Ecclesiology 032: Spiritual Gifts 12

Ecclesiology 032: Spiritual Gifts 12
1 Corinthians 14:21-22 • Dr. Andy Woods • August 12, 2018 • Ecclesiology


Andy Woods

Ecclesiology 32, Spiritual Gifts 12

8-12-18     Lesson 32

Father, we’re grateful for today, grateful for just another day to worship you and fulfill our purposes as  Your people as we gather today.  I do ask, Father, that people would leave here today change, either edified or if someone is here today that doesn’t know You personally I pray that for them today is the day of salvation.  So I just pray that You would orchestrate the activities of this church today from beginning to end and we’ll look forward to what  You are going to do today through Your people.  And we asks these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said… Amen!

All right.  If you all can locate for me 1 Corinthians chapter 14 and verse 15, and thank you to Jim for filling in  last week, I appreciate that.   My family and I were in sunny southern California and the longer I stayed there the more grateful I was that I was a Texan even though I grew up there.  I spoke at a conference and then we spent the rest of our time visiting with my parents, letting them see their granddaughter.  So that was a blessing.

If you’re just tracking with us for the first time we’ve been continuing our study on Ecclesiology which is the doctrine of the church.  And we’re sort of in that section of ecclesiology dealing with the purpose of the church.  Why does the church exist, what is it supposed to be doing.  And in this study we’ve seen that one of the great purposes of the church is to edify the saints.  So you’ll notice that on this slide I’ve got three basic purposes for the church, which we’ve gone over, and I got those from Robert Lightner and when I was in California last Friday, Friday of last week, I learned that he had passed away so he’s just another example of that really great generation that sowed into my life and the lives of other people the kind of a Charles Ryrie generation.  And I was saddened to see that he had passed away from the human point of view but very happy for him.  So I just wanted to make you aware  of that. Robert Lightener was one of the greats and that’s the reason I make reference to him quite a bit. I held him and continue to hold him in very high esteem and may his tribe increase…amen!

But one of the things he said, and he taught it to us this way in class, is one of the great purposes of the church is to edify the saints so that they can become equipped for their use of their own spiritual gifts, which takes us sort of down a rabbit trail; we need to start talking about spiritual gifts.  And here’s sort of a four part outline that we’re using.  Number one what are some general observations about spiritual gifts.   And you might recall that I gave you about nineteen general observations about spiritual gifts.

Secondly, are all the spiritual gifts for today?  And this, of course, is the giant elephant in the room because when you begin to look at the subject of spiritual gifts you’ll see the following seven: apostles, prophets, workers of miracles, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, and knowledge.   The movement within contemporary Christianity today, known as the Pentecostal movement, charismatic movement, they’ll basically argue for a continuation.  In other words, every gift that’s in use in the Book of Acts you should see today.    Sugar Land Bible Church is what we would call selective cessationists where we believe that these seven gifts have ceased back in the first century.  And it’s there’s our position statement arguing that.

[SLBC Position Statement No. 7:  “TEMPORARY SPIRITUAL GIFTS This church teaches that the miraculous sign gifts, including the gift of tongues, (always the ability to speak in a previously unlearned, known language) along with the gift of healings were temporal gifts, given by the Holy Spirit solely to authenticate both the apostles and their message before the close of the canon of Scripture (1 Cor. 13:8-10).  We do not believe that these are active as gifts today.  However, we affirm that God is sovereign and may heal and/or give someone the ability to speak in a tongue (foreign language) today.  We believe that the majority of what is termed ‘miraculous’ within the contemporary charismatic movement is something other than the Biblical gifts of tongues or healing.”

It’s not a matter of just going through the Bible and saying well, this one disappears, I don’t like this one so I’ll cross it out, but this one I like so I’ll keep it.  What I’ve been giving you is the biblical rational for selective cessationism.  And we’ve done a lot of teaching on this and I’m not going to re-teach it today; you can go back into the video and audio archives and learn about it.  But it really relates to organizing the gifts around four categories.

Number one, you have the foundational gifts, and those ceased in the first century because God only lays a foundation one time.   Number two, you have the confirmatory gifts where God is inaugur­ating something new, like at the beginning of the church age.  And since God is not doing anything new today in terms of changing the rules, but He is building on a structure that He started back in the first century.  We believe that those gifts ceased.  And then number three, the revelatory gifts also ceased we believe, because God has given us a completed canon of Scripture.  So there’s no need to be given extra Scriptural insight or direct revelation from God since the canon of Scripture is complete.  So if you want to know why we think the way we do on those I would encourage  you to go back and either watch or listen to those prior sessions because we spent a lot of time explaining that.

