words over and over again, or stuttering over there words, could that be evidence that this person is faking?
Once again, tongues are not an earthly language. In fact they are a spiritual language. Whenever any one tries to utter with physical lips something that is spiritual it could come out in any number of ways. That person is being given utterance of something that cannot be uttered.
I have actually been asked this question by sincere people who were curious about tongues. Not the usual person trying to disprove charismatic beliefs on this subject. I usually tell them that although it is true that some people do unfortunately fake this gift. I wouldn’t want to try and decide who was and who was not. Lest I be guilty of judging the Holy Spirit.
I will say however that there are probably a lot less people faking this gift than you think. If you have been filled with the Spirit of God and know just how easy it is to obtain this gift. (God gives it so liberally.) You will tend to agree. Only people who have never received this gift think it’s something so extremely unattainable that so many people would have to fake it rather than muster up all the faith supposedly necessary to receive it.
In fact I myself obtained this gift with almost no faith at all that such a gift was even still active in the church today. That’s the subject of question 5 so we’ll talk about that later. But I had spent an extensive amount of time researching this subject with the pretension that I already knew that it was not for today. My study was not for knowledge or to learn the truth but rather for the purpose of proving the “truth” I believed that I had already known. In fact I was very good at debating Christians that disagreed with me concerning this and regrettably shook the faith of many and convinced others to resend there beliefs.
Then I met a woman who was actively involved in the Pentecostal, Charismatic faith. She couldn’t disprove any of my arguments nor could any of her friends. But their faith was not shaken by any of my so-called proofs. As I began to know them my faith was shaken. Not by arguments or wisdom of any kind but rather I saw the joy in their lives that I knew every Christian should have but I did not.
In a moment of weakness I prayed a simple prayer. I asked God to show me if I was wrong about this. I told Him that I knew that I wasn’t, but I needed reassurance. I told Him that I couldn’t take any chances of missing out on anything He might have for me. I told Him that if I was wrong I would like for Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit.
He answered my prayer in a big way. A few nights later I was moved by His Spirit in the middle of the night to worship Him. I began to go back and forth between praying and singing for several hours. After a while I realized that I had been repeating the same words over and over for several minutes. And they were no words I had ever heard before. Out of gut reflex I tried to stop myself but rather than stop I burst out in laughter. I knew that God had answered my prayer and I didn’t care that it was not the answer I was expecting.
I began a new study. This time I didn’t want to prove anything I just wanted to know the truth. This hub is one of many results of that epiphany.
Back to the question at hand, the answer to this question is no. The Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26-27.
3. Doesn’t the Spirit only give the gift of tongues to certain people as He wills, and not to everybody who would ask for it?
1st Corinthians 12:7-11 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Some versions say “each man individually.”
This passage for obvious reasons is what is used to argue that not everyone can speak in tongues. But there are some problems with that.
If you’re going to use that passage to say that only certain Christians will speak with tongues, then everything else listed in that passage would fall under the same rule. Like for example faith, listed in verse nine. Are only certain people given the gift of faith? A quick look at Romans 12:3 will answer that question.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
The answer is no. Everyone is given the measure of faith. Or how about prophesy? This is also listed in verse 10. Yet in 1st Corinthians 14:24 Paul advises that if a an unbeliever saw the whole church prophesying he would be saved. Paul even goes so far as to say we should desire that gift in 1st Corinthians 14:39. If he supposedly knows that only certain people will prophesy. Why would he then advise all to desire what he knows all can not have? Wouldn’t that breed discontent?
Paul even said in 1st Corinthians 14:5 that he wishes that they should all speak in tongues and even more so that they should all prophesy. He’s not saying “I wish” as in “if only it were so.” He’s saying I wish as in “this is what I want you to do.” Looking again at 1st Corinthians 12 7-11, I believe you will find that Paul wasn’t trying to exclude people at all from any gifts, but was making the point that each brother or sister in the body is given special gifting and talents to fit together and work together in one body.
Like for example one person might be better at singing than another. This doesn’t mean the other will never sing a praise to God, or that the person who is better at singing is a more important part of the Body. The other person might have a special gift of faith. (The ability to believe God without question or hesitation.) Whereas, the singer who is saved obviously has saving faith, but may still struggle with doubts and fears. Paul was making the point that neither the person with more faith or the person better at singing is more important to God.
We know this is also the case with tongues, because of context. As I said earlier in question one, you must know the bible. You must read all of it, not just the isolated parts that seem to back up your theology. In Mark 16:17 Jesus himself said that those who believe would speak with new tongues. He also says they will heal the sick among other things. I don’t believe He was saying those who believe the Gospel would do these things. I believe he was saying of those who believe the gospel that whoever believes he will do those things listed, will.
Their are special gifts of the Spirit that not everyone has. I already mentioned faith, the gift of faith is different than the measure of faith. Every Christian has been given the measure of faith or they wouldn’t be Christians. But the ability on occasion to believe God without question or doubt comes on a believer as the Spirit wills. Then there is the gift of tongues, I believe I already proved that the apostles spoke in what may sound like gibberish, this is tongues. Every Christian can acquire, and will acquire upon being filled with the Holy Ghost. But I know of times when people have spoken in a specific language from here on earth, at a time needed. That only happens rarely and as the Spirit wills. Also, the gift of healing is a good one. If healing was a gift only given to those that the spirit chooses then why does James say to have the elders lay hands on the sick and they will be healed?
