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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes Question:

clear.gif - 808 Bytes Where in the Bible does it talk against "speaking in tongues" and why isn't it to be practiced today?
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I will attempt to be brief here, although it may not be easy.

I Corinthians 12-14 is Paul's teaching concerning tongues, as well as other spiritual gifts. He covers a lot of ground in chapter 12 to show that the Corinthians have a wrong attitude towards tongues, but that is not really an answer to your question (although it does make a good study). I Cor 13:1-8a teach about what really is important in a local church, which is charity. This, of course, was completely lacking in the Corinthian church, which believed themselves to be spiritual because of their gifts, specifically tongues, and did not realize that spiritual gifts do not make you spiritual.

In I Cor 13:8-12 Paul begins to teach the ending of the revelatory, or sign gifts. In verse 8 he tells them that charity will last forever, but tongues, prophecy, and knowledge (special knowledge that could only be known through the direct revelation of God), will pass away. It is interesting to note that the Greek voices that are used in the verbs there are not the same. Prophecies shall FAIL, and knowledge shall VANISH AWAY (actually, the same word in the Greek language). Both of these verbs are passive, which means that they are receiving action. In other words, something will happen to make prophecy and knowledge stop. However, tongues will CEASE, which is a reflexive verb. This means that tongues will stop in and of themselves. Paul shows in verses 9-12 what will bring prophecy and knowledge to an end. They are both "in part", but something "perfect" is going to come which will bring these two gifts to a close. What is this perfection? It can be one of only two things, for only two "things" are perfect. Either it refers to Christ and His second coming, or it refers to the Word of God. This can not refer to Christ for two reasons. First of all, if it refers to the second coming, which hasn't happened yet, then we are still getting direct revelation from God. But how can that be since John wrote in Revelation 22:18 that if anyone added to the revelation that we already had that God would add plagues to him? There is no new revelation being given today, because God said that we had it all when He concluded Revelation. Secondly, if Paul was referring to Christ, he would have used the masculine pronoun "He" instead of the neuter pronoun "that". The Bible is a "that". Jesus is a "He". Therefore, the perfect thing which was to come and supersede prophecy and knowledge was the Word of God.

But, what about tongues? A couple different observations can be made here. First of all, tongues was also a revelatory gift, and was no longer needed after the completion of the New Testament. People seem to forget that the church at Corinth did not have all the Bible, therefore they needed this revelation from God. However, we have all the Scriptures, therefore we do not require this gift. Secondly, tongues did serve the purpose of validating the message that was being given. Hebrews 2:3-4 teach that Christ taught the message of salvation, and those who heard Him also taught it. However, the message was confirmed by God through "signs and wonders". I Cor 14:22 clearly teaches that tongues were "a sign". We no longer need signs to confirm the truth of the message because we have the complete revelation of God, and we can check all that we see and hear against the completed canon of the Word of God.

The third observation takes a little more time. I Cor 14:20-22 teaches the end of tongues, because it teaches the purpose of tongues. In verse 20, Paul tells the Corinthians to grow up in their understanding of spiritual truth (it is interesting to note that they were pros at malice, and Paul tells them he wishes they were as undeveloped in their hatred of others as they were at spirituality). In verse 21, he refers them back to the law, and in verse 22 he says "wherefore", which means that the teaching of the law concerning tongues is the basis for his position in verse 22. So we must find out what the law, and the rest of the Old Testament, says about tongues.

Deuteronomy 28 is the place to look. In verses 2-14, God promises blessings to Israel if they obey Him. In verses 15 to the end of the chapter, He promises cursings to Israel if they disobey Him. In verses 45-49 He speaks about a specific wonder that would take place. In verse 48, God says that an enemy will attack Israel as a result of the judgement of God. The Israelites would know this, according to verse 49, because they would hear "a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand". In other words, Israel would know that God was about to judge them when they heard unknown languages.

Look at Isaiah 28:1-8. Here Isaiah speaks of the wickedness of Israel. Most commentators believe that verse 9-10 are the Jew's response, with is a sarcastic "precept upon precept, line upon line"; in other words: "Does He think we are babies, that we must be taught all these simple things?". In fact, in verse 14, they are referred to as scornful men. Now notice verse 11. Isaiah writes, "For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people." What is he saying? He is saying that if Israel continues in its sin and rejection of God's Word, that He will speak to them in judgement, by allowing them to be taken over by a country which speaks a language that they do not understand. When they heard another tongue, judgement was at the door.

Isaiah 33:20-22 talks about the wonders of the millennium. In verse 19, notice what will NOT be found at that time. Israel will not see "a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue that thou canst not understand". In other words, during the millennium there will be no need of the judgement of God upon Israel, so they will never hear people speaking in an unknown tongue, for unknown tongues are a sign of the impending judgement of God.

Lastly, look at Jeremiah 5:11. There, Jeremiah speaks of the sins of the people. In verse 15 he pronounces God's judgement: "Lo, I will bring a nation upon you... a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say." Again, we see that God is telling Israel that they will know that the judgement of God is upon them when they hear strange languages.

Go back to I Corinthians 14:22. Paul says "wherefore". The Old Testament teaching on tongues is going to be a basis for his next statement. He says "tongues are a sign." A sign of what? The impending judgement of God! Who is it for? Not believers, but rather unbelievers; those who have ignored God's Word! What kind of unbelievers? I Cor 1:22 says that the Jews require a sign. Therefore, according to Paul, tongues are a sign given to unbelieving Jews to tell them of the impending judgement of God upon Israel.

What happened on the day of Pentecost? The Jews in Jerusalem heard tongues, and then heard a message in which Peter condemns them for crucifying Christ. What was their response? They were pricked in their hearts, and asked: "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Why did they respond this way? They heard the tongues, which they knew from the Old Testament (in fact, Peter reminds them of that in verses 16-17) was a sign of impending judgement, and they knew that they had to get right with God.

Look now at Luke 19:41-44. Here Christ tells Jerusalem that judgement is about to fall. He tells them that the day is approaching, and that not even one stone would be left upon another. Why? Because of their sin, and rejection of Scriptural truth. When was this fulfilled? Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and from that point, Israel ceased to exist as a nation until the 1948.

Let's put this all together. Tongues will cease in and of themselves. Tongues are a sign to unbelieving Jews to show them that the judgement of God is falling upon Israel. The judgement of God ultimately fell on Israel in 70 A.D. Therefore, it was at that time that tongues came to a halt. They were no longer necessary, because the judgement had taken place. By the way, history bears this out, for tongues stopped in the first century, and only a few heretical groups ever spoke in tongues down through the centuries. Bible believers never did.

I hope this gives you some food for thought. If I might be so bold, I did preach a series on I Cor 12-14 while I pastored Court Street Baptist Church in Port Huron Michigan. You can order that series from our Sermons on Tape - Charismatics page, and there will be no charge for it.

May the Lord bless you.
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Dr Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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