If someone were to ask you to name the single most important issue facing Evangelical Christianity, what would you answer? Assuredly there are many possible answers, but there is none more divisive or compelling than the Charismatic Movement. No other issue crosses over denominational lines, reaching even into Christian Cults and Non-Christian religions, or has a broader global impact than the Charismatic movement. Is it according to Scripture or not? Is it valid for this age or not? There can be no unity within the Body of Christ as long as Charismatics and Non-Charismatics hold to different views. Both cannot be right. This file will not examine all aspects of the Charismatic Movement but will only concern itself with the "Cornerstone" teaching--Tongues.
Let me first state that I am not attacking anyone. I am a firm believer that there is only one interpretation for each passage of Scripture but often many applications. Therefore, the purpose of this file is to briefly examine the evidence and to allow the Word of God to declare the truth so we can put to death the divisions among us and get on with sharing the gospel to a lost and dying world.
God's Word says, "The righteous [saved] hate what is false" (Proverbs 13:5). God is a God of love but He hates sin and false teachings. As we approach this study we need to also love the truth and to hate and reject what is false.
II. Definition of Tongues
Tongues as it is used in the Bible is the greek word "glossa" which has the simple meaning, "an organ of speech; language." The word "tongues" has become the general term used by the church for the spiritual gift of the ability to speak in a "known language" without having first learned the language. It was first displayed on the day of Pentecost by the Disciples as each one began to speak in a real language that he had not acquired. These languages could be understood by those from various lands familiar with them. It was not gibberish but intelligible language. If Pentecost were to have happened today then the disciples would have spoken in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, German, etc.
Most Charismatics would agree that "tongues," as it is known today, is the act of speaking in an "unknown language." The speaker begins uttering sounds that do not readily make any sense to him but can sometimes be interpreted by someone having the gift of interpretations. Tongues are spoken in both the Church and in the home: in the Church during certain services with someone there to give the interpretation and at home in private prayer to God. Many Charismatics claim that the ability to speak in tongues is a sign of spiritual maturity and blessing.
III. History of Tongues Movement
A. Tongues Began on Pentecost
They were a "visible sign" to the Jews that the Apostles and believers were indwelled with the Holy Spirit. The tongues that were spoken were "known languages" of the that day. (Acts 2:1-13).
B. Tongues Spoken by Gentiles
While Paul was preaching the Gospel at the home of Cornelius the gentiles who heard the message began speaking in tongues (other known languages) and the Jewish believers who were present were
astonished that even the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:23-48).
C. Tongues Listed as a Spiritual Gift
Paul in writing to the Corinthian Church, gives a listing of the valid Spiritual Gifts for that day and Tongues is the last listed (1 Cor 12:4-11).
D. Tongues Misused in The Church
Paul rebukes the Corinthian Church for an apparent misuse of the Gift of Tongues in the Church and gives some guidance on the proper use of the gift (1 Cor 14:1-40).
E. Tongues Declared to Someday "Be Stilled"
The Scriptures reveal that a day would come when tongues would "be stilled" (1 Cor 13:8). They would stop in and of themselves. That is, no outside force would cause them to cease. The verb
translated "be stilled" is the greek word "pauo" which has the clear meaning that the activity will stop "in and of itself." They will "be stilled" by no external action or event; rather, tongues
will "die out" on their own.
F. Tongues Ceased to be Mentioned in Scripture
The gift of tongues does not appear in Scripture after Paul's discussion of their misuse in his first letter to the Corinthians. There is one other mention of tongues chronologically in the Bible but appears in the textually unsound and contestable passages of Mark 16:9-20. These verses do not appear in the two most reliable early manuscripts of the gospel and most likely were added by a scribe.
(Note: The following information listed in items G. through J. was extracted from the book "The Truth about Tongues," John MacArthur, Word of Grace, pp. 15-18, 1984).
G. Early Church Fathers did not Mention Tongues as Valid in Their Day
1. Clement of Rome - wrote a letter to the Corinthians in 95 A.D. discussing all of their spiritual problems. Tongues were never mentioned.
2. Justin Martyr - compiled a listing of spiritual gifts active in his time (A.D. 100-165) and did not include the gift of tongues.