The foundational gifts, the confirmatory gifs, the revelatory gifts have ceased but that means sixteen, at least sixteen spiritual gifts continue and those spiritual gifts are what we all the edificatory gifts because the church never outgrows its need for edification or being built up.  So in this series we’re going to be walking through those edificatory gifts explaining each one and I’ll be giving you some hints or some tips if I could towards discovering what your edificatory gift is.  But I didn’t want to leave this subject on the charismatic movement too quickly because I don’t know when in my teaching ministry here I’ll ever get back to this topic.  So I wanted to complete our discussion of the charismatic movement.

So we have Roman numeral III, I gave  you some quotes from church history which testify that those seven gifts ceased; Phillip Schaff, Augustine, Chrysostom and others. And then I was sort of tempted to leave the discussion of the charismatic movement at this point but I didn’t decide to do that, I decided to give you Roman numeral IV here, the proper operation of the sign and revelatory gifts.  Our position is that the sign gifts and the revelatory gifts and the foundational gifts have ceased.   But then I started thinking to myself, it’s likely that sometime in your life you could end up in a charismatic church and the reason that could happen is your job moves  you to a certain location and there’s limited churches to pick from.  And so what do the folks do if they find themselves in a charismatic church?  You could either not go to church, option A, not biblical, right?  Number two,  you could start your own church, which wouldn’t be a bad idea.  But most likely what’s going to happen is you’re going to have to pick from an existing church.  And there are some charismatic churches out there that actually I would recommend if you find yourself in that position.  Those are the churches that follow the rule book of 1 Corinthians 14.

So 1 Corinthians 14 lays out the rules whereby the foundational gifts, confirmatory gifts, and revelatory gifts must follow in order for those gifts to be exercised in the church.  So if I find myself in a predicament in my life where I only have limited options and the only church available to me is a charismatic, continuationists, Pentecostal church I would pick the church that follows the rules of 1 Corinthians 14, which means even though we are cessationists here you still need to know what the rules are.  See where I’m going with this.

Our position is that those gifts ceased and so that sort of ends the discussion for us.  But there are very, very sincere Christians that love Jesus just as much as we do, that claim to be biblical just as much as we claim that, and they will argue very stringently that these gifts are for today.  Now these are good people, they’re going to the same heaven that we’re going to, and so if I found myself in a situation where a Sugar Land Bible Church ministry model is not available to me and I had to pick from existing charismatic churches unless I don’t go to church or unless I want to start my own church, then I would pick the church that follows the rules.  There are rules that Paul says must exist for these foundational confirmatory and revelatory gifts to be exercised in church, which means that we need to look at the rule book from that vantage point. So I hope you kind of catch my drift and where I’m going with this.

You’ll notice that, as one of our position statements at Sugar Land Bible Church we say this:  “We believe that the majority of what is termed ‘miraculous’ within the contemporary charismatic movement is something other than the Biblical gifts of tongues or healing.”  And the sad thing is when you look at the contemporary charismatic movement today what you see is sort of a mindset where people not only argue for the existence of these various sign gifts but they’re not even following the rules.  And that is the kind of church I would avoid.  I would instead pick the church that follows the rules of 1 Corinthians 14.

So what are the rules?  Well, Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 lays out very specific rules when the gift of prophecy is exercised and when the gift of tongues is exercised.  Now the last time I was with you we looked at the rules for prophecy.  Here are the four rules:  the prophet must be 100% accurate.  If someone is claiming to be a prophet from God receiving direct revelation from God all of their predictions have to come true.  And I showed you that that was the standard in the Old Testament and it’s the standard in the New Testament.

And in fact, I stumbled across this verse which says, 1 Samuel 3:19, “Then Samuel” Samuel is a prophet of God, old covenant, “Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail.”  So that fits very well with Deuteronomy 18, Acts 11 and other passages which indicate that prophets have to be 100% accurate.  If a prophet is inaccurate they are not a prophet from God.

So you have certain teachings within Mormonism, for example, where Joseph Smith made statements that the Civil War, which was happening around his time period, was going to go  into the ends of the earth.  But we know historically that’s not what happened, the Civil War was an American thing, it didn’t go to the ends of the earth.  So you can write off Joseph Smith as a false prophet because he made a prophecy that never came to pass.  He also said that he was the one that was going to build the Mormon temple in North America, and we know that that temple was not constructed until… he was going to dedicate the temple he said in one of his prophecies, and we know that that temple was not constructed until 20 years after his death.  So there’s failure number two.  See that.

