Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

The Gift of Tongues



In over fifty years that I have been in the ministry, I have found  the modern practice of speaking in tongues to be the cause of more division and strife in churches. than almost anything else.   In the mid sixties when the modern Charismatic Movement was getting underway,  many churches were split as a Charismatic minority pulled people from churches to join them and in some cases, they took over the churches, making them Charismatic.


This Pentecostal movement began in the early part of the twentieth century in the Azusa Street prayer meeting in the Los Angeles area and also in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Charismatic movement is simply a modern version of that.


I have been in Charismatic services and observed people seeking to speak in tongues. I’ve read books that teach how to do it.  Basically, the seeker is taught to just lose control of himself and start making unintelligible sounds.  As he loses control he is taught that the Holy Spirit will take control and the babbling sounds he makes will be of the Holy Spirit.  He will be speaking or praying in tongues.  This is supposed to bless him and make him a blessing to others.




In Acts 1 and 2  we see the true exercise of the gift of tongues. In Acts 1 as Jesus was preparing to return to Heaven from the Mount of Olives, he explained to His disciples that He was leaving and that they were to return to Jerusalem and wait for the promised Holy Spirit who would spiritually baptize and unite them into one body and empower them to be His witnesses.


In Acts 2 we see the disciples together in one accord and in one place waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. As they waited suddenly things began to happen.


1. First they heard a sound from Heaven as the sound of a mighty rushing wind and it filled the place where they were waiting.


2. Then there  appeared  on their heads tongues as of fire upon each of them.


3. Then each of them began to speak supernaturally  in foreign languages they had never learned.  Acts 2 goes on to explain that there were devout men from all the nations of the earth and these men were amazed as they heard these ignorant disciples speaking in their languages, languages they had never learned.  Verse 9-11 list the languages that were spoken.  As a result each person heard the Word of God in his own language and understood and was blessed.


4. Then Peter stood up and explained that this phenomenon had been prophesied by the Old Testament Prophet Joel.  Peter went on to preach God’s Word to the crowd and many were converted and joined the Jerusalem church.  Thus the Church got its start on the Day of Pentecost.




In the early churches that Paul and other Apostles were instrumental in starting, there was a pattern in the services. That pattern is explained in I Corinthians 12 and 14.  Since the complete Bible had not yet been written; the people gathered together on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, to preach the Gospel and to edify or build up the believers.


Apostles or elders would stand up one at a time and share visions and prophecies and truths that God had taught them. Sometimes one would speak in an unknown language and another would interpret what had been spoken. The other elders would evaluate what had been shared and determine whether it was of God or not.


I Corinthians 13, placed in the midst of this teaching in chapters 12 and 14, emphasizes that regardless of the gifts God give us; they are all worthless if they are not exercised  in love for the edification of the people.  In chapter 13, verse 8-13 we are taught that these temporary gifts would cease after that which is perfect is come.   What is perfect?  The complete, inspired, infallible Word of God.




In Romans 8:26-27 we learn that the Holy Spirit helps us pray.  There are times when our hearts are so heavy with concern that we cannot even pray with words.  We simply groan in the privacy of our prayer closet. On some occasions I have been so burdened that I could only lie on the floor in utter weakness and groan. It is in those times when words fail me in expressing my concerns to God, that the Holy Spirit takes those groans and interprets my concerns to the Father and enables me to pray according to God’s will.


But let me be quick to say that I never seek emotional experiences with the Holy Spirit. That would serve no purpose, but perhaps make me feel proud and boast of  an experience with the Holy Spirit.




Today we gather in church; not to hear of someone’s vision,  or a truth some pastor has received directly from God.  We do not gather to speak in foreign languages that no one understands. 


If we had in our service someone from Japan who could not understand English and a Christian who does not know Japanese, should miraculously begin sharing Scriptural truth in Japanese, a language he does not know,  and that visitor would be blessed,  and if another should stand up and interpret what had just been said;  that would be a modern day expression of genuine tongues and no one would forbid that.


But if someone should suddenly start babbling unintelligibly and disturb the preaching of the Word, that would be of Satan and we would ask the person to refrain or leave the service.  That would be the work of Satan trying to hinder the Word of God and confuse the people.


Today, thank God, we have the complete Bible in our language.  When we gather together in church, we gather to hear the proclamation and explanation of the Word of God. That’s the major reason we go to church. As we focus on the teaching and preaching of the Word, our hearts are stirred to love and worship God and to be a blessing to one another. 




It is my desire as a preacher, that the people focus on the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, the major portion of the service. If the congregation goes out from the service and mulls over the Word of God they have heard and if they go home worshipping and meditating in the Word and worshipping God throughout the day and sometimes throughout the night, then the service has been a success.


I am not against emotion.  I can get quite emotional as I preach about Jesus and often times preach with tears;  but I would do nothing to encourage my congregation to seek an emotional experience.   If the preaching of the Word or the music that is sung produces honest emotions of love and gratitude to God,  that is wonderful.


Each of us are wired differently. Some tend to be more emotional than others, but it would concern me if my preaching produced only cold, wooden soldier type Christians who have no feelings about anything.


May God give you a passion  for Christ and a desire to magnify His Word above His Name (Psalm 138:2) , and may He give you discernment to recognize true worship from the counterfeit. (John 4:24)



May 20, 2006 - Posted by | Separation Series

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