30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
December 17, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
"Tongue Speaking in the New Testament"
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour,"Tongue Speaking In The New Testament", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God.
This morning we are going to be discussing tongue speaking in the New Testament. To begin our study this morning, let's read from 1 Corinthians 13:8-13: "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." In 1 Corinthians 13:8 we are told that certain gifts that man possessed would one day cease such as prophecies, tongues, knowledge. All three of these; prophecy, tongues, and knowledge deal with the spiritual gifts that were given to man miraculously during the early establishment of the church. These all ceased when the "Perfect" came - which was the holy word of God. We have the perfect law today in the New Covenant that God gave us. That "which is perfect" (To Teleion) refers to that which is whole or complete, which no further advance in excellence can be made; it lacks nothing. That which is "in part" (To Ek Merous) stands in contrast to "that which is perfect" and must be used together in defining what each is. The "part" is used to describe the manner in which God revealed himself to man through spiritual gifts. Different parts were used to enable the whole, complete, perfect revelation of God to come together as God's will to man.
Now, let's look at God's "in part" revelation which is tongue speaking, prophecy and knowledge. Now let me read again verses 8-11 and make some comments: "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Paul is therefore saying that when God's revelation was completed, the miraculous spiritual gifts would cease. The completion of the revelation can be identified with the closing of the books which make up the New Testament.
Friends, we know that Jesus gave supernatural powers only to the apostles and this occured when Jesus returned to heaven. Notice what is said in Mark 16:17-20: "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs." The apostle Paul said in the book of Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 8-12:"When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended"--what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." What we do know is there was tongue speaking in the New Testament and I believe that every religious person would agree to that premise. But what was the tongue speaking that was accomplished in the New Testament? Was it the mere utterance of some strange words that people did not know, or could not understand, or was an intellectual language that could be understood by others? We will let the Bible answer that question. So, let's find out what New Testament tongue speaking was all about and what it consisted of.
Tongue speaking in the New Testament was the ability that was given to one to speak in a language he did not know and had not studied. Notice if you will the reading from Acts 2:1-11: "Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs--we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine." Now friends, we need to see something very clearly in these verses and that is that only the apostles of Christ were given this power to speak in tongues and not other men. In addition, the power was given so all these individuals that spoke different languages would be able to hear and UNDERSTAND the word of God spoken by the apostles. This was done for one primary purpose and that was for the spreading of the word by the early New Testament church.
A further study reveals that only the apostles could pass this on to another if they chose to by laying their hands on one. In the New Testament we can learn 3 important facts concerning this: 1) The apostles received the power from the Holy Spirit. 2) The Apostles could pass this power on to others by the laying on of their hands. 3) Others that received the power from the apostles could not pass it on. Now friends this is very important for us all to understand. Many today think they have the ability to speak in tongues, but the tongue they are speaking in is foreign to the tongues that the apostles spoke during the early New Testament days. If we are to be pleasing to God in our worship to Him, we must make sure that we are following and doing what God's law now requires or asks of us. Tongue speaking, as practiced in the early New Testament church has been done away with because the "perfect" has come, as we stated in the opening of our lesson this morning.
There is a Bible example of an individual that was not able to lay hands on another in order to impart some spiritual gift to them. This example shows and proves to us that only the apostles had the ability to impart these gifts, not anyone else. You cannot find one single example of an individual, other than an apostle, passing on spiritual gifts to another, it simply is not there. Let's look at this Bible example of this very situation: "But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money." Therefore we can know that after the apostles died and the ones they laid their hands on died then all the gifts ceased to exist. This was by God's design because now all had heard about the word of God in their own language and the church was firmly established. That was THE purpose of tongue speaking in the New Testament, so that everyone had the opportunity to hear the preaching of the gospel of Christ in a language that they were familiar with in order to respond to the truth and be pleasing to God. There is not any need whatsoever for tongue speaking today because people are able to read the word of God in their own language and respond to it.