So the Bible is pretty clear that if someone is claiming to be a prophet they have to be 100% accurate.

Number two, Paul says no more than two to three prophets can speak at a time and they can’t talk over each other.

Number three, the prophets are in full control of their faculties, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.  So you don’t have these out of control prophets that just start yelling things in the middle of a service and disrupting things claiming that’s the Holy Spirit doing that.  Paul is very clear that whatever gift is exercised it’s exercised under the control of the person possessing that gift.

And then the fourth rule that’s very clear is the listeners are to judge carefully what it says.  Paul says that in 1 Corinthians 14:29 and that’s a standard that goes from Genesis to Revelation.                    [1 Corinthians 14:29, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.”]  Christianity is such that when proclamations are made… now at our church our proclamations are not direct revelations from God, they are from this book, the closed canon of Scripture, the standard still applies to us, you should never just sit, soak and sour and assume that everything that’s said from a pulpit is true.  You’re called upon as a member of God’s family to listen carefully to what is said and to screen everything through a grid that you have called the grid of Scripture.

So Christian is not a mindless religion where you just come in and you get some kind of euphoria or feeling and you turn your intellect off.  That has more to do with Eastern mysticism than it has to do with biblical Christianity.  So the standard for prophecy, and I think it’s the same standard today, even in our church where we don’t believe there is a gift of prophecy, direct revelation from God but the standard has always been to examine everything through the completed canon.

So we’ve given you those rules and so what we’re moving into now is the rules, not associated with prophecy, we’ve covered those, what’s the standard that Paul lays down for tongues?  In other words, if tongues is in operation today, and a lot of Christians think it is, what’s the standard?  What’s the rules?  And you would want to avoid churches that won’t follow the rules.

So I have a list of ten rules here.  You ready for this, and you can see I’ve got Scripture verses for all of them; I’m getting most of these from 1 Corinthians 14, a few of them from 1 Corinthians 12, so here we go.  I don’t know how far we’re going to get into this list today.

The first rule that tongues is not gibberish or incoherent speech.  The idea of gibberish  or incoherent speech is not an idea that comes from the Bible.  So notice 1 Corinthians 12:10, Paul here is talking about what we today call the gift of tongues.  He says, “and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another diverse tongues,” now notice that the word “tongues” is a translation of the Greek word glossa, where we get what English word?  Glossary.  “…  and to another the interpretation of tongues.”  Also glossa.  So the word for tongues is actually glossa, where we get the word glossary.  What do you find in a glossary?  You don’t find gibberish, you find a known language.

And then you might recall the first use of tongues in Acts 2:6, it says this: “Now when this was noised abroad the multitude cam e together and were confounded because that every man heard them speaking in his own language,” now the word translated “language” there is dialectos, where we get the English word dialect, which means a known language.  So the thing to understand about tongues is… you know, you go to a lot of Pentecostal charismatic environments and its basically gibberish, it’s basically some speaking in their own private language, some even argue it’s like a private prayer language.

And what I’m trying to communicate is such an idea is foreign to the Scripture.  What exactly was tongues?  Tongues was the capacity to speak in a language that was known that one had never learned.  And this is how the out of towners, who had assembled on the day of Pentecost, could tell as a sign from God that this new work that God had started in Acts 2, called the age of the church, with the falling of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, this is how those out of towners could tell it was true.  It was a sign from God because the apostles were speaking in a language they had never learned and yet that language was understandable by those that came to Jerusalem to celebrate that particular feast.

So it would be like this, the only thing I know how to speak is English and then all of a sudden I break out into perfect Spanish, it’s a known language but I’ve never really studied it or learned it, you would say that would be… the Spanish speaking people in here you would say that’s a miracle of God.  That’s how tongues was supposed to function.  So tongues was not an incoherent speech, it wasn’t gibberish, it was actually a known dialect.  Now this is why the Apostle Paul calls “tongues” a sign for who?  Unbelievers, 1 Corinthians 14:22.  [1 Corinthians 14:22, “So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.”]