3. Origen - never mentioned tongues and even argued that the "signs" of the Apostolic Age were temporary and that no contemporary Christian exercised any of these early "sign" gifts. (A.D. 185-253).
4. Chrysostom - writing on 1 Corinthians and the gift of tongues said, "This whole place is very obscure; but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by the cessation, being such as then used to occur, but now no longer take place." (A.D. 347-407).
5. Augustine - comments on Acts 2:4: "In the earliest times, 'the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,'. . .These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit. . .That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away."
H. Supposed Occurrences of Tongues Since the Apostolic Age
1. Montanus and Tertullian - During the period of the early church the only people who were reported to have spoken in tongues were the followers of Montanus and Tertullian. Montanus, a recent convert, claimed to be the spokesman for the Holy Spirit. He believed that Christ would soon set up the Kingdom in the city of Phrygia, and tried to justify speaking in tongues as an occurrence of the end of the age. Montanus was expelled from the church as a heretic. Tertullian was a disciple of Montanus who advocated speaking in tongues as well. He lived from A.D. 150-222. (After Montanus and Tertullian, the next eruption of tongues was not until the late seventeenth century.)
2. The Cevenols - The gift of ecstatic utterance was claimed by a group of persecuted Protestants in southern France around 1685. They believed that their little children, who knew only the local dialect, were able to speak in perfect french while in a trance. The group was soon discredited because of their night raids and military reprisals against their enemies. And because all their prophecies went unfulfilled, they were branded as heretics and not considered to be a part of Mainline Christianity.
3. The Jansenists - Around 1731, a group of Roman Catholic reformers called the Jansenists, were holding night meetings at their leader's tomb during which they supposedly spoke in ecstatic languages.
4. The Shakers - The Shakers were followers of Mother Ann Lee, who lived from 1736-1784. She regarded herself as the female equivalent of Jesus Christ--God in a female body. She founded the Shaker community in Troy, New York, and claimed that she had received a revelation from God that sexual intercourse was corrupt. . .even within marriage. It is said that in order to teach her followers to mortify the flesh and to resist temptation, she instituted the practice of men and women dancing together in the nude while they spoke in tongues.
5. The Irvingites - About 1830, Edward Irving started a little group in London known as the Irvingites. This group began to speak in tongues but was soon discredited for several reasons: Their revelations contradicted Scripture, their prophecies went unfulfilled, their supposed healings were followed by death, there were rumors of immorality, and some of their leading members were accused of fraud.
I. The Pentecostal Movement
Tongues became a part of mainline Christianity in 1901 at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. Agnes Ozman received what she called "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" accompanied by speaking in
J. The Charismatic Movement
In 1960, in Van Nuys, California, the modern Charismatic movement began in an Episcopalian church. It soon spread across mainline denominations of all kinds.
Today the Tongues movement has taken hold in nearly all denominations. There are Evangelicals, Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and even Mormons claiming the "unity of the Spirit" through the Charismatic movement. Never have we seen such a unifying of the separated denominations as we have seen in recent years.
Though the Charismatic Movement is widespread the question we need to answer is, "Is it Biblical?"" Lets begin our investigation with a look at the purpose of tongues.
IV. The Purpose of the Gift of Tongues
A. Confirming Sign Gift
1. Chronology of Sign Gifts
During three specific periods of prophetic revelation, the period of Moses and Joshua, the period of Elijah and Elisha, the period of Christ and the Apostles, God has accompanied His revelation by confirming miracles. We do not see miraculous events occurring in the Bible apart from new Scriptural revelation. Tongues were part of the many miracles that occurred during the time of Christ and the Apostles (A.D. 28-90). These miraculous gifts were to confirm the authenticity of the messages and preachers as being from God. The last recorded miracle in the Bible is found in Acts 28:7-10 with the healing of Publius' father by the Apostle Paul.
2. Chronology of New Testament Tongues
Tongues have their beginning at Pentecost, where the Disciples received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and displayed the ability to speak in known languages of their day which they had never "learned" beforehand, and this remains typical of the passages found in Acts.
a. Acts 2:4
"All of them [the Disciples] were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [languages] as the Spirit enabled them."
