The Doctrine of Speaking in Tongues


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The issue of speaking in tongues is one of many dividers in the church. One wing of the church not only ignores this gift, but also passionately rejects its existence. The other wing places the baptism of the Holy Ghost in such high regard, that without it you could be consider a “Little Christian.” They divide the Body between the have and the have not.

         But what is the truth concerning this issues? The truth is that speaking in tongues is indeed a gift and is one of two initial evidences of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:6 (KJV)

         The baptism of the Holy Ghost is available; is real… it is biblical. The initial evidence of such gift involves our call to edify each other (Prophecy) and our call to evangelize (Tongues). I will explain what this means as this article develops.

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         In the baptism of the Holy Ghost we see a clear definition of our purpose as Christians. It involves loving others; it involves compassion for the lost and the power of God. But we must address this issue biblically and passionately. We must reject this charismatic way of teaching this doctrine. The Pentecostals are wrong and Rodney Howard Browne is wrong and many like him are wrong. On the other hand, if you are a part of the more conservative wing of the church, you are also wrong for ignoring and even rejecting the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I respect John MacArthur, but on this issue you are also wrong.

         Now, I know these are very strong words, but let me take some time to explain what the Bible, not me, has to say about this.

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Speaking in Tongues as a Gift

         It is important to establish that when it comes down to the gifts of the Spirit, the Bible is clear that God does not want us to be ignorant.[1] In other words, this is something he wants us to know about.

         From First Corinthians 12 to 14 Paul is speaking about gifts and love; but he is actually rebuking the Corinthian Church for the abuse and the lack of understanding of this gift of speaking in tongues. People were going crazy, speaking in tongues everywhere, some even cursing God[2] (In tongues). The situation was out of control.

         Speaking in tongues is indeed a gift according to First Corinthians 12:10, “… to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:[3]

The Meaning of Tongues

         Now, this is where folks need to put their pride and selfish agendas to the side and actually look at what the Scripture is saying. How many of you know that the Bible was not written in English? The word tongues here is the word, glṓssa; essentially meaning, “speech or language.”[4] It is where we get the word Glossary, meaning, “a collection of textual glosses or of specialized terms with their meanings.”[5]
Almost every time you see the word tongues in the New Testament, you will see the Greek Word “Glossa”. We are talking about terms that make sense; they will not make any sense for somebody that does not understand that language; that is why Paul discourages speaking in tongues in our gatherings; it is a waste of time.

         I speak two languages, English and Spanish. I grew up speaking Spanish and learned English in school (Very little) and when I move to Florida (I am still learning). But if tomorrow I start speaking French, German, Russian or Chinese, beloved, that is the manifestation of a spiritual gift, a very impressive gift by the way.

         In First Corinthians 14 Paul is blasting this church with their ignorance and misuse of the gift of tongues. In verses 18 to 20 he states, “

I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. (NKJV)

         Again, the word that Paul is using here is the Greek Word “Glossa”.

Tongues a Sign to Unbelievers

In the law it is written:

“With men of other tongues and other lips

I will speak to this people;

And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,”

says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. First Corinthians 14:21-22 (NKJV)

         Now, when you see tongues as a language, then it is easy to understand why tongues are a sign for unbelievers, not a sign for the church. We can say then that speaking in tongues (A real language) is not only for self-edification,[6] but it is also an evangelistic tool.

         Imagine you going up to a Chinese person and tell him or her about Jesus in his or her own language? Imagine having a co worker from Russia and then out of nowhere during lunch time, after that Russian is aware that you don’t speak his or her language, you go on and tell him or her their need to repent and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? WOW! Now that is spectacular, that is indeed a sign from heaven.

       But this is not what we are doing in our charismatic churches. We are telling everybody to speak in the spirit (Tongues) in a congregational setting amongst the saints; something that is totally unbiblical. Now, if the pastor speaks in tongues while preaching; the Lord may do that because there is somebody in the congregation that speaks that language and God is desperate trying to save that person. Again, that is a powerful sign for an unbeliever.

The Power of Languages

         Let me take you back to Genesis 11 and the story of the Tower of Babel. All false religions have their roots in Babel, which is Babylon. Up to that point everyone spoke one language. God confused the languages as the direct consequence of their sins.

         In Acts, at the start of the church, God again uses languages; this time, everybody was able to understand each other, even as they were speaking different languages. Supernaturally, everybody that received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost became beyond bilingual, they became polyglot (They spoke and understood multiple languages as their own).

         The start of the church was a sign of God bringing his people in unity. Believe me when I tell you; Satan will fight against the unity of the Body of Christ until his last hour. But we will come together, not in some kind of ecumenical neoevangelistic way where unity is more important than what is taught. There will be unity in the Body of Christ under the banner of God’s Word and of God’s love.

 

 

 

 

[1] First Corinthians 12:1

[2] First Corinthians 12:3

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 1 Co 12:10.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[5] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/glossary

 

[6] First Corinthians 14:4

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