Now as I understand the Bible there was actually a second use of tongues, and I’ve gone into this a little bit, it’s in 1 Corinthians 14:26-27, and it has to do with a use of it, not so much amongst the unsaved but a use of it amongst the saved.  And this was before the canon of Scripture was closed, a good forty years before it closed.  Paul wrote these words about A.D. 56/A.D. 57, the completed canon wasn’t available.  So as partial revelation God gave people in church the ability to speak in tongues.  So they would be an example, where I as a person speaking English could suddenly speak in a known dialect, Spanish, and there were people that could take that dialect and translate it.  And that’s called the gift of interpretation of tongues.  So one person is speaking an unlearned but known dialect and another person within the church is translating that dialect in a language that the parishioners could understand.  That’s called the gift of interpretation of tongues.

This was one of the ways that God was revealing truth to His infant church.  See that?  So there was a use of tongues amongst the unsaved, you see that in Acts 2 and I think that’s what 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 is talking about.[1 Corinthians 14:21-22, “In the Law it is written, “BY MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME,” says the Lord. [22] So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.:”]

Also a uses of tongues amongst the saved, that’s what 1 Corinthians 14:26-27 is talking about where Paul says, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for” what?  “edification.  So here the context is what’s happening within the church.   Then Paul says, [27]  “If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must” what? “interpret;” because if it’s not interpreted into the language people understand what value is it? How does it edify, if you’re going on and on in some language that no one understands.

So I’m seeing a gift of tongues amongst the unsaved  and I’m seeing also in the first century a gift of tongues amongst the saved.  But what I want you to understand is in both cases it never involved gibberish; it always involved a known, unlearned but known dialect, ALWAYS, that’s what glossa means, that’s what dialectos means. So having said all that why do we call it the gift of tongues?  Why don’t we just call it the gift of languages?  Well, there’s someone  you can blame for that; there’s a Bible translation you can blame for that—that’s the King James Version.  Now I happen to have a very high opinion of the King James Bible but what you have to understand is when the King James, which is an English translation, was created about 1611 in English the word “tongue” meant known language.

And you can see that very clearly by how the King James Version translated Revelation 9 :11, it says, “They have as king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is” what? “tongue is Abaddon, and in the Greek [can’t understand word] the name Apollyon.”  Now those are the same words, glossa and dialectos.  I think in this case it’s glossa which means a known language.  Well if it’s a known language then why in the world did the King James translators translate it “tongue” instead of “known language”?   Because in 1611, when the King James translation came forward, in English “tongue” meant “language.”  See that.

So when you see the word “tongue” in the Bible you should mentally substitute in your mind the words known language because that’s what it meant in 1611.  And most other Bible translations, the English translation, have sort of taken their cues from the King James Version  The problem is the charismatic movement has come along and attached to this word “tongue” a different meaning.  When they use the word “tongue” they’re basically talking about gibberish and what I’m trying to say is that’s not what the Greek text says; there is no such thing as gibberish.  And it’s not even what the word “tongue” meant when the King James translators did their translation work.

So the first thing you have to understand about tongues is you’ve got to get out of your mind this idea of gibberish, this idea of some kind of private personal language, that is not at all what the Bible is speaking of.  In fact, what does the Bible say about gibberish?   When you actually get into the Word of God and start studying what it says about it the Bible is very negative about gibberish and unknown languages.  Matthew 6:7, Jesus says this, “And when you are praying, do not use” what? “meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”  The Bible does not support meaningless repetition and it also doesn’t support the idea of some sort of private language that’s unknown to people; that is not what the Scripture is talking about when it’s talking about the gift of tongues.  In fact, the word “tongues” didn’t even mean that when the King James translators did their translation work and certainly those two Greek words, dialectos and glossa in no way shape or form mean some sort of gibberish.

And that’s why I had you open up to 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul starts to explain this.  He says, “What is the outcome, then, I will pray with the Spirit, I will pray with the” what? “the mind, also I will sing with the spirit, I will sing with the” what? “the mind.”  You see, what is Christianity?  Christianity is a teaching that says as follows: the heart cannot rejoice in what the mind does not comprehend.  God, in the Bible, does not circumvent the mind.  Now in Eastern mysticism there’s this idea that you sort of are supposed to push everything out of your mind and the first thought that comes into your head must be the Lord.  May I just say to you that is a teaching that is not of God at all.  God is not interested in people pushing things out of their mind; God is interested in communi­cating to people in linguistic form.  That whole concept is violated if people are speaking in some sort of gibberish or some sort of unknown language.

