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How ungodly is speaking in tongues? Created 22 May 2014

1. The premise of my conviction   2. The Short answer
3. Chronology of the Holy Spirit's ministry in the New Testament   4. The consequence of the chronology in Scripture
5. How do Cessationalists get around the interpretation of the Bible, as noted herein?   6. My conclusions

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Related articles: A Charismatic thanking John MacArthur for Strangefire || Born of the Spirit: Exploring the differences between spirit, soul, heart and mind || Deception: Why does God allow it? || Which comes first: Repent or Believe? || False warnings about False teachers

This is a controversial issue. It does not need to be, but it is. Firstly, I wish not to reflect negatively on the hearts or faith of Cessationalists (people who believe speaking in tongues have ceased). I have friends who are Cessationalists. I believe they mean well but execute poorly. Some believe the same of me. Others simply think my views are off the wall. Secondly, to make my point I will establish the premise of my reasoning (see hereunder). The challenge laid down by the Cessationalists is to not bring into the debate a believer's personal, subjective experience. This, of course, is mostly not the standard set by themselves for themselves as far as it pertains to professing their faith in Jesus to unbelievers. So, to start off with, there is a double standard applied by most Cessationalists. Nevertheless, I'll try to accommodate them and thus not bring in my or others' personal experience in making my point. Scripture should suffice.

1. Premise of my conviction

To have a meaningful opinion I must base it on a set of ground rules. If we can agree on the premise then we have a better chance of reaching consensus. So, I'll state what I believe - here goes:

2. The Short answer

Scriptural references are provided in the next section where a more detailed discussion takes place.

Now, let's look at the turn of events chronologically.

3. Chronology of the Holy Spirit's ministry in the New Testament

From this point onwards, Paul and the other Apostles start writing letters to the various churches. You and I have a choice to make concerning these passages: either we cut out from the Bible altogether the passages in contained in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 to serve our doctrine of Cessation or we read it as the necessary, relevant and updated word of God. You cannot have it both ways because the teaching contained in it is quite emphatic about Christians speaking in tongues that are not understood by any human being:

4. The consequence of the chronology in Scripture

5. How do Cessationalists get around it?

6. My conclusions

So, how ungodly is speaking in tongues? Perhaps the only ungodly thing to legitimately speaking in tongues is ridiculing it or prohibiting it or teaching that it does not exist.

Because, from Paul, when you're speaking in a tongue you are speaking mysteries to God. And, from Paul, when you're speaking in a tongue you are building yourself up to be more useful to God. And, from Paul, when you're legitimately using the other gifts of the Spirit, such as prophesy, you are equipping the Church for the works it must do. Are these things important in the eternal scheme of things? It think so.

Footnotes:

[1] Matthew 3:11 [back]

[2] Mark 16:15-18 [back]

[3] Acts 2:1-4 [back]

[4] Acts 8:14-17 [back]

[5] Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2) [back]

[6] So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” (Acts 9:11-12) [back]

[7] Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:10-16) [back]

[8] : And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. (Acts 9:17-18) [back]

[9] And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? ” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:42-48) [back]

[10] Acts 19:1-3 [back]

[11] : Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all (Acts 19:4-7) [back]

[12] According to John Hopkins Medicine, Hypnosis is a state of consciousness resembling sleep, but the person can still concentrate on memories, sensations, or other things. Hypnosis is an altered, relaxed state of mind, often used to help learn to control bad habits, pain, and stress. About 5 percent of mentally healthy people cannot be hypnotized and the same percentage are very susceptible to hypnosis. However, hypnotism will not work if the person does not want to be hypnotized, and the subject of hypnosis can interrupt it at any time. Hypnotism requires trust and imagination. When hypnotized, a person's heart rate decreases, body temperature changes, and blood flow to certain areas is reduced. The state of deep relaxation can divert attention from pain and other negative stimuli. Hypnotism even can be used as a pain reliever during certain surgeries, such as dental surgery. [back]

[13] Acts 2:7-12 [back]

[14] Some object to the use of the term "baptism of the Holy Spirit". John the Baptist referred to it as follows: He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. This Scripture was fulfilled at Pentecost. So, clearly, the term "baptism of the Holy Spirit" should stand. It is used interchangeably with "receiving the Holy Spirit" and "outpouring of the Holy Spirit". Sometimes Scripture associates it with speaking in tongues. And sometimes Scripture associates it with speaking in tongues and prophesying (Acts 19-1-7). [back]

[15] But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.Acts 2:14-21 [back]

[16] "For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries." (1 Corinthians 14:2) [back]

[17] And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7) [back]

[18] 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 [back]

[19] 1 Corinthians 14:20-22 [back]

[20] 1 Corinthians 14:39 [back]

[21] 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.(Romans 11:25) [back]

[22] There were very clear moral problems in the Corinthian church, including divisivenesssexual immorality, and litigiousness. [back]

[23] 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17).

See also: And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all. 8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:1-7). Paul's reference to these Ephesians having believed (Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?) indicates that they had already been born again. Still, they had not received the infilling of the Holy Spirit (We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit). Then he prayed for them through the laying on of hands (And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied). [back]

[24] 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, ... (Ephesians 4:10-14) Teachers or Pastors that teach that Prophets have ceased by implication deny their own authority. If the office of Prophet has ceased, then the office of Teacher has ceased as well. The ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher and Pastor are still given to believers every day. There is nothing in the Bible that says these ministries have ceased. Paul has died, but the office of Apostle is still alive. God is working though these men as much as He is working through Pastors and Teachers today.

It should be no secret that the 4th century's Council of Nicaea, as arranged by essentially a 'not-overly-committed' or even pagan emperor, put in motion a church model that for many has come to suggest that all of the five ministry gifts (Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Evangelist, Pastor) are to be rolled up into one paid church staff member (a most unbiblical practice), who will have obtained a diploma or degree in biblical studies, or, at the very least, will have been sanctioned by a state-registered body. That is not the Church of the Bible. Regrettably, this idea has helped along the notion that there cannot possibly be Apostles in this day and age because church leaders are "Pastors" or "Priests". You and I can nevertheless be assured that Apostles do exist today; probably not the kind that would parade themselves as apostles, but likely those who legitimately carry an authority given by God. But, do these men write Holy Spirit inspired text so that the Church world-wide may incorporate it into the Bible? Perhaps they do say or write Holy Spirit-inspired tings? We don't really know. But, should we view as "inspired" something because the author claimed it was inspired? Certainly not. Even so, can non-Apostles say or write inspired things? Certainly yes. The Bible records Stephen as giving a great Holy Spirit-inspired oration to the synagogue. Yet, Stephen was not an Apostle. So, could non-Apostles be inspired to say or write things? Yes. Thus, writing or speaking Holy Spirit-inspired messages is not what qualifies you as an Apostle. God's authority is what qualifies you as an Apostle. The problem is that because of the many false doctrines that go around today and because of our warped definition of what 'Church' really is, few can actually agree on who or where they are. Possibly, some of the truest Apostles are being branded as heretics much like the first Apostles were. The discerning heart sees the trees from the forest. Why does God allow deception, then? Read a related article here. [back]

[25] ..... walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-10) [back]

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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptural. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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