It is critical to understand that the gift of tongues was in its purest state here without man's misuse or distortion. Let's note what the God-fearing Jews from at least 15 different nations had to say about the type of "tongues" they heard that day, "Utterly amazed, they asked: 'are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?. . .we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!'" (Acts 2:5-11). Tongues were unlearned known languages which could be understood by Jews of corresponding backgrounds.
b. Acts 10:44-46
"While Peter was still speaking these words [the Gospel], the Holy Spirit came on on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come [to Cornelius' house] with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God."
Again as the confirming sign of the Gospel message tongues are spoken, this time by Gentiles, as the Holy Spirit signifies the equality of Gentile believers with Jews through their faith.
c. Acts 19:6
"When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied."
This occurred in Ephesus, a Gentile city in Asia Minor after disciples of John the Baptist were instructed about the Lord Jesus. Again, the Holy Spirit confirms through tongues that the message was true and the believers of every background are equal by faith.
d. 1 Corinthians 14
A study of 1 Corinthians 14 reveals that speaking in tongues had already caused disturbances and disorder. Paul writes to try to straighten out the problem and lists some basic facts about the gift of tongues.
In Corinth the miracle of the gift of tongues had deteriorated from that seen in Acts. As Paul's instructions unfold we see that tongues were being counterfeited by unknown "mystery" languages; that tongues were being exalted above even prophecy; that tongues were being spoken without interpretation in the worship service; that praying in tongues had become common; that too many tongue speakers were
vying for attention during worship; and that women were taking a dominant role in church through tongue speaking. No longer are tongues being used properly.
B. A Sign of Judgment for Israel
In 1 Corinthians 14:21 Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11,12 and says, "Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me." God had spoken to Israel in clear language for centuries and yet she did not listen and ultimately executed her own Messiah. Now God shows that He has turned from the Jews to the Gentiles with the message of salvation. He gave the gift of tongues to Christians to serve as a rebuke against unbelieving Jews. Nowhere in the Bible is the gift of tongues mentioned as occurring apart from the presence of Jews.
C. Tongues were a Sign for Unbelievers
The gift of tongues was never intended for Christians for themselves; it was intended as a sign for the unbelievers, "Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers " (1 Cor 14:22). The Jews of that time were brought up to have "faith in signs." Thus Jesus said in Matthew 12:39, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign. . ." And Paul writes in 1 Cor 1:22, "Jews demand miraculous signs. . ." The accounts of tongues in the Scriptures took place in the cities of Jerusalem, Caesarea, Ephesus and Corinth, which all had large Jewish populations. Through the gift of tongues God signified to the Jews that His blessing and power was upon those who claimed Christ as Savior and Lord.
V. Doctrine of Tongues
A. Biblical Teachings
1. The Gift of Tongues Will Be Stilled - 1 Cor 13:8
The Bible says, "Where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away" (1 Cor 13:8). A careful study of the Greek reveals that the three verbs used here, "cease, stilled, and pass" are not the same greek words. The two words translated "cease and pass" are the same greek word (katargeo) and carry with them the meaning "that the action they describe will stop as a result of an outside force or event." However, the word translated "stilled" (pauo) referring to tongues has the clear meaning that the activity will stop "in and of
Therefore, prophecies and knowledge are classed together and will be terminated when "something" acts on them. Tongues is separate and will "be stilled" not by an external action or event; rather, tongues are to "die out" on their own. An analogy could be to view the three gifts as three fires. The fires of prophecies and knowledge will be extinguished by "someone" with a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water. However, the fire of tongues will "go out" all by itself with no external action needed. The context of the passage even reveals another distinction about the three, "For we know [knowledge] in part and we prophesy [prophecy] in part." Tongues are not mentioned, and prophecy and knowledge are shown to be less than complete, "know in part; prophesy in part." The very next verse says, "but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." Notice that the "imperfect" is something not complete, something that lacks completeness, i.e., prophecy and knowledge. They disappear when the "perfection comes." Whatever this perfection is it was future to Paul day.
