Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California

Copyright 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved


The Gift of Tongues

The eighth temporary spiritual gift is the gift of tongues. The Greek word for tongue or a language is glossa where we get the theological word "Glossophalia." This word combines the Greek word glossa with the Greek word phalia which means speaking. Therefore, "Glossophalia" means to speak in another language or tongue. It simply means the gift of foreign languages. Glossa means a common, everyday language. The spiritual gift of tongues was the ability of a person to speak eloquently in a language without knowing that language. This gift was the ability to share the Gospel in a foreign language. The content of the gift of tongues was always the Gospel. Tongues was not emotional gibberish or drunken speech. It was a spiritual gift that functioned only under certain circumstances and involved the Holy Spirit controlling the vocal cords so that the speaker uttered a foreign language not previously known by the communicator, but known to some unbeliever nearby who was listening. The use of the gift was a warning to the Jews of the impending fifth cycle of discipline. The fifth cycle of discipline for Israel transpired in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem.

The word tongue, in the New Testament, means a language or dialect that someone else understands. The word "unknown" in the King James version of 1 Corinthians 14:4, is not found in the original manuscript. It is not in an unknown tongue. The Christians in the early church who had this gift had a supernatural gift to communicate in a language which they did not understand. The purpose of speaking in tongues was always to give the Gospel. The content of tongues was always the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 is a quotation from Isaiah 28:11-12. Tongues was a sign to the Jews and was only for unbelievers.

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. (1 Corinthians 14:4) KJV

In the Law it is written, "By Men of Strange Tongues And by The Lips of Strangers I Will Speak to This People, And Even So They Will Not Listen to me," says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. (1 Corinthians 14:21-22)

Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11-12)

The Legitimate Use of the Gift of Tongues

The legitimate use of the gift of tongues was speaking the Gospel in a foreign language understood by at least three people according to 1 Corinthians 14:26-28. Further, no more than three should speak in tongues in any single gathering. Further, they should do it in order. This was wherever people gathered to hear. It was in congregations, in open fields, and in meeting places. This was true no matter what the evangelistic setting, whether it was personal evangelism, a group of unbelievers, whether it was out of doors or in a church building. At least one of the three had to be an unbeliever that needed to hear the Gospel in his own tongue. Another of the three had to be a believer with the gift of tongues. The third had to have the gift of interpretation of tongues. The target of the gift of tongues was always the one being evangelized. There was great power when speaking in tongues. There was a great flow of words in the mind of the speaker. The believer who possessed this temporary spiritual gift had the vocabulary come out of his mouth when he did not even know what he was saying.

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. (1 Corinthians 14:26-28)

The local churches met primarily in homes up to the fifth century A.D. They met wherever a group would gather to hear the Word. They never met in a so-called church or religious building until the advent of Catholicism. It may have been one of the worst things to happen to Christianity. If people today came to a home or some type of study that was very relaxed, not something beautiful and appealing to one's esthetic side, the issue would more likely be clearly taught Bible doctrine. Instead, in many churches, they appeal to the emotions with colorful stained glass, pipe organs, and beautiful classical music as a preliminary to some worship services. Worship of God should be very informal and non-ritualistic. That's the beauty of having Bible study in homes. Every denomination in the United States recorded a significant loss in membership and attendance in recent years. What an open market we have today to evangelize and share Bible doctrine with those who might be positive.

With the church meeting in homes until the fifth century A.D., those early centuries were the most powerful, the most fruitful, and the most productive as far as outreach was concerned in both evangelism and missionary activity. In a church service in the period between 30 and 70 A.D., God the Holy Spirit motivated certain Christians who were Spirit filled to get up and give the Gospel to unbelievers in the group in a foreign language. God the Holy Spirit knew there were unbelievers there who needed to hear the Gospel in their own dialect.

The believer with the gift of tongues, whether in Jerusalem or somewhere else, would think the Gospel very quickly, stand up and open his mouth and lo and behold, he gave all Gospel information in Koine, maybe in Hebrew or Aramaic, Latin or whatever was indigenous to the people to whom he was speaking. Apparently, the gift of tongues was always the eloquent use of the idiom of another language. Generally, it was a common presentation, the language of the street, and that is what the Greek word glossa implies. The person with the gift of tongues would not get up and tell the unbeliever he was spiritually dead. He would not tell them that Adam's original sin had been imputed to their Old Sin Nature and that they needed regeneration and propitiation. It was not something that was eloquent in technical theological language. The Greek word glossa means, common, everyday language. So much so that Paul dipped into the language of the gutter in Galatians 5:10-18 really to make a point. The Galatians had been saved by grace through faith and justification by faith. Nevertheless, they had apostatized and had rebelled against salvation by grace and believed they were saved by keeping the Mosaic Law with a big emphasis on the men being circumcised. Paul told them that if they thought circumcision had anything to do with salvation, then they should go ahead and emasculate themselves like some priests did in that day. That's the language of the gutter. That really communicates the point of doctrine. There was not a person in the Galatian church who did not know what Paul was saying. He was using the common everyday idiom of the streets.

