What About Speaking In Tongues?

Q. Does the Bible teach that one who is forgiven of his sins (a true believer), may receive the gift of speaking in tongues?

A. From briefly reading 1 Corinthians 12:13-14, it would appear that some do have these gifts. But we must look at everything which the Bible says about these gifts to see if they are for today (see 1 Cor. 2:13, 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16, Eph. 6:17).

Q. Do you mean to say that a statement or command in the Bible may be superceded (stopped) by another in the Bible and if we continue to follow something which the Bible tells us to no longer follow, we might be rebelling against God?

A. Yes, for example, we read in Acts 10:9-15 that the apostle Peter was told that God has cleansed every unclean animal which the Israelites were not to eat as taught in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. If someone was to continue to follow these Old Testament passages today, he would be disobeying Acts 10:9-15 and 1 Tim. 4:4. Clean and unclean things in the Old Testament up until the time of the cross represented how a true believer was to always seperate himself from the world (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

Q. How could the gift of speaking tongues not be for today since it was a legitimate gift to the church after the cross?

A. All commands in the whole Bible are to be obeyed today unless they are superceded by another passage in the Bible (1 Cor. 2:12-13, 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16). When we read in 1 Cor. 14:5-6 that speaking in tongues was to be interpreted, we see that it would be equal to revelation, knowledge, prophecy or teaching. In other words, it was a message from God for the Corinthian church which would build up the church as the Bible is for the church of today. The Bible does not tell us what any of these messages interpreted from tongues said. Nor does it tell us that we need to know what they said. We are warned in Revelation 22:18-19.

"For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life and out of the holy city and the things which are written in this book."

This is language that should put fear in our souls that we would want to make sure that we are not adding to or taking away from the Word of God, the Bible. Since "tongues" were messages from God to be interpreted by those with the gift of interpretation (see 1Cor. 12:10, 14:13, 27). Those messages would have served as the Word of God until the Bible was completed. Any claim that God is speaking to someone in a dream, vision, voice or tongue today should be added to the Bible so that all the churches can have the latest message from God and know His will. This of course would be in violation of Revelation 22:18.

Q. Doesn't Rev. 22:18-19 speak of "the book" as being the book of Revelation?

A. This may be so, however, the Bible is not clearly seperated into books. In the table of contents of most translations of the Bible each writing is referred to as a book (ie. the Book of Genesis, Jeremiah, Matthew, Ephesians, etc.). From the original Old and New Testament texts, none of the inspired (original) titles from what the table of contents lists as a book, has the word "book". The title for the first book of the Bible is "Genesis" or "In the beginning". The title for the book of Deuteronomy is "These the words". The title for the book of Revelation is "The Apocalypse (Revelation) of John". Even though the table of contents calls each seperate writing in the Bible a book, the table of contents is not part of the Bible and we must see what the Bible defines a book to be. In Genesis, the only time the word for book is used is in Gen. 5:1(the hebrew word "sepher" Strong's #5612). Is Genesis chapter five with it's geneologies the only part of this book? Many people believe that "this book" is referring to the Revelation of John in it's entirety which might be so. However, are the first ten verses of the first chapter part of what he saw and wrote down in a book?

Q. If we would receive a message from God today in the form of a dream, vision, tongue or an angel visitation and shared it with the church today, would it not be in agreement with the Bible as long as we do not add it to the Revelation of John?

A. The Bible is one whole unit as we read in 2 Tim. 3:16-17.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be thoroughly complete and furnished unto all good works".

It refers to itself as the Scriptures (the law, commandments and precepts of God written in a book) in many places throughout the Old and New Testaments (Exodus 24:3-4, Deut. 17:18-20, 28:58, Josh. 8:31, 1 Kings 14:19, Luke 3:4, 2 Peter 3:16). It states in John 10:35 "the Scripture cannot be broken" by the Lord Jesus. If we add something to the Revelation of John or Genesis, we have added it to the Bible and that later addition takes precedence or has greater authority over the Bible since it would be the latest command from God.

Q. Doesn't 1st Corinthians 13:8 teach that tongues will cease on the last day when the believers will be with Christ in Heaven?

A. The context would appear to teach this, but in the original greek text, prophecy and knowledge are associated with the same word as the New American Standard translation more consistently renders them as "they will be done away" (the greek word "katargeo" Strong's #2673). The action that will take place with tongues is that "they will cease" (the greek word "pauo" Strong's #3973). Do prophecy and knowledge continue in our day? We know that knowledge continues since we are commanded in 2 Peter 3:18 to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Prophecy is simply speaking forth the commands of God written in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. It is associated with faith which a believer is to walk by and is inseperable from the Bible itself (Rom. 10:17, 12:6, 1 Cor. 14:37, 2 Pet. 1:21).