The Holy Ghost doesn’t decide who will be an elder that is the job of Church leaders. So it would seem then that the gift of healing is as the church wills. No the gift of healing that chapter refers to is a miraculous type of healing that is not initiated by faith or by oil but by the will of the Spirit at the time that He desires and on the person whom He desires. My Pastor was instantly healed of asthma upon salvation, he wasn’t believing to be healed and as far as I know he hadn’t asked anyone to pray for his healing. He just gave his life to Christ and was healed. That is one way the gift of healing manifests itself. Not everyone who has asthma will instantly be healed upon salvation that is as the Spirit wills.
So the third question, “Doesn’t the Spirit of God only give the gift of Tongues to certain people as He wills?” The answer is "yes." The Spirit only gives the “gift” of tongues to those whom He wills, but all who believe will speak with new tongues, and will pray in the Spirit. That is all who believe that they will speak such will, not all who believe the Gospel and are saved.
All of us should desire to speak in tongues.1 Corinthians 13:31, 1 Corinthians 14:5&39.
All who believe they will speak in tongues, will. Mark 16:17.
The Spirit makes intercession for us not some of us. Romans 8:26
4. Paul said he would rather speak with understanding than with tongues. Isn’t he saying there that tongues are not desirable?
1 Corinthians 14:19 Yet 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.
More than one person has told me that Pentecostal and Charismatic believers place way to much emphasis on speaking in tongues based on this verse. But read the verse, Paul said “in the church” he would rather speak with understanding. He wasn’t belittling tongues because in the verse right before that he thanked God that he himself spoke in tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
Why would he have spoken in tongues so excessively (“more than ye all”) if he didn’t think it was important?
The answer to this question is no. Paul wasn’t saying that speaking with understanding is more important than speaking with tongues. He was explaining that tongues were for self edification and that in order to edify the church you speak with understanding, you should prophesy. (1st Cor 14:2-5) He wasn’t saying you should do one and not the other. In fact he said that he himself did both.
1 Corinthians 14:15 What 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.
5. Aren’t the gifts like tongues passed away, and not for the church today?
1 Corinthians 13:8-10Charity 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. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Many people believe and preach that the Bible is perfect, as in complete and without error. I am one of those people. But some make the connection that since the Bible is perfect it is then what the above passage was referring too. They say that tongues and prophesy were all necessary as a sort of substitute for the Bible while the church awaited it’s completion. But no longer necessary since we no longer needed prophets and such to know God we had His Word.
If the Bible referred only to tongues in the historical sense, like in the book of acts dealing with how the apostles used it, I might be somewhat persuaded of that argument. But the Bible speaks of how the Church should use and flow in the gift of tongues. It also gives us several examples of how this gift benefits the Church. Why would the Bible itself instruct us on the use and usefulness of a gift that would vanish upon completion of the Bible? Does that even make sense?
Another reason they say the Bible is what is referred to is because the passage says we know in part. In other words the prophesies and manifestations of the gifts gave them part of the picture or a hint of it. The Bible would be the full picture. Once they had the full picture there was no longer any need for the hints. But does the Bible really give us the full picture? The passage goes on to say what that full picture is.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12 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.
To me that describes a full understanding “face to face.” That I would understand as well as I know myself. “Even as I am known.”
If the bible provides that clear of an understanding then why does the church still yet dispute theologies such as the one I’m discussing? Because we are still striving to understand, we’re still growing in Christ and the knowledge of Him. We are still Children and have not become men as described.
I’ve also had someone explain to me that the Holy Ghost is perfect and also brings understanding therefore the Holy Ghost is what is referred to in that passage. I agree that the Holy Ghost is perfect. But these gifts began upon the arrival of the Holy Ghost. They didn’t cease.
Here’s an idea. Rather than speculate and try to figure out what the Bible means by “that which is perfect.” Let’s just let the Bible explain what the Bible means by it. That which is perfect is best described in verse 12.
1 Corinthians 13:12 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.
“Face to face.” When we see Christ face to face as prophesied time and time again in the Bible we shall know Him, even as we are known.
Psalms 17:15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.
Psalms 41:12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.
Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
The answer to this question is "no." Tongues have not yet passed away, but I eagerly wait for them too.
Revelation 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
That will conclude the second part of this hub. I still hope you enjoyed it and learned something from it. Once again the purpose of this is not to convince anyone one way or another. It is simply to clarify why I believe what I do concerning this subject.
In the last part of this hub I will be answering these questions according to my understanding and beliefs.
6. “At some charismatic services, several if not all the people will speak in tongues at the same time. Doesn’t the bible say that only two or three people at most should speak in tongues at once?”
7. “Don’t you get the baptism of the Holy Ghost when you get saved?”
8. “Why would I want to be baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues?”
Then I’m gonna throw in a bonus question that I believe is more important to know than any of these.
I said I would try to get all of these posted within the next 24 to 48 hours. This is still my goal. God bless.