So tongues were expected to "die out" at some time future to the Paul's writings. This leads one to understand that tongues would at some point in history no longer be needed. After Chapter 14 in the book of 1 Corinthians the mention of Tongues disappears from Scripture.
2. Tongues can be Counterfeited - 1 Cor 12:3, 14:2
"Therefore I tell you that no one speaking who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3). "Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" (1 Cor 14:2).
This cannot be the true gift of tongues that we saw in Acts 2 where the Disciples spoke to men (foreign God-fearing Jews) praising God and edified others, not themselves. Paul is here exposing a false tongue movement had that had arisen in Corinth.
3. To Prophesy is Better than Tongues - 1 Cor 14:5
I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified."
It was the Apostle's desire that all the Corinthians speak with the true gift of tongues, but he would rather that they preach God's Word in their natural language (Gift of Prophecy).
4. Tongues without Interpretation is Forbidden - 1 Cor 14:6-13
This Scripture states that whenever someone speaks in a tongue there must be an interpretation which provides some revelation, knowledge, prophecy, or word of instruction to the church.
5. Praying in a Tongue is Condemned - 1 Cor 14:14-17
Here Scripture says that when a person prays in a tongue his spirit prays but his mind is unfruitful. Paul says "no" to this type of praying and says we must pray with both our spirit and our minds. This is simply praying in a language that is intelligible to our minds and to others who may hear us.
6. Limited Number to Speak Tongues in Church - 1 Cor 14:26-28
Again Scripture teaches that if the true gift of tongues is to be used in the church a maximum of only three persons may speak and then only one at a time. There must also be someone who can interpret what was spoken.
7. Women Not to Speak in Tongues in the Church - 1 Cor 14:33-35
Here God clearly forbids women from having a "speaking role" in the formal church service. Tongues are not to be spoken by them. The context and intensity of the restrictions are such that woman are not to have any leadership role in the church service, because women are never to exercise spiritual authority over men (1 Tim 2:12). In fact, Scripture states that if they have questions they are to wait to discuss them until they are at home with their husbands.
8. Do Not Forbid Speaking in Tongues - 1 Cor 14:39
Paul clearly states that the church is not to forbid speaking in tongues. However, it must understood that his statement is in regards to the true gift of tongues as manifested on Pentecost and in accordance with the guidance Paul had related in the previous 38 verses. Also, we must remember that no one must forbid the speaking in tongues as long as the gift is valid; but, if it is determined that the gift of tongues has ceased as a spiritual gift then the church must forbid using them.
B. Charismatic Teachings
1. Tongues Valid Gift of Spirit Today
Charismatics will claim one of two explanations for the current tongues movement;
a. Tongues Never Ceased
Charismatics trace their roots back to Pentecost through the historical, heretical incidents.
b. Tongues Started Up Again
"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days" (Joel 2:28,29).
Using Joel the Charismatics maintain that tongues, which did cease, have started up again because these are the "last days." However, the content of this passage refers to the "great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31), or the Second Coming of Christ. Also, Joel's prophecy did not mention tongues as part of the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days. It is true that at Pentecost Peter quoted Joel 2 to explain the outpouring of the Spirit, yet because of the correct interpretation of Joel, he cannot have been referring to the Millennial Kingdom. Rather, he was saying that the Jews at Pentecost were merely glimpsing some of the power that will occur in the Kingdom after Christ's return
2. Tongues are Universally Available
Charismatics teach that tongues are one of the gifts of the Spirit available to anyone who has been Baptized in the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13, Acts 2:39). This baptism is not just conversion but a "second blessing" subsequent to conversion. This concept denies Scripture which states that all believers have received the Holy Spirit upon conversion (Acts 2:38). A second filling of the Spirit is a Biblical concept, but a second baptism is not. Also, Paul writes in 1 Cor 12:29, that not all have the gift of tongues.
3. Tongues Will Edify You
"He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself. . ." (1 Cor 14:4).
Charismatics teach that anyone who speaks in a tongue does so for his own benefit, yet the Bible says tongues were given to edify others, as can be understood by the commandment that interpreters must be present whenever tongues were spoken (1 Cor 14:5). Furthermore, Paul also says in 1 Cor 10:24 that, "Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others."