I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. Would that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Galatians 5:10-18)

Those with the gift of tongues always gave the Gospel in the eloquent use of another language. This eloquence produced fantastic stimulation in the emotion, from which the speaker had a soulish response. The emotions are in the soul. The emotional response had nothing to do with his being Spirit-filled. It had nothing to do with the content of the Gospel information in the human spirit and resident in the speaker’s soul. The emotion was a response to all of that fantastic grace function.

Just imagine what it must have been like in the period of 30 to 70 A.D. with the gift of tongues. You could go into a place where foreigners hung out and start passing out tracts, talk to a group of people, and start thinking the Gospel. You would have thought of it in your own language, but when you opened your mouth, out would come some language you had never heard before. Wouldn’t that be emotionally stimulating? It would be most stimulating to think in your own language, open your mouth and give the Gospel in another language. You see, we can't do that, because that gift ended in 70 A.D.

The Purpose of the Gift of Tongues

The purpose of tongues was only to communicate the Gospel. God the Holy Spirit guided the person in the use of tongues as it was to be used for evangelism. The individual on his own would not know when to use the gift. God the Holy Spirit knew when unbelievers were present. He would control this Christian who would be Spirit-filled on the basis of confession of sin. God the Holy Spirit would motivate him to put the gift into operation. This person had to use his own free will either going along with the leading of the Spirit or rejecting His leading. Of course, if we reject His leading, we quench the Holy Spirit, we extinguish His power and we grieve Him. We grieve in sorrow. We sorrow in the termination of the relationship. We terminate relationship of our fellowship with God the Holy Spirit, but we don't lose our salvation. We are not out of relationship, we're simply out of fellowship when we grieve or quench the Holy Spirit.

The Cessation of the Gift of Tongues

The gift of tongues was also the first temporary spiritual gift to cease. It was removed in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophecy of tongues had been fulfilled at that point in time. From 30 to 70 A.D., the Jews had 40 years of maximum, spectacular evangelism in Jerusalem. Jerusalem had been evangelized through supernatural abilities such as tongues, interpretation of tongues, healings, miracles, and other signs and wonders. People even came by and touched the hem of Peter's robe to be healed. Handkerchiefs were distributed and by touching one, people were healed.

The responsibility of the nation of Israel was the development and custodianship of the Old Testament Scriptures, doctrinal teaching within the nation, and evangelism of other nations (Gentile) through missionary activity. Even though Jews traveled extensively as merchants making money, they did not send out missionaries as they should have to evangelize the Gentiles.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 shows us that this gift was temporary and ceased to function in 70 A.D. It ceased because its purpose was over. The "perfect" is the completed Canon of Scripture. The "partial" are the nine temporary spiritual gifts. They were no longer needed once the Canon of Scripture was written and disseminated throughout the Roman Empire.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

The Old Testament Prophecy of Tongues

The beginning of the prophesy of tongues was with Isaiah’s warning of the impending destruction (Fifth Cycle of Discipline) of the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Isaiah’s prophecies also applied to the Northern Kingdom which was spiritually degenerating the same way due to national negative volition to the Word of God. Isaiah 28:8-12 describes some of the degeneracy of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place. "To whom would He teach knowledge? And to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast? "For He says, 'Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there.'" Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:8-12)

The prophets and priests had very few to teach doctrine to because of the widespread negative volition. This national degeneracy was causing God’s divine discipline to their client nation to be increased to get them to understand the error of their ways and to return to God’s plan for their individual lives. They did not. Isaiah wrote that the only hope was in the children because the adults were indifferent to the spiritual life.

Alcoholism was prevalent in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The majority of the Jewish population was drunk most the time and had continual slurred speech due to their inebriated state. As a client nation, God had instructed them to send out missionaries to convert the Gentiles around them. They failed to do so. Instead of giving the Gospel to unbeliever Gentiles, they were drunk and had slurred speech which sounded like a Gentile language instead of their own clear and concise Hebrew. The Northern Kingdom was about to be destroyed by the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom would soon be destroyed by Chaldea. The phrase "Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue" speaks of the last Jewish client nation, Judea, and the clear warning it would receive before its destruction. Judea was destroyed in 70 A.D. by Rome.