As we learned in our introduction, tongue speaking was done away with when the perfect came which was the word of God. The perfect word of God, the Bible is available to all men today. Once God finishes with something He takes it out of the way as we read in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. There will come a time when death will be done away with as stated in Revelation 21:4; "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." In 1 Corinthians 10:2 we read, "all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" There was a time when the Israelites were baptized or fully immersed in Moses, but that time has passed, it has been done away with and as a result there is no more requirement for anyone to be baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. In addition we are not baptized with the Holy Spirit as the apostles were on Pentecost in Acts 1:5. "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Some still believe and practice parts of the Old Covenant, yet we know that God removed the Old Law when Christ died upon the cross. That Covenant that God had with His people was done away with and a New Covenant was established. Yet today, many want to still keep parts of things that God allowed to vanish away when He completed that particular work. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:19: "yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue." Paul is saying that if no one understands his speech it is of no value. That is why it is later written in verse 28: "But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God." The main theme of 1 Corinthinas, chapter 14 is that of UNDERSTANDING.
Those that believe in tongue speaking will go to 1 Corinthians 14 and claim that they are just speaking in an unknown tongue, while speaking to God. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul is dealing with tongues or languages as it is dealt with in Acts chapter 2. Speaking in a tongue not understood by the hearer becomes unfruitful. Let's look at the reasons this is so:
First, he speaks not to men (V2): 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." When one talks to me in a language I do not know, it is of no value. God may know what the person is saying, but I certainly do not!
Second, it does not edify others (V4): "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church."When one speaks to a group it should edify the whole group, not just the one that is doing the speaking.
Third, one is speaking into the air (V7-9): "Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air." If the call of the sleeping soldier is a sound he does not know or understand, he sleeps on and makes no preparation to fight.
Fourth, the understanding is unfruitful (V14): "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding." What profit to an audience is a prayer that no one understands? The answer is an obvious one.
Fifth, no one can say "AMEN" (V16): "Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?" Amen means "I agree". If you do not know what the tongue speaker is saying, how can you agree?
Sixth, the unlearned will think one is out of their mind (V23):"Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?" If one does not know the language being spoken, then they will think these people are out of their mind. And since he does not understand the language - he will leave and want nothing to do with that kind of commotion that certainly does not edify one.
Notice again how tongue speaking in New Testament times was to be done as I read from 1 Corinthians 14:27-28: "If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. God commands and expects that "...all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor 14:40).
Friends, We need to remember that the Lord's church, His rules of worship to Him is not some mystical, magical, or supernatural way of doing things. In 1 Corinthians 13 we learn that "LOVE" is superior to the way of miraculous spiritual gifts because it is permanent. Spiritual gifts would soon cease whereas love would abide forever! When we worship our Lord we worship him "in spirit and in truth"(John 4:24). He has given us all knowledge and truth through the scripture to be able to worship Him properly. We are told that: "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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17). We need to learn from the scriptures of the New Testament what things have been done away with and what things truly apply today.
Friends, I know that tongue speaking is practiced in many denominational churches today. It may be that you might be one that also engages in this practice. If so, I want to encourage you to take some time and read through 1 Corinthians, chapter 14. Let the Bible speak to you and let you know what tongue speaking was and what it was for in the early New Testament church. There is no scriptural authority today to authorize its practice. Tongue speaking in the New Testament was for a specific purpose and that was for one to speak to others in the tongue that the recipient could understand in hopes to win that individual to the gospel of Christ. The tongue speaking of today was not practiced in the New Testament church.
Have you listened to the lesson this morning? Do you disagree with today's lesson? I really do want to hear from you. I want to encourage you to please send me a note or letter and let me know why you disagree with today's lesson and give me some Bible scriptures to back your argument. In addition, I really want to encourage those of you that are regular listeners to this program to please drop a note or card in the mail this week and let me know what you think of this radio program and also send me any Bible topics that you would like to see discussed in future lessons. I really do want to hear from you. The only way that I can know your thoughts and concerns is if you express them to me. So won't you please send a note this week. You may send your card or letter to the Clarksville church of Christ, 407 W. Hwy 131, Clarksville, IN 47129.
Again, I thank each and every one of you for listening this morning and I sincerely hope that you have benefitted from today's lesson. Next week, the Lord willing, I will be teaching a lesson on the perversions and diversions of Christmas. Please join us won't you?
This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"