4. Tongues are Valid as a Prayer Language
Charismatics quote several passages to support a tongues prayer
language; "I will pray with my spirit. . ." (1 Cor 14:15). "For
anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God"
(1 Cor 14:2). "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels.
. ." (1 Cor 13:1).
The context of the 1 Corinthians 14 passages refer to the misuse
of tongues. 1 Cor 14:15 goes on to say, "I will pray with my
spirit, but I will also pray with my mind," stressing one's need
to be aware of what one is saying in prayer as well as being led
by the Spirit. The passage in 1 Cor 13:1 about the "tongue of
angels" is widely regarded as being hyperbole, or Paul's
exaggeration of exotic speech without love, because this
expression is found nowhere else in Scripture. We are never
told about an angelic language or even that men are able to
speak in an angelic tongue.
VI. Dangers of the Tongues Movement
A. Creates Disrespect for Scripture
1. Disregards Scripture
a. Ecumenical Movement
This movement, which claims a oneness of the Spirit between Christians, non-Christians, heretics and the orthodox, is against clear Biblical injunctions (1 Cor 14:38; 2 Cor 6:14,15). It makes the basis for Christian fellowship to be experience, not doctrine and common practice.
b. Women Speaking
The Bible teaches that a woman's role is submissive, that is, she is not to take pre-eminence in the worship service. Yet, often it is the women who speak tongues in Charismatic meetings.
c. Vain Repetitions
The Bible commands that Christians pray without using "many words" (Matthew 6:7). Yet Charismatics use repetition of words as the main tool for acquiring the gift of tongues.
As an example of this, a Lutheran minister announced at a Missionary
Conference that he was, "a spirit-filled minister, and that the Lord has
commissioned me to speak at the conference." He was refused the opportunity to
speak and then started counter meetings to which he invited people. About 40
missionaries went along, some merely out of curiosity. At the meeting the
minister had spoken and sung in tongues for a long time without anyone
interpreting. One of the missionaries had the courage to ask him personally how
one could receive this gift. The answer was typical, and it showed the kind of
"spiritual gift" the minister had. He said, "You must think of a short prayer,
perhaps the phrase 'Lord help me,' and repeat this prayer five to eight hundred
times. Then your tongue and consciousness will get used to it and suddenly you
will speak in 'tongues.'"
2. Distorts Scripture
a. "Open Your Mouth"
Charismatics believe that if you "pray to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior" then you can begin to manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first one is usually the gift of tongues. They say, "By faith, open your mouth and begin to speak whatever new words or sounds that come to you (p.14, "Receive All God Has To Give," Woman's Aglow Fellowship, 1971, Lynnwood, WA.) The proof text they use is Psalm 81:10b, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." The clear context of that verse has nothing at all to do with God putting words or strange sounds in our mouths; rather, God refers to the fact that He brought Israel up out of Egypt (Psalm 81:10a), and will provide her with food, "you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you (Psalm 81:16).
The Charismatics state, "Speaking in tongues (your new spiritual language) begins with an act of the will. . .YOU MUST CHOOSE TO SPEAK. . . GOD WILL GIVE THE UTTERANCE" (p.14,
"Receive All God Has To Give," Woman's Aglow Fellowship, 1971, Lynnwood, WA.). They are clearly advocating a "private prayer language" used when conversing with God. Jesus said, "When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.....This is how you should pray: 'Our Father in Heaven. . . '"(Matthew 6:7-9).
The word translated "babbling" is the greek word "battalogeo" which literally means to speak with a stammering, stuttering gibberish (much like the pagans did to their gods). Jesus even gives an example how to pray, "Our Father. . .," notice that it is in the language of the people, not a "spiritual prayer language."
b. Train Yourself to Speak in Tongues
Charismatics teach that one must must learn his or her new language and train oneself to speak in tongues through repetition. This is not the type of language we see at Pentecost, nor do we see the disciples urging others to seek the gift by any means. Yet we find Charismatics urging others to do this. For example, a woman who belonged to the Charismatic movement was the leader of a girl's class. She herself spoke in tongues and wanted the girls to learn how to pray and sing in tongues as well. She explained to those members of the class who followed her unquestionably, that one could be prepared to receive the gift of tongues by the constant repetition of certain phrases out loud. She would speak and the others would repeat in chorus after her. And, in fact, a few weeks later some of the girls could speak in
c. Slain in the Spirit?