Q. Isn't speaking in tongues a sign for believers as it is mentioned in 1st Corinthians 14:22?

A. First Corinthians 14:22 says that speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers. We can only understand this by reading verse 21, which makes reference to Isaiah 28:11 and Deuteronomy 28:47-49. The Lord gave Israel the sign of speaking in tongues during the time that 1st Corinthians was written. It was a sign for the nation of Israel and the rest of the world, indicating that God would no longer have this nation as His corporate church (see Mat. 21:43-45). The Word of God at that time (the Old Testament Bible [see Rom. 3:2]) would be added to by God Himself (Jn. 20:31, 1 Cor. 14:37, Eph. 3:5, 2 Tim. 3:16-17) being confirmed by signs and wonders to inform the nations of that day that this Bible like we have today, is from God (Mk. 16:20, Jn. 6:14, Acts 2:22, 14:3, Rom. 15:19, Heb. 2:3-4). Prophesying is a sign for believers (verse 22) which will make known the secrets of men's hearts as they hear it (vs. 24, 25).

Q. Are there prophets anymore if the Bible is complete?

A. In Rev. 11:3-7, two witnesses shall prophesy for 1260 days. We know that this setting is near the end of time as we read later in verse eighteen. Rev. 11:18 lists prophets, saints and them that fear the Lord's name as those who receive a reward as opposed to the judgement and wrath of the Lord to come upon the unsaved. This prophesying by the two witnesses would be an additional message which would have to be added to and become more authoritative if it is additional revelation. If it is simply declaring what is in the Bible, then there is no problem calling believers prophets. Every true believer in regards to Rev. 11:18 is a servant (Mat. 25:21, 23, Luke 12:36-40, Rom. 6:16-18, 1 Peter 2:16), a saint (Rom. 1:7, 8:27, 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:2, Eph. 1:18) fears or reverences the Lord (2 Cor. 7:1, Phili. 2:12, 1 Peter 2:17) and receives the reward of salvation (Mat. 5:12, Rom. 2:6-8, Heb. 10:35-39). There are prophets only in the sense that the Bible is the prophetic word for us (2 Pet. 1:19) today and believers are to declare that word (Prov. 22:17-21, 1 Pet. 3:16) to the world. Otherwise, there are no more true prophets who are coming with new revelation from God outside of the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16-17, Rev. 22:18-19).

Q. Doesn't the Bible tell us not to forbid speaking in tongues (1Cor. 14:39)?

A. Yes it does, but keep in mind that we must look at all of the Bible to see everything it says about the matter. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 we read "follow after charity and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy". The Bible admonishes us that "greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret...". As was covered earlier, the command is that if one is to speak in a tongue, it must be interpreted (1 Cor. 14:5-6). If it is not interpreted, then it is being disobedient to this command. There were no personal messages through tongues for one or two individuals. They were to pray that the messages would be interpreted (1 Cor. 14:13). If it is interpreted in our day, it must be revered on a higher level than prophesy or the Bible itself. Revelation 22:18-19 excludes no one.

Q. Doesn't the Bible warn those that claim to be receiving messages from God, when they have not?

A. Yes. We read in Jeremiah 23 about many prophets who proclaimed that God had given them messages when in fact they did not receive any. In verse 32 God declares:

"Behold, I [am] against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. "

Speaking to these false prophets in verse 40 God declares:

"And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten."

In the last days the church will be tested by God to see if they are faithful to the Bible (Mat. 24:24, 2 Tim. 4:3, 2 Thes. 2). In 2nd Thessalonians 2:11-13 God says that those that believe in the Truth will be kept from believing a lie, which will lead to eternal damnation. The Truth is God Himself who intimately associates Himself with His holy Bible (Jn. 12:48-50, 14:6, 17:14,17, 2 Tim. 2:15).

Q. If God does not speak to us today through tongues, visions, voices or angel visitations as He did before the Bible was completed, then how does He speak to us today?

A. God speaks or communicates His commands and gives assurance to all who are truly forgiven of their sins through the Bible alone (see Deut. 17:19, Psalm 119, John 15:3, 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16-17). The Bible has everything we need to know concerning the will of God and our relationship with Him up until the end of time. The question should really be asked, "Whose voice are we hearing?"

" My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)

"And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:31)

" So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

" The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?" (Jeremiah 8:9)

" Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!" (Ezekiel 13:3)

The Lord holds everyone accountable for obeying the entire Bible and we are commanded to examine ourselves whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). If the Bible is not the sole divine authority in our lives as we read in Rev. 22:18-19, His terrible wrath and judgement abides upon and is awaiting us (John 3:36, 12:48). If we truly have been forgiven of our sins, we will endure (Mat. 13:1-23) and follow His Word. The Bible warns us that on the last day many will think that they were saved (Mat. 7:22-27), yet they were deceived. The Lord Jesus warns all to hear and obey His Word!

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