"The Gift of Tongues - Part 2"
by Pastor John Waldrip,
Calvary Road Baptist Church, Monrovia, CA
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Text: Topical - Tongues
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4A. FOURTH, THE REALITY OF TONGUES
What about this thing called the gift of tongues? Is it a heavenly prayer language? Is it foreign languages? Either way, is it for today, or was it given for just a brief period in the past?
1B. As To Language We will address the question of whether or not the gift of tongues is one which involves the ability to speak in a heavenly worship language or if it involves the ability to speak a foreign language never previously learned. Or was the gift of tongues both?
1C. The possibilities
1D. Of the four occurrences of tongues speaking in the New Testament, only on Pentecost and at Corinth is it possible to examine the nature of tongues and to determine whether tongues was a foreign language capability or a heavenly language capability in each instance.
2D. Some believers hold that in one instance tongues was a foreign language ability but was a heavenly language ability in the other. We will conclusively see whether that assertion is true or false.
2C. The passages
1D. Acts 2.4-11 is very clear. "and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which Speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?"
2D. Do I need to read on? It is quite clear that on the day of Pentecost tongues was quite simply the supernatural ability to speak a foreign language the speaker had never previously known or learned, but which the Jewish listener heard and understood. The "other tongues" were foreign languages. The amazing thing for the listeners was that Galileans, not known for their intellect or education, were speaking in languages they could not possibly have learned. Though they did not understand the full implications until Peter preached to them, they did know that this was a work of God.
3D. How about Corinthian tongues? A number of people have maintained that Pentecostal tongues were indeed foreign languages, but Corinthian tongues was a prayer language, to be used to edify yourself and for praying in the Spirit. Folks, the only thing wrong with that assertion is it isn't made by Scripture.
4D. In First Corinthians 14.21, when explaining the gift of tongues to ignorant Corinthians who, themselves, possessed the gift but knew not what they possessed, Paul quoted from Isaiah 28.11-12. But can anyone deny that the stammering lips and unknown tongue to which the prophet Isaiah was referring to was the language of the Assyrians and the language of the Babylonians? No.
5D. Hey, if the unknown tongue in Isaiah 28.11-12 was the Assyrian language or the Babylonian language, a foreign language if you will, then it must be a foreign language to which Paul was referring in First Corinthians 14. And in Mark 16.17 as well.
3C. The problem
1D. Our minds are so confused by what people say is tongues today, and what people say tongues are for today, that it is very difficult for us to imagine the way the gift usually operated in a Church service in Paul's day.
2D. Let us remember that tongues were for unsaved Jews, that tongues were not to be spoken by women in Church, according to First Corinthians 14.34, and that tongues is under no circumstances to be spoken unless one who can interpret is present, First Corinthians 14.28.
3D. With that in mind, allow me to describe a scenario in which the gift tongues was properly used by those who understood its function and design.
4D. One Sunday morning Archie French brings a friend to Church. It's just before the services are to begin and Archie has just enough time to introduce him to me and to Brother Bowen and to Fred and Shirley Chavez. When introducing his friend, Moishe Rosen, Archie informs us that his friend is Jewish and attends Temple Beth Shalom in Van Nuys.
5D. As the services are about to begin, Shirley, excited that a Jewish person is in attendance, tells Julie Tardif and her husband Tom. As the service progresses Shirley suddenly feels a strong impulse to speak in tongues. However, knowing that Paul forbids the speaking in tongues by women in the Church, she sits quietly, praying that God will give her opportunity to use her sign gift after Church is out.
6D. Tom, on the other hand, who also has the gift of tongues, waits for an opportunity to stand and speak in tongues without disrupting the preaching and looks around for someone who has the gift of interpretation. He sees Jamie Lienberger. She has the gift, but it would be improper for her to use her gift of interpretation in Church. So Tom continues to look around, knowing that he should not exercise his gift unless . . . oh yes, Lee Moyer!
7D. Making eye contact with Lee Moyer so he will be sure to stay in the auditorium and not step outside to tend to any usher duties, Tom waits.
8D. Being a nice guy, I pause and Tom Tardif stands and begins to speak to Moishe Rosen in an unknown tongue. Moishe, sitting there next to Archie and Shirley, is flabbergasted. How in the world does this Gentile policeman, raised in southern California, know how to speak Yiddish, the language he used to speak in Russia when he was just a little child on his mother's knee? As Tom continues to speak, Moishe remembers the Rabbi telling him of Isaiah 28.11-12. And Moishe becomes convicted of sin.