So Christianity does not play on the emotions at the expense of the mind.  Now am I against the emotions?  Not at all, those are God given as well.  But if you find yourself in a situation where people are appealing to mysticism or people are appealing to emotion and you’re basically told check your mind out, don’t use your mind actively, that can’t be of God because Paul very clearly talks about reaching the mind, he says that twice here.  In fact, you might remember the words of Christ.  Remember what Jesus said, Mark 12:30, “You shall love the LORD  your God with all of  your” what? “heart, with all of your soul and with all of your “what?” mind and with all of your strength.” So there is no teaching, if we care about the Bible which we ought to do or we wouldn’t be here, that circumvents the intellect and appeals to emotions or appeals to experiences at the expense of the mind, when you see that happening in any church service you can automatically write it off as something that’s not from God.  Therefore, tongues, when it was in use, could not have been some incoherent language; it it’s incoherent how in the world would it appeal to the mind?

Now I’ve given you the little book by Stephen Waterhouse on spiritual gifts and this is where I’m getting these quotes from.  If you didn’t get the little book I think we have some still on the table, his larger book, Not By Bread Alone and in his treatment on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in that book you’ll see these quotes.   And in the process of his writings Stephen Waterhouse quotes from Christianity Today, June 4, 1971, and it was basically a study conducted on people that claimed they were speaking in tongues, multiple participants.

And here is the conclusion of the study.  “A scientific study of the Glosalia concludes the utterances of the people tested did not have the characteristics regarded as essential to human language in a taped experiment.  Tongue speakers were found to disagree on the meaning of what the other said.  The study showed the tendency of tongue speakers is to be submissive to suggestable and dependent in the presence of authority figures. It is generally not the speaking in tongues that brings the great feelings, of euphoria (buoyancy) that these people experience; rather, it is the submission to the authority of the leader.’…”  The quote goes on, “…The research project was initiated at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. The findings were based largely upon tests and interviews conducted with twenty-six people who spoke in tongues and thirteen who did not. Linguist William Samarin stated that where certain prominent tongues-speakers had visited, whole groups of glossolalists would speak in his style of speech….The report listed features that linguistic experts say characterize human language and argued” and here’s a key point, “that recordings of people speaking in tongues did not display enough of these features to warrant the conclusion that the utterances were any kind of human language, known or unknown, living or dead.”

And this fits well with what we say in our position statement, that many of the things happening in the contemporary charismatic movement today simply don’t fit what the Bible says, even if these gifts are in full operation, because the Bible is very clear that it’s got to be a known language and this study concluded that what people were actually doing is coming up with sort of rhymes or rhythms to please their leaders who were telling them they needed to speak in tongues.  And the study demonstrated that it really wasn’t a known dialect or language.  So babbling is not in the Bible; the concept of known languages is.  In fact, babbling has far more in common with paganism than it does Christianity.

Here is Virgil, Virgil is a first century B.C. historian living very close (obviously) to the time of Christ, commenting on the priestess of the isle of Delos, a pagan priestess, and what is this priestess doing?  She is doing what many charismatics today do in terms of speaking in an incoherent tongue.  Notice what Virgil says, “She attained her ecstatic state and speech in a haunted cave where drafts and winds made weird sounds and music. When she became united in spirit with the god Apollo, she began to speak in tongues, sometimes understood, sometimes incoherent.”  [Cited by John Miles, The Subject of Tongues, an Introduction to Christian Doctrine: An Outline Course, (Grand Rapids; Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, 1974), p. 2.]

The point is babbling gibberish is not biblical.  In fact, what it has more to do with is paganism.

Here is another citation from National Geographic on the Priestess at Delphi, another first century sort of pagan mystic.  And it says this: In a trance, perhaps induced by narcotic herbs,” well there’s part of the problem there, Amen!  “she sat on a tripod and raved. Priests enriched themselves by translating” look what it days, “her incoherent cries into rhymed prophecies.” [Greece and Rome: Builders of Our World, National Geographic Society, 1968), p. 171]

So incoherence, gibberish, babbling, these things are not coming from the Scripture, the angle of the Scripture, these things aren’t coming from the angle of the Word of God.  This is not the Holy Spirit.  This is just sort of first century (and even before) mysticism and paganism.

Here’s Chrysostom, [a 4th Century Christian on Priestess of Delphi] a well-respected theologian early in church history, the 4th century, he was known as Golden Throat or Golden Mouth because of his oratorical skills.  He also makes a comment on the Priestess at Delphi. And he says this:     “…This same Pythoness then is said to be female, to sit at times upon the tripod of Apollos astride, and thus the evil spirit ascending from beneath and entering the lower part of her body, fills the woman with madness, and she with disheveled hair begins to play the bacchanal and to foam at the mouth,” look at this, “and thus being in frenzy to utter the words of her madness.”  [Cited by John Miles, The Subject of Tongues, an Introduction to Christian Doctrine: An Outline Course, (Grand Rapids; Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, 1974), p. 2.]

