Saturday, July 08, 2006

They shall speak with new tongues (1)

There are those within today's church, who say "speaking in tongues" is an obsolete gift and that it passed away with the first complete biblical canon.

So, is the bible's teaching on speaking in other tongues still for the church today?
Indeed, is NT teaching on anything still for today?

Basic refs. Acts 2; 10:54, 46; 19:2 ; 1 Cor. 12-14;

My intention is to show that, indeed, any gift of the Spirit given to the early church and taught extensively by the apostles is valid today - just as anything else in the NT is still valid.

First, however let me state something that should be radical and troubling for those who believe the nonsense about there being no more prophets and no more prophecies:

"In the last days, says God, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and DAUGHTERS will PROPHESY, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I will POUR OUT MY SPIRIT in those days, and they will PROPHESY."
NIV - emphasis mine.

Question : Are the last days over?

First I will simply state the basics.
Second, I will get to the point of whether or not tongues is still a viable and active gift of the Spirit today.

I will not try to prove that tongues is biblical as, to any true bible believing Xtian, this would be absurd since it is clearly a large part of the NT doctrine and practice.

1. Basic doctrine of tongues.
- it is a gift of the Holy Spirit : Acts 2:4;1 cor. 12:10
- it is another language, unknown to the speaker and usually to others : 1 cor. 14:2
- speaking in tongues was given as a gift for edification and as a sign : 1 cor. 12,14
- Paul says he spoke with tongues more than all others in the Corinthian church : 1 cor 14:18
- Paul says that he wishes they would all speak with tongues 1 cor. 14:5
- it serves as a prayer/praise language : 17 "For you truly give thanks well"
- it may be spoken or sung : 1 cor. 4,15; "I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."
- it is spoken unto God 1 cor. 14:2
- it is spoken also to the speaker himself 1 cor. 14:28
- it is praying with the spirit and not the intellect : 14 "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful."
- there are specific rules to be applied as to it's use in public meetings

The main point is whether tongues is still an active gift today or not.

Personally, I have yet to see any uncontrived, unforced interpretation of any scripture verse whatsoever that specifically states that tongues, or any other gift of the Spirit, ceased with the apostles.

There simply is no such verse.

The main text the anti-tongues people use to proclaim the great evil or obsolescence of speaking in tongues is the text in 1 cor. 13

ASV : "8 Love never fails: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall be done away; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away."

ALT : "Love never fails. But if [there be] prophecies, they will become useless; if tongues, they will cease by themselves; if knowledge, it will become useless. Now we know by part and we prophesy by part. But when the perfect [or, complete] comes, then the [thing] by part [fig., which is partial] will become useless."

2. To show this teaching to be wrong.

A typical example of no tongues today rhetoric follows :
"The miraculous gifts were established for what purpose? Was it not to confirm the validity of God's Word? Once it was obvious throughout the world that His word was the truth, there was no need for the confirmation. ...
The "partial" that he mentions to the Corinthians is the need of these gifts to accompany and thereby confirm God's Word until the written form of God's Word was in place. That is "the perfect" and is, of course, here today. Complete, perfect and unchanging in every detail..."

There may be other variations on the theme but that is the general flow of it.

Tongues and all the gifts mentioned in 1 cor. 12, (we may as well suppose that the gifts of Christ and the gifts of the Father are obsolete as well -Eph. 4; Rom. 12), are now supposedly obsolete.

The assumption is always that the text cited from 1 cor 13 means that "the perfect" refers to the completion of the biblical canon after the death of the first apostles.

2.a : However the text itself does not state this at all. No mention of the completed Word is given or even implied. Unless the text is forced. Thereby making this a gratuitous affirmation and nothing more.

2.b : The concept of the gifts existing merely as signs to the truth of Christ is in itself a half truth. They are never mentioned as being signs only, though they are certainly that. Their existence was, and is still, intended as a means to edify, console, exhort and meet human needs.

Why would Paul say that they ought not to use tongues in a meeting without an interpreter if tongues were only for a sign? Is it not obvious that speaking in tongues in private is a sign to no one?! But tongues are clearly intended to edify the speaker.

2.c : To state that the truth of Christ ever was, or is today, "obvious throughout the world that His word was the truth," and therefore that "there was no need for the confirmation" is a statement of presumption that is truly ludicrous.