In California, a woman went to a meeting held by a member of the tongues movement. The speaker spoke about the necessity of the gift of tongues, and in an after-meeting she allowed hands to be laid on her in order to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues. At that moment she fell down unconscious. On coming round again she found herself lying on the floor with her mouth still opening and shutting itself automatically without a word being uttered. She was terribly frightened. Standing around her were some of the people who were followers of this evangelist and they exclaimed, "O sister, you have really spoken wonderfully in tongues. Now you have the Holy Spirit." But the victim of this so-called baptism of the Holy Spirit was cured. She never again returned to this group of tongues speakers.
B. Discourages Spirituality
1. Tongues Replace the Bible?
Charismatics claim to adhere strictly to the Bible but in practice scrutinize Scripture through their emotional experiences. This can and does lead to an eventual disregard of the Bible in preference to their subjective revelations. For instance, at a Bible college the Charismatic movement broke out with a number of the professors and students speaking in tongues. A student who was deeply involved in this new movement declared that he did not need to read the Bible anymore, God the Father would himself appear and speak to him. However, six other students who had first sought this "second blessing," discounted it when they felt something weird was going on.
2. The Second Blessing Brings Joy?
Charismatics teach that the "second blessing" is the source for the Christian joy. Yet, because of the "letdown effect" of loss of euphoria or of never having acquired the "second blessing" some Christians are not finding any joy at all. As an example, another Bible college is the scene where a woman student wanted the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She had hands laid on her by a preacher from a Charismatic church. But because the expected blessing did not come, the girl went another five times within that week to have hands laid on her. She then experienced a warm feeling that she regarded as the second blessing. And the result? She no longer finds it a joy to be a Christian. Today she has slipped so far that she completely disregards praying and reading God's word.
3. Give me Tongues or I die
A doctor's daughter had been influenced by some friends who spoke in tongues. She then began to pray for the gift herself. For weeks she begged earnestly for this so-called proof of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. When her prayer went unanswered, in desperation she tried to commit suicide.
C. Creates Division
Some missionaries went to a conference and were praying and fasting so as to receive a new blessing. After a few days speaking in tongues broke out among the group. Then all 18 were seized by it and they called it the "second blessing." After the conference they returned to their churches. They explained to their congregations that to prove one had the baptism of the Holy Spirit it was necessary to speak in tongues. Their followers asked, "Well, which is right, what you told us originally or what you are telling us now?" There was such confusion that all 18 churches were ruined by splits over the doctrine of tongues.
Two Christian friends had been believers for some years when one day they were invited to the meeting of a tongue speaking group. The atmosphere of the meeting affected them so much that afterwards they prayed for the second blessing of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After intensive prayer it was as if something hot came over them. They felt very excited inside. For a few weeks they revelled in this new experience, but slowly these waves of feeling abated. One of the individuals lost all desire to read the Bible and to pray. He then examined his experience in the light of the Scriptures and realized that it was not of God. He repented and denounced it and got back his original assurance and peace with God. His friend, on the other hand, continued in these "tongues." Today he will not even consider the idea of going on further as a Christian: tongues destroyed him.
D. Preaches False Doctrine (leading to possible false professions)
1. A Tongue Speaking Prophetess
A woman was converted and for the first few years was a faithful follower of Jesus and lived a well balanced life. Then one day she listen to an evangelist who told her that unless she spoke in tongues she had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The woman then sought the laying on of hands. Since then she has spoken in tongues and has led other Christians to speak in tongues also, bringing them into
a similar experience as hers. She believes that she is a prophetess of God with the gift of discernment. It is her practice to look directly at non-Charismatic Christians and say, "I can see in your eyes that you have not received the Holy Spirit." She also uses the laying on of her hands for healings and for conversions. This type of conversion means that people do not have to recognize, confess, and repent of their sin and surrender their lives to Christ through faith; all that is necessary is that this prophetess lays her hands on them. By her deception she is unwittingly condemning many to believe that they can be saved without Christ.