9D. Meanwhile, most of us are wondering in amazement at what is going on. Another visitor, a Gentile, is getting a little scared at this weird stuff going on. At about that time Lee Moyer walks about halfway down the aisle and says, "Folks, our friend Moishe is Jewish and Tom is telling him, through the gift of tongues, how much the Messiah loves him, and how the Messiah died for him, and that he needs to repent of his sin and trust the Messiah to be delivered from sin." The interpretation really blesses our hearts because now we know what's going on.
10D. When he's finished with his brief message Tom sits down. A brief moment later, when Lee finishes, he returns to the back of the auditorium. Then, I deliver my message or finish my message and two people get saved.
11D. Moishe got saved because of two things: First, the gift of tongues was a sign from God that he needed to repent of his sin. So he, second, paid attention to the message which followed. When he heard the gospel message that was preached, he trusted Christ. The other visitor, the Gentile, was saved, not because of anything related to Tom's tongues speaking, but as a result of the Holy Spirit using the Bible preaching in a language he could understand to deal with him about his relationship with Christ. Both men were saved as a result of hearing the Gospel, but the Jewish man's attention was guaranteed by the gift of tongues. That's the way tongues is supposed to work.
12D. Folks, the problem with tongues nowadays is, it never happens that way. And the reason it can't happen that way, aside from the ignorance of us all, is because what passes for tongues today is not a foreign language . . . and it ought to be if it's Biblical tongues.
2B. As To Longevity
1C. It was the ignorance of the Corinthians which allowed them to think that their precious but misunderstood gift of tongues would last forever. But in First Corinthians 13.8 Paul wrote, "whether there be tongues, they shall cease . . ." And the verb translated "cease" means that you just abruptly stop.
2C. But what would cause the gift of tongues to stop? The completion of God's revelation, the Bible? No. Completion of the Bible, which was the coming of that which was perfect, meant the end of prophecy and knowledge, according to First Corinthians 13.10, but not tongues.
3C. What about tongues then? Well, if tongues is a sign to the nation of Israel, which it is, it will remain so long as there is a nation of Israel in rebellion against God.
4C. The year was 70 AD. With the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire, God set the nation of Israel aside, temporarily, because of her sin, to deal with mankind through the institution of the local Church.
5C. When that occurred the need for all of the sign gifts ended. Because when that occurred God suddenly placed Israel on a shelf, where they have been for almost 2000 years. And being judicially blinded and set aside, according to Romans chapter 9, 10 and 11, God now deals with the Jewish people on an individual basis in the same manner as He deals with Gentiles. So, in 70 AD tongues ceased, the legitimate need for their use having passed.
6C. That being the case, what passes for the gift of tongues today simply is not the gift of tongues referred to by Luke in the book of Acts or Paul in First Corinthians. The wrong thing (not a foreign language) used by the wrong people (women in Church) on the wrong people (Christians and unsaved Gentiles, instead of unsaved Jews) at the wrong time (after Israel was set aside by God).
7C. The gift of tongues was a sign gift that God gave to men and women to use in the presence of unsaved Jews to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy. Repent of your sin because judgment is coming. That was the message that the sign of tongues, a foreign language known by someone who could not possibly know it, communicated.
8C. This is why Baptist Churches do not believe that the gift of tongues are for today. Baptist Churches also believe that tongues will be restored in the near future.
5A. FIFTH, THE RESTITUTION OF TONGUES
1B. Let's Review Past Happenings
1C. If we examine the design of the gift of tongues we will see that it was a spiritual gift that was given to believers in Jesus Christ who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. The gift was to be used in the presence of unsaved Jewish people to warn them that God was growing weary of their continued rebellion and would soon bring judgment upon their nation . . . unless they turned back to God by trusting His Son, Jesus.
2C. It is also likely that the gift of tongues, showing the unsaved Jewish people who observed it that the Gentile Christians who spoke in tongues were obviously saved by faith in Christ, was used by God to provoke the Jews to jealously. You see, the Jews had always thought that God was exclusively theirs. So, God used the Gentile Christians in this way to provoke the Jews, as Romans 11.11 suggests.
3C. Well, as it was predicted by the prophet Isaiah in the case of the inhabitants of Jerusalem when first they were surrounded by the Assyrian army and then by the Babylonian army, so, too, in Paul's day when God used the tongues of Christians to speak to Jewish people.
4C. For over thirty-five years believers had been used of God to warn the nation of Israel that judgment was about to fall, but too few listened. In 70 AD judgment did fall in the form of the Roman invasion and annihilation of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people to the four corners of the globe.