Now think about this for a minute.  What was tongues?  Tongues was an ability to speak to the unsaved in a known language that one had never studied.  That’s why all of these people on the day of Pentecost could understand that what was happening in Acts 2, God was changing the house rules.  The only thing people knew were 1500 years under the Mosaic Law and now the rules are changed because we’re now in the church age.  How in the world were all these people, these Jews assembled on the day of Pentecost supposed to understand that this was the hand of God?  God gave a particular gift at that moment in time, called the gift of tongues, which was the ability to speak in an unstudied, unlearned language but it was still a known language.  When someone only speaks English and the audience only speaks Spanish (as an example) and the speaker suddenly breaks out in perfect Spanish, what would you think?  You would think that is a miracle of God.

Now how could babbling or rambling or incoherence be a sign to those assembled that this was now the hand of God.  They already knew about incoherence and babbling and random speech,  How did they know it from?  From the Priestess of Delphi.  They knew about it from Virgil commenting on the Priestess on the Isle of [can’t understand word].  In other words, if all tongues is is gibberish then how in the world would the apostles be used of God as a sign to unbelievers that Acts 2 was is in fact a reality that God was instigating.  They already knew about babbling, they already knew about rambling, they knew all about the Greco-Roman world with its bizarre utterances and incoherent speech.  How could more incoherent speech, which they are already familiar with, paganism, be some kind of authenticating sign.

So what I’m trying to show you is a lot of things that pass for tongues today have virtually no biblical support behind them at all.  And in fact, when you actually begin to study the issue you find that rambling and babbling has more in common with paganism than it does anything related to the Bible or Christianity.  That’s why we say in our position statement that “many of the things happening in the contemporary charismatic movement simply do not fit what we believe the Bible is teaching.”

So even if the gift is in operation today (we don’t think it is but let’s pretend it is) it’s got to adhere to certain criteria; it’s got to adhere to certain guidelines and the first guideline is it cannot be gibberish or incoherent speech.  In fact, you might be shocked to discover (as I was putting this study together) that gibberish or incoherent speech passing as tongues really emanates from the doctrines of Mormonism more than it does Biblical Christianity.

Now I hope you understand that Mormonism is a supposed appearance of Jesus Christ in North America around the 1800’s.  So not “if” but “when” the Mormons come to your house they won’t just have in their hands the Bible, they will have in their hands three other books, The Pearl of Great Price, The Doctrine of Covenants and The Book of Mormon because they believe, as cults believe, that this Book is not complete, there was an additional revelation here in North America.  And if we’re really going to catch up with the learning curve we’ve got to supplement this Book with these three other books.  That’s how you always recognize a cult; basically what they’re saying is the Bible itself is not enough.  So Mormonism is a cult, it has a defective view beyond what I’ve just said, of Jesus Christ, treating Jesus Christ as a created being.  And when you actually study Mormonism what you’ll discover is it’s just plain and simple works salvation.  There’s a reason these people are out in the heat on Saturday, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, evangelizing.  And quite frankly, I’m sort of ashamed because they do more evangelism for lives than we evangelicals many times do for the truth.

But beyond that what you have to understand is the reason they’re out there, the reason they’re sweating, the reason they’re in the heat and doing all of these things is basically they’re trying to work their way to heaven.  So because their doctrine of salvation is wrong, because their doctrine of Christ is wrong and because they don’t believe the Bible is a completed book we very easily and categorically could look at them as a cult which basically is a group that claims to be Christian, it wants the name “Christian” but it denies the essentials of Christianity.  It denies one or more of the essentials of Christianity.  That is what we would call a cult.

And it’s very interesting to note that tongues or gibberish emanates, not from the Scripture, but from mysticism, paganism and it also emanates from the kingdom of the cults itself—Mormonism. So here is Joseph Smith’s command cited in Joseph Dillow’s book, a very good book, Speaking in Tongues.  Joseph Smith said this: “Arise upon your feet, speak or make some sound, continue to make sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a language or tongue of it.”  [Joseph Dillow, Speaking in Tongues (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), p. 173.]