2. No Tongues then No Baptism
Charismatics teach that tongues are the sign of spiritual blessing and proof of salvation. This teaching may be damaging to unsuspecting mature Christians and also to more recent converts. For example, a student in college was invited to Charismatic Church by his friends. The message had the usual slant: only the person who has spoken in tongues has been baptized by the Holy Spirit, i.e., has truly been saved. The student prayed for this gift. Some days later one of the speakers from the church laid his hands on him. He then experienced a warm sensation going through him and began to speak in tongues. He had no idea what he was really praying at the time, but he felt his emotions being stirred up.
After a few weeks the student no longer had any desire to read his Bible or to pray, and his original assurance of salvation disappeared. It was only after he had denounced this experience which he had had that he received back the assurance of salvation and peace with God.
E. Blasphemes Holy Spirit
1. Exalts the Holy Spirit above other members of the Trinity.
2. Challenges Holy Spirit's work at conversion, i.e., says we need a "Second Blessing."
3. Attributes Satan's counterfeit tongue to the Holy Spirit.
F. Turns Off Unbeliever
1. Behavior in Church Service
"So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they say that you are out of your mind?" (1 Cor 14:23).
2. Witness is Compromised
The scandalous behavior of some Charismatic leaders, as evidenced in the recent PTL Club and Oral Roberts controversies, has brought great discredit to the Name and Work of Jesus Christ. It has created suspicion among unbelievers and many now question the creditability of all Christians and Church leaders.
The Tongues of the Charismatic movement are not Scriptural. The Bible must be disregarded or reinterpreted to support the claims of its proponents. History does not support the movement, nor does the
outworking of its practitioners. And since there is no Scriptural basis for the tongues movement we see today we can only conclude that the source is not God. Emotionalism certainly plays an enormous part of the movement, but since Christians and non-Christians alike share in this experience the source must be Satanic. Thus Satan has presented the Church and the world with another lie, a counterfeit of what was authentic among 1st Century believers, to discredit her and to neutralize her power of prayer and effective witness. 1 John 2:21 reminds us that, "no lie comes from the truth," and the Gospel of John says that the false teacher, "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10).
We may well ask, "If it is not Scriptural, and is Satanically inspired, why is it so popular among both Christians and non-Christians alike?" Dr. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church, in his book, "The Truth About Tongues," suggests five reasons for its popularity;
(1) Spiritual Hunger - people want to be Spiritual and are told this is the proper way;
(2) Spiritual Expression - people are seeking a way to express themselves spiritually because they don't feel involved at church;
(3) Instant Spirituality - since tongues is considered a sign of spiritual maturity, those who seek external affirmation will seek this;
(4) A Reaction to Society - in response to a "cold" society a person
can feel involved in something supernatural;
(5) A Need for Acceptance and Security - a drive to be "in" or superior
brings people to a place where they can belong and "have it." Why speak out
against the Charismatics? We must because the Charismatic Movement must be seen
for what it is, a false teaching that is not of the Truth, Jesus Christ. It does
not bring glory to God, but rather--dishonor.
Yet, for those who would be brave enough to speak out against the Charismatics there are criticisms and charges that, "you are not loving and you cause division." It is really the opposite. The above examples show vividly that the Charismatic movement does tremendous harm to the church. Some would argue that since the Charismatics preach the same gospel as the fundamentalists why bother them over this issue. The answer is because God cares about false doctrine and its impact in the mission of the church. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is judging the churches and He tells Pergamum that she is doing some things right but that there is some false teaching in her midst. Jesus does not say, "Well, since you do some things right I will overlook the false teaching." No, in fact, He says He will come and fight against them if they do not correct the problem. We need to correct this problem among us before we find our Lord fighting against His own. God's Word declares that, "The Righteous Hate that which is false." May we all be like our Master and hate what He hates, but love what He loves--the people caught in the net of false doctrine--The Charismatic.
Written and added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Sermons and Articles Collection" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
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