Speaking In Tongues:  Genuine vs. Counterfeit

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There is much controversy about speaking in tongues.  What is it?  Why is it recorded in the Bible?  Does it occur today?

When Jesus gave his Apostles the Great Commission, he spoke of the message they would preach and the miracles they would perform (
Mk. 16:15-20).  They were to preach only one gospel to "all the world," because Jesus Christ is the only Savior sent from God to redeem us from our sins.  They were to preach the conditions of pardon and the consequences of rejecting those conditions:  "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."  The Apostles were given the power to perform miracles while preaching the gospel, such as casting out demons, speaking in new languages, handling deadly serpents and drinking poison without harm, and healing the sick.

When the Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles to begin fulfilling the Great Commission, they immediately preached the gospel in seventeen languages and dialects listed in
Acts 2:1-11.  "Tongues" means languages and "new," "unknown," or "other" tongues means languages which were foreign to them.  "They shall speak with new tongues."  "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance....every man heard them speak in his own language."  The people were amazed and said, "How hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?...we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Mk. 16:17; Acts 2:1-11).  The apostles performed the miracle of speaking in foreign languages they had never studied, languages thus "unknown" to them (1 Cor. 14:13).  That is what the Bible means by speaking in tongues--nothing more, nothing less.

New Testament miracles such as speaking in tongues were necessary to reveal the gospel and confirm its truth.  "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" (
Mk. 16:20).  The teaching of Jesus was given to his Apostles "and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost" (Heb. 2:3-4).  Speaking in tongues and other miracles proved the gospel truly came from God and not men.  God's Word was clearly revealed and confirmed in this way.

The Apostles even had the power to give other men the power to perform miracles.  Some men who received the power to speak in tongues abused the gift by displaying it before audiences where no foreigners were present.  Only God understood such speaking — thus it was "not unto men, but unto God" — which God rebuked, because no one could be edified by sounds he could not understand (
1 Cor. 14).  Also, the Lord explained that the gift of "tongues" along with other miracles would "cease" or "vanish away" when the process of revelation and confirmation of all truth was completed (1 Cor. 13:8-13).

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would reveal "all truth" through his Apostles (
Jn. 16:13).  When the Apostles and other men empowered by them died, all miraculous gifts ended because their purpose was completed.  Claims to such powers today are fraudulent and counterfeit, resulting in pseudo-miracles or "lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9).  So-called "speaking in tongues" today is nothing but the jibber-jabber of an emotional frenzy.  Babies, severely retarded people, and madmen make such sounds — there is no miracle to it.  It is found among infidel, idolatrous religions as well as among churches which let emotion overrule Scripture.

Such powers are claimed by such denominations as the Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal Church, The Church of God in Christ, and many others.  If representatives of any of these churches will defend their doctrine in public debate, arrangements can be made to discuss the following propositions, "The Bible teaches that the miracles of Bible days including speaking in tongues ended when the gospel was fully revealed and confirmed by the Apostles of Christ," and, "The Bible teaches that the miracles of Bible days including speaking in tongues can be performed today."  Truth invites investigation but error flees it.

Ron Halbrook

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