When was the truth of Christ ever accepted thoughout the world ? It never has been and never will, till He comes, be accepted as the truth throughout the world.

In fact the truth of Christ is as far from accepted or believed as it ever was!
Who would dare deny this?!

The need for demonstrations of the power of God in the truth of Christ is desperate in the world today. The world mocks, scorns, ignores and hates the church and the bible today.

The world does not believe the authenticity of the bible at all - not by any means! The authority of the biblical canon is far more denied and questioned, even within the church itself!!, than it ever was before!!

So how does anyone, in view of these facts, find it reasonable to say anything like, "we don't need miracles anymore! No signs, healings, tongues, prophecy, discernment of spirits, and all the other charisma they are finished"?

2.d : Face value exam of the text itself :

- the text mentions prophecy, tongues and knowledge as ceasing, becoming useless - so one must include knowledge in the list of things obsolete today? - it is not stated that this is the "word of knowledge" just good old gnosis

- there is no mention in this passage of healings, discernment of spirits, word of wisdom, miracles, faith etc - are these gifts then still active ? Or are we to "assume" they are not? If so, on what basis? It is pure speculation based on mere assumptions and is therefore denying both the Word and the Spirit.

- prophecy, according to Paul, is for "edification, exhortation and comfort". So do we now need no exhortation, edification from anyone or anything but the written word? If so then why not get rid of preaching, teaching, pastoring etc. as well seeing that we need nothing more to help us? And let's not forget the mention of knowledge here please!

- the only "time" word mentioned is in reference to "when the perfect is come" - upon what authority does one assume this is a ref. to the completion of the biblical canon? The text itself does not define "the perfect" as anything of the kind.

So, what is "the perfect" and when has or will it come to put an end to gifts and the, by implication, need for them?

Paul gives us a very clear idea in the rest of the chapter by saying, "For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know fully even as also I was fully known"

The "then" clearly refers to the "when" of the previous section if you just look at the context. And that "then" is identified as a time when seeing will be "face to face" and knowing will be "fully even as also I was fully known"

The is a vivid ref. to when we would all be "face to face" with our Lord and can only mean either death or the second coming. It cannot mean "face to face" with the completed NT !

This, all by itself, casts a very serious doubt on the whole anti-tongues teaching, or should I say heresy!?

The Greek word translated "perfect" in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is "teleion", which is neuter singular, but the Greek language always refers to the Scriptures in the feminine plural.

Also, why would an "edification to one's own spirit" gift be removed? Because the complete canon now exists? Then why does Paul give so many detailed instructions in that very canon anti-tongues advocates say removes the need for tongues !?!?

I also find it very difficult to believe that when John wrote "Amen" at the end of of Revelation, the entire church automatically ceased speaking in tongues.

"No tongues today" has no foundation in scripture and no basis in reason.

Even the witness of history also tells us that tongues never disappeared from the church, nor did any of the other gifts. And, of course neither did the devil's imitations of it disappear ! Counterfeit implies true coin!

Why would the apostle, under direct inspiration, spend so much effort on tongues in public meetings, while telling - in the most clear language - that he wished they all spoke with tongues, when in fact he, according to anti-tongues doctrine, knew very well that it would be removed within only a few short years?! Makes no sense at all.

On a "logic alone" basis this whole anti-tongues thing out to be cast out of the church for good. But herein we witness much more than just logic - all of this scripture on tongues IS itself a part that finished canon of inspired truth! Why not not accept it's clear instructions ?

2.e : Paul adds, "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays" - a possible implication, a very hot potato, is that if you do not pray in tongues you are not praying with your spirit but with your mind! That is another question!

"26 What then shall we say, brethren? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church."

"14:39 Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues."

And moreover, why would God command us to "not to forbid speaking with tongues" here if He intended for the churches to stop speaking in tongues? This alone, all by itself, provides serious reasons to doubt any teacher who claims tongues is over! I can never understand why there is so much opposition to this one thing! But those who oppose this, inevitably also oppose prophecy and every other gift as well!

They are wrong.

12:28 "And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues."

Why would God remove something He SET in the church ?

Anti-tongues people need to change their mind and abandon the hardness of heart in unbelief and resistance against the Spirit of the Lord.