Hearing the Gospel communicated in a foreign or Gentile language was to be the warning to the Jews in the last client nation of Judea that they were about to be destroyed due to national negative volition and spiritual degeneracy. This was the prophecy for the temporary gift of tongues. Tongues was used to evangelize Jews in Gentile languages. Because the Jews failed to go to the Gentiles as missionaries, the gift of tongues or Gentile languages was used to evangelize the Jews. This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. That was the beginning of the warning that the Jew’s nation would be destroyed by God’s discipline to their nation. Judea would cease to exist and would never exist again until the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. The first warning was given on the Day of Pentecost. From 30 to 70 A.D., the Jews were evangelized by the gift of tongues. This gift came to a very sudden close in August of A.D. 70 when Jerusalem was overrun and destroyed by the Romans.

Though Jews traveled widely as merchants, they hated the Assyrians. Jonah was a good example. Although God told their missionaries to go to Assyria to evangelize them, most went elsewhere. The few missionaries that did go there resulted in thousands being saved which changed the course of Assyrian history. Jonah illustrates this in Jonah 3:1-5 and Jonah 3:10. This positive response to the Gospel only made Jonah mad such that he went out and sulked for days. How God dealt with his sin is the story of the worm and the gourd or plant in Jonah 4:1-11.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you." So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. (Jonah 3:1-5)

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. (Jonah 3:10)

But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life." And the LORD said, "Do you have good reason to be angry?" Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered. And it came about when the sun came up that God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, "Death is better to me than life." Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "I have good reason to be angry, even to death." Then the LORD said, "You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. "And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?" (Jonah 4:1-11)

Jonah was typical of Jewish missionary activity. Very few missionaries went out. Those few who went out were highly successful, because God sent them to places where the people were literally waiting for the Gospel message. Isaiah prophesied the destruction of all three Jewish client nations: the Northern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom, and Judea at around 725 B.C. when Isaiah 28 was written. The Jews sought signs, and Isaiah was the great prophet of signs. Isaiah warned of the coming of the fifth cycle of discipline which would occur four years later to the Northern Kingdom. From the alcoholic slurred speech of the drunks of Israel came the speech warning of the future, the warning of the fifth cycle of discipline through the spiritual gift of tongues during the first 30 years of the Church Age.

Just as drunken speech was a warning in 725 B.C., so the gift of tongues would be a warning on the day of Pentecost and thereafter for 40 years until the fall of Israel. Interestingly enough, those who spoke in tongues on the day of Pentecost were considered "drunk" by the crowds. So drunkenness was in the prophecy, and drunkenness was alleged though not true in the fulfillment of the prophecy. Isaiah 28:11 was so important that it was quoted (in capitals for emphasis) in the tongues passage in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 by Paul.

Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, (Isaiah 28:11)

In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me," says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. (1 Corinthians 14:21-22)

Isaiah 28:11 presents the fulfillment of the sign or prophecy of tongues. This prophesy was given in the overall context of God's judgment being visited upon the Northern Kingdom. Isaiah prophesied that Israel would be conquered by a foreign nation. It would be a nation that spoke a faltering and stammering tongue or language when compared to the beautiful flow of Hebrew. This prophecy concerned the Assyrians. The Assyrians, a Gentile people, speaking a language that the Jews did not speak, would come in and conquer the Northern Kingdom. They would destroy them and would remove them from their lands and put them into slavery under the fifth cycle of discipline. The Southern Kingdom of Judah would be put under the fourth cycle of discipline.

The prophecy in Isaiah 28:11 deals with a future event when foreigners or Gentiles would come and present the Gospel to the Gentiles living in the nation of Israel in a language other than Hebrew. In this way, God is going to speak to His ancient people in Israel in Gentile languages. This prophecy concerns the Jews being judged by Gentiles speaking in Gentile languages.

First Uses of the Gift of Tongues

The first occurrence of the gift of tongues is presented in Acts 2:1-4. All the disciples were gathered in one place waiting for the Day of Pentecost. As Jews, they knew the Jewish timetable of the feasts. It was now the feast of Pentecost and they knew that was the sign of the beginning of God’s divine discipline to Israel. When the tongues or languages were distributed along with the indwelling and filling with the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in foreign languages. Remember that these disciples were uneducated Jews from Galilee who spoke only their native language of Aramaic with a bit of Hebrew they had learned. They did not know Gentile languages.

And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

Acts 2:5-11 describes the audience. During the time when the first four feasts were celebrated (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost), Jerusalem always had a tremendous number of Jews, visiting from Africa and Turkey, Greece and Rome, even India and China. At this time, many were Jewish unbelievers.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." (Acts 2:5-11)

These devout Jews had moved to Jerusalem. When this sound occurred, the crowd of Jewish pilgrims came together and were thrown into confusion because they were each hearing the first Church Age believers speak in their own Gentile language. They were astonished at this because they knew those who spoke their language were uneducated Galileans. They were amazed at how they could hear them speaking their native languages of the Parthians or Persians, Medes, Elamites or Akkadians, residents of Mesopotamia who spoke Assyrian and Babylonian, residents of Judea who spoke Hebrew and Cappadocia who spoke old Hittite, residents of Pontus and the Roman province of Asia who spoke the language of Phrygia, residents of Pamphylia, residents of Egypt who spoke Egyptian, Coptic and Arabic, the districts of Libya around Cyrene or northern Africa, visitors from Rome who spoke Latin, both Jews and Cretans and Arabs who spoke five different dialects. These Jews were told that Jesus Christ was the God of Israel and that the Messiah had come and would go to the cross and would be judged for the sins of the world. This is an example of how the gift of tongues had doctrinal content even from the beginning.

With all those different languages being spoken at the same time, it sounded very confusing to one approaching - almost like stammering or stuttering. To those negative to the Gospel, it sounded like drunkenness and slurred speech. Peter cleared up this misunderstanding in Acts 2:15.

"For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; (Acts 2:15)

In Acts 10:44-48, Peter had heard about the Gentile Pentecost. While Peter was still talking, those who were listening to the message received the Holy Spirit. The Jewish believers who were with Peter were amazed because the Gentiles had also received the gift of tongues. They heard the Gentile believers speak in foreign languages. The gift of tongues was first given to Jewish believers and then to Gentile believers.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. (Acts 10:44-48)

The religious unbelievers are the hardest to reach, especially Jewish unbelievers. They are the hardest nuts to crack. They had all come to Jerusalem for the holy days. There all the religious unsaved Jews gathered and there was a tremendous barrier. How was it going to be penetrated? It was to be penetrated through the gift of tongues. This was the sign of tongues and the prophecy of tongues. Tongues was used by God to evangelize these hard-headed religious Jews. Though there were many who would reject Christ, there were still 3,000 saved on the Day of Pentecost. The barrier was penetrated. It was overcome by the gift of tongues.

The Church Age and a New Modus Operandi

Pentecost began the Church Age and a new modus operandi began immediately. Spiritual gifts came into operation. In the Age of the Gentiles and the Age of the Jews, there were no spiritual gifts. There were talents and abilities, such as David being a king, a singer and musician, a great military man and great leader. He used all of that for the glory of God, but the only spiritual gift given and mentioned in Old Testament times is the gift of prophecy. Some men had both the gift and the office, but here in the Church Age, you have every Christian receiving a spiritual gift. The Church Age is a very special age, a unique age, the age of mystery doctrine, an age of great provision and assets not existing in Old Testament times. It is a supernatural means of spiritual life. All of that has been provided under the power and filling of the Holy Spirit enabling you to identify and utilize your spiritual gift to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Perspective of the Gift of Tongues

The fact that the gift of tongues was the first gift given by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost does not mean that it was the most important gift. In the Pre-canon period of the Church Age, especially from 30 to 70 A.D., the emphasis was on spectacular, temporary supernatural gifts such as apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healing, and the gift of speaking in different languages or tongues. Tongues is the very last on the list. This is the very gift the charismatics make number one. Paul puts it last in 1 Corinthians 12:28. It is the least gift in order of importance. Tongues is the last gift listed. Unusual activities took place in the Book of Acts. Acts presents the early history of the Church Age which was a transitional period from the Age of the Law to the Church Age. All of this information must be regarded in light of the fact that the Canon of Scripture was not yet completed or circulated.

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28)

The purpose of the gift of tongues was evangelization and is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:9-12. Therefore, during this period of the Book of Acts, we have this great crash program called temporary spiritual gifts. It was a stopgap measure to take up the slack which later would be taken up permanently, completely and eternally by the Word of God in the completed Bible.

So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. (1 Corinthians 14:9-12)

The gift of tongues was discontinued in 70 A.D. with the fall of Jerusalem, when the Jews went out under the fifth cycle of discipline and entered into their worldwide dispersion because of their continual rejection of Christ. In proper perspective, the gift of tongues was used to warn of that event. This was both a warning to the Jews and to evangelize them. We see in 1 Corinthians 14:14-22, that tongues were a sign, not for believers, but the Jewish unbelievers in Jerusalem.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also. Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me," says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. (1 Corinthians 14:14-22)

I know the proper perspective of tongues today can be especially hard for college age young people. One college age person told me about a fellow collegiate who had said they only use the gift as a personal act of worship. This person said his friend seemed so genuine, so sincere, and so humble about it. Young believers like that could be led astray because of the apparent sincerity of the charismatics. You must first rely on the consistent correct teaching from the Word of God in Bible class rather than the apparent sincerity of charismatics or any other group of believers caught under false teaching.

It doesn't matter how sincere they sound, what they say, what they do, or how they say they use tongues as a personal worship for the Lord. Tongues was never designed for that purpose. It was a public gift. It was to be used in the public setting of the local church in giving the Gospel to an unbeliever. If there was no one to interpret, they were not to speak in tongues. They were to stay in their seats and think the Gospel through without speaking it aloud. Just because a person could speak and think in another language didn't mean they had the gift of tongues. That may just have been the language they grew up under and it was easier to think in their native tongue. We must remember the proper perspective on the gift of tongues. We must understand that the perspective, the purpose and the power behind the gift.

The Perversion of Tongues Through Emotionalism

The perversion of tongues was that the Corinthians had made this, the least of all spiritual gifts, the most important. They thought of it as the badge of spirituality. It was a very stimulating thing to the emotions of the believer to use the gift of tongues. This would often produce ecstatics and these ecstatics would confuse the Corinthians. Here is where the perversion of tongues occurred for the Corinthians who made speaking in tongues the basis for spirituality and the spiritual life. It was confusing to them and others in the congregation desired the emotion and the ecstatics. They were not behaving as spiritual believers, but natural or just like an unbeliever without the Holy Spirit. They were making emotion the criterion for spirituality which meant they were not filled with the Holy Spirit and behaving as though they were unbelievers. This was confusing to the believers and unbelievers alike. Remember, 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 says that unbelievers are natural which is body and soul only. Believers are body, soul, and spirit. Unbelievers cannot understand Bible principles because learning God’s Word requires the filling of the Holy Spirit. Only believers have this.

From the soul you can have emotional activity, so much so that the emotions can control the soul. That's what happens to Christians who make emotion the criteria for spiritual life, rather than Bible doctrine. What we need to be is not natural people, but spiritual people who have God the Holy Spirit controlling the soul, feeding on the Word of God every day, and having just a very natural, normal bona fide emotional response as a result of our spiritual growth.

which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)

What's the explanation for believers who allegedly speak in tongues? Emotion. Pseudo-tongues from the believer is the expression of emotional arrogance. The warning against emotional revolt of the soul is given in 2 Corinthians 6:11-12. Paul preached to them accurately, but they had been hindered by their own emotions or affections.

Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O' Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. (2 Corinthians 6:11-12)

Emotion is not a part of spirituality. Emotion is related to the physiological function of the human body, not the human spirit. Under extreme emotion, anyone can cause strange sounds come from their mouths. Believers are commanded to separate from emotional legalists, do-gooders, holy rollers, the tongues crowd, and everyone who uses their emotion rather than doctrine as a criterion for the spiritual life. In Romans 16:17-18, Paul is urging fellow believers to look out for those who are causing dissensions or splits in churches and apostasies contrary to Bible doctrine. He is telling them to turn away from the emotional crowd because such believers in emotionalism are not slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ, but slaves to their own emotions. In this state, they deceive ignorant believers with their smooth and flattering speech.

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18)

Emotionalism is NOT spirituality. The ecstatics and emotions which came from the use of tongues in leading the person to Christ were confused with spirituality by the Corinthians, and therefore not beneficial. It was just another of the long list of pseudo systems of spirituality. Today, some Christians emphasize that you're not really filled with the Spirit unless you're witnessing. Witnessing is not the basis for the filling of the Spirit. Witnessing is to be a result of the Spirit-filled life and maximum divine truth in the soul to be applied to life.

A recent development in pseudo-spirituality that's catching on in evangelical circles is taking in the Word of God through subliminal impulses. There are cassettes out there now that claim that you can do this. This is absolutely wrong! The cassette may only have sounds of the ocean, the waves splashing, pleasing music, and other pleasant sounds. That's what you hear. The producer says that subliminally, the entire New Testament is on these tapes. Of course, you don't hear that. But you're getting it... Right...

Imagine! You don't have to read and study your Bibles anymore. Just put on these tapes and you'll get the message via feedback. A lot of people are into that. It’s ridiculous, but sometimes it seems to work. Do you know why? Satan's behind it. It produces results, but it's not spirituality. Christians are touting this as spirituality. Get the tapes. Listen to them and all these subliminal impulses will get into your subconscious. Did you know the Bible never deals with the subconscious? Never. The Bible emphasizes your conscious thinking. It’s in the mind where you do your thinking, have your knowledge, your norms and standards, and your frame of reference. It never emphasizes the unconscious. It emphasizes your conscious thinking and your volition. Yet, there are ministries out there where everything is related some way or other to the unconscious or subconscious. The important thing the Bible emphasizes is the conscious mind and the volition.

The whole idea of this subliminal spirituality is that you're to pick up these biblical concepts as you listen to the tape. People are lulled into acceptance of this simply by listening to two audio tapes. Those that came up with this idea have become millionaires and are probably laughing at all the Christian idiots who have fallen for it. They’re laughing all the way to the bank. It’s just another system of pseudo spirituality. True spirituality is God the Holy Spirit controlling the soul - your conscious soul with emphasis on your motivation. The Word of God focuses in on the thought pattern in your soul.

