The Sign Gifts – Speaking in Tongues - 2

God’s Spiritual Gifts to Believers at the Beginning of the Church Age

1 Corinthians 12:28-31


I.         Introduction to Tongues


A.      The Charismatic Movement is a doctrinal split among “Pentecostal” churches during the 20th Century toward the spiritual gifts that were temporarily given to the Apostles as “signs” to Israel.

B.       Their main distinctive is the emphasis on speaking in tongues. Other characteristics of the movement include


1.        Promoting special gifts of healing

2.        A prosperity gospel

3.        And the possibility of one losing their salvation.


C.       The Battle for Unity


1.        1 Corinthians 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

2.        1 Corinthians 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

3.        1 Corinthians 11:18  For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

4.        Romans 16:17  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

5.        Proverbs 6:16;19  These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:...he that soweth discord among brethren.


D.      When did Speaking in Tongues re-appear?


1.        The late 1800’s – not something that had continued through history

2.        Emotionalism rather than Bible exposition, experience rather than Bible teachings, hysterical sessions and claims of visions, tongues, prophecies, and a special baptism took over their doctrine

3.        All this has made Biblically informed Christians decidedly reject the movement and stick with boring old TRUTH, and the emphasis on TRUTH and the Miracle of SALVATION and a Changed Life instead of any other miracle!

4.        Thank God for any and every true miracle, but miracles on demand are a thing of the distant past – our lot is not to have a prosperous life, but a sacrificial life, for Christ (1Tim 4:10)!!!


E.       Tongues Speaking Is Not Restricted To Christendom – Muslims, Mormons, Hindu’s and Tribal people in Africa all speak with ecstatic languages that they do not know what they are saying!


II.       Message – The Gift of Speaking in Tongues – Part 2


A.      Remind ourselves, What are Tongues according to the Bible?


1.        Languages (Gen 10:20) - In the Bible, they are always known languages

2.        To Charismatics, they are mainly heavenly languages that they speak to God with

3.        To speak with other tongues means to be able to communicate with someone in their language even though you never learned their language – that’s why it is called an unknown tongue – unknown to you!


B.       Let us carefully examine some undisputed, undeniable facts.


1.        Fact 1: Tongues was a known language; not unintelligible gibberish


a.        This is an extremely important point in this whole debate. Notice these verses in Acts 2:4-11

b.       These verses that are so adamantly referred to by Charismatics illustrate a phenomenon that NONE OF THEM HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED! 

c.        If Charismatics have the gift of tongues, why do their missionaries have to go to language school??

d.       No Charismatic has the Acts 2 gift of tongues.  Verse 11 says "...we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God!"  When you speak in tongues, do people know what you are saying??  Do you know what you are saying?  If not, something is very wrong, and we're only on fact number one!

e.        Pentecostals and Charismatics often teach that there are two types of tongues described in the New Testament: the "public language tongues" of Pentecost and the "private prayer" tongues of 1 Corinthians 14:4 -- "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church." Some call this distinction "ministry tongues" and "devotional tongues."

f.         If one is valid, then the other must be too – yet only ONE is seen at work ANYWHERE! Period! Fails the first test!!!


g.       Early Pentecostal leaders understood that biblical tongues were real earthly languages.  They even thought they would be able to go to foreign mission fields and witness through miraculous tongues without having to learn the languages. Those who attempted this, though, returned bitterly disappointed!


1)       "Alfred G. Garr and his wife went to the Far East with the conviction that they could preach the gospel in 'the Indian and Chinese languages.'

2)       Lucy Farrow went to Africa and returned after seven months during which she was alleged to have preached to the natives in their own 'Kru language.' The German pastor and analyst Oskar Pfister reported the case of a Pentecostal...

3)       'Simon,' who had planned to go to China using tongues for preaching. Numerous other Pentecostal missionaries went abroad believing they had the miraculous ability to speak in the languages of those to whom they were sent. These Pentecostal claims were well known at the time. S.C. Todd of the Bible Missionary Society investigated eighteen Pentecostals who went to Japan, China, and India 'expecting to preach to the natives in those countries in their own tongue,' and found that by their own admission 'in no single instance have [they] been able to do so.' As these and other missionaries returned in disappointment and failure, Pentecostals were compelled to rethink their original view of speaking in tongues" (Robert Mapes Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism).

4)       The conclusion was soon reached that their "tongues" were not earthly languages but a "heavenly" or special prayer language; and those are the terms we have heard frequently at large Charismatic conferences, such as those in New Orleans in 1987, Indianapolis in 1990, and St. Louis in 2000. The tongues that I heard in these conferences were not languages of any sort, but merely repetitious mumblings that anyone could imitate. Larry Lea supposedly spoke in tongues in Indianapolis in 1990, and this is a key example of what is being passed off for tongues in the Charismatic movement. It went something like this: "Bubblyida bubblyida hallelujah bubblyida hallabubbly shallabubblyida kolabubblyida glooooory hallelujah bubblyida." I wrote that down as he was saying it and later checked it against the tape. Nancy Kellar, a Roman Catholic nun who was on the executive committee of the St. Louis meeting in 2000, spoke in "tongues" on Thursday evening of the conference. Her tongues went like this: "Shananaa leea, shananaa higha, shananaa nanaa, shananaa leea" repeated over and over and over.


h.       If you think I'm making fun of these people, you are wrong. This is taken directly from the audiotapes of the messages. If these are languages, they certainly have a simple vocabulary! My children had a more complex language than that when they were still toddlers.