So just getting up and rambling in incoherence you don’t find that in the Bible, you find that emanating from the kingdom of the cults.  Of course one of the other major leaders of Mormonism in addition to Joseph Smith was Brigham  Young, they have a whole university named after him, BYU, Brigham Young University.  I had some Mormon friends in high school and they would we’re going to go to college at the Y, and at the time I thought the YMCA?  What Y are they talking about?  Well, they’re talking about BYU, Brigham  Young University.  And Brigham Young that university is named after, talked about unknown tongues.  And this is cited in Thomas Edgar’s excellent book on this, called Miraculous Gifts. Thomas Edgar formerly of Capital Bible Seminary, I think he’s retired now, I heard him speak a couple of times.  If you really want to drill down on this subject that’s one of the books I would recommend to you.

But he quotes Brigham Young saying this: “Shouting, jerks, and dancing were common in their services, and Brigham Young not only spoke in unknown tongues but interpreted his messages to his hearers.”  Thomas R. Edgar, Miraculous Gifts, (Neptune, New Jersey, Loizeaux Brothers, 1983), p. 255.]

So incoherence doesn’t come from the Bible in terms of tongues and babbling; it comes from the kingdom of the cults.  It also comes from the Greco-Roman mystery religions.  And you see, in charismatic circles there’s such an emphasis to speak in tongues.  My wife can tell you all about it, she was involved with a charismatic group before we got married and she was basically told in no uncertain words that your salvation may be in doubt if you don’t speak in tongues.  Or, you’re a second class citizen because you haven’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit is authenticated through speaking in tongues.  OR, you are told you’re not qualified to be in leadership if you don’t speak in tongues.  And what I would like you to see is unbelievers are documented as speaking in tongues.  Just because someone is speaking in tongues and incoherence doesn’t mean they’re saved.

And here is yet another testimony cited in the  Stephen Waterhouse book, and the testimony reads as follows:  “Now before you sit down and write me a letter telling me how real your experience with tongues is,” now let me stop for a minute, I’m not denying that these are real experiences.  That’s why it’s very difficult to talk a charismatic out of their experience because you know what?  They’ve actually had an experience!  What I am here to tell you is that not all experiences are necessarily from God.  And as this study progresses (I won’t be able to get to it today) I’m going to give you a chart that lists every example in the Bible, starting with Pharaoh’s magicians, who are able to duplicate a lot of the things Moses and Aaron were doing.

I’m going to give you a chart showing every example in the Bible where a miracle is transpiring and God has nothing to do with it.  Does God do miracles?  Of course He does;  you read the Bible and you see miracles every­where.  We pray for people that are sick to get well. Of course we believe God does miracles.  But the error in thinking is clinging to something that’s true simply because of an experience.  The Bible warns us against that because miracles can emanate from a power source outside of God.  I’ll show you clear verses as the study progresses.  And what would that other power source be?  Well, it could be Satan and the realm of the demonic.  So there are all kinds of people out there that are having all kinds of experiences and the deception is because they’ve had the experience, and in a lot of cases I think it is a very real experience, they think God must be in it. So with that in mind, notice this testimony.

“Now before you sit down and write me a letter telling me how real your experience with tongues is,  let me tell you about mine. I’ve spoken in tongues on several occasions. I’ve walked down aisles, I’ve prayed through at the altar, I’ve followed the instructions of the spiritual leaders who were telling me how to speak in tongues, and I spoke in tongues. It was very real. It happened. There was nothing unreal about it. But watch this. “But it was not of the Holy Spirit! How do I know? I wasn’t even saved at the time. That’s how I know. I became convinced by the preaching     I heard that I must speak in tongues to be right with God. I was determined to do it, and I did it.”  [Cited by John Miles, The Subject of Tongues, an Introduction to Christian Doctrine: An Outline Course, (Grand Rapids; Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, 1974), p. 3.]  And this person is saying they did all these things before they were actually regenerated by the Holy Spirit through faith alone in Christ alone.

So a lot of the things happening are just, I think to be fake, people trying to please their leaders,   but there are other examples where it’s a very, very real occurrence and people think if it’s real it must be from God. Well, that’s not the biblical world view.  That’s not biblical epistemology.  Epistemology is how we know what we know, that’s the study of epistemology.  How do we really know what we know?  We don’t determine truth by experiences because Satan himself can give all sorts of experiences.  You might leave today and have tremendous experiences, the angels might sing, the oceans might part, but if the doctrine and the lifestyle of the prophet is not in accordance with this book you dismiss the experience as something other than God.

So here’s an example where folks are actually speaking on tongues and they weren’t even saved at the time.  So if tongues is in existence (we don’t believe it is) but if it is the Apostle Paul says there are certain rules that must be followed.  Rule number 1 is it cannot be gibberish or incoherent speech.