Three Different Operations of the Gift of Tongues

The gift of tongues operated three different ways. One way involved preaching the Gospel to groups of unbelievers because tongues was for unbelievers, not believers. The content for the gift of tongues was always the Gospel. The second way involved someone praying in tongues. The third way was when someone was singing in tongues. The believer often thought the Gospel and was motivated to sing the message.

We don't know if the Holy Spirit provided the melody as well as the lyrics in a foreign language. It's possible He provided both. The most probable way was the believer with the gift of tongues using common folk melodies to present the Gospel. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, they would use psalms, Gospel songs, and testimony songs and stand up and sing in tongues.

The charismatics do that in our own day and age, but when they get up, it's gibberish. They do not interpret or have someone else to interpret, because it is not in any known language at all. 1 Corinthians 14:26-28 says that if more than one with the gift of tongues were motivated to share the Gospel message, there should be two or at most three who decide to do it and each should do it in turn. Most importantly, they should let someone with the gift of interpretation of tongues interpret, but if there is no interpreter present, then they should all refrain from speaking in tongues in the church. Whether it's preaching, praying or singing, the believer speaking in tongues had to have someone else with the gift of interpretation to provide the interpretation.

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. (1 Corinthians 14:26-28)

Prayer and the Gift of Tongues

Praying, preaching, and singing in tongues was legitimate after 30 A.D. and prior to 70 A.D. According to 1 Corinthians 14:13-17, the conditional clause "if" in the phrase "For if I pray in a tongue" is a third class condition in the original Greek and means maybe I will and maybe I won't. This part of the Word of God shoots down the charismatics erroneous belief in tongues. This is because tongues depended on whether someone had been given the gift by the Holy Spirit at salvation and whether they were motivated by God the Holy Spirit. In contrast, the charismatics say every Christian must have this experience. They say that if you don't have this experience, you can never know if you were saved at all, and you can never really be spiritual. By this, they would make "if" into first class condition, and it's not. It's a third class condition in the original language. It depends on those who have the gift and are motivated to use the gift.

Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also. Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. (1 Corinthians 14:13-17)

The phrase "my spirit prays" is not a reference to the human spirit. It was a motivation to use the gift under the power of the Holy Spirit and be involved in the emotional experience and response that came from possessing this gift. The word "spirit" is not always used for human spirit. In some contexts, it is used for the function of the soul such as human reasoning or rationalism. In 1 Corinthians 14:13-17, it refers to being greatly motivated to use that gift because it could be used to lead people to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have the gift of evangelism, you should be motivated to use it. If you don't, you should still be motivated to do the work of an evangelist such as witnessing and being thinking the Gospel when around others so you will be ready to witness if the opportunity arises. You should be motivated to declare this wonderful news of salvation available to all due to the work of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful." in 1 Corinthians 14:13-17 means that if someone was to use this spiritual gift, but did not have the ability to interpret it, or if others could not interpret it, it's was not going to do them any good.

Prayer in tongues was bonafide only under the condition of someone receiving Christ and the prayer was offered in tongues. The Lord promised in John 3:15-16 that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would be given everlasting life. He also said in John 10:28-30 that salvation was eternally secure and was based on the omnipotent power of the Father. Now, that's eternal security. It's like God the Father reaching down and grabbing you by one hand and the Son grabbing you by the other hand. They're never going to let go.

that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:15-16)

and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. "I and the Father are one." (John 10:28-30)

When you are leading a little child, you hold him by the hand and you don’t let go. That’s how is with salvation. Both the Father and Son grab our hands and haul us right up into heaven. It is good for mature believers to pray about eternal security. By this, new believers are assured of their place in heaven. The prayer, whether preached, prayed or sung is to give this new believer a sense of security. He is to realize that God the Father and God the Son now have him firmly by the hand and he can never lose his salvation.

Effective prayer and singing must be present during worship services. Otherwise, it would all depend on coordination between the mind and the emotions. Those churches that are totally experiential in their approach, go overboard on the emotions. Those churches that are totally academic in their approach, go overboard on the mind. There must be a balance between the two. When you are taking in doctrine, you have something to respond to as you worship. Your mind derives no benefit if you're just emoting. When you hear a song, you emote. When you hear a prayer, you emote. When you hear a message, you emote. However, if you don't really get any doctrinal content out of it, the emoting doesn't do you any good. It is not coordinated with the mind, with learning, knowing and thinking, believing, applying, and obeying Bible truth. The emotions are to respond to this, not the other way around. Here's the beautiful thing. God wants your spiritual gift to do you some good and to glorify Him. He wants it to be a blessing to you and to serve Him in using your spiritual gift.

Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 14:15, that he would pray with his spirit which is motivation and enthusiasm. He also said that he would also pray with his mind. In other words, Paul knows how to pray, to whom to pray, in whose name, and in whose power. He knows the difference between thanksgiving, intercession, and petition in worshiping the Lord in prayer. You must understand the doctrine of prayer before your prayer life will be meaningful. Paul also says he would sing with his spirit and with his mind. You do that when you sing a song that you really feel attached to and produces great blessing and emotional response. Beyond this response in your mind, you should know what those words mean, the message they are conveying, and how they apply to your life. In other words, when you sing the doctrinal lyrics, you should know what they mean so your emotions can have a bona fide response.

What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also. (1 Corinthians 14:15)

Paul is dealing here with people within the worship service that included unbelievers. Therefore, the preaching would be in tongues, praying in tongues, or the Gospel would be sung in tongues. This was during the worship service. The gift of tongues was never given for comfort or consolation or a personal worship experience. A lot of pentecostals wrongly use this as their basis today. What encouragement, and consolation could you get from completely incomprehensible jabbering to each other? Encouragement, comfort, and consolation come only from the Word of God. The Word of God is the basis for our consolation, not some temporary spiritual gift which we seek after to produce all kinds of ecstatic activities. The Gospel was always the content of the message, whether, prayed or sung. It was never for anything other than the Gospel!

The Contrast Between Prophecy and Tongues

Prophecy was foretelling future events and giving a message from the Lord. This was a temporary gift which ceased in 96 A.D. because the Bible was complete, therefore, the gift of prophecy was no longer needed. It was prophecy that edified. It was prophecy, not tongues that built up the church in this period of temporary spiritual gifts. Tongues was to warn of the impending destruction of the nation of Israel and to give the Gospel. Tongues was never used to build up the Church. In fact, Paul is so emphatic about this that in 1 Corinthians 14:19-20 that he said he would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others (prophecy) than speak 10,000 words in a foreign language. He went on to tell the Corinthians to stop thinking like children. He told them to stop thinking you can't be saved or spiritual unless you have the experience of speaking in tongues. Paul also told them to have discernment as a mature believers should.

however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:19-20)

1 Corinthians 14:21-23 sites Isaiah 28:11-12 which mentions the prophecy of tongues coming in 30 A.D. as a sign for unbelievers only. In contrast, prophecy was for believers only. Suppose a local church congregation assembled with everyone speaking in foreign languages with some not understanding what was being said. If some unbelievers came in, they would think the congregation was out of their minds. The Corinthians were involved in different languages and being carried away emotionally in ecstatics, because the gift of tongues was the ability to speak very eloquently in a foreign language. It appealed to the emotions of the person who had the gift. Instead of responding emotionally in appreciation and thanksgiving to God the Holy Spirit who gave the gift at the moment of salvation, they became arrogant and thought of themselves as super believers. They thought they were spiritual giants because they had these ecstatic experiences while speaking in tongues.

In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me," says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? (1 Corinthians 14:21-23)

Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11-12)

They were telling other people in the Corinthian church that they could not be spiritual unless they had this same experience that they were having. They were implying that everyone had to get emotional to be filled with the Spirit. Some people are emotional. Others are not. Some are more emotional than others. However, the Bible says that spirituality has nothing to do with emotion. Every believer is commanded to be Spirit-filled. That is spirituality. It does not matter how you feel about it! It’s what you do when you are Spirit filled - in the power of the Holy Spirit. The ecstatics and emotion that accompanied speaking the Gospel in a foreign language had absolutely nothing to do with spirituality! It simply means that the emotions should not be controlling the thought patterns of the soul, but rather the thought pattern loaded with Bible truth controlling the emotions. This would give the emotions something wonderful to respond to. We see this emphasis in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25.

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

If an unbeliever or someone who did not understand prophecy came in while everybody was prophesying, he would be convinced by all that he was a sinner and would be judged by all. This means that through prophecy, people saw the spiritual gift in action and believed that God was really in that local church. This applied to everyone who had the gift of prophecy and was using it while being led by the Holy Spirit to give the Gospel message and forthtelling a message from the Lord.

The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues

The ninth temporary spiritual gift is the interpretation or translation of tongues. This was the ability to translate accurately what was being said, making sure that the one giving the message in tongues was giving accurate Gospel information. This was not simply being well educated in numerous languages. The ones who had this gift would not even know the languages that they were translating! Those that had the gift of giving the Gospel to an unbeliever in his own language (tongues), a language they did not understand, never had the gift of interpretation of tongues. This was so that people would believe in the accuracy of the message and that those speaking in foreign languages were not just cranking out gibberish. God had a very special way to make sure that everything was done in decency and order.