5C. Lest you make the mistake of thinking that dispersion ended when the modern state of Israel came into existence, need I remind you that more Jewish people live in the United States than in Israel? The Jewish people remain a dispersed people until after the Rapture.
6C. Another thing to note is the distinction that must be recognized between the nation of Israel and Christians. We are two separate and distinct groups in God's plan. You see, we Christians are going to be raptured and then God will return Israel to His center stage of attention and begin dealing with her as a people again.
2B. Which Brings Me To A Preview Of Future Events
1C. I believe that God will restore the gift of tongues for use in the future. I further believe that the gift will be mightily used to evangelize Jews around the world.
2C. You see, once the rapture occurs, God will send forth 12,000 young men from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Since this occurs during the tribulation and the false peace established by the antichrist, those 144,000 young soul winners will have access to every part of the globe for three and one half years.
3C. How will they communicate with the various peoples of the world? No time to learn a language. The gift of tongues, which they will need to exercise to make sure unsaved Jews will listen to them and know that they represent God, will be used to win those Jews. Those Jews will, in turn, win their Gentile neighbors to Christ.
4C. Though it will be a rough time for all, there will be a great harvest of souls for the Lord during those seven years of tribulation.
6A. FINALLY, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CHRISTIANS
In light of the Bible truth presented here today, what kinds of responsibilities ought Christians to face in the world today?
1B. First, Christians Ought To Abandon Pre-Conceived Notions
1C. Most people who believe in tongues hold to their position because of something someone else told them or something they first saw someone else do. The rest believe in tongues because of something which has happened to them.
2C. On the other hand, most Christians who oppose tongues do so for exactly the same kinds of reasons.
3C. I'm here to tell you that both positions are wrong for that kind of faulty logic. We must reach the point in our Christian life when we realize what our pre-conceived notions are and what the Biblical realities are . . . and abandon the pre-conceived notions. Discard the subjective opinions.
2B. Second, Christians Ought To Advocate Unbiased Study
1C. Many, many people will not study the Word of God in an unbiased way. Instead, they will look for ways to support what they have already made up their mind they are going to believe. Never mind the facts, they just can't believe they might possibly need to learn something.
2C. Additionally, many believers will not approach someone who holds strongly to one position or another. You'd rather talk to someone who is "objective." Have you ever thought that an "objective" study of God's Word will invariably lead one to become strong on certain positions? It's true. There's nothing wrong with dogmatism if the dogmatism is the result of study and doesn't interfere with study.
3C. It simply boggles my mind to consider the number of so-called Christians I know who have been in the dark on the issue of tongues for so long, knowing that I am eager to help them in their personal study of God's Word, yet they will not ask even the most simple questions.
4C. But I guess I can understand people's reasoning. You just have to know that the apostle Paul didn't know what he was talking about . . . after all, he wasn't on television or radio.
3B. Third, Christians Ought To Appeal To God And His Word
1C. I spoke to a now-deceased pastor in Riverside one time, a teacher of mine in Bible college, named Norman Duncan, about a member in his Church. I said, "He really wants to know the Bible, doesn't he?" The pastor said, "No, he doesn't. He just says he does."
2C. He went on to tell me that every person he had ever met who really wanted to learn the Word of God learned it . . . on their own, with their pastor providing guidance and helpful suggestions along the way.
3C. You know, he's right. If you really want to learn about the gift of tongues, I mean, if you really hunger to learn the Word of God, you will learn it yourself, with help along the way from me. My job is to help you.
4C. Friend, rather than agree or disagree with me, this evening, decide to really study the Word of God yourself on this matter. Amen?
4B. Finally, Christians Ought To Admit That Spirituality Is Not Related To Emotions Or Feelings . . . Or Even Gifts
1C. Hey, the Corinthians thought they were spiritual. They weren't. Many today think they are spiritual when they are not.
2C. Realize that spirituality is not related to what gift you possess. Further realize that neither you nor I become more pleasing in God's sight by having a certain gift.
3C. My personal opinion concerning the position folks who believe in the present day existence of tongues take has nothing to do with what I think of those precious people personally. All of them I love, Most of them I enjoy being around.
4C. But folks, as I understand the Word of God, what passes for tongues today bears little resemblance to tongues found in the Bible.
5C. How can that be? Failure to study the Word of God as we ought to. Allowing other Christians, instead of God through His Word, to greatly influence our lives, our beliefs, our behavior.
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