2.        Fact 2: Jews were always present.


a.        This is a key factor because as Paul acknowledged in 1 Corinthians 1:22  "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:"  Since they required a sign, this sign was specifically for them.  If there are no unsaved Jews around, tongues are illegitimate.

b.       1 Corinthians 14:22  Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them (Jews) that believe not:


3.        Fact 3: They all had the ability to speak with various languages; not just one or two of them.


a.        Acts 2:4  And they were all (all 12 apostles) filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

b.       Acts 10:46  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.

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


4.        Fact 4: None of them asked to do it, or begged for the gift.


a.        To have an altar call and get people to pray and beg and plead for the 'baptism of the Holy Ghost' is TOTALLY unscriptural. 

b.       The true gift of tongues came unexpectedly and without any effort on anybody's part to initiate it.


5.        Fact 5: None of them were taught to speak in tongues, encouraged to, or even warned that it could happen.


a.        There are literally classes that Charismatics can attend where they learn how to speak in tongues!  There are literally teachers that go around to different churches and hold seminars and classes for the purpose of teaching people how to speak in tongues! Unbelievable. 

b.       They speak of 'releasing the inner gift'.  That sounds like New Age philosophy to me.  This is absurd.


6.        Fact 6: Four signs should accompany believers – not just ONE (Mark 16:17,18)


a.        Mark 16:17,18 "And these signs shall follow them that believe;


1)        (#1) In my name shall they cast out devils;

2)       (#2) they shall speak with new tongues;

3)       (#3) They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;

4)       (#4) they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."


b.       These verses list 4 sign gifts:  Notice the PROPHECY.


1)       casting out devils

2)       speaking in tongues

3)       taking up deadly serpents (immune to poison)

4)       healing of any sickness – not just a few kinds – AIDS and CANCER should be a thing of the past!!!


c.        Notice the FULFILLMENT.


1)       Casting out devils – Acts 16:16-18

2)       Speaking in tongues – Acts 2:4

3)       Taking up deadly serpents (immunity to poison) – Acts 28:3,4

4)       Healing – Acts 3:7


d.       We know for a definite fact that the Acts 2:4 tongues experience was a fulfilment of prophecy, because Peter said it was.  They all thought Peter and the other apostles were drunk, but he told them it was only 9 o'clock on the morning.  Then he declared unto them that what they had just witnessed was a DIRECT fulfilment of Old Testament prophesy.

e.        Acts 2:14-16  But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:  For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

f.         That’s why we say the fulfilment of this prophecy was accomplished in the first century – it is not ongoing!


7.        Fact 7: They did not brag or tell others of their gift or ask people if they had the gift.


a.        It had a purpose and served its purpose.  End of story. 

b.       I've seen Charismatics approach other people and when they find out if they have a Pentecostal or Charismatic background, they invariably ask the question, "Do you speak in tongues?"  Who cares?  What if they do?  Why is it such an issue?  Why only ask people from Charismatic backgrounds? Could it be possible that only people that have been TAUGHT to speak in tongues or PRESSURED into speaking in tongues or have heard over and over and over again that they SHOULD speak in tongues are actually the only people that 'have the gift'?


8.        Fact 8: The purpose was ALWAYS for the benefit of those standing around; not the one doing the speaking.


a.        This fact can not be stressed enough. We'll deal with this more a little further down.  This was not for entertainment or personal edification.  This was not for showing off.  This was not to demonstrate spirituality. 

b.       It was ONLY to confirm the word of God before it was written down.

c.        The purpose was NEVER for the edifying of the speaker. None of the gifts were given to use for personal enjoyment or personal purposes.  They were ALL given for the building and edifying of the body of Christ.  To use the gifts of the Holy Spirit for personal edification and personal purposes is selfish and unscriptural.


9.        Fact 9: Tongues was a fulfilment of several prophecies, both Old Testament and New Testament.


a.        Isaiah 28:11  For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people (the Jews).

b.       Mark 16:17,18 And these SIGNS shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.


10.     Fact 10: The sign gifts ended: the gift of healing, prophecy (fore-telling), speaking in tongues, working of miracles, ended upon the completion of Scripture. They died out, and went “missing” until the end of the 19th century? Hmmm. Sound Mormon to me!


III.     Conclusion


A.      Spiritual Gifts are an establish fact

B.       But they are not available today!

C.       Why is THAT such a hard thing to accept?

D.      Could it be that we don’t want a God that JUST emphasises SALVATION, and instead want a Genie who will GIVE US whatever we want, thinking that THAT is God’s will for humanity?

E.       A Bunch of spoiled brats is what we have today!!!

F.       The proof is in the tests that we put people’s belief’s up against (Acts 17) – the unsaved Berean’s were not looked down upon because they were sceptical, but were instead praised because they checked out EVERYTHING that Paul and other Christians preached!

G.       The same must and should be true with us!

H.      Oh that unity did prevail once again! With the TRUTH it will!


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland