What about speaking in tongues?
Many of my Christian friends speak in tongues.
Why does our church say it is wrong?
Speaking in tongues is just one aspect of the charismatic movement
which began as Pentecostalism in about 1900. The movement is a confused
hotch-potch of doctrines and practises which has permeated much of
the modern church. That is, most churches are influenced by charismatic ideas
to some degree.
The larger picture
While many Charismatics claim to be Bible based, the movement is based
on the proposition that God talks directly to people through His Holy Spirit,
so people have personal revelation along side of Biblical revelation.
This fulfils 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly
says that in latter times some will depart from the faith,
giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. and
2 Timothy 4:3-4 The time will come when they will not endure sound
doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears,
they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears
away from the truth, and be turned aside into fables.
Jesus said It is written
'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the
mouth of God' (Matthew 4:4)'
In the context, it is the
word of God which has authority.
We maintain that there is no authority outside of the words of scripture.
We maintain modern prophecies and visions are at best self-deception and at
worst demonic in origin. We reject them because they can't be proved.
II Kings 13 reports the witness of a young true prophet, who was deceived
by an older false prophet, who lied. If you come to me with a prophecy, how
can I ascertain whether it is true? I will therefore reject it unless
it is the clear teaching of Scripture.
What is tongues?
Biblical tongues are earthly languages, understood by at least some
of those present, if not by the speaker. The message was always
praise to God. Acts 2:4-12, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:2-6.
Modern tongues are usually gibberish, words of no meaning to anyone,
either deliberate mubmo-jumbo or some
kind of physiological response to certain psychological stresses.
However, there is evidence that at least sometimes they are demonic -
especially when they involve cursing Christ in real languages.
Languages were created by God. When God created Adam, he could speak.
God confused the languages of men at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)
because they refused
to disperse around the world. In the future (millenium) men will again
worship God in a single pure language (Zephaniah 3:9, Hebrew?).
The knowledge of God in
the Old Testament was maintained by the Israelites in Hebrew.
When it came time to proclaim the gospel of salvation through believing
in Jesus Christ, the message was given in Gentile languages.
Mark 16:14-20 records that the apostles were given signs to
authenticate their message, including the ability to speak gentile
languages fluently. The same passage recounts the fulfillment of
the prophecy. The message is now established in the written Scriptures of
New Testament (there is nothing to be added - Revelation 22:18). While we have the
responsability of passing it on, we no not have the signs given to us
(when did you last drink a deadly thing?).
Signs are in fact limited in the bible to 3 particular periods:
Moses, Elijah/Elisha and Jesus/apostles, and always directed to the Jews.
The sign of tongues confirmed formation of the church, as a company
of believing Jews and Gentiles united in one body through faith in Jesus Christ.
'Speaking in Tongues' was not a normal part of Christian worship, either
private or public. In Acts 11:15-17 and 15:9-11,
Peter likens the events in Acts 10 to the events in
Acts 2, that was the only precedent.
What about the gift of tongues?
1 Corinthians 12-14 shows there was a spritual gift of
'speaking in tongues' which was misused and causing trouble
in the Corinthian church. Paul challenges those with the
gift to exercise self control.
It is a gift (12:7); i.e. given at the will of God, not the request of men,
for the edification of other believers (not the speaker),
It is not universally given (12:30).
It's function was as a sign to unbelieving Jews(14:22).
It was not to be used in the assembly, unless there was a translator
translating the message (14:27).
It will cease (13:10 stop being used).
It is evident these where gentile languages which could be
translated into the lingua franca. They were there
to convince skeptical Jews that this movement was of God.
It is claimed that 'speaking in tongues' is evidence of the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit',
even that you are not saved if you have not spoken in tongues.
This contradicts scripture.
Jesus said by their fruit shall ye know them (Matthew 7:16-17).
Many charismatic services major on
fulfilling the lusts of the flesh with dancing and music. This is not
taking up the cross daily and following me (Luke 9:23).
It contradicts the whole tenor of what 'walking worthy of Christ' is all
about (see for example Romans 13:14, Ephesians 4, 5:1-21).
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, gentleness, meekness,
self-control. (Galations 5:22).
It is evident that Christians who have accepted the doctrine
do not have a super spiritual life. Some are very zealous,
but zeal without truth is vain (c.f. Romans 10:2).
Many, after a period of hype,
drop right out of Christian service. Others try and follow
faithfulness to Scripture and tongues, leading to confusion.
Some seem never to appreciate that they were called to suffer with Him
that they might be glorified with Him.
Our role is not to judge or condemn, but to teach the truth
and urge people to follow it. We do not stop charismatics
from visiting us, provided they do not insist on teaching charismatic doctrine
(privately or publicly).
However we do not expect they can continue to fellowship
with us unless they renounce tongues
because the underlying differences are very fundamental (see 1 John 2:19).
Faith Hope and Love remain
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