It was up to the apostles, elders, the deacons, leaders in the church and the pastor to make sure the person with the gift of tongues was accurate. By requiring an interpreter to be present, they could verify the accuracy of the message. The gift of interpretation or translation was always used in association with the gift of tongues.

God the Holy Spirit would prompt believers to stand up and give the proper interpretation of tongues or exactly what the believer was communicating to the unbeliever as far as Gospel information was concerned. That's why, in 1 Corinthians 14:27-28, Paul said that if someone got up to speak in tongues and there was no one present with the gift of interpretation of tongues, that person was to sit down and speak to himself and God. If a believer with the gift of tongues was prompted to use the gift and there was no one to interpret, then God the Holy Spirit would lead him to do that as an act of self-discipline and self-control. God the Holy Spirit would lead him to stay in his seat and think the Gospel message through without speaking it out in a foreign language because no one was there to interpret it. The charismatics do not do that. If someone speaks in tongues, he speaks whether he's able to interpret, whether there's anyone else there to interpret or not. Of course, 99% of the time, it's just some emotional gibberish. The other 1% can only be someone speaking in a foreign language as an unbeliever who is indwelt by an engastrimuthos or ventriloquist demon.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)

The engastrimuthos or ventriloquist demon is also the language demon. Not only does he the ability to mimic someone's voice or to throw his voice, but he can also speak in a foreign language. This is tongues as a satanic operation and is part of the perversion of tongues. Any "tongues" spoken from 70 A.D. right on down to the Rapture of the Church is a perversion.

The phrase "a spirit from the ground" in Isaiah 29:4 refers the ventriloquist demon. This is just part of Isaiah’s prophecy about pseudo-tongues. The engastrimuthos demon controls the vocal cords of the unbeliever who speaks in tongues as a satanic operation to distract that person he indwells from either salvation in the case of unbelievers or from Bible truth in the case of others who are believers. He exactly and accurately reproduces the gift of tongues that has long since ceased. This explains how unbelievers can be involved in pseudo-tongues because only unbelievers can be demon possessed.

Then you shall be brought low; From the earth you shall speak, And from the dust where you are prostrate, Your words shall come. Your voice shall also be like that of a spirit from the ground, And your speech shall whisper from the dust. (Isaiah 29:4)

Remember that tongues and the interpretation of tongues were the first temporary gifts to be removed. The second spiritual gift to be removed was healing. The third spiritual gift to be removed was apostleship. The rest of the temporary spiritual gifts were removed anywhere between 96 and 100 A.D. Some possibly hung on after 96 A.D. until the Canon was circulated, but definitely stopped by 100 A.D.

The Error of Adding to the Grace Work of Salvation

The Charismatic Movement emphasizes that you have to perform works in order to be saved. Indeed, they believe that if you don't commit to the Lord in Lordship of Christ, you are not saved. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved is not a part of their instruction. Isn't it interesting that in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says that not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" will enter heaven? There will be people at the Second Advent who acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, but they still will not be saved. They never received Him as Savior. To be saved, each one must do what God the Father commanded in Ephesians 2:8-9. We are to have faith in the substitutionary spiritual death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace. It is His will that none should perish but all should come to a change of mental attitude concerning the work and person of Christ as stated in John 3:17-18. That is receiving Christ as Savior.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.' (Matthew 7:21-23)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18)

There will be millions of people in the Tribulation period who think they are saved by committing to the Lordship of Christ. They will include the ruler of the Restored Roman Empire, members of ecumenical religion, and the Charismatic Movement. This is because that ruler will have his own tongues and healing movement. Tongues and healing will continue as a satanic operation. They will believe they are saved because they have accepted the Lordship of Christ. They have become charismatic and have involved themselves in the signs and wonders of the times. That is the Vineyard Movement's false teaching today.

That's why I have recommended that you hear the audio tapes that deal with this phenomena that is sweeping millions into its ranks. The largest, fastest growing element of Fundamentalism today is the Charismatic Movement. For them, tongues are not pushed in the worship service. The leaders know that many fundamentalists won't go for it, but they say tongues is to be a personal closet experience. You do this in the privacy of your own home. You must pray in tongues and sing in tongues as a part of your personal worship service. Tongues was always used publicly and never for personal worship. You must always keep this in mind.

This compromise of the Word has even invaded some previously respected Bible schools. They have compromised God’s Word. They are letting in pentecostals by the droves because these pentecostals do not emphasize speaking in tongues in a worship service. We can only pray that the Bible schools involved in this will stand by their guns and teach doctrine to pentecostals and non-pentecostals alike. However, the precept of a little leaven, leavening the whole loaf as in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, will probably have Bible doctrine going down the tubes and satanic concepts being promulgated.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

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