Let me take you to rule number 2, let’s go over to 1 Corinthians 12:28-30.  Rule number two, if this gift is really in existence then it is of a very low priority in church.  When you get into charismatic circles they act like this is the most important gift, this is the most important thing that has to happen and that’s really not what Paul says.

Notice what he says in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” Now on that list where is tongues mentioned in verse 28?  Not first but last.  He goes on and he says,  [29] “All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?  [30] All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?”  And so you notice on the list that Paul gives during a time period when tongues was available and active he always mentions it las.  So from that I can conclude that tongues was a very low priority in the early church.

And then let me give you number three; number three, the third rule, is edification by teaching should always have priority over tongues.  Take a look at 1 Corinthians 14 and notice if you will verses 3-5.  Paul, the apostle, says, “But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. [4] One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. [5] Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”

See, what Paul is doing here is he’s giving priorities.   If you have to choose between tongues and edification through teaching you obviously choose teaching because teaching has the ability to edify everybody; speaking in an unknown tongue does not have that ability.  I wish I had time to read all these verses but you can read on your own verses 9-12.  It says virtually the same thing.                                   [1 Corinthians 14:9-12, “So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. [10] There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. [11] If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. [12] So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.”]

And then also in verse 19 Paul says the same thing.  [1 Corinthians 14:19, “however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.”]  In fact at one point in this he says you know, I wish that people would just speak a few words of prophecy (there are multiple, multiple words in tongues) because the gift of prophecy through teaching, preaching, has the greater capacity to edify.  And see, this is the balance that you don’t find in charismatic circles.  What you find is there’s such an emphasis on tongues that it’s moved from the back of Paul’s list to almost the very front of Paul’s list, and that’s what we call out of balance.  It shouldn’t surprise us, should it, that the Apostle Paul tells us to prophesy instead of speaking on tongues because prophecy has the ability to do what?  Proclamation in a known language has the ability to do what?  Edify the saints.  And that is what the life of the church is all about, isn’t it.

Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,” for what purpose, [12] for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;”  how are these gifted men going to build up the body of Christ?  Through edification and edification only comes through the teaching of God’s Word.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for” what? “teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for” 99% of good works… it doesn’t say that does it, “every good work.”

So these things come into a life of the church through edification, not through gibberish, not through incoherent language, not through language that people can’t understand but through faithful teaching and proclamation. That’s the main purpose of the church, to equip the saints. So if that’s true during a time when tongues was in existence it’s no longer, Paul would say, pursue edification through prophecy rather than tongues.

Dan Wallace, writes this concerning 2 Timothy.  He says, “By my count there are twenty-seven explicit commands given in the body of this letter; in twenty-seven words” now 2 Timothy is a pastoral letter, “in twenty-seven words Paul tells pastors what to focus on.  You have to be blind to miss the thrust of Paul’s instructions here because eighteen of those commands, fully two-thirds, have to do with the ministry of the Word of God.”  So rather than pursuing incoherent language what is to happen in the church is clear proclamation and we believe in the time period that we’re living in that this clear proclamation is to come from the Word of God.  That’s what’s going to edify you; that’s what’s going to build you up.  Not sort of an incoherent rambling babbling sort of dog and pony show.

And a lot of people say well, I’m not going to go to a church unless God speaks in that church.  And what they mean by it is I’ve got to hear some kind of private subjective audible voice.  And may I just say to you that every time this church, Sugar Land Bible Church does what God has called it to do, God is speaking.  Every time this Book is opened and is faithfully preached and faithfully taught God will speak to you, not so much through a preacher receive a direct revelation from God but through the completed canon of Scripture God has given.

So I believe God does speak at Sugar Land Bible Church regardless of people’s subjective personal experiences God speaks through His Word.  So don’t let people tell you that you’re going to a church where God doesn’t speak because we don’t have tongues and their interpretation.  So if  you want to say the gift of tongues is alive and well today, we don’t believe it is but even if it is you’ve got to follow the rules. We’ve only gone over three: number 1, it can’t be gibberish or incoherent speech.  Number 2, Tongues are always a low priority in church.  And number 3, teaching the edification always takes priority over tongues.  And I’ll continue with this list of ten rules the next time we’re together.

And speaking of tongues I spoke so long I didn’t leave time for Q&A but I guarantee we’ll have plenty of time for that, so let’s pray.

Father, we’re grateful for Your rule book and  Your way of doing things. Help us to be people of the Book.  Help us to be people who function according to the light that You have given in these 66 books and we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!