What’s Wrong with Modern Tongues – Part 2

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



I.         Introduction to Tongues


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

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


1.        Believing in special gifts of healing

2.        Promoting a prosperity gospel

3.        And accepting the possibility of one losing their salvation.


II.       Background


A.      What are Tongues according to the Bible?


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

2.        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!

3.        But, to Charismatics, they are mainly heavenly languages that they speak to God with – and it doesn’t matter that no one in the entire movement can miraculously speak with a known language that is unknown to them!


B.       Last time, we started to examine What’s Wrong With Modern Tongues


1.        It is wrong in IT’S EMPHASIS (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-14).

2.        It is wrong in IT’S ASSUMPTIONS.


C.       This week we want to finish with


1.        It is wrong DISPENSATIONALLY



III.     Message – What’s Wrong With Modern Tongues


A.      It is wrong DISPENSATIONALLY Tongues were a “sign” for unbelieving Jews (1Cor 14:22 cf. 2Cor 1:22; Mk. 16:17; 2Cor 12:12).


1.         “Signs” were given for the benefit of the Jews (1Cor 1:22; cf. Isa 7:10-14; Acts 2:22; Ex 4:6-9, 28-31; 31:13).

2.        “Tongues” were a sign of JUDGMENT (Gen 11:5-9).


a.        Notice the context of 1 Corinthians 14:22 “Wherefore” refers back to what Paul previously said in verse 21. He quoted Isaiah 28:11-12 which is a warning to Israel to an invasion by a foreign army that speaks a different tongue than Hebrews (cf. Dt 28:46-49; Jer 5:15). The presence of these foreign invaders would be a sign of God’s retributive judgment on His people.

b.        The gift of tongues was a warning sign that the Christ rejecting Jews were subject to the judgment of God. God was setting them aside and turning to a people of another tongue (the Gentiles). This can be veri­fied by considering the passages they were used in the Book of Acts.


1)       Acts 2 - Tongues warned Jews from far and wide of God’s impending judgment because of their murder and rejection of Jesus the Messiah.

2)       Acts 10 - Tongues were a warning sign to Jews at Cornelius’ house that He was shifting His hand of blessing from unbelieving Judaism to the Gentiles.

3)       Acts 19 - Tongues were a sign to the Jewish disciples of John the Baptist that a dispensational change had occurred.


3.        The passing of the “sign” gifts (1Cor 13:8-10):


a.        Since 1 Corinthians was written in 59 A.D., tongues were still in limited use. The city of Corinth was a cosmopolitan city that had many unbelieving Jews (cf. Acts 18:1-4, 7, 8, 12, 14).

b.        When Paul wrote Romans, just one year later, he omitted all the “sign” gifts (Rom 12:6-8). When he wrote Ephesians in 64 A.D. he makes no reference to “signs” (Eph. 4:11). 1 & 2 Timothy were the last books Paul wrote (65-66 A.D.) and he admits he no longer had the gift of healing (1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20).

c.        The purpose of tongues was fulfilled when God in judgment turned from the Jews to the Gentiles (Acts 28:23-29). God’s judgment fell on the Jews in 70 AD when Titus the Roman invaded Jerusalem and de­stroyed the Temple. With that the Jews were dispersed throughout the whole world. The sign of tongues was no longer necessary and ceased sometime between 63 A.D. (Acts 28) and 70 A.D.

d.       Let's look at I Corinthians 13.


1)       Verses 8,9  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, (Greek propheteia; the prediction of events) they shall fail (Greek katargeo; to abolish, to terminate) ; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; (Greek pauo; to leave off, to restrain from) whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

2)       Paul is saying that their knowledge was limited; their prophesying was limited. Understand this very important fact. They did not have the Bible as we have it today.  It was still being written.

3)       Verse 10  But when that which is perfect is come,

4)       If he was referring to the second coming of Jesus, he would have not referred to Jesus as "that", bur rather "he". Paul is undoubtedly referring to the complete Word of God because he refers to "that" and refers to it being "perfect". James 1:25  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty...  See also II Timothy 3:16,17  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.  The Scripture is perfect, therefore the man of God is throughly furnished.

5)       ...then that which is in part shall be done away.

6)       What is he talking about?  What is going to be done away with?  It HAS to be the prophecies, the tongues and the knowledge that they were ministering with at that time!  There's no other logical explanation.

7)       Verse 11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

8)       Paul is not saying tongues is childish; he's stressing that it is the beginning; the infant stages of the church; the first things.  Once the Word of God was complete, they wouldn't need it anymore.  The signs would not be necessary when they had the 'perfect, complete, inspired Word of God'.  It was Paul that wrote 1 Corinthians 1:22 "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:", and it was the same Paul that commanded Timothy right before his death nearly 12 years later in 2 Timothy 4:2  "Preach the word;" He made NO MENTION AT ALL to Timothy to prove his ministry with signs.  He told him to preach the WORD.


e.        This explanation is perfectly in sync with Paul's command in 1 Corinthians 14:20  "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men."  He had to remind them from Old Testament prophecies that tongues had a specific purpose. It was to be a sign to the people of Israel.  Plain and simple.


B.       It is wrong in IT’S FAILURE TO FOLLOW PAUL’S AUTHORITY  REGULATING THE USE OF TONGUES (1 Cor 14:26-40). Paul laid down seven “ground rules” for the use of tongues as God gave them to him (vs. 36-37).


1.        Must be according to God’s expressed purpose, as a “sign” to unbelieving Israel (v. 22).

2.        Tongues were real earthly (learned) languages (v. 23).

3.        Tongues were for men only to speak publically (vs. 27, 34).

4.        Must be limited to at least two and no more than three (v. 27).

5.        Must be done orderly, “by course,” i.e. one by one (vs. 27, 30).

6.        Must have an interpreter (vs. 27-28).

7.        Must be controlled (vs. 32-33, 40) – not wild and animalistic




A.      Where there is “confusion” and discord, God isn’t in it (v. 33). If any man rejected Paul’s authority regarding these guidelines, he was to be counted as “ignorant” (v. 38).

B.       So, What’s Wrong With Modern Tongues


1.        It is wrong in IT’S EMPHASIS (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-14).

2.        It is wrong in IT’S ASSUMPTIONS.

3.        It is wrong DISPENSATIONALLY



Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland